Originally Posted by holl_ands
AES BLIND Test in a CONTROLLED ENVIRONMENT also found no significant AUDIBLE improvement in 16 vs 24-bit Audio.
And technically speaking, it shouldn't given the limitations of real world environments and microphones. Personally, I'd never want more than 100dB of dynamic range period (given even quiet rooms, you'd have to have peak volumes over 110dB to achieve even that much in practice and that's too darn loud for anything but a brief cannon in the 1812 overture or something).
However, I nearly ALWAYS prefer SACD/DSD and 24-bit PCM Audio Recordings on DVD-Audio, Blu-Ray to 16-bit CD's.
You realize that's because they're actually TRYING to get good quality sound, right? Take one of those recordings (as long as its only stereo) and convert it to 16/44.1 CD and it'll sound identical. The same is true of these "fantastic vinyl LPs" that are supposedly out there. Record them to CD. They'll sound identical. Personally, I run them through iZotope RX after recording from LP. Not only can it remove all click/pops with nary any negative effect on the music, but with its learning noise removal features, I've actually gotten LPs to sound quieter with less master tape noise than the CD versions in some cases (e.g. Tori Amos' Little Earthquakes and Under The Pink albums).
And lower compression DTS5.1 to DD5.1. PART of the improvement is that 16-bit CD's STILL vary quite a bit as to what was used in the Recording Chain....24-bit Masters are used much more frequently today
24-bit mastering doesn't really mean a darn thing. It's purely for recording headroom to make the mastering engineer's life easier (one take and you're done instead of risking clipping). Once you're done, a downmix to 16/44 is fine.
....but that may or may NOT be true for the actual RECORDING Equipment....only on SACD/DVD-Audio Discs will I see that they are 24-bit THRU-OUT the Recording/Mastering process....look for the "DDD" Logo. And in older recordings, the more likely you will hear Tape Hiss and minor Wow/Flutter defects.
Some of my favorite recordings are analog (e.g. Most of the Pink Floyd catalog like Dark Side of the Moon, Wish You Were Here, The Wall, etc.) and they sound GREAT (I have vinyl versions of most of their albums as well and a high-end turntable setup as well in my Carver ribbon speaker room). A little tape hiss doesn't ruin life. Even guitar amplifiers have their own noise levels. When I made my last album I avoided all external guitar pedals, amps, etc. and input the Fender Strat straight into Firewire interface box and let Logic Pro do all the guitar processing. The only analog input I had was the vocals and a microphone for acoustic guitar. Everything else was digital piano/synth/drum kits. I made it at my house and it sounds like Pink Floyd quality sound at a tiny fraction of the price to make.
Even today, there is less ATTENTION TO DETAIL when making 16-bit CD's, compared to Hi-Rez Audio releases....unfortunately recording engineers don't take the TIME to make sure the signals NEVER go into Clipping.....and as discussed above, they DO spend a lot of time playing with the record levels and/or use a COMPRESSOR to MAXIMIZE THE IMPACT....yes it sells....but we all know many are CRAP Recordings.
I don't know that it's a matter of taking the time to do it. It's EASY to avoid clipping entirely. In 24-bit mastering, you have tons of headroom and when you're done, you can just let the computer "normalize" the track and it will make the loudest sound the maximum amplitude (which you can offset however much you want below 0dB) and if there's some loud noise in an instrument causing issues, it's easy to go in with an editor like iZotope and repair/snip the waveform as long as it's small.
My point is that it's not hard to avoid clipping, but some of these guys DON'T CARE (or their bosses order them to make it louder to the point it's almost unavoidable). The worst offender I can think of that I've heard commercially is The Red Hot Chili Pepper's Californication
album. It hits the rails so often I think I'm going to vomit, but sure enough in a car environment, much of it disappears due to road noise, etc. The sad thing is someone released a pre-master version and it's 85% improved, but at least SOME of the clipping was the band's raw recordings not being properly handled to begin with, not at the mastering stage. You can't fix a bad input gain setting after the fact very well. That album will never be a high-end show piece for that reason.
But take Tori Amos' 1996 Boys For Pele album that was almost entirely recorded straight to DAT tape at 16-bit 48kHz (save the drums and possibly some backup vocals which were recorded on analog tape). That album was my #1
pick for a long time to test speaker systems for realism because it sounds absolutely REAL on many of the tracks on quality speakers. I use dipole ribbons in my high-end living room setup and her voice floats in three dimensional space to the point where with my eyes closed, I'd swear she was in the room. There'll never be a 24/96 version of that album since it was recorded at 16/48 on DAT. But other than two brief moments where it briefly tags the rails for a split second on "Caught a Lite Sneeze" there's no other clipping on the album (an alternate take of that track I have on a box set release doesn't have the clipping, but isn't quite as emotionally impacting at that point either; I'd rather deal with the tiny clip). But the album is stunning and proves 24/96 means nothing.
NOW as to why 24-Bit Audio is BETTER than 16-Bit CD's.....it's the ONLY way you will be able to hear Discrete SURROUND Recordings....which Maximize Impact in an entirely different way....feel free to either join the bandwagon....or keep listening to antique STEREO.....
What band wagon? Surround sound music is mostly dead (even more so than 3D IMO) as most people just aren't that interested in it. The reasons should be mostly obvious.
Most people don't even have 5.1 setups and even those that do usually don't set it up properly. And even then how many people want to sit there at home and listen to music? Most people listen to music while they're on a computer or walking with earphones on a treadmill, etc. And even those that do listen regularly at home on a quality system might prefer stereo since out of the few dozen surround recordings I have, only about 10% are "really good". Many do very little with the surround channels (sometimes Dolby's Logic IIx Music mode sounds better with the stereo track extracted to surround than what the engineers did with the surround remix). Now Pink Floyd's DSOTM and WYWH are excellent in surround as is Alan Parson's ON AIR. Sheryl Crow's The Globe Sessions (in 6.1) is pretty good as is Dire Strait's Brothers In Arms and The Eagle's Hotel California mixes. But something like Billy Joel's 52nd Street or The Police's Every Breath You Take weren't very good surround mixes, IMO.
But again, it's not 24/96 that means a darn thing. It's the extra surround channels. DTS CDs were typically recorded in 16/44.1 and they sounded great. You don't need SACD or DVD-Audio to achieve excellent surround. Any of them can be converted to something like FLAC at any bit/frequency setting you like.