That 'quantified' is highly misleading and wrong word, since it really does not exist in the first place.
This thread just shows that many people have little clue on digital which they hate. Wonder ignorance is hate? (not bliss? :P ) For instance, FLAC can support up to 32bit/655kHz
, but there is few -probably none- studio devices to achieve such high rate to make sample, nor there isn't any playback devices to play it properly.
FLAC and other lossless formats DO NOT HAVE THEIR OWN SOUND. If you put DVD-A audio stream into FLAC, then it will be same as DVD-A. If you put mp3 file into FLAC, then it will be same as mp3. The 'sound' of these formats are 100% same
as original source.
Now sample rate. Formats are really nothing more than 'container' unless we are talking about lossy format.
1. DVD-A is usually 24bit/96kHz
, and SACD is usually regarded/distributed as 24bit/88.2kHz
(and yes, DVD-A is technically better than SACD, but it does zero thing on end-user playback.....)
2. HDCD is just a cd with proper noise shaping and other processes. Really, nothing more than a well-made CD. So it is 16bit/44.1kHz
(NO. IT IS NOT 20BIT. It is effectively
20bit, not actually
20bit. Thus you can play it on normal CD player.)
3. CD... see no.2 above.
4. Vinyl, various from LP to LP, but usually it is about 12bit/18kHz
(brand new one can be go as high as 20~22kHz) . Add surface noise and fact that Vinyl degrades over the usage, you have rather underwhelming format. It is, in fact, the worst format if we are talking about sound quality.
5. Digital Lossless format (FLAC, ALAC, WMA-lossless, etc). Only actual difference between lossy format is that when transcode to other format, it does not lose any information unless it is transcoding to lossy format. Very convenient with computer and mobile devices. Files are usually big (and 5.1 24bit flac files are really, really big.) Usually you can find them as 16bit/44.1kHz to 24bit/192kHz
with some files are multi-channel.
6. Digital lossy format (mp3, AAC, WMA, ogg, etc) While file size is much smaller, it loses information during transcoding, and it is irreversible. Very convenient with computer and mobile devices. Can be also multi-channel, but it is extremely rare. Usually 128~320 kbps/44.1kHz
By simply going for highest rate, Lossless format with high rate and DVD-A/SACD are good choice, followed by CD and at last lossy. But as there is no person ever can distinguish higher than 16bit/44.1kHz in the first place, provided if both CD and DVD-A/SACD are mastered with same effort or lower bit one is directly coming from high bit. As someone said in Hydrogenaudio forum...
|We dont need it. It's just virtual useless number-games to give people the incentive to buy new equipment and then re-buy all our music. There are some *technical* arguments for using 48khz instead of 44khz.... but the actual benefit for normal endusers is zero.
The one that people love Vinyl is a good indication that such high resolution is nothing more than playing with numbers. Why you need high numbers if you are satisfied with 12bit/18kHz in the first place?
In the end, it is all about convenience, quality issue only rises on Vinyl and lossy.
1. DVD-A/SACD : now with OK with hardware support, but still not spread out as CD. DVD-A ridden with DRM requiring a special software to rip it correctly (things get messy if it also uses watermark.) SACD is just not possible to rip at all. Terrible convenience that only can be played on standalone players.
2. CD (HDCD = CD) : perfect hardware support, since you can see every laptop and other small stuffs can play these discs. To be used with computer frequently, it needs to be ripped to digital format.. But it can be ripped without losing any information (lossless format) without hassle.
3. Vinyl : As hardware support it is worse than DVD-A/SACD since it requires dedicated LP table and phono stage to use it properly. Sound quality, in objective view, is worse than those small discs and difference can be heard easily. It is very hard to convert to digital format properly and usually need assistance from professionals to do so.
4. Lossless format : Quality is depend on the original source transcoded. Most if not all computers can handle them easily unless it is multi-channel file requiring multi-channel support. Many mobile players exception of cellphones support them (ALAC for ipod, WMA-lossless for Zune, FLAC for rest). And not many online stores sell in these formats.
5. Lossy format : Quality loss happnes during trandcoding, and it can be heard with various degrees. Pretty much every mobile devices support them. All major online stores' choices are these formats.
For best convenience, it's lossy format followed by CD/Lossless tied, DVD-A/SACD and then Vinyl.
For best sound quality, it's CD/DVD-A/SACD/lossless all tied, followed by lossy and then Vinyl (later two's positions can be changed depend on lossy format's encoder setting)
If you ask me what is the best format that both take care of convenience AND sound quality with best compromises, it's CD and Lossless format. Best sound quality, and second-only for convenience.