or Connect
Head-Fi.org › Forums › Equipment Forums › Computer Audio › HDTracks?
New Posts  All Forums:Forum Nav:

HDTracks? - Page 2

post #16 of 33

Well, audiophile cables can go for like 1000usd a pop, and turn-tables can go for 50,000usd a pop.  There's plenty of price-gouging madness in the hi-fi world, and it's not limited to higher resolution songs-- placebo effect or not.  You don't have to buy them if you can't hear the difference is the beauty of it.  It's why I don't buy them.

 

 

post #17 of 33
Thread Starter 

I think you're a smart guy. For sure, experimentation with the media and media players is not expensive and does    not require a local hi-fi shop for comparisons.

post #18 of 33

I have been experimenting with Hi Resolution files and have not been blown away.   I have done ABC comparisons of the same music with Hi Resolution files, Redbook and SACD and do not see a huge difference in the experience.  Frankly, Amarra Mini makes a bigger difference than Hi Resolution files.  I don't believe it is worth either the cost or the hassle to download Hi Resolution files.

 

So I did a little research to find out why:

 

http://people.xiph.org/~xiphmont/demo/neil-young.html

 

I would be interested in the opinions of the audio engineers in our group.

post #19 of 33
Quote:
Originally Posted by tmarshl View Post

I have been experimenting with Hi Resolution files and have not been blown away.   I have done ABC comparisons of the same music with Hi Resolution files, Redbook and SACD and do not see a huge difference in the experience.  Frankly, Amarra Mini makes a bigger difference than Hi Resolution files.  I don't believe it is worth either the cost or the hassle to download Hi Resolution files.

 

So I did a little research to find out why:

 

http://people.xiph.org/~xiphmont/demo/neil-young.html

 

I would be interested in the opinions of the audio engineers in our group.

 

I don't claim to be the authority on this topic, but I second the motion. Firstly, I find that it is really difficult to do A-B comparisons because often times the audio is sourced from different masters. For instance, a minute difference in volume can be perceived as a better source.  Often, different formats are mastered by different engineers in different studios with different equipment. It's simply unfair to make any such comparison unless all such variables are eliminated.

 

I've run some experiments on my own taking a hi-res source with large dynamic range and converting it to redbook with and without dithering. The only variable here is the quality of signal processing software (which in my view well exceeds the dynamic range of 24 bit or DSD sampling hardware, because most of them operate at a rediculously high resolutions available in the computer, such as 32 floating point. But that's another topic). To me the difference is very settle, and mostly manifests itself as slight flattening of the soundstage in 16 bits. With dithering, the difference is often imperceptible. If the dynamic range of the music is shallow in the first place, as in recordings that are already heavily compressed, there is likely to be no perceptible difference at all.

 

I've also done similar experiments comparing the sampling rates and reached the conclusion that while I can occasionally tell a minute difference between 44K and 48K, I have trouble resolving any improvements beyond 48K. The 44K can sound slightly grainy and dry in comparison on strings, hi-hats and guitars.

 

Additionally, if you look at the spectrum of ,say, 192K master you will notice that there is typically no useful signal energy in the upper band (e.g. >40KHz ) -- just noise. I presume same argument applies to SACD. I have yet to notice a recording that has anything really useful up there (nevermind the question of whether you could actually hear anything in that range). It doesn't matter to me if there is a miniscule harmonic signal burried in there somewhere. Noise is noise. So when you pay premium for, say, 192K vs 96K download consider that you are likely paying the premium for noise. 

 

A fair A-B comparisons may also be somewhat swayed by DAC's response varying with sampling rate. In principle, frequency response should scale proportionally, but DAC designers may choose an implementation that doesn't simply switch the sampling rate. For instance oversample the data to some higher rate and at that point you'd be also be including the quality of the oversampling and reconstruction filters for at various sampling rates.

 

Lastly, and most disturbingly, some of the "hi-res" downloads are still being heavily brickwalled for loudness, just like majority of redbook that are optimized for loudness. The audible distortion on these is often appauling. I have seen a number of hi-res masters also follow the same trend. I've even seen that on SACD in at least one case. As you end up paying premium for these downloads you expect to receive what you pay for. Unfortunately, not the case and there is no way to tell about quality of master up front to see if it's worth the extra $$$.

 

Again these are my ears. Your milage may vary.

post #20 of 33

I've gotten a few HD albums via hdtracks.com and have found them to be better sounding in comparison to the same albums I have CD.  The question that arose some time ago was how HD tracks was going about getting their high definition versions of the albums.  Really, whether this was a true high definition version derived from the mastering tapes or some of contrived version.  Whether this even makes a difference to sound quality, I have no idea.  

post #21 of 33
Quote:
Originally Posted by Fred Bob View Post

I've gotten a few HD albums via hdtracks.com and have found them to be better sounding in comparison to the same albums I have CD.  The question that arose some time ago was how HD tracks was going about getting their high definition versions of the albums.  Really, whether this was a true high definition version derived from the mastering tapes or some of contrived version.  Whether this even makes a difference to sound quality, I have no idea.  

 

HD Tracks selections are all encoded by Bruce Brown at Puget Sound Studios, who happens to be a friend from my audio club, the Pacific Northwest Audio Society.

 

The selections are either recorded from SACD or reel tape, depending on what is available.  There was a situation a while back where the distribution studio sent a selection that they claimed was high-res, but really was upsampled Redbook and HD Tracks took their word for it.  This caused an uproar from customers who rightly felt they should not be paying for upsampled material.  However, Bruce personally examines the waveform of each selection before encoding it now, so this doesn't happen again.

 

If you hear a difference from your CD recordings it's not a surprise at all.  Albums usually have a number of tapes floating around, including a number of remastered versions on SACD and tape.  This is the main factor behind the substantial differences you will hear.  It's also true that every DAC clock has a certain sample rate that it seems to work best with.  My friend had a Weiss DAC that sounded great with high-res material, but I didn't like it much with Redbook.  My Wyred DAC 2 is the opposite, Redbook sounds great, but high-res doesn't excite me much.

post #22 of 33

HD Tracks does not sell to customers located in Germany so I have a different source. The library is a lot smaller but all albums are guaranteed to be studio masters. My first question would be, are all 24 bit sources studio masters? The sampling rate ranges from 44,1 kHz to 352,8 kHz and very few releases are even available as Surround or DSD (which are not of my interest). Most downloads are *only* available in 24-44,1 or 24-96.

 

Now I have purchased a number of Jazz and Classical recordings in 24 Bit and 96 kHz. They sound amazing, no doubt!

However, If I convert them to MP3 - to my ears - they sound just as amazing.

 

I have picked some tracks from my HD collection and downsampled them.

Source File: 24 Bit, 96 kHz, FLAC

Conversion 1: 16 Bit, 44,1 kHz, FLAC

Conversion 2: 16 Bit, 44,1 kHz, MP3 CBR 320 Stereo

Conversion 3: 16 Bit, 44,1 kHz, MP3 VBR -V2 Stereo

I have put the conversions of each track into a folder and enabled the shuffle function to perform a blind test.

 

To be honest, I have failed miserably in telling the difference from MP3 and 24Bit. Of course my mind tricked me in thinking I could hear some better texturing or some more space from time to time, so I took notes and always wrote down wether I thought the file sounded better or worse from the one before. In the end, the MP3 had just as many positives as the 24 Bit file. I was exhausted after 2x 30mins.

I have used the FiiO X3 with a three-way CIEM demo w/ silver cable and a DT880 w/ 600 ohms. (*I honestly don't think the silver cable improved clarity, but what the hell, why not use it?)

I would like to know where the problem is.

 

- Of course the first thing that comes to mind is that my equipment is not high-end enough. I'm pretty sure at least the IEM was absolute TOTL just a few years ago...

- What exactly should I be searching for? Does 16 Bit mask some instruments or does a lower bitrate automatically result in clipping or artifacts?

- I'm below 30, I haven't visited any concerts without ear plugs in the past 10 years, yet I did have some wild times. I am guessing my hearing capabilities are average. Are my ears too old to hear the clarity that HD provides?

- Maybe the tracks I used just happen to be of very high quality and do not contain any information in the critical areas that would cause errors when downsampling?

 

I would appreciate some (free online) literature on the matter of bit depth, bit rate and sampling rate to dig into this further. If anybody can guide me to an easy-to-understand source for laymen, that would be A1. Wikipedia is a bit too objective for my taste and I am hoping for some more examples of application.

 

Ultimately, I want to know if I should keep purchasing HD files in case I eventually upgrade my equipment or if I should go back to iTunes where the same album just costs the half and is already perfectly tagged, etc.

 

Thank you very much for your help!

post #23 of 33

Ultrazino, it might be the case that you do not have any problems and in fact this is how it is supposed to be ;) People argue if the difference can be heard between 16/44 and 24/96, it is also discussed that the difference between nicely compressed file and flac is very difficult to hear.

Take a look at Sound science forum. There is huge thread there about 24 bit, higher than 44 frequency and many other interesting things.

post #24 of 33
Quote:
Originally Posted by Thalik View Post
 

Take a look at Sound science forum. There is huge thread there about 24 bit, higher than 44 frequency and many other interesting things.

 

Thank you, that is exactly what I was searching for!! I have been captivated by the wisdom and truth I have read in the past 60 minutes.

post #25 of 33

Same happened to me, went through all 80 pages!

 

I am sure that HDtracks have a lot of nicely recorded and mastered music. But whether "hi-res" has anything do to with it.. I very much doubt..

post #26 of 33
Quote:
Originally Posted by Digitalchkn View Post
Lastly, and most disturbingly, some of the "hi-res" downloads are still being heavily brickwalled for loudness, just like majority of redbook that are optimized for loudness. The audible distortion on these is often appauling. I have seen a number of hi-res masters also follow the same trend. I've even seen that on SACD in at least one case. As you end up paying premium for these downloads you expect to receive what you pay for. Unfortunately, not the case and there is no way to tell about quality of master up front to see if it's worth the extra $$$.

 

This right there is my biggest problem with Hi-Rez audio.  From DVD-A/SACDs to 24/96, if the album is compressed then the higher quality specs will go down the drain.  I haven't heard anything Hi-Rez that made me want to jump the bandwagon.  I'm very willing to give Hi-Rez audio a chance, but I'll still wait the day until I'm convinced to invest in the format. 

post #27 of 33
Quote:
Originally Posted by TMRaven View Post

I personally don't bother with 24bit files.  It's a cool thing to experiment with, but at the end of the day I only came away with a placebo effect and peace of mind rather than a legitimate difference in sound quality.

The 14k vs 17k thing sounds like a difference in mastering or encoding.

So i guess, it will also depends on the sound card and the amp + DAC combo as well, if one of them is not supporting 24 bit / 96 KHz encoding, then it will be downsized to 16 bit / 44.1 KHz which is the same as the normal audio CD.

is that correct ?
post #28 of 33

In my experience, whether or not high-res files are of any benefit (or computer-generated up-sampling) very much depends on the DAC. The Metrum Octave, when I owned it, sounded distinctly better with high-res material, though one could simply argue that it was a NOS DAC, so no surprise there. With other, non-NOS DACs, the difference would have to be the result of changes in the filter in the DAC coming as the result of using high-res files. Irrespective, given the choice between the studio master at its original resolution and a down-sampled version for the same price, I'm going to choose the original. I have the same software everyone else uses here for re-sampling, so I can down-sample it if I want.

post #29 of 33
Quote:
Originally Posted by Currawong View Post

In my experience, whether or not high-res files are of any benefit (or computer-generated up-sampling) very much depends on the DAC. The Metrum Octave, when I owned it, sounded distinctly better with high-res material, though one could simply argue that it was a NOS DAC, so no surprise there. With other, non-NOS DACs, the difference would have to be the result of changes in the filter in the DAC coming as the result of using high-res files. Irrespective, given the choice between the studio master at its original resolution and a down-sampled version for the same price, I'm going to choose the original. I have the same software everyone else uses here for re-sampling, so I can down-sample it if I want.

wow, so in this casse it is all up to my DAC/AMP combination to fully reveal the details I assume.

may I know what is the software name / called ?
post #30 of 33
Quote:
Originally Posted by Rizlaw View Post
 

I have an HDTracks account and have purchased 24/96 and 24/192 whole albums from their online store. For me it's a very tedious experience because I use Linux and while they claim their download scheme works cross-platform, it doesn't. 

 

For (future) reference: the newer native HDTracks Downloader for Windows and Mac can be made to work on Linux using wine or crossover; see my article Using the Jriver HDtracks downloader on Linux (Ubuntu/Debian).

 

Regards,

Ronald

New Posts  All Forums:Forum Nav:
  Return Home
  Back to Forum: Computer Audio
Head-Fi.org › Forums › Equipment Forums › Computer Audio › HDTracks?