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Schiit Happened: The Story of the World's Most Improbable Start-Up - Page 60

post #886 of 2438
Okay, I get to share a short story...

I am currently working an engineering job doing wire harnesses for heavy trucks. Last year, I was working on global products, and we were going into pilot builds for a truck with ECE (Europe) requirements, which is really only relevant because we had to completely redo the turn signal wiring. When we finally built the trucks that were production-intent, they test the trucks, we cause zero line downtime, we pass all electrical tests, but....the turn signals were reversed.

One print error made four months earlier and and our lights are blinking in the wrong direction. The good news is that it was an easy fix on the trucks we built, but I still shake my head at how we missed that detail.
post #887 of 2438
Quote:
"... 32/384 is meaningless." 

Unless there are people out there with $10k burning a hole in their pocket willing to pay to demonstrate to the world-at-large what golden ears and discriminating taste they have.

post #888 of 2438
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by senorx12562 View Post
 

Unless there are people out there with $10k burning a hole in their pocket willing to pay to demonstrate to the world-at-large what golden ears and discriminating taste they have.

 

And, even so, where do they get this 32/384 music from?

 

(And no, I'm not talking DSD 2x, which is a whole 'nother discussion.)

post #889 of 2438
Quote:
Originally Posted by HeyWaj10 View Post
 

 

I travel for work 70%, and spend a lot of time in airport security lines. How the hell does that go by?  And yeah, I had a 3.5 ounce bottle of $80 cologne way in the beginning.  Bastards took it and trashed it. I was not a happy flyer that day. But good word, how does that not draw attention? :confused_face_2:

My extremely pregnant at the time lovely wife is on the Department of Homeland Security watch list.  Seriously.  On the flight HOME from a conference, she got pulled over for packing a small spray can of pepper spray in her purse.  They didn't catch it on the way TO the conference.  We saved the letter from DHS.  I'm pretty proud of her...

 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Jason Stoddard View Post
 

 

And, even so, where do they get this 32/384 music from?

 

(And no, I'm not talking DSD 2x, which is a whole 'nother discussion.)

24/96 personally.  Heck, 320 kbs MP3's from MOG are generally fine enough.  If I buy downloads, though, 24/96 or 88.2 or whatever is close.  The rest is just added revenue for the seller for up-sampling the file as far as I'm concerned.  Most of my music is still Redbook CD's ripped via XLD.  Anyway, just a single data point in the "what do we support for music file resolution" question.

post #890 of 2438
Quote:
Originally Posted by Jason Stoddard View Post
 

 

And, even so, where do they get this 32/384 music from?

 

(And no, I'm not talking DSD 2x, which is a whole 'nother discussion.)


It's better if the format is unavailable;  who will then be able to argue that the format is not superior?


Edited by senorx12562 - 4/23/14 at 10:35am
post #891 of 2438
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by senorx12562 View Post
 


It's better if the format is unavailable;  who will then be able argue that the format is not superior?

 

Yes, then we can avoid the real issue: that quality artists (in the genre of your preference), well-recorded by excellent engineers, are the biggest factors in great sound.

 

Arguing about formats simply keeps more people out of great sound...it's confusing, and will lead to high-res being dismissed by most people. The best solution, from a market perspective, is the establishment of a single high-res format (say, 24/96.) Hopefully Apple will enter this market, as rumored, and set a de facto standard. 

post #892 of 2438

I agree, except I'm hoping someone other than Apple takes the plunge, as I'm poor. For the same reason, I cannot afford to rebuy all of my music again, nor can I afford a way to A/B 320mp3s vs. "HD" formats, which would be necessary for me to determine the value calculation. Although I do intend to purchase "The Nightfly" from HDTracks at some point ( I know it was recorded and mastered well, and I know the music well enough to probably make a meaningful comparison), I'm skeptical about whether I can justify spending $20 to buy the same music for the third time. I would, however, be willing to at least try an HD streaming service at maybe twice the $10/month I currently pay to Google, assuming my hardware and internet infrastructure could support it.

post #893 of 2438
Good call Jason, on not pursuing a future in the restaurant business. You couldn't get me to eat at an International House of Schiit.
post #894 of 2438
Quote:
Originally Posted by Jason Stoddard View Post
 

 

Yes, then we can avoid the real issue: that quality artists (in the genre of your preference), well-recorded by excellent engineers, are the biggest factors in great sound.

 

Arguing about formats simply keeps more people out of great sound...it's confusing, and will lead to high-res being dismissed by most people. The best solution, from a market perspective, is the establishment of a single high-res format (say, 24/96.) Hopefully Apple will enter this market, as rumored, and set a de facto standard. 

The problem these days is with the mastering. Movie soundtracks are mastered really well for DTS-HD MA soundtracks on Bluray discs and those HD soundtracks are no upsampled. You can definately tell the difference between Bluray Audio and DVD audio, I think it's even more apparent than the difference in picture (although there is a huge difference in picture quality as well).

 

I can definitely tell the difference between 320KBPS MP3's and FLAC/WAV Lossless as MP3 (to me it's like the difference in sound between a comparable pair of closed back to open back headphones) but most of the music I listen to is simply unavailable in HD. Most of the HD stuff you get from sites is Jazz or Classical, you don't see much of EDM, Trip Hop, or things like Buddha Bar/Cafe Del Mar chill-out stuff. I find most of the stuff in FLAC, which is always nice and good enough really.

 

If you listen to Florence & The Machine all of their albums I have heard directly from the CD or FLAC, sound distorted to my ears and I think this is due to the mastering, etc... Even if certain albums were mastered well, I still think it's WAY more important for me to have good hardware and components (as well as design) in a DAC (as well as a good DAC chip itself) than having 384KHZ capabilities.

 

For example, the reason I would buy the Bifrost over the Modi is NOT because the Bifrost is 24bit/192khz capable, but because even Redbox Flac files (and even MP3 files) sound better on it than they do on the Modi. Because overall it's a better DAC and well worth the extra cost.

 

EDIT: And I kind of hope that Apple won't enter this market in the sense that they might release their own hardware DACs (Made in China) in the future that might compete with yours.


Edited by baronkatz - 4/23/14 at 12:57pm
post #895 of 2438
Quote:
Originally Posted by Jones Bob View Post

Good call Jason, on not pursuing a future in the restaurant business. You couldn't get me to eat at an International House of Schiit.

:etysmile:

post #896 of 2438
Quote:
Originally Posted by Jason Stoddard View Post
 

 

So, perhaps not a big deal in software-land, but a big deal for a hardware company. Luckily, we knew what we were getting into, and had long discussions about leaving Bifrost 24/96 only, which would eliminate the need for Windows drivers. The discussions went something like this, usually in a summer-hot garage:

 

“Mike, we need to offer 24/192 support. There’s 24/192 music available on HDTracks,” I told him.

 

“What, seven tracks of it?” Mike sneered.

 

“It’s limited, yes, but people are asking for 24/192 support. And it would be a good differentiator for Bifrost, now that we’ve nixed the balanced outputs.”

 

“Balanced should only be hardware-balanced,” Mike pontificated. “Two DACs. Summed single-ended. That’s what we did at Theta.”

 

“I know, but don’t change the subject. 24/192.”

 

Mike doesn’t change course fast, though. “If we’re going to do balanced, we’re going to do it right. Hell, Bifrost would sound better if we used two DACs per channel.”

 

“Yeah, and it would cost $700.”

 

“But it would sound good!” Mike insisted.

 

“Yeah, and you can do that one later. For now, Bifrost. 24/192.”

 

“You don’t have any balanced inputs on our amps anyway,” Mike said.

 

I frowned. He had a point there. Balanced inputs—done right—required a 4-gang potentiometer, which we didn’t have back then. We had grand plans, sure, but no balanced inputs yet. “Mike. 24/192. Must have it.”

 

“24/192 uses a half-rate master clock to the DAC,” Mike said. “24/96 probably sounds better.”

 

“Is this a limitation of the AKM?” I asked.

 

“No, it’s a limitation of most delta-sigma DACs. The master clock can only be so fast.”

 

“I still want 24/192. Period.”

 

Mike sighed. “Who’s going to do the tech support?”

 

“Me, for now.”

 

“You’re going to want to shoot yourself,” Mike predicted.

 

“Maybe. But we need 24/192. We’ve tested 24/192. It works. Let’s support it.”

 

“Ohhh…kay,” Mike said.

 

And that’s how Bifrost got 24/192 support. It seems funny today, with 32/384 or even higher sampling rates. Not that there’s any PCM music available there, but hey, it’s like megapixels. Meaningless numbers to use in marketing. Buzzword compliance.

 

Note to self: we should do a 32/384 DAC that has a switch for “easy mode,” supporting 24/96 without drivers, and “expert mode,” where you’ll need Windows drivers. Except unlike everyone else, we’ll tell everyone why 32/384 is meaningless. See a couple of chapters back.

 

OK, I want to do my patented gentle reply to the "32/384 is meaningless" point, but first I wanted to mention something about the Bifrost shipping:

 

I'd asked for my Bifrost to be sent 2-day air.  When I got the tracking notice, it said it was being shipped regular ground (and I was being billed regular ground rate, so no problem there).  But by the time I got the notice, here in my area of the Northeast we were in the middle of a week-long blackout caused by an early-season ice and wind storm.  Everything really worked out perfectly, 'cause I wouldn't have been thrilled to pay for 2-day shipping to a blacked-out house.  So I sent an email recounting this (with smileys, to let you guys know I really *was* happy at how it all turned out).  And got back a nice email from Rina nevertheless apologizing.  Saw the time-stamp: She sent it at 2 am!

 

When Jason says they "made good" re customer service, and you realize what it really means is everyone, having put in 18-hour days getting Bifrosts out the door, is now sending out apology emails (including situations like mine where an apology is totally unnecessary) at 2 in the morning - well, "made good" is quite an understatement.

 

Now, the 32/384 thing:

 

I'm just going to deal with the 384 side, because on the left side the only thing a number higher than 24 is good for is making sure any digital signal processing is silent.  Producers have boards that can do signal processing with 80-bit word lengths, and the whole idea of something like that is that you *won't* hear it once it's processed and put back in the digital file.  For a file that's going to be immediately converted to music, anything over 24 bits is completely meaningless.  Below 20-22 bits, you're into the residual thermal noise of the electronics; in other words, the only thing going on there is entropy.

 

But on the 384 side - well, they say the devil's in the details, and so I suppose I'm going to let the devil loose into the discussion.

 

Virtually every digital recording starts out in a DSD-type format, which is then converted to some higher bit rate PCM (say 24/96 or 24/192), which is then converted to Redbook rate (16/44.1) PCM for CDs, or to MP3 for downloads.  Once the CD gets to you, virtually every DAC (including all those Schiit has manufactured so far) takes that 16/44.1 PCM and does two things to it: (1) uses digital filters to double the rate three times to an "8x" rate (352.8 or or 384) PCM bitstream, then (2) uses a delta-sigma modulator to convert it to a DSD-type format.  Only then is the digital bitstream converted to analog music.

 

You see what just happened there, right?  Irrespective of any discussion of the intrinsic goodness or worthlessness of 24/96 or 24/192 or DSD or whatever, what you've done is take a DSD bitstream and put it through a bunch of conversions to wind up with - a DSD bitstream!  And a little further along it was higher-res PCM, after which it was converted to CD resolution, after which your DAC did a bunch of conversions to reverse that process.  This would make no difference at all if the conversions were perfect.  But they're not, and with the math currently used for the filters, it's actually mathematically impossible to make them perfect.  (Jason has said some *very* interesting things about the Ygg filter that have me very curious about whether it will be different from all presently available DACs in this regard.)  Every filter is a compromise between various aspects of filter performance.  That's (a big) part of what you're paying for in a DAC - expertise in designing these filters.  (Mike Moffat pretty much invented custom-programmed DAC filters, so if you want expertise, there it is.)

 

Since these conversions aren't perfect, the best conversion (all else being equal!! - the best guarantee of good sound is *always* a good recording, at whatever resolution) is none at all.  Playing a DSD file through a DSD-capable DAC avoids all these conversions.  And a higher-res PCM file, as long as it isn't just an up-converted Redbook file, avoids some of them.  (A 24/192 file avoids two rounds of in-DAC doubling; a 24/96 file avoids one round.  There are a limited number of 352.8 files I'm aware of - jazz and classical genre.)  Avoiding downsampling to some extent before the file gets to you, and avoiding upconversion to some extent in your DAC, should provide a better sounding result (again, all else being equal).

 

Note: Lest everyone think this means all the 24/192 versions of your old favorites should sound better - for some strange reason, the music companies are great fans of remastering this old stuff for the modern "loudness wars" era.  Many, many of these old favorites have been compressed within an inch of their lives in the new 24/192 versions, and avoiding a round or two of sample rate conversion won't come close to fixing that.  Nor will it make any new badly recorded files sound great.  Every so often, though, you can find some well recorded stuff available in higher res, and that's a joy.


Edited by judmarc - 4/23/14 at 1:54pm
post #897 of 2438

It was the generation losses and all mastering mixing, the eq step for RIAA for LP's  that made the final product far removed from the SQ of the old master tapes. How many times we heard someone is remastering the master tapes clamming it will improve the sound quality from the original release? If PCM was so perfect. why is many designers still messing with filters, sampling rates and bit depth after all these years of the digital age?

post #898 of 2438
Quote:
Originally Posted by Jason Stoddard View Post
 

 

Yes, then we can avoid the real issue: that quality artists (in the genre of your preference), well-recorded by excellent engineers, are the biggest factors in great sound.

 

Arguing about formats simply keeps more people out of great sound...it's confusing, and will lead to high-res being dismissed by most people. The best solution, from a market perspective, is the establishment of a single high-res format (say, 24/96.) Hopefully Apple will enter this market, as rumored, and set a de facto standard. 

 

Heck, we can't even get places like Amazon to offer their 16/44.1 offerings in FLAC instead of compressed MP3.  HDtracks is nice and all, but limited in selection. 

 

On an aside, I do hope one of your chapters does touch on DSD Jason.  I would love to hear yours and Mike's unabashed opinion on it.  I'm sure it is floating around on the forum somewhere but I haven't run across it yet.  I have tried my hardest to stick with PCM optical/coax as much as I can simply because there is too much heresy and doubletalk to know what to believe about anything else (and even this format has it's fair share of that too).  It was a bit vindicating to read that Mike favors the same format.

post #899 of 2438
Quote:

Originally Posted by Jason Stoddard View Post

And…what about all the other Bifrosts we shipped yesterday?

 

Yep. You got it. They all had the wrong firmware. We offered to replace it, but many customers didn’t want it changed…as if it was a Bifrost Special Edition or something. By my estimate, there’s 6-7 Bifrosts out there still with reversed LEDs. As well as my personal Bifrost, the original show unit. I’ve simply never bothered to change it.

 

So, if you buy a used Bifrost, and see that the LEDs are wrong, let us know…we’ll change it. Or not. You have a piece of history.

Are you kiddin me? If I owned one of those "defective" Bifrosts, I would definitely send it back to you... to have it autographed and sent back unchanged. It'll become a collector's item. :biggrin: 


Edited by tigon_ridge - 4/23/14 at 3:43pm
post #900 of 2438

@ judmarc:  thank you for your post.  That was a good read.

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