I've been out of the hobby for a while - call it 7 years or so. Went up pretty far into the high end of things for a while and certainly had a lot of fun, but then I guess I topped out and slimmed down after a while.
Recently, I moved back to Tokyo and it's obvious all the audio manufacturers are pushing High Rez audio at the higher end consumer level. E.g., Sony displays highlighting HD music in selling the MDR-1R Series Mk. 2 headphone and their new walkmans/Mora online music store service/PHA-2 portable DAC/etc. Teac doing the same with the UD-501 DAC. Many other examples.
I imagine it's different for those of you living in the States, but imagine walking into your local Best Buy and seeing high resolution audio gear being advertised instead of like Bose or Beats headphones.
So I got curious (and I wanted a new decent portable closed headphone), so I picked up the MDR-1R Series Mk. 2 for kicks (around $300 ish, I forget exactly). Also got a new laptop with a really noisy headphone jack, so picked up a Meridian Explorer ($300). So certainly not high end stuff, but more expensive, high end consumer, stuff that's specifically advertised for HD music playback. I could warm up some of the higher end stuff here, but I actually kinda like the simplicity/portability/accessibility of this rig. Besides, music sounds really good out of it.
Ignore the Qualia 010 and Grace m902 for now. That's me just showing off/establishing I kept some decent gear.
So I downloaded a few things from HD Tracks - I kinda like it, btw. So tired or ripping my own CDs and not motivated start on my (small) pile of SACD and DVD-A. Very convenient to just download stuff, esp since, hopefully, they represent well mastered, properly encoded, versions of the music. Though not a fan of repurchasing stuff yet again that I have on DVD-A/SACD...
Anyway, for kicks I booted into Foobar's ABX comparison thing two versions I recently bought of Daft Punk's Get Lucky:
HD Tracks 24/88 FLAC - album cost $18, can't do a single track d/l.
iTunes in the usual 256k (I think) AAC compressed - cost like a $1.50 for the one track.
I did something similar like 7 years ago as I was leaving the hobby, though less scientific (not ABX) between 320k mp3s and Apple Lossless files I ripped from my own CDs through my speaker rig.
And once again, 5 out of 5 times, I could distinguish that the files are different. Real pain in the ass because the differences are subtle (to me) and they both sounded great. I was surprised I actually got it 5 out of 5 times, it was so close, I was expecting 50/50 guessing.
Anyway, took a lot of effort, but I again correctly identified that the compressed, and here, low rez, version sounded better to me every time.
Doesn't mean I'm giving up and just buying all my music from iTunes (though damn that would make life a hell of a lot easier...) I think there's something really anal about many of us, but me for sure, that wants the most data as possible, even if it's not useful (and sounds ever so slightly worse less good to me lol).
Anyway, that was fun. Prob. not going to do something like this again for a few years. ABX isn't fun. Much nicer just to enjoy the music.
Edited by jjcha - 5/1/14 at 12:29pm