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24bit vs 16bit, the myth exploded!

Discussion in 'Sound Science' started by gregorio, Mar 19, 2009.
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  1. board
    Fair enough :). I'm a bit the opposite. I remaster music myself fairly often - I even remastered a song from my favourite album of all time, which is an album I've lived with since 1996 when it was released, and I was very happy with the result. In a similar vein, when "The White Album" by The Beatles was remixed I was instantly impressed (although I did prefer two songs from the 2009 remaster and original mix).
  2. old tech
    Yes but the 24 bit part relates to resolution, ie SNR.
  3. board
    Agreed, although instead of "resolution" I would simply call it signal to noise ration, as you also say, as people often understand "resolution" to mean something else (like Gregorio pointed out in his original post). But then still, hi-res is defined by being recordings of higher specs than standard CD specs, which, if I'm mistaken, would have to include both the bit depth and the sample rate.
    Just to avoid any confusion: I don't see any need for playback at higher than 16/44.1. I've also recorded quite many vinyl LPs onto my computer, and I do all of that at 16/44.1 (or 16/48 due to computer issues). I've done ABX tests of CD spec vs. hi-res and heard no difference.
  4. gregorio
    It's very unlikely that the original used a bad sample rate converter. There were some dodgy sample rate converters around the turn of the millennium but that situation only lasted for a few years and you probably wouldn't expect to see that amount of ringing unless you used a test signal specifically designed to highlight it. Far more likely is that it's the result of noise-shaped dither, where quantisation error is effectively converted to white noise and "shaped", IE. The dither noise is reduced in the frequency band/area where our hearing is most sensitive and moved to areas where we're least sensitive, typically from around 16kHz - 22kHz.

    1. Foobar should be fine. Using a dedicated converting plugin with noise-shaped dither would be more representative of how commercial music releases are handled and is theoretically better. Although as castleofargh stated, standard (triangular) dither or no dither at all (truncation) is very unlikely to audible except in rare cases and at very high (uncomfortable) listening levels. If you're going to do it manually without a dedicated plugin, reduce the sample rate first and then reduce the bit depth, not the other way around.

    2. No idea, I never really use foobar but quite a few here do and can point you in the direction of a simplified page, if there is one.

    In practice, it's even messier than you've explained. The membership here on head-fi are generally very serious about sound quality, which is largely why they're members in the first place. Engineers are very serious about SQ too, though typically not in the same way that the membership here is. To us engineers, SQ is dependant on the consumers' receiving media/equipment but most here on head-fi have a rather simplistic, narrow/exclusive notion of SQ.

    There is, potentially, a justification for quite a number of different versions/masters. For example, a version for analogue radio playback, which accounts for the time restrictions and the severe multi-band limiters typically employed on music broadcast stations. So going back to SQ, the goal with a radio edit/master is to achieve the best SQ for radio listeners. However, if you were to play this audio file from disk (rather than receiving it as a radio transmission) on a good sound system (rather than a typical radio system), most/all the membership here would consider this version to be significantly "worse", while us engineers consider it to be "better" (for the intended purpose). In fact, when radio play was the single greatest driver of record sales, those engineers with the specialist knowledge, experience and skill to create a master that wasn't degraded by the radio broadcast chain (and compared favourably to other broadcast tracks), were highly sought after (and rewarded). From the narrow audiophile point of view, these skilled engineers were rewarded for effectively making "worse" masters! Likewise, a Youtube version/master is quite commonly desired, with the requirement that the track/s at least work to some degree when played on the internal speakers of laptops and other mobile devices, which is difficult to achieve if you want that master to still compare decently when played back on more reasonable equipment. There may also be another version/master required for TV broadcast and another for film, etc.

    Another consideration, unfortunately, is that the worth of most major record labels is largely dependant on their back catalogue. All the corporations that own the labels have back catalogues valued in the billions of dollars but of course, the actual worth of a back catalogue is dependant on the revenue it can generate and one of the ways that can be achieved is by issuing new versions, re-mixes and re-masters. This can be difficult from the engineers' point of view, especially if a particularly good (or particularly loved) mix/master has already been released previously.

    So, we've got a messy set of scenarios, circumstances and considerations, only one of which is primarily aimed at audiophiles. The set of digital "resolutions" is therefore (potentially) just an extension of an already messy set that started in the 1950's, which record labels will exploit if they feel it's worth the cost/effort, baring in mind that it is specifically aimed at the small (and misinformed) audiophile market.

  5. Sterling2
    Sidebar: I download hi-res multi-channel music from Acoustic Sounds in FLAC, which I send to Foobar 2000 Library from Music Folder. To play these multi-channel files I use an HDMI connection from Laptop to my OPPO's multi-channel DAC. The result is gapless but not glitch free. So far, I do not know if the dropouts are related to HDMI connection, Foobar 2000, OPPO-205, OPPO Driver, synchronization of devices, Windows 10, or other. The only thing I know for sure is I can only get glitch free gapless via usb drive ports which allow me to play directly from the Music Folder.
  6. TheSonicTruth
    And the above, in particular, is precisely where you and I have sparred, lol!

    I'm a firm believer in the 'leave the past alone!' mentality, but I sort of understand how changing the sound of an older album and reissuing it as "Digitally Remastered"(or words to such effect) on the packaging can work marketing wonders with the (uniformed) masses at large.

    My question then, is:

    Does my preference for, IE: my 1986 original CD issue of a particular artist/album over a recent 'remaster' of it make me (A.) an audiophile, (B.) a melophile(just loves the music), or (C.) something else? (be gentle here, Gregorio... remember, bedside -or, board-side - manner is your 2020 resolution! :wink: )
    Last edited: Dec 5, 2019
  7. gregorio
    1. But you can't have that mentality .... or rather, you can't only have that mentality, because it comes with consequences. The valuation of the major record labels is largely based on the valuation of their back catalogue, if they can't/don't monetize those back catalogues to the max (with reissues, remasters, remixes, licensing the copyrights, etc.) the value of those back catalogues are significantly lower or effectively zero if they aren't monetized at all and therefore the value of the record label is significantly lower. It's share price will reduce proportionately and most likely the label wouldn't survive, baring in mind the pressure they're already under from the falling revenue of their new artists/releases (due to streaming media). Your "mentality" is therefore "leave the past alone" and not have major record labels or their investment in new artists and new recordings. That mentality is potentially extremely damaging to pretty much the entirety of the commercial recording industry but most particularly to the high quality end. Isn't that the opposite of what audiophiles/melophiles would want?

    2. It could be that a particular/original release has some personal significance at that point in time and a different version doesn't evoke the memories or sound quite right, so it could just make you (C) An ordinary member of the public. The correct answer IMHO is (D) Any of the above.

  8. castleofargh Contributor
    to me random audiophile, the hires standard is what was pushed by Sony with their golden logo thingy. and the definition is fairly simple, it refers to anything above 16/48. but I don't know what level of traceability they have for the files themselves. it's clear that the rules are nonsensical when it comes to gears. if a speaker can burps some vibration above -30dB at 40kHz, it's a hires speaker. doesn't matter if the thing has a stupid FR and 10%THD, it's hires. so I'm expecting similar jokes for audio files and I doubt that they have much consideration for noise floor if any at all. so at least under that particular standard, old noisy and distorted analog stuff could still get a nice golden logo.
  9. TheSonicTruth
    1. Higher quality - But is a remaster of higher quality, even if created from a better source than available 20-30 years ago, if the end product is just processed to be louder and potentially less dynamic than the original?

    2. Sound quite right - For me, it's a matter of the fact that the remaster sounds different than what I'm used to, or different than the original release something. That difference, to me, removes such remaster from canon.
  10. gregorio
    1. My point #1 previously does not address the quality of remasters, it addresses the quality of future (new) recordings if remasters/remixes/etc are not used to monetize the back catalogues!

  11. old tech
    That logo, and the JAS standard developed for it, relates to hardware only (although it doesn't stop the labels and distributors from using it!). Mark Waldrep discusses this issue in the link below. Interestingly, a separate standard developed by the Digital Entertainment Group an others for a hi res definition for musical content. They settled on anything that comes from a source better than CD quality - a subjective term rather than "better than CD specifications" - an objective term, because that would have excluded all analog recordings. Waldrep asked the committee that developed this definition whether that means that a 1920 recording transferred to a 24/96 file makes that recording hi res, and they said yes!

    The whole hi res thing as a consumer format is snake oil designed to keep dollars flowing into the industry.

    castleofargh likes this.
  12. board
    I find Mark Waldrep to be the only person in the hi-res business worth listening to. He also admits that he can't distinguish hi-res from CD specs, and he also said, after his failed hi-res challenge last year, that he doesn't believe anyone else can either. No one else in the hi-res industry has ever said that as far as I know!

    On another note: Have you noticed how Alrainbow went away? If we're "lucky" so to speak maybe it's not only temporarily :).
  13. board
    Is it honestly very likely that dithering could produce such a spike?
  14. bigshot
    I can think of an example where a remix/remaster completely changed an album for the better... Fleetwood Mac's Tusk. I remember when the album came out. Fleetwood Mac were riding high off of two huge albums in a row. Tusk landed with a resounding thud because it sounded horrible... an undifferentiated mass of noise and distortion. The CD wasn't a whole lot better than the original LP. Recently, it has been remixed and remastered and there is absolutely no reason to ever go back to the original version. The mix makes total sense now. Buckingham was experimenting with different kinds of sounds, but whoever was in charge of the mix was totally unsympathetic to it, and wallpapered over the contrasts with a muddy mix. It sounds like it might have even been deliberately sabotaged. Another example like this is Miles Davis's B itches Brew. They were doing cut and paste experiments that the technology didn't quite support yet There were so many layers of sound, it started to go opaque. The producer recently came out of retirement to remix it for multichannel and now all of the overlapping sound is clear and balanced, with no mist of noise obscuring the details.

    The quality of remixing and remastering is much better now than it was a decade ago. You just have to look at the right titles.
    Sterling2 likes this.
  15. TheSonicTruth

    Point well taken. But for every "Tusk" remaster scenario there are ten 'compress-crank-up & repeat' remasters out there of albums from the popular(Pop, Hip-Hip, Country, & RnB) genres. That is why I have largely sworn off anything with "remastered" on it, in my collection.

    "The quality of remixing and remastering is much better now than it was a decade ago. You just
    have to look at the right titles

    You sound like such a salesman with that. No thanks!
    Last edited: Dec 5, 2019
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