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Good to know these things, right now 7digital seems the logical alternative.
Why do you think 7digital uses a different master than HDTracks. To my knowledge, they all use what the music companies send them, good bad or indifferent.
I've had good experiences with HD Tracks. I wait for the coupon code. The expense limits me; perhaps one album a month.
I also switched to Audivrana Plus, and this through Hugo 2.
I too have just been buying when there is a nice sale...the expense is a big hit, so I just get my favorite albums.
Whirlwind, my thoughts are as yours.
I picked up a few more. I've got to stop. Hearing through Hugo 2 and Beyer T1.2 through Audivrana Plus is a level of emotion I'd not thought possible. I search for coupons; some work and some do not.
Recent pick up...Mark Knopfler, Layla album (sale) and:
I did get this bargain. It's beautiful.
It would be a lot worse for me if HD Tracks had greater selection.
Having read most of the thread, i can relate to most of you.
Yes, i also have some HDTracks albums that are less than stellar. I switched my buying habbits completely.
First, after the divide desaster, i throw on Spotify and give the album a quick listen for major production mistakes. Would have saved me some money on ed sheeran in this case. If this sounds good, my first stop is bandcamp. Getting the artist uploaded flac is generally the best bet i think. After that it depends on how much i want to hear the album. It's either CD or i stick to spotify, depending on how good it is or how much i plan to listen to it.
This change in mind came after having recorded my first record in a professional studio and talking to several recording engineers from 3 different studios. None of them Mix/master 24/xxx and only a handfull even record those qualities. Nowadays, most recording, mixing and mastering is done in 16/44.1 because that's the maximum expected quality for the public (CD). None of them feels it makes sense to deal with drivers and file sizes for a complete 24/192 recording chain when no one is going to here it anyways. Most studios also want 16/44.1 WAV files.
So unless the artist explicitly wanted higher quality (DVDA realease, BluRay...) i doubt most "modern" music has ever been 24/192. Getting such a "quality" files from what ever source is most likely upsampled. After doing extensive tests at home, i determined i personally can hear a difference between streaming and mp3, and also between good mp3 and 16/44.1 flac. After that it's guessing in my case. I've never been able to reliably tell between 16/44.1 and 24/96. Therefore i don't bother.
The biggest problem with hi-res version of older music (pop/rock) is knowing if they have been compressed or not. I'm not paying that amount of money for a recording that's not enjoyable because it's too compressed. This is not HDTracks fault, but that of the record company.
I have only used accoustics sounds super high res. downloaded about 10 albums from dsd 64 to 24-96 so far so good. The bulk of my collection is apple lossless converted to flac through my roon server. Its just cheap and available and may sound slightly sharper but renders well in my system.
The abudance, availability, reliability and cost of high res will continue to be an obsticle even with sound quality advantages.
The high price plus not knowing if you are getting a good recording or not. I've heard a number of hi-res recordings that I would not want to own for free because the recording is awful. When the recording it too loud and the dynamics well squashed, the sound is not going to be good no matter on CD or hi-res. Also a problem is when a good recording of good music is compressed. That ruins the enjoyment. Hi-res is not going to take off for current rock/pop because most of those are not worthy of hi-res.
Sometimes you can find out in advance.
But not always.
I've had good experiences with the DSD downloads there, too.
Re: the costs of hi res: agreed.
With HD Tracks, you should just stick with Chesky Records downloads, since I believe it's founded by David Chesky. All of Chesky's albums I've downloaded from HD Tracks are of superb quality (be it 24/192 or DSD). Well I guess because they did the original mastering themselves and Chesky is known for his splendid audiophile quality recordings.
For other labels, I found them to be a hit and miss as they depend on their own original mastering from each respective label of which HD Tracks has no control whatsoever. I either go to NativeDSD (which can be a hit and miss as well), Sound Liaison (however, only limited number of albums but the best quality I've ever heard) or stick to Mastered for iTunes tracks for mainstream music.
If the shops selling hi-res audio would post the dynamic range numbers, then we coud make an informed decision especially for new releases in hi-res. Even if it's hi-res, a poor DR can sound awful.
I purchased the Dylan "Trouble No More" and am very surprised at poor quality sound.
I don't know if it is original issue, (live recordings) but even the studio stuff is somewhat muffled.
I emailed HD Tracks; they'll look into it. I've gotten good material from them so I'll wait upon their reply.