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Hi-Res Albums vs. Mastered for iTunes (or Apple Digital Master) Albums - Which is Better??!

Discussion in 'Computer Audio' started by RockStar2005, Dec 5, 2017.
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  1. DarwinOSX
    MrPanda, RockStar2005 and Whazzzup like this.
  2. RockStar2005
    Yeah I'm not surprised it went that way for "Heaven and Hell". That is why I always go for the Hi-Res/MFiT version of any album first. The "resolution" IMO only has like 10%-20% influence over the sound, and that really ONLY pertains to mp3s vs. AAC or FLAC. The real reason is that your SACDs and Hi-Res/MFiT always get the BEST sounding masters, where mp3s tend to get the worst ones. But yes, in some cases you have Hi-Res albums that aren't mastered well, so that sux when it happens. Fortunately, it's more of a rarity given my experiences.

    Yeah when comparing mp3 to lossless I have definitely heard differences too. It's prob cuz of the different masters being used, but also it's been proven that even when it's the same master on both that ppl can statistically tell a difference if you listen to enough comparisons. So that is why I do everything I can to avoid getting an mp3. It's just a waste of money really to buy it. Yeah they're cheaper, but they also sound worse and many times are brickwalled (which happens on CDs sometimes too, but I don't think nearly as often) and you end up experiencing what's called "listening fatigue" which is where your brain has to put in EXTRA effort to hear the details and after a while you get exhausted. Kinda like cramming for an exam.........you end up overexerting yourself too much. DOESN'T sound like fun to me! lol
     
  3. stonesfan129
    I love these Mastered For iTunes tracks, especially with older remastered albums. One of the ones I tried was Santana - Santana. It has lots of small details that I thought would get blown away by the lossy encoding, but it sounded FANTASTIC. I compared it to a Sony Mastersound CD and some other Columbia CD I have. I sold both because the MFiT just sounds awesome. I think people worry too much about the "lossless vs lossy" thing and don't use their ears enough.
     
    Last edited: Feb 3, 2019
    RockStar2005 and Sterling2 like this.
  4. Sterling2
    I've got to tell ya, I subscribe to Apple Music and I download a lot of music from them these days. I also purchase some of this music from the iTunes Store to get it to CD playlists. At any rate, I have recently noted that these AAC downloads to my iTunes Library sound better than ever. I had assumed it had something to do with 3 recent iTunes updates. Yet, for whatever reason, these AAC files sound better than CD's I have of same music delivered by my OPPO UDP-205 or Sony DVP-S9000ES; so, I no longer see a reason to spend any money on HDtracks when I can purchase it from the iTunes Store in AAC for a best sound experience, at a fraction of the cost I would pay other on-line stores for an inferior product. Apple Music and iTunes Store downloads are dynamic, they have great low bass extension, and they. present a sound stage with depth and breadth only surpassed by my 5.1 multi-channel SACDs. Of course, my impressions may just be my imagination running away with me as iTunes has no made any announcement of their recent updates improving upon AAC delivery or sound quality.
     
    Last edited: Feb 3, 2019
    RockStar2005 likes this.
  5. Whazzzup
    Apple lossless or AAC mastery for or not is adequate through iTunes. Works fine for car, desktop speakers, or through Hugo. But when you got to go high quality server, conversion to flac, via antipodes and roon core is a whole new level. Frankly your iMac iTunes sounds like crap compared.
     
  6. Whazzzup
    Concerning high res. Yes high resolution signal path in roon is superior playback, ( blue light signal path) but that’s relative to what resolution the files are in. Is dad files better than 386 pcm versus 44.1 all with blue light signal path, is preference and studio master quality. Having said that, I still download iTunes, cheap and plentiful, then convert to flac for my server then upsample from roon.
     
  7. Sterling2
    Well, I get AAC from 1. OPPO UDP-205 usb DAC up sampling at 24/192, 2. Creative Sound Blaster usb to Toslink up sampling to 24/96, and 3. Airport Express sampling at 16/44.1 S/PDIF. Any of these are now delivering AAC which is distinguishably better sounding than from CDs and SACDs of same music My impressions are based on music downloaded from Apple Music and iTunes Store over the last 45 days or thereabouts. The AAC files are not only adequate they seem even superior to same music I have on CD or SACD. I just do not understand why these AAC files are just now sounding so spectacular.
     
    Last edited: Feb 3, 2019
    RockStar2005 likes this.
  8. Whazzzup
    Not all aac sounds the same, not all mastered for i tunes either. The master sets the standard. concerning delivery methods like a server, versus your system, versus iMac...etc then that will influence what you perceive as better.
    In my server there is a definite difference between flac 44.1 to dsd 256 between cd ripped from a quality renderer using acoustic footprints that result in a preferred signal path and those that do not. The confounding variable is the master. Concerning iTunes and bit perfect playback, no comparison.
     
  9. RockStar2005
    Yes that's b/c there's a difference between lossy mp3 and lossy AAC files. It's been statistically PROVEN that any AAC file that's 256 kbps (or larger) will sound AS GOOD as a FLAC file with the same origin. This is why I downsample any FLAC files I buy. Not only does it save space on my phone, but also on my cloud storage, AND the smaller files require less power to play as well, saving battery life.

    What I love about the the iTunes Store is that they sell all their music in 256 kbps AAC already, so I never need to downsample when I buy from them. Plus, because they are smaller, they don't have the same excuse to charge more like their competitors do for the larger FLAC file versions of the same Hi-Res albums they sell. So I pretty much ONLY buy from iTunes Store now.

    Yeah I'd compared a few of my Hi-Res tracks that I'd bought from HDTracks or Acoustic Sounds (etc.), and the MFiT version always sounded the same, which tells me they are coming from the SAME Hi-Res master the other competitor stores are also receiving.
     
    Sterling2 likes this.
  10. RockStar2005
    Well the reason why the iTunes' MFiT albums sound better than the CD versions you guys have is because Hi-Res (aka MFiT) albums tend to pretty much always get the best sounding masters. And so as long that track is never at any point downsampled to mp3 level (AAC is mp4, or next gen mp3, and is higher up), then it should sound the same no matter what.

    And yes, it just doesn't make sense to spend extra money on music if it doesn't sound any better. I just wish I'd found out about MFiT a couple years sooner as I'd spent hundreds on those albums from competitors thinking there was a difference. At least we know now! :L3000:
     
    Sterling2 likes this.
  11. stonesfan129
    It all goes back to how it was mastered.


    I read it is because the Mastered For iTunes AAC tracks are sourced from the same masters as the high-resolution versions sold by those retailers.

    I tend to buy the CD when I can. It's not because I hear a difference, but more for the theoretical benefits and having an archival copy. I store all my stuff across two WD 8TB drives so file size isn't really a concern for me. For mobile listening, I've got a 256gb card in my FiiO X1 and have enough space for lossless. But I wouldn't disagree with anyone who said 256k AAC sounds identical to lossless.

    I also don't see why I should spend $18-25 on the high-resolution versions when I can get a great-sounding CD copy for under $10 most times or go onto iTunes and buy the album for about the same price.

    Come to think of it, I could have sworn I read an article a couple years ago proving that the CD standard of 16-bit, 44.1khz, 1411kbps perfectly reproduces everything somebody can hear.
     
    Last edited: Feb 3, 2019
    RockStar2005 likes this.
  12. RockStar2005
    Exactly. I believe they are sourced from the same masters as well!

    That's cool. If I couldn't find an album online and it was not available in Hi-Res, I've been known to do that too. But what a supervisor AT iTunes Store told me was that all the non-MFiT albums and tracks that are on iTunes Store are actually CD-sourced. Once I found that out, I stopped buying CDs really. lol

    Yeah and sometimes when I'd buy CDs I'd get a used copy for $3-$5. So between buying CDs and purchasing off iTunes, you really can't do any better in terms of bang for your buck!

    That IS true, what you read stones. But as I'd mentioned earlier, the issue isn't resolution, it's that CD and ESPECIALLY Hi-Res albums get the best masters available, and I believe that is REALLY why they sound the best, with Hi-Res being the best, at least 99% of the time. A few albums I've bought or sampled I felt sounded BETTER actually in its CD format than Hi-Res, but again that's pretty rare. 99% might even be too high. lol
     
  13. stonesfan129
    I can't entirely agree with that statement. It totally depends on which album you are talking about. Sometimes the high-resolution release and Mastered For iTunes AAC sourced from the high-res release can sound incredibly good, better than what has been released before. Sometimes it isn't. In many cases, the earlier CD releases sound better. Sometimes it is due to better sources being used or better mastering practices being used.

    "Better" is also incredibly subjective. For example, one of my favorite albums is Pink Floyd - The Dark Side Of The Moon. In many circles, the Japanese Black Triangle CD is considered to be the 'holy grail' of this album. I have a Japanese Harvest CD with the same mastering. I find it to be lacking both in bass definition and high-frequency detail. My preferred mastering is the MFSL UDCD which many in those circles didn't think was as good as the Japanese ones.

    So it's really about finding what sound you like.
     
    Last edited: Feb 3, 2019
    RockStar2005 likes this.
  14. RockStar2005
    Yeah........I mean I've bought a lot of Hi-Res albums since starting in late 2014, but I haven't bought them all. You might be right about it being more b/c I remember checking reviews on a few Hi-Res albums and finding out they weren't any good, and so then I passed. So ok, it does vary. But I'd still strongly say that the vast majority of Hi-Res albums sound better. I'm constantly comparing Hi-Res albums I've purchased to the CD version I've owned for years, and easily 9 out of 10 times it's better in some way, either a little or significantly.

    Yeah it's subjective, but I don't think it's far off at all from describing how good they sound to MOST ppl. lol
     
  15. stonesfan129
    Which albums you have purchased that you felt sounded better than your older CDs? I am wondering because I have an iTunes gift card to use up.
     
    RockStar2005 likes this.
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