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There is nothing you can do to make a $5k DAC w/ 16/44 sound better than $1kDAC w/ 24/96

Discussion in 'Sound Science' started by chesebert, Jul 10, 2010.
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  1. chesebert
    24/96 has more than 3X the data density of 16/44.  Buy middle of the road DAC (e.g. Stello, Benchmark, Lavry, PS Audio), buy 24/96 downloads, and be happy.
    NO amount of buffering, reclocking, 'miracle' (substitute your favorite DAC chip) DAC, class A/Tube/Zero-feedback output circuit, massive over-built power supply and whatever circuit improvements you can think of, will will make your 16/44 on your $5k DAC sound better than 24/96 on the average $1k DAC.
    Edit: in light of some of the comments below:
    The purpose of this PSA: To help those with limited funds to maximize their enjoyment of the music.  24/96 tracks are, on average, more expensive than 16/44.  You will get a much bigger bang for your buck by getting 24/96 track than by upgrading to the next new shinning DAC.
    No DAC can generate 2/3 of the missing data from nothing.  If it's not in the data stream, its not coming out on the analog output, period.
  2. computerparts
    That's quite a bold statement there. Have you actually owned a $5k 16/44 dac and done comparisons? In my experience, middle of the road dacs whether 24/96 capable or not are middle of the road dacs. They are built to a specific price point and many compromises are made. Where as $5k dacs whether 24/96 capable or not, are built to a much higher price point with less compromise in the overall design. Sure 24/96 may have "3x the data density of 16/44" but are you actually going to hear all of that data density in a middle of the road dac?
    Also, you should be more specific on what you mean when you say "sounds better" as that is a very broad and subjective description.
  3. chesebert
    Objective better sound = more accurate presentation of the original event, if recorded alive, or master digital file/tape, if engineered.
    Subjective better sound is, well, subjective.
  4. leeperry
    oh, lookee! a troll bait w/o any technical proof to back it up, my favorite kind [​IMG]
  5. KingStyles Contributor
    So he is trying to convince us that a analytical benchmark recieving 24/96 will outperform something like a berkley alpha recieving 16/44? This isnt even worth arguing.
  6. chesebert


    Yes. That's uncontrovertable in the most objective sense.  You may prefer Alpha subjectively, however.  Alpha was good in the limited time I had spent with it, but not amazing or maybe just not my cup of tea.
  7. KingStyles Contributor
    The only problem with your assumption is that a lot of times the 24/96 files are mastered differently then the 16/44 files thus giving an supposed boost in quality. In some blind test that i am too lazy too look up now, a 24/96 file taken and a 16/44 files made from it to make sure that the same mastering was used, found that in blind test no more than chance were audiophilles able to choose the which was the high resolution file. Only slight differences have been observed when the test have been set up this way. This is why a 1000 dac playing 24/96 may sound better than a 16/44 on a 5000 dac. Its because most probably the quality of the mastering between the two files is different. Same goes with sacd players. Most of the time the two layers on a sacd hybrid are mastered differently giving the sacd master the advantage. People pay more for these files so it would be natural to take more time in the quality of the mastering to make sure people are getting there moneys worth.
  8. Ham Sandwich

    You do not lose data in the audio range when sampling at 44.1 vs. 96.  All the same audio data is there and just as smooth.  44.1 is not more jaggy or stair-steppy than 96.  Audio data doesn't fall through the cracks at 44.1 because the sampling points are farther apart.  No audio data falls through the cracks.  You're not getting 2/3 more audible audio at 96 kHz.
    There can be differences in 44.1 vs 96 due to the digital filter necessary to filter out the high frequency artifacts that happen with sampling.  At 44.1 kHz the tail of the digital filter can be in the audible range.  96 kHz allows for moving the digital filter way away from the audible range so it won't make its effects heard.  But whatever.  Most 44.1 DACs are oversampling now anyways so they've got the digital filter moved up out of the audible range now too.
    dfkt likes this.
  9. Pio2001


    This statement is often, true, because in the 5000 $ range, many DACs are objectively bad. Many are non-oversampling, which introduce audible distortions (the frequency response falls 1 dB in high frequencies when you remove the oversampling), some use special filters that claim to improve transient response, while all they do is introducing even more treble loss. Some use tubes...
    dfkt likes this.
  10. leeperry

    NOS is just a joke, it's not technically feasible...or it would output stellar THD(see the measurement in the last pages): http://www.head-fi.org/forum/thread/438220/
    We all know that 24/96 is not necessarily better than 16/44.1, it's the mastering that matters, and 24bit only matters if you listen >96dB....so saying that -regardless of price- a 24/96 DAC will always be better than a 16/44.1 is noobish at best.
    dfkt likes this.
  11. dfkt
    I've downloaded quite a few 24/96 albums, then I downsampled them myself with proper dithering and anti-aliasing to 16/44. I ABX tested these original tracks against mine and couldn't hear any difference between any of them.
    I guess the high-bitrate layers on many SACDs and DVD-As are indeed differently mastered than the Redbook layers, since there were some differences between the regular CD versions of albums compared to my DIY-downsampled ones - but absolutely no difference between my downsamples and the original 24/96. I think it really doesn't matter how high you go with bitrates and sample rates, but the different mixing/mastering processes are of course crucial.
  12. Vkamicht


    Well yeah, you don't have the OP's superhuman hearing ability... of course you can't tell the difference.
  13. nick_charles Contributor


    The paper you are referring to is Meyer and Moran's 2007 paper : Audibility of a CD-Standard A/D/A Loop Inserted into High-Resolution Audio Playback,  J. Audio Eng. Soc., Vol. 55, No. 9, 2007 September. Detection was only possible by cranking up the volume to painful levels so that the higher incipient noise became more noticeable, at normal listening levels no difference was deteectable. M & M used borth high res PCM and DSD for their tests with no difference between them in the results.The tests used over 60 subjects and over 550 different trials.
    I have downloaded high res and 16/44.1 from some sites like Linn and the recordings are measurably different but when you do your own conversion like dfkt says guess what...
    Is it my imagination or was this thread moved out of the Source subforum ? 
    dfkt likes this.
  14. chesebert
    download some 24/96 Linn tracks, downsample yourself and listen
    Jazz- no differnce
    Pop/Vocal - no difference
    Piano - very audible difference
    Violin - very audible difference
    Symphony - very audible difference
    Any instrument with 2nd, 3rd and 4th harmonics over 16khz sounds more real, and more organic on 24/96.
    I am well aware for most music 24/96 makes no difference.  Too bad the thread got moved to "sound science". 
    The truth is you can't buy home-brewed down-sampled 24/96, just like you can't buy home-brewed digitized LP tracks. For people jumping from say Lavry to Benchmark to Stello to PS Audio to the latest/great/shinning Auido-gd DAC, I would say just buy some nice 24/96 music and be happy. 
    Honestly if you have money the newest dCS Paganini or even the Pucini SACD using digital inputs, even at 16/44 it sounds better than almost anything I have heard around $5k, stuff like Berkly Audio, Ayre, Esoteric (lower-end models), Luxman, etc

  15. Head Injury

    Did you test this blind?
    Also, what's your age and listening volume, to be able to hear harmonics over 16kHz with ease?
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