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16 bit vs 24 bit, any samples that work?
krabapple
post Feb 18 2009, 01:55
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QUOTE (Martin Kantola @ Feb 17 2009, 17:02) *
Microphones are my main field, so I agree that they are very important and where we should spend most of the money :-) As for why this digital issue matters, it's because of two reasons IMHO:

a) what's assumed about audibility and human perception must constantly be updated, especially when it comes to anything nonlinear or discrete.
b) 16 bit PCM is hopefully not the final word in music or audio, and we need to learn more about what a better format should look like.



16-bit hasn't been the final word in music or audio for years now; virtually all pro recording and production is done in higher bit domains than that, for reasons
the we all should know by now (it's a *preventative* measure against distortion, not an outgrowth of an intrinsically better audible quality versus 16)

16-bit has been the most common final word*length* for home audio listening, and so far, the evidence that it's audibly inadequate to *that* task, in any practical way,
is seriously lacking (this thread included). I don't buy the 'over the long term it may fatigue the listener' argument on current evidence -- and I've seen that claim for
mp3s too.

However, I would strongly argue for 24 bit nowadays only because in many modern AVRs and processors, the CD signal will be reformatted to
24-bit anyway for DSP.
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Martin Kantola
post Feb 18 2009, 03:51
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Appreciate your skeptical attitude.

QUOTE (krabapple @ Feb 17 2009, 19:55) *
16-bit hasn't been the final word in music or audio for years now


Of course it has, as a delivery format it has ruled for decades. Compressed audio is taking over now. And what I'm questioning is the next standard. What we do in the studio is a different story. CD did a good job, but is it the peak of audio quality delivered to the public? The bit rate chosen fit the disc technology available at the time, just as mp3 is perfect for internet connections.


QUOTE (krabapple @ Feb 17 2009, 19:55) *
16-bit has been the most common final word*length* for home audio listening, and so far, the evidence that it's audibly inadequate to *that* task, in any practical way,
is seriously lacking (this thread included).


Never said it's 'inadequate'. That's not the point as I see it. Let me rephrase, do you think there's any room or need for improvement over 16/44, or should we sit back, relax and be content with that audio quality?

QUOTE (krabapple @ Feb 17 2009, 19:55) *
I don't buy the 'over the long term it may fatigue the listener' argument on current evidence


Don't think I used the word 'fatigue'. What I miss is some of that "whoa, this sounds so great" type of primitive reaction and feeling in the music experience with CD. Don't know about you, but I react very strongly to good music, and even more so if the playback quality is very high. CD has never given me any of those top moments as I can remember. Still, it's the only playback format hooked up in my house at the moment. No vinyl, no 1/4 inch tape and mp3 is only for travel.

Martin
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Canar
post Feb 18 2009, 04:21
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QUOTE (Martin Kantola @ Feb 17 2009, 18:51) *
Don't know about you, but I react very strongly to good music, and even more so if the playback quality is very high. CD has never given me any of those top moments as I can remember.
What formats have?


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Martin Kantola
post Feb 18 2009, 05:39
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QUOTE (Canar @ Feb 17 2009, 22:21) *
QUOTE (Martin Kantola @ Feb 17 2009, 18:51) *
Don't know about you, but I react very strongly to good music, and even more so if the playback quality is very high. CD has never given me any of those top moments as I can remember.
What formats have?


24b/96k mixes in the studio (or the sound straight off the console), some 1/4 inch master tapes and even some good vinyl (ouch!) would probably cover the recorded moments. But actually sitting in front of an artist or orchestra definitely gives those truly spine-tingling moments (even if I close my eyes.) Have heard gorgeous sound quality from a CD, but the physical reactions never seem as strong. This is HA, so please forgive me all this subjective stuff...

Before you start the flames, let me also say that I suspect an additional effect happening especially with vinyl. We are listening not only to a reproduction. i.e. the recording, but also to a new sound produced by the pickup and player. It almost becomes an electro acoustic instrument, which in a good system just adds to the musical excitement (and to the flood of information feeding our brain). Maybe.

Martin
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greynol
post Feb 18 2009, 05:55
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It's ok. I will never get the idea out of my head that Y&T's Black Tiger will never sound better than it did on vinyl, with the slight crackle and all. I want to believe the memory this way and that's all there is to it. However, I also know that a 44.1/16 recording of the very same experience would not sound any different to me so long as I didn't already know which format I was hearing.


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Martin Kantola
post Feb 18 2009, 06:32
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QUOTE (greynol @ Feb 17 2009, 23:55) *
However, I also know that a 44.1/16 recording of the very same experience would not sound any different to me so long as I didn't already know which format I was hearing.


Sorry for asking but how do you know this? Have you actually blind tested it?

But as I said, if you capture the sound the record player makes you would probably get pretty close. Have done some attempts to record the 'sound of vinyl' but so far have not really succeeded 100% with the studio quality converters I've tried. A bit surprising perhaps, maybe needs more testing. Please note that I'm talking top quality analog equipment here, not just any old scratchy LP and tired turntable.

Martin
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greynol
post Feb 18 2009, 06:50
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Well, let's just say I'm seriously doubtful that I would be able. I cannot hear past 17-18kHz, so that half of the equation is already decided. This leaves the resolution in question, but keep in mind I'm talking about hard rock here. It's not exactly the most dynamic music.

There has already been a lot of discussion about vinyl here, and from what I recall reading, it isn't capable of providing better SNR than what 16-bit LPCM is capable of providing; regardless of the equipment used. Perhaps you know of some research that shows otherwise.

This post has been edited by greynol: Feb 18 2009, 09:24


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botface
post Feb 18 2009, 10:59
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QUOTE (AndyH-ha @ Feb 17 2009, 21:39) *
The listening experience of headphones is quite a bit different than loudspeakers. Of necessity, I do my LP transfers using headphones, and in some ways that might be easier, but various small percussion instruments, and some other transients, can be hard to distinguish from vinyl noise at times on the headphones. It isnít that these sounds are less audible, they are just distinctly different.

Every once in a while I have to write my work to CD so I can use the living room system. Sounds that I was very uncertain about keeping are suddenly revealed very clearly to be, for instance, two wood sticks being struck together. Sounds of some other instruments sound as though they are really being produced by those instruments but on headphones it is nowhere near so clear.

Another thing: background noise, such as hiss or vinyl wear noise, will seem fully acceptable on headphones but very intrusive on the speakers. That I decide more NR is necessary after listening on speakers is obviously a personal preference, but the differences in sound, headphones to speakers, is pronounced. Then there is the fact that the sound stage and room ambience are not really there on headphones.

Some might believe this all indicates defective equipment but I donít think so. The soundcard and headphone amplifier are good. Iíve used Sennheiser HD600s, Grado SR125s, Sony MDR-V900s and V6s, and occasionally others. All sound different from each other, but none are poor quality. Iíve discussed this with audio and acoustical engineers; it seems to be well know, accepted, and considered more or less explained. Mixing and mastering people rarely consider headphones to be of any value for their work.

None of this says that differences would be undetectable on one and detectable on the other, but the fact hardly seems obvious. Much music really sounds ďbetterĒ to me on the speakers, but I still enjoy headphone listening; for some kinds of music I prefer the headphone experience.

I canít think of how it would be possible to ABX test headphones against speakers, there are too many obvious clues as to which one is using. Unfortunately I also canít do audio file ABX testing in the living room, and I have no intention of spending whatever it would take to allow me to operate a computer from my listening chair. These difficulties might lead some to maintain that differences are unproven, but it hardly seems reasonable to deny all experience that one cannot substantiate by tests.

I agree with almost everything you say. The listening experience IS totally different via headphones. I too do my LP transfers using headphones and I also don't have my PC hooked up to to my main listening system. The only place my experience differs from yours is background noise. I find noise much more noticeable on headphones and am have often been tempted to try to eliminate it only to find that it's not at all noticeable if I write the audio in question to a CD and play it back on my hi-fi. I'd always assumed that was beacuse I'm about 10 feet away from my speakers so maybe the noise doesn't "travel" as well as the music whereas on headphones the noise is being squrted straight into my ear
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2Bdecided
post Feb 18 2009, 11:20
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QUOTE (AndyH-ha @ Feb 17 2009, 21:39) *
Mixing and mastering people rarely consider headphones to be of any value for their work.
Let me make an off topic comment here:

I don't know how mixing and mastering engineers really work, but I assume they sit somewhere around the sweet spot in front of two good quality stereo loudspeakers (or in a nice large room with 5 or more speakers!).


I do know how consumers really "listen to" or (more often) "hear" music:

  • They have car stereos where they're not sat in the middle of the stereo sound stage, and the lows, mids, and highs come from easily differentiable locations.
  • They have mp3s players, most with terrible headphones, some with reasonable headphones, a few with great headphones.
  • They have home stereos with the speakers placed 12" apart.
  • They have home stereos with the speakers placed 6ft apart, but so close to the walls that they sound terrible.
  • A very small number have speakers placed in a way that can give good stereo in a single sweet spot.
  • [b]...and[/b[] however their speakers are set up, most people don't sit in the sweet spot to listen to music very often. If they're sat down at all, it's probably at some random location off centre, probably not even facing the speakers.



I don't know the proportion of each of these, though I see a lot of people walking around with in-ear headphones on these days.

My (off topic!) point is that if people mixing music don't listen through headphones, they don't know what a huge part of their audience will hear. It amazes me that someone hasn't spotted the commercial opportunity here: mixes designed especially for headphone listening. They love selling the same music several times over - I can't believe they've missed out on this golden opportunity.

Cheers,
David.
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2Bdecided
post Feb 18 2009, 11:36
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QUOTE (Martin Kantola @ Feb 18 2009, 05:32) *
Sorry for asking but how do you know this? Have you actually blind tested it?
There's quite a few people here who have copied many records onto CD (or at least, digital). AndyH-Ha and CliveB come to mind. I've done a few myself to (though I just play at it - my interest is more in 78s anyway).

The usual answer when someone asks is that it makes no difference.

Maybe we're all deaf, or don't know what to listen for - or maybe the magnitude of change between one record and another, or one cartridge and another, and certainly one declicker and another, is so great that any 44.1k vs 96k or 16-bit vx 24-bit differences are insignificant.

I can't speak for the others, but for myself, I really can't hear any difference between the record and the CD - unless I've processed it (declicking, denoising) to sound better.

Often I've thought I heard a difference when I stopped the LP and started playing the digital recording, and FWIW I've also thought I heard a difference between DACs too - but when I've level matched things, and done a simple live vs digital loop-through comparison, I've decided that I can't hear a difference (and that was in a sighted comparison!). I think the difference I thought I heard was either down to the audible noise coming straight off the stylus itself (which is present for both live and digital loop-through, but not when you play the digital file back!) and the physical experience of putting on a record and seeing it spin around (which again, is present for both the live and digital loop-through in my sighted test, but is not present when you click play on the digital file afterwards).

I did find a CD recorder that audibly altered the sound of the vinyl background noise (silent groove) when I fed it a signal via an external ADC - but then I found that the level matching for this comparison, done via the CD recorder's own level control, had introduced really nasty undithered re-quantisation. Setting that control back to unity, and adjusting the input level on the ADC instead, made the live vs digital loop-through difference inaudible to me.

Cheers,
David.
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MLXXX
post Feb 18 2009, 14:19
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QUOTE (AndyH-ha @ Feb 18 2009, 07:39) *
None of this says that differences would be undetectable on one and detectable on the other, but the fact hardly seems obvious. Much music really sounds ďbetterĒ to me on the speakers, but I still enjoy headphone listening; for some kinds of music I prefer the headphone experience.
Agreed.

QUOTE (Martin Kantola @ Feb 18 2009, 08:02) *
QUOTE (MLXXX @ Feb 17 2009, 06:10) *
1. Where perceived differences are very small, suspicion develops that the playback equipment may be solely responsible.


Always possible, but not very likely, I'd like to think that the playback equipment makes it even more difficult in this case. Why do you think these artifacts would not be tiny? After all, we're messing with a few LSBs here...

I agree that the artifacts of the dithered 16-bit version (a) failing in some way to capture the nuances of detail of the 24-bit original or (b) introducing noticeable noise, can be expected to be tiny at ordinary listening levels. They are so tiny they will be below the threshhold of the human physiology of hearing, or perhaps only just perceptible. When the human ear is listening for such extremely tiny differences, any other differences even small ones, can contaminate the test.

One of the differences between 24.wav and 24_16_fb2k_dither.wav is that the second file is in 16 bit format. Some PC audio drivers permit a choice between 16 bit and 24 bit reproduction. Obviously the pc will need to be set for a mode that does not limit the sound to 16 bits.

A late model laptop could be expected to have a high definition capable sound chip and to produce exactly the same analogue sound when playing a 16 bit file, as compared with playing the 16 bit file converted to 24 bits by adding zeros. But to ensure a good scientific method it would desirable to run some ABX tests to ensure the laptop does not play a 16 bit file even slightly differently to the same 16 bit file padded out with zeros to make a 24 bit file.

At this point in time for many conservative readers there will be doubt as to whether the equipment in use has not contributed to the perceived differences in sound in some subtle way. I recall that for an earlier test file in this thread 2Bdecided modified a 16 bit file by converting it to 24 bits through the addition of noise at bit positions 17 to 24. That technique encourages a pc to play back a 16 bit dithered version with exactly the same "operating parameters" for the software/hardware as it uses to play a 24 bit original file.

____

A little off-topic:
Some months back I reported that I could ABX an 8,333Hz sine wave from an 8,333Hz sine wave plus third harmonic (24,999Hz). This met with considerable scepticism. To try to counter the sceptisim related to the experimental method, I resorted to using a portable cd player to play a continuous tone of 8,333Hz and used my main hi-fi system to play either a 24,999Hz tone, or silence, controlled by the ABX functionality in foobar. [The tweeters in my loudspeaker system could produce significant sound pressure at 25KHz, as verified with a microphone and oscilloscope.]

With the portable CD turned off, I could not hear any difference between silence and the 24,999Hz tone. (My hearing cuts out below 20KHz). But with the portable cd player turned on and playing the 8,333Hz tone, I could tell a difference. But only just! The ABX was extremely hard to do.

The presence of the 24,999Hz tone seemed to slighty reduce the amplitude of the 8,333Hz tone.

I was not directly hearing the 24,999Hz tone, but I was hearing an effect that tone was having on a frequency I could hear!

But at the end of the day, the effect was extremely subtle and I was not sure there were any practical implications.


I have a completely open mind on the 24-bit original vs dithered (noise-shaped) to 16 bit question, and look forward to seeing more ABX reports.

Cheers.

This post has been edited by MLXXX: Feb 18 2009, 15:26
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pdq
post Feb 18 2009, 17:03
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The usual question at this point would be, was this in fact an effect on the reproduction chain? For example, does the tweeter behave slightly differently in the presence of the ultrasonic signal in a way that affects the audible signal? Or perhaps due to a non-linearity there was a beat frequency just within your hearing range, but low enough that you were not conscious of it directly?
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Martin Kantola
post Feb 18 2009, 17:47
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QUOTE (2Bdecided @ Feb 18 2009, 05:36) *
There's quite a few people here who have copied many records onto CD (or at least, digital). AndyH-Ha and CliveB come to mind. I've done a few myself to (though I just play at it - my interest is more in 78s anyway).

The usual answer when someone asks is that it makes no difference. Maybe we're all deaf, or don't know what to listen for - or maybe the magnitude of change between one record and another, or one cartridge and another, and certainly one declicker and another, is so great that any 44.1k vs 96k or 16-bit vx 24-bit differences are insignificant.


Only asked because I was interested in your experiences, and this is a good time to say how much I enjoy the high standard of this forum and talking to you guys!

In my limited vinyl experience the setup was probably as close to optimal as we can get, but I didn't do any blind testing, so it might be I only thought I heard a difference. Remember trying up to 192kHz sampling with no real improvement though.

Double blind testing puts everything in a new light, and that's why it's so exciting to me. Now I have to go back and investigate more than one thing properly. Speaking of which, I will need to build myself a good ABX rig (in hardware). Any suggested reading or links?

Sorry for taking this OT, but please let me say a couple more words about why I'm so interested in exploring the limits of our hearing and equipment, even if it doesn't seems to matter practically speaking. For some time now, I've used a bit of simple blind testing while working with audio electronics. It's interesting to see how the method can be used in reverse to make two circuits sound the same, or even to produce an audible, and confirmed, improvement. And in the end, all those small but real improvements add up to something that truly pleases the ear. The blind testing allows me to slowly but steadily work towards a better sounding solution.

QUOTE (2Bdecided @ Feb 18 2009, 05:36) *
I think the difference I thought I heard was either down to the audible noise coming straight off the stylus itself (which is present for both live and digital loop-through, but not when you play the digital file back!) and the physical experience of putting on a record and seeing it spin around (which again, is present for both the live and digital loop-through in my sighted test, but is not present when you click play on the digital file afterwards).


Yes! With a reel-to-reel you also have another visual 'signal' but not the stylus noise.

Martin
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krabapple
post Feb 18 2009, 18:03
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QUOTE (Martin Kantola @ Feb 17 2009, 21:51) *
Never said it's 'inadequate'. That's not the point as I see it. Let me rephrase, do you think there's any room or need for improvement over 16/44, or should we sit back, relax and be content with that audio quality?


The latter. As delivery format SR and wordlength, 44.1 and 16 are good enough. They are emphatically NOT the 'problem' with home audio repro. The real improvements in audio quality are going to come from multichannel recording, mixing and delivery technologies, combined with digital 'room correction' -- not higher SR and wordlengths (though both of those are *already* involved in much playback, since virtually all CDPs oversample, and virtually all modern AVRs perfrom DSP, at 24 or "32'" bits)



QUOTE
Don't think I used the word 'fatigue'. What I miss is some of that "whoa, this sounds so great" type of primitive reaction and feeling in the music experience with CD. Don't know about you, but I react very strongly to good music, and even more so if the playback quality is very high. CD has never given me any of those top moments as I can remember. Still, it's the only playback format hooked up in my house at the moment. No vinyl, no 1/4 inch tape and mp3 is only for travel.


I have music on CD that brings tears to my eyes, it moves me that much. And I grew up listening to vinyl (and still have a fairly decent vinyl playback rig). i got a kick out of it, too. As well as the Beatles from a tiny transistor radio in '65-68. As well as live performances I've attended, and performed.

This post has been edited by krabapple: Feb 19 2009, 16:42
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AndyH-ha
post Feb 19 2009, 01:28
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David,

You are probably aware of, if not personally conversant with, binaural recordings, intended particularly for headphone listening. This depends more upon recording technique that mastering. It seems to be a pretty small market.

Proper studio monitor setup is near field, very specifically set-up to avoid room interactions as much as possible. This involves dampening the room properly, as well as positioning everything correctly.

I believe the general consensus is that anything mixed and mastered on a proper set-up will sound as good as possible in the maximum number of listening environments. One of the most common complaints of beginners who didnít pay attention to established wisdom is ďafter so much time and effort getting my mix to sound perfect on my computer speakers, it sounds terrible in the living room/car, wherever.Ē Such mixes donít travel well.

I think part of the loudness war approach is a compensation (however poor from some viewpoints) to deal with some of todayís listening practices.
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2Bdecided
post Feb 19 2009, 12:04
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Andy,

Thanks for that explanation.

btw, I made a binaural simulation in DSP "many" years ago now - it was my second audio DSP project (the first was a dithered volume control). It's surprisingly difficult to get right, and to make it sound _better_ than "normal" stereo - even when listened to via headphones. However, I'm still surprised that someone doesn't do slightly different mixes for, say, iTunes. As an extreme example, you can imagine lots of the Beatles catalogue could be made to sound far nicer over headphones than it currently does (though there are plenty of reasons why getting the Beatles "remixed" is "unthinkable", even though it has happened several times).

Cheers,
David.


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2Bdecided
post Feb 19 2009, 12:13
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I was going to put this in a PM, but decided to post it here instead...

krabapple, I think that's a healthy dose of reality. No one has to even think about ABXing stereo vs surround, or good vs terrible speakers, or even different microphone / mixing techniques. The audible difference is really obvious. In the case of "good" surround of "good" speakers, the audible advantage is obvious, even without a "bad" reference for comparison in the same room.

I, like you, have music that can move me to smile or cry on various formats - and in some cases it's nothing to do with "association" or lyrics or anything - it's just the sound of the music, more than adequately conveyed by various media. Sometimes it's even the recording itself with all its limitations that is so pleasing (e.g. the specific "sound" of 1930s or 1960s "pop" recordings).

That shouldn't stop us tracking down any possible issues with 16-bits or 44.1kHz - some people who believe they hear differences describe them as significant once identified - and now someone appears to be able to ABX a difference. I keep an open mind.

But for me, 44.1kHz 16-bits doesn't stop me having an emotional connection with the music on various levels.

Last night I was listening to Rachmaninoff's 3rd piano concerto via 192kbps discrete stereo mp3. I don't think the power of the music was diminished at all, even though the sound of the piano wasn't adequately conveyed by my little ear buds.

Cheers,
David.
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Nick.C
post Feb 19 2009, 13:03
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Is part of listening to music which is both familiar to us and moves us not based to some extent on expectation - a bit like re-reading a book?


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MLXXX
post Feb 19 2009, 15:28
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QUOTE (pdq @ Feb 19 2009, 02:03) *
The usual question at this point would be, was this in fact an effect on the reproduction chain? For example, does the tweeter behave slightly differently in the presence of the ultrasonic signal in a way that affects the audible signal? Or perhaps due to a non-linearity there was a beat frequency just within your hearing range, but low enough that you were not conscious of it directly?
pdq, you may recall my providing details in May 2008. This litle experiment of mine was described beginning at post #100 of the thread "Resampling down to 44.1KHz, Is there a method that will not colour the sound?". I think these facts are relevant to your query above:
* For initial tests the left and right channels of the hi-fi stereo were fed phase locked 8333Hz and 24999Hz and I could hear the effect I have described (change in apparent volume, and also a slight change in apparent tonal quality). A later test with an older AVR and a portable CD player creraed the effect, and the third harmonic was phase locked.
* For some other tests the portable CD player playing 8333Hz was several metres away from the hi-fi speaker playing 24999Hz. There was therefore no acoustic coupling between the transducers (speakers) that were creating the different source frequencies. Totally independent reproduction chains. [And not phase locked.]
* Attempts to generate audible beats by playing 22KHz and 23Khz from separate speakers to create a 1KHz beat, or closer together ultrasonic frequences to create a lower frequncy audible beat failed. However some much lower frequencies succeeded. For example, playing 2500Hz and 3000Hz through separate speakers produced an audible beat of 500Hz. This phenomenon has been described in the literature and has been explained as due to non-linearity of human hearing. The effect was slight; the 500Hz was barely audible and I think I would have missed it, had I not been specifically listening for it.
This discussion is now seriously off-topic! I guess you could post to the old thread if you wished to continue it. Cheers

QUOTE (Nick.C @ Feb 19 2009, 22:03) *
Is part of listening to music which is both familiar to us and moves us not based to some extent on expectation - a bit like re-reading a book?
Your remark/question reminds me of the fact that if on a particular occasion we listen wth poor equipment to a recording we are familiar with, our minds may fill in a lot of the gaps, based on our knowledge of the sounds of the recording as we previously heard it, on better equipment.

If I listen to a necessarily poor quality recording of Enrico Caruso made in the period 1910 to 1920, my mind inserts some of the missing detail because I have developed a mental construct of Caruso's voice after listening to various recordings available, but also based in part on my knowledge of how operatic tenors typically sound today. I extrapolate. This is a type of listening ability we would all have to some degree. We use our imaginations when listening to music.

If I had ever heard Caruso live, my brain would be able to insert much more of the missing detail when listening to the poor quality recordings. But lacking that, it is nevertheless not hard to imagine he had the greatest operatic tenor voice of the 20th century, a claim often made; despite the very restricted frequency response, and high distortion, of the surviving recordings.

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krabapple
post Feb 19 2009, 16:46
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QUOTE (Nick.C @ Feb 19 2009, 07:03) *
Is part of listening to music which is both familiar to us and moves us not based to some extent on expectation - a bit like re-reading a book?



No doubt...but that doesn't explain why sometimes a brand new (to me) piece of music catches my ear and gets me 'involved' -- a phenomenon that absolutely does not
require 'high fidelity' playback conditions (the last time it happened was in a restaurant -- the staff were playing tracks from their iPods over the house system).

This post has been edited by krabapple: Feb 19 2009, 16:46
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Axon
post Feb 19 2009, 18:33
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I've been thinking of a similar framework about audio to what krab has been saying for a while, but I'd take what he's saying a step further. (Me being more militant than krab? Yikes, what is this world coming to?)

I would go so far as to say that we've been a little too accepting and tolerant about this 16/44 issue for too long. A lot of people now - not even audiophiles - regularly denigrate Red Book as being a fundamentally inferior to vinyl/high res. That it is a less emotional experience, that a generation has been cheated out of good music, that (insert fallacious technical argument here), etc. Steven Van Zandt just claimed on an interview that CDs are "the biggest scam perpetrated on the public". Such people make Bob Dylan look like a beacon of reason.

It's really hard to fathom exactly how elitist and ignorant these positions really are. What these people are doing, it seems, is performing a value judgement on my musical experiences. That even though I've had plenty of great experiences with CD music, those experiences are automatically less meaningful because it's on a disfavored format (for reasons that no person has ever technically, competently articulated). That had I not listened to vinyl, I would always be missing out on the "real" way to listen to a mass-marketed, commoditized, overpriced, eternally predistorted and precompressed product that never had any authenticity to begin with.

No. F*ck them. We as music listeners shouldn't stand for that.

Almost any format is acceptable listening for music, including AM for some genres, and I've had wonderful experiences with all of them. (Raise your hand if you listened to Freebird for the first time on the car radio and almost ran off the road.) CDs dominate, but not merely because of market inertia and PR - they happen to be relatively small, cheap to manufacture, be cheap to produce, and have great-but-not-theoretically-ideal performance. Those are all good things for the distribution of commoditized mass media. But it seems that many people do not like to be reminded how sheep-like they are by trying to avoid the pack, so they abandon one commodity medium for another. We call these people "hipsters". Another name for them is "stupid lemmings".

---

On a similar note regarding downloads. I've downloaded gobs and gobs of free classical music online over the last few months. Podcasts from Deutsche Welle, the Royal Concertgebouw 120th downloads, Schubert lieder, Peabody Symphony Orchestra, .... The list goes on and on. If I'm lucky, it's 320k, otherwise it's like 192k CBR or something like that.

I will say it now and I will try to state it in equally insulting words in the future: Anybody who claims that is a step backwards from 5, 10, 20, 50, or 100 years ago is a f*cking douche who does not know what he/she is talking about, and whose personal experiences with music are dead to me.

That said, a surprising number of audiophiles do get that. Remember Todd Krieger? He hearts the YouTube. He's still a douche, though.

This post has been edited by Axon: Feb 19 2009, 18:34
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2Bdecided
post Feb 19 2009, 18:44
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It's partly snobbery.

How can anything that costs 10pence to make possibly be good enough for those $50k audio systems?! wink.gif

There's an emotional need in some users, and a financial need in some parts of the industry, for CD to be "not good enough".


A word of warning though: very few people appreciate mp3 artefacts the first time they hear them, but many people subsequently learn to recognise them, be annoyed by them, and try to eliminate them. This could be just another type of artefact that people may either learn to hate, or learn to put up with, depending on their attitude and needs.

Cheers,
David.
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Axon
post Feb 19 2009, 18:57
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99% of audiophiles wouldn't know a 128k artifact if it shot them in the ass. "They" (if I may continue to entertain myself by stereotyping) talk a lot about a loss of detail or "air" or whatever in MP3s that is supposedly easy to recognize. Those sorts of statements are pretty easy to dismiss out of hand for those of us who have actually heard high bitrate artifacts.
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Martin Kantola
post Feb 19 2009, 22:39
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QUOTE (2Bdecided @ Feb 19 2009, 06:13) *
That shouldn't stop us tracking down any possible issues with 16-bits or 44.1kHz - some people who believe they hear differences describe them as significant once identified - and now someone appears to be able to ABX a difference. I keep an open mind.


Will happily admit that my interest in the possible limitations of 44/16 is 'academic' at this point. Keep producing and consuming the very format while I explore further.

QUOTE (2Bdecided @ Feb 19 2009, 06:13) *
But for me, 44.1kHz 16-bits doesn't stop me having an emotional connection with the music on various levels.


Me neither, what I said was that the few 'top' moments never seemed to be associated with CD playback. Just an observation. And the other observation is that the home listening experience has become less and less interesting to me over the years. But it could be for a number of reasons, I might need another room, amplifier or speakers or just another type of daily schedule to once again enjoy music as I used to.

QUOTE (2Bdecided @ Feb 19 2009, 06:13) *
Last night I was listening to Rachmaninoff's 3rd piano concerto via 192kbps discrete stereo mp3. I don't think the power of the music was diminished at all, even though the sound of the piano wasn't adequately conveyed by my little ear buds.


Yesterday I took a long walk on the beach, listening to my ipod. In my case. the experience was greatly enhanced by the fact that I had new Monster ear buds to try out. Yeah, the music experience was good, but there's no doubt in my mind that it could have been better too. That's the dangerous audiophile disease in a nutshell, always looking for a better experience, while the music itself stays the same...

But as you say, the mp3 format was probably not the limiting factor at this level.

Martin


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dodog
post Feb 19 2009, 23:27
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QUOTE (Martin Kantola @ Feb 17 2009, 20:51) *
...What I miss is some of that "whoa, this sounds so great" type of primitive reaction and feeling in the music experience with CD. Don't know about you, but I react very strongly to good music, and even more so if the playback quality is very high. CD has never given me any of those top moments as I can remember...


There are a lot of people interested in preserving old Beatles records out there right now (with a particular emphasis on Stereo vs. Mon, Solid-State vs. Tube, etc.). I've listened to a friends drop of Sgt. Pepper's -1/-1 original Yellow & Black Parlophone Tube Cut (borrowed copy mind you). I believe it was taken in 24/96 and dithered down to 16/44.1 with some nice software. The sound of that CD blew me away.

In fact, investing in a cheap amp and a decent set of 'phones has caused most of my CD collection to really rock (most from the pre-loudness wars).
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