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Is DVD Audio necessary ?
fcmts
post Mar 21 2004, 05:54
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I just encoded a 24/96 WMA 9 Pro at 440kbps from a "Chesky" DVD.
This bit ratio is lower than a CD but the sound quality is almost (?) the same as the source, albeit I didn't abx yet.
My question is: Why do we need a DVD 24/94, DVD Audio or SACD if we can get that quality from a properly encoded file ? All we must have is a high resolution audio card.
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Jasper
post Mar 21 2004, 10:37
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As far as I know DVD-Audio also allows for Dolby Digital and DTS, which are lossy encodings.
But that aside, what you ask would be similar to asking "Why do we need CDs if we have MP3s?". The quality of WMA9 Pro might be good enough for most (if not all), but there will always be reasons to use the original, like backing up for archival purposes, warm fuzzy feelings, problem samples and to keep transcoding to a minimum for example.
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kl33per
post Mar 21 2004, 13:30
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Pure DVD Audio don't have DTS or Dolby Digital Tracks on them. DVD Audio discs support sampling rates of 44.1/48/88.2/96/ 176.4/192 kHz, 16/20/24 Bits per sample, with a maximum of 6 channels (@ 96 kHz) or 2 channels (@ 176.4/192 kHz). The coding method is either LPCM or MLP (Meridian Lossless Packing - A Lossless Coding Format).

However, sometimes DVD Audio discs have a DVD Video track that can have LPCM or Dolby Digital on it (and perhaps DTS Tracks). These tracks are not part of the DVD Audio portion of the disc, and are not part of the DVD Audio standard.

To get back to the original question...

I've never listened to a SACD or a DVD Audio disc, so I can't really tell you if they make a noticeable improvement. I doubt if the sampling rate makes the music sound any better considering most people can't hear above 20kHz (many not even that). The bits per sample may have a noticeable effect (will allow for more dynamic range) but I'm not sure that would be noticeable either.


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Panick
post Mar 29 2004, 01:04
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I have a few DVD Audio discs and SACDs and they are definitely superior to CDs and most digital audio files. There are some horribly mastered recordings just like any other medium, but a high quality DVD-A or SACD will beat out a CD in sound quality everytime. Even the non-audiophiles that I've had listening to them can notice the difference.

The surround sound is pretty good for some stuff (I particularly like Jazz albums in 5.1) but it's been really botched on some albums. There are quite a few DVD-A discs that are classical performances recorded live specifically for the format and they're quite good. I look forward to seeing what some artists can do with surround sound.

I've noticed that while DVD-A is it's own spec, most DVD-A discs also contain versions of the album in Dolby Digital 5.1 and/or DTS so they're compatible with almost all DVD video players (the sound quality for those two formats is usually 24/48 though, lower than the normal 24/96 or 24/192 of the DVD-A format). SACDs sometimes have a CD version of the album on the disc with the SACD version so it's playable on normal CD players too.

I think if the digital format providers (like Apple, for example) can begin providing their files in 24 bit (and maybe surround sound) formats pulled directly off of the masters, then DVD-A and SACD won't be neccessary. But since that's unlikely to happen anytime soon we're left with what the record companies are willing to put out.
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Pio2001
post Mar 29 2004, 02:29
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QUOTE (Panick @ Mar 29 2004, 01:04 AM)
I have a few DVD Audio discs and SACDs and they are definitely superior to CDs and most digital audio files.

Hello, Panick,
Thank you for participating, but HydrogenAudio is a special community, where audio discussions follow special rules. All statements about sound quality must be backuped either by some technical evidence (e.g. CD having less background noise than vinyl), or by double blind listening tests (e.g. castanets being a difficult instrument to encode into MP3).

There is no technical evidence that SACD or DVD-A sounds different than CD (all the additional information is not only outside the human audible range, but outside what any speaker can play anyway), nor any blind test demonstrating directly this (one was realized under exeptional conditions (experimental transductors, format superior to both DVDA and SACD) and was never reproduced for confirmation, the other is still unfinished).
Therefore your statement violates the Term of Service number 8 of the board.

This is a rule which is strictly enforced in all discussions about soundquality, and it applies even if the differences are obvious, especially in such controversial fields as ultrasonic content. It is well explained in the Terms of Service.

Here is a good example of absolutely obvious differences that vanish under blind conditions : http://www.nytimes.com/library/tech/99/12/...les/23down.html

Thus, without blind test description and results, you understand that your comment about the sound of the SACD can't be taken into account here. By the way, if you like I can find the exact opposite statement by someone else :
http://www.musicplayer.com/ubb/ultimatebb....2225;p=5#000155

But this article shows that hybrid SACD can have their different layers recorded from different masters, which invalidates comparisons based on hybrid SACD :
http://www.stereophile.com/news/11649/index.html
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listen
post Mar 29 2004, 04:48
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Hi Panick, if you think you can hear that DVD-A sounds better please do take the blind-test that Pio mentioned. It would be really good to have some more input. I haven't forgotten it but have been really busy recently, although seeing this thread has given me some motivation again...

This post has been edited by listen: Mar 29 2004, 09:06
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Jebus
post Mar 29 2004, 08:11
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Pio that's a great new "welcome message," you should put it in the FAQ or Wiki or something so we can cut-and-paste whenever it's necessary.
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torok
post Mar 29 2004, 08:19
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Nope.


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SirGrey
post Mar 29 2004, 09:37
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>>The bits per sample may have a noticeable effect (will allow for more dynamic range) but I'm not sure that would be noticeable either.
It would, really. At least in first releases.
But after some time they probably would sound as a usual CD. Or even worse smile.gif
There are links to a beautiful articles on this topic:
http://www.hydrogenaudio.org/forums/index....howtopic=20077&
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kl33per
post Mar 29 2004, 14:22
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Modern CD's only sound becuase they're mastered poorly. CD's do have a fairly extensive dynamic range, it's just that they are forced into being so loud they clip thus causing audible distortion. Many SACD/DVD-Audio discs aren't pushed in the same way (although some are still mastered poorly). I'm not saying these discs aren't an improvement, just that testing needs to be done to see if this is correct.

I do however find the surround possibilities interesting, Jazz recordings in 5.1 must be awesome. If fact, I think I would enjoy many discs in 5.1, but I can live with stereo for now until a better solution (i.e. one that doesn't constrict me in how, where, and what I listen to my music with, I want to rip it digitally) comes along.


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SirGrey
post Mar 29 2004, 15:05
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That what I ment... Because of poor English I post a link w/o more explanations.
P.S.
>>until a better solution (i.e. one that doesn't constrict me in how, where, and what I listen to my music with, I want to rip it digitally) comes along.
Sweet dreams smile.gif
Something tells me, that what happens now with DRM is only beginning sad.gif
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tjf
post Mar 29 2004, 16:31
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QUOTE (Pio2001 @ Mar 29 2004, 02:29 AM)
Here is a good example of absolutely obvious differences that vanish under blind conditions : http://www.nytimes.com/library/tech/99/12/...les/23down.html

Broken link.
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fcmts
post Mar 30 2004, 03:08
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I guess we lost the focus since my original post. I don't deny the advantages of a 24/96 (f.i.) sound system, but I said that possibly that quality can be achieved by a lossy format at a transparent bitrate that fits in a cd standard bitrate (1411kbps when it's x1).
This made me ask you all if, instead of a new media, the industry could have released only a new generation of players that works internally at 24/96 (f.i.) and reads a lossy encoded source burned on a cd, since that source was hi-res.
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Pio2001
post Mar 30 2004, 04:49
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QUOTE (Jebus @ Mar 29 2004, 08:11 AM)
Pio that's a great new "welcome message," you should put it in the FAQ or Wiki or something so we can cut-and-paste whenever it's necessary.

2BDecided suggested that everyone should make his own template message. So I will keep this one for myself, adding some variations each time I need it. But I personally see no problem if you want to copy parts, or all of it, and use them to answer people.

QUOTE (tjf @ Mar 29 2004, 04:31 PM)
Broken link.

Fixed, thanks for telling.
http://www.nytimes.com/library/tech/99/12/...les/23down.html

QUOTE (fcmts @ Mar 30 2004, 03:08 AM)
I guess we lost the focus since my original post.

a new generation of players that works internally at 24/96 (f.i.) and reads a lossy encoded source burned on a cd, since that source was hi-res.


You're right, sorry about this.
The answer to your question is simple : lossy encoders are based on psychoacoustics : in order to reduce the filesize, they remove frequencies that are supposed to be inaudible.
Therefore, after a lossy compression, all high definition content will be eventually lost ! The first thing that any encoder will do is throwing away anything above 20 kHz, turning 96 kHz sample rate a waste, and anything below 16 bits, (at least during the music) turning the 24 bits definition a waste too.
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Jazzist
post Mar 30 2004, 09:38
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Hello,

QUOTE
All statements about sound quality must be backuped either by some technical evidence (e.g. CD having less background noise than vinyl), or by double blind listening tests (e.g. castanets being a difficult instrument to encode into MP3).


To me it sounds technically obvious that 24 bits allow for a greater dynamical range than 16 bits.

I was told by a sound engineer that when you have a huge dynamic range, e.g. in classical recordings, you have 16 bits for the loudest peak but only roughly 7 bits for the many long really quiet parts which we listen to with "normal" volume. And we all know how 8 bit recordings sound like.
So the recordings have to be processed before putting them on CD. The quiet parts have to be made louder compared to the loud parts. That would raise the overall sound quality by giving them more bits but loose dynamic range.

Is this wrong?

Greets
Jazzist
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Lyx
post Mar 30 2004, 10:39
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Yes, i think that misses the point Jazzist(i may be wrong).

The thing is this: We're talking about if DVD-Audio sounds better than CD-Audio IF bothi mediums are used to their full potential. It isn't a fair comparision to compare a poorly mastered CD-Audio recording(overcompressing) to a properly mastered DVD-Audio recording.

The question is: IF cd-audio records would be mastered correctly, would the human ear then be able to tell the difference to dvd-audio?

What they are currently doing is wrecking cd-audio recordings by intentionally mastering them poorly and then master dvd-audio recordings properly and say they sound better. Of course in this unfair comparision dvd-audio will sound better, but less because of the the technical advantage of dvd-audio, but instead because the mastering of the record is better - so, in short, your comparision doesn't compare cd-audio to dvd-audio, but instead compares mastering-quality of the record.

- Lyx

edit: you may be right with your example of classical music - i'm not sure about that - however, since the parts you're talking about are at very low volume, i'm unsure if the human ear would notice the "8bit-quality".

This post has been edited by Lyx: Mar 30 2004, 12:11


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cabbagerat
post Mar 30 2004, 14:50
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With regards to the original discussion:
I was just reading the datasheet for Cirrus Logic's CS433x series of DACs. They support up to 24 bit samples with 96kHz sample rate and are pretty similar to the DACs used in most commercial CD and DVD players. They offer a dynamic range of 96dB in 24bit mode. However, a 16bit linear PCM digital stream can represent that entire dynamic range as well as a 24bit stream can. Which means that the extra 8 bits achieve nothing. Better DACs are certainly available but unless you are using very high end equipment, 16 bit is just as good as 24 bit.

DVD audio also has a higher sample rate (96kHz compared to CD's 44.1kHz). I have still not seen concrete evidence to prove that a 22kHz brickwall filter does not change our perception of music. I haven't seen concrete evidence the other way either. However the effect of the limited frequency response of 44.1kHz PCM is certainly not as obvious as DVD-Audio marketing makes out, if the average person can hear it at all.

I did a lot of listening a while back and on my equipment, I can't hear (but can measure) a difference between 14/36 and 24/96. It might mean I have cloth ears or my kit sucks so you might want to try it with your ears and your setup.

QUOTE
If you twiddled your volume control so that the peak signal is 100dB SPL in your living room, that means the noise floor is at 10dB, (orunder 0dB SPL with noise shaped dither). Unless you live in a sound proof room, other sounds will hide this! Anything below 0dB SPL is inaudible, even in complete silence.

We can take it to the extreme and say we pump up our music to the point where we get hearing damage after only a few minutes (120dB according to OSHA, exact figure depends on which research you read). This will put the noise floor at 30dB which would still be easily drowned out by, for example, a computer fan. Can't say it worries me.


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tigre
post Mar 30 2004, 15:41
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Posts violating TOS # 8 by dekkersj and replies moved to recycle bin.


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2Bdecided
post Mar 30 2004, 16:50
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QUOTE
Posts violating TOS # 8 by dekkersj and replies moved to recycle bin.


It's a pity you did.

Before I left university, there was the possibility of a joint research project between us and Philips and others, funded by the EPSRC (IIRC), the EU, and industry. The project was to investigate the reports of the audible difference between "high resolution" formats and CD. It was to involve several universities, and Philips themselves, who would provide cutting edge equipment.

The areas of investigation were to include proving the existance of an audible difference, and tracking down the equipment issues and/or psychoacoustic grounds behind this difference. It would have included models of audio equipment, human hearing, DSD processing etc etc and lots of serious (scientific) listening tests.

The funding never came. The research never happened.

But who knows what research they have carried out internally.
If dekkersj was about to reveal some of it, I would have been interested to hear if they had been as thorough as I would have liked.

Cheers,
David.

P.S. you've moved my response to Jazzist into the bin too - did you mean to?
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sshd
post Mar 30 2004, 17:30
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QUOTE (tigre @ Mar 30 2004, 03:41 PM)
Posts violating TOS # 8 by dekkersj and replies moved to recycle bin.

Making a T.O.S. #8 compliant statement about DVD-A/SACD vs. CD is insanely difficult.

It is pointless to compare an existing SACD/DVD-A with a previous CD release or the two versions on a Hybrid SACD. Assume for a moment that we can tell the two versions apart and the SACD/DVD-A sounds better under multiple double blind tests. Nothing has been proven. The mastering engineer might have cheated by increasing the volume on the SACD/DVD-A slightly or something else. One the other hand maybe the SACD/DVD-A really sounds better, we have no way of knowing.

We need to create our own DVD-A, SACD and CD releases from an original high quality master tape/source. Then we can make some serious comparison and a T.O.S. #8 compliant claim.

So people making claims about DVD-A/SACD vs. CD need to be mastering engineers and have access to high quality sources. Also their work needs to be verified just in case they own shares in Sony etc...
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tigre
post Mar 30 2004, 18:02
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It seems like some of you want to continue discussion about SACD topic, so I'll move the other topic to general audio and re-open it. I don't have much time right now, but it might be necessary to add some disclaimer to it and/or to close it later again if discussion (especially posts by dekkersj) doesn't change noticable.


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cabbagerat
post Mar 30 2004, 18:26
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QUOTE
We need to create our own DVD-A, SACD and CD releases from an original high quality master tape/source.

For the DVD-A versus CD case we could use a known good downsampling algorithm and a good noise shaping dither to produce a CD from the DVD-A. The fact they are both Linear PCM and the information in DVD-A is a superset of that on a CD makes this approach fair to both formats. When I have time in the upcoming holidays I will do some ABX tests myself, but I doubt very much I will hear the difference, based on tests I did a while back (see my post above). The CD versus SACD case is much more difficult or at least seems so to me (maybe I don't understand DSD as well as PCM). I would guess for this case we would need to create a test disk for both formats from a format which is (mathematically) superior to both.

Anyways, it seems that most threads here (that I could find with Search) have focussed on the theoretical differences, especially between DSD and LPCM. Maybe we could start a new thread discussing a practical method of setting up a double-blind test between the three formats. It would be interesting to see what people come up with - it's a much harder problem than feeding it to PCABX.

However, unlike the Vinyl vs Digital debate, is something that a double blind test can settle quite easily. For example, I can ABX my vinyl of Uriah Heep's Demons and Wizards from the CD 20/20 in under a minute but that only proves one is different, not that one is superior. However the high-resolution digital formats claim to sound like CD, only better, so the ability to tell the difference would settle the matter once and for all.


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Pio2001
post Mar 30 2004, 21:21
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QUOTE (Jazzist @ Mar 30 2004, 09:38 AM)
in classical recordings, you have 16 bits for the loudest peak but only roughly 7 bits for the many long really quiet parts which we listen to with "normal" volume. And we all know how 8 bit recordings sound like.

7 bits is 9 bits below 16.
Thus 2^9 = 512 times quieter.
Thus 20xlog(1/512) = -54 db as loud.


If we consider audiophile recordings being calibrated on the K-20 standard, then the average volume of "quiet parts which we listen to with "normal" volume" is -20 db, not -54 ! They use 13 bits, not 7.

QUOTE (Lyx @ Mar 30 2004, 10:39 AM)
The thing is this: We're talking about if DVD-Audio sounds better than CD-Audio IF bothi mediums are used to their full potential.


If I read properly, as fcmts already recalled us, we are not discussing the quality of SACD or DVD-A at all, but wether WMA9 pro can encode DVD-A without audible loss.
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2Bdecided
post Mar 31 2004, 09:53
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QUOTE (sshd @ Mar 30 2004, 04:30 PM)
Making a T.O.S. #8 compliant statement about DVD-A/SACD vs. CD is insanely difficult.

Not if you have access to Philips research deparment.
This guy worked for them. See his website.
It would be interesting to see any results that would meet HA's criteria. I've posted as such in the other thread.

Cheers,
David.
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cabbagerat
post Mar 31 2004, 10:14
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QUOTE
Not if you have access to Philips research deparment.

This is true to an extent, but considering that Philips are very interested in making their format look good, surely we must call into doubt the fact that their research is impartial. By carefully selecting and throwing away results, even an otherwise statistically correct study can be significantly skewed. While I don't know if this goes on at Philips (I hope not) and don't want to accuse them of anything, manipulation of statistics is a sort of industry standard. Judging by the kind of underhandedness that goes on at drug trials, I don't think we could trust a report published by a company with an interest in the outcome.

Having said that I would be very interested in seeing any of these reports we could get our hands on and I am sure they would make a very useful resource for the community, even if we take them with a pinch of salt. So, dekkersj, do you want to back up those claims you made and become a sort of folk hero?


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