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FLAC 96khz 24bit files on a SqueezeBox Duet
msymmes
post Apr 3 2009, 20:56
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My new Squeezebox has a 24 bit DAC and supports native FLAC without using transcoding. I run a digital output (bypassing the DAC) to a standalone
DAC (an ARCAM 50 with 16bit DAC). I get marginally better sound with the ARCAM than with the Squeezebox DAC in blind A B testing.

My question is: Should I buy FLAC files that have anything higher than 48khz (or 44.1hkz for that matter) at premium costs or just stick with ripping my CD's to FLAC.
A good example is the latest release of Raising Sand on HDTracks.com that is available in 96/24 format.

I really don't understand the difference between sample rate and # of bits.

The other parts of the system are NAD C372 integrated amp driving Paradign Studio V.20 version 4.
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Slipstreem
post Apr 3 2009, 20:58
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Yes. smile.gif

Cheers, Slipstreem. cool.gif
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pdq
post Apr 3 2009, 21:03
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Are you saying that he should get files with higher resolution or sample rate? Why is that?
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msymmes
post Apr 3 2009, 21:05
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That's very helpful sad.gif
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pdq
post Apr 3 2009, 21:08
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I would say that there are almost no documented cases where a properly dithered 16 bit 44.1 kHz file was audibly distinguishable from its higher bit resolution or sample rate source file.
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msymmes
post Apr 3 2009, 21:18
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Interesting. That would mean that there is no reason for HDTracks.com to offer a CD in a so-called higher definition format than the CD.
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Ron Jones
post Apr 3 2009, 21:23
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QUOTE (msymmes @ Apr 3 2009, 11:56) *
I really don't understand the difference between sample rate and # of bits.

The sample rate is the number of words (samples) per second. The bit depth is how many bits are used to define one sample. Does increasing either or both typically lead to audible differences over CD-quality 16-bit/44.1 kHz for common program material? According to the data out there, no.

As for whether or not having the higher definition download is preferable to the CD-ripped version, that's up to you. Just don't expect there to be any audible differences -- unless they're differently mastered. If consuming drive space is important to you, of course, the former will be more well-suited to your needs smile.gif

QUOTE (msymmes @ Apr 3 2009, 12:18) *
Interesting. That would mean that there is no reason for HDTracks.com to offer a CD in a so-called higher definition format than the CD.

I'm sure it's helpful from a marketing perspective if nothing else.

This post has been edited by Ron Jones: Apr 3 2009, 21:27
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pdq
post Apr 3 2009, 21:29
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OTOH there are many people who encode mp3 to 320 kbps even though they can barely tell them from 128 kbps, because they feel better about it and they have the space. So if you prefer to download the "better" version, then feel free.
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msymmes
post Apr 4 2009, 00:59
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Now we're talking. I'm starting to understand. Sounds like (no pun intended) that 44.1 khz 16 bit CD recordings are a very fine source for conversion to FLAC for protection of current assets and future investments in a music collection.

In other words, I want to preserve my current collection and acquire new music at the best possible value without losing what the producer wanted to record.

As for the "mastering" comment, I guess if the mastering is done at some 'value' higher than the CD and then you can get your hands on a copy of it for a decent price then you might hear the difference ?


So, let's ask the question again in a different way: Would you pay a premium for a 96/24 version of the Grammy winning 'Raising Sand"... a truly wonderful mixture, featuring two great artists of our generation(s) ?



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Slipstreem
post Apr 4 2009, 01:47
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Not unless you already know for a fact that you can distinguish 44.1/16 from anything higher in a blind comparison test which is incredibly unlikely. What would be the point otherwise? smile.gif

Cheers, Slipstreem. cool.gif

PS Apologies for the short reply earlier but it was a "Yes" to just converting your CDs to FLAC.
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Ron Jones
post Apr 4 2009, 02:15
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QUOTE (msymmes @ Apr 3 2009, 15:59) *
Sounds like (no pun intended) that 44.1 khz 16 bit CD recordings are a very fine source for conversion to FLAC for protection of current assets and future investments in a music collection.

Bingo. The "HD" "formats" may look amazingly attractive on paper, but as far as the human ear is concerned, you're typically just as well off stuffing your hard drives full of amusing cat pictures. Even in the incredibly rare instance in which a difference may be discernible, you stand to gain almost nothing in terms of additional fidelity.
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DigitalMan
post Apr 4 2009, 04:02
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QUOTE (Ron Jones @ Apr 3 2009, 18:15) *
Even in the incredibly rare instance in which a difference may be discernible, you stand to gain almost nothing in terms of additional fidelity.


Nicely put.


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Was that a 1 or a 0?
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hlloyge
post Apr 4 2009, 11:11
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But this all is correct assuming that audio CDs and HD audio is made from the same source. But what in the case when audio CD is very compressed to sound good on the radio, but HD track are remastered and have more dynamics so it is more pleasureable to listen on your system?
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Roseval
post Apr 4 2009, 12:31
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It all depends on what they are doing.
This might be
- having a 16/44.1 recording and upsampling it to 24/96
- having a 1 bit/2.8442Mhz DSD and resample it to 24/96 PCM
- having a 1 bit/2.8442Mhz DSD play it analogue and record it at 24/96
- etc. etc.

Best thing to do: buy the 24/96 of Raising Sand and ABX it with the CD.
Then you have the only truth that matters, your own local one.
Before you do: check if your sound card support this resolution otherwise you are evaluating the resampling of your own audio chain!


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msymmes
post Apr 4 2009, 15:21
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QUOTE (Roseval @ Apr 4 2009, 07:31) *
It all depends on what they are doing.
This might be
- having a 16/44.1 recording and upsampling it to 24/96
- having a 1 bit/2.8442Mhz DSD and resample it to 24/96 PCM
- having a 1 bit/2.8442Mhz DSD play it analogue and record it at 24/96
- etc. etc.

Best thing to do: buy the 24/96 of Raising Sand and ABX it with the CD.
Then you have the only truth that matters, your own local one.
Before you do: check if your sound card support this resolution otherwise you are evaluating the resampling of your own audio chain!



I think I will spend the 15 bucks and run the experiment. Not sure how to ABX it but I'm sure there is lots of info on this site.
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Roseval
post Apr 4 2009, 15:37
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Great, keep us posted, I love to hear your findings.

A good starter on ABX: http://www.hydrogenaudio.org/forums/index....showtopic=16295


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aharden
post Apr 4 2009, 15:56
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HDTracks.com might do well to compare the ReplayGain values of their 24/96khz tracks against their 16/44.1 counterparts. That might at least help to distinguish if the HD tracks are remastered.


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odigg
post Apr 4 2009, 17:18
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If you want a free way to test out the differences between 16/44 and 24/96, Nine Inch Nails has their album "Slip" available for download in FLAC in both formats. I believe both formats were created from the same master. Just go to their website and look for the download link

That should be a great way to test out if you can hear the difference.

This post has been edited by odigg: Apr 4 2009, 17:19
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Dracaena
post Apr 5 2009, 19:05
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QUOTE (msymmes @ Apr 4 2009, 10:59) *
So, let's ask the question again in a different way: Would you pay a premium for a 96/24 version of the Grammy winning 'Raising Sand"... a truly wonderful mixture, featuring two great artists of our generation(s) ?

I wouldn't
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Ron Jones
post Apr 5 2009, 19:39
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QUOTE (odigg @ Apr 4 2009, 08:18) *
If you want a free way to test out the differences between 16/44 and 24/96, Nine Inch Nails has their album "Slip" available for download in FLAC in both formats. I believe both formats were created from the same master.

I just checked and that may not be the case. Two of the ten tracks have RG values that are significantly (+/- 1 dB) different. The other tracks may be identical, but you would naturally want to verify that's the case before doing any ABX testing.

Reznor's posted here before (once), so one could theoretically just ask him which tracks, if any, are from identical masters, but odds are it wouldn't garner a response. The alternative would be to simply resample one of the 24/96 tracks down to 16/44.1, but resampling and doing bit reduction on a file which most likely uses aggressively-shaped psychoacoustic dither is something of a no-no and may very well lead to a "false positive" ABX.
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pdq
post Apr 5 2009, 21:27
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Some difference in RG value could be due to the high frequencies that are not in the 44.1 kHz version.
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Nick.C
post Apr 5 2009, 21:29
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I thought that the RG value was calculated for audio that we can hear, i.e. <= 20kHz.


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lossyWAV -q X -a 4 --feedback 4| FLAC -8 ~= 320kbps
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Ron Jones
post Apr 5 2009, 21:42
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QUOTE (pdq @ Apr 5 2009, 12:27) *
Some difference in RG value could be due to the high frequencies that are not in the 44.1 kHz version.

They're also quite different in terms of perceivable loudness:

CODE
foo_abx 1.3.3 report
foobar2000 v0.9.6.1
2009/04/05 13:36:21

File A: M:\Music\Nine Inch Nails\The Slip 24-96\10 Demon Seed.flac
File B: M:\Music\Nine Inch Nails\The Slip\10 Demon Seed.flac

13:36:21 : Test started.
13:36:35 : 01/01  50.0%
13:36:42 : 02/02  25.0%
13:36:51 : 03/03  12.5%
13:37:03 : 04/04  6.3%
13:37:12 : 05/05  3.1%
13:37:19 : 06/06  1.6%
13:37:29 : 07/07  0.8%
13:37:41 : 08/08  0.4%
13:37:51 : 09/09  0.2%
13:37:59 : 10/10  0.1%
13:38:05 : 11/11  0.0%
13:38:14 : 12/12  0.0%
13:38:20 : 13/13  0.0%
13:38:28 : 14/14  0.0%
13:38:41 : 15/15  0.0%
13:38:48 : 16/16  0.0%
13:38:52 : Test finished.

----------
Total: 16/16 (0.0%)

Demon Seed and Echoplex are the only two tracks where the loudness is significantly different (in both cases the 24/96 version is louder). The others may very well be from identical masters even though the RG values vary slightly, but I'm not certain.

EDIT: Blatant typos.

This post has been edited by Ron Jones: Apr 5 2009, 22:49
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tefleming
post Apr 5 2009, 22:30
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Whether 96/24 is audible different than 44.1/16 has been discussed extensively on this forum and elsewhere. You will find a lot of people who say that there is no audible difference, and you will find just as many who say that there is. Those who believe they can hear a difference usually point out that your equipment needs to be pretty good for you to hear that difference. I think that it also depends on the type of music, the recording equipment, and the post-recording processing. Generally, with pop or rock music, it would be very difficult to hear a difference on any system. With acoustic jazz or classical, if recorded well and processed well, I think that there is an audible difference. I have several 96/24 bit recordings of classical and jazz music (from HDTracks) that are awesome on my audio system, but very average when played on my computer.

I recommend that you listen for yourself (different types of music) and do your own A/B comparison.

BTW, to my ears there is a huge difference between compressed 320kbs and 128kbs on all music and any system.

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odigg
post Apr 6 2009, 01:02
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QUOTE (tefleming @ Apr 5 2009, 17:30) *
Whether 96/24 is audible different than 44.1/16 has been discussed extensively on this forum and elsewhere. You will find a lot of people who say that there is no audible difference, and you will find just as many who say that there is. Those who believe they can hear a difference usually point out that your equipment needs to be pretty good for you to hear that difference. I think that it also depends on the type of music, the recording equipment, and the post-recording processing. Generally, with pop or rock music, it would be very difficult to hear a difference on any system. With acoustic jazz or classical, if recorded well and processed well, I think that there is an audible difference. I have several 96/24 bit recordings of classical and jazz music (from HDTracks) that are awesome on my audio system, but very average when played on my computer.

BTW, to my ears there is a huge difference between compressed 320kbs and 128kbs on all music and any system.


You have made a number of claims in your post. Have you personally done an ABX test of 320kbps vs 128kpbs? Have you tried to do a volume matched test comparing your computer as a source and your regular source for your audio system? Is your computer's sound output capable of 24/96 output?

People claim all sorts of stuff. People claim to that if you have a good enough system there is a night and day difference between cables. What people claim is not automatically an indicator of what they are actually hearing versus what they think they are hearing.

This post has been edited by odigg: Apr 6 2009, 01:03
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