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24-bit audio proposed for iTunes, Apple is proposing selling 24-bit audio in iTunes. What compares?
Animortis
post Feb 22 2011, 16:39
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So the source link is this.

Apple in talks to improve sound quality

Can we emulate this technology at all? Are there codecs available that can handle this? I realize that we are not generally able to handle raw 24-bit sound files, since CDs are only encoded in 16-bit, but if these files appear somehow is there an open-source or free codec that can fit our needs in the future? A 24-bit FLAC or MP3 or Vorbis?

And I guess if the answer is no, has anyone ever tried to create this?

I guess we'll have to wait and see what shape these technologies take. Apple already provides more-than-transparent 16-bit AAC files (256k bps), so if they release more-than-transparent 24-bit lossy files we'll probably be left without a source file to encode ourselves. Yet it'd be good to know if there are any alternatives or if anyone has ever taken a look at this before.
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pdq
post Feb 22 2011, 17:08
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Lossy codecs, like mp3, have no inherent bit depth. They will output 24 bit PCM (if the decoder allows it) quite as easily as 16 bit.

Of course, the last 8 bits will probably contain only noise, since it was a lossy encxoding.
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NullC
post Feb 22 2011, 17:31
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QUOTE (Animortis @ Feb 22 2011, 07:39) *
And I guess if the answer is no, has anyone ever tried to create this?

I guess we'll have to wait and see what shape these technologies take. Apple already provides more-than-transparent 16-bit AAC files (256k bps), so if they release more-than-transparent 24-bit lossy files we'll probably be left without a source file to encode ourselves. Yet it'd be good to know if there are any alternatives or if anyone has ever taken a look at this before.


Weird question. 24 bit files aren't uncommon. Heck, some people that do online downloads of their music promote the additional depth as an advantage of going the online route. E.g. I have a whole bunch of 24 bit flac files, some are a decade old I think. If you look on archive.org you should be able to find many 24 bit concert recordings in flac. Of course, anyone doing their own production is working in 24 bitó 16 bit is okay for distribution but you don't really want to use it as an intermediate format.

As mentioned, the lossy codecs can handle increased dynamic range. Vorbis and CELT, for example, can provide >200dB of dynamic range (with a suitable floating point decoder), though I'm not aware of any listening comparison showing this to be a real advantage. If you're using a lossy format as an intermediate then the extended dynamic range can simplify gain staging, though lossy as an intermediate is a bad idea.
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saratoga
post Feb 22 2011, 18:30
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QUOTE (Animortis @ Feb 22 2011, 10:39) *
Can we emulate this technology at all? Are there codecs available that can handle this?


Sure, just use mp3, aac, flac, vorbis, wma, wav, aiff, wavpack, or basically any other format with 24 bit audio.


QUOTE (Animortis @ Feb 22 2011, 10:39) *
A 24-bit FLAC or MP3 or Vorbis?


Yes all of those.

QUOTE (Animortis @ Feb 22 2011, 10:39) *
Apple already provides more-than-transparent 16-bit AAC files (256k bps), so if they release more-than-transparent 24-bit lossy files we'll probably be left without a source file to encode ourselves.


I thought Apple already claimed to source some of their AAC files from 24 bit sources?
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Animortis
post Feb 22 2011, 20:30
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It seemed like, from what I could tell on the wiki at least, that these regular audio formats were limited to a certain Hz range -- below the 24-bit range, anyway. I was wondering if these codecs were not designed to account for this -- much as a Notepad .txt file isn't designed to handle pictures in it. I'm not an audio engineer, so I thought I'd ask.
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Garf
post Feb 22 2011, 20:43
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QUOTE (Animortis @ Feb 22 2011, 20:30) *
It seemed like, from what I could tell on the wiki at least, that these regular audio formats were limited to a certain Hz range -- below the 24-bit range, anyway.


24-bit range corresponds to dB, not Hz. Hz is related to sampling rate/2.
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greynol
post Feb 22 2011, 20:45
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Hz and bits are different things. Hz is a unit of frequency, the number of bits determines the resolution of amplitude. 16 bits provide more than enough resolution for the vast majority of tracks Apple has to offer. Of the tracks that may (I said "may", not "will") benefit, this benefit may only be realized in only an extremely quiet listening environment.

EDIT: Garf was faster.

This post has been edited by greynol: Feb 22 2011, 20:46


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Kohlrabi
post Feb 22 2011, 21:08
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QUOTE
Many models of Mac computers can play 24-bit sound, and the iTunes program is capable of handling such files.


Handling? Yes. Efficiently? Not so much.


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mixminus1
post Feb 22 2011, 22:07
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...and of course, it will be marketed as "HD" audio. rolleyes.gif


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carpman
post Feb 22 2011, 22:29
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Oh, cool. Does that mean we get to buy all our music over again? Let me see:
Vinyl, CD, Remastered CD, 24bit HD Download. Genius!

C.


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mixminus1
post Feb 22 2011, 22:41
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The most frustrating aspect of this sort of gimmickry is that it continues to try and blame digital audio in general - and lossy audio, in particular - for poor sound quality, when it's the artists/engineers/producers who are insisting on brickwall limiting et al. that are f*cking up the sound.

I do love that irony, though - 24-bit audio files to distribute music with literally a few dB of dynamic range...such as the kind the esteemed Dr. Dre produces. Oh yes, you *know* you need 24-bit resolution to hear his music how *he* hears it.


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DonP
post Feb 22 2011, 23:03
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QUOTE (carpman @ Feb 22 2011, 16:29) *
Oh, cool. Does that mean we get to buy all our music over again? Let me see:
Vinyl, CD, Remastered CD, 24bit HD Download. Genius!

C.


This is itune land. Remember to include 128kb/DRM and non-DRM upgrade. Maybe the same song on a video ladder: VHS, DVD, blu-ray.
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kornchild2002
post Feb 22 2011, 23:05
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My only real problem, aside from 99.999999999999% of the comments on CNN's website about this article, is that we don't know if these will be 24-bit lossy or lossless files. I would greatly welcome the addition of 24-bit lossless files for the sake of having a lossless archive of music instead of relying solely on lossy audio. I could really care less about 24-bit lossy audio as my own listening tests and experiences show that I am perfectly happy with the 16-bit lossy audio that I have now.
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greynol
post Feb 22 2011, 23:10
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QUOTE (kornchild2002 @ Feb 22 2011, 14:05) *
I could really care less about 24-bit lossy audio as my own listening tests and experiences show that I am perfectly happy with the 16-bit lossy audio that I have now.

MP3?
MP4?

These formats are 32-bit float, not 16-bit or 24-bit.


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kornchild2002
post Feb 23 2011, 00:17
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You know what I mean. I have a ton of lossy files sourced from 16-bit 44.1KHz lossless sources that I am happy with. I do not need or want lossy files encoded at a larger resolution.
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IgorC
post Feb 23 2011, 02:04
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Maybe it hasn't much sense for average user but for sophisticated listening 24 bits may have sense. I remember some members (including me) presented results of blind tests on 16 vs 24 bits. However later it was discussion about the validity of 16->24 conversion. But that is!!!! The sound engineers and producers are not machines and they take human decisions too. As example there are plenty amount of bad masterings. I have some DVD-audio-s and maybe it doesn't make much sense to go this high theoretically but practically 24 bits source is preferable as it guarantees that there were less stages where some quality degradation can have place.
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andy o
post Feb 23 2011, 02:05
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This is horrible. I was hoping for lossless instead of these marketing geniuses playing the numbers game.
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andy o
post Feb 23 2011, 02:09
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QUOTE (IgorC @ Feb 22 2011, 17:04) *
practically 24 bits source is preferable as it guarantees that there were less stages where some quality degradation can have place.

How does it guarantee that the resulting 24-bit audio wasn't just upconverted? If you're gonna trust that, you might as well trust that a 16-bit result was properly edited/mastered.
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IgorC
post Feb 23 2011, 02:24
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Sorry, but I think it's already matter of ethics more than sound producing. And, yes, I see a lot of cases when original DVD-audio was just up-mixed from CD version.

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greynol
post Feb 23 2011, 08:40
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QUOTE (kornchild2002 @ Feb 22 2011, 15:17) *
I do not need or want lossy files encoded at a larger resolution.

How would you know if you did or didn't? Why would you care? Assuming that the first 15 significant bits are the same between 16 and 24 bit source files, how do you think their lossy counterparts will differ? Have you tested this?


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Nessuno
post Feb 23 2011, 08:43
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As I see it: another smart way to push up people's perceived need of bandwidth, storage, RAM and CPU power: bu$ine$$ a$ u$ual... wink.gif


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bandpass
post Feb 23 2011, 09:06
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QUOTE (mixminus1 @ Feb 22 2011, 22:41) *
I do love that irony, though - 24-bit audio files to distribute music with literally a few dB of dynamic range

How many bits are needed for music with only a few dB of dynamic range--one?
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kornchild2002
post Feb 23 2011, 11:23
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QUOTE (greynol @ Feb 23 2011, 00:40) *
How would you know if you did or didn't? Why would you care? Assuming that the first 15 significant bits are the same between 16 and 24 bit source files, how do you think their lossy counterparts will differ? Have you tested this?


Why do you care? I don't mean to turn this around but I don't really understand why this is turning into such a big deal. I am happy with the music (both lossy and lossless sourced from mainly 16-bit 44.1KHz CDs) that I currently have. I guess I fail to see what is wrong with that. Now, I don't mean to be a smart ass here but:

QUOTE (greynol @ Feb 22 2011, 12:45) *
Hz and bits are different things. Hz is a unit of frequency, the number of bits determines the resolution of amplitude. 16 bits provide more than enough resolution for the vast majority of tracks Apple has to offer. Of the tracks that may (I said "may", not "will") benefit, this benefit may only be realized in only an extremely quiet listening environment.

EDIT: Garf was faster.


How do you know if 16 bits is enough for most tracks offered by Apple? Have you listened to all of the music that Apple offers through the iTunes Store? Have you tested their 24-bit solution to determine that the benefit is only realized in an extremely quiet listening environment? Have you done that with the majority of the tracks they are offering at the new resolution?

I am simply saying that I am happy with what I have and I don't want any part in 24-bit lossy files. I would partake in 24-bit lossless files just for having a lossless archive but I have issues with buying entire albums and only having a lossy source.
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Kohlrabi
post Feb 23 2011, 11:29
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QUOTE (kornchild2002 @ Feb 23 2011, 11:23) *
How do you know if 16 bits is enough for most tracks offered by Apple? Have you listened to all of the music that Apple offers through the iTunes Store? Have you tested their 24-bit solution to determine that the benefit is only realized in an extremely quiet listening environment? Have you done that with the majority of the tracks they are offering at the new resolution?


I think there is still no one on HA who has shown through ABX testing that 24bit bitdepth is distinguishable from 16bit when converted properly. The main use case for 24bit data is processing, not end user consumption.


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IgorC
post Feb 23 2011, 11:41
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QUOTE (Kohlrabi @ Feb 23 2011, 07:29) *
I think there is still no one on HA who has shown through ABX testing that 24bit bitdepth is distinguishable from 16bit when converted properly.

Then it will be interesting at least for me to do some tests (again). Now with proper conversion (if such thing exists)

QUOTE (Kohlrabi @ Feb 23 2011, 07:29) *
The main use case for 24bit data is processing, not end user consumption.

And DVD-A is for .... ?

This post has been edited by IgorC: Feb 23 2011, 11:42
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