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  #21  
Old 11-12-2014, 01:55 PM
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I have mostly bought Hi-Res music from HDTracks (UK and US), Qobuz (UK), Linn (UK). All in FLAC format (lossless) but also 24 bit recordings ranging from 48 up to 192kHz. A CD is typically 16 bit 44.1 kHz.

I have been pretty impressed with Qobuz who sell this but also stream CD quality versions on a subscription basis. They are a French business but operate in numerous countries. Good catalogue now and pricing is 'mostly' better than others on the purchasing side.

The bad news is that the temptation is to replace what you already have. I am trying to limit that to recordings of what I already have that sound significantly better or new stuff. Hence the shout out for recommendations.

Unfortunately iTunes, amongst others over the years have dumbed down music quality which is a real shame.

Load of other stores emerging out there as it dawns on them that there might be a market for something that sounds half decent. It's interesting really. I find half of our friends really don't care and are happy to listen to something on any kind of kit. Then the other half are blown away that it can sound so different/good in the same way that HD looks compared to 640 x 480. I don't know if the difference is based on their experience or biological differences. I know my son - who has recorded his own and others music to professional level hears things I don't even register. Part of this is training his ear but mostly I think he always could hear it.

TBH I think my hearing took a dip around '73 at De Montfort Hall watching Genesis. Right at the front I couldn't hear anything other than a high pitched whistle for 3 days but this was 'Genesis at their best' with Gabriel. The album Genesis Live was recorded at that concert bar one of the tracks (Hogweed). Ahhhh, my distant youth.

I would recommend seeking out some demos of Hi Res audio on quality kit as it is quite amazing but save up first as it can be silly money. The best sound for me is the Linn kit but I know a lot of folk I know like the B&W speakers which are awesome for Bass but for don't match on much else for me.

But I digress.
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  #22  
Old 11-12-2014, 01:56 PM
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Originally Posted by Seat146 View Post
Indeed. There ain't much at 24 bit and you need a 24 bit player/card to get the supposed benefit.
There is a lot around now and a lot more coming out every week as the $ signs emerge.

This is an easy way to find a specific album

To view the link you have to Register or Login

but go to Qobuz and look there - there are 24 lists etc.

To view the link you have to Register or Login

Just to state the obvious - I don't have anything to do with either site other than being a customer.
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  #23  
Old 11-12-2014, 02:59 PM
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Thanks Martin.

I am a cynic but the idea of replacing an album you might have bought first on vinyl, then on CD and maybe then on a 16 bit remastered CD seems a little excessive.

The record companies are trying to recoup money lost from piracy and they were always greedy. They have already murdered enough old albums with bad remastering and I'm not entirely convinced that the 24 bit phase will be any better in many cases. I would be interested in downloading a couple to put on disc and see how they turn out on my CD player.
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Old 11-12-2014, 03:18 PM
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A couple of hi-fi sites where you will be to obtain greater information are :-

Pink fish media.
hi-fi wigwam

Loads of very knowledgeable guys on those sites.
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  #25  
Old 11-12-2014, 03:32 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Seat146 View Post
Thanks Martin.

I am a cynic but the idea of replacing an album you might have bought first on vinyl, then on CD and maybe then on a 16 bit remastered CD seems a little excessive.

The record companies are trying to recoup money lost from piracy and they were always greedy. They have already murdered enough old albums with bad remastering and I'm not entirely convinced that the 24 bit phase will be any better in many cases. I would be interested in downloading a couple to put on disc and see how they turn out on my CD player.
I completely understand and agree with some of what you say. They are squeezing every drop they can from earlier albums. I would only do it though if there is (or I expect) a material difference. I started with vinyl but never doubled up anything on cassette for obvious reasons. But CDs offered a consistently high level of quality (I know there is an army of folk that would never agree) over vinyl for me. Vinyl sounds sweet if you have the best of gear and the patience of Job but sustaining that quality is difficult due to damage over time. SACD and DVD-Audio were/an an uplift but with a limited catalogue. Hi-Res audio is definitely better but for it to be meaningful you probably need the right kit.

Re your experiment - I don't think it can work because the minute you write it away as a CD you will have down sampled it back to 16bit 44.1 quality. If you have a decent DS that is a good way to compare HI-Res to CD as it guarantees the same mastering and so on. Unless I am misunderstanding you.
Unless your player can play Hi-Res files copied as data to a CD?

When I first moved from a CD player to a DS playing CD quality files (i.e. like for like by converting the CD to a FLAC file at the same quality I was amazed to find that it consistently sounded better. The explanation is a matter of science rather than perception in that the CD player has a transport/reader which are all bypassed with the DS straight to DAC conversion. I had thought this was garbage but genuinely its true. This is even true when comparing Linn's top of the range CD player vs their best DS. Weird though. There is a further uplift when you move to 24 bit etc. etc.

What is funny is I am the original sceptic about all of this and now look . . . . .

I remain sceptical about a lot of other Hi-Fi purists claims but not these.
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Old 11-12-2014, 04:16 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Martin H View Post
I completely understand and agree with some of what you say. They are squeezing every drop they can from earlier albums. I would only do it though if there is (or I expect) a material difference. I started with vinyl but never doubled up anything on cassette for obvious reasons. But CDs offered a consistently high level of quality (I know there is an army of folk that would never agree) over vinyl for me. Vinyl sounds sweet if you have the best of gear and the patience of Job but sustaining that quality is difficult due to damage over time. SACD and DVD-Audio were/an an uplift but with a limited catalogue. Hi-Res audio is definitely better but for it to be meaningful you probably need the right kit.

Re your experiment - I don't think it can work because the minute you write it away as a CD you will have down sampled it back to 16bit 44.1 quality. If you have a decent DS that is a good way to compare HI-Res to CD as it guarantees the same mastering and so on. Unless I am misunderstanding you.
Unless your player can play Hi-Res files copied as data to a CD?

When I first moved from a CD player to a DS playing CD quality files (i.e. like for like by converting the CD to a FLAC file at the same quality I was amazed to find that it consistently sounded better. The explanation is a matter of science rather than perception in that the CD player has a transport/reader which are all bypassed with the DS straight to DAC conversion. I had thought this was garbage but genuinely its true. This is even true when comparing Linn's top of the range CD player vs their best DS. Weird though. There is a further uplift when you move to 24 bit etc. etc.

What is funny is I am the original sceptic about all of this and now look . . . . .

I remain sceptical about a lot of other Hi-Fi purists claims but not these.
Interesting. I will have to investigate this at some point when I buy a better media player. I suppose it is inevitable at some point. How much money are we talkng about for an above CD quality player ?
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  #27  
Old 11-12-2014, 04:36 PM
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The thing is until studios could record at 24 bit, nothing recorded before this point went to a level above 16 bit.

DATs were 16 bit. Best Analogue materials previous to this roughly equivalent.
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Old 11-12-2014, 04:39 PM
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Also all the dance music types now produce at 24 bit. (All our DJ gear Soundcards are 24 bit too).

BUT - and here's the big one. Everything gets re-mastered to 16 bit for release. Why?

Because, honestly, it sounds better (or easier on the ear).
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Old 11-12-2014, 04:47 PM
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Good website here to understand how digital sound works:

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Old 11-12-2014, 05:01 PM
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I will honestly say that I have absolutely no idea about these kinds of things, but I was a backer of Pono on Kickstarter, and it's due to arrive with me any time now. Not even in the same ballpark as the stuff you lot are discussing, but still a huge step up from CDs - I have reservations over whether the thing will end up on eBay at some point, but I'm fascinated to be able to compare the music on my iPhone with the equivalent on this.

That said, I think I'll be following this thread as I have been thinking about how to make my house ring with music.
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  #31  
Old 11-12-2014, 05:13 PM
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The issue for me isn't the high end audiophile stuff, but the fact that the mainstream mass market option these days (iTunes) is actually inferior in quality to its predecessor.
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Old 11-12-2014, 05:21 PM
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The issue for me isn't the high end audiophile stuff, but the fact that the mainstream mass market option these days (iTunes) is actually inferior in quality to its predecessor.
I can't buy off iTunes or Amazon as neither can be reliably even 320, and is often some horrible VBR around 256.

Surprisingly, Google Play is always 320.

I prefer lossless though, so either buy a CD or digital from Juno or Beatport.
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Old 12-12-2014, 09:53 AM
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[QUOTE=smileysmith;12110443

DATs were 16 bit. Best Analogue materials previous to this roughly equivalent.[/QUOTE]

How can analogue have any equivalent of a sampling rate? (you can have more sensitve mics i suppose) its a wave. the higher the bit rate the closer you get to the wave form? I must admit i did laugh when i saw companies coming out with value ipod docks. hillarious stuff.
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  #34  
Old 12-12-2014, 12:30 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by smileysmith View Post
Also all the dance music types now produce at 24 bit. (All our DJ gear Soundcards are 24 bit too).

BUT - and here's the big one. Everything gets re-mastered to 16 bit for release. Why?

Because, honestly, it sounds better (or easier on the ear).
It gets mastered at 16 bit because that is the standard for CDs. It wouldn't be a CD if it wasn't 16 bit. DVD Audio and Blu-Ray is the format/standard for anything up to 24 bit.

Re the topic I understand the scepticism and there are professionals/scientists etc. that have differing views on it and some very persuasive arguments and articles from both sides. The truth is that typically there are so many varying factors affecting those having the arguments and there is such a lot of relevant detail to debate and opine on that there is no clear conclusion.

The nub of the believer arguments centre on the availability of more data for the renderer (DS) to process to achieve a sound far closer to the original sound heard in the recording studio. This is indisputable - as there is more data. The non-believer will then point out that the additional data is mostly out of the human hearing range and so it can have no impact and that it is all a Marketing scam. Just on that latter point there has been until recently a strong argument that Apple actively supported/marketed this point because it had geared up to sell 'crap quality files' (and as mentioned above has a lot to answer for with the dumbing down of music quality).

The reality is the sound is impacted by a whole series of things in the 'chain' before you hear the sound - including the Mastering. The Loud Wars Mastering of the past few decades (i.e. louder sounds better, so make the recording louder than the next one at the same 'volume') has ruined a lot of albums. Then there are formats, cables, DS and it's components, amplifier/pre-amplifier and the speakers blah de blah de blah - oh and the room you are playing it in .

I have always defaulted to the 'OK interesting but does it actually sound better test when buying Hi-fi and of course then music and I approach with scepticism.

Once you get above a certain level of quality on the key hardware components then I have consistently noticed a quality difference between the 24 bit and the 16 bit versions of the albums I have. The 16 bit versions are mostly converted from my own CDs and the 24 bit higher KHz versions are bought/downloaded from the stores above.

Some albums the uplift is enormous and some it's there but less in your face.

The problem with direct comparisons is that often when they release the higher res material they re-mastered it. This is mostly a good thing but not for the comparison argument. Until recently I hadn't realised how many different 'mastering' versions were on the market at any one time. I am not sure if this is to cater for 'national taste' or not but different countries often have different versions.

I will stop here because I am meandering. The nub of it is
- folks don't agree on the science of it.
- if you only use a phone on a train to listen - forget it
- if you want the opportunity to upgrade your sound as you did your TV screen from standard to HD then explore it with a demo or two. Wallet warning - you can spend a fortune but if you really love music and the quality of sound it really is a joy.
- I am finding it worth the cost for the Hi-Res files for my favourite albums but wouldn't replace them all (I have a few . . .) but I would prefer to buy anything new in that format for sure.

But each to their own.
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  #35  
Old 12-12-2014, 12:42 PM
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Originally Posted by Seat146 View Post
Interesting. I will have to investigate this at some point when I buy a better media player. I suppose it is inevitable at some point. How much money are we talkng about for an above CD quality player ?

Sorry I missed this before:

re the price of a 'good player'. How long is a piece of string?

For the original purchase price of your CD player (2k ish) you can get yourself something pretty decent. Linn have several at that level worth a test but if you investment in kit already you might want to look elsewhere too. The best DS Linn (other than their Exakt system) is 15k I think but there are things called 'renew' versions which are the components thrown free after an Exakt upgrade put into a simple box. This gets you right up the food chain at half or a third of the cost - secondhand 3-4k. The 'source' is the most important

One investment that is almost universally praised is the Oppo BDP 105D player - circa 1k. The nice thing about this is that it is a Blu-Ray player but also a Universal player with acclaimed audio. There is something called an Audiocom version of this at just over 2k that has upgrades that push performance even further.

If you do decide to buy something I would definitely take a look/listen to at least the standard one. I use the older version for movies/music Blu-Rays and so on in a different room. You can I think get benefit from something cheaper but if you are used to the FMJ don't expect to pick something up for 100 or so that beats it.

Obviously, like anything when the wallet permits do the research as things move fast in this space and I would say use a specialist, or preferably more than one to help you make the choices. I can recommend an awesome dealer in York if it helps They are more like good friends than sales folk and I have known them for 15 years I think. All the best
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Old 12-12-2014, 12:59 PM
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i purchased the 24bit WAVs of the new Aphex Twin Album, Syro.

more expensive than the CD.
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Old 12-12-2014, 01:19 PM
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The problem with direct comparisons is that often when they release the higher res material they re-mastered it. This is mostly a good thing but not for the comparison argument.
For direct comparison simply re-encode the 24 bit master you have at 16 bit.
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Old 12-12-2014, 01:25 PM
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Originally Posted by Martin H View Post
Sorry I missed this before:

re the price of a 'good player'. How long is a piece of string?

For the original purchase price of your CD player (2k ish) you can get yourself something pretty decent. Linn have several at that level worth a test but if you investment in kit already you might want to look elsewhere too. The best DS Linn (other than their Exakt system) is 15k I think but there are things called 'renew' versions which are the components thrown free after an Exakt upgrade put into a simple box. This gets you right up the food chain at half or a third of the cost - secondhand 3-4k. The 'source' is the most important

One investment that is almost universally praised is the Oppo BDP 105D player. The nice thing about this is that it is a Blu-Ray player but also a Universal player with acclaimed audio. There is something called an Audiocom version of this at just over 2k that has upgrades that push performance even further.

If you do decide to buy something I would definitely take a look/listen to at least the standard one. I use the older version for movies/music Blu-Rays and so on in a different room. You can I think get benefit from something cheaper but if you are used to the FMJ don't expect to pick something up for 100 or so that beats it.

Obviously, like anything when the wallet permits do the research as things move fast in this space and I would say use a specialist, or preferably more than one to help you make the choices. I can recommend an awesome dealer in York if it helps They are more like good friends than sales folk and I have known them for 15 years I think. All the best
Thanks Martin, you offer a very balanced view of the whole subject and I am not surprised that the manufactures of these elite players are cashing in on the latest trend. I had a quick look at some of the kit around after I posted and noticed that there were some players around the 1 to 2k range, like the new Cyrus which were praised. Your suggestions have be noted but in the end it comes down to sitting in the shop and listening to a succession of players and weighing up the sound quality against the cost.

My wife might not concur with my findings.
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Old 12-12-2014, 01:46 PM
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Originally Posted by Seat146 View Post
Thanks Martin, you offer a very balanced view of the whole subject and I am not surprised that the manufactures of these elite players are cashing in on the latest trend. I had a quick look at some of the kit around after I posted and noticed that there were some players around the 1 to 2k range, like the new Cyrus which were praised. Your suggestions have be noted but in the end it comes down to sitting in the shop and listening to a succession of players and weighing up the sound quality against the cost.

My wife might not concur with my findings.
Spot on. Enjoy the process and do shop around. Each dealer tends to have a favourite product to sell and sadly the 'box shifters' out there too often will sell what they have this week. They just play this weeks 'seller' louder. If you can get them to demo at home when you have narrowed it down. Most good folk will. Good established true dealers are fine though.

P.S. - I was once at the point of pulling my wallet out for a cirrus cs player and amp set-up but got a work phone call and had to leave the shop and never went back for some reason. But still have a soft spot for the company.
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Old 12-12-2014, 01:49 PM
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Originally Posted by smileysmith View Post
For direct comparison simply re-encode the 24 bit master you have at 16 bit.
That's what I thought too and it 'should work' but there is a huge thread out there on converters and so on and why that might not be valid. I will perhaps give it a go at the weekend though

I read an interesting idea the other day that entailed filtering out the 16 bits leaving in effect the 'extra' and playing that to see if its audible. If so then clearly it has impact, if not- then there is no point surely. Someone immediately explained why that wouldn't work either but it was a good thought. The argument will rage and all I would say is try it on the best kit you can find/demo and draw your own conclusion. Anything less would be flawed I suspect.
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Last edited by Martin H; 12-12-2014 at 09:03 PM.
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