16 bit is good enough.....


As I type this, I’m listening to a new CD by Tony Minasian titled "Drums & Bells" (Comparing Sticks) and it’s "just" a 16 bit recording, and it blows away the notion that I need hi-rez in my life. There’s a realistic drum set in my living room, right now, with clashes and decays that (to borrow a phrase from John Darko) hang like Gandolph’s fireworks in the air.

Notes come from their solid, respective locations and never waver. Invisible hands move left, right, up and down as notes are played. I’ve timed decays that last from 4- 10 seconds with notes overplaying that decay, only to keep hearing the first ones. Kick drums come right at you and no imagination is needed to tell how wide it is and that it’s facing you. Angles of drums are plain as day, as are cymbals, bells and what have you.

I got this from Elliot Midwood over at Acoustic Image after Tony called me to let me know he has it out. Elliot thinks it’s the finest recording he’s heard. I’ll admit it’s a bit esoteric in nature and quite eclectic when it comes to taste but if you like your system, let this be one of the CDs to show off to your friends.

There are bass notes coming from percussion that originate a good 4 feet off the ground before coming down to the driver’s speaker level placement. Notes emanate naturally, going their intended way. No processing trickery needed. Tracks are simply titled after the tool used: straw brush, muted drums, wood stick, rattle stick, wood metal, plastic brushes, rubber mallets, straw and metal brushes, objects dropped, bells, toys, etc. And each and everyone has it’s own unique and undeniable sound. It’s ear candy in the extreme. Before I read the titles, I could tell if it were wood, metal or something else used to strike different surfaces. With a good, resolving system, it’s painfully easy to discern.

The only credits are to drummer Brad Dutz who goes solo for the first 13 tracks and he’s joined by drummer Chris Wabich for the final 6 tracks. There’s also a mention to Ken and Vinnie Rossi as well. Cover art is by Japanese artist Kaoru Mansour. It was recorded live and mixed by Tony Minasian. Speaking to Tony, he’s always been of the opinion that the source and speakers are the most important links in the audio chain. If done properly, you don’t need all the extra processing. This CD goes a long way to validating that argument.

For quite a while now there’s been a big resurgence in 16 bit NOS and I’d love to hear this CD on something with a TotalDac, MSB or equivalent DAC to do this justice. If only the studios would stop trying different ways to pick our pockets and do a decent job mastering CDs in the first place, our lives could be so much easier.

All the best,
Nonoise
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Can't find this cd on Google. Do you know if it will become available?
Hey Lowrider57,

I just got off the phone with Tony and he said you can get it from him at
Tonian Labs or from Elliot at Acoustic Image High-End Audio Homepage
Right now, those are the only two places.

Tony told me that someone from the Minnesota Audio Society measured his CD and told him it has the highest dynamic range of anything he's ever tested. Also, two audio salons that Tony went to refused to listen to it. It seems they prefer to sell hi-rez equipment and nothing else. 😧

All the best,
Nonoise
Thanks @nonoise . What was the price? 
Are there good drum solos or is it more of an acoustic effects album?
(Former drummer here).
The price I paid was $20. It's not so much a drum solo that everyone can relate to and more of an acoustic effects event. Elliot Midwood has been around a few orchestras and couldn't figure out what some of the cymbals and bells were. That might make it a turn off for some but I like it. It's just uncanny how realistic that drum set is.

All the best,
Nonoise
Hi Nonoise,

As I've said before, the newest crop of DAC's in the lat 5 years are MUCH better with Redbook than they were before. So much so that it makes it difficult for me to justify the disk space needed for high resolution files, especially DSD.

I also find it interesting a lot of salons no longer let you bring your own music at all. It makes me wonder if they are pre-processing their recordings. It's not like I go in with very experimental music either.

Best,

E
Eric, I agree with you regarding the quality of new DAC's with programmable chips (FPGA) and the many R2R ladder DACs.

So when you visit an audio salon, are they using a server with hirez files and/or streaming?
Haven't been to a shop in a while; last time I went the salesman played his copy of a Mahler symphony.
I forgot to add that the cost of $20 includes shipping and it can be done via PayPal. 👍
yes on the improvements in DACs

but I have to wonder if 16 is really enough - like I said I just wonder, not claiming it is

I am quite sure that 24 bits is plenty tho...
I've never heard a 24bit/96KHz file sound any *worse* than the same file in 16bit/44.1KHz. 
The difference between 16bit/44.1KHz and 24bit/96KHz may not be distinguishable when played on a transport (due to the hardware involved). But, how different is the quality between a download of each file to a server?
Let’s assume the track was mastered in 24-bit/192 kHz (or even in 24/96), then down-converted.

I’ve never compared the same song in different sampling rates, so I don’t know. Anybody have any findings?
I just ordered the CD. I was in Tony's room at THE Newport show last year and there was a disc he was playing. I have never heard anything sound so real in my life. The drum kit was in the room with me. I can't even remember the model of speakers he was showing and the CD player was nothing special. I have never heard anything hires sound this real. I am assuming this is the same music? Will find out.
How does it compare to the longstanding reference test recording that separates realistic systems from wanabees - The Sheffield Labs Track and Drum disc?
As with vinyl, the quality of playback technology improved dramatically over the past 30 years. There's nothing inherently "wrong" with 16 bit, as you indicate and I have plenty of CDs that I can now listen to comfortably with modern playback algorithms and power supplies. I think the single biggest advancement was in the understanding of time domain distortion and how to minimize it with filters that could manage pre-ringing and post-ringing. Our hearing is extremely sensitive to time domain information. Hey, it's how we knew from which direction the saber tooth tiger approached.
Steve,

Not sure I agree with time domain being the biggest factor (although I agree it has its importance). I think oversampling actually helps reduce noise from DAC non-linearities and this may be the biggest benefit from oversampling (not the fact that a less aggressive filter can be used to better preserve time domain info). Oversampling is actually a form of dither. You can also think of DAC non-linearities as a form of error similar to jitter (it is bad as it can correlate to audio signals). Oversampling decorrelates the DAC non-linearity errors.

Sorry but I can't explain further as it really requires a deep understanding of time series analysis which can be rather mathematical. 

As for 16 bit, it is indeed enough for a recording simply for playback but greater bit depth in the DAC itself can help with better digital filtering/processing.
@nonoise , has Tony produced any other cd's? In your other thread you said that he brought over some tunes for you to hear on your system.
I'm going to check out Drums & Bells.
@lowrider57, the test CD that Tony brought over the first time turned out to be a first run of some of the work he’d been doing. He played the same thing at the Newport Audio Show a year earlier that @lancelock referred to. Tony told me he’s working on a more traditional jazz CD now and I"m quite eager to hear it when it comes out.

All the best,
Nonoise

Many thanks. Now I'm really looking forward to hearing this CD.
Um, my experiences have not in general been related to FPGA DAC's. I honestly haven't heard that many that I know of. My current bargain favorite is the Mytek Brooklyn. :) Not FPGA based.

Also really like the Schiit designs.

Anyone who would like to loan me a Chord or PS Audio please send them to..... :)

Best,


E
at some point the SQ of the DAC is limited by the mastering on the CD...
One more correction: it's $20 for the CD and $10 shipping USPS Priority in a padded envelope. I need to stay away from the wine 🍷🍷😀
Aha!
It turns out it wasn't the wine after all. 😀
If you buy the CD from Tony Minasian, it's $20 including shipping since he'll send it at the basic postal rate. It won't ship Priority but it should get there within 3 days anywhere in the U.S. 

Now, back to some more 🍷.
16, 24, 44, 96, 192.... I wouldn't pay a dime extra for the higher numbers. 16/44, done right, with today's technology, approaches the limits of what the normal human ear can hear.  If its good enough for ECM, its certainly good enough for me.
I would agree 16/44.1 is plenty good but I would disagree that newer dacs necessarily do it better than good older dac. Currently listening to an Audio Note Dac-3 Signature circa 1995 playing back redbook and its the best sound I've ever heard in my system. As with all things execution matters more than technology.
Good enough is usually a losers creed ... a lazy way to go ... yet in this case ... 16 bits is absolutely good enough. What matters more than 16 vs 24 bits? Everything. The engineering, the mastering quality, the mastering hardware and AD (if analog), the speakers/amps/room or other playback. If 24 bits ... what matters more than 44.1 vs higher rates? Everything. There is no need to pass 24/44.1 assuming the mastering skill and equipment are top tier. There are very few recordings that are end to end high res, the moniker is a sales tool and a silly one, as most people have a cheap DA that is the bottleneck. A system is only as good as it weak link, and 16 bit audio is rarely the week link. The playback rooms of most audiophiles are not sufficient, for example. (disclosure: I master music at 24/44.1 with Pacific Microsonics AD and listen with Bricasti M1 SE DA)
I concur- 16/44.1 is plenty good for me. Telarc and Chesky do an excellent job on their RBCD.   The newer Plangent Process technology is outstanding as well. 
I have a claimed "up sampling" DAC so there's whatever that does (good cables for it, groovy power supply…frequent dusting), but man…"Redbook" mondo no problemo that can sound astonishingly clear and detailed, and lots of ECM stuff as I'm in my beatnik phase of jazz piano obsession for the last decade or so. Vijay Iyer, Craig Taborn, etc., is so good you might flip your lid.
Sorry, but the statement about 16/44 blows away the notion that you need hi-Res is wrong used the way nonoise presented this. How in the hell can somebody say 16/44 is the best without listening to the same song(s) in 24/96,24/192, or in DSD? I have never heard a song sound worse using hi-res or DSD, sometimes they sound the same worse case.
as for dacs I would agree, but using the new ps audio directstream, every time the software gets an update, it's like buying a new dac that's better than the last, and the dac is fantastic to start with.
I think I agree...with advanced DACs, up-sampling, filters and reclocking, RBCD is rarely the weak link. When I inserted my Cambridge 851N streamer/DAC, the difference between red book and SACD became so minimal that I took out my preamp and went only redbook--digital out fromMarantz SA8004.  Hi Rez downloads do sound better, but not by much. I buy downloads now more as test items/out of curiosity, especially if I have a high quality CD to compare it with. If I had a much better system or younger ears, might be different, but I'm happy now. I run the equipment mentioned above through Bel Canto ref 500Ms and Dali Mentor 6s, Nordost and Acoustic Zen cables. 
It sounds like many of us are saying the same thing just differently. Mastering quality is a order of magnitude difference. The difference between 16/44 and say 24/192 is correspondingly relatively minor.
I think the key here has been touched on, but not singled out: time-domain transient distortion, more important the higher in frequency the transient is.  Early ways of dealing with it on straight CD's were filters that sacrificed high-frequencies to eliminate pre-ringing, but nevertheless sounded better (eg. more less "CD sound").  The introduction of high-res and upsampling solved this problem in a different way.  The spread of upsampling throughout the production chain has now made remastered CD's and modern CD's sound much better than the earlier ones.

The pre-ringing does not exist in nature.  The sensitivity of our hearing in sorting out "non-natural" sounds in context has been known for years, and this has made me wonder for thirty-five years why "objectivists" and "scientists' were so fervent in denying the claims of analog folk that analog sounded better.  I remember sending John Atkinson a letter back in the '90's suggesting that this pre-ringing is what created "CD strain" for many folks.  I received no response nor was my letter published .... but years later when the first high-end preamp introduced the time-domain-correcting filter(s) John suddenly "got it".  My crack-pot letter became the new reality.


At 78 years of age, forgive me for forgetting the punch line. 

There is absolutely no reason today for anybody not to have both digital playback and analog playback and enjoy both equally.  If you are an analog fan, spend a few shekels on an OPPO 95, 105, or 205 to play any disk you have and you will have no taste of "digitalitis" .
Perhaps my fondness for tube amps somehow masks digital nasties, but especially now that I've started using a brilliantly designed single ended pentode amp (Dennis Had Inspire "Fire Bottle High Output"), the resolution (I think that's what's happening) or ability to hear deeply into things with clarity and ear pleasing proper tonality, I simply am enjoying my system more in all formats. My analog is better, CDs are better, streaming sounds better…and by better I mean outstanding.
Wolf has reminded me to add "if the rest of your system is musical and not edgy" to the above.  I agree, Wolf ... I've reverted to an updated ARC SP-6 which is more neutral than the 6B I had when it was new, and have never enjoyed my system more: SACD, DVD-A, CD, and Vinyl.
Tony's CD (Drums & Bells) has arrived. It is very much what I remember from the NewPort show. Dynamics are off the charts. It's not really music but listenable. On one track I could really feel the bass thumping in my chest not to mention the incredible highs.
 
Why can't all recording engineers make music sound like this? This will definitely be my test disc to show off my system when friends come over. 
That's like saying that drug store readers are as good as prescriptions....
CDs and players have improved a great deal in recent years, but I think they’re still in their infancy. I expect digital sound to continue to improve for a long time to come.
Hi nonoise, Thankyou for bringing this CD to  my attention,  I certainly will get one,  🎵🎶🎼🍺🍹🍸🍷🥃🥃🥃🥃cheers.
What I'd love to see is a CD player with a R2R set up like that of a Holo Spring DAC, or something similar in execution, all in one box. Or, it could be a two box solution with better isolation and an umbilical of the highest order, eliminating the need for another cable. They'd sell out in the first week. 

We have to remember that we all start with a listening room of about 40db (level of a library), which trashes the noise floor, and cuts off much from even hi-rez, leaving us with about 60-70 db of headroom to play with. Now take that kick drum, which has the greatest dynamic range (75-80db) and just how nicely does that fit into our listening environment? Most rooms cannot accurately reproduce it yet it pounds our chests most convincingly. With 16 bit I'm getting 96db of dynamic range and it satisfies in a most realistic way, with only 56db or so of available resolution that I can hear, in that noisy library-like environment. Even the smaller drums poke me in the chest like fists and fingers, depicting their smaller size. All of this and more from "just 16 bit" recordings, done right.

Raising the number to 192 won't increase the resolution (unless you've recorded gunfire which no speaker can reproduce) since the recording was done with a mike that rolls off above 15Khz, from a 16 bit 44.1 master. You can remaster it at a higher rate but where's the improvement coming from?  You're reshaping the original signal, changing it for the sake of yet another catalogue of remasters.

By the way, I know I'm off on some of these numbers but close enough to augment my thoughts.

All the best,
Nonoise

I only have CD in digital....the way I understand it is that the higher the bits and the ability to use them gives more information to the experience....not just that it can reproduce greater dynamic range, but also to a more see through quality to the original performance.
I really enjoyed this CD that Tony recently produced.  Nicely done!!           Not your ordinary high quality test recording.   Unique mix of drums, bells, metal, glass, springs and wood sticks.    The ART of Noise comes to mind with less noise.... if that makes sense.  :-)  Get a copy and enjoy.


stringreen,  a higher bit depth means there will be less interpolation in the voltages (SPL) at any instant in time

don't confuse it with sample rate, which means less interpolation in time intervals

as far as I can figure this area out, the main problems are neither of the above, but relate to certain types of jitter, noise in the signal, and the accuracy of the resistors in a ladder DAC

the most recent study I know of is a meta-analysis of numerous studies, which found a significant but fairly small ability to detect HiRes over Redbook

I find source material a big issue and am still looking for that DSD of Buddy Bolden...
I didn’t think I’d see Drums & Bells formally reviewed but here it is.
Tony told me that he shipped 20 CDs to a New York audio dealer and was preparing another shipment for another dealer. Apparently people like it. That, and the response is, they want him to record a proper jazz set.

All the best,
Nonoise
Sadly, I tend to really enjoy my Redbook CDs AND vinyl…I know it's wrong, but then are my acoustic guitars really "high rez" when I play them? I lack the Steve Bannon-esque ability to lean over so my face points to the sound hole when I'm playing, although lap bottleneck obviates this issue…still…maybe it's higher quality with newer strings or a stiffer thumb pick...
Don't worry: with Steve gone so goes the standard. No need for any hot yoga lessons. 🤣
This is a remarkably good CD.  Transparent, lifelike, excellent in every way.  Sound is very crisp and clean with my restored Quad 57s...highly recommended!

Towne Cryer here: This just in!
Another review of Drums & Bells from Positve Feedback Online.

All the best,
Nonose