Are high sample rates making your music sound worse?


ishkabibil
The notion that we may be overdoing it has always been at the back of my mind. 
I've found that up sampling to 96 kHz has never presented an issue but that above 96 kHz has and that includes recently recorded material.
A friend however gave me a CD of 'Ziggy Stardust' that was originally a MOFI JVC vinyl pressing and the higher the up sampling that I could go, the better.
@goofyfoot 



It stands to reason that if you upsample but have same bit rate as music was initially recorded at you would in essence kind of thin out the track altered.....losing possibly bass or bottom end...
ishkabibil, I wouldn't try refuting that claim but I haven't necessarily noticed that with my equipment; Ayre QB9 DSD DAC, ASR Emitter II Exclusive amp, Quad 2905 ESL's.
As I said, most anything above 96 kHz sounds wrong but in nearly every case, setting the PCM at 96 kHz sounds dead on where it should be.
It is most likely precarious by what type of equipment is being used. Various DAC filters and the like may determine whether or not up sampling is even a good idea.
@goofyfoot 


Thank you...What if at all do you use to stream from net to your DAC...?
ishkabibil, I use a 2011 Mac Mini with a Wire World Platinum USB cable connected to an ISO Regen with linear power supply, connected to my Ayre DAC. I also run the Audirvana Plus transport app.
I think it's important to note that I installed a Synergistic Energy Blue Fuse in my Ayre. And, I have an XLR Akiko Audio Tuning Stick in the Ayre and a USB Akiko Audio Stick in the Mac Mini.
These tweaks most notably eliminated color in the sound; rendering the sound with neutrality, breath/naturalness and faster transients. The ISO Regen added clarity and detail to the sound. I am very satisfied with the overall sound of my DAC.
Since no one >10 can hear over 20kHz, there is no point to listening to something like 192kHz in the first place, if your amp can even properly playback such high frequencies, all you are doing is increasing the chances of driving your tweeter into distortion.
mzkmxcv, I agree with you with the exception of the vinyl to digital transfer that I mentioned above. Anyone know why that would stand as an exception?
So if you read the article it's not really about upsampling being bad it's about Digital recorders with crappy analog output stages sabotaging the sound, Just as with a consumer Dac ultimate sound quality is more about the analog output stage, and power supply, than the Dac chip or sampling rates. Glad it reinforces my own thinking!
I don’t know jond, we’re just having a conversation.

@goofyfoot I was joining the conversation I thought and what do you mean by you don't?
It seems from what you said that we're somehow not living up to your standards.
No not at all I was saying the article confirms my thinking about Dacs and digital components in general nothing about the thread.
The nature of this topic is obviously discursive and subject to multitudes. What seems important here is that all of our experiences are valid. High resolution recordings and up sampling are nebulous, in that there may not be absolutes about what works best in all cases. Hence, my question about the playback of a vinyl to digital transfer.
mzkmxcv353 postsSince no one >10 can hear over 20kHz, there is no point to listening to something like 192kHz in the first place, if your amp can even properly playback such high frequencies, all you are doing is increasing the chances of driving your tweeter into distortion.

That is, I am afraid, nonsense. My long term dealer and I sat in DCS demonstration room and agreed that upsampling to 192, generally but not always, resulted in a better listening experience, and indeed preferable to upsampling to dsd. I have then at home set my DCS  upsampler to 192 after I confirmed the findings in my home environment. Your upsampler may be inferior of course .... And my speakers are B&W800d3s and are not adversely affected by 192 as you falsely claim again, so again you are possibly listening to inferior speakers and making generalisations on a totally a false premis. I can ask B&W if they agree with you, but I won't bother.
And by the way I find digital copies of vinyl records totally lifeless and pointless.  I prefer listening to the actual vinyl or a properly recorded digital version, upsampled if appropriate. Naysay if you wish, but that is pointless as all that does is to falsely tell me my listening is inferior, which it isn't.
tatyana, my reference to a vinyl to digital transfer wasn't to imply that this recording was good, bad or indifferent. It's just something that is different from my experiences with other digital files and I am curious as to why. Like I said, various components have there own characteristics due to filters, power outputs, etc...
Some DAC's are built for non up sampling. My DAC does up sample and so I up sample to 96 kHz in most cases.
I don't mean to imply that my equipment or opinion is superior to any one else's, just that oversampling in most situations, for me, has proven to be problematic when it comes to sound quality.
I happen to prefer DSD to PCM but I don't up sample DSD.

“Since no one >10 can hear over 20kHz, there is no point to listening to something like 192kHz in the first place, if your amp can even properly playback such high frequencies, all you are doing is increasing the chances of driving your tweeter into distortion“

Total BS......

Basically speaking, the higher your bit-depth/sampling rate, the "better" quality recording you’ll get. You just to need make sure your equipment is up to the task.

The 24bit/196khz files on Qobuz sounds much more dynamic over 16bit/44.1kHz files on Tidal.


My long term dealer and I sat in DCS demonstration room and agreed that upsampling to 192, generally but not always, resulted in a better listening experience, and indeed preferable to upsampling to dsd. I have then at home set my DCS upsampler to 192 after I confirmed the findings in my home environment.

I don’t doubt your experience at all. But, the quality and implementation of the DAC analogue stage must be taken into consideration. The article mentions that the rest of the system must be up to the task of clean reproduction. But after upsampling the data, the analogue output stage must be up to the task.
So this exercise should be measured in a case by case basis.YMMV.



You are invited to look up about the Nyquist Theorem which is the basis of all analog to digital encoding. But to cut to the chase regarding sampling rates more is better. To wit the last and some would argue ultimate method of audio digitization is Direct Stream Digital DSD format which samples at 64X CD or 2.8 megahertz and uses one bit quantization.  The huge dump of data bits on optical disc is called SACD. 
I've been considering purchasing a Schiit Bifrot 16 bit DAC for a more modest system. Schiit Audio also offers a multibit Bifrost but I don't know that the added cost would really be justified.
I have a friend who said that in many ways he prefers a lower bit rate, he claims that it's easier for him to listen to. I just believe that so many variables are complex and subjective. Which is why I believe that everyone has a vote and that no one has a veto. After all, isn't that why we're sharing.
Upsampling does not increase resolution it only makes possible to make the filtering easier. The point of 192KHz sampling is not to hear it, but NOT to hear it.
I second the notion that CD re-issues of old vinyl masters is disappointing. But more convenient.
Recording at highest possible resolution makes perfect sense. The Red Book spec was written a very long time ago. Error correction is limited, no real checksums and such a data file can have. The realtime nature of the data stream is also unnecessary. Buffering the data makes it possible to do error checking and corrections.
The purpose of higher resolution formats is not automatically better sound, but the possibility of a more accurate recording. 
More resolution could potentially unmask flaws in the process.
There are plenty of opportunities to screw up a recording regardless of resolution. Very good recordings seem hard to find.
Hundreds of feet of microphone cables are used in recording studios. Is their impact less than the type and placement of the mikes?
I have some great 16/44 recordings on vinyl so i dont think high sampling rates are needed. I cant get those same recordings to sound good on CD unfortunately. 
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Trying to compare diverse systems and their reactions to a single change is somewhat of a fools errand.

The level of complexity introduced by so many different components, not to mention the quality of the source material makes what seems to be a simple comparison very difficult.

Once you get past the vast array of hardware difference, then you get to cords, connectors and wires.

What may affect one system may not be discernable in another.

That does not mean the effect is not very real is some systems, but it may not translate across all systems.  IMHO bad source material, regardless of point of origin is the worst problem we all face.
@goofyfoot

It’s no different for vinyl unless you want the possible distortion that may arise from driving your tweeters higher than they can handle, same distortion as would be for playing the actual vinyl. Not saying all/most vinyl does this, but some do. Disregarding this caveat, it makes no difference.

@lalitk
@tatyana69

Find the error in my logic:

Sampling rate: Due to Nyquist, as long as we are 2x more than what we want to capture, it captures it 100% identically. Impossible for transient response for instance to be better with higher sampling rates, as that by definition means the 44.1 version didn’t sample it 100% identically. One caveat would be how good the filter in your DAC is, but even most cheap DACs don’t attenuate below 19kHz (and especially not more than 0.1dB), and since I doubt you can hear that high, it’s all good.

Bit-depth: All this is means is how large of dynamic range you can have, it describes the noise floor. 16Bit (undithered) has an average noise floor of better than 96dB, dithered brings it up to 110-120dB, 24-Bit is 144dB. Your average treated room has a noise floor of no lower than 30dBC, so that’s limiting you to less than 16Bit anyway. 

Also, the people I’ve heard from who are in the industry, all agree that digitized vinyl sounds identical. You finding this different either means you listened to garbage conversions or your brain is telling you what you want to hear, which since you hear a benefit from going to 192kHz leads me to think it’s the latter. Open to discussion, so please find the error in my logic.
@mzkmxcv,

I trust my ears more than any logic or argument. Couple of variables here, it could very well be your components that are not upto the task or maybe it’s your hearing that are hindering your abilities to discern the subtleties in the high resolution music. 

IMHO, you should open yourself to the possibilities that stems from trying than simply relying on theories and subsequent futile discussions. 

@lalitk

Measurements are far more accurate and far more reliable than our ears. Stating your ears are better and thus that’s why you hear a difference is such a typical response.

I’d like one explanation for why 192kHz is better than 44.1kHz, let’s say using a Chord Qutest as it’s filter is pretty much the best I’ve seen (well, let’s say the Chord Dave to get ahead of comments saying the Qutest is too cheap to be transparent).

Sampling rate only deals with how high of a frequency you want to capture, there is 0% difference within frequencies captured from a lower sampling rate, this is all proven by Nyquist, it’s a 100% capture, or else digital music wouldn’t Moro in the first place, as every sample relates to one specific waveform.

I’m willing to bet you can’t hear above 18kHz (if you are over 50, probably 12kHz), so stating that the inclusion of frequencies at 80kHz makes a difference is just nonsensical (unless you have an explanation).

I’ve asked why you think/know it makes a difference and all I got was “my ears are better”. You don’t even need measurement gear, all you need is a program that loads the two digital files and shows you the difference between them.
mzkmxcv
You don’t even need measurement gear, all you need is a program that loads the two digital files and shows you the difference between them.
If you truly think listening doesn't matter, then you're the single best example of confirmation bias that this group has ever seen, imo. And we can all go home now. There's no need to listen to anything at all, except for whatever mzkmxcv proclaims.
mzkmxcv
' Also, the people I’ve heard from who are in the industry, all agree that digitized vinyl sounds identical. You finding this different either means you listened to garbage conversions or your brain is telling you what you want to hear, which since you hear a benefit from going to 192kHz leads me to think it’s the latter. Open to discussion, so please find the error in my logic.'

So you are saying that I'm imagining an improvement?
@goofyfoot  
 
To put it blunty, yes. Everything I found shoes that if people don’t know, they don’t even get up to 70% accuracy (picking CD or better over 320Kbps MP3), it’s usually 40%-60%.  
  
320Kbps was chosen for a reason, as that’s what they found was good enough.
@cleeds

So now you are saying even if the bits are the same it sounds different?

I have listened, didn’t hear a difference. Whose correct, me or you? Why? Because your ears are better or your system is better?
mzkmxcv, 
I've played the same vinyl transfer to CD for friends and they've remarked about the improvement to the overall sound between playing it at 44 kHz and then up sampling to higher frequencies. I can see that you're absolutely certain that your opinion is factual and that dissenting views are wrong but I would make the radical assumption that many would see you're factual observations of audio without listening as presumptuous and arrogant.
@goofyfoot 
 
Telling them anything about what the files are, and the fact that you know which file is being played invalidates any findings from a scientific point.  If another person did the same and the people said it was no different, what then?  
 
As I’ve asked, what benefits does 192kHz have over 44.1kHz? Do you believe we can hear higher than 22kHz or that those inaudible frequencies still influence our hearing?
mzkmxcv,
I didn't tell anybody about a file, I played the CD. I've never made claims about being a scientist. Maybe you could explain in aesthetic terms what I'm actually hearing. I have academic experience in the area of aesthetics, otherwise I'm somewhat disinterested.
@goofyfoot  
 
Just saying your findings differ from most human trials I’ve seen. 
I’m saying even if the bits are the same it can and will sound different. In the real world, a world populated by real audiophiles bits are not bits. The laser reads bumps and lands, for one thing, not zeros and ones. So, what you’re calling bits are even bits to begin with. Hel-loo! A lot can happen between the time the laser reads the physical bumps and lands and the time the data is converted to an analog signal.
mzkmxcv
@cleeds

So now you are saying even if the bits are the same it sounds different?
No, I've never said that. Nor do I understand what would lead you to suggest that I said that.
@cleeds

Well, I said that if you load up the high-rez digital file and subtracted the differences between a 16/44.1, you’ll see the differences. You replied that I think listening doesn’t matter. As I’ve said, what you hear is the most important, measurements don’t mean anything compared to what you hear, measurements just are able to tell us wether you are hearing things that actually exist. If I played the same digital file to 100 people and then played the same file again and asked if they heard a difference, how many do you think will say yes?

@geoffkait

Maybe if you bought a CD player at a dollar store. A $75 Blu-Ray player will output the same bits as a $10,000 CD player, only differences are jitter, which even a “cheap” DAC will reduce to below -100dBFS. 
 
Not sure if you know, you can literally drill a hole in a CD and it will not change anything. CD has a lot of protection against faults.
@geoffkait

Maybe if you bought a CD player at a dollar store. A $75 Blu-Ray player will output the same bits as a $10,000 CD player, only differences are jitter, which even a “cheap” DAC will reduce to below -100dBFS.

>>>>>The only differences are jitter? You mean like jitter caused by ordinary vibration of the CD transport and very low frequency seismic vibration? And jitter produced by scattered background laser light? Lol 😝

Not sure if you know, you can literally drill a hole in a CD and it will not change anything. CD has a lot of protection against faults.

>>>>I’ll take your word for it. I have not punched a hole in any CDs lately. One thing the CD player can’t deal with are radial scratches. No protection against that. Also, there’s no protection against random noise as can be deduced by painting the CD outer edge green and using your ears. Reed Solomon only gets you so far. Perfect sound forever. LOL
@geoffkait  
 
Not sure if you were joking, but to cover bases: 
https://www.snopes.com/fact-check/bewaring-of-the-green/
Snopes? Yeah, that’s a real reliable source. 😛 This must be your first rodeo, cowpoke. 🤠

mzkmxcv
371 posts
This poster is an example of people who JUST DO NOT LISTEN, either to music or other people. I am surprised anyone has risen to such a nonsense debate to continue his moronic thoughts. A highly skilled engineer of mine built an amp for me that has exactly the same measurements as another Bryston amp I had. Did it sound the same? Of course not ... Hang on, it must be my ears that are faulty! And the poster should buy better equipment before labelling ALL equipment the  same. Seems he has less quality equipment to match his inferior thoughts.
Playback Design Up-samples everything to DSD then sends it to the analog section of the DAC, this applies to any file format.
If a DSD disc sounds better than disc X who cares whether it’s because of the DSD per se or because of a better mastering job? Hel-loo!
tatyana69
mzkmxcv This poster is an example of people who JUST DO NOT LISTEN, either to music or other people. 
Quite so, as he admits:
You don’t even need measurement gear, all you need is a program that loads the two digital files and shows you the difference between them
@tatyana69

I highly doubt it has the exact same measurements, meaning a full suite, not just frequency reponse and wattage. Even a high end brand like Mark Levinson cannot make the exact same amp, they all have minuscule deviations.

I listen, and I’ve never heard a difference with going to 24Bit or changing speaker wires (well, I admit nothing fancy like $5000 cables). Now, if you hear a difference, whose right? Well, since simple math and measurements shows that we shouldn’t hear a difference, I would argue I am.

All I get are responses like yours, and never any actual responses to my questions. If you think 192kHz is audibly different to 44.1kHz, I’d think you to explain why, when I bet you can’t even hear up to 19kHz.

@cleeds

Again, so are you saying when the audio in the digital file is the same they still sound different? As that’s what I’m talking about, compare the audio <20kHz for a 44.1 and a 192 file, and no differences will exist above -100dBFS.
mzkmxcv
“I listen, and I’ve never heard a difference with going to 24Bit or changing speaker wires (well, I admit nothing fancy like $5000 cables). Now, if you hear a difference, whose right? Well, since simple math and measurements shows that we shouldn’t hear a difference, I would argue I am.”

>>>>In the example you gave I’d say he’s right, not you. Lots of people cannot hear lots of things. You can’t prove a negative. Nothing succeeds like success. 🤗

@geoffkait

If someone says the midrange is more pronounced with new speaker wire, where an SPL meter or a measurement mic shows no volume differences, whose right?

Just how headphone burn-in isn’t real, a $500 USB cable won’t sound better than a $20 one (well, I’ll be careful, the sound coming out using the $500 cable won’t be different than the $20 one).
I already gave you my answer. I don’t get involved in these “what about this? what about that?” type discussions.