Do we really need anything greater than 24/96? Opinions?


It's really difficult to compare resolutions with different masterings, delivery methods, sources, etc. I have hundreds of HI-rez files (dsd, hi bit rate PCM, etc). I have to say that even 24/44 is probably revealing the best a recording has to offer. Obviously, recording formats, methods, etc all play a huge role. I'm not talking preferred sources like vinyl, sacd, etc. I'm talking about the recordings themselves. 

Plus, I really think the recording (studio-mastering) means more to sound quality than the actual output format/resolution. I've heard excellent recorded/mastered recordings sound killer on iTunes streaming and CD. 

Opinions?

aberyclark
CD sound quality is relatively independent of bit rate and sampling rate. For starters you’re not even getting 50% of what’s on the CD anyway. There are too many serious issues with CD Player performance, after all these years. The CDs themselves are great. Increasing the bit rate and sampling rate is kind of a scam to get more money. Not unlike overly compressing CDs. It’s all orchestrated so they can stay in business. Hel-loo!
+1 for Geoff
I was able to compare the same recording from HD tracks. One in 24/96 and the other 24/192 and I couldn't hear any difference at all.
A little off topic: I bought a Korg MR-2000S studio recorder to digitize my vinyl collection. I made several test recording all PCM 24 bit: 44.1, 48, 88.2, 96, 176.4 and 192 kHz. I then compared the recordings to the original vinyl and each other. I could not hear a discernible difference between the 24 bit 96 khz recordings and the original vinyl. I also could not hear a difference between the 96, 176.4 and 192 khz recordings. I could hear a difference between the 44.1, 48, 88.2 and 96 khz recordings. So I recorded all my vinyl in PCM 24 bit 96kHz. So for me 24/96 is fine.
As the components and parts that support the given A to D converter chip are upgraded by a knowledgeable person, with good powers of discernment, the missing differences come back on line and are noticeable.

Korg is not there to make you a reference grade piece.

A knowledgeable audio tech with aspirations in high end and the will to do so, can get int your Korg, analyze it, and then correct the circuit to bring those missed differences back on line.

The Korg is not a perfect black box, it is a faulted complex device, like all of them, from everyone.

Right now, one good guess in the right direction, is that the seldom found Ayre A to D converter is likely to be among the very best.

https://www.analogplanet.com/content/analog-digital-converter-shootout-which-sounds-best
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It all starts from the source (mastering process) regardless of format.  I have recordings in DSD that easily trumps their low resolution counterparts. Some of the 24bit XRCD’s I own are simply outstanding, in contrast the 16bit/44.1kHz file of same track sound lifeless. 

Why bother debating, just find the best recording of your favorite artist and enjoy! 
Yes, it’s simply a scam (or ongoing business model if you prefer). I have decades of experience to prove it.
If the recording industry cared, really cared about sound quality, they’d make sure it was recorded and mastered properly right off the bat.

As it is, no one in the industry gives a toss save the odd artist like Mark Knofler, Steely Dan and of course Pink Floyd. Most don’t give a stuff and simply trust the producer to futz it up any way they want, ie anyway they think it will sell. Often it’s just a question of following the current, often moronic knob twiddling fashion of the day.

Neil Young is one of the very few to ever speak about sound quality (but that’s another story). Before you go shelling out for any remasters just consider that last detail.
depend how young the listener's ears are.
Depends on where the high sample rates occur in my experience. I run all my audio through computers and find that upsampling to very high rates for the processing phase (equalizer, crossover, expander etc.) produces much cleaner results, even though the output is downsampled somewhat for the soundcard. But as far as actual source material goes I've compared 88.2k or 96k recordings with 44.1k or 48k and I don't hear much difference at all. 16 vs. 24 bit depth isn't all that obvious either. The quality of the recording process seems to be the dominant factor.
so true.  If you want a valid opinion on true sonic quality, ask someone who is 20 years old who hates the music rather than someone who is 40+ and knows every version, release and master.  hearing acuity is usually inversely proportional to the investment in the best that your own money can buy system becomes.  When it mattered, 24/96 sounded great...home recordings, LP rips and digital sources, especially higher pitched things like triangles or cymbals, and sound reflections.  Higher rates didn't seem to matter and lower rates and lower bits were noticeably and increasingly 'Fisher-Price'.  Everyone agrees that 4K OLED TVs look better than most CRT or even plain HDTV because we all have equal access to corrective vision instruments to get to a baseline.  yet, there is no sonic equivalent...just more money in a speaker that a dealer the same age or older tells you is better.  what is shrill or 'not audibly different' to some can be the opposite to others.  it is true we see 'color' differently, in terms of clarity that's a pretty objective measurement.  Most sound engineers are 50 or older...and all claim perfect hearing...
I can confirm that 16/44 mastered and played back properly sounds awesome.  Nyquist–Shannon had some things figured out, but it took awhile for the mastering and hardware to catch up.
CD sound quality is relatively independent of bit rate and sampling rate. For starters you’re not even getting 50% of what’s on the CD anyway. There are too many serious issues with CD Player performance, after all these years. The CDs themselves are great. Increasing the bit rate and sampling rate is kind of a scam to get more money. Not unlike overly compressing CDs. It’s all orchestrated so they can stay in business. Hel-loo!
Aw come on, geoffkait. Its cute the way the kids buy into this stuff. Let 'em parrot their dogma, jive their jargon. Endlessly bantering misunderstood terms back and forth is after all mostly what makes the audio world go round. People start seeing the Emperor has no clothes, next thing you know there goes the neighborhood. Not to mention how much easier it is than having to learn how things actually, you know, work.
if you really want to hear what is on your cd  call ron at marigo audio and ask him about his cd mat
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I am a broken record on this, but:. Not anymore. 

About 10 years ago DACs got MUCH better at playing Redbook. The need for hi rez vanished.

Try listening to Redbook on a vintage DAC, vs a lot of modern units.
Depends on the original recording and who is mastering.   That said I seem to chase the best sound of the music love so I guess I’m a mark for higher bits.
I agree it depends on the recording. I have heard lousy supposed hi rez and SACD and great Redbook and vice versa.
If the recording is good and your gear is also good (it took me a lot of time to get it right and I still have work to do), PCM 44.1/16 sounds incredible.

If you get redbook to play on its full potential, is good enough. 

For me, another issues play a MUCH bigger role on sound quality and music engagement. To mention a few: gear quality and synergy, AC conditioning, accoustic treatment, location of speakers and listening position, recording quality, etc.

no reason to bother above 24/96 or below 16/44.1 but....
the truth is no one really knows about any specific file you play -what's it's history?and this debate has been going on forever
most 24/96 files you will encounter weren't recorded at 24/96 but upsampled that's one of the reasons why modern audiophiles are so neurotic about bitrate some people cheat! the only way is to get all the versions compare them and find the best sounding version in your system.
i miss cd's...you would play a cd knowing it sounds good not looking for flaws only enjoying music. look at us now more than 20 years after ,still trying to figure out how to play digital music maybe ripping our own cd's is better than streaming? ...maybe not paying for music got us this punishment

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I tend to think 16/44khz is a product of scientists who knew what they were doing, and hi-rez is usually the product of marketers who know how to spin a tale.  If the hi-rez purveyors are not sampling from analog tape, they'll likely selling refried beans.

The counter-(oranges) argument is a test that claimed double-blind viewers preferred watching 8k on a 65-inch TV even though they could not see a difference. "Double-blind viewing"? 

Personally, I agree with Erik on DACs.  I can't hear a difference between 16/44  Blood-on-Tracks and the hi-rez offering on a top modern DAC.
@erik_squires 
@electroslacker 
@plga

I totally agreed, 16/44 is awesome when mastered and played back properly.
Agree well recorded and mastered 16/44 is very enjoyable. However 24/96 is better and 24/192 is even better. DSD is as good as 24/192.

I agree with so much that has been written above.  I do think that Redbook can sound amazing. But I also hear alot of 24/96 stuff sound a touch better than Redbook. Yet as someone said above it depends on the mastering too. 

I think erik_squires notes well how DAC and the implementation topology has improved a ton over the last decade. I think that is the biggest piece in all of digital. With a great DAC even Redbook is great. 
@erik_squires
Good point on the importance of the DAC; which do you use in your system?
OK here are the 3 big problems I see 👀 regardless of what format the disc is. Two of the problems involve vibration - structure-borne vibration, acoustic and other mechanical vibration (motors, CD transport, transformers, etc.), and vibration of the disc itself (!) whilst spinning, preventing the laser from staying on the nanoscale spiral track.

The third problem is produced by scattered laser light that fills up the entire inside of the CD transport and is picked up by the photodetector as real signal. I’m sorry to have to be the one to say this but you’re only hearing 50% of what’s on the CD if you’re listening to stock off the shelf systems. It’s no wonder differences among the various formats is oft indistinguishable. The systems aren’t resolving enough. Hel-loo!!
Comparing the Rolling Stones hybrid SACDs (Ludwig), I think the DSD/SACD sounds just a tad punchier and more airy mids. However, I'm not certain if the redbook layer is a straight downsample from the hi rez or each was mastered separately.
That reminds me. I have a bunch of the Abkco 2002 DSD Rolling Stones CDs. Are they really DSD mastering or something else? They do sound very good, I’ll say that.
Geoff, If the problem was lasers and optical discs, wouldn’t downloads and streamed music sound obviously better than CDs and SACDs?

That is not the case in my personal experience and what I’ve read on forums. For example:
https://forum.audiogon.com/discussions/why-does-my-old-cd-player-sound-so-much-better-than-my-new-streamer?utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=website&utm_source=sendgrid
In recording and mastering, very possibly. For home reproduction, no.
tomcy6
Geoff, If the problem was lasers and optical discs, wouldn’t downloads and streamed music sound obviously better than CDs and SACDs?

>>>>Good question. I don’t know. I am only addressing CD players.
Hi @cheeg


I had an ARC DAC 8 - It absolutely needed hi rez files to sound less than murky.

The Mytek Brooklyn I have now does a really great job with Redbook and Internet radio.
But since then a number of DAC’s, if not most, no longer have such a disaprity between redbook and hi rez files.

Best,
Erik
I note your question relates only to bit rate and not bit depth.  My answer is that no we do not need anything above 96Khz.  In fact it may be slightly deleterious - increased processing power and disc space.  
The main point is that there is no musical information beyond about 30Khz - the overtones of the highest notes music are now very low.  Also to be practical there are limitations on (1) recording microphones picking up this extra information; (2) tweeters being able to reproduce these frequencies accurately, if at all; to say nothing of (3) the limitations of our ears.
I pretty much agree with much of what has been said--except.  I have a  very high revealing system, Apogee Scintillas/Krell KSA80B and a Meridian Ultra Dac.  I find in general, as the sample rate goes up, the sound does get better.  The best material seems to be classical at 352.  Its the spacial info about the hall and the air around the instruments thats a little better.  I also in general find that MQA on top of good material is the best--and once again I find poor stuff at 44.1 and I find great stuff at 44.1.  For my ears, listening for the music to be in the room, the artist, the sound engineer, higher bit rate, higher bit depth, and MQA all improve the sound.  
No in fact you need to go to 16 44.1

Its way better sounding with more Jam and Soul.
Nothing wrong with Red Book CD using a half decent player;  once again Audiophiles, going in those ever tightening circles, have shot themselves in the foot in search of the Holy Grail, and better Magic Mushrooms.
I have a different angle on this topic. I have the Audio Note DAC5 and have had several top DSD dacs and high rez PCM dacs in my system as well.

The DAC5 is a NOS dac and can take up to 24/192 with the latest receiver chip. My finding is that on redbook or natively recorded higher rez it is superior to any oversampling dac I have encountered. DSD natively recorded has a the edge as well over oversampling dacs but the DAC5 is simply much more magical on redbook vs redbook through the DSD dac.

Native DSD has a lot going for it and I feel it also sounds free of the OS artifacts but I have not encountered a DSD dac  that competes with the DAC5 or the "Killer Dac"

Every oversampling dac I have heard has some artifact that I hear now that I have heard the NOS multibit and DSD dac's .

My observation is that NOS 16/44 is enough to give goosebumps in the best of systems and natively recorded 24/96 through a NOS dac has slightly more air and natural shimmer but only the slightest amount.  It is very probable that the people who find the big benefits from native high rez are benefiting from lower levels of oversampling happening.
Do we really need anything greater than 24/96? Opinions?
If you have a good R2R ladder dac that does PCM 24/96, then you have as good as it gets.

Cheers George
Funny anytime I want to dazzle the crap out of someone I put on one of Tony Minasians’s of Tonian Labs recordings . Usually Drums & Bells , 15 seconds into the first cut they are usually absolutely dumb founded commenting never listened to anything recorded sound so realistic.
Whats so special about these recorderings , nothing other then some modifications to his impressive collection of recording microphones these recordings are shocking realistic sounding to say the least .
For $20.00 listen for yourself , Tonianlabs.com

In blind testing with foobar "comparator", I could reliably distinguish 24/44 from 16/44 but not 24/44 from either 24/96 or 24/192. So, I am a fan of 24-bit files!

Still, I like the idea of higher sample rate, so 24/96 seems like a good standard. Moreover, the higher sampling rates offer greater choices in playback filtering:
On the other hand, by the time you get to quad-rate sampling (176.4 kHz or 192 kHz), the compromises are practically non-existent. One can have flat frequency response to 40 kHz or 50 kHz, and still have a filter with little or no ringing (in the case of the moving-average filter).



I have 6TB of 96/24 and 192/24 FLAC files of music. and more than 1000 44.1K/16bit CDs. I will always prefer HiRes. However, I enjoy all of them. Music is music.
@beetlemania,

"In blind testing with foobar "comparator", I could reliably distinguish 24/44 from 16/44 but not 24/44 from either 24/96 or 24/192. So, I am a fan of 24-bit files!’


If you’re attempting to generalise then that’s a hugely iconoclastic statement to make. I’d say it’s amazing even - given that some of us struggle to hear the difference between (like for like) 192 kbps and 320 kbps files!

Since it’s easy enough to rip the same track to 128/192/320kbps comparisons are easy whether via headphone playback or burning to CD. Certainly worth a go before investing in High-res downloads.

Of course if you prefer the mastering which may be unique to high-res files then that’s a different matter, but if you’re saying you prefer Hi-res to standard red book then surely you would have to compare like with like.

As far as we know it’s not humanly possible to ’reliably distinguish’ distinguish anything above Red Book CD.

Or is it?

Yes if you have young ears to enjoy HiRes. Too back many young folks listen to 329kps MP3 with beats. HiRes is a waste for old ears.
if you’re saying you prefer Hi-res to standard red book then surely you would have to compare like with like.
I started with 24/192 files and used dBPoweramp to make copies at 16/44, 24/44, 24/96. I made a few mistakes at first but then successfully distinguished 16/44 and 24/44 ten times in a row at which point I was satisfied that I could tell the difference. But my ability to distinguish the various sample rates with 24-bit files was no better than flipping a coin. YMMV.


I get why the industry pushes so called Hi-res , HD , MQA and what have you , their honest right ? I mean all this for the love of music in a modern repackaged form.
What makes 50 plus year old recordings let alone a recording made 5 years ago Hi-Resolution , marketing. 

I enjoy the convenience of streaming as much as the next guy and my favourite CDs ripped I enjoy them more now then I ever have at any other time do to a much better digital front end.

Finally I mentioned above some recent recordings done by Tonian Labs , the overall quality and stunning realism of these recordings fly in the face of everything offered today in these repackaged forms though many of the known uncompressed recordings I’ve listened to some come close however none so far equal Tony Mansians recordings and I’m still looking.

We have what we have and the industry will do what it’s best at ,keep selling .

I’m happy to read so many come to the truth 

1. Mastering and production are most of it. You’re playing in the margins for subjective enjoyment NOT for better quality with SRC 

2.  Modest to high end DAs are all very good.  Flavors of good to great.  Hardware matters more than SR.

3. 16/44.1 can be amazing. 24/44.1 is all any human can hear IF done well.  

4. The real issue in AD quality is not the SR it is the converter hardware.  Filters.  Analog path. Clocking. Power supply. Etc. These are the key.  

I master daily at 24/44.1 using Pacific Microsonics.  Would be a $70,000 AD today.  I can get a $200 AD for 192.  Which sounds better ?

5.  The NATIVE SAMPLE RATE of the mastering session is the BEST quality.  

Everything else is marketing and ego.  Period. 

www.magicgardenmastering.com
@brianlucey

It’s great to get feedback from a mastering engineer on this.  Thank you!

Is Pacific Microsonics the company that did HDCD in the 90s, which later sold to Microsoft?  The Linn Sondek LP12 and Arcam FMJ23 (with Ring DAC) are the players I have that are HDCD compatible.

Some of my favorite sounding albums have been HDCD.  “Wrecking Ball” by Emmylou Harris and “Sea Change” by Beck are two that come to mind.  Amazing music and excellent recordings!
@brianlucey, 

Thanks for the input! Great to have someone with hands on experience chime in here.

"1. Mastering and production are most of it. You’re playing in the margins for subjective enjoyment NOT for better quality with SRC" (sample rate converters)

"5.  The NATIVE SAMPLE RATE of the mastering session is the BEST quality.

Everything else is marketing and ego. Period."

Hopefully these anti-business model comments wont get you thrown out of the mastering union.

Just joking. Great website. Wow!

http://magicgardenmastering.com/



Pacific Microsystems would be $70k overpriced junk today. I never understood all of the hype lasting so long.
16/44.1 can be amazing.
Agreed, @brainlucey
24/44.1 is all any human can hear IF done well.
Perhaps, but Charles Hansen noted that 4X sample rates greatly free filter options for playback.
Thanks for your post. I am still SMH at the Computer Audiophile knuckle heads that taunted and blocked your participation there. You had a lot of good stuff to share with the community.