Forking from the cables thread to a discussion of whether hi-res is audible.....


While on the subject of embarrassing testing...

Let me preface this by saying I have invested in hi-res audio tracks, both on my server and in my Qobuz subscription. I've always felt I could tell the difference, although there are duds in hi-res just like redbook. And some great redbook recordings.

Going through this test, particularly looking at the control groups, is certainly humbling.  I particularly like the "hardware reviewers" group.

http://archimago.blogspot.com/2014/06/24-bit-vs-16-bit-audio-test-part-ii.html
ahofer
I think if you found a DAC pre-2010 you'd have no problems at all hearing the difference.

The last DAC I had which was clearly better with high rez was the ARC DAC 8.

Several DAC's I've auditioned since then do equally well with Redbook now.
Could be.  The initial reason people objected wasn't because they needed extra bit depth or higher sampling to hear more, but because the filters required for 44khz produced at least measurable artifacts in the audible range.  But oversampling was the answer for that.

If you look at the link I posted, the listeners were using a range of high end equipment.  And the 16-bit resolution was packaged in a 24-bit file.
@ahofer

I disagree. I've heard a lot of oversampling CD players and DACs that never sounded as good to my ears as the latest generation.

I suspect this has more to do with the quality of the clocks, as well as the use of multiple DACs per channel.

Best,
E
Great link, Archimago’s site is always worth an in depth read.

He will take the pains to approach subjects in audio with an open mind and a fair a manner as anyone could wish for. As some would say, he walks the walk.

There are many different factors contributing towards sound quality such as recording equipment (and the skill in using it no doubt as the many fabulous recordings from the 1950s will testify).
Tape recording speed, alignment, ’bouncing down’ tracks, the number of tracks squeezed onto the original tape, compression used, condition of the tape etc are all important factors.

Archimago’s findings strongly suggest that 24 bit depth recoding isn’t one of them. Yes, it’s superior in a technological sense, but it seems that we humans aren’t capable of hearing it.



The quality of the production, recording and mastering has more impact on sound quality than the bit rate and resolution.
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I think so. One possibility I've considered is that the studios that put out hi-res recordings may, on average, be more conscientious about quality.

Also, higher bit-depth has significant advantages in the recording and mixing process.
Speaking only on PCM:

44.1kHz perfectly captures everything <21kHz

16-Bit undithered puts the noise down past -95dBFS, down past around -105dB or better with noise shaped dither (meaning a 24Bit master must exist).

No one whose a teenager or older can hear >19kHz. And no, that paper about hypersonics by Akira’s composer has never been validated. And unless using an MQA DAC with only 1 filter, almost no good DACs have issue with Nyquist filters. Here’s the filter performance of the ~$900 Outlaw RR2160 integrated amp; and here’s the performance of the $100 AudioQuest DragonFly Black DAC.

Keeping in mind that while human hearing does have a range better than ~96dB, you listen in a room, whose noise floor is very high relative to 16Bit, most residential living rooms only allow for about 12Bit.
But the ear’s cilia has now (just recently) been found to ’function’ (detect sound) at a motional level, of less than the width of an atom.

And that is one single aspect of a very complex system.

We can easily hear in a single tone, at an accuracy in timing, of arrival to the ears (each ear)..... of less than 1/100 000th of a second.

This also supposes that there is zero jitter in the model and results.

Where lots of jitter and distortion is involved.

Then add in VERY complex harmonics (which music is) and time to discern time to listen, time to think.... for a resolutional capacity for the human ear, that exceeds that hundred thousandth of a second of discernment ..likely by a factor of 10, even.

So no, it’s not all that simple.

Some aspects of some human created testing gear can be a one trick pony in some single ways, but overall, the human ear is the highest resolution device known to humanity for hearing discernment.

And yet blind listening tests consistently reveal we hear less than we think we hear when sighted.  Complex indeed, but perhaps not due to the biomechanical sensitivity in the ear so much as interactions between parts of the brain.
There it is! I wuz wondering how long it would take for blind testing to raise its semi handsome head. As per usual it’s in the form of a challenge - Betcha can’t hear it in a blind test! Biomechanical sensitivity? Whoa! What?
”the human ear is the highest resolution device known to humanity for hearing discernment.”

of course not, most animals have better hearing.  

why not take the test non anonymously and publish the results here, by contacting the blogger?
You could make the case that hearing is more acute than sight. Before the discovery of fire, humans would rely on hearing to keep them safe at night. Good hearing would have been an evolutionary advantage.
Human hearing is at its most sensitive somewhere around 2-5kHz and for most of us tails off around 18kHz if not earlier. 

Whereas a dog whistle is pitched usually from 23kHz - 54kHz. Shades of Sgt Pepper.
@geoffkait as the OP I can assure you blind testing was there from the very beginning of the thread .

In general, I think those of us who have invested in this should remain open and humble towards all possibilities, if only to further our pursuit of happiness.

I don't mind stating my priors, and I'd be happy to be proved wrong:

  • Personally, I find speakers the most important by a country mile.  No problems applying money and time to speaker auditioning. 


  • Amps need adequate power and reserves for their load (no small feat for some speakers).  That difference is large,   differences beyond that are subtle.  This isn't surprising given that amplifier optimization has been critical for years in many fields beyond audio. 


  • With sources, however, I believe I hear big differences.  Given testing results, I'm probably way overconfident. Nonetheless I am convinced enough to spend money here.  It's possible this is a hangover from my vinyl days.  With CDs I only thought  heard a real difference when  I listened to the first Theta DS. And nowadays, the front end is where all the features and ergonomics come in.


  • Cable differences, if they exist at all once capacitance is equalized and guage is adequate, seem, at best, an order of magnitude smaller than amps.  I think the industry may have fallen off the deep end on that one.  Nearly Tice Clock territory. I have old Cardas and Analysis Plus speaker cables I bought in more foolish times which I just re-use, and Mogami balanced interconnects, which is likely what was used in the studio. I do like to work with a well-made, well-terminated cable.  But that isn't a sonic judgement.


  • I clearly spend too little time on room treatment, which is very audible.  However, I have to stay married.


  • I have noticed that poor build quality immediately biases my listening judgement.  It's like I'm waiting for something to be off.

My hearing rolls off above 16khz, not bad for my 55 yrs.  But I've felt more or less the same way on all of this since my twenties (my Magnepan era).  
We cannot measure everything the ear can hear, so how can we have measurements of items/things to tell us what we will or cannot hear? Hmmm.
@mrqmike 
 
An example of what we can’t measure?
I'm more concerned about the things we can't hear, but convince ourselves we can.
@ahofer

I’m more concerned about the things we can’t hear, but convince ourselves we can.


In I believe Stereophile’s review of the BorderPatrol DAC, the reviewer tested it against the Benchmark DAC3, and said on one track the Benchmark got rid of the sound of the church walls in the recording, whereas the BP DAC preserved it.
😑 🤦🏼‍♂️