Unintended Consequences? Digital Streaming


My system has become more revealing through gear upgrades over the past year.  This is a good thing right?  Well perhaps yes and no.  I've begun noticing that even while streaming 24 or 32 bit/44khz files over Qobuz that many albums now sound compressed to me and that I don't lose that "compressed" sound until I move up into the 32 bit/96 kHz files and above.  This certainly adds to the magic I realize while playing through my vinyl front end which sounds humongous, open, and vibrant but much of my streaming digital experience has become less than satisfying. 

Am I imagining this compression while streaming supposedly lossless files?  Can anyone else relate or have similar experiences?
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I think you’re pretty much imagining things here....Qobuz 16bit/44.1kHz or 24bit/192kHz files are superb and IME, don’t have any hint of compression.

I hope this is not another attempt to affirm vinyl so called ‘superiority’ over digital. Comparing Vinyl with Digital is like comparing apple and oranges. They are different sounding formats and both have their strengths and weaknesses.

I didn’t know any files currently available in 32bit over streaming? If you seen or heard with Qobuz, please forward some titles.

Thank you!
@lalitk 

I totally agree on the 24/192 over Qobuz.  They sound fabulous.  My issue was with the 44kHz FLAC files over Qobuz sounding compressed.  It certainly could be my imagination as perhaps my ear is focusing on the relative resolution differences.  This is definitely not a vinyl vs digital thread.

Hopefully this link works.  Listening to a Sonny Rollins track that indicates its 32 bit. 

https://postimg.cc/2bJFtZg2
t_e_p, 

Thanks for the track info, strangely on my device the file shows up as 24bit/44.1kHz. Does your device or app allows upsampling? 
Theoretically, with added bits you get better dynamic range. Some recordings (depending on the original master) benefits from high resolution and dynamic range but the results are not consistent across the board. 
@lalitk 

Good question about the upsampling capability as I'm not really sure and I'm having trouble determining this.  Perhaps someone else can chime in if they know - I'm using an Auralic G1 Vega through Lightning DS platform.

I started this thread because I wasn't sure that I was hearing a difference related to any actual compression or perhaps sounds of apparent compression only when making an A/B comparison between 44kHz and 192kHz for example.  Also it's tough to differentiate what I'm hearing as being related to what could be simply an inferior source recording vs anything that's an artifact of the digital processing.
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If your setup is more revealing most likely you are just hearing compression that is part of the recording.  
Appreciate the input.  I may simply be noticing compression in original recordings more so these days.  To make a generalization, I suspect the albums that are presented in hi-res are more likely to be of higher original recording quality than titles that aren't provided in hi-res.  Not a blanket statement but perhaps a fair generalization.
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Hi 3,

I think this is going to be very DAC specific. Most DAC's I've heard go the other way.

Can you share?
Best,
E
@erik_squires

Could be very DAC specific, agreed.  Can I share?  I had mentioned earlier in the thread that I'm using an Auralic Vega G1.  Is that what you're asking me to share?  Sorry, didn't quite understand your request.
@three you may want to try posting this on the Auralic forum you may find some specific answers related to your Vega G1.

https://community.auralic.com/

I will say, I use an Aries Mini, that I've not noticed any compression to speak of, at least not that I've noticed, streaming primarily jazz on Qobuz. I only stream 16/44 and it sounds excellent. I will say that what matters more than the sampling rate is the provenance of the master so obviously some recording may sound better, or worse, than the CD you own.
@jond 

I thought about posting on the Auralic forum regarding this as I do post there from time to time.  I too listen mainly to jazz and I will say the compressed sounding titles tend to be non-jazz such as rock and 90s power pop which likely are lower quality original recordings and masters compared to the jazz titles.  But when I stream Talking Heads "Speaking in Tongues" at 24/96 or Son Volt "Trace" also at 24/96 they sound brilliant.  I know for a fact those happen to be two really well recorded albums to begin with.  I think I have my answer.  
Could be a difference in Dynamic Range ... 
I think I have my answer.

Which is?  Thanks.
Sorry, I'm reading too many things and paying attention to less and less. :)


: )  I respect the sell-admitted intellectual ceiling, Erik. : )

Good advice and perspective in your words.
@david_ten

I’ve concluded that I must have misattributed compressed sounding titles to a 16bit/44mHz format when it was more likely due to lesser quality, compressed sources instead.
it was more likely due to lesser quality, compressed sources instead

You mean recordings and NOT sources? 
@david_ten 

Yes, original recordings...sorry.
I’ve concluded that I must have misattributed compressed sounding titles to a 16bit/44mHz format when it was more likely due to lesser quality, compressed [recordings] instead

Correct. +1
If you happen to be using Roon, or something like Roon, you may want to check the DSD settings. Otherwise check your software settings.  I'd guess that what you are hearing has more to do with the quality of the recordings.  
I don't use Qobuz, but do stream TIDAL.  I notice a general trend towards better sound in the 192, 352 and 384 versions.  There is a lot of good pop at 44, and 96, but not at the same level as 192/352/384.  This is a generalization and there are exceptions to the rule, probably caused by mastering and distribution techniques.  The other thing I notice is a lot of older Jazz that was recorded decades ago, and lots of it comes thru at 96 and its quite good compared to the pop.
Doing some poking around on the Auralic site it appears the G products do indeed include an upscaler and many prefer the upscaling quality over Roon.  Hence how I'm ending up with 32 bit titles instead of 24.
The main problem with streaming services is that they will only have the latest version of the album released by the record label.  This means the most recent remaster.  Remastering almost always ends up with a more compressed, less dynamic, master (cf the Loudness Wars).  This master is also often used for the equivalent new vinyl cuts too.

So if you are comparing a streamed master with an old cut of vinyl (or an old CD release from a previous master) then it is almost certainly going to be more compressed.   Nothing can undo this so the file size, the resolution, the bit rate, they are all irrelevant if a master is overly compressed.

In the future this is really the one reason why it is worth holding onto your old CDs or at least ripping them, as streaming services will always provide the latest master which will often sound poorer on high-end hifi equipment.