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New research on high resolution audio


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I would have to know what kind of gear the test subjects used when identifying the higher res audio.

 

Many people in recording and music have ears trained and gear that can reproduce high res audio.

 

End users may not have, nor ever owned the kind of playback gear needed to reveal the differences. That's the dilemma. If the tests were done on better then average gear, (better then the subjects own) and they got a 60% success rate, that's one thing. If they used what the subjects owned that would be another. If the playback gear rolls off at 10K there just may not be enough difference between an MP3, CD, or higher res recording.

 

If the end user is an audiophile with top end gear and well trained ears and only gets a 60% then its probably not going to be as convincing to most.

Because there are no details on how the test was done, I can only speculate it may have been a tainted test. I suspect the subjects heard the music on high end gear many may never own.

 

Plus there doesn't seem to be the drive to own a good playback system. When I was growing up, having a good Hi Fi was something musician lovers strived for. Today its all cell phone and MP3 player. Quantity seems to take the place of quality which is really a shame. They don't seem to know what they're missing unless its a car audio, and even there most stock auto systems lack in many ways due to the lower currents those systems use.

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When asked about the type of content for which high-resolution recording and playback most made a difference, Dr. Reiss responded, “The jury is still out. The studies that most showed an effect mainly used jazz and classical music, but this wasn’t exclusive.

 

Jazz and classical because they are acoustic genre and have timbres with actual acoustic parameters. Elements of compression might snag the ear of veterans of classical and jazz. EDM for instance and in contrast would offer no such fidelity reference.

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“Audio purists and industry should welcome these findings,” said Reiss. “Our study finds high-resolution audio has a small but important advantage in its quality of reproduction over standard audio content. Trained listeners could distinguish between the two formats around sixty percent of the time.”

 

A few questions.

 

1) Who paid for the study?

2) The authors of the study conducted no experiments themselves. They simply aggregated results from existing studies...and who knows who funded those.

3) The source material isn't mentioned anywhere. I can do an "in the box" recording at 96 kHz of a synth that's not oversampled and I bet 100% of the listeners, trained or not, could tell the difference. But I've done classical sessions at 96 kHz where trained people could not hear any difference between the 96 kHz master and the one that was sample-rate converted to 44.1 kHz.

 

I really don't think a scientific study is "We have all these studies, so they must be right." The idea of a study that claims high-res audio is better is worthless unless it a) provides at least some kind of explanation as to why this is so, and b) finds out which test is most likely to lead people to differentiate the difference. Otherwise, we're back to "Well, people say that 96 kHz is better..."

 

I've proven to my own satisfaction, as well as to hundreds of people in workshops, that under the right conditions and with the proper source material you can hear the difference with audio recorded at a higher sample rate compared to the same audio recorded at a lower sample rate. Hearing the difference with audio whose only difference is playing back at different sample rates is far more elusive.

 

In any event, though, the public seems to care as much about high-res audio as it does about 12th century Hawaiian poetry.

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I posted it for discussion - this is a recording-related forum, and the audible effects (or lack thereof) of high resolution audio have been a topic of interest (and debate) in the recording world for years. That's why I posted it. :wave:

 

Oh, you mean as NEWS in the HC News section? You'll have to ask the AES. I decided to post it because I thought it would be of interest to some, and a topic for discussion, but as to why the AES decided to put out the press release, you'd have to ask them.

 

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Well, it is news that a new study came out on high-resolution audio. However, I don't think it's particularly compelling news given my reservations on the study.

 

It's no secret the record industry would love to convince you to buy all your music all over again. Been there, done that...CDs are fine for me. If future music comes out in a high-res format, okay. But there have already been several attempts and none of them got traction.

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Well, it is news that a new study came out on high-resolution audio. However, I don't think it's particularly compelling news given my reservations on the study.

 

It's no secret the record industry would love to convince you to buy all your music all over again. Been there, done that...CDs are fine for me. If future music comes out in a high-res format, okay. But there have already been several attempts and none of them got traction.

 

I don't think we're ever likely to see a new physical media format for a long time - if ever. The analog purists are happy with vinyl, and those who are interested in high-res audio merely have to wait for the bandwidth to catch up. Five or ten years from now, if not sooner, I predict that streaming services will offer 24 bit streaming and possibly high sample rate streaming as options. I don't think people who have already been through it more than once are going to fall for a new hardware format again and go out and buy their entire record collections all over for the third or fourth time. Sorry RIAA, but that trick's been played out. :lol:

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I can say I amp spoiled with higher res listening. When I flip around on the FM stations to listen to music its blatantly obvious many have gone completely digital and are broadcasting MP3 quality songs. I heard two songs back to back yesterday. One was a live recording of AC DC I believe and the other a studio recording of some other classic rock band. The studio recording didn't sound too bad but had no air at all.

 

The live song however was so smeared it became a complete blur of white noise at the end. You could tell the recording had all its dynamics crushed, and when you added the layer of compression the FM station uses, it became inaudible.

 

No maybe some of this is the fault of the original mixing and mastering done on a live recording. Loud live rock bands are tough to record well, Especially that one which had the reverb of a large arena going. Drums can wind up sounding like cannons enveloped in a long swell.

 

The issue I was hearing "is" a matter of not maintaining high resolution. If the station had used a high res copy for broadcasting, or at least a CD Quality file I think by the time it passes through their console, broadcasting compression, transmission, then received and listened to on a receiver, it would have sounded pretty good.

 

That's not what's happening however. Back in the day Radio stations used to use 45's for broadcast. Because those disks spun faster and had deeper cuts, the power and quality of those recordings were a step above LP's and what got received by listeners rivaled what you heard on an LP when you bought it. It even sounded decent on an AM station with its limited frequency response and weak reception noise.

 

What they are doing instead pulling low res copies of music saved in a computer to save space and broadcasting it. Its already degenerated because its a compressed file and by the time it gets to the receiver its nothing but a load of over compressed noise which sound awful. you can tell they try to enhance it using Radio compression and an EQ and a smiley face loudness curve which scoops out all the midrange, the song doesn't sound anything like the original CD by the time you hear it on the radio.

 

What's also going on is the Receives are built to optimize older analog broadcasting and the stations have switched to low res digital files that have no dynamic headroom left and limited frequency responses. You can also tell, the frequency responses that are there in the recordings are all over the map.

 

Back when LP's were the most popular medium the studios had to mix to that medium which had a very narrow window to get it right, otherwise the disk couldn't be cut. Bass especially had to hit that RIAA curve or the needle would jump out of the groove. Now that digital is the medium, there are no fixed targets. A Broadcast Station has minimal ability to tweak things so one recording has the same frequency response as another so one song may have no bass response and another nothing but bass.

 

My buddy works at a station and what they do now is run the recording through a piece of software that tweaks the levels and FQ responses automatically for them. I even got to hear some of my recording on his station and It does a fair job prepping a song to sound right, but it definitely doesn't get them all.

 

The fix is obvious. Recording studios need stricter mastering standards so the playback on radio stations is optimized. Second, Stations need to quit cutting corners and broadcasting low res MP3s because they just aren't cutting it. They either need to be provided with a high res copy of the music, like studios used to provide a high res 45, or at least use a CD quality file. This would help to restore what's lost in the broadcasting process and bring some listeners willing to buy the music they hear.

 

This will take more computer hard disks but given the fact hard drives are so cheap now, I fail to understand why they aren't using the highest resolution copies available. I suppose its a matter of people not demanding it. Many younger listeners just don't know how good older analog mediums sounded when broadcasted and therefore don't miss it.

 

Radio stations could capitalize on distribution of music too. Click on this song while its playing and download a high res copy it into the radios memory for a small fee or as a subscription using some encryption that makes it difficult for the person buying it to copy. Trying to crack would essentially wipe it out. If course there are always ways of making a copy but making it a major PITA is the key to making it easier to just buy it vs copying it. Radio could get back to promoting art instead of exploiting it.

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