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16 bit 44.1 kHz is just fine and 24 bit 192 kHz may not be

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16 bit 44.1 kHz is just fine and 24 bit 192 kHz may not be

Postby galanter on Mon Mar 12, 2012 7:51 pm

Interesting presentation arguing that the CD digital format really is all one needs for delivery, and why higher res formats will not improve things, and might even hurt.

Even if you are familiar with the broad strokes of the argument, this brings it up to date and has a number of interesting references regarding testing procedures and so on.

http://people.xiph.org/~xiphmont/demo/neil-young.html
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Re: 16 bit 44.1 kHz is just fine and 24 bit 192 kHz may not

Postby El Protoolio on Mon Mar 12, 2012 8:28 pm

You definitely don't need more than 24 bits or your dynamic range becomes unmanageable. It's bad enough watching movies with soundtracks at 24 bit to have to constantly tweak the volume. I can't imagine listening to something that's 32 or 48 bit. It must blow the doors off their hinges if the system it was played on could even pass it through. We'd have to have equipment capable of handling that range and as far as I know we don't.

I would argue that you would always want the highest sample rate possible for the best possible resolution. Is there a point of diminishing returns? Certainly there is but I don't think 192k is that point. Anything beyond the resolution of 2 inch 16 track analog would be getting to that point.

But are we talking about what the average consumer will accept? They bought everything from self cranked phonographs to wire recorders to 8 tracks to cassettes to mp3's, so for them, yes, 16 bit 44.1k is just fine.
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Re: 16 bit 44.1 kHz is just fine and 24 bit 192 kHz may not

Postby FuzzBob on Mon Mar 12, 2012 10:47 pm

On a good, high-end system, I can definitely hear a difference-- not with your typical brickwalled pop or rock, but with jazz or composed music that's largely unprocessed. Even some rock comes through with a more "in the room" feel.

It's not so much that 24 bit blows you away; it's that you realize how much depth you lose going back to 16 bit.

With that said, 24 bit is probably as good as it ever needs to get for a finished product.
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Re: 16 bit 44.1 kHz is just fine and 24 bit 192 kHz may not

Postby japmn on Mon Mar 12, 2012 11:20 pm

It's all really an easy argument.

Why not provide a better format? File size for audio isn't really a valid consideration anymore at all. Drives are huge. Download speeds are fast. Most stuff recorded digitally these days is recorded at least at 24/48K and then truncated down to 16/44.1 and then to bullshit after that. Why not just distribute (or at least have the option to obtain) the higher quality format? It isn't like it takes a ton of money to make that happen. Barely any actually.

The first thing I did this morning was take a 24/48K mix and truncate it down to 16/44.1K for our drummer to take on a sample CD to SXSW. I did this in Sound Forge. When you process a file in SF, it asks if you want to open the new (truncated) file, and I did. After listening to the higher rez file for about 30 minutes and then having that CD quality file play over the monitors, I laughed out loud, hit CTRL Z, and had Heather listen to both files. She isn't an audiophile by any means, but she noticed that the lows were "duller" and that the reverb tails sounded strange. I agreed, and it isn't just in our heads. You can hear this shit. MP3 and "lossless" (larf) formats are even worse. They only exist so that you can fit 10,000 in your pocket, and as long as that is why people accept them, that's fine, but it doesn't excuse not having the choice of a better quality format in this day and age. The 24/48K file of the song I was mixing today was about 58MB. That is absolutely nothing. Hell, 12 songs that size (plenty for a full album) still fit on a CD!

I guess I just have to ask "why not?"
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Re: 16 bit 44.1 kHz is just fine and 24 bit 192 kHz may not

Postby Ernest on Mon Mar 12, 2012 11:54 pm

japmn wrote:I guess I just have to ask "why not?"


I've run across 24 bit vinyl rips of albums and all of them are at least a gig. Why even go to the trouble when you won't ever hear the difference between that and the 16 bit flac. So pointless.
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Re: 16 bit 44.1 kHz is just fine and 24 bit 192 kHz may not

Postby japmn on Tue Mar 13, 2012 12:14 am

Ernest wrote:
japmn wrote:I guess I just have to ask "why not?"


I've run across 24 bit vinyl rips of albums and all of them are at least a gig. Why even go to the trouble when you won't ever hear the difference between that and the 16 bit flac. So pointless.


I still hold that you can hear the difference. A record ripped at 24 might be close to a gig, but so? The same record uncompressed at CD quality is probably about 400-500 MB. Not a huge jump. Basically, if you cant tell, don't buy the "HD" version. It should still be an option, because it really doesn't cost anything to make it an option.

I really don't understand the Lowest common denominator approach to music distribution. Maybe just a reflection of our culture? Am I being a Hippy? We can serve High (maybe higher that the regular joe can discern) quality audio. Why don't we?

Also, HD TV is a good example. If you get used to HDTV, VHS looks atrocious, but I remember when VHS was just fine, and I didn't even think about how bad it looked. If you spent a ton of time listening to a higher definition audio, if it was what you came to expect, you would be able to find the faults in all the lesser formatted audio easier to notice.

Like I said, I don't think it should be a matter of "Why should we" distribute HD Audio, but Why not?
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Re: 16 bit 44.1 kHz is just fine and 24 bit 192 kHz may not

Postby numberthirty on Tue Mar 13, 2012 12:21 am

Ernest wrote:
japmn wrote:I guess I just have to ask "why not?"


I've run across 24 bit vinyl rips of albums and all of them are at least a gig. Why even go to the trouble when you won't ever hear the difference between that and the 16 bit flac. So pointless.


Trouble? It's not like someone's going to kick you in the slats.
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Re: 16 bit 44.1 kHz is just fine and 24 bit 192 kHz may not

Postby Ernest on Tue Mar 13, 2012 12:23 am

japmn wrote:I still hold that you can hear the difference. A record ripped at 24 might be close to a gig, but so? The same record uncompressed at CD quality is probably about 400-500 MB. Not a huge jump. Basically, if you cant tell, don't buy the "HD" version. It should still be an option, because it really doesn't cost anything to make it an option.


How can you hear the difference? The article debunks that shit pretty convincingly. If you hear anything at all, it's the coloration hifi systems will deliver, not the source file itself.

japmn wrote:I really don't understand the Lowest common denominator approach to music distribution. Maybe just a reflection of our culture? Am I being a Hippy? We can serve High (maybe higher that the regular joe can discern) quality audio. Why don't we?


Because Joe can't hear it, and storage is still, and always will be an issue. A flac rip of 16 bit cd, or vinyl is identical to the source material. Nothing more is needed. FLAC certainly isn't the lowest common denomiator, I would say V0 mp3's are the cutoff point. Anything less, and it would be. (I hate V0 by the way, but it can still be transparent for many people.)

japmn wrote:Also, HD TV is a good example. If you get used to HDTV, VHS looks atrocious, but I remember when VHS was just fine, and I didn't even think about how bad it looked. If you spent a ton of time listening to a higher definition audio, if it was what you came to expect, you would be able to find the faults in all the lesser formatted audio easier to notice.


24 bit audio is analogous to including "footage" outside of our visual spectrum for a blu ray release.

About finding faults, I completely agree with you, which I why I'm a big fan of lossless audio. You're not going to be able hear anything better, quite literally. At this point, the discussion is just one of production, not technology.

japmn wrote:Like I said, I don't think it should be a matter of "Why should we" distribute HD Audio, but Why not?


Because people labor under the assumption they're missing content above 20khz. They aren't.
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Re: 16 bit 44.1 kHz is just fine and 24 bit 192 kHz may not

Postby pwalshj on Tue Mar 13, 2012 12:35 am

Ernest wrote:How can you hear the difference? The article debunks that shit pretty convincingly. If you hear anything at all, it's the coloration hifi systems will deliver, not the source file itself.


Do a linear fade on a track in 44.1 then one in 192 and report back.
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Re: 16 bit 44.1 kHz is just fine and 24 bit 192 kHz may not

Postby BadComrade on Tue Mar 13, 2012 12:44 am

japmn wrote:MP3 and "lossless" (larf) formats are even worse


How do you figure lossless is worse than what it has within? When it's "inflated", it becomes the exact same file the original was.

I can tell the difference between CD audio and DVD / SuperAudio. The high frequencies are way smoother in the higher bitrate and the CD counterparts always sound harsher.

The one thing I always hated about DVD / SuperAudio is that they always fuck with the mix (especially when they start doing all that 5.1 surround bullshit).
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Re: 16 bit 44.1 kHz is just fine and 24 bit 192 kHz may not

Postby Ernest on Tue Mar 13, 2012 12:50 am

pwalshj wrote:
Ernest wrote:How can you hear the difference? The article debunks that shit pretty convincingly. If you hear anything at all, it's the coloration hifi systems will deliver, not the source file itself.


Do a linear fade on a track in 44.1 then one in 192 and report back.


I don't understand this. What does a fade have to do with sound quality?
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Re: 16 bit 44.1 kHz is just fine and 24 bit 192 kHz may not

Postby Dave//Eksvplot on Tue Mar 13, 2012 12:56 am

[Blah.]
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Re: 16 bit 44.1 kHz is just fine and 24 bit 192 kHz may not

Postby Ernest on Tue Mar 13, 2012 12:59 am

japmn wrote:A record ripped at 24 might be close to a gig, but so? The same record uncompressed at CD quality is probably about 400-500 MB. Not a huge jump.


But no one goes around getting uncompressed PCM audio like wave files for a whole album. A flac rip is lossless, but compressed, but with the benefit of being exactly the same as the uncompressed.

For comparison, The Stooges' debut:

- Elektra / EKS-74051 / US First Pressing / Vinyl

FLAC / Lossless 219.46 MB

-1988 - Elektra / 74051-2 / Original US Release / CD

FLAC / Lossless 216.31 MB

− 2002 - Sundazed Music / LP 5149 / Vinyl

FLAC / 24bit Lossless 714.45 MB

FLAC / Lossless 204.45 MB

There's only slight variations between the 16 bit flac rips, give or take 20 megabytes, but for 24 bit audio, there's an additional 500 mb of essentially wasted space. It's what you can't hear, the algorithm isn't much different that you could accuse it of sampling errors, and it's unnecessary considering that even if you could hear a difference, your playback device is probably coloring it.

I would go as far as saying if you hear any difference, it's confirmation bias.
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Re: 16 bit 44.1 kHz is just fine and 24 bit 192 kHz may not

Postby greg on Tue Mar 13, 2012 1:07 am

Ernest wrote:
japmn wrote:I guess I just have to ask "why not?"


I've run across 24 bit vinyl rips of albums and all of them are at least a gig. Why even go to the trouble when you won't ever hear the difference between that and the 16 bit flac. So pointless.

You're not going to hear a difference copying vinyl because no record is going to exceed 16bit 44.1k specs, much less 24/48. In the studio, the better the audio you work with, the better it is. They touched on that in the article. Not every, or really any audio you record is full scale. There are plenty of tracks I've recorded where the signal is much too low to be captured right at a low resolution. That's just how sessions go. It's live. Someone will be banging away crazy hard, then decide to do the other, quiet song, and do it without warning. You have to catch what you catch.
As a mastered, delivery format, 16bit/44.1k is plenty. I used to be a snob about it, but fuck, I would be pleased as punch to hear that coming out of speakers now-a-days. I would have to be listening to super dynamic classical, or jazz on a pretty fantastic hi-fi setup to tell the difference. Forget about 99% of rock or other loud music. The dynamic range of typical rock recordings I would guess (honestly guessing right now) could not be more than 30-40dB, and in most cases <20dB.
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Re: 16 bit 44.1 kHz is just fine and 24 bit 192 kHz may not

Postby japmn on Tue Mar 13, 2012 1:11 am

BadComrade wrote:
japmn wrote:MP3 and "lossless" (larf) formats are even worse


How do you figure lossless is worse than what it has within? When it's "inflated", it becomes the exact same file the original was.

I can tell the difference between CD audio and DVD / SuperAudio. The high frequencies are way smoother in the higher bitrate and the CD counterparts always sound harsher.

The one thing I always hated about DVD / SuperAudio is that they always fuck with the mix (especially when they start doing all that 5.1 surround bullshit).


Seems like I have a lot to answer for. So I'll start here. I do not believe in Lossless Digital Audio in any form, and the fact that "lossless" is used as a marketing term is silly to me.

Ernest wrote:
japmn wrote:I still hold that you can hear the difference. A record ripped at 24 might be close to a gig, but so? The same record uncompressed at CD quality is probably about 400-500 MB. Not a huge jump. Basically, if you cant tell, don't buy the "HD" version. It should still be an option, because it really doesn't cost anything to make it an option.


How can you hear the difference? The article debunks that shit pretty convincingly. If you hear anything at all, it's the coloration hifi systems will deliver, not the source file itself.

I am not bothering with that article or any other article. I'm basing my arguments on what I actually hear, and can demonstrate to others who know far less about the subject, by playing sound out of a speaker. Same sounds at different levels of "sound quality" sound different. They just do. Whether or not it bothers you is subjective.

japmn wrote:I really don't understand the Lowest common denominator approach to music distribution. Maybe just a reflection of our culture? Am I being a Hippy? We can serve High (maybe higher that the regular joe can discern) quality audio. Why don't we?


Because Joe can't hear it, and storage is still, and always will be an issue. A flac rip of 16 bit cd, or vinyl is identical to the source material. Nothing more is needed. FLAC certainly isn't the lowest common denomiator, I would say V0 mp3's are the cutoff point. Anything less, and it would be. (I hate V0 by the way, but it can still be transparent for many people.)

I'm not arguing for the sake of Joe, I'm arguing that the non-Joe should have access to a better product since it is basically just a matter of file size (ridiculous argument), and the preparation/mastering of that option would cost very little over what is being done now.

japmn wrote:Also, HD TV is a good example. If you get used to HDTV, VHS looks atrocious, but I remember when VHS was just fine, and I didn't even think about how bad it looked. If you spent a ton of time listening to a higher definition audio, if it was what you came to expect, you would be able to find the faults in all the lesser formatted audio easier to notice.


24 bit audio is analogous to including "footage" outside of our visual spectrum for a blu ray release.

About finding faults, I completely agree with you, which I why I'm a big fan of lossless audio. You're not going to be able hear anything better, quite literally. At this point, the discussion is just one of production, not technology.

japmn wrote:Like I said, I don't think it should be a matter of "Why should we" distribute HD Audio, but Why not?


Because people labor under the assumption they're missing content above 20khz. They aren't.


I sort of see your point until I read this...

[/quote]Do a linear fade on a track in 44.1 then one in 192 and report back.[/quote]

I don't understand this. What does a fade have to do with sound quality?[/quote]

This is an excellent example of what I'm talking about (although I will add that 16 bit vs 24 or 32 is a better example over sample rate). When I'm mixing in the box, I can hear a huge difference in fades, reverb trails, just dynamic range based things as a whole between the formats. It has little to do with Freq range, but a huge amount to do with but ratio. I'd be fine keeping with 44.1, if they would at least give us 24 bit. All and all, I really don't give a shit. I listen to shitty MP3s while doing dishes and love the songs. I used to listen to shitty cassettes in my car and not care at all. I wouldn't say it good enough just because I didn't care. I just didn't care. I just think the option would be nice
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Re: 16 bit 44.1 kHz is just fine and 24 bit 192 kHz may not

Postby newberry on Tue Mar 13, 2012 1:17 am

In "Perfecting Sound Forever" Milner talks about how many audio professionals who think they have golden ears--when it comes to blind a/b testing--don't. He mentions a test comparing an uncompressed CD track to AAC, and how apparently it's very difficult or impossible to tell the difference (p. 361). (link)
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Re: 16 bit 44.1 kHz is just fine and 24 bit 192 kHz may not

Postby Ernest on Tue Mar 13, 2012 1:17 am

I agree that 24 bit is necessary when mastering, probably helpful with mixing too (I've never tried), but the most important thing from the fan's point of view, isn't it's use when mastering or mixing, it's getting an exact copy (as could be) to the listener in the best possible format. 24 bit isn't it, since the information contained isn't necessary, and it only takes up more room.

From the article above:

Empirical evidence from listening tests backs up the assertion that 44.1kHz/16 bit provides highest-possible fidelity playback. There are numerous controlled tests confirming this, but I'll plug a recent paper, Audibility of a CD-Standard A/D/A Loop Inserted into High-Resolution Audio Playback, done by local folks here at the Boston Audio Society.

Unfortunately, downloading the full paper requires an AES membership. However it's been discussed widely in articles and on forums, with the authors joining in. Here's a few links:

The Emperor's New Sampling Rate
Hydrogen Audio forum discussion thread
Supplemental information page at the Boston Audio Society, including the equipment and sample lists

This paper presented listeners with a choice between high-rate DVD-A/SACD content, chosen by high-definition audio advocates to show off high-def's superiority, and that same content resampled on the spot down to 16-bit / 44.1kHz Compact Disc rate. The listeners were challenged to identify any difference whatsoever between the two using an ABX methodology. BAS conducted the test using high-end professional equipment in noise-isolated studio listening environments with both amateur and trained professional listeners.

In 554 trials, listeners chose correctly 49.8% of the time. In other words, they were guessing. Not one listener throughout the entire test was able to identify which was 16/44.1 and which was high rate [13], and the 16-bit signal wasn't even dithered!

Another recent study [14] investigated the possibility that ultrasonics were audible, as earlier studies had suggested. The test was constructed to maximize the possibility of detection by placing the intermodulation products where they'd be most audible. It found that the ultrasonic tones were not audible... but the intermodulation distortion products introduced by the loudspeakers could be.

This paper inspired a great deal of further research, much of it with mixed results. Some of the ambiguity is explained by finding that ultrasonics can induce more intermodulation distortion than expected in power amplifiers as well. For example, David Griesinger reproduced this experiment [15] and found that his loudspeaker setup did not introduce audible intermodulation distortion from ultrasonics, but his stereo amplifier did.
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Re: 16 bit 44.1 kHz is just fine and 24 bit 192 kHz may not

Postby Ernest on Tue Mar 13, 2012 1:23 am

japmn wrote:I do not believe in Lossless Digital Audio in any form, and the fact that "lossless" is used as a marketing term is silly to me.


What is there to believe in, exactly? It's a fact backed up by evidence. My lossless rip of an album, if done correctly, is an exact copy of the information contained in the tangible format it was ripped from.

japmn wrote:I am not bothering with that article or any other article. I'm basing my arguments on what I actually hear, and can demonstrate to others who know far less about the subject, by playing sound out of a speaker. Same sounds at different levels of "sound quality" sound different. They just do. Whether or not it bothers you is subjective.


I'm sorry, but I don't take what people hear as evidence of something being factually correct. Your ears are frail, and fallible, and changes with age, but testing doesn't.

japmn wrote:I'm not arguing for the sake of Joe, I'm arguing that the non-Joe should have access to a better product since it is basically just a matter of file size (ridiculous argument), and the preparation/mastering of that option would cost very little over what is being done now.


But it's precisely not a better product. The article makes that clear.
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Re: 16 bit 44.1 kHz is just fine and 24 bit 192 kHz may not

Postby Colonel Panic on Tue Mar 13, 2012 1:38 am

The thing is, higher sampling rates don't just give you higher frequency response. They also give far better resolution, especially at the high end.

Sample-rate

The sampling rate determines the frequency range of an audio file. The higher the sampling rate, the closer the shape of the digital waveform will be to that of the original analog waveform. Low sampling rates limit the range of frequencies that can be recorded, which can result in a recording that poorly represents the original sound.

Image

Two sample rates: A. Low sample rate that distorts the original sound wave. B. High sample rate that perfectly reproduces the original sound wave.

To reproduce a given frequency, the sampling rate must be at least twice that frequency. For example, if the audio contains audible frequencies as high as 8000 Hz, you need a sample rate of 16,000 samples per second to represent this audio accurately in digital form. CDs have a sample rate of 44,100 samples per second that allows sampling up to 22,050 Hz, which is higher than the limit of human hearing, 20,000 Hz.
http://www.music-software-reviews.com/music_software_glossary.html#S-Music Software Glossary-S

That's why higher sampling rates will give better clarity, even within the normal range of human hearing. The fact that you have a shit-ton of overhead above the audible limit of ~20kHz does increase the filesize significantly, but the overall clarity and definition of overtones, etc. will theoretically be much better. As for actual audible differences, YMMV.

And yeah, lossless really is lossless. A lossless compression algorithm (like FLAC for example) does not distort or discard any information at all, so the file you play back reproduces exactly the same bitstream that went in when it was initially encoded.
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Re: 16 bit 44.1 kHz is just fine and 24 bit 192 kHz may not

Postby japmn on Tue Mar 13, 2012 1:43 am

I'm not trying to argue that the FLAC or even the MP3 isn't "Good Enough" I think it is. I'm just trying to say that if I've been listening to 24 bit for a while, and then truncate it down to anything else, I hear it. Some guy (probably a smart guy even) may have some charts and graphs about how the ear works (I did take a look at the article. It is all sold science, but I think incomplete) but it doesn't change the fact (or what I perceive as fact) that I can hear this difference. Do I need to hear the file that I perceive as the best all the time? No. But it would be a nice option to have. No real economic reason not to have that option.
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