Neil Young: This is a low-res world (and the never ending analog vs. digital debate)

mjp

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On a related but much longer and more tedious (but interesting if you are a geek) note...

(At the 45 minute mark in an analog vs. digital section he talks about how low resolution audio tape is, and it's worth remembering that pretty much all music prior to the 1980s was recorded on audio tape.)

 

mjp

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This is a better presentation/demonstration about how digital audio really works which, not coincidentally, negates a lot of the criticisms about it.

 

mjp

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Here's a fun little test you can run on your hearing.

The highest frequency that most humans can hear is around 20,000 Hz, but I'd wager that no one here can hear 20,000 Hz. Most people over the age of 20 can't (and some of us never could hear those frequencies, even when we were young and beautiful).

For what it's worth, listening to the samples on that page, I can hear from 40 Hz to 12,000 Hz.


- - -


To sum up the technical side of the high-res vs. CD argument again for anyone smart enough not to have read this entire thread (and to beat the dead "high-resolution" horse once more for old times sake):
  • Human hearing has a frequency range around 20 Hz to 20,000 Hz.
  • CDs use a 44.1 kHz sample rate at a 16-bit depth. What that means in English is the highest frequency a CD can render is a little more than 20,000 Hz - a little higher than human hearing is capable of detecting.
  • "High-resolution" audio files have a 96 kHz at a 24 bit depth (with some going up to a 192 kHz sample rate!). A 96/24 "high-resolution" file can reproduce sounds up to around 48,000 Hz. Nice for your dog, maybe, but useless for humans.
Your awesome, expensive stereo set up reproduces sound in the 20 Hz to 20,000 Hz range (the room that it's in also has an effect on that frequency range). Why 20 Hz to 20,000 Hz? Because, again, you can't hear anything outside of that range. So if you play a "high-resolution" file through your stereo, you are not hearing those frequencies up to 48,000 Hz because your stereo cannot reproduce them (since it was made for humans, not dogs).

To make matters worse, adding those above-human-hearing-range frequencies to a music file can cause distortion in the frequencies you can hear. So not only are they unnecessary, they're potentially destructive.

And don't forget, people can't tell the difference between "high-resolution" and CD sound.

Not that I care, obviously...


dog-frequency.jpg
 

Pogue Mahone

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This whole thing is so embarrasing. Stealing other people's money to fund his stupid cause. He obviously has no grasp that he looks like a crook.
 

mjp

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I thought it fitting that I mention in this thread my latest (only) HIGH-RES purchase: a Sony HAP S1 "Hi-Res Music Player System."

They call it a Hi-Res music player, but it really plays any audio files you can put on it. I'm putting FLAC files on it, which are as "high-res" as you can get (but of course the real high-res crowd would scoff at calling mere CD-quality sound "high-res").

Anyway, this thing is the tits, but transferring 17,000+ files is taking a while...

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Once that's done though, I'll be able to dial up and play any song in our collection within a few seconds. I've been waiting for a box like this for a long time. All the previous media players I've checked out have left me cold, but this one seems to hit all the bases.

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</end commercial>
 

Purple Stickpin

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I thought it fitting that I mention in this thread my latest (only) HIGH-RES purchase: a Sony HAP S1 "Hi-Res Music Player System."
Nice new toy. I'm assuming that this essentially serves as both an external hard drive and a stereo system component, yes? I know I've asked you about external hard drives in the past and I've been lazy, but I've got some 1,000 CDs ripped to my computer and it ain't gonna last. I need to make some decisions soon.
 

mjp

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And the first song was.....
Trail To Mexico from The Johnny Cash Complete Sun Recordings. I only remember because that was one of the first files to transfer over, and after I played a minute of it, it was displayed on the screen for the next three hours. ;)
I'm assuming that this essentially serves as both an external hard drive and a stereo system component, yes? I've got some 1,000 CDs ripped to my computer and it ain't gonna last.
It's not an external hard drive in the traditional sense, because you can't easily access it at the file level. Meaning you can't just open two windows on your computer and drag files to it. You have to transfer the music files using a proprietary Sony program that you install on your computer.

But yeah, it's another place to store those thousand ripped CDs, but you should still be backing up to another drive off your computer somewhere. Now that I'm using this thing my music files are on the Sony box, my main computer and my external backup drives.
 

mjp

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I've got some 1,000 CDs ripped to my computer...
By the way, the 900 or so albums I sent to the box are using 60% of the storage space, so I figure you could keep about 1,500 albums on the Sony (assuming FLAC encoding...set to 5 I think). It also has a USB port when you can attach more storage.
 

mjp

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I thought it fitting that I mention in this thread my latest (only) HIGH-RES purchase...
Okay, this is not my only "HIGH-RES" purchase anymore.

I went to a "HIGH-RES" download website today, and bought some albums that I already know very well so I could listen to the "HIGH-RES" versions and compare for myself (now that I have an easy way to listen to them through the stereo, i.e. the HAP! I love you HAP...).

First of all, everything I downloaded had been remastered - for this format, I assume - so direct comparisons weren't always possible. But in a couple cases I have a CD remaster that matches the "HIGH-RES" download. So comparing those, I have to say that there is no perceptible difference between a 96K 24bit "HIGH-RES" FLAC file and the 44.1K 16bit FLAC version that I ripped from CDs. Even when a direct comparison wasn't possible, I didn't hear anything in the "HIGH-RES" files that I couldn't hear in the regular files.

Not surprising that I'd say that, I suppose. But I was as objective as I could be. Hey, I'd like to be able to get even better versions of these records. But as it turns out, I already have the best versions. They're called CDs.

Can my "no difference" result be explained away as confirmation bias on my part? Yeah, it could be. But I believe that particular bias goes both ways, and the people who hear things that aren't there are also dealing with confirmation bias, since they want to believe the sound is somehow "better."

The best part about the test was listening to loud music that I like. So bear that highly scientific postulation in mind when analyzing and critiquing anything that has to do with music. You can, and should, always listen to music you like, the louder the better. Even jazz.



I said there was no difference, but admittedly there is one big difference: the "HIGH-RES" files are 2 1/2 to 3 times larger (in disk space terms) than the CD rips (same format). But I doubt anyone would consider that a positive.
 

mjp

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I think that article is linked elsewhere in this thread, but I couldn't find it.

But the engineer starts off with a fallacy: "Vinyl is the only consumer playback format we have that's fully analog and fully lossless," Gonsalves said.

Eh, not really. Technically, magnetic tape samples the sound. The samples are tiny, but they are individual bits of oxide that are magnetized. Analog is a continuous electrical variation or something - I know for something to be analog it has to be continuous, which individual particles are definitely not.

Just like a photograph is made up of tiny pieces of tarnished silver and TV screens are rendered in pixels. They appear to be continuous because we don't typically see - or hear - the tiny bits. Just like a digital recording.

Anyway, more of this again. I understand that when people are talking about recording they consider magnetic tape to be analog because it predates digital recording. But this whole argument is the picking of nits, so what can you do.
 

mjp

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I just started reading How Music Got Free: A Story of Obsession and Invention, and I was shocked to learn how much time and what kind of work went in to creating the mp3 algorithms and code. Almost 10 years of work which included psychoacoustic studies...it's incredible. I had always assumed it was just math. Hardly.

You can read most of the mp3 story in the preview of the book.

Interesting to note that the guys who started work on what became mp3 did it because they thought the bit rate used to encode CDs was overkill, due to the way human hearing works. I can only imagine what they think of "hi-res" audio files. That being said, mp3 was never intended as a replacement for CD bit rates. It was just done to reduce file sizes (even though the work started before there was a world wide web).

Really interesting story.
 

Black Swan

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I am trying to watch Neil Young's Paradox on Netflix and just can't. There is a good jam somewhere in the middle of a disaster. A beautiful rendition of "angels flying too close the ground"by someone, thanks the Great Manitou for that!
Daryl Hannah is directing the fiasco. Maybe in 10 years this will be qualified as CULT but tonight a bit hard to digest. Can someone help me to like it? maybe a big fat one would help...
The soundtrack might be good but the script is incoherent.
 
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