Is High-Res Audio All Hype?

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Q For the past few years I've been following the High-Res Audio "movement." After reading several articles in Sound & Vision, I finally decided to order an AudioQuest DragonFly Black and rip a few of my favorite 90s rock/alternative CDs to FLAC format. I also downloaded the HDtracks sampler and purchased 96/24 versions of Pearl Jam's No Code and Muse's Drones. I couldn't wait to “hear my music again for the first time." Know what? It didn’t matter if I listened with my Apple EarPods, Bose SoundTrue headphones, or Logitech desktop speakers, I couldn't hear any differences!  What gives? Do I really have to spend $1000 on headphones to appreciate hi-res audio? Is the problem the distortion and effects in the music I typically listen to, or is High-Res Audio all hype? —Adam Head

A First off, let me say that I sympathize with your struggle to grasp the benefits of High-Res Audio (HRA). It’s not easy to hear differences. In some cases, there aren’t significant differences to be heard. Let me explain.

HRA is an end-to-end ecosystem. It starts out with high-resolution digital masters either recorded and mixed in digital format or sourced from analog tape. Those files are distributed by music labels to online stores like HDtracks in high-res format (typically 96/24 or 192/24 FLAC, ALAC, AIFF or WAV formats, but also DSD) to be made available for download. While most sites vet files to ensure that they are indeed high-res , there have been cases where files include upsampled source material. Basically, the stores trust that what the labels give them is the real deal. (On a related note, ripping your CDs in FLAC format won’t make them high-res — the files still will be 44.1kHz/16-bit resolution.)

The second segment of the ecosystem is playback hardware: your computer and DAC, or portable player. While the sound cards on many computers can handle high-res, computers add noise to signals, and most have cheap built-in DACs that reduce sound quality by adding jitter to the data stream. That’s why it’s a good idea to use a separate DAC like your DragonFly Black, which can improve the sound quality of not just high-res, but regular CD-res, and even compressed files. Software is another important component of high-res playback: Popular programs like iTunes don’t provide native support for the FLAC format, so you need to seek out alternatives like Pure Music (an iTunes “add-on”) or JRiver Media Center (a complete media player with high-res FLAC support). In addition, your computer’s audio output settings need to be configured so that signals are passed to the DAC with the correct sampling rate and bit-depth (96kHz/24-bit, for example).

The last segment is speakers and headphones. At the risk of sounding like a snoot, basic computer speakers and Apple EarPods aren’t likely to deliver any sonic benefits that exist with HRA. Even your Bose SoundTrue headphones might not be up to the task. There are good reasons why most (but certainly not all!) high-end audio components such as the $1000 HiFiMan Edition X headphones that Sound & Vision used in its test of the DragonFly Black cost more: they are designed to reveal a higher level of sonic transparency and detail, and are carefully manufactured using premium parts.

Finally, there’s the issue of recording quality. As much as I like 90s Alternative/Indie rock, there are few examples I can cite from that genre and era that could be considered audiophile-quality. And yes, music that’s heavy on distortion and effects won’t necessarily sound better in high-res. Recordings that use acoustic instruments and cleanly recorded, unprocessed vocals make it easy to hear differences in equipment during listening sessions, which is why many audio product reviewers use classical, jazz, and roots/folk music for their tests.

Here’s the lowdown on HRA: be extra careful with your computer setup, use the best playback gear possible, and don’t expect to hear magic from every recording that’s labeled as high-res. Yes, there is hype surrounding HRA. But it’s not all hype.

COMMENTS
dommyluc's picture

...is that the difference between hires music files and 44.1/16 CD, WAV, FLAC, etc. is not as demonstrably dramatic as the difference between DVD resolution and 1080P, or probably more apt, 4K, resolution. When I look at 1080P and 4k, I can immediately SEE the difference in quality. I don't have to spend 4 1/2 hours analyzing whether the hi-res files DO sound better.
The difference between hi-res and standard audio should be as apparent as the difference between mono and 7.1 channel surround, but it just isn't there.

Mark Fleischmann's picture
I couldn't improve on the wisdom and clarity what Al has written. I would add one thing, though. There is a benefit to ripping CDs in a lossless format (like FLAC or ALAC) as opposed to a lossy one (like MP3 or AAC or WMA). The lossless formats save a little storage space but reproduce the original content precisely. The lossy formats are still more efficient but don't sound as good, especially at lower encoding rates. If you must use MP3, encode at the highest rate, 320 kbps, which approaches CD quality.
Tommy Lee's picture

I still have a hard time getting people to understand that you can't improve the sound quality of a recording beyond the fidelity of the original recording. Been trying for 50 years. A friend recently SWORE to me that the CDs he copied in hi-rez FLAC format sounded way better than the original CDs. I couldn't convince him otherwise, quit trying when he got huffy with me.

jhwalker's picture

It's entirely they *did* sound better when played back over a computer-based system vs. from a CD player. CD players have to do error correction, interpolation, etc., in real time, while if you use a decent ripper, ripped files are bit perfect and streaming them can sound better than real time CD playback.

Now, whether that's easily discernible or "way better" is a matter of opinion ;) but it's certainly possible given different playback chains.

ednaz's picture

I've done ABC testing with high res files a few times. A being Apple store or 320k files; B being 16/44 or a CD rip; C being a newly purchased high res version of the same music. With my first DAC and streamers, (years ago...) the differences weren't really big. Compressed vs CD was usually easy to appreciate the difference, but as the article says, not on an awful lot of rock/alternative/electronica. That popular music all suffers from the "loudness wars" problems where the recording and production pushed everything up to the highest volume possible, and compressed the range between the lowest volume and highest volume on an album. True even today. I love the Alabama Shakes, but their music sounds no better at 16/44 than it does Apple Store compressed. Just the nature of their sound.

Each new DAC or streamer, I re-do the check. With my current gear, I can tell a 24/48 from a 24/96 from a 24/192 (although that last jump is really marginal improvement.) But what is even more apparent now that we've had HD music coming out is that a lot of older stuff needs to be re-mastered and re-produced to take full advantage of HD. For example, in jazz - Don Was at BlueNote has been re-issuing a lot of stuff recorded by Rudy Van Gelder. I own a lot of it on CDs. It's smack you in the face obvious that when BlueNote did the HD files, they went back to the recording masters (not the burning masters) and fixed a lot of things - let the dynamics get way wider for example, and fixed some not very artful panning of instruments hard left or hard right. Led Zeppelin also went back to the production studio for their HD releases, and WOW it shows.

The differences really are striking. My wife swore for years she couldn't tell the difference from better speakers, blah blah... even though she commented on how much better our system sounded after some upgrades. But the latest DAC and HD... she calls it "spooky" because the musicians kind of materialize in the room. Even our dogs... the first few days with the new DAC and really well done HD music, every once in a while all three of them would race into the family room and wander around in between the speakers, check the corners of the room, look behind the couch. Not every album, but the best ones had them convinced someone got in the house without them noticing.

I'm very careful about trying to decide what resolution to buy for any given album. I love a lot of really head banging music, and getting a CD is the highest definition I'll go, because it just doesn't matter. But jazz, bluegrass, classical, some of the 1960s and 70s bands like Grateful Dead and King Crimson, and Zepp have done a magnificent job of re-doing their albums to take advantage of the additional sonic quality of HD.

So - I could take a bunch of music you like that won't show the difference HD makes and convince you it's snake oil, by picking only stuff that wasn't really re-mastered for the new medium. But if it's been re-done for HD properly, you'll hear it. (And BTW, downsampling some of that 24/192 or 24/96 to 16/44, it does lose quite a bit of the improved sound, but not all, which is why remastering is important.)

dommyluc's picture

Yes, going back and redoing the master tapes can make a big difference for Hi-Res tracks, but it can also make a huge improvement in CDs, as can be heard by many of the CDs that have done this. Listen to the Rolling Stones regular CD releases sourced from the SACD masters. The sound, even on a regular 44.1/16 disc, is wonderful. I have the CD release of "The Nightfly" by Donald Fagan - a landmark of digital recording - that sounds nearly breathtaking. There was a reason that Mobile Fidelity went back to the original tapes when they used to press their half-speed vinyl limited editions during the '70s and the early '80s. It's a shame that the record companies never did the same for all recordings, whether vinyl, CD, or hi-res.

Graham Luke's picture

I agree with dommyluc; well remastered classical work (say the EMI reissues after remastering at Abbey Road) can sound absolutely fantastic at CD, 16/44.1 quality.
I have a lot of jazz from the ECM production house and that sounds stunning even at Apple's humble 256 kbps AAC, both over the hifi and through 'phones.
Many people have attempted to scientifically verify whether the human ear can hear the difference between 16/44.1 and so-called 'hi-res' by means of blind testing. The results of these experiments have been very revealing...

Dcbingaman's picture

A lot of issues have been blamed on the CD format over the years that were, in fact, sloppy engineering from the microphone to the recording console to the ADC / mastering process and through the DAC. Over the years, I've come to believe that much of the lure of both vinyl and Hi-Res digital has been primarily due to this sloppy CD recording and manufacturing - NOT the format itself.

The truth is that there are a LOT of crappy sounding vinyl records and so-so Hi-Res digital recordings, but there are also some pretty good ones. BUT, and here is some news, there are many, many really good sounding CD's also - if you listen to classical music. In fact, I'd argue that a properly recorded CD decoded through time-accurate / apodizing DAC gives up little to a stereo Hi-Res recording (except MCH capability), and nothing to a vinyl record except noise.

Some more fun facts - vinyl sold about 13M records in 2016, while ALL digital downloads (including MP3) totaled about 90M. CD's sold over 130M discs in 2016. So this "obsolete" format is still #1 and going strong.

That is not to say that Hi-Res digital is not great - it is if done right. The Berlin Philharmonic has released several Blu-Ray Disc collections (Beethoven, Schumann, Schubert, Bach, Sibelius), over the past couple years in 5.1 with HD video, and they are astoundingly good. Same goes for the Tilson-Thomas's SFO and Dudemal's LAPO - listen and watch Gustavo's tribute concert to John Williams in Walt Disney Hall - wonderful music, terrifically played and recorded. Unfortunately there are still too few of these recordings.

(BTW, I have a rare DVD-A of Donald Fagan's Nightly. It's a masterpiece and terrifically recorded.)

dommyluc's picture

Thanks for the stats on the vinyl, download, and CD sales.
Although the majority of digital downloads are for whole albums, many sales are for individual tracks. I believe if you were only allowed to purchase whole albums, as you must do with a physical CD, the amount of downloads would be much smaller. I don't download anything that often, except for individual tracks when I don't want to purchase the entire album. Let's face it: there are countless albums that only have one or two really great songs, especially when you think of artists during the '50s and '60s, like many Motown albums besides Stevie Wonder, Marvin Gaye, and a few others. But I almost always purchase CDs. I want a physical copy at high quality, because it is not exactly the hardest thing in the world to rip a high-bitrate mp3 or other compressed music track. If I want mp3s, I can rip my own, thank you very much. And there is a place for mp3s and the like. You don't really need 192/24 hi-res recordings on your smart phone that you listen to through ear buds while doing housework or jogging or mowing the lawn. And as far as car listening, 256-320 kbps mp3s can sound great through a car audio system, considering road noise and everything else, and also considering that no one drives a car the size of their living room (well, not since the 1950s, anyway. LOL!), and there is no way, I don't care how good your car system is, that ANY recording is going to sound as good as your listening room, using equalization or not.
People have a tendency to forget that compressed music formats were developed for two main reasons: the price of hard drive space, and the time it takes to download an audio file. Now, hard drive space is ridiculously cheap; you can purchase a 2TB portable USB 3.0 HDD for about $65-$75, and that drive can hold probably over 3000 CDS ripped in WAV format, and huge amounts of hi-res albums, and over 10,000 compressed albums, even at high bitrates. So that problem was solved. But the downloads are still a problem. Most people do not have Internet connections that allow fast downloads of high quality tracks. It's like during the era of Napster, when it would take about 25 minutes to download a 4 minute track in low bitrate mp3 because of slow download speeds, which, to me at least, was "Alice In Wonderland" crazy. I wish I could download everything in WAV, but it would take the rest of my natural life sitting in front of my PC with the connection I can afford. Also, even many whole-album mp3 downloads cost just as much or more than the physical CD, and I am sure that even a standard WAV download would also cost more. If I buy the physical CD, I can rip it to any format I like. If I download an mp3 album, all I get is an mp3 album.
Sorry for my running on, but thanks again for the facts about the sales of different music formats. Oh, and I'll bet there are a hella lot of other industries that wish they had the sales figures of a "dying" format like the CD disc. LOL!

fredpeter's picture

Thank you for your insightful and informative comments.
I would be interested to know which DAC you currently use to
get the phenomenal results you describe.

Best regards

fredpeter

Todd Sauve's picture

The esteemed Audio Engineering Society has proven in double blind testing that there is no audible difference between so-called Hi Res and CD quality. Save your money and don't believe the baloney sites like Sound and Vison, et al, try to sell you. They are trying to sell you new equipment to keep their advertisers happy. I doubt if there is one in a million people that could genuinely detect any difference, and it is pretty uncertain which way that would go anyway!

mtymous1's picture

You wrote "...Audio Engineering Society has proven in double blind testing that there is no audible difference between so-called Hi Res and CD quality."

Where exactly are you getting this (likely mis-)information?

Check out this article on sister site Audiostream:
http://www.audiostream.com/content/its-official-people-can-hear-high-res

...And don't forget to leapfrog to the embedded links within the article as well!

(I know you're not supposed to feed the trolls, but sorry - I just couldn't help it!)

Happy Hi-Res Listening!

Graham Luke's picture

'24-192 Music downloads are very silly indeed' courtesy of Monty on xiph.org.

mtymous1's picture

...would you care about what a Red Hat goon has to say about HiRez on HiFi? I suppose the better way to put it is, what's the relevance to the discussion?

Todd Sauve's picture

Here you go: https://secure.aes.org/forum/pubs/journal/?ID=2

To be fair, the AES published another study in 2016 that claimed:

"The end result was that people could, sometimes, perceive the difference between hi-res and CD audio. But they needed to be trained and the test needed to be carefully designed."

It can be found here: http://www.aes.org/e-lib/browse.cfm?elib=18296

This last study is AWFULLY iffy, if you know what I mean. Most of us listen to music for enjoyment, though even we pleasure lovers desire the highest fidelity available. Nothing I've seen, read or heard has yet to convince me that 44/16 can be beat. I trust my own ears. When you have to resort to "training people how to listen" in order to "sometimes" tilt the process in your favour, well, it does not convince me or my two ears that I use to listen with. Dare I say that I suspect the majority of listeners will find the same results?

That leaves us with recordings that are remastered and remixed but still remain at 44/16. There it IS possible to hear a difference, and sometimes a clearly substantial difference which is much more enjoyable to listen to!

Sceptic's picture

“That is, smaller studies that did not show an ability to discriminate high resolution content may not have been published.” This is why John Atkinson, Michael Fremer, and Robert Harley will very soon have their ABX test results accepted for publication by the Audio Engineering Society.

CFWhitman's picture

One problem with this study is that it makes no effort to distinguish between sample rate and bit depth as factors in whether people can hear the difference. Just from a scientific standpoint, it is clear that the bit depth difference between 16 and 24 is much more likely to be detectable than the sample rate. Studies suggest that a higher bit depth can lead to a lower noise floor, but that this is unlikely to be noticeable to people at normal listening volumes.

It is very difficult to find even a theoretical basis for people to be able to tell the difference between sound sampled at 44 or 48kHz and higher sample rates, such as 96 or 192kHz.

CTREX5000's picture

I can tell the difference, one thing that was not written here is that some people just have TIN EARS! or cheap equipment.

Todd Sauve's picture

I have neither tin ears nor cheap equipment. Sorry!

dommyluc's picture

Hi-Res is a moot point anyway, because vinyl - you know, all you people out there who grew up with it, with the pressings that looked like they were made from the used asphalt from the highways being repaved and the only way to get a good LP was by spending 4-5 times over the retail price of a regular LP for a MFSL limited-edition pressing on virgin vinyl - is so much more "warm-sounding" and "natural". Oh, and the feeling of removing the disc from the jacket and placing the vinyl disc on the turntable platter is so much more "satisfyingly tactile".
But I WILL defend the double-LP gatefold jacket, though: it was GREAT for cleaning the seeds and stems from my stash. Can't do that on a CD case! LOL!

Rich67's picture

I have listened to a couple of CD vs Hi-Res downloads thru an Emotiva DAC (borrowed) and I couldn't hear the difference. Maybe it's my hearing or maybe it's my equipment. It really doesn't matter. It may be that there is no discernible difference or my equipment isn't revealing enough., but if I can't hear a difference I'm not paying for it. If you can hear the difference then you can pay for it. That's the only test that matters. My guess is that the reason the Hi-Res market remains vanishingly small is that those that can't hear a difference don't care and the majority of music buyers (read young) listen to music thru inexpensive headphone/earbuds and really don't care.

davidrmoran's picture

>> While the sound cards on many computers can handle high-rez, computers add noise to signals, and most have cheap built-in DACs that reduce sound quality by adding jitter to the data stream.

Weak. Any data on this? You do know that jitter IS noise, and only that, right? --- there is no such thing as "timing" information.

>> basic computer speakers and Apple EarPods aren’t likely to deliver any sonic benefits that exist with HRA. Even your Bose SoundTrue headphones might not be up to the task. There are good reasons why most (but certainly not all!) high-end audio components such as the $1000 HiFiMan Edition X headphones that Sound & Vision used in its test of the DragonFly Black cost more: they are designed to reveal a higher level of sonic transparency and detail, and are carefully manufactured using premium parts.

Even weaker. Of course anyone listening to any good source via computer should have good speakers, Flat, clean, wideband and of uniform dispersion, or equivalent headphones. But

>> designed to reveal a higher level of sonic transparency and detail,

what does that even mean? Seriously. How would it do that? Better treble via better tweeters? Okay. Otherwise, I bet a nickel that even you in shill mode know that this is bunk, and worse than bunk. It's 2017, guy.

>> and are carefully manufactured using premium parts.

ooooh.

This is all perniciously weak. You should be ashamed trying to Trump the answer of this schnook.

ednaz's picture

I was a member of a wine society in Sydney Australia where, to become a highest level member, you had to be able to taste 10 randomly selected wines and say what year, what grapes, which regions, and for bonus points, which vineyard - and nail all 10. There were a good hundred people who'd done that, and I watched several tests where 20-30 people nailed 10 of 10. And at the same time 100 to 150 didn't make it.

When people say "there's no high res difference" it makes me laugh. I'm good enough with wines that I can't go to dinner with friends or customers and avoid being who they want to order wines. But my best outcome at the wine society would have been 0 of 10. However. I spend a decade being trained in music theory, performance on six different instruments, music criticism. I could tell you, listening to a good recording, what kind of metal was being used by individual members of the trumpet and trombone sections. Made me crazy when they didn't all go with consistent metals.

I can hear the HD difference. My wife, who listens to books on tape for 80% of her life, can tell. Dinner guests can tell - get up in the middle of the main course to go stand in our family room swaying back and forth and pointing at where the musicians are.

I'll admit I might be a more skilled listener. A ton of time was spent developing listening skills. Do you think that doesn't matter? Do you know what a silver belled C trumpet sounds like compared to a yellow brass bell? To me it sounds like discord... if the production and bit depth is right.

People who say there's no difference assume that the entire planet hears the way they do. That's like saying we all play tennis the same. Go ahead, take on one of the Williams sisters. Or that everyone could tell a fake Renoir from a real one. Or that with a little practice we could smoke Usain Bolt.

Training matters. However... I can tell you that in a dinner playlist that has some tracks at 24/96 or higher, people get up and leave to go in the room with the audio system at the highest definition tracks. For awhile I thought I could hear the differences because of training. But a few dozen dinner guests, most of whom are engineers, coders, or research scientists, have been moved by HD tracks but not others.

Graham Luke's picture

Truly we are in the presence of greatness, are we not...?

allhifi's picture

Excellent post Ednaz. Insightful, accurate and honest.

I particularly enjoyed your comments regarding visitors "getting up and walking over the sound-source"! Indeed, a great sound-system has this ability --to draw listener's in from another room is a remakable (and definite sign) that you have a fine, resolving Hi-Fi system. I also, find myself frequently stopping abruptly (when engaged in another activity) to walk over, sit down and enjoy the sound even further.

In my set-up, this happens frequently, surprisingly some may find, through an analog FM (OTA) tuner --backed by a fine preamplifier, power amplifier and stand-mount loudspeakers. (Balanced AC-power, Good cables and Hi-Fi rack also a part of the system)

Aditioanlly, CD (16/44.1) resolution can also give me this sensation --the feeling of a deep musical communication and connection. It's facinating. Enjoyable. And very memorable.

No doubt that higher-resolution 20/96, 24/96, 24/176-192 would offer up even superior resolution/realism, "tone" and "airiness", but I (and many others) have experienced this "sensation/quality" before as well. 'Sensitive' listeners will pick it out (this natural tone/realism) in a few seconds.

Also notable is your comments about (more or less) "a learning curve" of instrument tones, harmonics, acoustic texture/instrument resonance borne of experience and acute listening skills, some folks simply do not posess.

Well done.

pj

Sceptic's picture

More than nine years later and Sound & Vision has _still_ not attempted to replicate the Meyer and Moran ABX tests and make the results public. Why? What is preventing Sound & Vision from doing this? http://drewdaniels.com/audible.pdf

mtymous1's picture

Why would you expect another entity to perform the same test? Why rely on a another entity at all? Why not just conduct the tests for yourself, on your own equipment, and in your own listening room?

FWIW, sister site Audiostream references M&M's tests and proffers counters from others. Check it out:
http://www.audiostream.com/content/abx-tests-prove-hi-res-audio-legit

boulderskies's picture

I completely and totally agree with the original poster as I went throught a very similar experience, although spending more for a top-shelf Bryton DAC. I connected it to a high end McIntosh Intergrated and top of the line Paradigm speakers. I used my MacBook Pro as the source with Audiovarna (sp?) software. Files compared were CD quality vs. HDTracks. Conclusion: Not worth it. And I think I have pretty good ears and thousands of listening hours with the content.

Here's why: Variability in source material. Yes, "remastered" CD files sounded better than 1980-era files. But I chaulked this up to 80s CD tech at the time, not "hi-rez." But the difference from there on up (to HD Tracks level stuff) was just not there.

I have no doubt that material which begins its life in the digital domain and stays there will probably show very noticeable differences but right now, the provenance of the "HRA" files available just arent worth the risk of investment.

Just my two cents,
Scott

Sceptic's picture

“Why would you expect another entity to perform the same test?”

Only if that entity makes an unusual claim.

“Why rely on a another [sic] entity at all? Why not just conduct the tests for yourself, on your own equipment, and in your own listening room?”

Are you perhaps suggesting that everyone should try to replicate the Meyer and Moran ABX tests? Did you read the PDF that I linked to? Do you know what an ABX test is? Do you know why ABX tests are done?

mtymous1's picture

...aren't all that hard to conduct. As long as you have someone else to administer while you sit in your chair and can capture the data. Not like you're taking measurements or need special equipment.

Got it?

Sceptic's picture

“ABX tests aren't all that hard to conduct. As long as you have someone else to administer while you sit in your chair and can capture the data. Not like you're taking measurements or need special equipment. Got it?”

Wrong. That PDF explains why you are wrong. It is very obvious you have never read that PDF, it is very obvious you do not know what a properly done ABX test requires, and it is very obvious you do not know why ABX tests are done. Got it?

Graham Luke's picture

...but I doubt he/she has 'got it'.

mtymous1's picture

...that the majority of the readership here is Mac-dependent and unable to use a plethora of software that is otherwise available on Windows (as well as Linux) platforms. Apologies for the oversight if you fall in to that category.

That said, you can use foobar to conduct your own ABX tests:
http://www.foobar2000.org/components/view/foo_abx

FWIW, I did read the referenced PDF when it came out almost 10 years ago -- didn't commit it to memory, but did read it way back when. However, it's quite evident you've been stuck on what you wanted to hear back in 2007 and have yet to catch up on the various counters that have since been published. One such example was mentioned in the Audiostream link I provided you - which you clearly did not bother to read - entitled "ABX Tests Prove Hi-Res Audio Is Legit!" (Your beloved "Audibility of a CD-Standard A/DA/A Loop Inserted into High-Resolution Audio Playback" from 2007 is mentioned, so it's at least worth a look.)

My own empirical evidence - which is something I encourage ALL readers to acquire, as opposed to reliance upon the testimonies of others on equipment and in environments vastly different than his own - didn't yield any statistically definitive conclusions. In short, sometimes I heard a difference, sometimes I didn't. (Moreover, I certainly do not see it as a reason to start calling out editors or crusading for/against HiRez!)

I still encourage you to test it out for yourself... If you are incapable of conducting ABX tests with foobar, then I suggest you try this non-ABX experiment:
www.soundliaison.com/all-categories/6-compare-formats

...where they give you "...a zip file containing samples of 2 tracks in 4 different formats.

A: 96/24 WAV
B: 96/24 FLAC
C: 16/44 WAV (CD)
D: 320kbps MP3

All the different formats have the same source file 96/24 WAV (Studio Master)."

They also go on to say:
"When you compare the files start with the lowest resolution: D (MP3 320 kbps) and move on up through example C and B ending with A.

Be careful: If you start with A, and move down through B and C ending with D, your mind will remember the ''Blueprint'' of the higher resolution file, making it difficult to hear the difference even when finally listening to the MP3 file. Don't be frustrated if you can't hear a difference at first. Hearing is as individual as taste but hearing is also something which can be acquired, like the taste of good wine."

And if you can't hear a difference, no big deal... It's just like some people couldn't recognize the hidden dinosaurs in that poster back in the 90's. Just because YOU cannot perceive it, it doesn't mean that NO ONE ELSE cannot either.

(And you certainly shouldn't let it get your panties all in a bunch!)

To those of you who can actually hear it, Happy HiRez Listening!

To everyone else: am done feeding the trolls... Promise!
http://www.stereophile.com/content/do-not-feed-troll

Sceptic's picture

“However, it's quite evident you've been stuck on what you wanted to hear back in 2007 and have yet to catch up on the various counters that have since been published.’’

Sound & Vision, please help me! I am stuck in 2007. Please try to replicate the Meyer and Moran ABX tests so that I am no longer stuck in 2007. I want to be stuck in 2017. Not even one proponent of high-resolution audio has tried to replicate the Meyer and Moran ABX tests and make the results public despite having more than nine years to do so. The silence is deafening.

“One such example was mentioned in the Audiostream link I provided you - which you clearly did not bother to read - entitled 'ABX Tests Prove Hi-Res Audio Is Legit!' (Your beloved 'Audibility of a CD-Standard A/DA/A Loop Inserted into High-Resolution Audio Playback' from 2007 is mentioned, so it's at least worth a look.)”

I read that article. I also read some of the comments associated with that article.

“To everyone else: am done feeding the trolls... Promise!”

I assume you are referring to me. Thanks for letting me have the last word. Should we believe Griffen and Fleischmann? Or is it better to examine objective evidence? Disinterested readers should decide for themselves

boulderskies's picture

Why are we arguing about testing? Werent we discusing HRA?

mtymous1's picture

I suppose some refuse to rely on their ears and require someone else's statistics and testimony to form an opinion.

Sceptic's picture

“Why are we arguing about testing?”

We are not arguing about testing. We are discussing the merits of objective evidence versus the merits of purely subjective listening.

“Werent [sic] we discusing [sic] HRA?”

That PDF is about high-resolution audio.

hnickm's picture

I completely agree that the (re)mastering makes a huge difference.
Hotel California - original CD versus HRA - no difference
Studio Series - Hotel California - CD versus HRA - big difference.
Rumours - original CD versus HRA - big difference, it's like a curtain was lifted, really
IOW, some HRA are disappointing while others are not. It's a bit of a crap shoot.

Alkaloid's picture

I just upgraded my system. I got an Anthem P5 amplifier and an Anthem AV60 pre amp. The first time using balanced in and outs. I bave fairly flat speakers ADS L1290/2s all reconditioned and up to spec, thanks to Rich So. I set everything up manually first and then used the ARC system. I was humbled to see how much better of a job ARC did in crossing over the sub. I now think some of my favorite rock cds sound very compressed. Listening to a good recording like Anreas Vollenweider I can now hear information I couldn't hear before. It all starts with the recording. Then the set up and quality of the playback equipment, and last but not least the room. We can only hear so much improvement because human hearing is limited in bandwith. The noise or lack of is certainly going to be obvious. It is not bull.... If done right the difference can be enjoyed by all.

david harper's picture

I spent 2 years trying to hear the difference between 16/44 and 24/192 pure audio blu-ray on a high quality system. I could hear no improvement in sound quality. I think those who say they can are experiencing one of two things;
1-placebo effect
2-the hi-res recording was mastered better and with more attention to sound quality when it was recorded.
I have well mastered CD's that sound better than some of the 24/192 blu-rays. And I have 2 of the hi-res discs that sound absolutely awful. The bottom line is that the mastering and recording quality eclipses completely any theoretical,and miniscule, audible improvement in SQ that hi-res might provide. My system is Marantz reference integrated amp, Marantz UD7007 disc player, Martin Logan electrostatic speakers, and a B&W powered sub. I've been an audiophile for forty years,and I've wasted a lot of money chasing better sound quality. Hi-res is nonsense. By the way, the best SQ I've ever heard in my house is a vinyl LP of Eric Clapton's "Unplugged". It blows away the hi-res blu-rays.

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