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Topic: Is digital hi-res 24-Bit 44.1 kHz - Stereo just a sales ploy?  (Read 4617 times) previous topic - next topic
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Is digital hi-res 24-Bit 44.1 kHz - Stereo just a sales ploy?

Is digital hi-res 24-Bit 44.1 kHz - Stereo just a sales ploy?
Just bought this but can't really hear much of a difference from my CD?
Depeche Mode - Spirit 2017 (Deluxe) Digibook (2 CD)
https://www.qobuz.com/us-en/album/spirit-depeche-mode/0886446342856
Video:
Depeche Mode - Where's the Revolution (Official Video)
https://youtu.be/jsCR05oKROA?t
On a side note:
Russians love the British synth group Depeche Mode so much that on Victory Day on May 9,
they not only celebrate the victory over Nazi Germany but also "Dave Day", Dave Gahan's birthday.
When opposition leader Alexei Navalny was arrested five years ago, he tweeted about the Kremlin:
"It is not enough that they are plundering the country.
Now they make me miss Depeche Mode's concert in Moscow."

Rag'n'Bone Man - Human (Official Video)
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=L3wKzyIN1yk

Stay safe and healthy, best regards,
redorb
What is the opposite of music?

Re: Is digital hi-res 24-Bit 44.1 kHz - Stereo just a sales ploy?

Reply #1
TL;DR: yes, it is just for marketing.

While high-resolution audio is important as an intermediate format in the audio production pipeline, to have more headroom, especially during volume normalization (higher bit-depth > 16 bit) or resampling (higher sample rate > 44.1 kHz), it is unnecessary as a delivery format. For that purpose, 16bit @ 44.1 kHz just is just plenty good enough. More progress for us end consumers has been made

a) in multi-channel audio for more spatial wow. This is of course mainly used in movies, but IMHO well-produced live concert productions benefit from having an immersive soundstage with music mainly coming from the front, while audience cheers all around.

b) in low-bitrate compression (e.g. OPUS codec), which increases the amount of music one can carry around in the still frequent offline scenarios. Or in the case one's music library cannot be mirrored with a Spotify subscription...

Re: Is digital hi-res 24-Bit 44.1 kHz - Stereo just a sales ploy?

Reply #2
@ojdo
Thanks for the input, much appreciated!
Depending on what output device I use (stream from computers soundcard)
the hi-res flac does sound a bit richer? better compared to CD to loudspeakers,
maybe some improvement in headphones as well... but I don't know?
Have to investigate and listen some more.

Best regards,
redorb
What is the opposite of music?

Re: Is digital hi-res 24-Bit 44.1 kHz - Stereo just a sales ploy?

Reply #3
To my knowledge (and listening experience) bitdepth matters, sampling frequency not (that mutch):
Forward Agency NPO

In progress we (always) trust.

Re: Is digital hi-res 24-Bit 44.1 kHz - Stereo just a sales ploy?

Reply #4
the hi-res flac does sound a bit richer? better compared to CD to loudspeakers,

First question: What are you comparing, and how? If you are comparing a CD with an online purchase, it could one track went through a different mastering process or came from another mix than the other. If that is the case, you aren't comparing 16-bit to 24-bit, but simply mix A to mix B. If that is the case, you yourself must judge which one you find the most pleasing. If you want to do this while making certain you remain unbiased, search this forum for 'ABX test'.

If you look at this from a theoretical point of view, the answer is pretty uncomplicated, as long as you accept the consensus in this field: the https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nyquist%E2%80%93Shannon_sampling_theorem and the basics of https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pulse-code_modulation

16-bit audio provides a signal to noise ratio of about 90dB. That means that if you listen to your music in a very quiet room (with a noise floor of 20 dB(A)) then you need to turn up the volume to a painful 110 dB(A) to enjoy the full range of that 16-bit audio. If you listen to your music in a more noisy environment or less loud, there is really no benefit to having 24-bit.

To my knowledge (and listening experience) bitdepth matters, sampling frequency not (that mutch):
[...]

Those graphs are a very inaccurate (if not plain wrong) portrayal of what actually happens. One cannot draw any conclusions from these graphs.
Music: sounds arranged such that they construct feelings.

Re: Is digital hi-res 24-Bit 44.1 kHz - Stereo just a sales ploy?

Reply #5
From what I have learned from reading experiments performed by people on this forum, you can discern 16bit from 24bit only under the following artificial conditions:

a) Set playback volume to extremely high levels (which would literally hurt enduring for any typical audio signal)
b) Perform an ABX-test of a very low volume signal, say a very low-volume passage in a song. Only then, when only using very few of the 16bit, something like the  image posted by @forart.eu in reply#3 becomes percievable.

As I never have and probably never will "enjoy" my music in setting a), I will not be able to discern stuff in b). For every signal that uses more of the 16 bits, the "vertical resolution" is high enough that there is virtually no benefit from higher resolutions.

Re: Is digital hi-res 24-Bit 44.1 kHz - Stereo just a sales ploy?

Reply #6
To my knowledge (and listening experience) bitdepth matters, sampling frequency not (that mutch):

This "stairsteps" illustration is often used to explain/justify "hi-res" audio, but it is not at all a true representation of how digital audio actually works.  There are no "stairsteps" in digital audio; the illustration itself is a "sales ploy", if not outright FUD perpetuated by the industry.  The statement "more information is captured - resulting in higher-quality audio" is not true for the frequencies and volume levels encountered in the recording and reproduction of music.

If you are interested in learning more about digital audio, there are some informative videos available at xiph.org:
https://xiph.org/video/

Re: Is digital hi-res 24-Bit 44.1 kHz - Stereo just a sales ploy?

Reply #7
@forart.eu
@ktf
@ojde
@Apesbrain

Hmm, I get what you're saying.
Difficult listening and comparing, maybe I have "golden ears" 'cause I *think* I can hear a difference?
But what sounds better, CD or hi-res flac, I really don't know?
I also understand the master mix A and B difference.
I read somewhere, probably in here, that some hi-res remasters actually destroys the dynamics.
Found it: https://hydrogenaud.io/index.php?topic=108915.0
It is fun though to get the digital hi-res flac to your music collection.
Read that here you can buy the best HD remasters. Any idea's on that?
https://www.hdtracks.com/
I often visit bandcamp.com and buy flac music that normally don't reach the broader public.
It's a good way to support musicians and bands.
https://togetherwithukraine.bandcamp.com/album/together-with-ukraine
Also I'm 68 years young and my hearing is not what it used to be.
Hmm... so maybe I have (not) "golden ears"...
The good thing about buying digital flac downloads is you won't clutter your living room with CDs or vinyl,
just the HDDs... I need more of them HDDs...

Best regards,
redorb

Edit:
@Apesbrain
Thanks for the link!
What is the opposite of music?

Re: Is digital hi-res 24-Bit 44.1 kHz - Stereo just a sales ploy?

Reply #8
16 bit can describe a range of 96 dB.
24 bit can describe 144 dB.

There's no more discussion needed, this is well understood. If you need more than 96dB range for playback, use 24 bit.

Re: Is digital hi-res 24-Bit 44.1 kHz - Stereo just a sales ploy?

Reply #9
Quote
There are no "stairsteps" in digital audio;
Well...   Digital audio sort-of is stair stepped....     The digital data is actually a series of samples with nothing in-between.   If you zoom-in in Audacity to see the individual samples you get a pretty-good graphical representation of the digital data.

But the reconstructed analog output from a DAC is continuous and smoothed (filtered)...   Usually...   I connected an oscilloscope to a soundcard once and the output (from this particular soundcard) was unfiltered and "nicely" stair-stepped!!!    I was shocked, and I had never noticed anything wrong with the sound.   I only used this computer for "casual" listening at work on fairly-cheap computer speakers, but I was still surprised.  

But after thinking about it I realized that the harmonics are above the audio range, plus the speaker will act as a (mechanical) low-pass filter, and the amplifier might be filtering too.

Re: Is digital hi-res 24-Bit 44.1 kHz - Stereo just a sales ploy?

Reply #10
I only have the CD version of Spirit. It is a loud mix and with a short spectral look i doubt there is anything to gain from higher bitrate. The high noisefloor doesn't allow anything more as 14bit of music at best imho.
Is troll-adiposity coming from feederism?
With 24bit music you can listen to silence much louder!

Re: Is digital hi-res 24-Bit 44.1 kHz - Stereo just a sales ploy?

Reply #11
But the reconstructed analog output from a DAC is continuous and smoothed (filtered)...
Exactly.  When the industry puts forth that "stairstep" illustration, they are trying to cast doubt on this fact.

I just noticed another fallacy in that diagram: it illustrates 24-bit audio as having finer (smaller) gradations in amplitude units.  That is incorrect.  The only difference between a 16-bit and 24-bit sample is that the latter can capture a higher volume level.  Think of it as having 13 ounces of beer (your 78 dB at best S/N "real-world" source) to pour into a 16-ounce or a 24-ounce glass.  It makes no difference except that the 24-ounce glass takes up more space in your cupboard.

Re: Is digital hi-res 24-Bit 44.1 kHz - Stereo just a sales ploy?

Reply #12
Actually, the "staircase" gets it even more completely wrong.

* Even if the original signal were staircase-shaped, your DAC wouldn't output the "steps". It will smoothen out. Your DAC is unable to deliver the staircase with fidelity above Nyquist.

This is attempted explained as the DAC will magically recreate the sine. But the point is, the DAC will lose any such stairsteps that were ever there. It isn't magical guesswork, it is loss of information. Well loss of misinformation, but still.

The vinylobullshitters could have criticized digital for not being able to output square pulses. Sure, that is a theoretical weakness - but it is practically solvable for this application: since we are dealing with human ears, we just need a format with high enough sampling rate.
Fact is, CDs fail miserably at 100 kiloherz bat sounds. Now if you want to listen to 100 kiloherz bat sounds, that is not a practical issue, they sound the same to your ears as the CD of digital silence does.
Last two months' worth of foobar2000.org ad revenue has been donated to support war refugees from Ukraine: https://www.foobar2000.org/

Re: Is digital hi-res 24-Bit 44.1 kHz - Stereo just a sales ploy?

Reply #13
Quote
I just noticed another fallacy in that diagram: it illustrates 24-bit audio as having finer (smaller) gradations in amplitude units.  That is incorrect.  The only difference between a 16-bit and 24-bit sample is that the latter can capture a higher volume level.
The "raw numbers" in a 24-bit file are bigger than an 8-bit file and with integers the minimum increment (step size) is 1.  But everything is automatically scaled to match the DAC, so a 0dB 24-bit file isn't louder than a 0dB 8-bit file but the resolution is higher so the scaled-steps are smaller.    Also on a 0dB-normalized scale (like you see in Audacity) the steps are smaller.    

In floating-point things get "stranger" because 1.0 is 0dB (plus you get resolution to the right of the decimal point).     The way floating-point works in computers you get more resolution (smaller steps) with smaller numbers less and resolution with bigger numbers.   

BTW - With an 8-bit file you can hear the steps as quantization noise even after analog filtering.

 

Re: Is digital hi-res 24-Bit 44.1 kHz - Stereo just a sales ploy?

Reply #14
Is digital hi-res 24-Bit 44.1 kHz - Stereo just a sales ploy?
Just bought this but can't really hear much of a difference from my CD?

Yep, it's obviously marketing BS.

because standard audio CD's we have been using for decades already exceeds human hearing limits. hence, it's not realistic to improve upon for general music to any noticeable degree.

hell, another thing to put this into perspective... just given that MP3 @ V5 (130kbps) is already pretty good all-around given the listening tests around here speaks volumes as if your struggling to tell a difference between that (or MP3/AAC and the like at a sufficient bit rate) and the original audio CD, then it should be even more obvious that your not going to be able to notice a difference from one high quality source (i.e. audio CD) and another (i.e. hi-res audio and the like) since there will be a larger quality difference between say MP3 and audio CD (and even here is not all that much in the real world once the MP3 reaches a certain bit rate) then there would be between audio CD and hi-res audio which is basically nothing.

hell, I could even say this... I would say hi-res audio is more of a bad thing since it just wastes storage space with no discernible benefit, which makes it less efficient with zero improvement.

it would be difficult to take a position against (at least realistically) what I said here ;)
For music I suggest (using Foobar2000)... MP3 (LAME) @ V5 (130kbps). NOTE: using on AGPTEK-U3 as of Mar 18th 2021. I use 'fatsort' (on Linux) so MP3's are listed in proper order on AGPTEK-U3.

Re: Is digital hi-res 24-Bit 44.1 kHz - Stereo just a sales ploy?

Reply #15
16 bit can describe a range of 96 dB.
24 bit can describe 144 dB.
I see these numbers a lot, but the Xiph.org video on digital audio seems to indicate that the noise floor is around -120dB when you use dither at 16 bits, rather than -96dB. Would this then indicate that the noise floor will be below -144dB if you dither at 24 bits?

Re: Is digital hi-res 24-Bit 44.1 kHz - Stereo just a sales ploy?

Reply #16
Yeah, you can get down to a fraction of the least significant bit both when it is the 16th and when it is the 24th.

But the "noise floor" term isn't necessarily instructive on what is going on there at the finest detail: Suppose you have a rumbling earthquake ("noise floor") at a certain SPL, and then a slightly lower-volume high-pitched scream. You still hear both.

Informatively speaking, dither adds both signal and noise. It adds noise because ... well that's literally what it does; it adds signal because that noise reduces distortions that happen due to round-off: it will make "0.5 bits become 1 bit half the time" and that is better than consistently rounding it to 0 all the time or 1 all the time. Like the difference between these:

Same (not too high) "bit depth" i.e. number of bits to represent the colour of each pixel. To the left: each pixel rounded off individually. To the right: dithered. From https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dither .

Then you got noise shaping, which are algorithms that try to accomplish the following: adding signal where you need it and adding noise where it isn't harmful.
Last two months' worth of foobar2000.org ad revenue has been donated to support war refugees from Ukraine: https://www.foobar2000.org/

Re: Is digital hi-res 24-Bit 44.1 kHz - Stereo just a sales ploy?

Reply #17
I wouldn't doubt if most 24bit is just upscaled 16bit.
"Life's the same, I'm moving in stereo
Life's the same except for my shoes"

Re: Is digital hi-res 24-Bit 44.1 kHz - Stereo just a sales ploy?

Reply #18
I wouldn't doubt if most 24bit is just upscaled 16bit.
Why?
Contemporary recordings? They have the files in the digital audio workstation. Want a 24 bit? Export from the DAW, rather than from the 16 bit.
Old recordings? Digitized to > 16 bits, and then digitally processed. Again, you might just as well export to 24 bits than -> 16 -> 24.

Last two months' worth of foobar2000.org ad revenue has been donated to support war refugees from Ukraine: https://www.foobar2000.org/

Re: Is digital hi-res 24-Bit 44.1 kHz - Stereo just a sales ploy?

Reply #19
Upscaling is cheaper than pulling the tapes back out and redigitizing.

Of course, digital is just a way of archiving something and modern Instruments aren't much different from past Instruments.
"Life's the same, I'm moving in stereo
Life's the same except for my shoes"

Re: Is digital hi-res 24-Bit 44.1 kHz - Stereo just a sales ploy?

Reply #20
But what sounds better, CD or hi-res flac, I really don't know?
It's the wrong question, CD doesn't sound like anything, hi-res doesn't sound like anything. Only the music they deliver.

I also understand the master mix A and B difference.
This is 100% of the issue. If you put the same material on CD and hi-res, you will not be able to hear the difference.

Re: Is digital hi-res 24-Bit 44.1 kHz - Stereo just a sales ploy?

Reply #21
But what sounds better, CD or hi-res flac, I really don't know?
It's the wrong question, CD doesn't sound like anything, hi-res doesn't sound like anything. Only the music they deliver.

I also understand the master mix A and B difference.
This is 100% of the issue. If you put the same material on CD and hi-res, you will not be able to hear the difference.
Sorry for being vague, what I meant was when listening to "Spirit" CD and and HI-RES flac on PC from soundcard in headphones/loudspeakers using foobar, processing: apply gain, no pre-amp ±0.0db
There is of course a difference and I like the HI-RES a bit more, maybe I should rerip the CD and test different parameters?
What is the opposite of music?

Re: Is digital hi-res 24-Bit 44.1 kHz - Stereo just a sales ploy?

Reply #22
There is of course a difference and I like the HI-RES a bit more, maybe I should rerip the CD and test different parameters?

Just convert your Hi-Res File to a 16Bit (flac) File (e.g. use foobars converter, output bit depth 16, dither allways).
Now compare the 24bit vs the converted 16bit file.

I guess you won't notice any difference at all.


.halverhahn

Re: Is digital hi-res 24-Bit 44.1 kHz - Stereo just a sales ploy?

Reply #23
Sorry for being vague, what I meant was when listening to "Spirit" CD and and HI-RES flac on PC from soundcard in headphones/loudspeakers using foobar, processing: apply gain, no pre-amp ±0.0db
There is of course a difference and I like the HI-RES a bit more, maybe I should rerip the CD and test different parameters?
Go into foobar, select both versions of one track, then right-click and go:

 Utilities --> ABX Tracks...     (if it's not there you might have to download the plugin from here: https://www.foobar2000.org/components/view/foo_abx)

Make sure "use replaygain" is checked and then continue with the test, you have to try to choose correctly which is which. If you complete the test and got less than 90% correct then you probably can't actually tell the difference.


Re: Is digital hi-res 24-Bit 44.1 kHz - Stereo just a sales ploy?

Reply #24
Make sure "use replaygain" is checked...
The files need to have ReplayGain tags first:
Load files to be ABX'd > Select all > Right-click > ReplayGain > Scan as albums (by tags)