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Apple looking to offer higher quality 24-bit music on iTunes - report - Page 2

post #41 of 81
Bill,

Agree completely.
post #42 of 81
It's about time that the big guys got on-board for hi-res. MP3 has been doing major damage to the quality that we had with CD's and SACD's for years.

Being able to purchase the original master tracks in hi-res is just what this market needs. The recording companies will of course be concerned about piracy, which will happen with 99% of college and High-School students, and of course the Russians. They need to look past this and realize that there is money to be made from those that can afford it, since CD sales are not paying the salaries anymore.

I can and already have access to lots of great tracks at 88.2, 96, 176.4 and 192 from websites like HDTracks, bluecoastrecords.com linnrecords.com, BSO.com and 2L.no

What people dont realize is that 99% of the time your DAC will sound better when playing 24-bit data. This is due to the way that the digital filtering has to be implemented. The same track at 96 will sound better than 44.1 due to the DAC behavior alone.

My hope is that they provide these tracks in AIFF format, with no compression of any kind. It has been demonstrated that even these lossy compression methods, like FLAC and ALAC can color the sound due to poor performance of the CODEC software.

Steve N.
Empirical Audio
post #43 of 81
Apple is likely never going to directly support FLAC for the same reasons it's likely never to support WebM, or any other format that it didn't create, or doesn't have safe licensing.

Apple had the option of going with FLAC instead of developing ALAC, but the problem was that if Apple went with FLAC, patent trolls would finally see deep pockets and sue Apple. It's more than just the $$$ for the patents, it's potentially about having sales being suspended. The risk is far too high.

If you want Apple to support FLAC, WebM or whatever, get a patent pool around it, or point to someone who will indemnify Apple.

As far as Blu-Ray, you can get both external and internal ones that are Mac compatible for the Mac Pro, iMac, mini, and MacBook Pros. At some point, if demand is high enough Apple will offer these too, but the problem here again is licensing. And it's a very complex issue.

Apple is different from others in that they're selling the box, the OS and the applications. Each has to be licensed for Blu-Ray independently. Remember how when DVD drives came out, how you couldn't actually watch a DVD movie on a PC unless you purchased software? On the Mac though, you could play movies, burn data, burn movies, edit movies, picture discs, etc... It was all ready to go as soon as you turned on your new Mac.

Apple wants to provide that same experience, but doesn't want to pay the licensing for the box, software and OS, for every person, despite most not even wanting Blu-Ray to begin with.

These licensing issues keep getting worked out, so things may change, but demand needs to change along with it.

As far as higher quality songs on iTunes, yes, absolutely this is going to happen. This should've been obvious from day one. The question of course is when will this happen. My guess is that it will happen sooner rather than later.

If Apple offered 24/96 lossless songs today at the same price (or slightly higher), and had the whole iOS line support it as well, it would have a HUGE impact . I'm not sure Apple can jump that far right now, so maybe take it down a notch, but still Apple is all about quality and being a whole other level above everybody else would be HUGE.
post #44 of 81
As far as I know you CAN buy movies in HD. Usually they cost $5 more compared to SD quality.

Oh, and "worse than DVD" HD? You are starting to look stupid.

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post #45 of 81
It was my understanding in the past that Apple created ALAC because FLAC didn't have the necessary album art tags.

I forgot where I read that, might need to look it up again. I know there are certain programs that support album art on their own but I'm not sure if they get embedded in the actual files like ALAC.
post #46 of 81
Quote:
Originally Posted by anonymouse View Post

Except for a very small, very vocal minority, I don't think anyone cares about having, or not having, Blu-Ray in Macs. It's just really not an issue for most people.

Does a manufacturer such as Apple have to license Blue ray in order to distribute a driver in the OS? If they can do that without a license or at very minimal cost, at least it would let end users buy their own BD reader/writer. I'm pretty sure the professional video editors using FCP wouldn't mind being able to save BD format. I agree with you that playing BD movies on a Mac monitor is silly, but watching on big screen TV is a nice experience, assuming the movie is any good and not just a bunch of special effects strung together with no plot.

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post #47 of 81
Quote:
Originally Posted by macslut View Post

As far as Blu-Ray, you can get both external and internal ones that are Mac compatible for the Mac Pro, iMac, mini, and MacBook Pros.

Those drives alone may let you read Blu-ray media. But you still need software to play the movies and navigate the menus as you can on a standalone player. Is there such software available for Macs?
post #48 of 81
Quote:
Originally Posted by anonymouse View Post

Except for a very small, very vocal minority, I don't think anyone cares about having, or not having, Blu-Ray in Macs. It's just really not an issue for most people.

Despite their marketshare of iPhones and iPads, Apple is still a minority when it comes to computers running Mac OS. So for one minority to dismiss others as a "minority" is a case of the pot calling the kettle black.
post #49 of 81
Three thoughts --
1. There is a quality difference between 16-bit and 24-bit playback, but it is very subtle. As someone else pointed out above, the cheap, high-noise D/A converters built into Macs and PCs are incapable of resolving the subtle increase in dynamic range that 24-bit files would permit. If the files were provided using a lossless format like Apple Lossless or FLAC, they would be a great treat for those with highly-resolving playback equipment.

2. Do away with lossy compression first. This is where fidelity suffers, not in the conversion from 24-bit to 16-bit. Again - the difference between 16 and 24-bit is real, but is very subtle. The audible damage wrought by lossy compression is far more audible, distracting, and unmusical. A move to lossless files would benefit everyone, no matter what equipment they were using.

3. AAC, MP3 - they're amazing technology, but they work by throwing away 70-80% of the original sound information. The resulting small file size was useful in the age of dial-up Internet. But storage and bandwidth capacity have exploded in the ~15 years since MP3 came on the scene. Why continue to compromise audio quality unnecessarily?

Ryan
post #50 of 81
Blu-Ray is dead tech, The DVD format has proved this. Having a digital format and upgrade path for a low price to a new HD format and plus the convenience of space saving and being available on many devices is the best technology to grow into.

Movies will always be available in any format forever. Unfortunately for music, many great music recordings on vinyl and CD will never be digitally remastered or reprinted and possibly lost forever. Any way to preserve music at the highest quality is a great thing.
post #51 of 81
I understand that is isn't important to you.

If is wasn't important to others, they would have let it go long ago.


Quote:
Originally Posted by anonymouse View Post

Except for a very small, very vocal minority, I don't think anyone cares about having, or not having, Blu-Ray in Macs. It's just really not an issue for most people.
post #52 of 81
Quote:
Originally Posted by Cory Bauer View Post

So Apple won't give us Blu-Ray, a huge leap forward in quality over the DVD drives they offer now, but they want to increase song files from 16 to 24 bits, a virtually inaudible upgrade?

Wrong. This is extremely audible. If this happens, says finally goodbye to vinyl, which currently still has the quality edge for high end.
post #53 of 81
Quote:
Originally Posted by Lukeskymac View Post

As far as I know you CAN buy movies in HD. Usually they cost $5 more compared to SD quality.

You're right. At some point they added the ability to buy HD; strange, because there was no announcement whatsoever. Probably because there's only 114 movies available to purchase in HD. Most of which are movies no one would ever want, like "Lake Placid 3" and "The Covenant".

Quote:
Originally Posted by Lukeskymac View Post

Oh, and "worse than DVD" HD? You are starting to look stupid.

I was referring to their SD movies, the only ones I was aware you could purchase to own. They are worse than DVD quality.
post #54 of 81
Quote:
Originally Posted by professorpolymath View Post

Three thoughts --
1. There is a quality difference between 16-bit and 24-bit playback, but it is very subtle. As someone else pointed out above, the cheap, high-noise D/A converters built into Macs and PCs are incapable of resolving the subtle increase in dynamic range that 24-bit files would permit. If the files were provided using a lossless format like Apple Lossless or FLAC, they would be a great treat for those with highly-resolving playback equipment.

Ryan

The dynamic range difference is 48dB (roughly 6dB per. bit from sampling theory) between 16bit and 24bit. The problem is not so much that it is a subtle difference but, given you are at roughly 130dB sound pressure on CD at the top (30dB quite room noise + 96dB CD dynamic range) you have to go very very loud indeed (around the same as a jet engine next to you) to appreciate the difference. You might succeed but you'd probably be deaf afterwards!
post #55 of 81
Quote:
Originally Posted by EDMStitchy View Post

Blu-Ray is dead tech, The DVD format has proved this. Having a digital format and upgrade path for a low price to a new HD format and plus the convenience of space saving and being available on many devices is the best technology to grow into.

There is no low-priced upgrade path for digital movie purchases, most of which cost the same or more than a virtually-lossless blu-ray copy. Once you own a film on blu-ray there's no reason you'd ever need to "upgrade" your copy because the quality really can't get any better. And talk to me about space saving when you lose thousands of dollars in movie purchases in a single hard drive crash. I can borrow a blu-ray movie to any of my friends or family with a blu-ray player, which many of them now have; how's that for being able to play on many devices?
post #56 of 81
This article adds only confusion to the popular debate about sound quality. Because of the association with current music business mega-sellers this CNN story is being picked up and repeated ad infinitum. Some readers are pointing out the errors but the great majority - the average consumers - will not question the statements.

Jimmy Iovine blames bad sounding consumer audio files on the conversion from 24 to 16 bit, without any mention of compression which is the primary cause. For popular music audio files that use only a small part of the dynamic range, the difference between 16 and 24 bit audio is completely irrelevant.

It's just wrong to claim that consumer audio files can be made high fidelity just by making them 24 bit and also to publicly state that your endorsed products (HP laptops and smartphones - some of which have only a mono speaker) sound like studio systems in part because they support 24 bit audio (surprisingly, there is no evidence HP Beats Audio products actually support 24 bit audio).

Jimmy Iovine's claim to reveal Apple's intentions is just silly. 24 bit audio is not a "major obstacle" for Apple's portable devices; iPods and iPhones have long been able to play CD quality audio at 16/44.1 ,24/44.1 or 24/48 (bit/kilohertz) with the Apple Lossless format. The only "retooling" required is greater storage capacity to accommodate the larger file sizes.

I have no doubt that Apple will increase the quality of iTunes audio files as last mile bandwidth and flash memory capacity increases; not because Jimmy Iovine and HP prodded them with a nonsensical brand promotion.
post #57 of 81
I still use CDs. I've been disappointed with some CDs lately. Way back when they first came out we were told that they were better than vinyl records. My friends and I all said at the time that they did lack presence. Eventually we did acknowledge that they were clean sounding.

There are a few CDs that I think sound good and there are some that don't. When remixes of Led Zepplin came out they didn't sound the same. Different parts had higher volume and some parts seemed to be missing. I didn't like it.

If the music industry could decide on a simple mastering method, and a reproduction method, then the music produced by the artists could be delivered to their fans exactly as intended. Do artists not care about this anymore?

Anything that makes music reproduction true to the original form is something I support.
post #58 of 81
Quote:
Originally Posted by Jotbolger View Post

iTunes and all iPods support this format. Okay the files would be much larger, but the sound quality is noticeably improved. There's not much point in increasing the bit/sample rate if you are then going to throw away a large chunk of the information by compressing it using AAC.

It makes me laugh to see people spend a fortune on high-end audio equipment (e.g. valve amps) with iPod docks and then play MP3 files through it.

If Apple made true hi-fidelity recordings available through the iTunes Store I might be tempted to buy more through it. At the moment I prefer to buy CDs (which can often be picked up for less money than the download) and import using Apple Lossless to get true CD quality.

Most people can not hear a difference between moderately high compression rates, say 223 kbps, and uncompressed source material.

24bits is pointless. All it does is lower the possible noise floor to levels where there are few places on earth quiet enough to be able to begin to take advantage of it on playback. As for 96khz - WTF? Dolphins and bats might appreciate the higher frequencies such a sampling rate allows, but humans won't. I very much doubt that more than 10% of posters on here could hear beyond 18khz, let alone the 48khz 96khz recordings allow for.
post #59 of 81
Highly compressed popular music actually sounds better on really poor systems such as earbuds and tiny computer speakers than it does on a good system. For most people louder = better and 24 bits is completely pointless.

Regarding sample rates above 44.1: The ability to capture and reproduce frequencies above 18 kHz in and of itself isn't what makes higher sample rates sound better. They sound better because distortion (only audible when listening to music) caused by the sharp high frequency filter used in front of the samplers is moved up and out of the perceptible range.
post #60 of 81
Quote:
Originally Posted by audioengr View Post

My hope is that they provide these tracks in AIFF format, with no compression of any kind. It has been demonstrated that even these lossy compression methods, like FLAC and ALAC can color the sound due to poor performance of the CODEC software.

Steve N.
Empirical Audio

I'm always up for a good laugh, could you please provide details or a link to somewhere that provides details of where and how it has been shown that there is an audible difference between AIFF and ALAC or FLAC. By the way, FLAC and ALAC are not lossy compression algorithms, they are LOSSLESS.
post #61 of 81
Quote:
Originally Posted by Superbass View Post

Anyways, 24-bit sound coming from an iPod or iPhone or Macbook would be totally overkill, as the D/A converters Apple uses in their products are pretty much the shittiest you can find (that goes for pretty much the entire computer industry).

It's not just the D/A converters. The amps are underpowered and distortion-prone and then there's the piéce de resistance, the unbelievably lousy earbuds that ship with iPods/iPhones. Given all that, I just don't understand Apple's quest for "higher quality" files like the 256kbps files they already sell iTunes music as. Especially since most people can't hear the difference anyway.
post #62 of 81
Living in the USA, you can say that, but most places, CD's are ridiculously expensive.

Quote:
Originally Posted by zoetmb View Post

Sorry, I disagree with you. CDs still have several advantages: they're (currently) still higher audio quality, they come with liner notes and track documentation (I know that for the garbage music out there today, no one cares anymore about this, but for great historical recordings and for collectors, this is important), they serve as a backup and they're actually less expensive in most cases. You can buy a 12 to 22 track new release CD for $12 to $14 and a catalog CD for as little as $6 - that's far less expensive than iTunes. 98% of my iTunes library comes from purchased CDs.

As for movies, if you only want to watch movies on a portable device, then Blu-ray is not for you. But if you want a close to movie theatre experience with the highest quality available today for both picture and sound, Blu-ray is the only way to go. I am so tired of seeing blocking on the screen in dark areas when I download video, even in so-called HD or getting "hesitation" and other digital artifacts. For a guilty pleasure movie that I know I'm only going to watch once, I watch it online. But for a great classic that I'll watch several times over the years that includes a director's commentary and other extras, I'll buy the Blu-ray.

And buying a quality release of a classic film from a distributor like Criterion which includes wonderful graphics, package design and booklets provides great advantages to those who care about these things. Back in the LP days, great album artwork was part of the pleasure of owning the LP.

Likewise, for a summer reading Sci-Fi novel, I'll read that on a portable device. But for a lushly illustrated large format coffee-table type book printed on fine paper with high qualtity reproductions, I'd rather have the printed edition.

Just because there's a technology that you personally are not interested in doesn't make it a "fail". The one thing I'll give you is that physical media does take up a lot of space, but personally, I like being able to scan the spines of my CDs. People who prefer physical media generally don't voice the view that digital media shouldn't exist, but I frequently hear proponents of digital media who think that physical media shouldn't exist. That's the "fail".
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post #63 of 81
I use FLAC in iTunes sometimes, and make separate copies in AAC or LAME for my iPod. There are apps and simple scripts that'll hook you right up. Why complain about Apple and FLAC? I don't see any major industry player supporting it. A few tweaks and iTunes runs it with tags, artwork, and everything.

There are a few very good apps that play FLAC for iOS devices, too.

FLAC is seved, to a point, in Apple's ecosystem, but I'd not expect them to support an open 'standard'. Neither will Microsoft, Warner, or anyone else with sanity in the music business.

As stated, 24-bit 96 and higher kHz dramatically reduces noise, but it hasn't ever been reliably proven that humans can pick up on this improvement, or that they can truly hear it to begin with. A bigger problem, as has been stated, is that records are engineered for loudness. 24-bit, 32-bit, 8-bit - in some ways it doesn't matter anymore as the albums have had their dynamic range cut to sound louder.

Perceptible or imperceptible, better quality files make no sense when by and large, studios don't even bring the full redbook spec of dynamic range to studio recordings.

Then, the simple dumbing down to 16-bit is also a problem. You don't just compress and press to make 16-bit - but if that is what studios today, do, then 16-bit files in any format face industry oppression by a multitude of bad recording techniques. Lynn, and other companies have not released how they dumb their files into 16-bit, either, often pushing for 'better' 24-bit files - possibly by improperly dumbing the originals down.

I don't see a reason not to bring higher resolution recordings to the iTunes store, but I dop see a reason to suppress the chiming in of every so-called audiophile and industry insider that "knows best".
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post #64 of 81
Quote:
Originally Posted by Cory Bauer View Post

There is no low-priced upgrade path for digital movie purchases, most of which cost the same or more than a virtually-lossless blu-ray copy. Once you own a film on blu-ray there's no reason you'd ever need to "upgrade" your copy because the quality really can't get any better. And talk to me about space saving when you lose thousands of dollars in movie purchases in a single hard drive crash. I can borrow a blu-ray movie to any of my friends or family with a blu-ray player, which many of them now have; how's that for being able to play on many devices?

The problem is as with every physical format, the technology moves on to something better or just dies off. Let it be 10 years till something replaces Blu-Ray, that could be streaming, digital downloads or maybe something else, Blu-Ray is going to die. I had near 500 DVDs and sold them at bottom dollar to a used CD/DVD store and donated a bunch to the local library. Movies will always be around in any format, So why own something that is "now technology" when it will be replaced in the future. And any collector of movies and music in digital format would buy a redundant external drive, they are cheap enough for anyone to afford these days. Data loss can happen, but can be prevented.

Unfortunately with Music, the quality of digital downloads need to catch up. The popular compressed formats have ruined the quality sound of music. Hopefully someday this will change. Even a CD being a digital format, it won't match the warmth and depth of vinyl.
post #65 of 81
John Siracusa did a great job of expressing why Apple should strive to provide higher quality audio on the Hypercritical podcast.

I don't have great ears and frankly wouldn't be able to discern the difference between 128k AAC and a lossless format. However, I do impart value on higher quality products. A lossless format provides all of the "original" information, as mastered by the musician. That in of itself has an increased value over a compress format.

I would pay $1.99 per song for it if it was better than CD-quality. Music has one of the highest value to dollar ratio in products as it is something that you use over and over. Something you continue to enjoy for years on end. I would buy it over a $0.99 compressed version of the song.

There will be a market of folks who will do this. Not just audiophiles. People buy premium and luxury products afterall, even though in many cases, there isn't a functional difference compared to a lower end product.
post #66 of 81
Quote:
Originally Posted by Shrike View Post

John Siracusa did a great job of expressing why Apple should strive to provide higher quality audio on the Hypercritical podcast.

I don't have great ears and frankly wouldn't be able to discern the difference between 128k AAC and a lossless format. However, I do impart value on higher quality products. A lossless format provides all of the "original" information, as mastered by the musician. That in of itself has an increased value over a compress format.

That is a very odd definition of quality, he knows that in all probability he won't be able to tell the difference yet he's willing to pay more anyway? I have many high quality/ high price products that I could offer him on that basis!
post #67 of 81
I would prefer to see Lossless before 24-bit. The files are 16-bit AAC now. The article makes it sound like will just be 24-bit. Not exciting at all, IMO.

I have done some quick testing of various formats -- 128K MP3/AAC, 256 AAC/MP3, 320K AAC/MP3, and ALAC.

I though that the AAC counterparts at each sample was slightly better. I was looking for details that each version may expand on. 128K to 320K was a HUGE difference and I could hear a significant difference in almost all tracks I tried. The 320K to ALAC was MUCH more difficult to hear, but in CERTAIN tracks it could be heard. Classical, ethnic, and vocals was the most common styles where differences could be heard. Rock, Pop, R&B, and Rap was far more difficult to discern any significant differences. In some cases I feel the bass hit a little deeper/harder, but it was very difficult, IMO, to tell the specific differences.

I would put myself in the category of having a higher-end system that can "show" the differences a bit easier. Although my computer speakers and iPod dock can also show some differences, too, but again, they are not the cheap Wal-mart or Target brands, either.

In addition, sonone mentioned that vinyl was still the highest quality/definition??? I think it all comes down to mastering and mixing. I have read where SA-CD's and vinyl albums were made with the same master as the CD, so they were no better. I have also read the debate if a vinyl record can have the same dynamic range as other media due to the limitation of the grooves before they meet their max.

I have been using ALAC for a while. I use Max, a free program, on my Mac Mini to convert any FLAC files I may purchase from HDTracks.com to ALAC. I stream them to my AppleTV v1 but the down mixing to 16/44.1 has me bummed a bit because I am not getting my 24/96 files to my processor. I have looked at other options for streaming, but there are very few that really support hi-res audio files. They either have a clunky interface, cost too much for what you get, or do not support my 6800+ ALAC files.

In the end, I make due with what I have. I am always on the look out for a better solution, but as of now, I am enjoying what I have.
post #68 of 81
Quote:
Originally Posted by cnocbui View Post

24bits is pointless. All it does is lower the possible noise floor to levels where there are few places on earth quiet enough to be able to begin to take advantage of it on playback. As for 96khz - WTF? Dolphins and bats might appreciate the higher frequencies such a sampling rate allows, but humans won't. I very much doubt that more than 10% of posters on here could hear beyond 18khz, let alone the 48khz 96khz recordings allow for.

Utter nonsense... Thankfully you're not a music producer. A sampling rate has nothing to do with the frequency limitations of human hearing.
post #69 of 81
Quote:
Originally Posted by allmypeople View Post

The people still hanging onto this dying technology isn't that bad of a thing considering it'll only push pure-digital to move forward faster...

What do you mean by pure digital? My Blu-rays, DVDs and CDs are all digital


Quote:
Originally Posted by allmypeople View Post

p.s. buying physical discs = fail unless you're completely cut off from the internet.

May I ask how you store your downloads now? Are they not on a physical media of some kind?
post #70 of 81
Quote:
Originally Posted by cnocbui View Post

Most people can not hear a difference between moderately high compression rates, say 223 kbps, and uncompressed source material.

24bits is pointless. All it does is lower the possible noise floor to levels where there are few places on earth quiet enough to be able to begin to take advantage of it on playback. As for 96khz - WTF? Dolphins and bats might appreciate the higher frequencies such a sampling rate allows, but humans won't. I very much doubt that more than 10% of posters on here could hear beyond 18khz, let alone the 48khz 96khz recordings allow for.

I would advise you to read the work of biophysics scientist William Bialek on the working of the human auditive system. For one: the ear is able to register sound around 25dB under noise levels. Microphones may not be able to, but the human ear can.

And the human brain is able to filter irrelevant sound pretty accurately. The result is, that though humans may not be able to quantify what they hear, they can hear the difference very well. This is one of the reasons that vinyl is still being sold.

Often one hears that vinyl aficionados are just posers. I am then reminded about people complaining that Apple is all marketing and not actually often a superior user experience.
post #71 of 81
Quote:
Originally Posted by bluevoid View Post

Utter nonsense... Thankfully you're not a music producer. A sampling rate has nothing to do with the frequency limitations of human hearing.

Are you sure? You seem to be ignoring the earlier section in the exact article you cite, which mentions the Nyquist–Shannon sampling theorem. Sure, some people will argue for oversampling, but to say sampling rate has nothing to do with frequency is to ignore or even contradict the theorem.

Quote:
Originally Posted by EDMStitchy View Post

The problem is as with every physical format, the technology moves on to something better or just dies off. Let it be 10 years till something replaces Blu-Ray, that could be streaming, digital downloads or maybe something else, Blu-Ray is going to die. I had near 500 DVDs and sold them at bottom dollar to a used CD/DVD store and donated a bunch to the local library. Movies will always be around in any format, So why own something that is "now technology" when it will be replaced in the future. And any collector of movies and music in digital format would buy a redundant external drive, they are cheap enough for anyone to afford these days. Data loss can happen, but can be prevented.

Are you saying that such outdating will never affect downloadables? People were happy with Divx and Xvid ten years ago, but not many like them today because of their relatively low quality compared with DVDs, Blu-ray or even h.264 conversions. Will you be as happy with today's downloads in ten years, or will you be willing to buy them all over again in another downloadable format?
post #72 of 81
Quote:
Originally Posted by gctwnl View Post

I would advise you to read the work of biophysics scientist William Bialek on the working of the human auditive system. For one: the ear is able to register sound around 25dB under noise levels. Microphones may not be able to, but the human ear can.

And the human brain is able to filter irrelevant sound pretty accurately. The result is, that though humans may not be able to quantify what they hear, they can hear the difference very well. This is one of the reasons that vinyl is still being sold.

Often one hears that vinyl aficionados are just posers. I am then reminded about people complaining that Apple is all marketing and not actually often a superior user experience.

Well if a microphones can't, then it cant be recoded in the first place so you don't need the capability in the reproduction system

I know about the extent of the dynamic range of human hearing. 16 bits gives you a dynamic range of 96db What is the signal to noise ratio of a decent power amp? About 100 db. So what's the point of having 24 bits, giving a theoretical dynamic range of 144 db? You can't reproduce a sound that is quieter than the noise floor of your system. With nothing playing on my system I can hear a faint hiss, it can't go quieter than that.

The average home has a background noise level of about 50 db, the ambient noise floor if you like. So 50+96 gives 136 db peak volume while still allowing the quietest sound in the recording to be reproduced. But that is 16db over the pain threshold of 120db, so 96 db is plenty. If you had a listening room that was constructed like a professional sound recording studio with a background noise level of 20 db, 96db is still good enough for a peak spl of 116 db. How loud is that? between the sound of a pneumatic riveter at 1m and a chainsaw at 1m.

16 bits is enough, 24 is beyond overkill.

The brains ability to filter is a function of a signal processing ability and is a red herring with regard to bit depth and sampling frequency.
post #73 of 81
Quote:
Originally Posted by cnocbui View Post

Well if a microphones can't, then it cant be recoded in the first place so you don't need the capability in the reproduction system

I know about the extent of the dynamic range of human hearing. 16 bits gives you a dynamic range of 96db What is the signal to noise ratio of a decent power amp? About 100 db. So what's the point of having 24 bits, giving a theoretical dynamic range of 144 db? You can't reproduce a sound that is quieter than the noise floor of your system. With nothing playing on my system I can hear a faint hiss, it can't go quieter than that.

The average home has a background noise level of about 50 db, the ambient noise floor if you like. So 50+96 gives 136 db peak volume while still allowing the quietest sound in the recording to be reproduced. But that is 16db over the pain threshold of 120db, so 96 db is plenty. If you had a listening room that was constructed like a professional sound recording studio with a background noise level of 20 db, 96db is still good enough for a peak spl of 116 db. How loud is that? between the sound of a pneumatic riveter at 1m and a chainsaw at 1m.

16 bits is enough, 24 is beyond overkill.

The brains ability to filter is a function of a signal processing ability and is a red herring with regard to bit depth and sampling frequency.

The dynamic range from ordinary CDs is limited. The range comes in two versions, one is the absolute range, that is the energy difference between the smallest signal and the largest. The smallest signal level is often the noise level, that is, the sound you get just before a music track starts. The absolute dynamic range is therefore in effect equivalent to the signal-to-noise ratio. The other one is the relative range, that is the difference between the largest and the average energy. This is probably more important, as some records are engineered to make as much volume as possible because hat will make them heard more in public places than average tunes and thus more succesful in the marketplace. To get this effect, the volume is pumped up. As a result, the maxima (the spikes in the music volume) have not enough power left to be played fully. As a result the sound is loud, but compressed. The sound is `dull' and `dead' if there is unsuf cient dynamic range to create a true playback. The small relative range means that the full theoretical range of a medium is simply not used, so we concentrate here on optimal recordings and thus the absolute dynamic range, the difference between maximum signal power and minimum signal power.

It is common knowledge that CDs have a lower noise level than vinyl LPs. But the situation is not that bad for vinyl. In reality, noise from a vinyl record is concentrated in the lower frequencies (say, below 500Hz) and in the rest of the spectrum, the noise levels of vinyl analog LPs are comparable to CDs.

But the story does not end here. Because, surprisingly for many, the ear functions far better than our best technology. Unlike microphones, the ear is able to detect signals of a size far less than the noise level, signals with a power of 20-25dB below noise level. 25dB equals 2.5B, equals 10 to the power of −2.5, hence -25dB less power means 316 times less power. As signal power is related to the square of the signal level, 25dB less therefore means a signal that is 17 times smaller than the noise it is embedded in, is detectable by the human ear. The ear is capable of this feat because - as research has shown - it is in effect not one single sound measurement device, but thousands and thousands in parallel, all tuned to a specific frequency and all with active reduction of noise. That has two possible effects on experienced sound quality.

One is that the first 20dB (90%) of noise are far less relevant. They do not obstruct listening to the sound. They might bother you psychologically, but most people are able to mentally switch them off, in the same way they can switch off the noise of a crowded and noisy bar when talking to someone. We listen not just with our ears, but with our brains as well and our brains are champions of finding relevance out of noise. Hence, it is not a red herring, as it allows us to ignore noise that is far louder than the actual signal. And that is the essence, we can listen inside noise, so noise levels are less relevant than they seem.

The other is that you will experience more distortions generated by the DAC-process. After all, the smaller the signal, the less level-steps are available for the DAC to turn the result into the smooth harmonics nice sound has. The theoretical highest signal level on a CD is 65536 times (16 bits, or 2^16) higher than the lowest. That results in 65536 × 65536 (or 2^32) in terms of signal power or 10 × log (2^32 ) or 222dB. But the DAC needs a certain minimum of level-steps to be able to produce smooth analog results out of discrete digital steps. Suppose it requires at least 9 levels to produce a fair smooth analog signal, the lowest signal level is 9 bits and the highest level is still 16 bits. The actual theoretical dynamic range is then indeed around 97dB.

URL on the human ear:http://www.princeton.edu/~wbialek/ou.../bialek_87.pdf

I was wrong saying that microphones cannot register this, they can.
post #74 of 81
I don't see the bearing this has on the argument for 24 bit vs 16 bit.

The biggest limiting factors are noise in the playback systems and noise in the playback environment.

You did bring up an excellent point in terms of the loudness war and modern recording practices. passages of quiet requiring even 16 bit depth are very few and far between.

The noise levels of vinyl are not close to CD's in practical use. I should know, I spent a couple decades zapping the wretched things with negative ions, wiping their convoluted arses with carbon fibre brushes and laying down strips of sellotape and pealing it off in order to get a still quite noisy playback. A process that could easily take 3 minutes a side for an LP.

Don't try and sell me on the magic of vinyl - been there, done that and don't ever want to do it again.



Quote:
The dynamic range of vinyl, when evaluated as a the ratio of a peak sinusoudal amplitude to the peak noise density at that sine wave frequency, is somewhere around 80db. Under theoretically ideal conditions, this could perhaps improve to 120db. The dynamic range of CDs, when evaluated on a frequency-dependent basis and performed with proper dithering and oversampling, is somewhere around 150db. Under no legitimate circumstances will the dynamic range of vinyl ever exceed the dynamic range of CD, under any frequency, given the wide performance gap and the physical limitations of vinyl playback.

http://wiki.hydrogenaudio.org/index....le_frequencies
post #75 of 81
Quote:
Originally Posted by gctwnl View Post


The other is that you will experience more distortions generated by the DAC-process. After all, the smaller the signal, the less level-steps are available for the DAC to turn the result into the smooth harmonics nice sound has. The theoretical highest signal level on a CD is 65536 times (16 bits, or 2^16) higher than the lowest. That results in 65536 × 65536 (or 2^32) in terms of signal power or 10 × log (2^32 ) or 222dB. But the DAC needs a certain minimum of level-steps to be able to produce smooth analog systems out of discrete digital steps. Suppose it requires at least 9 levels to produce a fair smooth analog signal, the lowest signal level is 9 bits and the highest level is still 16 bits. The actual theoretical dynamic range is then indeed around 97dB.

.

Wow - the idea that 16 bit PCM audio doesn't use the lowest 8 bits of a sample is certainly a new one on me - that would make it 8 bit! To avoid repetition of much of what has gone before, I'd advise looking in your favourite online encyclopaedia for the explanation of the digital dynamic range formula (1.76+6.02Q) to see where the 96dB result for 16bits comes from.
post #76 of 81
Quote:
Originally Posted by vinylnut22 View Post

Wow - the idea that 16 bit PCM audio doesn't use the lowest 8 bits of a sample is certainly a new one on me - that would make it 8 bit! To avoid repetition of much of what has gone before, I'd advise looking in your favourite online encyclopaedia for the explanation of the digital dynamic range formula (1.76+6.02Q) to see where the 96dB result for 16bits comes from.

I never said it wasn't used. I said it was needed for a certain level of smoothness of the output signal.

I tried to make a simple calculation to illustrate that if some of the information is needed because sound is sinus and not block, then the rest can be used for dynamic range. The result of this informal calculation is the same as you get from the formal calculation of digitization error (which, btw is formally about analog-to-digital more than digital-to-analog. I agree my calculation is not formally correct for digitization error, but it is easier to understand the effect that you do not get full digital range turned into full analog range.

But you are quite right: the formal formulas differ and it is good to read up on them.

The online encyclopedia entry you point to also mentions that the thermal noise (of the analog components) is often the equivalent of the first 3 low significant bits and they substract those bits from the dynamic range. But inside that noise there is stochastic resonance that the human auditory system might be able to pick up.

(To be perfectly honest: I knew the dynamic range was around 96dB and the "suppose we need 9 bits for smoothness" is calculated backwards from that
post #77 of 81
Quote:
Originally Posted by bluevoid View Post

Utter nonsense... Thankfully you're not a music producer. A sampling rate has nothing to do with the frequency limitations of human hearing.

Thankfully you are not Shannon of Nyquist. Hopefully your recording engineers are better informed. Not audioengr, as he/she doesn't even understand that ALAC and FLAC truly are lossless and not lossy.

I guess it must have been a pure coincidence that the sampling rate of 44.1 khz is the rate the engineers who came up with the CD standard chose and that it just happens to be the minimum required to reproduce the range of frequencies audible to humans.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Samplin..._processing%29

Quote:
Sampling rate

When it is necessary to capture audio covering the entire 2020,000 Hz range of human hearing, such as when recording music or many types of acoustic events, audio waveforms are typically sampled at 44.1 kHz (CD), 48 kHz (professional audio), or 96 kHz. The approximately double-rate requirement is a consequence of the Nyquist theorem.

There has been an industry trend towards sampling rates well beyond the basic requirements; 96 kHz and even 192 kHz are available.[1] This is in contrast with laboratory experiments, which have failed to show that ultrasonic frequencies are audible to human observers; however in some cases ultrasonic sounds do interact with and modulate the audible part of the frequency spectrum (intermodulation distortion). It is noteworthy that intermodulation distortion is not present in the live audio and so it represents an artificial coloration to the live sound.[2]

One advantage of higher sampling rates is that they can relax the low-pass filter design requirements for ADCs and DACs, but with modern oversampling sigma-delta converters this advantage is less important.

And from the very same link you provided, perhaps you should read them first?:

Quote:
The full range of human hearing is between 20 Hz and 20 kHz.[3] The minimum sampling rate that satisfies the sampling theorem for this full bandwidth is 40 kHz. The 44.1 kHz sampling rate used for Compact disc was chosen for this and other technical reasons.
post #78 of 81
Quote:
Originally Posted by Shrike View Post

If Apple offers lossless audio in iTunes ...

if and when that happens, i may actually begin purchasing music from iTunes.
post #79 of 81
Quote:
Originally Posted by EDMStitchy View Post

Blu-Ray is dead tech, The DVD format has proved this ...

this topic has been beaten to death over in an expired thread that once lived in http://forums.appleinsider.com/forumdisplay.php?f=3 suffice to say, there is no consensus that Blu-ray is a dead format; it persists and will continue to do so for years to come.
post #80 of 81
I stumbled upon this thread and I thought I would get some opinions. I do not have that much experience with this topic, so please hang with me. I recently found out about dvd-audio discs because my car has a dvd-a player and it came with a sample disc. After listening to the sample disc, I was somewhat blown away by the quality. I personally thought it produced a better sound than my ipod. I usually purchased my music off of itunes.

I later found out that this format is pretty much gone and if you want one, you have to spend an arm and a leg to get a disc. So when I saw this cnn article and this thread I thought I would find out whether the 24 bit would produce a similar sound to dvd-audio. I am assuming the quality is not the same due to the fact that most dvd-a discs have 5.1 surround capabilities. Is it possible for a digital format (FLAC or AIFF, etc.) to have surround capabilities? I thought I would see if anyone knew how these two compare to each other.

Thanks for any info.
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