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Rumor: Apple to offer hi-res 24-bit tracks on iTunes in coming months - Page 3

post #81 of 155
Quote:
Originally Posted by drblank View Post
 

All I know is that if the original recordings were done in analog and they were transferred to 24 Bit (AIFF), I've compared plenty to 16 bit Redbook, AIFF and ACC files and 24 bit kicked the living crap out of everything else.  It wasn't even a contest.  But what do I know, I'm just listening to it and even on a decent stereo, nothing super fancy.   It's OBVIOUSLY better.  Better bass definition, better ability to hear subtleties of the original recording, much better clarity, etc. etc.  Everything you want.  Obviously, there are a lot of recordings that were done originally in 16 Bit digital and there isn't much they can do to improve it that.


I did read that several top mastering engineers thought Mastered For iTunes is totally acceptable and there really isn't much of a difference in that and lossless.  They newer software is better than the original process. 

 

I've done some listening tests between the newer 16 bit AAC (Mastered for iTunes) and Redbook 16 bit ripped to AIFF and I couldn't hear any noticeable difference.  But when you get into 24 bit vs 16 bit, they are typically very noticeable.  I talked to and read interviews of top mastering engineers that do mastering of HD Tracks and they have mentioned they have updated their converters to what they used to use and they much better s/n ratio, dynamic range, etc. so the converters are getting far better than they used to use.  I know there were a few bad recordings that got onto HD Tracks in the beginning, but I think they pulled those.  But everything I've downloaded is far better than 16 Bit where I ripped a CD to my mac to AIFF.   But I'm talking in generalities. Yeah, I'm sure if the mastering studio had a crappy 24 bit converter compared to a high end 16 Bit converter, but that generally does't happen.  A lot of earlier 16 Bit CDs really sucked.  I mean they were horrific and sometimes they remastered them using better converters and they sounded better, but I have yet to hear a 24 bit recording that isn't better than 16 bit from HD Tracks.  I'm sure there are some that are out there, but I haven't heard it yet. I have about 20 recordings from them so far and a growing collection from B&W's site.   The biggest problem is digital recordings originally done in 16 bit.  They can't do much with those.  

 

I just do the listening test on my system, if there is a difference and it's noticeable then it's noticeable, if it's not then it's not.  For every single 24 bit download I've done so far from HD Tracks, i heard a VERY noticeable difference than a AIFF from CD.  And the different was night and day.  Once I download the 24 bit version and it's that much better, then I just delete the old or just keep for listening to on my iPad or iPhone since they only do 16 bit.  But for my computer based stereo?  24 bit is the way to go.  go listen to Santana Abraxis. much better than 16 bit lossless.

 

And again, you're ascribing a lot of importance to 24-bit, when you have no basis of comparison other than CDs that were likely mastered under completely different conditions. A remastered CD can produce the exact same results that you describe. Lower frequencies depend the least on high resolution, so any differences you observe with bass performance can almost assuredly originate with differences in EQ or other processing used in the mastering.

 

The true basis of comparison is when you can find a CD and high res track that were transferred at the same time or under very similar conditions. I've done those comparisons and it's not a "night and day" difference. Yes, I have observed differences when doing these comparisons, but they pale by comparison with the mastering and other post production steps. 

post #82 of 155
Quote:
Originally Posted by Woochifer View Post
 

Quote:

Unless you can verify that the CD and the 24-bit tracks were transferred under comparable conditions, you cannot assert that any differences you observe are due more to the resolution than differences in the settings, levels, etc. used during the mastering process. In my experience, when the CD and high res tracks are mastered under the same conditions, the differences are not "VERY" noticeable.  If anything, my A-B listenings illustrate just how far general mastering practices have strayed away from the CD format's optimal capabilities.

You are asking the impossible.  Most of the 16 bit CDs that have been on the market were done years ago compared to the newer 24 Bit masters, so you asking for something that's almost impossible to verify.  the only comparison I can do is listen to a 16 Bit CD vs a 24 Bit version on the same stereo side by side at the same volume level.  If it's noticeable, then it's noticeable and every one I've compared so far has been noticeably better sounding.  Most of the time it's DRASTICALLY better sounding.   Some of the recordings I can hear the buzz coming from the guitar amps in the faint background right before a song starts. They aren't using hardly any compression. I asked one of the mastering engineers that has done HD Tracks and he told me his process.  He said there was very little, if any compression used, almost no eq, he was very careful as to not tarnish the transfer.  Bob Ludwig also has been interviewed as he did the entire  Rolling Stones 24 Bit remasters.  A lot of these mastering studios have been upgrading the converters with much better dynamic range, S/N ratios, etc. etc.  But I look at the final end result from a consumer's standpoint.  Does the 24 bit AIFF sound better than a 16 AIFF from CD?  If so that's all I need to compare and the differences I've heard is so noticeable from the first couple of seconds.  Some blew me away at how much better they sound. Cymbals aren't harsh and distorted, transients are much clearer, it's like a whole new experience.  Obviously, how much better will sometimes depend on how good your DAC, speakers, amps, etc. are, but my current system I've been listening on for the past 6 months is nothing special.  Just a decent DAC running through Shift A2's with decent RCA interconnect cables and this is in my bedroom/office.  I also listen to recordings in the 80 dB to 90dB range with peaks at around 95dB on occasion.  Some of the 16 bit recordings sound horrible when played at the higher volume levels whereas the 24 bit don't.  But I generally don't crank my system up, most of the time it's hovering around 78 to 85dB, which is normal listening levels.  

post #83 of 155
Quote:
Originally Posted by Woochifer View Post
 

 

And again, you're ascribing a lot of importance to 24-bit, when you have no basis of comparison other than CDs that were likely mastered under completely different conditions. A remastered CD can produce the exact same results that you describe. Lower frequencies depend the least on high resolution, so any differences you observe with bass performance can almost assuredly originate with differences in EQ or other processing used in the mastering.

 

The true basis of comparison is when you can find a CD and high res track that were transferred at the same time or under very similar conditions. I've done those comparisons and it's not a "night and day" difference. Yes, I have observed differences when doing these comparisons, but they pale by comparison with the mastering and other post production steps. 

That's all I CAN compare.  I'm not in the mastering studio sitting right next to the mastering engineer.  I'm looking at this from a consumer level.  What I have is what i have, I can't get anything other than what I have unless I am in the studio with the original masters.  Seriously, I have CDs that I purchased, I convert them to AIFF on my computer, I download the 24 Bit version from HD Tracks and sit and listen AB each track and each track sounds better with 24 bit than 16 bit both using AIFF.  What more can I even do?  NOTHING. That's all that's available other than various MP3's, etc.  So again, you are asking for the impossible scenario.


Both recordings were taken from the original analog tapes on different occasions sometimes using different mastering studios, engineers, equipment, and they engineers have only whatever notes that were left behind.  Not much else I can say other than I hear what I hear and they are noticeable. Every single time.

post #84 of 155
Quote:
Originally Posted by Woochifer View Post
 

 

And again, you're ascribing a lot of importance to 24-bit, when you have no basis of comparison other than CDs that were likely mastered under completely different conditions. A remastered CD can produce the exact same results that you describe. Lower frequencies depend the least on high resolution, so any differences you observe with bass performance can almost assuredly originate with differences in EQ or other processing used in the mastering.

 

The true basis of comparison is when you can find a CD and high res track that were transferred at the same time or under very similar conditions. I've done those comparisons and it's not a "night and day" difference. Yes, I have observed differences when doing these comparisons, but they pale by comparison with the mastering and other post production steps. 

Let me ask you a couple of questions.

 

1. Are you trying to compare in a studio environment just the difference between 16 bit and 24 bit with everything else the same? 

2.  If so, what speakers are you using?

3.  What AD and DA converters are you using?

4.  What other equipment that you are routing everything through are you using?

 

Why do I ask?  The reason is that some equipment limits what you can hear and you might have some equipment that's not allowing you to hear any differences.  I've seen studios (even famous ones) use something in the food chain that masks those results. poor monitor speakers, converters that aren't really that great (even though they think they are), not using a good master clock, etc.  Heck, just the monitor speakers alone can be enough to mess up anything in a comparison test.  Some of the most popular studio monitors (Yamaha NS-10's specifically) are horrific monitors and the only reason people started to use those was because they were crappy speakers.  But some people think they are flat, colorless and top quality reference monitors, which couldn't be further from the truth. Those speakers are probably the worst single piece of gear a studio could ever have in their studio.  A lot of engineers are waking up to this fact, unfortunately they've been used for 20+ years and they've already been involved on tracking and mixing of a lot of pop recordings and they are just awful speakers.

post #85 of 155
Quote:
Originally Posted by drblank View Post
 

Both recordings were taken from the original analog tapes on different occasions sometimes using different mastering studios, engineers, equipment, and they engineers have only whatever notes that were left behind.  Not much else I can say other than I hear what I hear and they are noticeable. Every single time.

 

  That's the critical aspect to comparing audio formats.  If they aren't two formats from the exact same mastering session, going through the same hardware and/or software, identical except for the format difference then they will sound different anyway.

 

  And "remastered" 24 bit files are guaranteed to sound different from the 10 year old CD version, but it's not due to the difference between 16 and 24 bits as a delivered playback.  Even if it's not actually remastered but simply transferred from the same mastered analog tapes it will sound different. 

post #86 of 155
Quote:
Originally Posted by jlandd View Post
 

 

  That's the critical aspect to comparing audio formats.  If they aren't two formats from the exact same mastering session, going through the same hardware and/or software, identical except for the format difference then they will sound different anyway.

 

  And "remastered" 24 bit files are guaranteed to sound different from the 10 year old CD version, but it's not due to the difference between 16 and 24 bits as a delivered playback.  Even if it's not actually remastered but simply transferred from the same mastered analog tapes it will sound different. 

Most CDs, not all, have various levels of compression on them.  A lot of these HD Tracks that I have, I don't hear much if any compression being used.  That alone will make a HUGE difference, but we can't go back and have them remaster the 16 bit without compression. One thing I have been noticing is that most of the top studios that are doing a lot of the mastering of things I own have been going through drastic upgrades of equipment.  Most top studios have replaced their converters within the last 2 to 5 year with super nice converters compared to what they used 20 years ago.  Some studios have completely changed their cabling going from run in the mill Mogami cabling to super expensive cabling, new monitors, even redoing the room acoustics to their control room.   So, I highly doubt there is a single studio that's in use that hasn't done some form of upgrade to their equipment within the last 20+ years since they spit out the original CD.   Yeah, I've heard remasters recently and over the course of the last decade or so that didn't sound much different and some that did sound drastically different and these were all 16 bit Redbook CDs.  It all depends on what label, what mastering studio/engineer, etc.  But I personally have found a lot of 16 bit remasters to actually be better, but I have heard some that sucked, but they were on more cheesy labels. But the majors like Sony, and other larger or more reputable labels seem to be doing a better job even with remastering 16 bit.  But with the 24 bit, I'm noticing much less, if any, compression, which makes a HUGE difference to me.  I hate audio compression, which is common on more pop/commercial recordings than they are on classical and acoustic jazz recordings from the 60's and early 70's.

post #87 of 155
Quote:
Originally Posted by Woochifer View Post
 
Yes, I have observed differences when doing these comparisons

 

What difference have you heard? What difference could there be? The only thing those extra bits do is push the noise floor down another 48 dB or so. When it's already at least 30 dB below audiblity at 16 bits (without even considering masking!), how will making the noise "more inaudible" make any difference to what you hear?

 

I contend that similarly transferred source material should sound identical at 16 and 24 bit unless the level is very low.

Lorin Schultz (formerly V5V)

Audio Engineer

V5V Digital Media, Vancouver, BC Canada

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Lorin Schultz (formerly V5V)

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V5V Digital Media, Vancouver, BC Canada

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post #88 of 155
Quote:
Originally Posted by drblank View Post
 

You are asking the impossible.  Most of the 16 bit CDs that have been on the market were done years ago compared to the newer 24 Bit masters, so you asking for something that's almost impossible to verify

 

Yet you claimed the difference was in the word length. See the problem here?

 

Quote:
Originally Posted by drblank View Post

 

Some of the recordings I can hear the buzz coming from the guitar amps in the faint background right before a song starts. They aren't using hardly any compression

 

So it's very obviously a very different product than the CD, yet you state that the difference must be the extra bits. Do you honestly not see the painfully flawed reasoning there?

Lorin Schultz (formerly V5V)

Audio Engineer

V5V Digital Media, Vancouver, BC Canada

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Lorin Schultz (formerly V5V)

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post #89 of 155
Quote:
Originally Posted by jlandd View Post
 

 

  That's the critical aspect to comparing audio formats.  If they aren't two formats from the exact same mastering session, going through the same hardware and/or software, identical except for the format difference then they will sound different anyway.

 

  And "remastered" 24 bit files are guaranteed to sound different from the 10 year old CD version, but it's not due to the difference between 16 and 24 bits as a delivered playback.  Even if it's not actually remastered but simply transferred from the same mastered analog tapes it will sound different. 

I don't know if you can make the statement that 16 bit and 24 bit are equal.  It all depends on the converters. Some aren't that much different between different bit levels, some are.  So, i don't like those kinds of generalities. But if the converter is designed properly, clocked properly, etc. etc. 24 bit will generally sound better, but again, the converters have a LOT to do with it.  Converters have been getting MUCH better and it's not just the conversion, it's better clocking, better noise isolation, better power supplies, input and output stages.   So, it's hard to really make a generality when it comes to conversion.  These engineers know a LOT more know about conversion than they did 20+ years ago.  In fact, one of the first designers of one of the first mastering converters said publicly that he changed his attitude towards 16 bit vs 24 bit.  He first said 16 bit was all we would need and then years later admitted he was wrong.  That person was Bob Stuart of Meridian.  They had one of the first digital converters used in Mastering studios.  He also said initially that 24/96 was all that was needed, now he changed his attitude towards 24/192 and a lot of this has to do with new ways to improve their product designs that there weren't aware of before. Meridian is also the company behind MLP, which is used in DVD-A, and True HD from Dolby, so he kind of knows a little bit about converters and file compression.  He's still up in the air towards DSD vs PCM though.  But there is another camp that swears by DSD over PCM recordings.  Personally, I haven't compared the two, so I can't comment on that.

post #90 of 155
Quote:
Originally Posted by Lorin Schultz View Post
 

 

Yet you claimed the difference was in the word length. See the problem here?

 

 

So it's very obviously a very different product than the CD, yet you state that the difference must be the extra bits. Do you honestly not see the painful flaw of reasoning there?

No, I didn't even mention word length.  I think you misinterpreted what I said.

 

No, I never said extra bits.  But if you want to go down that road, then we have to sit in a studio with the highest quality converters, monitoring studio and do our own comparisons, but I've read many articles by various experts over the years and some of them came forward after their initial thoughts and changed their mind between 16 bit and 24 bit.   Who currently that designs converters says that there is no difference between 16 bit and 24 bit?   Several years ago I asked an engineer at Dolby labs if they could even hear any difference between 24/96 and 24/192 as 24/192 was more talk at the time and he indicated that they could hear the difference in listening tests and this was right around when True HD was about to get released.  But the problem was a lot of engineers didn't want to get converters and work with bigger file sizes when doing large multitrack recordings for audio and movie soundtracks, which is why most movies only go to 24/96.  

post #91 of 155
Quote:
Originally Posted by drblank View Post
 
if the converter is designed properly, clocked properly, etc. etc. 24 bit will generally sound better

 

Well, all I can say is that Nyquist and Shannon disagree with you. There are arguments for using longer words during production, but as a delivery format, unless the level is very low, all else being equal there will be NO difference between 16 and 24 bit versions at all. None. Period.

Lorin Schultz (formerly V5V)

Audio Engineer

V5V Digital Media, Vancouver, BC Canada

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Lorin Schultz (formerly V5V)

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V5V Digital Media, Vancouver, BC Canada

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post #92 of 155
Quote:
Originally Posted by drblank View Post
 
In fact, one of the first designers of one of the first mastering converters said publicly that he changed his attitude towards 16 bit vs 24 bit.  He first said 16 bit was all we would need and then years later admitted he was wrong.  That person was Bob Stuart of Meridian.  They had one of the first digital converters used in Mastering studios.  He also said initially that 24/96 was all that was needed, now he changed his attitude towards 24/192 and a lot of this has to do with new ways to improve their product designs that there weren't aware of before.

 

Please forgive my skepticism, but I consider such statements at least suspect and perhaps completely disingenuous. All that story says to me is that a vendor of Mastering products, a very small market, discovered after reaching market saturation that "changing his mind" created a reason for all of his clients to buy new equipment from him.

Lorin Schultz (formerly V5V)

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V5V Digital Media, Vancouver, BC Canada

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post #93 of 155
Quote:
Originally Posted by Lorin Schultz View Post
 

 

Please forgive my skepticism, but I consider such statements at least suspect and perhaps completely disingenuous. All that story says to me is that a vendor of Mastering products, a very small market, discovered after reaching market saturation that "changing his mind" created a reason for all of his clients to buy new equipment from him.

I think you guys need to go to a forum that has experts on hand to answer your questions regarding 16 bit vs 24 bit in terms of recording and playback systems.  I think it's better to figure out what equipment you are going to compare as well, because there are top end converters and low end converters with completely different specs and differences, so what applies to one might not apply to another.

 

There are plenty of forums that you can discuss this that have actual top recording engineers and maybe actual engineers that design the actual product on hand to clarify all of the differences.  But I strongly urge you to discuss specific equipment because not all 16 bit and 24 bit converters are the same.  I did recently read an article at Sound On Sound that discussed some aspects but it was a 4 year old article.

Here's a link to it.  http://www.soundonsound.com/sos/jun08/articles/qa0608_2.htm

post #94 of 155
Quote:
Originally Posted by Haggar View Post
 

Instead of comparing the quality of recordings with other recordings, shouldn't the real comparison be with the actual performance of the music that is being recorded?

Absolutely not.   Live performance and recorded performance are completely different art forms.   With the possible exception of some classical recordings, and frequently not even then, there is no attempt to replicate the sound of a live performance in a recording.    Effects, double-tracking, level compression, panning and countless other tools are used to create a recording.   Think of the Beatles.   One of the reasons they stopped touring is because they couldn't perform live what they were creating in the studio (although the technology is there to to be able to do it today and groups like the Fab Faux do an amazing job of replicating those recordings live).  
 

If anything, the opposite is true.   Live sound attempts to replicate the sound of the recording.  Go to any Broadway show.  The mix is so perfectly balanced, it sounds like a recording, not like live instruments.  But in order to accomplish that, they have to drive the levels way up.

post #95 of 155
Quote:
Originally Posted by Lorin Schultz View Post
 

 

Yet you claimed the difference was in the word length. See the problem here?

 

 

So it's very obviously a very different product than the CD, yet you state that the difference must be the extra bits. Do you honestly not see I didn't mention specifics as to why, it could be 5 different reasons as to why, word length could be only one reason.  the painfully flawed reasoning there?

 

I didn't mention specifics as to why, it could be 5 different reasons as to why, word length could be only one reason.  

 

It could be the converters are better, no compression, 24 bit being better than 16 bit, better cables used throughout the chain, better computer hardware, better mastering software, etc. etc.  There are a variety of reasons WHY, but I never specifically said what the ONLY reason was.  You are putting words in my mouth.  See the flawed reasoning on your part here?

 

OK, here it goes.  I'll be EXTREMELY specific.    24 bit is better than 16 bit with everything else equal.  PERIOD.  Show me a RECENT article written by a expert in A/D and D/A converters that disagrees with that statement.

post #96 of 155
Quote:
Originally Posted by Lorin Schultz View Post
 

 

Yet you claimed the difference was in the word length. See the problem here?

 

 

So it's very obviously a very different product than the CD, yet you state that the difference must be the extra bits. Do you honestly not see the painfully flawed reasoning there?

 

No, I never said anything as to the reasoning behind it.  I only mentioned one was 16 bit and one was 24 bit to give a distinction on the different versions.  If I was going to list the actual reasons why, then I would have stated it specifically. But 24 bit is better than 16 bit.  Whether you have a good enough system to hear the differences, or hearing abilities that can differentiate the differences, then that's another topic of discussion.

 

Have you heard a DTS Master soundtrack vs a Dolby Digital Soundtrack?  One is 24 bit and one is 16 bit.  Obviously, there other differences, but these newer BluRay versions with 24/96 soundtracks are FAR better than the previous 16 bit sound tracks.  Hopefully they didn't have complete idiots running the board when they did the mastering.  But I'm sure there are plenty of other considerations as to the improvement of sound quality beyond just 16 bit vs 24 bit by itself.

post #97 of 155

If Apple does release 24-bit audio that is equivalent of the 24-bit 96 KHz sampling rate audio encoding used on Dolby True HD and DTS-HD Master Audio sound tracks used on Blu-ray disc, I'm all for it. :)

 

Here's the reason why: it means vastly clearer treble frequency sounds. The biggest shortcoming of the current Compact Disc format, which uses 16-bit 44.1 KHz sampling rate audio encoding, is the fact when it tries to playback the sound of cymbals, a flute or piccolo or the higher octave notes on a piano, the sound quality can be unpleasantly harsh, even on HDCD mastered Compact Discs. With 24-bit 96 KHz sampling rate, higher frequencies are encoded far more faithfully, and that means cymbals, violins, flutes and piccolos actually sound natural with just about no harshness in sound. 

 

In short, the biggest beneficiaries would be a real symphonic orchestra or a jazz band--the string section actually sounds like a string section, and the various instruments of a jazz band actually sound good.

post #98 of 155

Improvements in recording technologies primarily benefit styles that feature a wide sonic range. By definition, that is classical music and to a lesser degree jazz.

 

If you listen to contemporary music (rock, pop, rap, country, whatever), the benefits are nearly non-existent. 

post #99 of 155
Quote:
Originally Posted by drblank View Post
 
Show me a RECENT article written by a expert in A/D and D/A converters that disagrees with that statement.

 

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nyquist%E2%80%93Shannon_sampling_theorem

Lorin Schultz (formerly V5V)

Audio Engineer

V5V Digital Media, Vancouver, BC Canada

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post #100 of 155
Quote:
Originally Posted by Sacto7254 View Post
 

With 24-bit 96 KHz sampling rate, higher frequencies are encoded far more faithfully

 

To be clear, increasing the sample rate has one and only one effect: It extends the highest frequency the system can record. It does NOT, contrary to some opinions, make any difference whatsoever to lower frequencies. It's not a "resolution enhancer." Increasing the sample rate does not magically make stuff at 5 KHz sound better, or even any different at all.

Lorin Schultz (formerly V5V)

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V5V Digital Media, Vancouver, BC Canada

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post #101 of 155
Quote:

I think i was talking word length between 16 bit and 24 bit, not sample rate.

post #102 of 155
Quote:
Originally Posted by drblank View Post
 

I don't know if you can make the statement that 16 bit and 24 bit are equal.  

 

I didn't imply that. You've misinterpreted something.  I said that when you're only dealing with levels in the upper part of the range there is no advantage to 24 bit, especially as a delivery to consumer medium, because the extra bits only come into play in the lower realm of the range.  A/D or D/A it doesn't matter.  If the signal never drops to the range where it makes a difference then there's no advantage to it.  More bits, as a format, is all about increased headroom and less grit at the lower end of the meter and nothing else.  Once a song has had the transients knocked off (decreasing the dynamic range) and raised to the complete top of the meter, as is done in literally nearly all mastering (even when not overly compressed) the song stays in the realm where 16 bits gets all the info that's needed for playback.

 

I'm not saying it's a worthless folly for all music, but for literally 95% of what is released it is.

 

Quote:

Originally Posted by drblank View Post


 It all depends on the converters. Some aren't that much different between different bit levels, some are.  So, i don't like those kinds of generalities. But if the converter is designed properly, clocked properly, etc. etc. 24 bit will generally sound better, but again, the converters have a LOT to do with it.  Converters have been getting MUCH better and it's not just the conversion, it's better clocking, better noise isolation, better power supplies, input and output stages.   So, it's hard to really make a generality when it comes to conversion.  These engineers know a LOT more know about conversion than they did 20+ years ago.  In fact, one of the first designers of one of the first mastering converters said publicly that he changed his attitude towards 16 bit vs 24 bit.  He first said 16 bit was all we would need and then years later admitted he was wrong.  That person was Bob Stuart of Meridian.  They had one of the first digital converters used in Mastering studios.  He also said initially that 24/96 was all that was needed, now he changed his attitude towards 24/192 and a lot of this has to do with new ways to improve their product designs that there weren't aware of before. Meridian is also the company behind MLP, which is used in DVD-A, and True HD from Dolby, so he kind of knows a little bit about converters and file compression.  He's still up in the air towards DSD vs PCM though.  But there is another camp that swears by DSD over PCM recordings.  Personally, I haven't compared the two, so I can't comment on that.

 

 

This is off the rails now, on to a completely different topic here.   This isn't about converter qualities, clocking, input or output stages or anything else.  That's all irrelevant to the issue, which is solely, technically "Is 24 bits a valid improvement as a delivery medium for commercial music".   You're talking about the value of 24/96-192 bit as a recording format and advances in conversion, which don't apply here.

 

Don't want to come off as harsh or argumentative because that's not it at all.   It's a muddy enough topic when it stays on course  :  )

post #103 of 155
Quote:
Originally Posted by Lorin Schultz View Post
 

 

To be clear, increasing the sample rate has one and only one effect: It extends the highest frequency the system can record. It does NOT, contrary to some opinions, make any difference whatsoever to lower frequencies. It's not a "resolution enhancer." Increasing the sample rate does not magically make stuff at 5 KHz sound better, or even any different at all.

Quality of sound is measured any number of ways and Nyquist's Theorem doesn't explain everything.  Why do different pieces of equipment produce different quality of sound?  top recording studios have done listening tests and they've changed converters when they find something that sounds better than another product they've already used.  So, I don't know how you can use a THEORY to explain how something sounds in REALITY.

 

Have Nyquist give me a call and I'll invite him over to do some listening tests of 16 bit and 24 bit masters that we can purchase today to see if he hears a difference in quality of sound.  And what A/D and D/A converter products that are available on the market today that Nyquist designed and built?  Are his the best sounding out of all converters on the market?

post #104 of 155
Quote:
Originally Posted by Lorin Schultz View Post
 

 

Please forgive my skepticism, but I consider such statements at least suspect and perhaps completely disingenuous. All that story says to me is that a vendor of Mastering products, a very small market, discovered after reaching market saturation that "changing his mind" created a reason for all of his clients to buy new equipment from him.

Bob Stuart is highly regarded by a LOT of engineers in the industry.  Meridian stopped making Mastering converters a LONG time ago and they focus on 2 channel stereo and home theater products on the market. 

 

Well, I guess you only work with clients that only work with 16 bit recordings?  Sounds like you are very bitter about something.  I know studios that don't have lots of money always complain about having to spend more money on upgrading studio equipment and I completely understand that mentality.  It's a pain in the butt to have to spend more money to get a small incremental improvement.   But sometimes things are better.  I was involved with one home studio recording and we went from 16 bit to 24 bit just to see if there was a difference and in the relatively inexpensive converters we were using, it did sound better.  It was noticeable to me and the other person involved. But I didn't have a lot of time to spend on that system, but I've heard improvements in studio recordings when comparing tracks recorded at 24 bit vs 16 bit.  I think we were comparing 16/44 to 24/96 at the time during the tracking process, but this was a number of years ago. I do recall 24/96 was a little better than 16/44 on that particular system and it was just a Digi OO2R setup with Presonus mic pre. It wasn't all that expensive of a system, just a little project studio in a spare bedroom around 11 years ago.

post #105 of 155
Quote:
Originally Posted by mpantone View Post
 

Improvements in recording technologies primarily benefit styles that feature a wide sonic range. By definition, that is classical music and to a lesser degree jazz.

 

If you listen to contemporary music (rock, pop, rap, country, whatever), the benefits are nearly non-existent. 

Well, it all depends on the recording process.  You can get someone playing a pop song with acoustic instruments that's recorded in the same manner as a classical or jazz recording.  But commercial projects usually tend to use a lot more signal processing.  It's not the style of music necessarily as it is the recording, mixing, and mastering techniques used.

 

Blue Coast Records records all of their recordings in the same basic manner regarding of style of music.  They try to capture a natural sound recording of a live performance without processing everything to death.  Their goal is to be able to listen to a live performance where nothing is altered and overdubbed and they record lots of different styles of music so the listener can listen to it as close to being in the room where  the musicians were performing.  It's just a different recording technique, only most recordings that are on the market aren't done that way in the pop/rock/rap world.  Rap music isn't recording acoustic instruments for the most part as they are typically using drum machines or some other form of synthesized instrument or sound effect, so I don't classify it as even music in many ways.   Modern commercial music recordings certainly aren't always done the way they USED to do it.  It's a shame.  They are more pumping out something to sell as quickly as possible to kids that barely know what a REAL piano, etc. sound like. Not much honesty in a lot of recordings these days.

post #106 of 155
Quote:
Originally Posted by jlandd View Post
 

 

I didn't imply that. You've misinterpreted something.  I said that when you're only dealing with levels in the upper part of the range there is no advantage to 24 bit, especially as a delivery to consumer medium, because the extra bits only come into play in the lower realm of the range.  A/D or D/A it doesn't matter.  If the signal never drops to the range where it makes a difference then there's no advantage to it.  More bits, as a format, is all about increased headroom and less grit at the lower end of the meter and nothing else.  Once a song has had the transients knocked off (decreasing the dynamic range) and raised to the complete top of the meter, as is done in literally nearly all mastering (even when not overly compressed) the song stays in the realm where 16 bits gets all the info that's needed for playback.

 

I'm not saying it's a worthless folly for all music, but for literally 95% of what is released it is.

 

 

This is off the rails now, on to a completely different topic here.   This isn't about converter qualities, clocking, input or output stages or anything else.  That's all irrelevant to the issue, which is solely, technically "Is 24 bits a valid improvement as a delivery medium for commercial music".   You're talking about the value of 24/96-192 bit as a recording format and advances in conversion, which don't apply here.

 

Don't want to come off as harsh or argumentative because that's not it at all.   It's a muddy enough topic when it stays on course  :  )

 

If you are only working with simple wave forms like a sine wave, then it doesn't matter, but with music, we are dealing with complex wave forms.   

 

So by your way of thinking ALL 16 bit converters A/D and D/A and all 24 bit converters regardless of sample rate all sound equal with complex wave forms.   oh, ok.  Next time I have a discussion with an engineer that does mastering for HD Tracks, I'll let them know.   I do know of at least one I can email and he responds fairly quickly and he's well respected in the audio recording industry.  So i guess I'll have to break the news to him.

post #107 of 155
Quote:
Originally Posted by SolipsismX View Post

I'm glad to see @winterspan posting. I learned a great deal about cellular connectivity from him back around 2007 and 2008.

Ha, thanks for the mention, @SolipsismX .
You are actually one of the few rationally-minded regulars who I remember around here. Due to a change in employment, I have been less involved with Apple technology and so haven't been real active on the forums. But Apple products still hold a special place in my heart, so I'll be around...

Btw, are you the solipsism on sites like Arstechnica/TheVerge/Anandtech?
post #108 of 155
Quote:
Originally Posted by winterspan View Post

Btw, are you the solipsism on sites like Arstechnica/TheVerge/Anandtech?

I don't recall the last time I posted on Ars but the other two are definitely me. If I'm not mistaken I think I see you post on AnandTech from time to time.

"The real haunted empire?  It's the New York Times." ~SockRolid

"There is no rule that says the best phones must have the largest screen." ~RoundaboutNow

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"The real haunted empire?  It's the New York Times." ~SockRolid

"There is no rule that says the best phones must have the largest screen." ~RoundaboutNow

Reply
post #109 of 155
Quote:
Originally Posted by drblank View Post
 

Why do different pieces of equipment produce different quality of sound?

 

What does this have to do with a discussion of sample rate? A better converter is a better converter, but for reasons that have nothing to do with increasing the sample rate. Obviously better designs have quieter, cleaner analog stages in and out and smoother anti-aliasing filters. Some converters sound better than others, but not because the sample rate fairy raised the upper limit.

 

It's really hard to have a meaningful discussion with you when you keep changing the focus. No one has said all gear sounds the same or that there are no conditions under which one device is better than another. This all began with your comment that 24 bit sounds better than 16 bit, with no basis for that conclusion other than comparisons of dissimilar recordings. Every time someone gives you a glimpse into how digital recording really works you go off on some tangent about which famous engineer ate a bagel in which famous studio.

 

Digital recording is just math, pure and simple. Saying that sampling theory doesn't explain it all is ridiculous because of course it does. There's no magic, no pixie dust, but lots and lots of marketing bullshit. If you wanna believe the crap manufacturers feed you to keep you buying new gear, be my guest. The rest of us will benefit from more critical analysis. By dispelling the misinformation and concentrating on the areas that REALLY result in better sound we can make sure the dollars we spend on upgrades yield actual results, not just meaningless numbers.

Lorin Schultz (formerly V5V)

Audio Engineer

V5V Digital Media, Vancouver, BC Canada

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Lorin Schultz (formerly V5V)

Audio Engineer

V5V Digital Media, Vancouver, BC Canada

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post #110 of 155
Quote:
Originally Posted by Lorin Schultz View Post
 

 

What does this have to do with a discussion of sample rate? A better converter is a better converter, but for reasons that have nothing to do with increasing the sample rate. Obviously better designs have quieter, cleaner analog stages in and out and smoother anti-aliasing filters. Some converters sound better than others, but not because the sample rate fairy raised the upper limit.

 

It's really hard to have a meaningful discussion with you when you keep changing the focus. No one has said all gear sounds the same or that there are no conditions under which one device is better than another. This all began with your comment that 24 bit sounds better than 16 bit, with no basis for that conclusion other than comparisons of dissimilar recordings. Every time someone gives you a glimpse into how digital recording really works you go off on some tangent about which famous engineer ate a bagel in which famous studio.

 

Digital recording is just math, pure and simple. Saying that sampling theory doesn't explain it all is ridiculous because of course it does. There's no magic, no pixie dust, but lots and lots of marketing bullshit. If you wanna believe the crap manufacturers feed you to keep you buying new gear, be my guest. The rest of us will benefit from more critical analysis. By dispelling the misinformation and concentrating on the areas that REALLY result in better sound we can make sure the dollars we spend on upgrades yield actual results, not just meaningless numbers.

So why are there so many different converter chip designs?  There should only be the need for one and it should be perfect. Right?  But why don't you just use the absolute cheapest A/D and D/A converters in all recording and mastering studios?  I would think that any recording studio owner would LOVE to prove that there is absolutely no difference in audio quality between 16 bit and 24 bit on the cheapest converters to the most expensive converters.  How come when Abby Road or Ocean Way, or any other reputable recording studio replaces converters every so often after performing countless measurement and listening tests?  Why is that?  I thought that it's just math that explains it and therefor there is no difference, yet there are reputable recording studio engineers that will claim otherwise.


Have you any reputable recording engineer that will claim there is absolutely no sound difference between 16 bit and 24 bit?  What does Bob Ludwig, George Massenburg, Ken Scott, other any other legendary engineer say about this?  I'm sure they've all have LOTS of experience with a variety of converters over the years in both tracking and mastering production in what we would call pristine listening conditions with people that do have a lot more experience in listening to subtleties from a recording. And why do studios that have unlimited means don't all use the same brand/model for mastering?  I do see some trends in what top recording studio sometimes do when a new product is released that get high praises, but they aren't always used by every top studio all of the time. Some engineers have their favorites. 

 

One thing I was told a LONG time ago about theories.   They usually only exist in a PERFECT world with PERFECT conditions.  However we all know that A/D and D/A converters aren't perfect.  Some are not even CLOSE to being perfect.  That's why I don't just rely on theories to explain something, especially when I can hear a difference and you say the theory says there isn't.  Well, so much for theories.

So in the mean time, I will buy whatever version of content I will buy despite what YOU or Nyquist think is true, when I can plainly hear differently.  Thankfully we can listen to samples of tracks before we buy them to see for ourselves if we hear a difference, and we have other people to rely on to obtain a loaner of something to see for ourselves.    And 24 bit WILL become more prevalent in the consumer marketplace despite what you say or think or what Nyquist's theory says, means, or left out that explains why people can and do hear differences between 16 bit and 24 bit recordings.  Whatever reason WHY they sound different is of NO meaning to me, because I'll probably never really know what all of those differences are since I wasn't in the studio at the time the masters were created.  They don't normally give the consumer full knowledge of every little detail of their mastering process.


Have a nice day and enjoy your theories.  I'll just sit back and enjoy the recordings, like I've been doing, knowing there is a VERY noticeable difference in the recordings I have.

post #111 of 155
Quote:
Originally Posted by mpantone View Post

I sure hope this rumor is true.

The iTunes Store would then be the place to buy classical music.

Well, you can certainly buy 24 bit recordings on a variety of sites currently.  You can get a great deal at Bower's & Wilkins site.  It costs about $100 a year and they post new recordings every month.  They already have a bunch of London Symphony Orchestra recordings posted in 24 bit, 16 bit.   HD Tracks has them as well as a few other sites.


The biggest problem EVERYONE faces is how quickly these record labels can spit out remasters of older analog recordings and the release of new recordings at 24 bit.  So far, there isn't much content, and so far they are far more expensive.


I'm hoping the recording industry gets off their high horse and realizes that if they want 24 bit to become the defacto standard for new recordings and remasters of analog recordings, that they need to simply charge the same amount as a 16 bit version and then people will buy whatever they want to store since some people have different storage abilities.  24 bit files are much larger than 16 bit and some people simply don't want to use up their storage if they really aren't that concerned about sound quality.

 

That's why SACD and DVD-A didn't really take off.  Lack of content and high retail costs prevented mainstream acceptance and I'm hoping Apple can get the current premium pricing model changed to something more affordable for ALL, not just the financially privileged.

post #112 of 155
Quote:
Originally Posted by Lorin Schultz View Post
 

 

What does this have to do with a discussion of sample rate? A better converter is a better converter, but for reasons that have nothing to do with increasing the sample rate. Obviously better designs have quieter, cleaner analog stages in and out and smoother anti-aliasing filters. Some converters sound better than others, but not because the sample rate fairy raised the upper limit.

 

It's really hard to have a meaningful discussion with you when you keep changing the focus. No one has said all gear sounds the same or that there are no conditions under which one device is better than another. This all began with your comment that 24 bit sounds better than 16 bit, with no basis for that conclusion other than comparisons of dissimilar recordings. Every time someone gives you a glimpse into how digital recording really works you go off on some tangent about which famous engineer ate a bagel in which famous studio.

 

Digital recording is just math, pure and simple. Saying that sampling theory doesn't explain it all is ridiculous because of course it does. There's no magic, no pixie dust, but lots and lots of marketing bullshit. If you wanna believe the crap manufacturers feed you to keep you buying new gear, be my guest. The rest of us will benefit from more critical analysis. By dispelling the misinformation and concentrating on the areas that REALLY result in better sound we can make sure the dollars we spend on upgrades yield actual results, not just meaningless numbers.

Here's a little proof that theories aren't always proven to be correct.  What's the speed of sound?  Well, most people that know about sound will tell you it's 1130 Feet Per Second or they'll tell you 340.29 meters per second. Either would probably be correct on an exam.  Or at least they are commonly used numbers.  Some will even shorten it to 340 meters per second because it's close enough.  But the real answer is that it will change due to temperature and even altitude conditions.  So, what is a theoretical speed isn't really REALITY ALL OF THE TIME. But they didn't know about these other conditions when they derived the original THEORY.  Did they?


Just because someone wrote down a bunch of equations, they kind of have to prove it and it has to be repeatable consistently time and time again. So why can't all A/D and D/A converters measure and PROVE the theory repeatable no matter which chips are used, no matter what brand, model and design on the market?  Why is that?  Because Nyquist's theory is simply just a THEORY.   It's not reality. Nyquist didn't know everything about A/D and D/A conversion because he didn't have a variety of different equipment to test using modern day testing methods and equipment which have improved dramatically.  Heck, there is no such thing as a PERFECT resistor, capacitor, cable, etc. where it doesn't fluctuate in it's measurements.  With the most precise test measurement equipment, they can only get the tolerances so good.  So a PERFECT A/D and D/A converter PROBABLY will NEVER exist.  But they are getting pretty close if you have an extra $30K to $100K for a 2 channel DAC.  Yeah, like the masses can afford them.

post #113 of 155
Quote:
Originally Posted by drblank View Post
 

 

If you are only working with simple wave forms like a sine wave, then it doesn't matter, but with music, we are dealing with complex wave forms.   

 

So by your way of thinking ALL 16 bit converters A/D and D/A and all 24 bit converters regardless of sample rate all sound equal with complex wave forms.   oh, ok.  Next time I have a discussion with an engineer that does mastering for HD Tracks, I'll let them know.   I do know of at least one I can email and he responds fairly quickly and he's well respected in the audio recording industry.  So i guess I'll have to break the news to him.

 

  Respectfully, drblank, again you are missing the jist of the issue, and in the process not getting the information right.  I hate adding this in, because it doesn't add much, but I've been making my living as a recording engineer for 30 years and have gone through enough converters and the rest to fill a closet, and I'm well versed in the subject.  It is NOT my contention that "ALL 16 bit converters A/D and D/A and all 24 bit converters regardless of sample rate all sound equal with complex wave forms".  It IS my contention that one gains nothing with file playback at 24 vs 16 if the level never goes below the point at which the 8 bits are used.  You are hung up on the differences between different converters, which is a whole different discussion.  We are not talking about the rest of the filters and signal path involved in getting audio into the digital realm, just what happens once you have the audio and will put in onto a delivery medium.

 

   Again, once the file is done, finished, mastered, 24/192, whatever, doesn't matter.  If the dynamic range is lessened and raised to the limit (in mastering with, say a 64 bit engine) does the output take advantage of the full 24 bits, which are located lower than its floor.  I'd add "in any way that matters to the consumer" but it's not necessary.  That's it.   Please don't bring up how good a $10,000 converter sounds at 24 bit next to a $200 one at 16.   ;  )

 

Best,

 

j

 

The value of inputting at 24 bit is also not relevant to this topic.  No one records at 16 bit anymore (except in certain circumstances).  I certainly haven't since it was available.  Different discussion.

post #114 of 155
Quote:
Originally Posted by jlandd View Post
 

 

  Respectfully, drblank, again you are missing the jist of the issue, and in the process not getting the information right.  I hate adding this in, because it doesn't add much, but I've been making my living as a recording engineer for 30 years and have gone through enough converters and the rest to fill a closet, and I'm well versed in the subject.  It is NOT my contention that "ALL 16 bit converters A/D and D/A and all 24 bit converters regardless of sample rate all sound equal with complex wave forms".  It IS my contention that one gains nothing with file playback at 24 vs 16 if the level never goes below the point at which the 8 bits are used.  You are hung up on the differences between different converters, which is a whole different discussion.  We are not talking about the rest of the filters and signal path involved in getting audio into the digital realm, just what happens once you have the audio and will put in onto a delivery medium.

 

   Again, once the file is done, finished, mastered, 24/192, whatever, doesn't matter.  If the dynamic range is lessened and raised to the limit (in mastering with, say a 64 bit engine) does the output take advantage of the full 24 bits, which are located lower than its floor.  I'd add "in any way that matters to the consumer" but it's not necessary.  That's it.   Please don't bring up how good a $10,000 converter sounds at 24 bit next to a $200 one at 16.   ;  )

 

Best,

 

j

 

The value of inputting at 24 bit is also not relevant to this topic.  No one records at 16 bit anymore (except in certain circumstances).  I certainly haven't since it was available.  Different discussion.

 

The topic is that Apple going to add 24 bit files to iTunes.  I don't think they are going to add 24 bit files that sound identical to the current 16 bit files they currently have. I think the 24 bit files will sound better than their 16 bit counterparts more often than not.  Obviously time will tell, but that's what WE the consumers care about. And what equipment we use is OUR decision.  Personally, I don't have the money to spend (or waste) $10K, $30K or $100K on a D/A converter.  I leave that decision to people that do.  :-)


I just have a growing number of 24 bit recordings that I've compared against 16 bit versions and in every case the 24 bit sounds better.  noticeably better.  What and how they did this, I could give rip.  What you claim has nothing to do with anything unless you are involved with creating both the 16 bit and 24 bit versions and I can listen to both to compare the two on my system.  That's all I can go by.

 

So, what it sounds like is that you will never make any 24 bit recordings, since you claim there isn't a difference.    I wonder how that will impact your ability to get future business if the world is moving towards 24 bit and you won't do 24 bit.  Sounds like a career limiting move. :-)

 

I tell you what.  Here's a test for you to do.  Go conduct your listening tests in your studio using a pair of TAD Reference monitors and some decent amps and cables and then tell me afterwards what you hear when comparing the tests you speak of.

 

Oh, and back when they were doing hearing tests, I don't even think they had headphones that could accurately reproduce more than 20KHz. It wasn't until the 60's until they broke the barrier of speakers going past 10KHz.  They NOW have headphones that go past 30KHz, and speakers that can reproduce 100KHz.  Maybe you need those to hear the difference.  :-)   I'm kind of being a little sarcastic, but there are top engineers that would give their right Testicle to own a pair of TAD Reference monitors.  If you can't afford them, then get some Pioneer S-1EX or S-2EX.  I know someone that has the smaller units available for about $3800 a pair with stands if he still wants to sell them and you want to buy them.  They are unbelievably accurate lower priced versions of the TAD.  Same technology designed by the same person.  They just don't go down as low in the bottom frequencies (34Hz instead of 32Hz for the smaller monitors), but they do go to 100KHz.  :-)


Edited by drblank - 4/12/14 at 7:36am
post #115 of 155

Oy vey.

post #116 of 155
Quote:
Originally Posted by SolipsismX View Post


I don't recall the last time I posted on Ars but the other two are definitely me. If I'm not mistaken I think I see you post on AnandTech from time to time.

 

 

Yeah, I tend to comment around... I also use "Loosely Coupled" on a lot of sites, so if you ever see that, its me :)

post #117 of 155
Quote:
Originally Posted by mpantone View Post

I sure hope this rumor is true.

The iTunes Store would then be the place to buy classical music.

It already is.
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post #118 of 155
Quote:
Originally Posted by Smallwheels View Post

I'm looking forward to experiencing music from the Pono music player. It will be better quality than this alleged Mastered for iTunes product. Pono will use FLAC files and be capable of using other industry standard files of lesser quality.

I doubt any process will be as good as original vinyl recordings on a good system but Pono will certainly be the top of the line standard for a while to come. They will debut in the summer of 2014.

Ponoschmono.
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post #119 of 155
Quote:
Originally Posted by Silver Shadow View Post

How much will they charge me to "upgrade" the songs I've already purchased this time? Last time it was $.69 per song or $.33 per song I think...

Then there was the aggravating issue where songs I had purchased were no longer available on the iTunes Store for whatever reason.

I hope it's a free upgrade if your a current iTunes Match subscriber.

I agree. It would be an incentive to purchase iTunes Match. No-one wants to pay to upgrade all their albums separately.
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post #120 of 155
Quote:
Originally Posted by Mr. H View Post

You're right. Digital is better in every conceivable way. Except that some people who don't understand it convince themselves that it must be worse than vinyl and go on to perform poorly or not-at-all controlled comparisons which - surprise, surprise - reinforce their original viewpoint.
This.

This can quite often be the cause of vinyl sounding better - whilst it is worse in every way as a medium compared to CD (dynamic range, frequency response, wow & flutter, distortion) vinyl masters do not usually have their dynamic range compressed into oblivion.

No. Analogue is better than digital. But iTunes is fine for me.
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