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Music by the Numbers


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I have been going thru an ongoing evaluation process for several years of Hi res  music vs some of the other formats that I use.  I have the whole gamut since I am basically all digital.  I say basically because I do own a few CD's and SACD/DSD.  Now, by the numbers from 128 kbps to the SACD/DSD there is a huge space or shall we a lot of bits to talk about.  Common sense dictates that 128 kbps does not sound as good as FLAC or studio quality at 96 kHz/24 bits.  Well, common sense is not that common in my listening experience.


The sound quality experience for me is highly dependent on how I listen.  In days past most of the listening to music was at home.  Today it is in the car, train, bus, walking, etc.  It also depends on what I am listening on, headphones,earbud or the home system.  Any place outside the home system, no need for Hi res.  The distance between 256 mp3 to studio quality is not as great as the numbers or bits suggest.  Sure, I can hear a difference going from 128 kbps to studio quality.


The differences are subtle and gradual from 256 mp to studio quality.  Now comes the question of cost and selection.  I can buy one for $5.00 and the other for $20 and then going to SACD upwards to $25.00 or more.  Most of the time I am listening to music in the background so, the listening is not critical.


I almost forgot one thing, I have good and bad files in all these formats and if it was not done well in the production path, it won't make a difference which format it is in.  It will be just like putting a bad 480 DVD on a 1080 or 4 K TV or projector.  It be even worse, lol.

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10 hours ago, JohnA said:

There is still an issue with even 320k mp3s.  The stereo image is destroyed.  Try the Doobies' "Blackwater"  on CD and mp3 and note the difference in the voice locations.  Headphones are a plus in this. 

Is the source and mastering identical between the two?  If you take the CD and rip an AAC copy in iTunes, and then play both, can you tell the difference?

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I have had quite a few of my audio buddies over and play a blind playlist of 12-14 songs with a few duplicate tracks from HD tracks and 256 ACC files.  Nobody has been much able to clearly distinguish between the two.  When they do pick the right track, they don't report one better than the other, just one or two subtle differences.


For my taste in music, there just is not a great selection of Hi-rez files.  The important thing is the quality of the record/file production on how good it sounds, images, floor noise and dynamic range. 

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