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XLR8R22
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Where does a file become audiophile quality?

Hi guys, I'm just wondering at what point (bitrate, sample rate, etc) does a file become acceptably high quality? I have a growing collection of FLAC files on my PC ranging from ~400kbps 44.1/16 to some 6000+ kbps 96/24. Where can I draw the line to use a file as a reference for setting up a system?

P.S. Not sure if this question belonged in Digital Sources or Computer Audio

Drtrey3
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Hmmm, I wonder

You know, I have heard cd quality files that sound good and 24/96 files that sound eh. I routinely rip my vinyl to high resoloution falc files at 24/96. Recently when ripping a mono Kinks record, I threw away data and converted it down to cd quality flac. The original just did not sound very good. The pressing was clean, but there was not much in the way of dynamic range on the record, so I kicked it down till I started to hear a difference.

In terms of things I have purchased, the 24 bit files sound better than the 16 bit. I have not heard the 192kHz recordings because my sound card will not decode them. But I am looking forward to upgrading and giving them a try!

Listen to some 24 bit recordings and see if you like what you hear.

Trey

XLR8R22
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Trey, that's interesting

Trey, that's interesting about the vinyl rip. I suppose you always have to have a good source before you can have a good digital copy, eh? Most of the 24 bit files I have I like much better than their 16 bit conversions, there is much more "air" to the sound, if that makes any sense. Maybe it's all in my head though. I certainly prefer most high resolution music, though I have had some files that I just deleted because they didn't sound good. I assumed it was somebody who ripped them using improper settings or poor equipment, but perhaps the original recording just wasn't so good to begin with?

deckeda
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The question...

... Is a lot like asking what size woofer and how many, is needed for deep bass.

"I depends."

I can think of several variables. You're looking for characteristics, perhaps. And after your experience, priorities, equipment, room and available sources change, so could your baselines for what you consider to be high fidelity.

I understand the appeal of recipes. "Never waste your time with X." "Y always sounds better." Those are shortcuts, substitutes for thought. Everything is true until proven false, if you like. Just be open to being proven wrong, or at least surprised. Otherwise, you're not actually listening, just arguing and flailing around behind an ideal that has likely betrayed you.

Drtrey3
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not in your head at all

"Most of the 24 bit files I have I like much better than their 16 bit conversions, there is much more "air" to the sound, if that makes any sense. Maybe it's all in my head though. I certainly prefer most high resolution music, though I have had some files that I just deleted because they didn't sound good."

 

I used to think it was in my head as well. Then one time I was messing with a 24/96 rip of Chicago's seond album from dvd-a. I had two versions, one that played each "song" as a different file and one that combined the shorter pieces into the longer "suite" that was how I was used to hearing it from the lp.

For some strange reason I decided to downconvert one of them to 16/44. My wife, who was in the kitchen in the next room and grooving to the tunes came in with a frown on her face. "What did you do to my music?" I had just given up the extra bits. She was in the next room and could hear the loss. And they were the same volume. So it is not all in our heads, it is in our ears too.

Now I am very careful about throwing away data and only do so when I am sure that the original recording or pressing does not justify the larger file. I can alwys downsize later, but once the data is gone, I would have to re-rip it to get it back.

Trey

TedMcKennedy
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Just to add to the discussion

Just to add to the discussion on 24 bit vs. 16 bit- the reason for the increased sense of "air" resulting from the higher bit depth, is the increased dynamic range the the recording can occupy.

If you think about an echo in a recording- each successive echo becomes quieter and quieter.  At some point it falls beneath the threshold of what 16 bits can represent and is gone.  At 24 bits, the larger dynamic range allows you hear those last faint echoes.  The same applies to reverb tails, as well instruments that are mixed low in the recording.

George Massenburg, inventor of the parametric EQ, does a fantastic demonstration- where he plays a 16 bit version of "In The Air Tonight" by Phil Collins and it sounds great.  Then he plays the 24 bit version- the difference between the quiet beginning and the famous drum hits is greater, and arguably gives the music more impact.

That said, most 16 bit recordings have the dynamic range to reproduce most styles of music.

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