More Bits vs Greater Bandwidth

Sidebar: More Bits vs Greater Bandwidth

Contrary to what some industry pundits claim, the dividing line between "Red Book" and "hi-rez" audio is: 20-bit/44.1kHz—that is, 20 true bits, not mere nominal bits. I'm not saying that DSD, DXD, and 192kHz do not sound "better." I'm saying that most of the ills of "Red Book" sound can be traced back to its resolution of 16 bits. Resolution is more important than frequency response, I feel, in large measure because, for much program content, there isn't much musical information above 20kHz. For example, the workhouse rock'n'roll dynamic microphone, Shure's SM57, tops out at 15kHz.

Only the finest recordings of orchestras, pianos, or other acoustic instruments, made with microphones with extended frequency response and with high-quality preamps and converters, can show off the benefits of higher sampling rates. The best examples I know of, given my taste in music, are the Cypress String Quartet's 24/96 downloads of Beethoven's late quartets ( If you're shopping for a DAC, my advice is to focus on its "Red Book" performance because, to paraphrase what bank robber Willie Sutton denied ever having said, that's where the music is.—John Marks

Erranti's picture

Hi there John,

Thanks for another informative and thorough review. I've turned to computer audio, or as it is also called, desktop audio. This is mainly to economize space and of course money. I have recently acquired a pair of Beyerdynamic T1s to upgrade from my AKG K702s, and I would also like to find a good headphone amplifier that can deliver what it takes to make these 600Ohm babies sound their best. 

I have been doing some online window shopping and research, and I have come across at least 4 very intersting Amps that according to their specs could do a very good job with the T1s, and which have still to be featured at Stereophile. Two of them feature DA converters that also have impressive specs.

The first candidates are German made Violectric V100 and V200, which can be obtained with built-in 16/48 or 24/96 DA converters via USB. Violectric also features a standalone DAC, the V800, which is a very versatile unit with some really serious specs. They are all very fairly priced and fabulously well built, and only with German components and labor.

The second candidate is both a headphone Amp and pre-amplifier. It's Headamp's GS-1, which is also a very well built Amp with great specs and fully manufactured in the US.

The third candidate is the D2 DAC -and also headphone amplifier- by Anedio, which features some really fantastically good and detailed specs.

I have read your reviews of Benchmark Media's USB DAC1 Pre, Grace Design's m903 and CEntrance's Dacmini CX, which are all great products, but I would still love to see any of these other components, which also feature great specs and appear to equal or challenge the DAC 1, m903 and Dacmini CX's performance.

In the case that these components are not within near future review plans, I would still appreciate any impressions you could have on them. Thanks in advance for your help,



Dan Moroboshi's picture

Dear JA,

since you reviewed this wonderful product of audio engineering, Bricasti releases an update extensive to the existing products which includes USB asynchronous interface and digital level control.

I would like to suggest a follow up using this USB interface and maybe measurements on this one.