Understanding lossless, high-resolution, and spatial audio

09 June 2021

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  • Anonymous

I really appreciated the article and the facts interlaced with your opinions. I tend to agree with you. I recently switched to iPhone 12 pro due to various reasons, and when I discovered that Apple Music was going to be HD lossless, I got excited. However, I have discovered that the iPhone 12 Pro device only supports 24-bit / 48kHz output via the lightning connector. So if I understand correctly, I can get 20Hz to 24kHz audio sounds from the phone via the built-in speakers, or via the lightning port. That pretty much limits the additional "depth" that would be available to influence/improve the lower audible frequencies in the music. I think it's great that we can get lossless for purchasing/archival purposes. I recently had my hearing checked and unfortunately, I can only hear solidly up to 11kHz, but it is spotty going up to 14kHz. Anything above that I cannot hear. In a side by side test, I cannot tell the difference between the MP3 version and the FLAC version of Ariana Grande's "7 rings" or other HD / Spatial audio songs. So for me, whether there is factual proof or not, it doesn't matter. Hopefully, the rest of your readers have better hearing and can actually benefit from the lossless audio. Oh and BTW, yes, I am listening through SH HD650 and a FiiO K3 DAC - maybe not the best setup, but I would think sufficient.

Thanks Prasad, for the detailed good article. Appreciate it.

AnonF-964910, 09 Jun 2021I did an A/B test between a 320kbps MP3 and FLAC and could ... moreBest way is to download hi res version of your favorite mp3. Depends also on device and headphones, if those are worthless... but you should spot difference even so.

  • Anonymous

J, 10 Jun 2021High-res audio is a scam. Makes zero difference to the list... moreYou’re wrong

  • Anonymous

Anonymous, 11 Jun 2021Totally agree. There is no evidence that anyone can reliabl... moreI agree too. My music library contains only stereo mp3 files with this format - 320kbps bit rate 44100hz sample rate. And it is really good if you use decent headphones or earphones.

  • Lccy

AnonF-964910, 10 Jun 2021That's a false equivelence, you are comparing the inte... moreIt's not a false equivalence, it's a real life example

You don't listen to music the same way as when you undergo a/b testing.

You're not constantly trying to identify qualities or differences in the sound, instead when you enjoy the music, the qualities then become evident.

Sound is not like sight, sound generates impulses in our brains which can be reenacted with similar sounds, whereas sight is temporarily independent.

The rapid switching between two identical tracks of different resolutions can lead to merging.

  • Lccy

J, 10 Jun 2021High-res audio is a scam. Makes zero difference to the list... moreIf 16/44.1 is perfect, why do studios waste money to record beyond 16/44.1 and archive their analog tapes in double dsd? Why not archive at 16/44.1, and upsample if edits are required, why not record at 16/44.1 and upsample to edit? Why not archive analog tapes at 16/44.1 and discard them?

Answer, a perfect reproduction is only possible if and only if the signal is perfectly band limited which audio signals are not, therefore heavy brickwall low pass filtering is required when sampling and reconstructing cd quality audio.

The CD sample rate was chosen as the minium required to reproduce human hearing and fit a 1 hour concert on a disc, not because it is perfect.

  • Anonymous

J, 10 Jun 2021High-res audio is a scam. Makes zero difference to the list... moreTotally agree. There is no evidence that anyone can reliably hear differences between modern lossy compressed codecs above the rates commonly streamed and lossless, uncompressed. The discarded information is inaudible to humans.

I've seen enough double-blind tests proving that no "golden ears" can tell the difference, which is why they never cite any evidence.

It's the same marketing scam as exotic speaker wires or power cords. Today virtually all DACs from reputable manufacturers exceed the limits of human hearing, and the same is true for digital amps.

But nobody ever lost money fooling the gullible.

  • J

High-res audio is a scam. Makes zero difference to the listener unless he's in the audiovoodoo club, but those guys are hopeless anyway. 44.1kHz/16bit was chosen for a reason - the reason being "the capability of human ears". High-res audio is only useful for music production and mixing. Not for the final product.

  • Anonymous

Great article, thank you.

  • AnonF-964910

Lccy, 10 Jun 2021Take this as an example, when you are in the middle of a co... moreThat's a false equivelence, you are comparing the interpretation of sound quality to talking to friend.

  • Wereweeb

Just buy a good quality earphone, a good DAC, and be done with it.

TBH, I'm kind of a newbie in this audio stuff,

But if I want to experience more from my music (my friends call it "critical listening") I won't use a smartphone.Dedicated Audio Player (DAP in short) is far better,
And yeah lossy and lossless is not that much different,especially if you got an upsampled files (a lossy files that converted to lossless one). It's different though if you compare an mp3 format and DSD 😅 .
IMO, mastering(or recording?) quality is more important than the format,
And to top it off, you need a good cans(headphone/IEM/earbuds) to hear the difference

Lccy, 09 Jun 2021The article does not tell the whole truth CD quality is ... morewell, if one is going to analyze the audio frequency with a tool, they will find it. for practical or real world listening, very trivial. I just happen to buy affordable triple driver earphones a few years ago and listened to lossless continuously for a week or two. While I could I hear the improvement in the high frequencies, it just feels more airy and doesn't really add to the music. One is better off nerding and burning cash on high end speakers/earphones

  • Anonymous

Fayth, 10 Jun 2021I am not an audiophile as long as the music has clear ster... moreMe too. Use good headphones and good equalizer configuration and enjoy.

I am not an audiophile
as long as the music has clear stereo separation and bass
I am happy

  • Lccy

Anonymous, 10 Jun 2021You don't need to have a brick wall filter, 20-22k is... morehttp://bitperfectsound.blogspot.com/2013/11/sample-rate-matters-i.html?m=1

If you do not brickwall, then the signal is recorded as an alias, that is why you have to brickwall.

Why would a higher sample rate not have a more relaxed low pass filter? You have a much larger range to low pass from 20khz than with a lower sample rate.

The higher frequency content that higher rate rates can produce tends to be at a lower amplitude and won't cause any playback problems, what will cause playback problems is if you don't low pass the DAC output as aliasing is also produced on reconstruction, because real world signals have greater amplitude for low frequency content, then that would produce high amplitude high frequency aliases.

The other area where high frequency content could cause playback problems is the noise generated by 1bit DSD where it's shifted to the high frequency region, but the filter is much gentler than with pcm

  • Anonymous

Lccy, 10 Jun 2021Higher sample rates do not change the original signal conte... moreYou don't need to have a brick wall filter, 20-22k is enough for most cases. And higher sampling rates do not necessarily have relaxed filters.
Those higher frequency content might cause unwanted characteristics in a system which is not designed for those signals.

  • Lccy

Anonymous, 10 Jun 2021By that claim higher sampling rates introduce more impact s... moreHigher sample rates do not change the original signal content, frequencies beyond 20khz are present in almost all real world audio signals, what higher sample rates allow is to both sample signals above 20khz without aliasing, and a gentler low pass filter that doesn't need to brick wall until 48 or 96khz depending on the sample rate.

With CD audio, your low pass filter must block all frequencies beyond 22.05khz otherwise it will alias. Real world low pass filters have a working range where the amplitude is attenuated. With CD, the low pass filter has to attenuate 96db between 20 and 22.05khz, that's extremely steep for a small frequency range. For 24/292, you have a range between 20 and 96khz to gently attenuate the signal.

Thanks for the great article, I came out smarter.