Is there any value to 176.4 and 192kHz Hi-Res audio files? A practical evaluation… – Archimago’s Musings

[…] I started asking myself, what is it we would be missing if these albums were downsampled to 88.2 and 96kHz?

Put another way, we could ask “Is there something musical about the highest octave in these 4x samplerate files?” This highest octave for 176.4kHz files would be audio containing 44kHz to 88kHz, and in 192kHz files from 48kHz to 96kHz.

Archimago, who does detailed analyses of digital audio files, finds that there is nothing in the higher end of very high resolution audio files. Nothing. While there is some audio content above 44.1KHz, there is nothing above 88.2 or 96 KHz. In fact, he finds that some very high resolution albums – including a few by Neil Young – are just up samples from lower resolution masters. In other words, a scam.

There’s an interesting comment by a reader:

Anyway, I have taken high sample rate files and done a steep filter removing everything below 20 khz. The reverse of the normal brickwall. That leaves only the ultrasonic material. I then slow it down to 25% of normal speed for playback. This is almost like upping your hearing to 80 khz. Even when you do this, there just isn’t much up there to hear. It isn’t loud at all. To think this, masked by the music, and well above your hearing will make a big difference becomes a clearly ludicrous idea at that point.

In short, this person deleted all the audio content that we can hear, to find if there was anything in the very high frequencies. While there was some audio, it’s too weak to hear. Archimago replied:

Yup. I’ve tried the same thing… High pass the stuff >20kHz, either slow it down or pitch shift down and have a listen. Most of the time noise and even if it’s correlated to the underlying music, usually extremely low amplitude and hard to imagine how the human ear can can even perceive or how most speakers would even accurately reproduce the sound without “supertweeters”!

I’m sure some folks will still comment on the idea that this stuff somehow adds to the “ambiance”.

QED.

Source: Archimago’s Musings: MUSINGS / ANALYSIS: Is there any value to 176.4 and 192kHz Hi-Res audio files? A practical evaluation…

22 thoughts on “Is there any value to 176.4 and 192kHz Hi-Res audio files? A practical evaluation… – Archimago’s Musings

  1. Hi Kirk – High resolution audio is all about filtering, not ultrasonic information that dogs and bats can hear. It’s a bit disingenuous for the author to suggest high resolution is a scam or not worth it (my words not his) because there is nothing we can hear above a certain frequency.

    Fortunately consumers still have the option to purchase whatever they want. I know you’re a fan of lossy Apple Music quality files, suggesting you don’t need Tidal or a lossless equivalent. Those who aren’t fans of high resolution or believe it’s a scam can also vote with their money and purchase whatever they like.

          • Hi Kirk – I believe my comments stem from comments of yours such as, “I don’t really need lossless streaming.” http://www.kirkville.com/kanye-west-doesnt-use-tidal-shops-at-the-pirate-bay-needs-an-ad-blocker/

            There are many other comments from you that suggest the same thing throughout your site. My thinking is that if you don’t really need lossless streaming, then you are “a fan of lossy Apple Music quality files.”

            It’s really no big deal. I think many people in the audiophile world would suggest this is some type of fault, but not me. I don’t care what people like or listen to, as long as they enjoy it. Heck, even if they don’t enjoy it, I don’t care what they listen to :~)

            • I don’t need lossless streaming. I’m not yet convinced that streaming is here to stay (at least in its present form), so I don’t consider streaming to be the same as listening to music I own. I certainly don’t need lossless streaming on mobile devices; no one does. But even on the desktop, there are so many problems with tracks no longer available, the wrong tracks being matched (with Apple Music; not with Spotify or Tidal), and glitches during playback, that lossless wouldn’t make much of a difference.

              Personally, I rip to lossless, and have for a while, less for the quality (I can’t hear the difference between AAC 256 kbps and lossless) but to have an archival file. I sync music to my iPhone, letting iTunes downsample on the fly to 256.

              We’ll keep on disagreeing, and I always appreciate that you do so in a gentlemanly manner. 🙂

  2. Hi Kirk – High resolution audio is all about filtering, not ultrasonic information that dogs and bats can hear. It’s a bit disingenuous for the author to suggest high resolution is a scam or not worth it (my words not his) because there is nothing we can hear above a certain frequency.

    Fortunately consumers still have the option to purchase whatever they want. I know you’re a fan of lossy Apple Music quality files, suggesting you don’t need Tidal or a lossless equivalent. Those who aren’t fans of high resolution or believe it’s a scam can also vote with their money and purchase whatever they like.

          • Hi Kirk – I believe my comments stem from comments of yours such as, “I don’t really need lossless streaming.” http://www.kirkville.com/kanye-west-doesnt-use-tidal-shops-at-the-pirate-bay-needs-an-ad-blocker/

            There are many other comments from you that suggest the same thing throughout your site. My thinking is that if you don’t really need lossless streaming, then you are “a fan of lossy Apple Music quality files.”

            It’s really no big deal. I think many people in the audiophile world would suggest this is some type of fault, but not me. I don’t care what people like or listen to, as long as they enjoy it. Heck, even if they don’t enjoy it, I don’t care what they listen to :~)

            • I don’t need lossless streaming. I’m not yet convinced that streaming is here to stay (at least in its present form), so I don’t consider streaming to be the same as listening to music I own. I certainly don’t need lossless streaming on mobile devices; no one does. But even on the desktop, there are so many problems with tracks no longer available, the wrong tracks being matched (with Apple Music; not with Spotify or Tidal), and glitches during playback, that lossless wouldn’t make much of a difference.

              Personally, I rip to lossless, and have for a while, less for the quality (I can’t hear the difference between AAC 256 kbps and lossless) but to have an archival file. I sync music to my iPhone, letting iTunes downsample on the fly to 256.

              We’ll keep on disagreeing, and I always appreciate that you do so in a gentlemanly manner. 🙂

  3. There are two logical justifications for oversampling. One is that it reduces aliasing from ultrasonic components (however weak those components might be). Second, it allows less-abrupt filtering that could audibly alter the audible part of the spectrum.

    These are possibilities. I know of no proof that they’re true.

  4. There are two logical justifications for oversampling. One is that it reduces aliasing from ultrasonic components (however weak those components might be). Second, it allows less-abrupt filtering that could audibly alter the audible part of the spectrum.

    These are possibilities. I know of no proof that they’re true.

  5. Archimago replied: “I’m sure some folks will still comment on the idea that this stuff (ultra-high-res recordings) somehow adds to the “ambiance”.

    Of course it adds to the”ambience” … of the surroundings of those who sell the sell these files. The extra income generated by the inflated price of ultra-high-res files enables the sellers of such files to surround themselves with luxurious items of all types which enhance the ambience of their surroundings, at the expense of those foolish enough to purchase ultra-high-res music.

    However there is definitely something to be said for the psychic gratification experienced by purchasers of ultra-high-res music, believing they are experiencing a superior listening experience – so in that regard it can be said that everyone wins.

    To the best of my knowledge, there has never been even one documented case where a listener, using A-B-X comparison testing, has been able, with statistical significance, to distinguish between musical program material originally recorded at ultra-high-resolution compared to same file down-sampled to CD (44.1/16) resolution.

    • ABX double-blind testing is neither science, nor scientific, any more than casual listening is. ‘But comparing the Red Book layer of hybrid SACDs with the SACD layer suggests that there is a slight improvement in the “opneness” and smoothness of the high end. It is hardly a huge improvement.

  6. Archimago replied: “I’m sure some folks will still comment on the idea that this stuff (ultra-high-res recordings) somehow adds to the “ambiance”.

    Of course it adds to the”ambience” … of the surroundings of those who sell the sell these files. The extra income generated by the inflated price of ultra-high-res files enables the sellers of such files to surround themselves with luxurious items of all types which enhance the ambience of their surroundings, at the expense of those foolish enough to purchase ultra-high-res music.

    However there is definitely something to be said for the psychic gratification experienced by purchasers of ultra-high-res music, believing they are experiencing a superior listening experience – so in that regard it can be said that everyone wins.

    To the best of my knowledge, there has never been even one documented case where a listener, using A-B-X comparison testing, has been able, with statistical significance, to distinguish between musical program material originally recorded at ultra-high-resolution compared to same file down-sampled to CD (44.1/16) resolution.

    • ABX double-blind testing is neither science, nor scientific, any more than casual listening is. ‘But comparing the Red Book layer of hybrid SACDs with the SACD layer suggests that there is a slight improvement in the “opneness” and smoothness of the high end. It is hardly a huge improvement.

    • Since the absence of evidence goes back to the late 1990’s, any idea when someone finally will, through some scientific means, be able to verifiably tell the difference, with statistical significance, between a super high res file the same file down sampled to CD resolution?

      Really, I have nothing against super-high-res files and those who do enjoy listening to them. But I do find it curious that some listeners feel better numbers in the form of specs must automatically mean a more satisfying listening experience. Up to a certain point they most obviously do, as I’m reminded every time I listen to the lossy compressed signals on Sirius XM in my car.

      But I simply haven’t seen or heard any evidence that listening to a music file above CD res results in more than providing a form of psychic gratification to the listener – and I can see how such a listener could easily find worth the time and extra expense if they are expecting and thus convincing themselves of a superior listening experience.

      Heck, I enjoy the organic experience of listening to vinyl, (although if I could have one formant I’d never trade vinyl for CD or a digital file at CD resolution), but vinyl’s specs are quite poor compared to CD and super high res, and there are many examples of people using the ABX double blind comparator being able to easily distinguish vinyl vs a digital file of any resolution. Such evidence is totally missing in the CD res vs ultra high res debate, and in fact very few ultra high res fan will subject themselves to such a test, knowing what the result will be.

    • Since the absence of evidence goes back to the late 1990’s, any idea when someone finally will, through some scientific means, be able to verifiably tell the difference, with statistical significance, between a super high res file the same file down sampled to CD resolution?

      Really, I have nothing against super-high-res files and those who do enjoy listening to them. But I do find it curious that some listeners feel better numbers in the form of specs must automatically mean a more satisfying listening experience. Up to a certain point they most obviously do, as I’m reminded every time I listen to the lossy compressed signals on Sirius XM in my car.

      But I simply haven’t seen or heard any evidence that listening to a music file above CD res results in more than providing a form of psychic gratification to the listener – and I can see how such a listener could easily find worth the time and extra expense if they are expecting and thus convincing themselves of a superior listening experience.

      Heck, I enjoy the organic experience of listening to vinyl, (although if I could have one formant I’d never trade vinyl for CD or a digital file at CD resolution), but vinyl’s specs are quite poor compared to CD and super high res, and there are many examples of people using the ABX double blind comparator being able to easily distinguish vinyl vs a digital file of any resolution. Such evidence is totally missing in the CD res vs ultra high res debate, and in fact very few ultra high res fan will subject themselves to such a test, knowing what the result will be.

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