Can your system accurately tell the difference between 24/96 and 16/44?

I’ll give this another plug.

Mark Waldrep owner of AIX Hi-Res recording label gives his take on 24/96 recordings and remasters and an online test to see if you and your system can tell the difference between 24/96 and 16/44 modern high resolution recordings.



Great article thanks for sharing. I’ve got a lot of hi res files, and to my ears they do generally sound better. However it really depends on the source material. I’ve got a CD copy of Yellow Brick Road and 96/24 WAV and in this case I think the CD sounds better, however that is reversed on other examples in my collection.

Imo if it’s a bad studio recording no matter what the format it’ll probably still sound poor.


My system for material of the same master: no. I cannot tell in a blind test.

There, I’ve said it.


Dont worry about the numbers, they are good enough in all loss-less formats. It is the artist with the mixing and mastering engineers that makes the quality of a recording.

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have to say on my system YES I can hear the difference between 16/44 and higher res files but then I would expect too on 252/300DR

and some of the 192 digital downloads I have are truly superb - Bridge over Troubled, Lexion of Love, Stephen Wilson, Yes to mention a few

for me at that level they are getting close to anaglogue, but I am not worried about that in the first instanstance I just want more music to come out of those black boxes which IMO it does


Is it Lexicon of Love by ABC you are mentioning? If it is, where the hi-res of it is available?

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But is it due to the file resolution or different mastering?

As others, I’ve heard positive and negative differences, and none. Some sources of different resolution files, e.g. 2L, offer variants definitely from the same master, however the facility here is blind testing as long as you don’t cheat because you are supplied with the files without identification as to which is which: As a result you can really find out if differences purely due to the file resolution are audible to you in your system/room.

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Good Morning All,

As I’ve just posted elsewhere, I am one of the 200 who have submitted their results. I found it very difficult and am looking forward to finding out how well I did.

I consider myself to have a pretty good system and I know there is nothing much wrong with my hearing (I have a hearing test every two years for my medical).

I would encourage everybody to download Mark’s files, listen and submit their results.

Some people may be surprised or even disappointed if they aren’t too successful but surely we need to know if we really can tell the difference and then make more informed choices about what we buy?




Very much so - though of course in many cases we have no idea if a hi res and standard version of a recording are from the same master, which can slew things either way…

I dont really mind on the mastering or wether the tapes were recorded from digital or analogue

all I hear on my system is more music and detail Yes close to the edge comes to mind, my old riped CD copy dBpoweramp Losess on FLAC was a good well recorded - Angalogue I assume and then but onto digital - when I got the 192 re master the was just more YES

I am not hung up on the mastering, I just want more music and in 99% of the music I have in higher res formats it delivers Stephen Wilson perfect example as is peter gabriel, Genesis, Marvin Gaye, Tori Amos, Yes, Paul Simon, tears for Fears to name just a few

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Interesting, and maybe lucky, as quite a few people have mentioned finding some hires files sound worse. But my point was that if you simply buy hi res and don’t compare each time (which after all few people are likely to do), then you could sometimes be paying more for a worse sounding copy due to poor mastering.

Aside from tgat, blind testing is the best way of being certain tgere’s no bias so I suggest doing!


Whilst I probably shouldn’t be surprised, I am very disappointed that labels who started recording in 20-bit resolution in the early 90s (several classical companies, for example, like Sony and Telarc) haven’t taken the opportunity to re-release these recordings at native resolution. There are some great performances captured in 20-bit and I’d dearly love to hear it replayed ‘properly’; a bit like the audio version of the restored New York footage posted elsewhere on this forum!

If they did do this, it would definitely induce me to consider a streaming system seriously - until then, I’m very happy with CD.

I’m also convinced that, once you go beyond 16/44.1, the quality of the mastering makes far more of a difference than the delivery format. As a movie analogy, I just wasted a couple of extra quid on the Blu-ray of The Addams Family (1991) for a bit of family fun, only to find that the quality of the master they used meant it would have looked shoddy on DVD (possibly even on VHS - it was that bad). As it was, all I got for my extra money was the chance to see precisely how shoddy it was in 1080p detail.


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I have been playing around a lot with hi- res since Qobuz integrated. As a generalisation I would say that with older, analogue recordings the instruments themselves sound much clearer but something is lost overall - the soul of the track. Listen to ‘Dear Prudence’ from remastered hi-res White Album as an example. On the other hand, modern albums recorded digitally in hi- res usually sound better than 44/16 versions and can be absolutely stunning. Try ‘Strange’ from Big Thief’s UFOF as an example

My system can tell the difference, JRiver MC puts it in the information window for the now playing track. However, DAVE can’t tell because M-Scaler has upsampled the track so it thinks everything is high resolution. Well, if DAVE can’t tell then I’m hard pushed to tell and everything sounds like it is high resolution: that’s mostly a good thing, but not always.

Some albums do have noticeably better sound quality than others (almost always true of those that started life as SACD), but with all this skullduggery going on under the bonnet there is no way I could reliable say whether I’m listening to the CD quality or 24/96 version. And they say you can’t fool the children of the resolution.


Hi Sloop,

Hope all is well in the Emerald Isle.

Mark W. has a well known position on this. Until recently my position was that it comes down to the mastering. BUT, in December I asked Qobuz to switch me up to HiRes to give it a go for a couple of weeks, which they did. I had intended to make up my mind and change at month’s end if I thought it was worth it. Unfortunately life intruded and this went out of my mind.

In January I suddenly found that my system wasn’t firing on all cylinders. Music I had been loving had lost a degree of detail and oomph (technical term). A few days later, having tried a number of other things, I remembered about the HiRes trial. I have now switched and contentedness is restored.

Does this mean that mastering isn’t the primary concern? Probably not, but my system is singing so I am not too bothered!


I agree, just done a Qobuz vs tidal of Paul Simon’s stranger to stranger and the hi res sounded cleaner but less involving… no idea why!

Interesting. Generally when listening to older recordings I listen to my own 9624 rips of my LPs. That said I found the Beatles 24/44.1 albums stunning (from NAS).

I’ll give this a try.


It just depends on the master, in general the hisres always sounds better if the master is hires.

I do a fair bit of digital recording, particularly of reel tapes and LPs thAt either are not well represented on CD or have never had a digital release. I’ve compared 16bit 44khz against 24bit 96khz and the latter is definitely preferred. It just captures more of the sense of the original analogue source.


Out of curiosity do you record to PCM and/or DSD and do you have a preference for recorder.