File quality difference

Hello to you all,
couple questions-
I read that there are 24 / 96-128 quality audio files.
What is their audio quality, compared to CD ripping 44.1 / 16 or 320KBS streaming?
The theoretical difference is clear to me, but is there a significant difference that can be clearly discerned between the two files? And if so can they only be heard when purchasing on the net or am I missing something in the CORE / ND5XS2 operation?

They sound the same on my system.

But my system is set up to maximise musical coherence, not detail.

Overall about half of the forum members seem to prefer hires, maybe more than half, but quite a number don’t hear much or any difference.

For me (NDX & Synology/Asset) there is a clear difference with any of the lossy files, 320mps with MP3 & AAC compared to lossless

Starting with a CD rips & 16/44 download & in WAV (as I always rip to), I’m more than happy to select a CD to rip or if all the download vendor has is a 16-bit.
That said I do hear a difference between 16-bit & 24-bit. Its debatable what sounds ‘better’ IMO, but I’ve yet to find well recorded 24-bit bettered by the same recording in 16-bit.
Given the same recording & a choice of 44, 96 & 192, I do hear an improvement with 24/96 over 24/44, but cannot say I hear anything better by going to 24/192.


I am not sure it is as clear cut as about half the forum preferring hi res and half not, as suggested above. The following references to the forum are my impressions and recollections, not a formal study:

Some people say hi res sounds better, though of those I get the impression that it is not consistently so. “Better” most commonly seems to be described along the lines of “the music has more air around it”. When I have compared and heard a difference myself it has usually been subtle, and just a general almost indescribable feeling of, perhaps, greater naturalness (I.e. better). Maybe that is the same as “more air”. And most people who do at times report hi res sounding better also seem agree that it is not universally the case. Some people say they don’t hear a difference. And some music simply sounds different, rather than better of worse, while other music sounds worse - but then the mastering may be different, effectively different versions rather than the 16/44 simply being a downsampled version of a hi res file. And some supposedly hi res music has apparently even been found to be fake, upsampled from 16/44!

You will gather from thus that it is not universal, undoubtedly depends on the system (including acoustics of room) and the listener’s ears, and on the music itself, the recording and mastering. A bit of a minefield! Which wouldn’t matter if hi res was same cost as 16/44, but more often than not it is sold at a premium price. Some people mostly but 16/44, others mostly buy hi res. I tend to pick hi res when available provided not excessively more expensive, when I’ll just buy 16/44. Sadly it is rarely possible to try and compare before buying.

The website has a “HiRes Test Bench” from where you can download sample recordings in different resolutions derived from the same highest res master and so assess for yourself in your system. It doesn’t mean other recordings from other sources will show the same differences, but having been prepared from well recorded masters it gives an idea of what may be the best you can expect.

Meanwhile there is a current thread that is interesting in this context: Microtime: the key to analogue versus digital debates?

All the above relates to non-lossy files, simply considering sampling frequency and bit depth. Lossy formats like mp3 and even MQA are a different subject. That doesn’t mean they can’t sound good, though mp3, even at 320bps I think is agreed by most people to sound inferior to 16/44 in a hifi system (maybe not so obvious in a more limited system like mobile use).


Pretty much sums up my views of hi-res files.

I also pretty much agree with Mike-B in that I have yet to be able to hear any benefit to my ears of going beyond 24bit/96, although finding appropriate material to test this is difficult. My tests were based primarily on the test files referred to by IB above.

A part of the issue in comparing files is that frequently / usually when offering a HiRes file the music has also been remastered. Downdampling a file to do the comparison is less than straightforward, have to dither the file and there are options.


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My experience has been that there is a subtle, but audible, difference between 96/24 and 192/24, if the recording is of sufficiently high quality. I have a number of albums purchased from Qobuz issued by the Channel Classics label, which is have downloaded in both 96/24 and 192/24. As an experiment, I put a number of tracks in both resolutions into a folder, then asked my significant other to randomly select one resolution or another. In each case, I was able to correctly identify which was 96/24 v 192/24, notwithstanding my age related diminished hearing. That said, I’ve heard other 192/24 recordings that seem indistinguishable from CD quality. My suspicion is that the differences are likely to be more noticeable with classical music than with other genres, if for no other reason that there seem to be more labels that truly make great recordings, as well as great music.


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