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Audio Quality (Read 7302 times)
YaBB Administrator

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Audio Quality
Apr 13th, 2014, 2:27pm
What do we think of this article?

It discusses various sampling rates, the placebo effect, and challenges many preconceptions ......

Deep in the piece there is this..

"Finally, the good news

What actually works to improve the quality of the digital audio to which we're listening?

Better headphones

The easiest fix isn't digital. The most dramatic possible fidelity improvement for the cost comes from a good pair of headphones. Over-ear, in ear, open or closed, it doesn't much matter. They don't even need to be expensive, though expensive headphones can be worth the money.

Keep in mind that some headphones are expensive because they're well made, durable and sound great. Others are expensive because they're $20 headphones under a several hundred dollar layer of styling, brand name, and marketing. I won't make specfic recommendations here, but I will say you're not likely to find good headphones in a big box store, even if it specializes in electronics or music. As in all other aspects of consumer hi-fi, do your research (and caveat emptor)."

There is more to the item than the quote above....
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Re: Audio Quality
Reply #1 - Apr 14th, 2014, 1:29pm
I personally found it to be very well written, and (TTBOMU) quite sound 'technically' - even if I am/was one of those "heretics" who believes that the higher bitrates are 'sonically' better!! The author argues well that only trued 'blind testing' can be believed.
But are we (in the industry) best placed to judge here?
Listening to those who've actually experienced Neil Young's Pono system (even if it's installed in his car!) for themselves, they tell a different story. One guy says that what he's heard is "what he hears in the studio" - but might he be comparing that with some horribly MP3-ed version of his music?
What I can say though is that from my own experience, when comparing a CD rendered version of an album [for instance Rush's "Grace Under Pressure] as against a digital purchase of a 24-bit 96KHz FLAC 'Studio Master' version of the same album from Linn Records, I've considered it to be more "airy" than the CD version when played on my Genelec 2.1 speaker system. Of course, as he argues, that could be because I want it to be so!!
Yet few outside our industry will have heard the real 'natural' sound of music as heard through top quality 'monitoring grade' speakers - or should I say the absence of any distortion caused by speaker systems.

But one reason I'd go with Neil Young on this matter is to get away from MP3-encoded music, and even from the recently "re-mastered" music on CD where the dynamic range has been severely reduced trying to make it sound louder. [Don't these people realise they have a Volume knob on their Hi-Fi or personal stereo player which will do that?] But then I've already duplicated much of my vinyl collection on CD in an effort to reduce the annoyance of the clicks and pops which are unfortunately so evident when playing said vinyl.

Yes, I do agree that one of the best ways to improve one's experience of good recorded music is with a decent pair of cans - I use a pair of open-backed Sennheiser 598s - so I do concur, especially since few of us have that idyll of a properly-treated acoustic environment to settle into!
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