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Author Topic: 24bit audio testing....... (straight 24/96 vs. upsampled 16/44.1)  (Read 4167 times)

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Offline Nick's Picks

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I performed an intesting test yesterday.

I used my stereo as reference, and was able to perform true A-B-A testing with my 24bit 96khz master from a show I taped the other day, and the downsampled, dithered 16/44 CDs I burnt from this 24bit master .wav file.

My stereos front end consists of a Musical Fidelity CD-PRE24 , which has plenty of digital I/O,  plus a built in transport.  It automaticly upsamples redbook CDs to 24/96 before analog conversion...and I figured this would be interesting to see if it is actualy worth the trouble to record at high resolution when my stereo does such a fine job making 16bit audio sound so nice (and 24bit-like).

I hooked up my laptop > firewire > Edirol FA-101 toslink output to my MF cd-pre24 and played the 16bit version (resampled in wavelab and dithered via the apogee plug-in) out of the transport and made sure that they were matched up timing wise so that I could switch between sources via the remote from my listening position.

long story short...
the upsampled redbook source sounded very nice.....but the raw 24/96 files sounded better.  If that was 100%, than the redbook version through the upsampling DAC was 80%.  Noticible, but not "in your face" different.  The 24bit file was clearer sounding, more precise, better detail in the articulation of each instrument.  Bass notes were deeper, tighter and I could hear the attack "pluck" of the musicians bass strings vs. the note that was just "there" w/the 16bit file.  It was strange, ...somewhat like I could hear the origins of the individual notes in the raw 24bit files vs. the appearance of the notes as they seem to just materialize out of the redbook source.  The 24bit files sounded, in a word..cleaner and more natural.

so is it worth it?
hmmmmm....it makes me think that with the right DAC, 16bit will hold its own against 24bit any day of the week.  My MF box is pretty nice sounding, but its not the end all, be all in redbook playack...plus, it also reclocks all digital input through its own circuitry (which I dont believe would produce any audible artifacts).
I'll have to take both sources over to Carls house to see if we can hear a bigger difference in his system (Benchmark DAC-1).
Unfortunately, my ears were quickly spoiled w/the 24bit testing at my house....and now I need to keep recording at this resolution in order to really connect w/the music in playback.  that 20% difference between the sources became more apparent as the listening went on into the evening.  It would have been nice to come down to the realization that my upsampling DAC could cut the mustard.  I would be back on the Nomad recorder so fast.......but I guess its back to the drawing board w/the troublesome world of laptop recording.


Gear used in the testing:

source:
- raw 24bit 96khz master .wav fles
- 16bit / 44.1khz redbook CD (dithered with the apogee plugin in wavlab) and resampled (also w/wavlab)

front ends:
24bit- toshiba 3480ct running Wavelab 4.0 for playback
firewire link from laptop to Edirol FA-101.  Toslink output from here...
16bit - Musicl Fidelity CD-PRE transport

Musical Fidelity CD-PRE24
McCormack DNA-1 power drive (185wpc)
Von Schweikert VR4 gen I loudspeakers
Gregg Straley custom speaker cable and single IC.
« Last Edit: June 27, 2004, 07:57:16 AM by Nick's Picks »
LMA recordings and what-not


Live music: hauling around a Marshall stack whose output will get squeezed through a single SM57, then mangled by a Guinness-soaked mixer and shoved through suspicious-smelling power amps into a pair of grungy cabinets whose best days were before they left the factory, all of which are under the control of an engineer who would much rather be at home watching television.

Offline scb

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Re: 24bit audio testing....... (straight 24/96 vs. upsampled 16/44.1)
« Reply #1 on: June 27, 2004, 02:36:11 PM »
>>it makes me think that with the right DAC, 16bit will hold its own against 24bit any day of the week<<

but with the right DAC, the 24/96 would be better, too :)

Offline Nick's Picks

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Re: 24bit audio testing....... (straight 24/96 vs. upsampled 16/44.1)
« Reply #2 on: June 27, 2004, 02:56:45 PM »
I suppose that is true as well.
but there are a lot of DACs out there that are designed to do as much as they can w/a redbook standard.
and there is a large pain in the ass factor to 24bit recording.  that was my point, but you knew that all ready.

LMA recordings and what-not


Live music: hauling around a Marshall stack whose output will get squeezed through a single SM57, then mangled by a Guinness-soaked mixer and shoved through suspicious-smelling power amps into a pair of grungy cabinets whose best days were before they left the factory, all of which are under the control of an engineer who would much rather be at home watching television.

Offline Nick's Picks

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Re: 24bit audio testing....... (straight 24/96 vs. upsampled 16/44.1)
« Reply #3 on: July 16, 2004, 06:56:21 AM »
i'm really surprised this thread didn't generate any discussion.
i thought it was my most intelligent post in a lont time.
LMA recordings and what-not


Live music: hauling around a Marshall stack whose output will get squeezed through a single SM57, then mangled by a Guinness-soaked mixer and shoved through suspicious-smelling power amps into a pair of grungy cabinets whose best days were before they left the factory, all of which are under the control of an engineer who would much rather be at home watching television.

Offline MattD

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Re: 24bit audio testing....... (straight 24/96 vs. upsampled 16/44.1)
« Reply #4 on: July 16, 2004, 09:57:52 AM »
What's there to discuss? Your findings concur with theory - no surprises there. When I first heard 24/96, I was blown away and wanted to do everything in that fashion.
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Offline Tim

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Re: 24bit audio testing....... (straight 24/96 vs. upsampled 16/44.1)
« Reply #5 on: July 19, 2004, 06:48:09 PM »
It's a great post. It just makes me wonder what direction I'm heading with my playback and taping rig...
I’ve had a few weird experiences and a few close brushes with total weirdness of one sort or another, but nothing that’s really freaked me out or made me feel too awful about it. - Jerry Garcia

Offline Nick's Picks

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Re: 24bit audio testing....... (straight 24/96 vs. upsampled 16/44.1)
« Reply #6 on: July 20, 2004, 06:15:18 PM »
my conclusions....
not worth it.  easier to get good upsampling playback gear and just stick with nice 16bit w/a quality A/D stage
LMA recordings and what-not


Live music: hauling around a Marshall stack whose output will get squeezed through a single SM57, then mangled by a Guinness-soaked mixer and shoved through suspicious-smelling power amps into a pair of grungy cabinets whose best days were before they left the factory, all of which are under the control of an engineer who would much rather be at home watching television.

Offline dnsacks

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Re: 24bit audio testing....... (straight 24/96 vs. upsampled 16/44.1)
« Reply #7 on: July 20, 2004, 06:58:05 PM »
Did the inexpensive diskwelder dvd-a writing package not pan out?  If it did, it would seem that the dedicated 24 bit solutions like the fr2 or sounddevices box (if it ever comes out) > pc > dvd-a would be ptetty darned simple and straightforward to do. 

Given the consensus above that higher bitrates do sound better (albeit slightly better), a dvd-a based setup (or a pc server-based setup sending 24 bit flacs) digitally feeding a quality d>a would take much, if not all of the pita factor out of this.

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Re: 24bit audio testing....... (straight 24/96 vs. upsampled 16/44.1)
« Reply #8 on: July 20, 2004, 07:35:12 PM »
There is another package that makes DVDV discs with a slideshow image and audio tracks.  It is half the price and if you are doing 24/96, it will work just as well as discwelder bronze for most applications.  Hopefully someone (Joe?) can name it because I've forgotten.  DVDV will play in more players than DVDA right now.  The only important difference I can find is the supported sample rates are limited for DVDV (LPCM at 48 and 96), so if your masters are at 48 you can go straight to DVD.

Edit: here you go http://www.taperssection.com/yabbse/index.php?topic=20397.0

If you use linux or cygwin under windows, there are free command line tools to do this and the operation is straight forward if you follow the published recipe.  (http://www.linuxjournal.com/article.php?sid=6953)
« Last Edit: July 20, 2004, 10:42:15 PM by teabag »
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Offline Nick's Picks

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Re: 24bit audio testing....... (straight 24/96 vs. upsampled 16/44.1)
« Reply #9 on: July 21, 2004, 08:52:57 AM »
Did the inexpensive diskwelder dvd-a writing package not pan out?  If it did, it would seem that the dedicated 24 bit solutions like the fr2 or sounddevices box (if it ever comes out) > pc > dvd-a would be ptetty darned simple and straightforward to do. 

Given the consensus above that higher bitrates do sound better (albeit slightly better), a dvd-a based setup (or a pc server-based setup sending 24 bit flacs) digitally feeding a quality d>a would take much, if not all of the pita factor out of this.


here are the issues I see:

- 24bit playback requires the expense of a DVD burner, DVD authoring software, a DVD-A player...and it better be a danm'd good one to do it justice.  All of these things would be "extras" for me...in my situation, and we are talking about $500 on the cheap end for all of this stuff.

- 24bit PC playback of FLAC files.
I don't trust winamp as a quality software solution to play 24bit files comparred to playback of the 24bit wav files in professoinal software...which is its own pain in the ass as you can't use Wavelab or SF like a jukebox.  Doug Oade has mentioned this many times on his forum.

My conclusions are my own...of course.  Other folks might find that they prefer 24bit and go that route.  My own opinion...but that goes w/o saying.

I tried the quality approach and did great A-B-A testing with excellent hardware, DACs..transports, the whole 9 yards.  The difference was very, and I mean *very* minimal.  IMO, not worth it.

that said...I still have a 24bit recording rig, and I still master at 24bit for the archiving purposes.  24bit playback will get easier eventualy, and i'll be ready for it.  I just dont see it as a major improvement over quality 16bit w/an upsampling DAC.
However, had I performed this test prior to building my laptop recording rig, i would have scrapped that idea.
LMA recordings and what-not


Live music: hauling around a Marshall stack whose output will get squeezed through a single SM57, then mangled by a Guinness-soaked mixer and shoved through suspicious-smelling power amps into a pair of grungy cabinets whose best days were before they left the factory, all of which are under the control of an engineer who would much rather be at home watching television.

Offline Lil Kim Jong-Il

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Re: 24bit audio testing....... (straight 24/96 vs. upsampled 16/44.1)
« Reply #10 on: July 21, 2004, 10:15:41 AM »
here are the issues I see:

- 24bit playback requires the expense of a DVD burner, DVD authoring software, a DVD-A player...and it better be a danm'd good one to do it justice.  All of these things would be "extras" for me...in my situation, and we are talking about $500 on the cheap end for all of this stuff.

....

I tried the quality approach and did great A-B-A testing with excellent hardware, DACs..transports, the whole 9 yards.  The difference was very, and I mean *very* minimal.  IMO, not worth it.

Ignore the cost of the recording gear.  Since there are people putting up high res flacs I would argue that source material is available at no significant cost compared to CDDA.

If someone were starting out building a system, would they be more likely to get better performance from:

   A) $500 DVD setup ($100 burner, $40 DVD-V software, $60 toshiba 3960 DVD with $300 custom upgrades)
or
   B) $500 CDDA equipment?

For someone who already owns a very good upsampling DAC, the distinction between CDDA and DVD-A might become small as you reported.  But for someone starting from scratch or very low on the gear chain, it seems to me that the cheaper solution to better sound would be the DVD-V 24/96 solution. 

What do you think, Nick?
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Offline Nick's Picks

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Re: 24bit audio testing....... (straight 24/96 vs. upsampled 16/44.1)
« Reply #11 on: July 21, 2004, 11:39:15 AM »
recording gear costs are not the issue.
its the playback gear costs that are (for me).
the DVD-V solution....can you cut gapless tracks?  if not, then i'm not sure that is a good solution.

starting from scratch on a low end gear chain is not getting you a system that allows you the bennefits of 24/96 playback in the first place.
LMA recordings and what-not


Live music: hauling around a Marshall stack whose output will get squeezed through a single SM57, then mangled by a Guinness-soaked mixer and shoved through suspicious-smelling power amps into a pair of grungy cabinets whose best days were before they left the factory, all of which are under the control of an engineer who would much rather be at home watching television.

Offline dnsacks

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Re: 24bit audio testing....... (straight 24/96 vs. upsampled 16/44.1)
« Reply #12 on: July 21, 2004, 11:57:34 AM »
what dvd-v or dvd-a players will pass a 24/96 (or 24/48) signal?

Seems like a good "giant killer" system would be cheapest dvd player that would pass a clean, minimally jittered 24/xx signal>coax>digital in on a sony strda2000es (sub-600 or strda5000es with same guts and more power for ~$1k)> a pair of nice speakers of choice.

IMHO, this system would sound REAL nice and would provide a VERY cost-effective method of accurate playback of 24 bit source material (as well as 16 bit source material).  I remain VERY impressed with the abilities of my sony strda5000es and recommend that anybody considering a receiver replacement audition the 2000-5000es series at home before making a purchase.

Offline Lil Kim Jong-Il

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Re: 24bit audio testing....... (straight 24/96 vs. upsampled 16/44.1)
« Reply #13 on: July 21, 2004, 12:25:16 PM »
DVD-V can be authored for gapless tracks.  If not, I wouldn't have an interest in it either.

I guess my question is still the same.  If someone has $500 only, can they get an upsampling DAC and CD transport that performs even close to the level of your gear?  I'm just wondering if the cost/perfomance balance is better with the modded Toshiba if someone can't afford the higher end CDDA rig.

I realize that someone with not very good playback gear would not get the full benefit of a high end source.  I was thinking along the lines of someone investing in gear to build a system.  You mentioned that the toshiba was almost at the performance of your highend player.  When you get it back from being modded, if it does compete with the higher end players for CDDA, then it would be a good option for that reason alone.  So somone who went that route would have DVDV playback capability as a bonus.  If you have it, why not use it to get the marginal improvement?

I have other reasons for going DVD that are not related to sound quality.  I want to put source documentation in the content stream, which I cannot do using CDs.  Also I can put an entire unbroken show (using my 48K masters) on a single disc instead of using 3 CDs.  (I know I'm just trying to justify my sluttyness.)

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Offline Lil Kim Jong-Il

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Re: 24bit audio testing....... (straight 24/96 vs. upsampled 16/44.1)
« Reply #14 on: July 21, 2004, 12:26:51 PM »
what dvd-v or dvd-a players will pass a 24/96 (or 24/48) signal?

some examples:

Denon 2900
Cambridge 540D
CAL CL-20 and CL-25
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