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Last post Author Topic: Why 24-bit/192kHz music files make no sense - and may be bad for you!  (Read 30643 times)

IainB

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Re: Why 24-bit/192kHz music files make no sense - and may be bad for you!
« Reply #50 on: March 12, 2012, 10:38:54 PM »
...I don't really know how to describe it other than to say when you first cue an LP, just before the music starts you can hear "the room." That empty but not totally silent "space" that the music starts playing in a second or so later. That ambient space is something digital recordings don't have.

Quote
author=40hz link=topic=30209.msg281600#msg281600 date=1331549956]
Sad when general memory loss also starts affecting your ability to recall vocabulary. ;D

You described it perfectly though!
By the way, "lethologica" is a handy word. It is defined as:
Quote
the inability to remember a word or put your finger on the right word
       ;D

40hz

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Re: Why 24-bit/192kHz music files make no sense - and may be bad for you!
« Reply #51 on: March 13, 2012, 06:52:42 AM »

By the way, "lethologica" is a handy word. It is defined as:
Quote
the inability to remember a word or put your finger on the right word
       ;D

I'll try to remember that.


IainB

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Re: Why 24-bit/192kHz music files make no sense - and may be bad for you!
« Reply #52 on: March 13, 2012, 07:36:15 AM »
Yes, amusing. I find lethologica a difficult word to remember. Knowing it still hasn't helped me to recall those other difficult words.
Quote
"...It's on the tip of my tongue..."

Question: Why is "dyslexia" spelt the way it is?

Edvard

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Re: Why 24-bit/192kHz music files make no sense - and may be bad for you!
« Reply #53 on: April 02, 2012, 10:33:40 PM »
Finally finished reading the article, and I very much agree with most of what was said.
What I didn't agree with, I'm sure was because I don't understand it.

I've always thought that 24/96 recording was a "holy grail" of sorts, knowing what little I know (or thought I knew) of Nyquist theories and how sampling works.
I knew that the lowest acceptable Nyquist sampling frequency was 2x the target top-end wavelength with 5x being the ideal and have subsequently lusted for (and sadly, never obtained) a 24/96 sound card for years.

Now I read this article and find that my 16/48 card is, for all intents and purposes, entirely sufficient?
Incredible! Astounding! Inconceivable! (that word...)
Still not entirely convinced (I swear I can hear the 'waterfalls' in the top cymbals of a CD track as opposed to virgin vinyl), but perhaps I may rest a little easier with the audio gear I have, knowing that there may be more psychoacoustics going on then I first gave credit to.  :-[

Still gonna buy that M-Audio 2496 off eBay when I start getting regular paychecks again... :Thmbsup:

Maybe a bit Off-Topic, but for the record, I know vinyl does have a different sound all it's own, and I attribute it to the RIAA curves used in the process of recording and playback, which are by necessity performed twice (high-pass curve for recording, low-pass for playback) and therefore bound by physics to sound different than tape.
I remember a friend of mine was a vinyl junkie and recorded (Chicago band on Touch and Go records) Arsenal's ep "Factory Smog is a Sign of Progress" on tape to listen at work.
I was so impressed with it that I bought the cassette (I was not a vinyl junkie before this), and I swear the songs were not the same ones I heard on the vinyl - they sounded THAT different.

Tuxman

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Re: Why 24-bit/192kHz music files make no sense - and may be bad for you!
« Reply #54 on: April 02, 2012, 11:48:57 PM »
The whole topic seems to be focused on MP3. AFAIK ogg (aoTuV) works around some of the mentioned issues, I try to avoid using MP3 anyway... :)

IainB

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Re: Why 24-bit/192kHz music files make no sense - and may be bad for you!
« Reply #55 on: April 13, 2012, 06:09:55 AM »
I don't know if anything will come of this, but could be relevant and it is interesting:
Is There Any Merit To Neil Young's Plan To Improve The Quality Of Digital Music?

IainB

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This is interesting:
Dolby's TrueHD 96K Upsampling To Improve Sound On Blu-Rays
Spoiler
Stowie101 writes in with a story about your Blu-ray audio getting better.
"The audio on most Blu-ray discs is sampled at 48kHz. Even the original movie tracks are usually only recorded at 48kHz, so once a movie migrates to disc, there isn't much that can be done. Dolby's new system upsamples that audio signal to 96kHz at the master stage prior to the Dolby TrueHD encoding, so you get lossless audio with fewer digital artifacts. The 'fewer digital artifacts' part comes from a feature of Dolby's upsampling process called de-apodizing, which corrects a prevalent digital artifact known as pre-ringing. Pre-ringing is often introduced in the capture and creation process and adds a digital harshness to the audio. The apodizing filter masks the effect of pre-ringing by placing it behind the source tone — the listener can't hear the pre-ringing because it's behind the more prevalent original signal."


Renegade

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Re: Why 24-bit/192kHz music files make no sense - and may be bad for you!
« Reply #57 on: September 08, 2013, 12:02:35 AM »
NECROTHREAD! ARISE! <chanting to old ones that have no name... />

I+m+sorry+i+worship+Cthulhu+he+just+wants+me+to+_5346c107684e064da3b4c5678bfaf63e.jpg

Seems Pono is just about here:

http://www.rollingst...ch-for-2014-20130904

Quote
Neil Young's music service Pono, which will provide listeners with downloads of high-resolution songs made to sound like their initial recordings, is almost ready to roll. It's set to launch in early 2014, according to a Facebook post written by Young.

"The simplest way to describe what we've accomplished is that we've liberated the music of the artist from the digital file and restored it to its original artistic quality – as it was in the studio," wrote Young. "So it has primal power."

I'm going to come out on Neil's side here.

I'm also going to say f*&( science. But I say that for scientific reasons.

The original article:

http://people.xiph.o...demo/neil-young.html

Quote
The ear hears via hair cells that sit on the resonant basilar membrane in the cochlea. Each hair cell is effectively tuned to a narrow frequency band determined by its position on the membrane. Sensitivity peaks in the middle of the band and falls off to either side in a lopsided cone shape overlapping the bands of other nearby hair cells. A sound is inaudible if there are no hair cells tuned to hear it.

And THAT, ladies and gentlemen, is why they fail.

Neil is right.

Monty is wrong.

But I am getting ahead of myself there. Consider that the tl;dr.

There is no good science done in this area. There is only partial science.

The article does an excellent job of addressing a lot of issues. It explains quite a bit. But it never asks the right questions. The discussion is far too limited, and so is the science.

The entire argument that "24/192 makes no sense" centers around sampling theory and the human ear. This is not sufficient. More recent graphs of human hearing do not really get much more accurate than the original studies from the 1920's (or whenever - I'm not going to bother looking it up as it's a side issue). Sure, there are some differences in A-weighted vs. other weightings, but even when they become more accurate, weightings are regularly misused by professionals who really should know better. But... it all goes back to reliance on weightings as accurate representations of... wait for it... what levels of sound humans can identify as being heard.

I need to repeat that.

"what levels of sound humans can identify as being heard"

That's important. It's what different scales are based on and it is the sum total of the industry approach to "sound".

When you buy a microphone or good speakers, you'll see graphs that show how they perform. Blah blah blah. All the same basic science.

Now... imagine 100 people out in the jungle spread out say 30 m from each other in a line walking forward. As they walk forward, our hero, Joe, is in the center when the hair on his arms rises up and he gets a sick feeling. The only thing he "hears" is the crunch of twigs beneath his feet and the odd calling out from people near him for the little boy. Another hero, Fred, is on the far right of the line. He has no such sensation.

We backtrack just a moment in time and over to the far left. Not so much a hero, but more of a victim, Harold looks ahead and sees a large tiger. It roars. This is where Joe's hair stands up and he gets the sickly feeling.

The tiger then proceeds to eat Harold. NOM NOM NOM NOM~! Slurp! Burp! Harold was very tasty and the tiger is very happy at such a wonderful meal.

What happened there?

The tiger's roar contained a lot of energy. Harold got the full exposure to that energy. Fred received zero exposure as he was too far away. But they're not the interesting parts of the story.

Joe was too far away to receive any audible energy from the tiger's roar. However, he did receive some of that energy, which spooked him and caused the hair on the back of his neck to rise up, and for Joe to get that sickly feeling that he couldn't quite identify. That portion of the tiger's roar that Joe "felt" was around 3 Hz as higher frequencies don't travel as far as lower frequencies. If it were 40hz, we'd simply say that a DCer fell on top of Joe. :P ;D

(I could have summed that up really quickly, but the little story where Harold gets eaten was much more fun! ;D )

The current science as we have in the article completely dismisses these cases by limiting "sound" to "the audible spectrum". The fact of the matter is that sound has a greater effect than just that limited definition, and nobody is asking these questions.

Again, f*&( "science" for being so stupid. You don't get to try to talk about a scientific topic then limit the discussion to what you like and exclude all the inconvenient evidence that flies in your face. That's not science. That's hyper-focused bullshit. Now, it may be really good shiny awesome math and cool charts hyper-focused bullshit, but it's still bullshit.

Neil is onto something. He knows that there is something that we are missing. However, nobody is going to be able to articulate that in a scientific context until there is research into these areas.

I am not putting forward that I know all the answers. I am putting forward that the wrong questions or not enough questions are being asked, and that the discussion has been artificially limited in a horribly irresponsible way if you actually give a crap about evidence based science. Just because you can't explain or don't understand some evidence doesn't mean that you can exclude it, which is exactly what modern sound science does, as clearly illustrated in the article.

(Took me long enough to get around to reading that.)
Slow Down Music - Where I commit thought crimes...

Freedom is the right to be wrong, not the right to do wrong. - John Diefenbaker

Joe Hone

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Re: Why 24-bit/192kHz music files make no sense - and may be bad for you!
« Reply #58 on: September 23, 2013, 03:16:18 PM »
I've enjoyed reading through this older thread and some of the opinions being offered. I work in the audio industry and for my purposes, 16 bit works fine. We have done all of the blind testing time allows and find that 24/192 isn't "better," but it may be "different." And as for discerning listeners claiming to hear a difference where science says there is none, we have a mic preamp in the studio that has an "air" switch, which activates frequency filters above what any human ear can hear. But those frequencies interact with frequencies that are audible, and it is interesting to hear how that switch opens up the top end of say a voice or guitar being tracked - even if "air" isn't right for that particular track. So I won't be arguing with Neil Young. But I'm also still working in 16 bit. (We cheat, because we track to tape which preserves all of the warmth you want to hear but then go into the DAW for editing and mixing.)

I work with first generation sound all day long, but it gets compressed, equalized, mixed, mastered and replicated before it arrives in your playback system. To me, it already has lost much of what makes it musical before you ever hear it, but mixing requires compression, equalization and reverb to give the instruments and voice space to be heard through your speakers. Fortunately, most of us get caught up in the composition/performance rather than worry that much about the sound, which is why mp3 is tolerable. And mp3 is vastly superior to my introduction to music - the AM transistor radio I got for my birthday in 1968.

JavaJones

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Re: Why 24-bit/192kHz music files make no sense - and may be bad for you!
« Reply #59 on: September 23, 2013, 04:01:36 PM »
IANAAE (I Am Not An Audio Engineer), so take the following with a grain of salt. ;)

Frequencies that home speakers/headphones cannot reproduce are irrelevant without massive improvements in sound reproduction capability in the home. Given the fact that this has not happened in the last 50+ years (incremental improvements only), I don't expect it to happen in the next 50. Even if it did, the improvements would be so minor for most listeners that the cost and hassle of replacing all their equipment would not be desirable for most. By the time such a conversion was complete, it would be time to re-buy the White Album anyway, and it could be mastered in 512/4096 for all I care. In other words by the time you'll be able to actually hear the difference (due to limitations in your equipment, not necessarily your ears!), you would have likely bought the thing again anyways, i.e. there will be something better than "Pono". Buying Pono stuff now doesn't help you though.

For now and the foreseeable future, much as sub-audible frequencies may be *perceivable* and have an effect *in person*, they are not relevant for recorded music. Nor, in fact, are they relevant for *any* amplified music since there are multiple limits in place there, not least of which are the speakers, but also any live processing being done (reverb, compression, etc.). Even if your entire amplification system is analog, the speakers are still a limiting factor. As are mics that recorded it in the first place, for that matter! There is *so much compromise* throughout any music production process, whether analog or digital, that I think it's a bit silly to cling so tightly to the "purity" of reproducing the finished results with 100% accuracy. Hell, the placement of speakers in a person's room, or how old their headphones are (and thus how much wear they have been subject to, how clean and undamaged their drivers are) will likely impact the sound they perceive far more than the difference between 16 and 24 bit or 192kHz vs. 44.1kHz.

But forget all that, this is what really matters, and where real science comes into it (not the theoretical, the practical!). Multiple blind tests have been done that show that even so-called audiophiles, even self-processed "super hearers", cannot in fact hear the difference between high bitrate MP3s/AACs and original CD recordings. If that's true, how can we expect to hear difference in the even smaller (relatively speaking) quality differential between CD quality and Pono? Now you can argue theoreticals all you want, but in the end there is one great way to answer this compellingly, and that is to run blind tests with Pono, with 24/192 audio vs. 16/44.1, and let's just see what the results are. This reminds me of the Randi Foundation's million dollar prize for proof of the supernatural - so far nobody has won. :D

Until that happens, as far as I can see at this point you're going to be buying files in a proprietary format that are 6 times larger than they need to be, using more bandwidth and hard drive space than necessary (and probably paying more for the privilege too). It's wasteful and unnecessary.

Of course Xiph.org has done a far better job than me of explaining why all of this is misguided. :D

By the way Joe: http://www.youtube.c.../watch?v=NGJ9Z0wOGYk

- Oshyan

superboyac

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Re: Why 24-bit/192kHz music files make no sense - and may be bad for you!
« Reply #60 on: September 23, 2013, 06:09:44 PM »
I had this debate recently with a friend, and this is the conclusion I came to:
I've done my fair share of audio experiments and I tend to agree with the article's point.  I can't tell for MOST of these audiophile issues.  I just can't tell if there is a difference or not.  I've tried listening to lossy vs lossless sources, I've compared cheap headphones to expensive ones, headphone amps...and ultimately, I just can't tell if it matters after a certain point, and it seems to agree with what the article is saying.

I think the mastering of music is a much more significant point.  There is an OBVIOUS difference to how music is mastered between the really good guys and the crappy guys.  anyway, probably besides the point.

Renegade

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Re: Why 24-bit/192kHz music files make no sense - and may be bad for you!
« Reply #61 on: September 23, 2013, 09:07:34 PM »
...And as for discerning listeners claiming to hear a difference where science says there is none, we have a mic preamp in the studio that has an "air" switch, which activates frequency filters above what any human ear can hear. But those frequencies interact with frequencies that are audible, and it is interesting to hear how that switch opens up the top end of say a voice or guitar being tracked - even if "air" isn't right for that particular track...

Case in point there!  :Thmbsup:

Frequencies that home speakers/headphones cannot reproduce are irrelevant without massive improvements in sound reproduction capability in the home....

For now and the foreseeable future, much as sub-audible frequencies may be *perceivable* and have an effect *in person*, they are not relevant for recorded music...

*IF* that sound energy is not replicated by the playback system, then yes. *IF* that sound energy *IS* replicated by the playback system, then no.

Nor, in fact, are they relevant for *any* amplified music since there are multiple limits in place there, not least of which are the speakers, but also any live processing being done (reverb, compression, etc.). Even if your entire amplification system is analog, the speakers are still a limiting factor. As are mics that recorded it in the first place, for that matter! There is *so much compromise* throughout any music production process, whether analog or digital, that I think it's a bit silly to cling so tightly to the "purity" of reproducing the finished results with 100% accuracy. Hell, the placement of speakers in a person's room, or how old their headphones are (and thus how much wear they have been subject to, how clean and undamaged their drivers are) will likely impact the sound they perceive far more than the difference between 16 and 24 bit or 192kHz vs. 44.1kHz.

You make some good points.

However, they're really not all that relevant to the basic question. That is, the question of limitations in equipment is the same question as limitations in the audio format, just applied to a different area of the recording, storage, playback chain of events.

i.e. The question can be applied to the audio format, the recording equipment, the playback equipment, etc. etc.

The basic question is about how sound energy affects people. Traditional audio science excludes a large amount of sound energy from the question, which I've pointed out is erroneous in my tiger example above, and how Joe Hone has pointed out with the "air" example.

Slayer does some interesting melodic harmonies, but they do it on 2 guitars instead of 1 because the frequencies interact differently. On 1 guitar, it sounds muddy. On 2 guitars, you get a nice, clean sound. How sound energy interacts with other sound energy is a very important consideration - the "air" example above nicely illustrates how inaudible sound energy is important in the equation.

On the practical side, well... it all depends. We simply do not know enough about sound energy to intelligently comment on how practical some of these considerations are. Conventional wisdom would tell us that these extremes in audio fidelity are impractical, or too expensive, or not really worth our time. I'm not going to dispute that. I am going to say that we don't know enough other than we know for a fact that what we know is not a complete representation of reality, i.e. it's overreaching in its conclusions, which is wrong.

As a further example to illustrate just how little we know about the effects of sound energy on humans, consider wind farm turbine sound...

http://www.telegraph...-say-scientists.html

http://www.renewable...n-wind-turbine-sound

http://windeffects.o...g/wind-turbine-noise

I'm pretty much just picking the top 3 search results there, but they are enough to illustrate some of the points that I've made above. The second article there from renewableenergyworld.com is a skeptical article that makes several mistakes and cites a study that is completely mistake for many reasons that I won't get into. I put it there to show the counter-argument in the debate.

There is a lot more information out there. One of the key things to pay attention to in that debate is how weighted sound is used. By using weighted sound curves, sound energy is excluded, but isn't that what the debate is about?

Now, if inaudible sound can cause harm like that, can it also be beneficial? We just don't know the answer to that question as nobody has really looked into that very much.

But if we discovered that sound in a particular inaudible range could affect people positively, would it be practical to use that? Or would it be cost prohibitive? Would the benefit be greater than any associated costs?

I'm not being a purist - I'm merely trying to frame the science in more realistic terms to reflect objective reality better.

When we actually know enough about how inaudible sound energy affects people, then we can more intelligently talk about how valuable (or futile) reproducing it is.
Slow Down Music - Where I commit thought crimes...

Freedom is the right to be wrong, not the right to do wrong. - John Diefenbaker

JavaJones

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Re: Why 24-bit/192kHz music files make no sense - and may be bad for you!
« Reply #62 on: September 24, 2013, 01:03:29 PM »
I think you're really just making an appeal to ignorance and elevating the value of the theoretical here, which could be the beginning of science perhaps (if it inspires investigation), but is really just speculation. It is in fact fairly easy to test the limits of what our sound reproduction equipment can produce, and that is ultimately all that actually matters in this consideration because in the end all the recording, mixing, and mastering has to get squeezed through those limited speakers/headphones on the listener's end.

But even if you somehow believe the measuring capabilities we have now can't account for every possible effect, as I said above there is really a simple way to find out if any of those "woo-woo" audio stuff is *practically detectable by humans* (whether directly or otherwise!), and yet so far such tests have failed to show a difference even between existing high quality (but lossy) audio formats and their lossless sources, much less a difference between two ultra high quality lossless sources. That being said I will say that to my knowledge no one has done such a blind test with 16/44.1 vs. 24/192 audio, so if indeed these inaudible frequencies are somehow reproduced by audio equipment, even though they're well outside their rated range, and if somehow humans are able to detect them, then there may be value in Pono and other ultra high quality audio storage approaches.

But I think the problem I have with your argument is that it essentially relies on the supposed limitations in our knowledge of audio science, when in fact, as I've pointed out, we don't need to know everything about audio to test *the effects* (to *understand* the effects we perhaps do, but not to *test whether they exist*). I don't think we need to wait until some possible future breakthrough in audio science to determine whether Pono is worthwhile. This is like someone saying "Homeopathic medicine works but our existing science has no way to measure it", to which I say do some controlled studies and we'll soon see. We can measure effects even if we cannot directly measure methods of action.

So who wants to run a blind test with Pono? I can guarantee you Neil Young won't be doing any fair comparisons (i.e. blind, same audio source, multiple subjects) any time soon. :D

- Oshyan
« Last Edit: September 24, 2013, 01:09:29 PM by JavaJones »

40hz

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Re: Why 24-bit/192kHz music files make no sense - and may be bad for you!
« Reply #63 on: September 24, 2013, 03:08:14 PM »
Too bad everybody's ears, tastes, and sonic preferences weren't identical.

It would simplify matters greatly.  ;)

Shades

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Re: Why 24-bit/192kHz music files make no sense - and may be bad for you!
« Reply #64 on: September 24, 2013, 06:16:20 PM »
Years ago I heard (or read, I don't remember) a story from a 70-80 rock band (Slade/Suede or something) that went into the studio, did the recording and then checked how it sounded on a average car stereo. They would rerecord if their music didn't sound according to their standards of 'good'.

Subjective I know, but they would go out of their way to make it sound as best as possible on the average Joe car stereo. And when Average Joe would come to their concert, they could blow him away with the onstage performance.

I always thought it to be very considerate of that band.

40hz

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Re: Why 24-bit/192kHz music files make no sense - and may be bad for you!
« Reply #65 on: September 24, 2013, 07:36:04 PM »
^If they did, they were using an old studio trick from back in the early 60s. The story (as I heard it) was that a mix wasn't finalized until it sounded good played both through a car radio and a small hand-held transistor radio. (Not much was stereo back then.)

a.jpg     2.jpg

Since it was estimated that 90% of the USA's music listening was done either in a car, or with a small radio, it made good sense to optimize the mix for the lowest common denominator - with the sure knowledge that if it sounded good there, it would sound even better on a home stereo or the family Victorola.

Edvard

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Re: Why 24-bit/192kHz music files make no sense - and may be bad for you!
« Reply #66 on: September 24, 2013, 08:00:39 PM »
Rumor had it that was a trick used extensively by Motown Records and picked up on by others.  Part of the rumor is they had their own low-power radio station that would broadcast to the cars in the parking lot where musicians and producers could listen to the final mix over the car radio.

Renegade

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Re: Why 24-bit/192kHz music files make no sense - and may be bad for you!
« Reply #67 on: September 25, 2013, 12:18:56 AM »
I think you're really just making an appeal to ignorance and elevating the value of the theoretical here, which could be the beginning of science perhaps (if it inspires investigation), but is really just speculation.

No. I am not speculating. I am stating facts and that the implications of those have not been applied to this particular topic.

Perhaps I should have been stronger in my statements and put out more evidence. I was trying to be relatively brief. I'll get to more evidence below.

It is in fact fairly easy to test the limits of what our sound reproduction equipment can produce, and that is ultimately all that actually matters in this consideration because in the end all the recording, mixing, and mastering has to get squeezed through those limited speakers/headphones on the listener's end.

No argument there. Each step in the process creates a bottle neck, with the final one being the playback equipment.

But even if you somehow believe the measuring capabilities we have now can't account for every possible effect, as I said above there is really a simple way to find out if any of those "woo-woo" audio stuff is *practically detectable by humans* (whether directly or otherwise!), and yet so far such tests have failed to show a difference even between existing high quality (but lossy) audio formats and their lossless sources, much less a difference between two ultra high quality lossless sources.

It should be no surprise that the test don't show a difference because they're not actually testing for the right differences!

Again, they have unrealistically limited the scope of the question to the range of human hearing, which exactly what I am disputing. They are NOT testing the right things.

As I mentioned above, we still need more research done on what those "right things" are. We KNOW for a fact that they exist. This is not indispute, except in the audio industry, ironically. (Evidence below.)

That being said I will say that to my knowledge no one has done such a blind test with 16/44.1 vs. 24/192 audio, so if indeed these inaudible frequencies are somehow reproduced by audio equipment, even though they're well outside their rated range, and if somehow humans are able to detect them, then there may be value in Pono and other ultra high quality audio storage approaches.


While I wouldn't phrase things quite like that, you've kind of summarized what I've been saying above.


But I think the problem I have with your argument is that it essentially relies on the supposed limitations in our knowledge of audio science, when in fact, as I've pointed out, we don't need to know everything about audio to test *the effects* (to *understand* the effects we perhaps do, but not to *test whether they exist*).

But they aren't even testing for the effects! They run some tests for human hearing and do some analysis on the signals, but they do not test for what I've been describing.

I don't think we need to wait until some possible future breakthrough in audio science to determine whether Pono is worthwhile.

The question is whether the costs outweigh the potential benefits. Maybe, maybe not. My gut reaction is that storage is so cheap now that unless we're talking about orders of magnitude differences, then probably the costs are insignificant. Will that pan out? Dunno. I guess it's just a gamble, and a gamble that I'd take.


This is like someone saying "Homeopathic medicine works but our existing science has no way to measure it", to which I say do some controlled studies and we'll soon see. We can measure effects even if we cannot directly measure methods of action.

Yes - as long as we actually do some better testing, and explore more about what we should be looking for. We know some of what we should be looking for, but it's a BIG ocean out there to discover.

So who wants to run a blind test with Pono? I can guarantee you Neil Young won't be doing any fair comparisons (i.e. blind, same audio source, multiple subjects) any time soon. :D

Funny that you should say blind... hehehe! Let's get into the evidence, starting with...

...wait for it...

...wait for it...

GHOSTS!

Yes. Ghosts. Those spooky things that haunt houses, and sometimes... even laboratories. ;)

http://skepdic.com/infrasound.html

 
Quote
Several years earlier, Tandy was working late in the "haunted" Warwick laboratory when he saw a gray thing coming for him. "I felt the hairs rise on the back of my neck," he said. "It seemed to be between me and the door, so the only thing I could do was turn and face it."* But the thing disappeared. However, it reappeared in a different form the next day when Tandy was doing some work on his fencing foil. "The handle was clamped in a vice on a workbench, yet the blade started vibrating like mad," he said. He wondered why the blade vibrated in one part of room but  not in another. The explanation, he discovered, was that infrasound was coming from an extractor fan. "When we finally switched it off, it was as if a huge weight was lifted," he said. "It makes me think that one of the applications of this ongoing research could be a link between infrasound and sick-building syndrome." When he measured the infrasound in the laboratory, the showing was 18.98 hertz--the exact frequency at which a human eyeball starts resonating. The sound waves made his eyeballs resonate and produced an optical illusion: He saw a figure that didn't exist.*

Perhaps the tests shouldn't be "blind". ;) ;D

More on the story here:

http://ghosts.monstr...s.com/infrasound.htm

Have any of these compression or audio tests tested for ghosts? Because sound can produce ghosts!

Just how damn cool is that?  :Thmbsup:

While it might not be great for children's music, can you imagine some band like Slayer creating a song about ghosts/monsters/whatever that made you hallucinate? You could take drug music to entirely new highs! ;D

There's lots more evidence out there to illustrate what I've been saying above.

Another fun topic is sonic weaponry. I'll leave that out for now as it should suffice to say that sonic weaponry can cause serious effects in people. 

The practical side of the question is whether consumer level gear will ever reach the point that it can reproduce those kinds of sounds. That's where the mass market is. (I'm assuming that we'd have professional/military level gear capable of that before consumer level gear.)
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JavaJones

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Re: Why 24-bit/192kHz music files make no sense - and may be bad for you!
« Reply #68 on: September 25, 2013, 12:39:08 AM »
Hmm, how do you know the tests aren't testing for the right things? They are *not* as specific as you are suggesting. Here's how a blind audio test works: a person listens to playback of 2 (or 3) audio segments with identical *content*, but that differ in compression/bitrate/storage media/etc. They are not told which is which, but they know they are listening for a difference (sometimes they listen to 2, then a 3rd, and are supposed to identify which of the first 2 the 3rd corresponds to). If they can reliably detect a difference (or match the 3rd sample), they could correlate that difference with e.g. lossless formats vs. lossy compression. Multiple tests confirm that people are unable to make such distinctions with high enough bitrates in lossy compression (vs. CD audio 16/44.1 as a comparative). It doesn't matter one teeny tiny bit if the way they were able to detect a difference was because of "subsonic" or subconscious frequencies; they are not measuring the specific method of differentiation, only *whether there is any reliable differentiation*. There is not. Therefore the idea that they're not "measuring the right thing" is incorrect. They are measuring the *effect*, not a specific and limited set of criteria.

As I said I'm not aware of any such tests being yet performed on 24/192 audio, but since people are almost universally unable to detect a difference even between lossy and lossless 44.1 audio, I'm doubtful that the results would be any different. The only possible way they would is if you're right about the subconscious frequencies, which is highly speculative since speakers aren't built to reproduce such frequencies, and are broadly incapable of producing them even when intentionally induced to do so. The crux of my argument is focused on the limitations of audio reproduction equipment, not on whether such effects actually exist in the real world, with live sound (they obviously do). Still, I'd be curious to see the results of such a test, if only to answer your doubts.

- Oshyan

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Re: Why 24-bit/192kHz music files make no sense - and may be bad for you!
« Reply #69 on: September 25, 2013, 04:52:21 AM »
It's been about 10 years or so since I was doing a lot of this, so my memory may be rusty in some places.

IIRC, testing is done on reference speakers or monitors. Those usually have a frequency response of 20 Hz to 40 Hz up to 50 KHz, with most maxing out below 30 KHz.

None of those speakers is capable of reproducing the kinds of sounds that I've mentioned above.

At 50 KHz, sampling beyond 100 KHz is irrelevant because of the Nyquist frequency/sampling theorem there. So, what was mentioned above about "air" at the extreme high end is filtered out.

However, at the low end below 40 or 20 Hz, that's cut. The examples I gave were in the cut range there, so it's safe to say that no, they have not tested for that. But we would also need to include those kinds of effects in the sound being tested in order to test for it. That's not going to happen in your average, every day music.

So practically, it's pretty safe to say that 24/192 is useless, but ONLY because we are not using what is available to its full potential.

That's almost like complaining about being hungry after finishing a nice steak meal because you only ate the gravy/sauce and didn't touch the steak or anything else.

You can imagine a musician creating a song and working in sound that makes you nauseous at certain points. We don't have that now, but do we want to preclude the possibility of that? That's the question that we need to address when talking about ranges here. By excluding those possibilities, we limit artistic expression right from the get-go.

Will I go out and buy a set of speakers with a frequency response range of 0.3 Hz to 96 KHz? Hell no. Right now that's some serious engineering and custom work that I can't afford. But, that doesn't mean that in the future we won't see that. We already have consumer level speakers and headphones rated for up to and beyond 30 KHz. Some go down to 12 hz or so.

Traditionally, hardware leads the technology race. However, this is one case where software is clearly leading, which is a bit of a bizarre flip-around.

Does it make sense to have a software standard ready for hardware manufacturers to catch up to? I don't see why not.

Nixing 24/192 may be premature if the attitude is, "Oh well, I can't buy speakers for it today, so, forget it." That's not really a good reason. If we stuck to that kind of mentality, we'd still be saying, "Oh, forget that stupid wheel invention because there are no Ferraris to put them on."

BACK TO THE XIPH ARTICLE

What I've outlined is an illustration that the conclusions in the Xiph article are premature and based on incomplete science.

For the IMMEDIATE PRACTICALITY TODAY IN THIS MOMENT... a 96 KHz sampling rate is about the highest ever needed, and more realistically for existing equipment, 48 KHz is more than enough. Bit depth decides what happens within that, and I've not tried to address that question as I'm still rusty on some of this and would need to go back and read up for a refresher before I could comment as I have above.

Another way to phrase this is "what is practical today" vs. "what will be practical tomorrow". Or something like that.
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Freedom is the right to be wrong, not the right to do wrong. - John Diefenbaker
« Last Edit: September 25, 2013, 05:15:28 AM by Renegade »

JavaJones

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Re: Why 24-bit/192kHz music files make no sense - and may be bad for you!
« Reply #70 on: September 26, 2013, 01:53:30 AM »
Actually, it's usually the professional/producer side that drives *media-based* tech innovation. This has been true of HD video, advances in audio, etc. I have no problem with 24/192 being used in the studio, or at least being available for those who want to use it. The natural progression is then for the speakers that can reproduce it to be developed for high-end studio purposes, then be bought/available for rich people who can afford it, then it ultimately becomes mass market and cheap enough for the average person to buy. That's *if* the technology actually catches on, and *if* it can be produced in a form that is not so delicate or subject to home environment variables that it doesn't work out. So basically I'm just saying that making Pono available now as a home listening technology is pointless and wasteful. By all means keep using it in studios, but let's wait until we can actually hear the difference, at which time great, a format is waiting in the wings.

So, no, the conclusions in the Xiph article are right on. It seems like we're actually in general agreement in terms of *right here and now* and *for the home user*. You just have a different idea of how the progression of technology works. I see little value in making content available without devices that can reproduce it. This is akin to selling 3D video *content* before you have even *invented* 3D TVs! The way it actually went was 3D TVs came out and there was very, very limited content, but their growing adoption drove content production. Think about it in the context of this debate...

- Oshyan

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Re: Why 24-bit/192kHz music files make no sense - and may be bad for you!
« Reply #71 on: September 26, 2013, 08:48:26 AM »
I do hope they come up with a better form factor for the Pono than that triangular shaped thing Neil was carrying around for show & tell when/if it ever gets released.
  :Thmbsup:

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Re: Why 24-bit/192kHz music files make no sense - and may be bad for you!
« Reply #72 on: September 26, 2013, 09:58:49 AM »
Actually, it's usually the professional/producer side that drives *media-based* tech innovation. This has been true of HD video, advances in audio, etc.


I didn't mean to address WHO drives it - only what tools do. Those are generally hardware.


I have no problem with 24/192 being used in the studio, or at least being available for those who want to use it. The natural progression is then for the speakers that can reproduce it to be developed for high-end studio purposes, then be bought/available for rich people who can afford it, then it ultimately becomes mass market and cheap enough for the average person to buy.


Bang on the money there! :)


That's *if* the technology actually catches on, and *if* it can be produced in a form that is not so delicate or subject to home environment variables that it doesn't work out.


Yep. That's how we ended up with VHS instead of Beta.


So basically I'm just saying that making Pono available now as a home listening technology is pointless and wasteful. By all means keep using it in studios, but let's wait until we can actually hear the difference, at which time great, a format is waiting in the wings.


But in 10 years, do you want to buy everything again? It's a gamble. I'm not sure I'd buy into Pono without the equipment to use it. I'm also not really a big fan of proprietary formats.


So, no, the conclusions in the Xiph article are right on.

We're not going to agree there. I think they're wrong for reasons different than they've presented, and for evidential reasons that have largely been ignored.

And you CAN take advantage of some of that today in the LFE zone down to about 16 Hz in some subwoofers.

** After a quick browse around, I've not seen any subwoofers going below 16 Hz, and I don't recall any off-hand going lower. There may be some that go lower.

HOWEVER!

In the headphone space you can get headphones that go down MUCH lower than 16 HZ.

http://www.fostexint...ducts/TH-900.shtml#3

That goes down to 5 Hz.

Can we say BOOM~?

They also go up to 45 KHz, so there's a solid doubling above human hearing there, which isn't unrealistic for high energy, high frequency sounds to affect harmonics down the line.

My own headphones are AKG K240 MKIIs:

http://www.akg.com/K...d=1194&techspecs

They have a response between 15 Hz to 25 KHz.

So, I *could* see ghosts! ;D


It seems like we're actually in general agreement in terms of *right here and now* and *for the home user*.

On the practical side, absolutely. MP3 is good enough for most people.


You just have a different idea of how the progression of technology works.

Yes, but that really wasn't the point that I was trying to make. I went on to that because you brought it into the discussion. Still fun though! :D


I see little value in making content available without devices that can reproduce it.


Well, we're getting there. 5 Hz is pretty damn low. Doubling the effectiveness of the technology would only get you to 2.5 Hz, which includes the bottom of a tiger's roar. It's a fight to the bottom there.

So, at the low end, we do have equipment that is doing pretty damn good. It's the high end where we're lacking.


This is akin to selling 3D video *content* before you have even *invented* 3D TVs! The way it actually went was 3D TVs came out and there was very, very limited content, but their growing adoption drove content production. Think about it in the context of this debate...

Well, yes and no. It's like selling 3D content that plays in a regular TV, but is way better in a 3D TV, that may never be produced.

Audio is like the bastard red-headed step-child: Nobody pays attention to the poor kid until the laundry and dishes aren't done and everyone is hungry and naked.

People like pictures. Video. Things they can see.

Audio is transitory, but pictures you can hang on your wall.

Given the destruction of and war on the middle class, I have a hard time imagining it being very profitable for audio companies to invest all that much into better products.

Just look at telephony. It sucks. We still have the same basic crap from about a century ago. It's not really improved all that much compared to other technologies. I hate using my phone. The sound quality is horrendous. Skype is better because it's not limited by legacy crap that telcos refuse to upgrade.

So... while I won't concede any of my theoretical points, I will concede the practical point for reasons very different from the Xiph article's reasons, and more in line with what you've outlined here - we are unlikely to get better audio reproduction equipment. (It will remain almost exclusively for military or para-military use.)
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JavaJones

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Re: Why 24-bit/192kHz music files make no sense - and may be bad for you!
« Reply #73 on: September 27, 2013, 07:10:32 PM »
So we have 5-45,000hz earphones, great, that means you can do the blind testing I was referring to on your theory of sub-audibles being perceivable by other means (or subconsciously). That's been my point all along: it matters not a whit if you don't record the full range of sound unless we can demonstrate conclusively that a range beyond that which we currently record and reproduce is actually perceivable (consistently, reproducibly) to the listener. *That* would make a compelling case for expanding the range of audio recording, but that hasn't been demonstrated yet. This can easily be tested for modern equipment though. So the thing to do is get a set of those headphones and some sample Pono files and do some blind tests. Since you already have good headphones, I nominate you as our first test subject. :D

It's like selling 3D content that plays in a regular TV, but is way better in a 3D TV, that may never be produced.

"Way better" is highly debatable when, as I've pointed out multiple times, blind tests show that even MP3 vs. CD audio can seldom be differentiated. I would accept "but is potentially better in a 3D TV" as the comparative. But that doesn't sell it nearly as well, now does it? ;) And the fact that even this minor, incremental difference would only be noticed on a piece of hardware which may never exist... yeah, I'd rather not bother with Pono then and buy stuff over again in 10 years *if* there's a breakthrough.

It's not just that audio is "less profitable" to innovate in, it's also that it's a harder medium to push forward. Audio reproduction got a helluvalot closer to the limits of human perception than video did in a much shorter time. The gains that remain to be had are very incremental. We had nearly "perfect" audio reproduction in the home decades go, whereas for video, high definition has only become mainstream within the last 10 years, and even still it's far from "perfect", not only due to resolution and *color/brightness depth limitations*, but also due to lack of real 3D (with or without glasses), among other things. Audio doesn't suffer from the same limitations. The breakthroughs were easier to make and were made earlier (think multi-channel audio, for example).

My landline phone is just fine. Are you talking about landlines? Cell audio is crappy due both to legacy networks/tech, and the need to conserve bandwidth. There is some push forward toward "HD" call quality though, and I certainly welcome that. It *is* driven by market forces, so your argument there is sound. It's certainly not a fundamental technology limit. We could (and some people do) run Skype-like stuff over modern data networks and get better results.

- Oshyan