Hi-resolution support required (eg: AIFF 96kHz/24bit)

  • 13 August 2013
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While they are being silly, I don't understand why the audiophile community is not demanding 384/32. It is out there and it must be better, right?
Lol, just give them some time.
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We use just connects mostly on hard line network. And then send that audio into a URC Total Control System.
So the Hi-Res for us would not present an issue for Sonos.
They are looking for it to work and have not real need to justify the risk of that feature.
Guess I need to down covert the files
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The whole point of higher sampling (96khz and up) was to move the noise generated from digital sampling higher in band... above most humans ability to hear. The reason was at the time not all DAC's were made equal. Many of the methods used to filter out the digital noise caused more problems than they solved. By moving the noise up the band you were left with a cleaner signal. The technology finally caught up so that most consumer DAC's could filter out the sampling noise and sound good with standard 16bit- 44.1khz audio. The only thing sampling has domain over is the frequency range captured. At 44.1 you'l get 0-22.5khz well above the 20khz most systems and even most people can hear. Many enthusiasts will argue that you can hear above 20khz... but this is another topic entirely.

At this point the only real issue left is the bit depth which does make a difference in dynamic range. More accurate than 16 bit and a difference many audiophiles can hear. The issue with applying it to Sonos is: A) do their DAC's support 24 bit playback in the first place. Not sure they wouldn't but I'm not aware of what DAC's they're using. 😎 Adding support to the firmware ($$$) C) Adding support to down sample media to the hardware specs. To point C the big issue here is where the down sampling occurs and is a major software rewrite. Is the feature only supported on desktops or do mobile devices with minimal hardware resources need the feature too? Down-sampling in its own right introduces noise and the methods to minimize that noise (called anti-aliasing) is an art left to a professional sound engineer not automated software on consumer speakers. I'm pretty sure there would be an uproar on the forums if such a system was put in place and everyone would have an opinion on the best solution to that.

I don't think Sonos ever billed itself as a hi-fi platform. They certainly don't compete with the high end audio market. I think for the sake of play-ability it would be wise for them to support 24-96khz as these files are used more often. But to be honest if you're looking for a hi-fi experience with these files you should have a better hi-fi set-up than Sonos.
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At this point the only real issue left is the bit depth which does make a difference in dynamic range. More accurate than 16 bit and a difference many audiophiles can hear.

CLAIM to hear...

The dynamic range of 16-bit is 96dB. This is WAY more range than any recording actually uses, especially when you consider the current mastering practices that massively over-compress the dynamic range of the music. Even non-overtly compressed music is still typically under 40-50dB of dynamnic range. Greater than 16-bit makes sense in the recording/mastering pipeline, but 16-but is perfectly fine for the final delivery.
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I agree that 16bit is fine for listening. But I do have ahi-fi setup and have A-B 16 vs 24 and there is a difference. I'm not arguing that Sonos should support the feature to appease audiophiles. My only point would be to support it for convenience. If you're an audiophile you appreciate 24 bit... and 24 bit isn't just about dynamic range... its dynamic accuracy too. 24 bit recording sound smoother and at 24bit 96khz are considered equivalent to DSD recordings.

Here is something else to consider... I DJ and most high end DAC's have dynamic range of 105db and up. 24 Bit files sound great especially on pro sound rigs and where they really help is in the high end. Things like high-hats, strings, vocals sound clearer, smoother and closer to how they sound on good vinyl recordings. I do believe there is a place for 24bit... Higher sampling I could live without, but since its here and most DAC's already support it, Sonos could easily add support for the file formats in a newer generation of products. Again not for the sake of appeasing audiophiles since its a consumer speaker, but for the sake of convenience.
and 24 bit isn't just about dynamic range... its dynamic accuracy too. 24 bit recording sound smoother and at 24bit 96khz are considered equivalent to DSD recordings.


Nonsense. Any differences in quality heard (even the highly subjective, audiophile-speak ones like "smoother"; you might as well say things like "syrupy" or "orange peel" :rolleyes) have been proven to be purely due to mastering differences. And the ability to hear a difference in the dynamic range between 16-bit and 24-bit is equal to the ability to detect a pin drop over a jackhammer in the same room.

Things like high-hats, strings, vocals sound clearer, smoother and closer to how they sound on good vinyl recordings.


So a higher dynamic range makes it sound like a format with a much, much lower dynamic range? Are you sure this is what you want to say?
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OK so if 16 is accurate enough why is there a solution for aliasing and the noise it creates... Subjectivity to what one hears aside, there is more to how noise is generated in a digital recording and bit depth plays into that. Your focus is entirely on the metric of loudness and ignores noise in digital recordings. I'm not sure who you think has proven anything. There's more to a DAC than just its specs, the circuit, the room, everything has an influence in what you hear. If I download a re-mastered album in both 16 bit and 24 from the same release... same remaster, play it on my rig and hear a difference... then I hear a difference. The why doesn't matter. You can't take what I hear from me and this whole argument has nothing to do with the point I'm trying to make. There are 24bit 96khz files, they exists. For Sonos to not support it because the science says there's no difference might be logical, but they might also lose the hearts and minds of consumers shopping around. Sonos has its competitors and most consumers don't purchase things informed...

For me I enjoy the sound of 24 bit recordings. You don't have to believe me I don't really care. When I play festivals and put on older recordings that have been remastered to HD and are amplified with tens of thousands of watts it sounds amazing. You can believe what you want, I know what I hear. Could it be the mastering, or is it the DAC sounding better because it was designed too, or is it the format. IDK I don't care. The why doesn't concern me anymore, if a 24 bit file sounds better to me I'm going to play it.

I'm also not trying to take the fact away that mastering doesn't play a part. I've listened to digital recordings and vinyl and even though digital is far superior on paper I've heard vinyl releases that have sounded amazing vs their digital counterparts and vice versa. There are many variables as to why... and I've spent countless hours recording these things and listening on various DAC's and analyzing the difference... it is a rabbit hole. I don't suggest becoming an audiophile to anyone.
it is a rabbit hole. I don't suggest becoming an audiophile to anyone.


On this we agree. The rest is subjective, except when you make definitive objective statements on the superiority of hires like "24 bit isn't just about dynamic range... its dynamic accuracy too" or "More accurate than 16 bit and a difference many audiophiles can hear." No, 24-bit is about dynamic range and dynamic range ONLY. There is nothing about 24-bit which increases "dynamic accuracy". And no, 16-bit vs. 24-bit, when made from the very same masters is not "a difference many audiophiles can hear." It's simply not so.

As to the noise and aliasing, nobody here is saying there is no use for 24-bit/96KHz in the mastering and recording process. Matter of fact, everyone with any knowledge knows the only use for higher frequency sampling was in the early days of the digital mastering process because it allowed extra padding above the audible spectrum for the anti-aliasing filters to do a more efficient job . This has less than zero to do with playback, and only confused** audiophiles who equate benefits for recording and mastering to be equally beneficial to playback would ever say differently.

**Actually, confusion is being polite. In my experience, most "audiophiles", even after being repeatedly corrected on things like "it's good for recording and mastering so it must be good for playback" or "the higher frequency samples fill in the jaggies in the sine wave" BS continue to repeat it long after they know better. This is not a mistake, it is a willful dismissal of facts. Sony got sued and lost for the same willful dismissal of facts when they used a "fills in the jaggies" diagram in an advertisement. If only there was a way to sue "audiophiles" for the same.
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[quote=jgatie]


Things like high-hats, strings, vocals sound clearer, smoother and closer to how they sound on good vinyl recordings.


So a higher dynamic range makes it sound like a format with a much, much lower dynamic range? Are you sure this is what you want to say?


Yes it is because of the noise that was introduced in the digital format. You can't compare things on spec alone. Even though vinyl has less dynamic range, when compared to a particular DAC I was sampling didn't suffer from the noise that the DAC or circuit introduced and sounded clearer than the digital recording...

Yes it is because of the noise that was introduced in the digital format. You can't compare things on spec alone. Even though vinyl has less dynamic range, when compared to a particular DAC I was sampling had less noise and sounded clearer than the digital recording...


Nonsense. This is audiophile drivel. The "noise that was introduced in the digital format" hasn't been a problem since the early days of the format, when analog engineers were trying to transition to digital and used their old techniques which didn't translate well. You are about 30 years too late with your statements, which is typical of "audiophiles" who keep cutting and pasting the same things for years with absolutely no knowledge about the actual science, or any advances which may have occurred with it.

To quote Monty:

This means we can use low rate 44.1kHz or 48kHz audio with all the fidelity benefits of 192kHz or higher sampling (smooth frequency response, low aliasing) and none of the drawbacks (ultrasonics that cause intermodulation distortion, wasted space). Nearly all of today's analog-to-digital converters (ADCs) and digital-to-analog converters (DACs) oversample at very high rates. Few people realize this is happening because it's completely automatic and hidden.

ADCs and DACs didn't always transparently oversample. Thirty years ago, some recording consoles recorded at high sampling rates using only analog filters, and production and mastering simply used that high rate signal. The digital anti-aliasing and decimation steps (resampling to a lower rate for CDs or DAT) happened in the final stages of mastering. This may well be one of the early reasons 96kHz and 192kHz became associated with professional music production


https://xiph.org/~xiphmont/demo/neil-young.html
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Yes I completely agree. But this is all theory. In practice you can get wildly different results. I have a modern new DAC, I've listen to vinyl, then recorded the vinyl and in theory it should have sounded the same. It didn't. Nor do a lot of recordings. So this is perfected (I think not)... and the more consumer grade you get the more variation. I can listen to one DAC and it sounds tinny and distorted... and I can hear another one in a studio and it sounds great. If all these problems were solved in the DAC 30 years ago why are there still differences... Is it just the DAC, no it could be the circuit or it could be a lot of other things.

Don't hold my descriptions on what I hear to some high and holy white paper on the theory of how things should be.
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Have you heard the turn of phrase "in theory this should work" when referring to the science of something. Also implying that the practice of the science can be incomplete or incorrect. You are wack and I'm out.
Have you heard the turn of phrase "in theory this should work" when referring to the science of something. Also implying that the practice of the science can be incomplete or incorrect. You are wack and I'm out.

Theories are accepted explanations of a phenomena that are proven by rigorous observation, experimentation, and duplication, The question "In theory, it should work" opens up said observations (i.e, the theory is not working) to further rigorous observation, experimentation, and duplication. So far, the theory that 24/96 hi-resolution audio can be distinguished as superior to 12/44.1 has not held up to these rigorous observations, experimentations, and reproductions. Until someone does a rigorous experiment that is reproducible which proves differently, then the current theory stands, regardless of your own less that rigorously attained "theories" to the contrary.
I'm fully aware of bias and placebo effect. That doesn't mean there are real differences out there.

Freudian slip? 😃
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Hey everyone,

I wanted to jump in here and remind everyone to be friendly and on topic. Please refrain from personal attacks or profanity. If you have any questions, please send me a private message.

I don't think Sonos ever billed itself as a hi-fi platform. They certainly don't compete with the high end audio market

This is one of the few things that I agree with in all your pronouncements. Sonos did not need to do so, and chose - wisely IMO - not to go down that rabbit hole. Instead they chose the market of people that like music and would like to have more of it, in more parts of their home, easily and relatively cheaply with a system that can be built upon and extended over time.

That said, Sonos is still as hifi as any audiophile system out there. I know - I have used many, including vinyl and DACs, the latter with and without tube driven op amps. A simple play 1 pair + Sub that will cost about USD 1000 can hold its own against audiophile set ups that cost up to USD 3000 and I have yet to be told about any set up that offers all that Sonos offers but sounds better at price points up to there. Spend more on either side and you will get more if you must have it, and with the Connect, Sonos can stay in the ring with any audiophile set up in the world, price not a consideration.

But here's the thing - does this really matter to a music lover? Just yesterday I was listening to a mixed playlist that had Charlie Parker/Louis Armstrong/Dizzy Gillespie as well as contemporary recordings of folk like Houston Person, Chris Potter, Bennie Wallace recorded with a lot of care by shops like ECM and HighNote that are very careful about recording quality. In some cases the older and understandably less well recorded tracks offered more enjoyment. The same applies to classical music as well; many still think that a 1938 Bruno Walter recording of Mahler's 9th hasn't been surpassed yet for musical excellence.

My conclusion is that this Hi res thing is just smoke and mirrors to sell more of the same music, and make you buy new kit because what you have won't play it.

Now on a Sonos platform over 4 zones, I am listening to much more - many times more actually - music than before with no diminution in the enjoyment of it. Isn't that the bottom line? Oh, and I should add - at lot less cost and lot less domestic friction over cables, racks and kit than in my audiophile days. No small matter that, if one isn't a hermit or a recluse.

I read with interest the claim for A/B testing - this forum isn't really a place to debate that subject. We could do this over at Hydrogen Audio where I am a member, if you are interested in having the validity of your testing claims defended. I somehow doubt you will want that though, few have it in them to do so.
In the context of these discussions, a user review of the Walter recording, from Amazon, may be of interest:
QUOTE

I hesitate to recommend this as the top choice for anyone looking for their first Mahler 9. If you have not heard the Ninth at all before, this recording by Walter is not the one for you. Barbirolli's and Haitink's (with Amsterdam) Ninth combines good sound with excellent playing. And Karajan's ninth with the BPO is also a good place to start, although there are those who argue that Karajan did not produce the Mahlerian sound with the BPO.
For those who already have a Mahler 9 and wish to supplement their already valuable collection with historical recordings and alternative interpretations, well, what are you waiting for? Grab this CD. You can go no more historical than this. This was Walter's last performance with the VPO before he fled Austria to escape the Nazis. One hears in the music the tension of those last remaining days before the war, or so I imgaine.
The playing of the orchestras might draw different opinions from critics, the sound is admittedly of low quality ( though in view of the date - 1938, the engineers in charge of the remastering must have done wonders), but mix them all together, and the result is potent electrifying music! Listen to the first movement and feel your goose pimples rise, for this was what it did to me on the first listening, and still does.
Get this, in this remastering or any other. It is worth your while.

UNQUOTE

There is more to enjoying music than counting the bits, and keeping track of how many were counted and how many times they were so counted, beyond a reasonable and minimum level that was established over two decades ago. And Sonos kit is more than capable of causing the same effect with a ripped version of the referred CD.
An example of the ridiculous extent the industry will go to boost sales.
Attached link from Sony for a turntable that will convert vinyl records to Hi Res music!!!

http://us5.campaign-archive1.com/?u=bc2d1029482f94ae08e03a771&id=995fbc8b83&e=eb2af6447b
Sony used to be such a technology leader (co-invention of CD, for example), shame they have to sink to this level these days. Same thing with their $2K "hi-rez" network audio players. Ridiculous. Lots of far worse examples from other, "high end" companies, but that's no excuse for Sony to stoop so low.

Maybe because their SACD (which uses DSD) was such a miserable failure in the market. They're trying to milk it, lol.
Milking is exactly it. Whether it is a Sony or any of the people hawking hi res merchandise to a gullible population easily swayed by tech speak/gobbledy gook.

Of all the new music that has been released in the last couple of years, how much is solely in hi res formats? Perhaps not zero, but a fraction of a percent of the total, I'd say. How much is even in hi res AND CD/redbook formats? My guess - that still hasn't crossed 1%. Over 99% of new music released is in 16/44 and "worse" formats.
On the other hand, how much of the hi res music sold is of such music that has already been sold in the past in "low-res" formats? I'd say over 99%.

How come hi res audio hasn't done what DVDs did to VHS tapes, and Blu ray did to DVD?

But as some one said - you can fool some people all of the time.
An example of the ridiculous extent the industry will go to boost sales.
Attached link from Sony for a turntable that will convert vinyl records to Hi Res music!!!

http://us5.campaign-archive1.com/?u=bc2d1029482f94ae08e03a771&id=995fbc8b83&e=eb2af6447b


The purpose of ripping vinyl at a hi res bitrate/sampling and/or DSD is NOT to give the listener a hi res file that is superior to redbook CD. Not at all. The purpose is to copy vinyl in the most accurate way possible so as to preserve the analog vinyl sound as much as possible. I know, I rip a lot of vinyl with DSD at 128 x sampling rate of 44.1 kHz. I have a highly resolving TT to phono stage and computer setup and can definitely tell a difference between ripping in DSD and PCM. The DSD files sound virtually identical to the vinyl on playback. PCM files have a slight harshness (for lack of a batter term - digital bite, if you will) and I prefer the DSD rips. Granted, it's very very close, but it's there. This may be, in part, due to my PS Audio NuWave DAC, which is optimized for DSD. I'm not sure. All I know is that DSD files preserve the sound of the original vinyl in my setup. Now I can rip my vinyl and save the wear and tear inherent in repeated plays. And I have the convenience of digital. And i'm assured that all of the analog sound is included on the file.

Why would I do this, you might ask? First of all, I have a ton of vinyl. A lot of these records I have had for a very long time and are well preserved. And I want to keep them that way! And when I listen to them I want them to sound as I'm accustomed to. Plus, I have a lot of friends with vinyl and now I can record it and give it back quickly with little to no additional wear and tear. Ripping to PCM just isn't the exact same as I've said above. In addition, as has been well documented, the mastering on vinyl is usually different than on CD, often markedly so. Vinyl mastering usually has more dynamic range than their digital counterparts in anticipation of when and where it is listened to. I don't necessarily always like vinyl over digital, btw. I often am disappointed when I listen to vinyl and it is worse than the digital counterpart - usually streamed from Deezer via Sonos connect, BTW. In those instances I see no reason to rip the vinyl. And ripping it in hi res format won't make it any better! For example, I recently got a new vinyl copy of Zepplin's Houses of the Holy. It sounded terrible. No dynamics, too much "hiss". Distorted mids and highs. I trashed it. In the end, for me, it's not about the format, but the mastering. I'm fairly agnostic to format and will listen to whatever mastering is best. And when the vinyl sounds better, I want to preserve that copy.

In fact the whole reason that DSD was developed, in the first place, was to preserve Sony's master tapes so that the digital copy was as close to the original as possible. True, there is some controversy about DSD and whether or not it is superior to PCM. If it isn't' superior, then it's at least as good, IMO, and has a very pleasing sound, to my ears. In the setting of ripping vinyl, DSD is the perfect choice to record. Now I also think that buying DSD recordings when the source material has been recorded, and mastered, in PCM is foolish. If you record in DSD, there is no realistic way of mastering in that format. So stick with PCM. Now whether or not 24/96 hi res is an improvement is another discussion. But for my purposes recording vinyl in DSD is a great solution.
PLEASE add hi-resolution file support (eg. AIFF 96kHz/24bits) In a world where CDs are becoming obsolete, I believe a good share of Sonos customers are still looking for hi-fi quality, not only the mediocre (format) quality provided by most digital music services/stores. It is rather purpose less to invest in the acquisition and maintenance of such a high quality product as a Sonos system and, not being able to play the best sound quality available with it! Thanks for kindly prioritizing such improvement :o)

Lacking some music formats (e.g. also High Res FLAC) is one of the reasons why i will sell my Sonos products again...
Too expensive for the provided functionality!
This tiresome thread has gotten so off-point. Who cares what people think about sampling rates and audio quality? There is really only one issue here. Hi-res files are supported in many players (like iTunes) and are becoming more ubiquitous. Frankly, I don't care if the files PLAY at hi-rez as long as they do at some acceptable sample rate over the SONOS system. I can listen to them in my main system using another player. But it would be awesome if SONOS didn't just hiccup! What about having an on the fly converter to recognize and downsample the files when they are in a playlist so we don't have to make our own downsampled files and duplicate libraries? THAT is easily accomplish in software.
Ubiquitous? On which planet? I'm not aware of any streaming service that does over CD rate, and streaming has truly become ubiquitous. The only place to get "hi rez" files are tiny, overpriced, somewhat shady websites. The best known, PonoMusic, has been shuttered and "under construction" for months.