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

  • 13 August 2013
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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.
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.
What has become ubiquitous are the many standalone players that now support hi res because, I suspect, the electronics to do this has now become a commodity. And the lack of the need to run multiple zones, some of which may date back to 2005, in perfect sync without laying down wires - as Sonos does so well - means that this price to be paid for hi res isn't a burden for these players.
There is nothing that indicates that hi res music itself has moved out of being a fringe minority pursuit, and it is not a market that Sonos is interested in addressing.
And of course no one has proved objectively that hi res sounds better to the extent that it can be picked out in a blind listening tests once variations arising from different masters are eliminated.
I'm always being sceptical about hi-res formats, even more when i knew sony was promoting this format, because they tend to use very agressive content protection technology like Cinavia, i'm shure they think on putting a digital watermark in the tracks to trigger the protecion for shared music.
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So my question. I have ~ 500 Hi Res files the Sonos won't play. I can Listen to them in MP3 quality via Apple Music. How ever, If I want to listen to them in CD quality I need to convert them to 44.1KHZ/1411KBPS? If I do this will i have two separate files? what is the best way to achieve this? Thx
Convert them to 16/44.1. You you will then have two separate files, a 16/44.1 and a Hires version. Move the 16/44.1 versions to the Sonos share and put the Hires versions elsewhere (if you care to keep them). Re-index Sonos.
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That's what's the best way to convert them?
That's what's the best way to convert them?

I use dBPoweramp. But any good ripping program can also convert.
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Thx
Sigh. :8
Lol. Sigh.
Triple sigh. Same prediction of hires taking over the world I first read back in 1999 when SACD was supposed to set the audio world on fire, and failed miserably. Still waiting.
MQA have evidently resorted to offering the 'improved mastering / proprietary codec' formula on a Red Book CD carrier. A last gasp perhaps?
+1 for FLAC Support - if my BMW can play it, I don’t see why Sonos has an issue... Disappointing to get an error message saying unsupported for half my library. Definitely holding off on purchasing additional speakers until this is added. Might even consider returning the two I just bought. Alexa on Sonos One is not very stable btw, and half the Alex features are ‘unavailable’. not sure why, is there some special hardware the echo dot has that Sonos can’t put in a $200 speaker?.........
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+1 for FLAC Support - if my BMW can play it, I don’t see why Sonos has an issue... Disappointing to get an error message saying unsupported for half my library. Definitely holding off on purchasing additional speakers until this is added. Might even consider returning the two I just bought. Alexa on Sonos One is not very stable btw, and half the Alex features are ‘unavailable’. not sure why, is there some special hardware the echo dot has that Sonos can’t put in a $200 speaker?.........

Sonos does play FLAC files:
https://sonos.custhelp.com/app/answers/detail/a_id/80/~/supported-audio-formats

Sonos restrictions apply to the sampling rate and bit-depth. It supports CD quality, because higher resolution than this provides precisely zero additional audio quality (for humans, anyway).
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Ok. I do understand your frustration.

You could create downsampled copies of your hi-res files at CD quality (they will sound 100% the same as the hi-res versions), or you could look at running something like mp3fs in front of your FLAC files. Again, they will sound 100% the same at higher MP3 bit-rates.

mp3fs: https://khenriks.github.io/mp3fs/ (haven't tried it, but looks like it would work well).
My Sonos quite happily plays 24Bit 44.1 Flac if that's any help to anyone
My Sonos quite happily plays 24Bit 44.1 Flac if that's any help to anyone
Yes, but only in 16-bit evidently. See here.
A "simple" first step would be for SONOS to ignore a higher res file and move on to the next song in a playlist/artist/category, etc. That way you do not have to keep separate libraries (as I do now) for casual listening and "serious" listening in iTunes or any other playback system. One library is more user-friendly.

The logical thing to do would be to forget the High-Res files and delete them. As has been previously repeated, almost ad nauseam, there is NO peer reviewed scientific evidence that the human ear can differentiate between the 16/44.1 and 24/192. You are fooling yourself if you think you can and what's worse you may be paying for some supposed "extra" quality that simply isn't there - you're also having to pay for more storage AND, what's worse, your Sonos experience is significantly affected in a negative manner.

The people trying to sell you this have an agenda to make money, pure and simple. They want you to buy your whole music collection again at "Super Dooper Hi-Res Gold standard" - No matter they have zero evidence of any quantifiable benefit to the consumer. They make me mad.