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

  • 13 August 2013
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It's been 2 years and still no software update that simply ignores/skips files that are above 44.1 kHz. Stuart ... it's not important that you or I believe/know that a person cannot tell the difference above a certain sampling frequency or bit-rate. There are people who do believe and I have some "higher-def" music that does sound better to me when I compare it to the same music that I have down-sampled. This simple suggested software fix avoids a real problem for those of us who have a mix of 16-bit/44.1 kHz and higher files ... Right now, I have to maintain two separate libraries of music (one for SONOS and the second for a combination of my hi-res and SONOS-compatible music) and I have lots of it. This wastes time and storage.
It's been 2 years and still no software update that simply ignores/skips files that are above 44.1 kHz. Stuart ... it's not important that you or I believe/know that a person cannot tell the difference above a certain sampling frequency or bit-rate. There are people who do believe and I have some "higher-def" music that does sound better to me when I compare it to the same music that I have down-sampled. This simple suggested software fix avoids a real problem for those of us who have a mix of 16-bit/44.1 kHz and higher files ... Right now, I have to maintain two separate libraries of music (one for SONOS and the second for a combination of my hi-res and SONOS-compatible music) and I have lots of it. This wastes time and storage.

No, the only waste is storing the files at anything “better” than 16/44.1

There’s a reason 16/44.1 was chosen by Sony and Philips engineers and scientists (Philips initially wanted 14 bits). It allows for reproduction of every sound our ears are capable of resolving. Anything “better” is simply a waste, and can even lead to higher distortion levels in the analog chain. Bad idea.
It's been 2 years and still no software update that simply ignores/skips files that are above 44.1 kHz. Stuart ... it's not important that you or I believe/know that a person cannot tell the difference above a certain sampling frequency or bit-rate. There are people who do believe and I have some "higher-def" music that does sound better to me when I compare it to the same music that I have down-sampled. This simple suggested software fix avoids a real problem for those of us who have a mix of 16-bit/44.1 kHz and higher files ... Right now, I have to maintain two separate libraries of music (one for SONOS and the second for a combination of my hi-res and SONOS-compatible music) and I have lots of it. This wastes time and storage.

No, the only waste is storing the files at anything “better” than 16/44.1

There’s a reason 16/44.1 was chosen by Sony and Philips engineers and scientists (Philips initially wanted 14 bits). It allows for reproduction of every sound our ears are capable of resolving. Anything “better” is simply a waste, and can even lead to higher distortion levels in the analog chain. Bad idea.
It's been 2 years and still no software update that simply ignores/skips files that are above 44.1 kHz. Stuart ... it's not important that you or I believe/know that a person cannot tell the difference above a certain sampling frequency or bit-rate. There are people who do believe and I have some "higher-def" music that does sound better to me when I compare it to the same music that I have down-sampled. This simple suggested software fix avoids a real problem for those of us who have a mix of 16-bit/44.1 kHz and higher files ... Right now, I have to maintain two separate libraries of music (one for SONOS and the second for a combination of my hi-res and SONOS-compatible music) and I have lots of it. This wastes time and storage.

No, the only waste is storing the files at anything “better” than 16/44.1

There’s a reason 16/44.1 was chosen by Sony and Philips engineers and scientists (Philips initially wanted 14 bits). It allows for reproduction of every sound our ears are capable of resolving. Anything “better” is simply a waste, and can even lead to higher distortion levels in the analog chain. Bad idea.
I have had this type of discussion throughout my career in high technology markets (including audio), usually with technical types who were very clear that a marketing "idiot" could not ever understand what they were talking about (BTW, I have an undergraduate degree in engineering) ... As you probably know, having higher quality source content still needs an overall system that is also correspondingly higher quality, as well as a conditioned environment to provide proper acoustics. My point is that it doesn't matter what you or I think. It's about what consumers want. SONOS is a premium audio company and to ignore addressing this issue in any way (just skip the higher res songs) does hurt their brand. If I were a quality competitor, I would be licking my chops and would hope that SONOS continued to do nothing. And it appears they will ...
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To a marketer higher resolution is better makes sense, an engineer should know better.
Yes, they most certainly should. One might want to brush off some math skills and investigate two guys named Nyquist and Shannon.

Also, if one feels that hi-res audio is anything above a niche of a niche market, never mind anything which is driving people towards competitors, one should polish up on the marketing skills as well.
"Prioritizing?" Uhhh, I don't think so. Hi-res support is currently marked "Not Planned": https://ask.sonos.com/sonos/topics/support_high_resolution_flac_files_purchased_from_hdtracks_com
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For Sonos not to provide quality is pathetic. How does this make me feel? I feel like Sonos believes that their equipment is "good enough" and everyone should be happy with average Joe "C" student performance. The future is DSD, which light years beyond 24bit/192kHz. Sonos is not even 24bit/192kHz.
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"Prioritizing?" Uhhh, I don't think so. Hi-res support is currently marked "Not Planned": https://ask.sonos.com/sonos/topics/support_high_resolution_flac_files_purchased_from_hdtracks_com
True. Not only won't Sonos take advantage of the high resolution files, it won't even let you play hi-res files period. So if you have hi-res files and a Sonos system, you either need to create downsampled copies on your own and incorporate them into your libraries, get used to not having a significant portion of your library available with Sonos, or just dumping Sonos altogether. 
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"Prioritizing?" Uhhh, I don't think so. Hi-res support is currently marked "Not Planned": https://ask.sonos.com/sonos/topics/support_high_resolution_flac_files_purchased_from_hdtracks_com
http://www.theverge.com/2014/9/3/6100765/sonos-whole-home-audio-keeps-getting-easier-cheaper-and-better
I just called the help desk and they said they can't comment on whether or not they will be supporting hi-res in the future.  Regardless, I'm thinking about dumping my Sonos system for Bluesound if they won't play my music
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I would not plan on support in the near future if ever if you have decisions to make.
There is no requirement for 24-bit audio for anyone, it adds nothing that can't be done in 16-bits.
Please add 24bit / flac support in Sonos ☺ A workaround is to play from a PC (Windows 10 built-in music player), then select 'play on device', then select the Sonos player from the PC.
So, since Sonos won't accept 24-bit streams, your Win10 media server must be down-converting the file. To save all this hassle why don't you simply do a one-time conversion to 16/44, store the resulting file in your network share and index it into your Sonos library? You'll benefit from any superior mastering which went into the 'hi-res' version.

Current streaming solutions from traditional hi-fi manufacturers such as Naim, Chord and so on prove that hi-res replay and the convenience of streaming are not mutually exclusive. Sonos generally beats them all hands-down on the usability experience however, with simple multi-room setup, and a (generally) great user interface. It's one of the reasons I chose it after all. So it's a shame that Sonos doesn't see the need (benefit?) for hi-res support.

Naim says they are mutually exclusive - hi res on Naim only works on a wired connection. I think we can agree that this isn't convenient for most users.

Sonos has chosen to offer other features in preference to hi-res support. In a utopian world there would be no trade offs, but in a real one there are. Which of the Sonos features that you say you love would you choose to live without for obtaining hi - res support for which there is not a single controlled test that demonstrates audibly superior sound quality?

Which of the Sonos features that you say you love would you choose to live without for obtaining hi - res support for which there is not a single controlled test that demonstrates audibly superior sound quality?


In fact the reverse is true...

The Engineering theory is that hires causes intermodulation products when played back on hifi kit and this actually damages the sound quality. There have been some basic tests performed which demonstrate this intermodulation distortion exists in real-world systems, is measurable and, probably, audible.

Cheers,

Keith
I am familiar with the possible downsides to hi res that may at times be audible.

But allowing hi res music, as bought, to be played on Sonos is definitely a feature of some value to some people, as Jon Reilly also admitted. And for it to be played without on the fly downsampling of the kind that Jon alludes to, is another feature with value to some with a very vocal subset.

The only point I was making is that every company has finite resources and therefore has to prioritise. Only if this was not the case could Sonos have done these lhings AND everything it has done so far. Strategy is nothing but trade offs, be it war or business.
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First, do you need "hi res" audio? Absolutely not. 16bit 44k/48k is more than sufficient to play back pretty much anything. One of the reasons all the various hi res formats like DSD have died in the consumer world is consumers couldn't hear the difference. Those that do are more likely suffering from consumer bias ("I spent a lot of money on this, it must be better") and/or differences in playback volume (FAR greater impact on perceived quality from volume differences than actual recording quality), etc. The only place 24bit makes sense is in a studio/during mixdown. The final audio mix does not need more than 16bit.

That said, it would be nice if the Sonos players could consume some of the higher resolution FLAC files, so one doesn't have to convert purchased FLACs to something Sonos supports. But FLAC is actually pretty computationally difficult to decompress (much more so than MP3/AAC as I understand it), and adding transcoding on top of that to bring it down to 16bit/44k in the player combined with the DSP Sonos is using is only 16bit, supporting 24bit files natively would probably be too slow for Sonos to decode).

Also, I don't see why high-res FLAC would need wired Ethernet. The files are still trivial in bitrate compared to even a piss-poor, over-congested 2.4Ghz network.
Pretty sure Sonos' internal buss is 24 bit. That way they can allow volume adjustment of a very wide range without Truncating bits. I may be wrong.
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It's a 16-bit TI DSP: http://www.qobuz.com/nl-nl/info/hi-fi-guide/sonos-hi-res-ready-or-not-qobuz177054

(That entire article pretty much says no F'ing way to do "hi res" audio on the current Sonos hardware platform.)
It's a 16-bit TI DSP: http://www.qobuz.com/nl-nl/info/hi-fi-guide/sonos-hi-res-ready-or-not-qobuz177054
Presumably the volume control is elsewhere then, since long ago the ZP80 was tested and found to be populating the lowest byte of the 24-bit word on the S/PDIF. The findings were also confirmed by Sonos reps at the time
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I would also like Sonos to support high-resolution audio (i.e.: 96kHz/24bit)
I would also like Sonos to support high-resolution audio (i.e.: 96kHz/24bit)
They've said they have no intention of doing so. http://www.whathifi.com/features/sonos-plans-brighter-and-brighter-wireless-music-future

The science simply doesn't support it. http://people.xiph.org/~xiphmont/demo/neil-young.html
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.