Hi-Resolution Audio and Sonos

  • 14 December 2018
  • 82 replies
  • 6241 views

This topic form is intended to uncover the truth about what Sonos products (if any) actually support Hi-Res audio (ex. 24bit/192KHz, DSD, MQA). Further more I would like to exclude personal opinions about PDM (pulse-density modulation) vs DSD (the format used by in SACD). Weather you can hear the difference between a 256k AAC version vs a uncompressed 24bit or DFS file is worthy discussion, but just not on this topic. Again I would really like to understand what Sonos is doing or planning to do to support Hi-Resolution audio. There is a flood of Hi-Res content being released from master studio recordings. This trend is on the rise.

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None support higher than 48 kHz.

All support 24 bit at 48 kHz or less. Try it out and tell us how how it sounds.

There are no plans to support higher resolution audio. Even the support of 24 bit is a bit of an accident. If you are dead set on Hi-Res support, you should be looking for another product.
None support higher than 44 kHz. 48kHz

And the 'support' of 24-bit is evidently based on reading the 24-bit files then immediately truncating to 16-bit. Also, I don't know whether all formats are readable. 24-bit FLAC and WAV apparently work.
None support higher than 44 kHz. 48kHz

And the 'support' of 24-bit is evidently based on reading the 24-bit files then immediately truncating to 16-bit.


Yeah, I corrected that.

And you keep ruining my fun! 😠
Tail tweaking? Moi?
Thank you all for responses. Are they truncating the 24bit to 16bit as a way to reduce network overhead?
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https://support.sonos.com/s/article/79?language=en_US
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Are they truncating the 24bit to 16bit as a way to reduce network overhead?

No, but my guess is the hardware only contains 16-bit DACs.
I'd be amazed if the DAC, even in the old ZP80/100, wasn't 24-bit given what was commonplace at the time.

One of the posters here did some tests a while back which suggested that 24-bit FLAC/WAV content was truncated, presumably near the start of the audio pipeline. The irony is that the pipeline is mostly 24-bits wide, with the digital volume control operating in 24-bits. It was confirmed long ago that the digital outputs were 24-bit, with the lowest byte becoming non-zero when volume was reduced from full scale. In other words the 16-bit content was shifted downwards, without loss of music information until about -48dB.
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ratty's explanation is much more likely than mine. My audio hardware knowledge is decades out of date...
Good info here. So it should handle Red Book CD just fine correct? Apple Lossless? Thanks!
my One and Play 1 have never been able to play 24bit files (flac or mqa or any other 24bit file. I can only play 24bit in a thumb drive into the receiver, mqa tidal via HDMI via Mac, and recently tidal iOS through Airplay. Playing the same mqa through Sonos downgrades to 16 bit. My understanding is that it is hardware restricted( at least first and second gen)
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I understand that this was banned by the original post, but I can’t resist.
Hires audio is pointless. Red book CD is as good as it gets and Sonos supports it. So who cares? Why bother investing time, effort, energy, disc space etc to something for absolutely no benefit whatsoever?
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I'm guessing the same reason folks buy $500 6' speaker cables and $200 1 M TOS cables?
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So, I recorded at the studio last year. I initially got the mix in CD quality. I can assure you folks that the 24 bit, 48 KHz mix of the same music sounded a lot better than CD quality, which loses all the warmth.

I think people who have learnt atleast one musical instrument can make out the difference in resolution as we are trained to hear the real instrument over time.
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Sadly folks think all kinds of things but when presented with a double-blind A B test can't correctly guess either way.

There are a few exceptions when over-sampled files cause audio artifacts that make the music sound worse.
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And some people blindly believe what the books say without trying out themselves.

I used to believe the books too. Until I tried it out myself to see if high res made any difference and sure thing it does.

I an an electronics engineer myself. The way digital music is stored, it does not capture all the information. There is definitely loss based on sampling rate. This I learnt at college.

Some say you can’t make out the difference. But so many people can make out some difference. I think you just have to hear it out yourself and figure out whether you can.

I come with no bias. I heard it myself and made the determination that I can hear better at high-res. My own music, I play back at high-res only because otherwise it loses a lot of the “warmth” = mid & low frequencies. I can only make out the difference in that. Everything else feels the same between CD quality and high-res.
The way digital music is stored, it does not capture all the information. There is definitely loss based on sampling rate. This I learnt at college.

Can you point to a link that contains the science that says that a sampling rate of 44.1 kHz is not adequate to capture all the information up to 20 kHz?
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20KHz is an example of one of the limits of frequency some people can hear. Sampling rate is how many samples are taken of the original analog sound source. By the very virtue of the fact “samples taken” means that only an approximation of the original signal can be reproduced at any point in time - rest is “filled in” = approximated. This is basic electronics. The more samples you take, the better you can reproduce the original signal irrespective of what frequency it has. Just means higher fidelity = HIFI.

Someone who has played a musical instrument is obviously going to have heard the “analog source” at a higher sampling rate direct from the source over time, so possibility is that she/ he can distinguish the differences at higher fidelity.
By the very virtue of the fact “samples taken” means that only an approximation of the original signal can be reproduced at any point in time - rest is “filled in” = approximated. This is basic electronics. The more samples you take, the better you can reproduce the original signal irrespective of what frequency it has. Just means higher fidelity = HIFI.
Before you get in any deeper I suggest you do at least familiarise yourself with how the Nyquist–Shannon sampling theorem actually works. Any signal with a frequency less than half the sampling rate can be reconstructed perfectly. No approximation. No stair-step jaggies. Those are marketing untruths for which the odd manufacturer has actually been censured by the regulatory authorities.

Here is a great summary of the science: https://people.xiph.org/~xiphmont/demo/neil-young.html

Besides, you said that your music was in 24 bit 48kHz. Unless you have superhuman hearing the frequencies between 22.05kHz and 24kHz simply will not register.

What I fear may have happened to your 24-bit recordings is that in conversion to 16-bit CD quality some clipping or loudness compression was introduced. Even if it did not, simply pushing samples to full scale (0dB) could have resulted in inter-sample peaks during reconstruction which exceeded full scale. This could lead to clipping on the loudest passages which might just be audible. Sensibly engineered 16-bit conversion leaves a few dB of headroom.
Good grief. 🙄
This is basic electronics. The more samples you take, the better you can reproduce the original signal irrespective of what frequency it has.
It is what you have been led to believe. It is not basic electronics, I am afraid. Only people like me, that are not engineers, fall for this belief until someone patiently takes them through the basics of digital signal processing. Of course hi res hawkers do their best to mislead via the stair steps/jaggies pictures and words.
Nyquist-Shannon at work, demonstrating that the original band limited signal is reconstructed perfectly when sampled at a frequency 2x the band limit:

Yup. Monty linked that off his original article.
Yup. Monty linked that off his original article.

Pretty effective demo when the signal is put through an O-scope. If it is identical even when blown up on the O-scope, it's probably pretty good for the far more imprecise human ear.
Link to article describing how the UK Advertising Standards Authority smacked down Sony for claiming Hi-Res audio sounds superior to CD quality, and its use of stair step graphs that "misleadingly exaggerated the capabilities and benefits of high-resolution audio."


https://www.truthinadvertising.org/sony-high-resolution-audio/

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