Hi-Resolution Audio and Sonos

  • 14 December 2018
  • 118 replies
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118 replies

Gentlemen, differing opinions aside, let's reel it in, shall we? Clearly this is a topic that you all feel passionate about but try to keep personal attacks out of it. Thanks.

Nyquist-Shannon is not opinion, nor is the fact that the linked article is 100% hogwash.
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Didn't it play hell with the record cutters to even get the JVC CD-4 or Quadradisc 18 to 45 KHz sub-carrier cut? And of course it took a special stylus shape to get it back off the records too as the conventional ones didn't fit in the 45 KHz grooves.
My school must have been retarded because we did not dive into Nyquist–Shannon in year one.

I am no engineer, but I am guessing there is lot of ground to cover in electronics engineering before getting to DSP, sampling theory and principles, and the theorem. And if it is covered as early as year one, it would not be grasped by most students.
And I also find it difficult to believe that an engineering textbook would promote this pseudo science; these beliefs arise from a mish mash of reading half baked sources of information that proliferate on the net.
I can well imagine the kind of harsh responses that would be seen to this rubbish on Hydrogen Audio, where providing blind listening test based conclusions backing such claims are part of the terms of service. Of course, believers cast doubt on the concept of such tests as well, which circles us back to the science v religion situation of people basically living in two different universes.
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Gentlemen, differing opinions aside, let's reel it in, shall we? Clearly this is a topic that you all feel passionate about but try to keep personal attacks out of it. Thanks.Nyquist-Shannon is not opinion, nor is the fact that the linked article is 100% hogwash.


Regardless of your respective standpoints, there's more polite ways to express them than some of what I've seen in the last dozen or so responses.


there's more polite ways to express

While I agree that we need to be civil, I trust that castigating with reason a statement offered, is not confused to be an attack on the person making said statement.
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They asked for results of a scientific study. Here you go:

http://www.aes.org/e-lib/browse.cfm?elib=18296
First, stop posting the same matter in more than one thread.
Two, the link, in case you haven't realised, is a meta study, nothing original in itself. And does not become scientific just because it uses the buzz word "meta"; it is just a study of articles on the subject, many non scientific. Ergo, GIGO.
Third, it is from 2016 and there are rebuttals that we are also familiar with as under:

First, from someone that subscribes to the Hi Res philosophy at the mastering stage, who points out that all the study does is point out what needs to be done in a new study! :

http://www.realhd-audio.com/?p=5755

And then a 16 page discussion on HA, nixing this mere collection of old articles:

https://hydrogenaud.io/index.php/topic,112204.0.html

And of course ranged against this, there are the Kool Aid drinkers of Hi Res aplenty that claim this as manna.

So, as always, East is East and the West is West, with no meeting possible by their nature, between the twain.
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Don't give up 'todayamerican', some people are well known to be more interested in putting people down than listening to good music on good equipment. They probably know perfectly well that ABX testing is thoroughly discredited. They keep advocating ABX even though it only shows up gross differences. People who listen to real instruments know that it takes quite a while to appreciate what something sounds like. Would someone really buy a new guitar having tried 10 guitars in the shop for a brief period each?

People who think that 16/44 is 'perfect', the pinnacle of music reproduction, are rather like the idiots who believe that all amps sound the same, or cables, or DACs etc. You might as well argue that all violins sound the same, or guitars, or pianos. Even drums sound quite different from each other. Buy an amp on the basis of ABX testing and it will probably give you a headache after an hour's listening. You need to listen for a long period, with an open mind, and don't allow yourself to be blinded by theory. ONLY the sound matters.

I attended a PROPER test of hi-res a few years ago. 12 of us went into a large room at a recording studio where a string-trio were seated between some large speakers. The speakers and musicians were facing the audience. Before anything was played, we were blindfolded. Music was played for 5 minutes. It was then repeated 4 times. One was live, one was 16/44, one was 24/192 and one was analogue. We didn't know which was which.

ALL of us identified the 16/44 as being a recording - without hesitation. About half of us could hear a very slight hiss on the analogue recording but otherwise it sounded live. NONE of us were sure which was the live music and which was the 24/192 recording even though we were all musicians or audio technicians. There is undoubtedly something about 16/44 which robs the music of the impression of being real. The analogue and the 24/192 recordings were clearly better. Both give a far better illusion of real instruments than 16/44 and that is exactly what I want from my hifi.

If you only listen to processed pop music, hi-res is probably irrelevant because you have no idea what the original music sounded like. If you listen to classical or 'un-plugged' music, hi-res makes a slight but noticeable difference but only if played through GOOD equipment. Try it with budget equipment, or a receiver, or an AV amp and it will probably be lost on you. I should add that I cannot identify hi-res via headphones, not even good ones. Other people claim that they can hear a difference on headphones - and who am I to claim they are wrong. We all hear, see, taste, smell and feel things with different levels of ability and discernment and I feel sorry for those who can't hear what I hear.

By the way, the string trio sitting in front of us played absolutely nothing; they were only there to distract us. The live music actually came from musicians playing in the studio next door so that everything we heard came through the same microphones, amps and speakers. NONE of us noticed that.
Whatever the truth - and I am agnostic - what relevance does this have for the reality of 99.999% of Sonos listening? None I would suggest. How many more units would Sonos sell if it supported HiRes? I don't know but I suspect not many.

But I am pretty sure nobody is going to persuade anyone else about sound quality by writing about it. On either side of the argument.

HiRes will come to Sonos if and when it makes commercial sense.
nevalti,

While I can't refute your observations in this test, there are some loose ends in the testing methodology. First, how was the 16/44.1 version generated? There are good and not so good methods. How thorough was the sound isolation between the studios? There could have been some subtle sound conduction between the rooms when the live musicians were playing. Also, the live renditions will be different from each other and the recordings. You also did not specify if the recordings all started from the same session and master file. Was the analog tape recorded live or derived from a master file? For example, the master file could have been sampled higher than 24/192, then down sampled to the formats used in your listening session. I'm also not clear if there were four or 16 listening trials. And, the order could be important. Why? The recent noise exposure of the listeners can effect their perception. For example, if I've been in a vehicle of some sort or exposed to loud music (at a venue), I avoid critical listening for a while. In this context, the discrimination thresholds of the listeners could have changed during the test.

There are so many details that need to be controlled. I'll simply relate an experience that I had a few years ago. I was walking on a city street (light traffic) and my brain suddenly received a "message" -- live band. I couldn't see a band. I continued walking and a couple doors later I observed a small group rehearsing inside a restaurant. The doors were closed.
And of course nevalti will be publishing his "PROPER" test of Hires in a peer reviewed scientific publication real soon.
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And of course nevalti will be publishing his "PROPER" test of Hires in a peer reviewed scientific publication real soon.

There we are 'todayamerican', you can see exactly what I mean.

It's not worth bothering with people with cloth ears and cr a p equipment. Just keep listening and ignore people who kid themselves that everything can be determined by measurement. It has been said many times before but... Above a basic DIN standard hifi level, you can no more determine sound quality by 'measurement' than you can determine wine quality by measurement. Human beings are far more subtle than that and what each of us perceives as 'quality' is very likely to vary from person to person. For example, I went to a concert today ((Tchaikovsky 5th) and it was almost ruined for me as I had to sit in row J instead of my preferred row M. Many people will not have a clue why row J is inferior yet other people will understand the problem immediately.

Anyone who wants to try the test I describe can easily replicate it if they have half-way decent equipment and an acoustic instrument or even just a voice. Anyone who doesn't bother can hardly expect to have a valid opinion. I tried it at home with a humble Sony M10 and could easily tell the difference between 16/44 & 24/192. One sounds 'real' the other simply does not.

In response to the sensible question, there was only one performance and first generation recordings at 16/44 and 24/192 on identical machines plus a 2" analogue recorder - all using a simple crossed pair. No downsampling, mixing or other processing.
And there it is folks, when confronted with science, they are left with nothing but insults and personal attacks. Yet we are the "bullies"?

Tell you what golden ears, do that same test at your home using tracks from the same master run through any computer and any DAC you want, but run it through the A/B/X software on foobar2000. Anyone who can't be bothered to do that can hardly expect to have a valid opinion.

Be sure to post the screenshots of your results!
And there it is folks, when confronted with science, they are left with nothing but insults. Yet we are the "bullies"?


I'd love to watch @nevalti post his nonsense over on hydrogenaudio. The industry experts over there would chew him up and spit him out, lol.

However, I doubt Sonos can hold out against the great unwashed forever. Marketing forces being what they are, it's likely Sonos will, eventually, need to support "hi-rez", at least the way its competitors do, on one device, without needing it to be slung throughout the house, which most networks simply won't support.

I'd love to watch @nevalti post his nonsense over on hydrogenaudio. The industry experts over there would chew him up and spit him out, lol.



Hydrogenaudio requires A/B/X testing, and all their super powers disappear when faced with A/B/X. A/B/X is like Kryptonite to the Golden Ear types.

I went to a concert today ((Tchaikovsky 5th) and it was almost ruined for me as I had to sit in row J instead of my preferred row M.

If three rows make such a vast difference, is it not conceivable that the acoustics of your living room have a much greater impact on 'sound quality' than whether the music is 16 or 24 bits? An honest question.
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If three rows make such a vast difference, is it not conceivable that the acoustics of your living room have a much greater impact on 'sound quality' than whether the music is 16 or 24 bits? An honest question.

A friend moved his legacy separates set up to an acoustically better space after some years of ownership, and was astonished to discover that he had owned a HiFi system all those years. It can be a day/night difference, the speaker placement/room acoustics. Tuning like Trueplay can help, but getting the acoustics right is a much larger part of the solution.

The wine analogy is actually useful here, where psychoacoustics - not an invented word by the way - are concerned. There is a lot of rubbish surrounding wine tasting also, down to experts being fooled by a red coloured white to claim that it goes better with a steak than an uncoloured white. And ditto about the use of expensive crystal to drink it in. That said, given a choice, I would always drink mine in a decent glass than in a steel tumbler, simply because the experience is beyond just what is tasted and/or smelt. A similar logic can apply to sound from a better looking speaker that is identical in sound to another in a blind test. And as long as this aspect is appreciated, I can understand people that don't like blind AB/ABX testing which restricts the listening experience to just that provided by the ears. Instead, silly and unscientific claims are made for trained ears, better kit, of red herrings like Hi Res - and of course supposedly scientific explanations as to why blind ABX is flawed.

As to Hi Res, I suspect that the internal componentry that is mass produced today and is therefore the cheapest to buy, has Hi Res capability by default, and if Sonos were not concerned about music play stability or backward compatibility, that could be enabled in all presently manufactured Sonos kit without any extra hardware costs.
What is stopping Sonos from supporting 24 bit 192 khz?
What is stopping Sonos from supporting 24 bit 192 khz?
Science.
People who think that 16/44 is 'perfect', the pinnacle of music reproduction, are rather like the idiots who believe that all amps sound the same, or cables, or DACs etc.
I just noticed this rather disreputable debating tactic: caricature and misrepresent the opposing views so that you can ridicule them. Disappointing.

I have another question for @nevalti. Who organised / funded the 'proper' test of hires he attended? Was it a hifi retailer with hires equipment to sell? Just interested to know, as I have known hifi retailers to organise such demos.
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What is stopping Sonos from supporting 24 bit 192 khz?

The same thing that stops Sonos from doing so many things, it won't make them more money than what they are selling now.

Look at how long Sonos resisted doing a mobile/battery speaker and now we have one. Why, they saw a potential profit in it at this point.
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I'm pretty sure it's because the number of "I keep getting dropouts on my Sonos!" calls/complaints would shoot up due to the extra bandwidth required - especially for systems just on the edge now. Which doesn't benefit Sonos one iota.
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Ho, ho, that got the pack excited. 'Oooh look, another victim to pounce on'. Feel free to join back in 'americantoday' but it seems that I will take their flack for a few days.

Notice that not one of them even tried to replicate the test I described. I doubt that any of the jackals really LISTEN to their music. If they are only using Sonos - I'm not surprised. Sonos is a truly excellent system for user convenience and it is more than adequate for their stand-alone speakers. Sonos do not however offer anything like top quality audio, not even for 16/44 recordings, and nor do they claim to any more. They did to start with and they also claimed that their system delivered a bit perfect stream to the hifi system - but it doesn't and they no longer make those extravagant claims nor do they try to compete with the more modern systems. The jackal pack hanging around the Sonos forum conveniently ignore all that.They have invested so much energy in defending Sonos (I wonder why) that they probably wouldn't dare to sit back quietly and LISTEN. Even if they did, few of them would admit to hearing what they have been missing because it would ruin their hobby of forum pouncing.

I fell for the hype initially and used Sonos for hifi for a while, feeding a 'Connect' into a Benchmark DAC2, a Bryston 4BSST (or a KT88 triode amp) and PMC OB1i speakers. When I wanted to try hi-res for the first time, I hooked up my old Squezebox again. I was quite shocked to hear how much better the old Squeezebox sounded using exactly the same DAC and hifi system. It even sounded noticeably better in a blind ABX test - which only identifies big differences. Both the Squeezebox and the 'Connect' were fed into the same Benchmark DAC2. The Sonos system and the Squeezebox had ALL signal manipulations including volume control disabled. They were both playing exactly the same 16/44 files and delivering the supposedly bit-perfect digital stream into the Benchmark DAC2. I could switch instantly from one to the other whilst playing the same track and the difference was not subtle. The illusion of reality was far better with the Squeezebox - and that is the whole purpose of hifi to me.

Having realised that the 'Connect' was simply not delivering what I wanted, I tried one of my old ZP90's -with similar results. The older ZP90 was actually very slightly better. I gave my 'Connect' to an electronics engineer who worked, at the time, for Naim and asked if he could test it. When he returned it, he told me that it was 'far from bit-perfect'. The rest of his explanation went over my head.

Since then I have been experimenting with alternative systems and found that the Qualcomm system is better but frustratingly unreliable. I also found that the humble Rasberry Pi using JRiver Id software sounds significantly better than Sonos and, set up ready to play, it is less than a quarter of the price. The JRiver IdPi system can multi-room in hi-res too. It is nothing like as user-friendly as Sonos though.

This leads me on to another surprising discovery. Whilst LISTENING I noticed, much to my surprise that even the Windows programmes I used made a difference to the sound. I had been using MediaMonkey and was astonished to hear that JRiver Media Centre sounds noticeably better! I wonder if that can be measured. Given that surprising 'discovery', I now wonder if the Sonos software is partly responsible for the degradation that I found unacceptable in my hifi system.
Well we can at least agree on something then. Sonos isn't an audiophile system. It is not priced as an audiophile system. I, thank goodness, am not an audiophile.

So, lacking @nevalti's sophisticated appreciation of music and audio quality, I still manage to enjoy my Sonos system somehow.

I need a drink. Pass me a glass of Blue Nun, please, someone.
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I need a drink. Pass me a glass of Blue Nun, please, someone.
I do appreciate the joke but Blue Nun is actually a very good illustration that all wines are not even similar. Same applies to audio equipment.

"Sonos isn't an audiophile system".
You certainly don't need an 'audiophile system' to get good quality reproduction - just look at my mediocre system. Sonos is however a premium price 'product' and should be judged as such. It is a very good system for anyone who is not interested in listening carefully. You all know that as well as I do but you still feel the need to attack anyone who questions it's performance. Mr 'americantoday asked perfectly sensible questions and was attacked rather than helped. Shame on all the jackals.

Has anyone actually LISTENED YET? Are all the jackals just yapping the same old, same old?

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