High resolution sound

  • 10 March 2018
  • 61 replies
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I wonder why Sonos does not support 24 bit / 192 kHz, when for instance Bluesound has chosen to support that format

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I wonder why Sonos does not support 24 bit / 192 kHz, when for instance Bluesound has chosen to support that format

Hi Legrun,

Thanks for joining the community. At this time we don't have any plans to support 24 bit audio. I'll send along a feature request to our development team though.
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Bluesound chose to differentiate itself. Endless debates on the merits of 24/192 with most believing you can’t hear difference.
It is just marketing and economics; the way electronic component manufacturing works, it is cheaper to use Hi Res componentry now, so one may as well differentiate the product it goes into using the red herring of Hi res superiority. It is also possible to do it if one is a niche player like Bluesound that has not sold enough for long enough to have an installed base to think about.
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There's a big HiFi show every February in Bristol. I went along this year, and one of the demos I visited was Bluesound's. They were showing off a Node 2 connected to an amp and quality speakers; it sounded very good. The main thrust of their demo was to demonstrate the difference between HiRes and CD quality, using the same music tracks and switching between the encodings.

No-one in the audiences for the demos that I attended could tell the difference, even given these were very non-ideal test conditions, non-blind and with with Bluesound staff suggesting what to listen for in the HiRes versions. Of course, this is what we already know from the actual science and controlled testing, but I was surprised to see it confirmed under these conditions. Maybe the public is getting the message.
I am surprised that they did not force a difference via changes in the source for the encoding. Why go to the trouble of doing all they did and prove a point contrary to the one they wanted proven?

And any difference will first be heard in ideal conditions if it exists at all. In non ideal conditions, differences will have to be even greater to be heard, and therefore less likely to be heard. Without fooling around with sources and sound levels.
I am surprised that they did not force a difference via changes in the source for the encoding.
Or simply lifting the volume slightly on the 'HiRes' content. The old salesman's trick.
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I am surprised that they did not force a difference via changes in the source for the encoding.
Or simply lifting the volume slightly on the 'HiRes' content. The old salesman's trick.

I guess they were playing fair. I got the impression they really believed the HiRes versions were better.
I am surprised that they did not force a difference via changes in the source for the encoding.
Or simply lifting the volume slightly on the 'HiRes' content. The old salesman's trick.

I guess they were playing fair. I got the impression they really believed the HiRes versions were better.

Ah, back to 'faith' again then.
I think we should stop using the argument about to which extent people can hear any audible difference. Time is moving on and we are ready to move past cd-quality. Bandwidth, processing power or storage is no longer an issue and most of us fill up our library with more and more hi-res material.
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I think we should stop using the argument about to which extent people can hear any audible difference.
Since it's proven both theoretically and empirically that hi-res recordings offer absolutely no audible advantage over CD quality, why would we stop arguing that hi-res is completely unnecessary and not to be encouraged?

Time is moving on and we are ready to move past cd-quality. Bandwidth, processing power or storage is no longer an issue and most of us fill up our library with more and more hi-res material.
Just because one can do something doesn't mean one should. Would you buy 'Ultra-BluRay' content and an 'Ultra-TV' if their only 'advantage' was better ultraviolet picture reproduction, when your eyes are incapable of seeing anything in the ultraviolet spectrum? Hi-Res is exactly the same.
You are sort of missing the point. Neither you or Sonos can stop the technical evolution.
But why pay more for Hi Res music and also obsolete perfectly good kit for evolution that has not achieved any audible progress?
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You are sort of missing the point. Neither you or Sonos can stop the technical evolution.
What technical evolution, where is all the supposed hi-res content and players? Bluesound are welcome to have it as a USP but it's hardly a game changer for music.

The point we are missing is that it is pointless 😃
I think we should stop using the argument about to which extent people can hear any audible difference. Time is moving on and we are ready to move past cd-quality. Bandwidth, processing power or storage is no longer an issue and most of us fill up our library with more and more hi-res material.

No, "most of us" do not purchase hi-res material. Hi-res audio is a niche of a niche market, to be catered to by the small boutique brands like Bluesound who can lure in the audiophile users who are more gullible than smart.
I think we should stop using the argument about to which extent people can hear any audible difference. Time is moving on and we are ready to move past cd-quality.
Whoosh.... If we can't hear any difference at all, which is what the science and testing supports, then why would be conceivably need anything more than CD quality?
You are sort of missing the point. Neither you or Sonos can stop the technical evolution.

What "technical evolution"?

SACD - Failed
DVD-Audio - Failed
Pono - Failed, proven to be cooking the Hi-res versions
Apple Hi-res downloads - Rumored, but never arrived
Sony - Sued for misprepresenting the "jaggies" graph for Hi-res audio
All other Hi-Res formats are rife with controversy, including some that were proven to be simply upscaled from CD, and others that were proven to be cooking the mix to make it sound better
Thought this was interesting: https://tinyurl.com/y7qte8s7 (hope this link works...). Thoughts?
What I find interesting is that that the research was carried out using Linn Majik 109 speakers, a bookshelf unit which despite having a supertweeter only claims a response to "20kHz+". Yet there was no mention of the possibility of intermodulation distortion products generated by the ultrasonic hires content giving a false discrimination signal to the listeners.
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Thought this was interesting: https://tinyurl.com/y7qte8s7 (hope this link works...). Thoughts?
Thanks for the link.

Given the effort the researchers went to, one wonders why they didn't include a simple, but gold standard, double-blind ABX test. This would determine whether the test subjects could actually detect a difference between the different versions. If one establishes that the subjects can tell a difference, then that's the required foundation for the other tests.
Don't want to resurrect the long hi-res chat earlier on this forum but I remain curious about the conflicting views on the merits of the format. I'm trying to get my head around the intermodulation distortion (IMD) often raised in this context (I have ploughed through earlier reference links you have provided). The Linn bookshelf speakers used in the trial I linked have measured as reasonably capable to 30KHz (see https://www.stereophile.com/content/linn-majik-109-loudspeaker-measurements): are you saying that this IMD results from the 'mixing' (beating) of beyond normal hearing freqs with those we can hear such that distortion results? And is this distortion arising within the electronics of a sound system or at our ears? Finally, do you think the IMD presented in sufficient volume to give clues to the trials listeners that something was different and worthy of the assessment that the music sounded better / more engaging?
If you've not already done so I suggest you have a read of the much quoted reference article at https://people.xiph.org/~xiphmont/demo/neil-young.html

As for whether it's possible that listeners could perceive distortion as somehow 'better' I call to the witness stand vinyl play and valve amplification...
IMD is not a "mixing" of ultrasonics, it is an artifact caused by the electronics or speakers trying to reproduce ultrasonics. In other words, trying to reproduce the frequencies beyond the expected range causes the units to produce distortion in the audible spectrum. This, unlike any true superiority of Hi-res music, is a proven effect as tested by double-blind tests and audio analyisis.
Thought this was interesting: https://tinyurl.com/y7qte8s7 (hope this link works...). Thoughts?
Thanks for the link.

I only glanced at the research in the link, so I am open to correction for this that I picked up from it:
"can people detect a difference in sound quality between lower (mp3) and much higher digital resolution (Studio Master) music recordings? "
As far as I have read, this one sentence probably blows the entire conclusion out of the water. Because what is proven is just that better (Studio) mastering delivers better sound quality/listening pleasure. Waste of research money, time and effort to do that - we know that, and it is irrelevant. What is missed is evaluating the outcome using the Studio master downsampled to lossy codecs all the way down to mp3. That would have been useful.
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Comparing different things when you are talking about studio master and MP3 music, the MP3 sound is very dependent on the quality of the encoder and experts can hear differences in them.

If you look at lossless encoding like FLAC where the actual music isn't changed by encoding/decoding processing then you can try to make comparisons.

With lossless formats there is no improvement in the sound beyond 16 bit and 44.1 or 48 KHz encoding and if your equipment has issues with frequencies above 20 KHz it can sound worse.

The article is worth reading as well as the ones he links to. Understanding digital sound isn't rocket science but it defies common sense ideas that more is better in several respects. I'm not an expert by any means but I've educated myself well enough to avoid most of the snake oil salesmen pushing expensive but ineffective gear.
Resurrecting this thread from the dead, hoping someone has some updates here. It's incredibly frustrating to not be able to play some albums simply because Sonos elects not to support an increasingly more common format. Whether or not it's audible is completely irrelevant to the discussion -- what's relevant is that some people (for various reasons) choose to have 96kHz files, and Sonos should support them if they want to claim to be a hi-fi company.

By the way, one of the reasons people select 96kHz/24-bit recordings has virtually nothing to do with audiophile golden ear nonsense. Rather, it's because some remasters sound better -- and sometimes those remasters are offered in hi-res at around the same price as 16/44.1.

Also, if you go to Apple forums for example, you'll see that all the same criticisms that some of you are applying to hi-res have also been applied to flac in general. It has been shown pretty extensively that properly encoded mp3 files sound indistinguishable from lossless encodings. Yet some of us still prefer to keep flacs instead of mp3 for various reasons. Companies like Apple continue to choose not to support flac, but in my view, that simply means they're not a hi-fi company. Sonos claims to be a hi-fi company so they should make every effort to support hi-res.