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.
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...
Have you seen this:

https://www.audiosciencereview.com/forum/index.php?threads/aes-paper-digest-sensitivity-and-reliability-of-abx-blind-testing.186/

It is a summary and discussion of a 1991 paper in which the audiophile preferred "long term listening" test was compared with quick switching A/B/X testing. The self-described "golden eared" audiophiles failed to identify deliberate distortion put into the source chain in a long term test, whereas engineers using A/B/X found it immediately.
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.
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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 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?
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.
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.

That had me laughing. Not only did the 'golden ears' of the Audiophile/Take Home Group fail to detect in a long-term test whether they'd been handed a black box with a 2.5% distortion circuit, it would appear that their in-built aversion to A/B stopped them from even switching the tape loop in and out as a comparator.


Yeah, you couldn't write this as a script; no one would believe it. That paper really says more about audiophilia than it does about A/B testing.

I've seen no serious, scientifically reasoned objection to DB ABX testing.

Except - surprise, surprise - in the Alice in Wonderland world of audiophiles, where the conclusion is a decided one, and things that conflict with it are tossed aside for reasons that range from kindergarten quality to sophistry at the other end of the scale.
It isn't a surprise because these beliefs, some of which are sincerely held, are the vital underpinnings of a lifelong elitist hobby in many cases, and are pandered to by the industry/specialist media that needs these to survive. Trying to get to the bottom of this edifice of argument is wasted effort because it often gets into things similar to the blind faith v science argument for something very trivial, with arguments in favour of audiophilia also supported by human biases that are hard wired into all of us.
Sonos is in a place where it does not need to do such pandering for commercial success and its user base is saved of having to pay the costs of such pandering in Sonos product prices.
I’m fine with listening to 41.1/16 files. I can’t really tell the difference from 192/24 when listening to stereo files. My ears are no better than anyone else’s and they’re certainly not golden, but I do have experience with with studio work. I feel (please note, I didn’t just write “know”) that something happens to the sound when mixing 24+ mono tracks down to stereo, if sample rate is low. I have no idea if it is really the sample that matters, or if it could be the noise floor of the bit depth. Funny thing is, this feels the same whether mixing is done in the analog or digital domains.
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.
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.
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?