Is high resolution audio a misconception?

December 19, 2021
 by Paul McGowan

15 comments on “Is high resolution audio a misconception?”

  1. I’m really enjoying immersive sound compared to stereo. I have 16 high quality speakers in my living room ceiling (designed by the founder of Vivid Audio), they each have a 24/192 DAC, 75w of power, uPNP, Amazon HD built in and DSP that eliminates any feeling of point sources. The volume is about 9,000 cubic feet. I look forward to the system to be programmable as multi-channel.

    If the artist chose to mix their music with Dolby Atmos, which is increasingly the case, you can’t say this is not what the artist intended. See Jacob Collier explain:
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SmPKUGvmbCo

    1. p.s. Jacob Collier (a veteran with 4 Grammy winning albums aged 27) recorded his first album in a room in him mum’s house with a single microphone, on his own, and it won two Grammy’s. For him, stereo is a major limitation, he needs as many channels as possible. He was mixing 16 tracks, all performed himself, 6 vocal and 10 instrumental, when he was 14 years old. Give people the technology and they will use it, it’s ridiculous to think it has to be reduced to a standard stereo mix by an engineer because that’s what learned to do in the 1960s.

      1. Good morning Steven!
        Actually, the stereo thing, started out in the mid 1930’s in theaters with movies.
        They were trying to figure out how to bring the stereo thing home in the early 1940’s.
        But then, World Wore 2 happened.
        And so, they had to table that idea until the wore was over.
        But they started working on the stereo thing again in the early 1950’s.
        And the evidence I have of that, is a vintage Knight amp, that was made in 1953.
        It still works, but one of the sockets won’t maintain the connection with one of the 6BM8 tubes that it uses.
        That’s the only thing that’s wrong with this old amp.
        When I say old, I mean old.
        This old thing, is 19 years older then I am.

        1. It was Alan Blumlein who went to the movies with his wife in 1931, soon after talkies came to the UK, and realised it did not work with more than one person talking at the same time or moving across the screen. In the early talkies you could not have two people speaking together, just didn’t work.

          Music works much better in mono because of the dynamic and frequency range.

            1. I just spent one month auditioning amps in my home-Five in total!
              What a PIA!

              Today, I settled on an integrated amp, after using separates for 50 years.

              I asked my two grandsons, 0ne who plays trumpet and the other who plays
              cello, if the amp I decided on was “good”( whatever that means). All that I am concerned with is that it adequately masks the tinnitus!

              The gave it a high pass!

          1. Good afternoon Steven!
            Sorry for replying to you about a day late.
            I listened to the You Tube video you posted a link to the other day.
            I don’t know anything about the man in that video thoe.
            But what he was talking about, and showing all of us how he made his music, was very intriguing to me!
            Those are some of the things that I’d love to do, once I’ve got all the equipment and Instruments I need for my own recording studio.
            Some fokes on here, have other ideas about how I should go about doing it.
            But as for me, I’m just like Paul.
            I think DSD offers the best resolution in sound quality.
            And also, responding to the comment about talkies, I read somewhere, that it was either 1934 or 1935 when they converted mono movies to stereo in New York City.
            I didn’t know that it happened as early as 1931 by the time they went to the United Kingdom to show that off.
            Thank you for telling me that man!
            To you and your family, I wish you a very Marry Christmas, and a very Happy New Year!

        2. Incidentally, Jacob Collier is from these parts, in fact about half a mile away. His mum is a Professor of violin at the Royal Academy. He is estranged from his dad, who is the headmaster of the school my youngest son graduated from 3 years ago. He’s a pianist and a wonderful man, loved by all his students (except his son, who went to another school – which is a shame). Unusually, he is an ordained Church England priest who is headmaster of a Jewish faith school.

  2. And here was me awaiting Paul on:
    “How much better is 24 bit compared with 16bit?
    Two situations:
    1) on a new recording. Us here do hope so. Is it?
    And
    2) on re-mastered material. Ummm perhaps it aids in re-mastering, perhaps?

    1. It’s unlikely the difference between 16 and 24 bit matters much when it comes to remastering since most remastering is of limited dynamic range mediums like tape or vinyl. The 16 bit dynamic range available is more than sufficient. For modern recordings directly off the microphones, I would always go 24 bit.

  3. What does a composer hear during the process of writing the notes? Does he imagine the sound of a specific concert hall? What does a musician hear and intends to express when playing? And doesn’t finally a sound engineer composes a mix added by some artificial sound effects from his mixing console featuring all kind of plugins, a mix which the composer or musicians never ever had in mind? Just compare the Esher demos of the Beatles’ White Album and the final mix. And how can high fidelity be guaranteed if your home audio systems has a totally different sound characteristic compared to the studio equipment?

  4. Didn’t Toole’s call this the “Circle of Confusion”? Engineers using poor equipment and then they EQ the recording to a sound in them? After you hear it in your equipment that has a sound different to the studio, or do you get the speakers of the studio even if they are actually “faulty”? Toole made a plea to get more uniform “monitoring” at studios so you could get close to what the artists heard there. In pure acoustical music, such as classic in halls, you may only get as close as what they finally approved. Interestingly, many classical music studios use B&W speakers that are clearly not flat and then we complain when the sound is strange in our homes.

    By the way, Paul, I don’t think there is much “master tape” anymore.

    Some reading that includes the monitor issue by Toole:

    https://www.audioholics.com/room-acoustics/room-reflections-human-adaptation

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