Uncompressed vs, compressed audio files

August 1, 2021
 by Paul McGowan

2 comments on “Uncompressed vs, compressed audio files”

  1. What I learn here: obviously the audio component’s power supply is by far the biggest and most inherent enemy of the sound quality especially when poorly designed. No power regenerator will help here eliminating any inherently generated noise or distortion. Thus it would be useful to get a hierarchical listing of effects which audibly (!) degrades the sound in an audio system. As bit perfect is a no-brainer today and clock accuracy far better than needed jitter also seems to be no audible problem anymore. What about shielding? What about digital filters. Aren’t the latter the next biggest enemy of sound quality when seeing the selection of different filter settings in many DACs? These FIR filter show a characteristic distortion and a transient response which is most unnatural - as is the resulting sound. And my own experience with some dozens high-end DAC results in the finding that there are no or only most marginal differences between high res tracks and its down samples for RBCD. And if galvanic isolation is the new problem solver why do we not find it for every analog component. By the way: all my digital interconnects feature opto-galvanic isolation with remarkable improvement of sound quality. And what about battery supply for a DAC or music server? Wouldn’t this too solve the unwanted power supply reaction described here?

  2. It's always a challenge to achieve sufficient isolation between the digital subsystem and the analogue subsystem in a mixed technology device such as a DAC or ADC. This is particularly true when very high linearity (or very low noise) is required. This is definitely the case in audio, where noise levels can be more than 100 dB below the full scale signal.

    It's also true that for many processor chips, the power consumed depends (somewhat) on the calculation being carried out. If the program consists of a large number of multiply or divide operations, or a large number of memory accesses, we might expect a higher power drain.

    Having said that, we don't know is how much of the overall processing load is accounted for by FLAC expansion and, in any case. I'm really surprised that the work needed to expand a FLAC file should have an audible effect on the sound quality of a DAC. If this difference is really audible, then a major objective in circuit design has not been achieved. Customers would be well advised to buy a product that achieves sufficient isolation regardless of the use (or not) of lossless compression.

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