Language is easy
It's easy to sway opinions with bursts of logic that do not tell the whole story. Imagine this scenario. Your car is barely running because, without your knowledge, some prankster pulled the spark plug wires off every other cylinder–it feels like it's literally falling apart. You drive it into "Joe", the dishonest mechanic (whose brother in law was the prankster), and he says "she's on her last legs, needs an engine overhaul," and you would not be blamed for believing him. To all outside appearances that is so! When someone tells you "bits are bits" and then proceeds to give you example after example of the truth to that statement, who could argue? Bits are bits! Yet, it seems that some bits sound different than others. The disconnect between two statements happens because of narrow focus–revealing only part of the story. Like a politician telling you the sky is falling when you're standing in the middle of a disaster area. It sure seems like that from your point of view. Bits are identical as long as there is no timing information attached. Or, put another way, stored bits are identical, played back bits are not. One of our commenters posited the following: "Bits is bits. If you don’t trust computers to accurately transfer digital files from one place to another, then you should be VERY worried about your bank account because your bank account is just bits. The great beauty of digital is that either it works or it doesn’t. Data transfer is reliable. All this stuff about better quality digital cables is bunk. Either it works or it doesn’t." Absolutely true statement in one area - data transfer - but ignores the bigger picture of data playback. If we compare bit for bit audio stored on a mechanical hard drive vs. the same bits stored on a solid state drive, they would be identical. And that is indisputable. Yet, we know music stored on a solid state drive sounds better than music stored on a mechanical hard drive. How is that possible if the bits stored on the two drives are identical? The answer lies in expanding the question. If the question focuses only on the narrow–how can identical bits sound different–then any answer that does not agree is automatically wrong. And that is the basis of all this arguing. If the question were expanded to read–why do identical bits sound different when played back through different hardware–now the question makes much more sense and we might get closer to an answer. Let us open our worldview window just a bit to encompass a larger view of the digital audio world. We might all benefit a little. I'll try and shed some light on this for you tomorrow by asking the right question.
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