No guarantees

December 9, 2020
 by Paul McGowan

“Flummoxed.” Now there’s a word you don’t hear that often, but it perfectly describes the problem so many people struggle with when it comes to sample rates and bit depths.

How can a high sample rate and full bit depth master sound significantly worse than a lower sample/bit rate track?

The answer is somewhat the same as how great ingredients don’t always taste as good as poor ones: why the best artist paints don’t always make a better painting, lower distortion doesn’t guarantee a great amp, or a big engine the fastest car.

It isn’t the ingredients or technology that matter as much as the skill of the creator.

In the same way a talented photographer can use an iPhone to produce a better picture than an amateur with the planet’s fanciest camera gear, the quality of ingredients matters most as a final touch rather than the starting point.

Just because a record is mastered at a famous label, a release is in quad rate DSD, or the track was little more than a mere CD, does not in itself help us determine its sonic merits.

We need to listen.

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