Hi Fi stuff

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  • Hi Fi stuff
  • joemarshall

    Now, as the true Hifi buffs will know, and sorry to shatter the illusion for the rest of you, CD’s are NOT true “High Fidelity” audio sources. They are VERY heavily compressed still. They are recorded at 44.1KHz sampling rate, at in 16 bit stereo. What does this mean? Well when compared to the likes of DVD Audio, or SACD’s, or any audio source recorded on a computer at the highest quality possible (any advances on 192KHz and 24 bit?), or even good old vinyl, the CD does not provide a fully “High Fidelity” experience.

    Come on – can any bugger really hear the difference? Obviously the higher frequency doesn’t make a difference (because it only affects sounds outside the human hearing range).

    Possibly the bit depth might do – although how many people there are who can really tell more than 65536 different levels of sound, I don’t know?

    24 bit is good for production / mixing, where you’re going to be applying transformations to it, which cause inevitable losses in quality, which are made much smaller when you’re using a 24 bit signal. But if you mix down at the end to a CD, I dunno who could tell the difference?

    You can hear the difference between SACDs and CDs, because they are mastered differently, thanks to the typical market for each product. I wonder if you took an SACD signal, stuck it into logic or whatever, put it down to 44khz 16 bit, and played the two back to back, both through the same hardware as a blind test, whether anyone could tell the difference?


    Premier Icon mboy

    Come on – can any bugger really hear the difference?

    I think the point is that YES, some bugger can! Doubtful whether you’ll ever meet them though 😉

    On the top end, well the human ear struggles with frequencies above about 18KHz anyway, a 44.1KHz sampling rate dictates the highest frequency that can be reproduced as 22.05KHz, beyond just about any human hearing level indeed (but not dogs, maybe there’s a market in dog hifi?).

    It’s the extra detail within the audio recording that a higher sampling rate affords. But then, as you say, when you have to mix down to CD quality, it kind of doesn’t matter and nobody will be able to tell the difference really. But then do we have to mix down to CD quality? Only if you want to play your music on a CD player of course!

    Could I tell the difference between a track produced/recorded at 96KHz and in 24 bit stereo Vs one at 44.1KHz at 16 bit stereo, through the same equipment? Well, for starters, it would have to be a very good amp and speakers, and in a very good listening environment. But yes I’m confident I could (but then I dabble with music production, and have been a DJ for almost 12 years, sound quality bothers me a lot more than your average Joe) tell the difference between the two. It would probably be a lot less pronounced than the difference between a 320kbps MP3 and CD audio (which plenty of people still can’t tell the difference, though to me it’s night and day in terms of quality!), or even a 128kbps MP3 and a 320kbps MP3.

    There was an article all about the Abbey Road Studios in a music production Mag I buy occasionally a few months ago. They interviewed one of the senior sound engineers as well as writing a lot just about the specs of the studios too, it made for interesting reading. But sure enough, whilst most people are happy to listen to their music through tiny earphones on an iPod, there are people out there that will go to any length for the ultimate in sound reproduction. And for some, any digital source, no matter how high quality, is still not good enough!


    The problem with all the other sources (apart from vinyl which of course wears out!) is simply storage! The CD was launched as a format as at the time about 700Mb was about the best they could fit onto a single disc. It just so happened that this was enough to get up to 80 minutes of audio onto that disc at the specified quality.

    As an interesting aside, Philips originally conceived the CD as being 11.5cm and holding 60 minutes of music at 14 bit. Sony requested the larger format so it could hold 74 minutes, the length of Beethoven’s 9th as recorded by the Berlin Philharmonic – the Chairman’s favourite piece.



    It’s the extra detail within the audio recording that a higher sampling rate affords.

    What do you mean ‘extra detail’? Isn’t the whole point of Nyquist’s theorem that there is no detail left out of the sound, as long as the frequencies being reproduced are below 22050khz (assuming a 44100 signal)?

    Personally I still think it makes a difference in production as you’re applying algorithms to it that add noise, but I don’t believe people can hear the difference between the same track put down to 44100, if nothing else has been done to it.



    This is even better than the photography threads!!

    Mate of mine used to have a Musical fidelity amp with some Snell audio speakers and a crazy turntable of some description. Sounded bloody amazing.

    Another mate bought some Micromega kit 2nd hand and some decent speakers (can’t remember what they were). He thought they sounded wicked…..I went round and heard it; thought it sounded like a bag of dog poo. Turned it all off, wired the speakers in phase and asked him to have another listen. He was blown away….should have charged him.

    Premier Icon mboy

    Joe, you’re probably right. How many recordings out there have not had anything done post production that add mathematical algorithms over the top of it though? Not many, if any, I’d wager have not gone through at least a little bit of compression, or a noise gate or something.

    And in this respect, you would be able to notice a difference between pre and post mixdown to CD quality.


    Right this thread got carried away. I agree with alot of what mboy has posted, even though he’s a mate and I’d rather make him look stupid with a clever reply. Especially his important point that spending a fortune on a CD player is wasted.

    Anyway, as far as what is worth spending money goes, I always recommend the following…

    Amplifier upto £1.5k, spend around a third of the budget, Speakers as much as you can, around half the budget. Not really worth bothering below £150 for new units, look at second hand. Beware of cheap speakers with metal dome tweeters, these are usually designed to be overly ‘bright’ to sound impressive in a noisy shop environment. These over treblely tweeters can be annoying once in a quiet home for a long listening session.

    For a CD player source, a bottom of the range unit from the main players who actually manufacture the laser units is fine, Sony, Phillips etc. For a ‘high’ end unit buy a Denon, this is what most educated studios use as they’re longer lasting. Cables need not cost much at all, use in the box interconnects and cheapest ‘thick’ speaker wire you can get, good quality 13amp mains wire is perfectly acceptable.

    The weakest part of a system is ALWAYS the speakers. Once you’re spending over £500 on an amplifier the gains in quality aren’t huge, however spending £3k on speakers will make a HUGE difference.

    When looking at CD players in a shop, ask to ‘demo’ one in a quiet room. The main failing of cheap players is the mechanism is loud itself, so see if it makes any loud noise while playing a disc. Obviously check with zero volume. I hate late night quiet listening to the backing track of a wurring CD player!

    My advise is based from a father who has been in the industry since the dawn of time, a family friend who was until recently the sound director for the BBC and my own personal experiences of having a vast range of equipment to borrow/steal over the years, including my own work selling AV equipment to wealthy yacht owners. No defending my own misguided purchases here…

    Premier Icon matthewjb

    Just to balance out Solomanda’s comments I’d say do almost the exact opposite.

    Certainly spending more of the budget on the source has always worked best for me.

    Anyway the best bit of advice is always listen to the equipment you’re going to buy. Preferable in the system you will be using it in.


    I think, generally, that there isn’t any ‘real’ need to spend more than that, in yer average home. Spending loads more isn’t really going to ‘improve’ your enjoyment of music by any quantifiable amount. Are you listening to the music, or the ‘sound’?

    Rich has a finite amount to spend. He knows he’s not going to be able to afford the best in H-Fi gear; he just wants something fairly decent to listen to choons on. For his purposes, I’d say there isn’t really a great need to spend more than £200 per bit.

    Cripes you don’t half talk crap. How does £200 become the appropriate level for everyone? FFS. *leaves forum for another while*

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