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How High of a Sample Rate is Enough?

Ron Texas

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#1
Today it is possible to buy recorded music at anywhere from Redbook resolution to 352.8/24 and quad DSD. JRiver converts DSD to PCM at what they say is an 8x rate. That's 352.8/64 for DSD 64 and proportionately higher for 2x and 4x DSD. A select group of DAC's are available with PCM 768k and DSD 512 capability. Some use HQplayer to convert everything to DSD 512. Chord just released a fancy hardware resampler for over $4k.

Many inexpensive DAC's are limited to 96/24 on USB. I suppose this is because Windows until the most recent versions of Win 10 only supported USB Class 1 audio. Even the relatively pricey Benchmark 3 only goes to 192k and has no DSD capability. The same goes for the infamous Yaggi from Schiit. The inexpensive Topping D10 accepts 384k PCM and 4x DSD (Native over ASIO) In various articles I have read DSD to PCM conversions are transparent and that DSD 64 has no more information than PCM 88.2/24.

Elsewhere on ASR there is an article about whether hi res matters. My reading is 96/24 or DSD 64 shows an audible improvement over Redbook. It could be close enough to bite me, but I know of no study showing a further improvement at higher data rates.

My guess is 96k maximum rate DAC's will be come scarcer as Windows 10 with USB Class 2 audio proliferates. A DAC with USB 192k support will play back 192k and 176.4 PCM downloads without a downsampling step, but does it sound better. Likewise for DSD in JRiver. I don't consider 192k support on Toslink to be a real feature because very few computers are capable of delivering better than 96k on Toslink. Many Mac's can do it, but they already have USB2.

So, how much is enough? Or is there no excess like wretched excess?
 

Sal1950

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#2
For playback media,
The math tells me 16/44 is sufficient, I haven't heard anything that makes me believe different.
A few recording engineers who's ears I respect like Mark Waldrep believes 24/96 offers some advantage but even he admits there's room for debate.
But when it comes to commerce the sky's the limit. More is better as long as the price increases with the data rate.
JMHO
 

andreasmaaan

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#3
There has only been one well-conducted study showing that anything above 44.1 made a difference, and IMHO there are a few question marks over that study:
  • it was conducted by a company that specialises in high-res products
  • it used suboptimal and atypical dither and atypical low pass filters
Either these factors resulted in the lower sample-rate signals being distinguishable from the higher sample-rate ones, or intermodulation between frequencies above and below the upper limit of human hearing combined to create IM products within the audible range on the higher sample-rate signals (which is not a good thing), and this allowed participants to distinguish between these and the lower sample-rate signals.

Or, of course, the participants had useful hearing above 20KHz.

Anyway, I think Amir is right to suggest a sample rate of 96KHz as preferable. It gives a greater margin of error for the low pass filter, and it's often the sample rate of the original master.

There is no conceivable way any sample rate above this, and certainly not above the sample rate of the master, could possibly give an audible improvement.
 

Kal Rubinson

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#5
Many inexpensive DAC's are limited to 96/24 on USB. I suppose this is because Windows until the most recent versions of Win 10 only supported USB Class 1 audio.
That is why many DAC manufacturers supplied their own ASIO drivers and some player software supports WASAPI/KernelStreaming. We have been avoiding Win audio for years for more reasons than just higher sampling rates.
 

amirm

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#6
For the purposes of buying a DAC, get one that goes up to 384 and plays DSD. Then, when purchasing music, buy whatever sample rate was used to record the music if the price is the same.
 

Grave

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#7
Why would anyone actually use DSD?
 

DonH56

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#8
Why would anyone actually use DSD?
Speaking for myself, my main interest is because that is the format most multichannel SACDs provide, so I need to be able to decode it. I am not at all convinced it has any technical advantages (to the contrary) but have not really studied it either.
 

Krunok

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#10
Speaking for myself, my main interest is because that is the format most multichannel SACDs provide, so I need to be able to decode it. I am not at all convinced it has any technical advantages (to the contrary) but have not really studied it either.
Speaking for myself, I like music to be played in front of me and not around me. I have tried it and it simply doesn't work for me. For movies, of course, MC works great.
 

Wombat

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#11
A minute percentage of audio enthusiast have been tested in this area of discerning sampling rates, and with poor outcomes. It amazes me how pedantic the 'philes are on higher is better, especially considering their lack of understanding of the science. Marketing believers is the most obvious answer. Or higher for the sake of it.

Amir, you support higher sampling rates in consumer gear. To what benefit re critical consumer audibility?

It seems to me that the one step above Red Book should be more than enough to quell questionable doubts.
 
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#12
There is something to be said for buying a DAC that at least supports the formats you own or maybe plan to use in the future but does stand loose from what is needed for fidelity.

a sample rate of 44.1 kHz is enough for most (incl. me) but 88.2kHz (or 96kHz) is technically sufficient for the goldenest of ears.
Everything above (and DSD) is born of DAC chip manufacturer pissing contests showing off how far they can take it and has no relevance to audible SQ improvements but does have relevance to objectively improved fidelity way beyond our borders of perception.

You left out bit depth...
I think there is more gain in 'high res sound' increasing bit depth than it is in sample rate.
16 Bit is probably enough but when buying a DAC and using software volume control or EQ, 24 bit capable DAC's (they do not reach 24 bit analog resolution but rather accept 24 bit digital words) are probably the way to go.
 

Wombat

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#13
There is something to be said for buying a DAC that at least supports the formats you own or maybe plan to use in the future but does stand loose from what is needed for fidelity.

a sample rate of 44.1 kHz is enough for most (incl. me) but 88.2kHz (or 96kHz) is technically sufficient for the goldenest of ears.
Everything above (and DSD) is born of DAC chip manufacturer pissing contests showing off how far they can take it and has no relevance to audible SQ improvements but does have relevance to objectively improved fidelity way beyond our borders of perception.

You left out bit depth...
I think there is more gain in 'high res sound' increasing bit depth than it is in sample rate.
16 Bit is probably enough but when buying a DAC and using software volume control or EQ, 24 bit capable DAC's (they do not reach 24 bit analog resolution but rather accept 24 bit digital words) are probably the way to go.
I did mention Red Book. One step above?
 

Kal Rubinson

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#15
Speaking for myself, I like music to be played in front of me and not around me. I have tried it and it simply doesn't work for me. For movies, of course, MC works great.
Nonsense. You have simply tried an unfortunate subset of MCH recordings. The vast majority of the thousands that I have use the surround channels to recreate a better simulation of the acoustics of the performance space.
 

Kal Rubinson

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#16
A minute percentage of audio enthusiast have been tested in this area of discerning sampling rates, and with poor outcomes. It amazes me how pedantic the 'philes are on higher is better, especially considering their lack of understanding of the science. Marketing believers is the most obvious answer. Or higher for the sake of it.
Of course, that applies broadly to most consumers and to the marketing of most products. More is an easy and appealing concept. (Thank you, Geico.)

That said, those comments apply to the topic/title subject and not to the number of channels, although I can see madness developing there as well. :eek:

There is something to be said for buying a DAC that at least supports the formats you own or maybe plan to use in the future but does stand loose from what is needed for fidelity.
Exactly. Record companies are just as willing to compete on the basis of "more" and consumers, even enlightened ones, do not usually get to choose "less" when buying a performance. (Yes, I can downsample and do.)
 

Krunok

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#17
Nonsense. You have simply tried an unfortunate subset of MCH recordings. The vast majority of the thousands that I have use the surround channels to recreate a better simulation of the acoustics of the performance space.
I don't think so, I simply don't like it. I also don't like the way headphones make the sound "in" my head and not in front of me. What I like is the "classic" stereo sound, but that is only my personal preference and in no way I claim it is better than MCH.
 

Sal1950

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#18
Nonsense. You have simply tried an unfortunate subset of MCH recordings. The vast majority of the thousands that I have use the surround channels to recreate a better simulation of the acoustics of the performance space.
I don't think so, I simply don't like it. I also don't like the way headphones make the sound "in" my head and not in front of me. What I like is the "classic" stereo sound, but that is only my personal preference and in no way I claim it is better than MCH.
Krunok, I fully understand and support your position on a preference but you do have to take into account the last part of Kal's post.
Classic stereo can give you that "open window to the hall" listening experience in a incredible way. It provides that perspective of standing outside a concert hall while looking in thru an open window.
But if you want to try and recreate the experience of actually sitting in the audience of a hall with the sound of the hall and the reflections of the performance occurring around you, the only way to accomplish that is with a good multich rig.
Finding good recordings in multich outside of the classical music genre is next to impossible but the best of them will provide you with a listening experience that will definitely take you beyond that which can be created with a 2 channel system.

I fully agree with you on headphones, their best attribute is to provide inner detail and other sound qualities that meet or surpass the very best obtainable from speakers at a very low cost in comparison. Their imaging (or whatever you call it) has always given me a headache.
 

soundArgument

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#19
Krunok, I fully understand and support your position on a preference but you do have to take into account the last part of Kal's post.
Classic stereo can give you that "open window to the hall" listening experience in a incredible way. It provides that perspective of standing outside a concert hall while looking in thru an open window.
But if you want to try and recreate the experience of actually sitting in the audience of a hall with the sound of the hall and the reflections of the performance occurring around you, the only way to accomplish that is with a good multich rig.
Finding good recordings in multich outside of the classical music genre is next to impossible but the best of them will provide you with a listening experience that will definitely take you beyond that which can be created with a 2 channel system.

I fully agree with you on headphones, their best attribute is to provide inner detail and other sound qualities that meet or surpass the very best obtainable from speakers at a very low cost in comparison. Their imaging (or whatever you call it) has always given me a headache.
All you folks really need to try BACCH.
 

Krunok

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#20
Krunok, I fully understand and support your position on a preference but you do have to take into account the last part of Kal's post.
Classic stereo can give you that "open window to the hall" listening experience in a incredible way. It provides that perspective of standing outside a concert hall while looking in thru an open window.
But if you want to try and recreate the experience of actually sitting in the audience of a hall with the sound of the hall and the reflections of the performance occurring around you, the only way to accomplish that is with a good multich rig.
Finding good recordings in multich outside of the classical music genre is next to impossible but the best of them will provide you with a listening experience that will definitely take you beyond that which can be created with a 2 channel system.

I fully agree with you on headphones, their best attribute is to provide inner detail and other sound qualities that meet or surpass the very best obtainable from speakers at a very low cost in comparison. Their imaging (or whatever you call it) has always given me a headache.
Well, I bought my multichannel Rotel processor and amp and 2 Castle Richmond speakers for the rears but as you said, finding good recordings for the music I listen showed to be practically impossible.
 
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