Adventures In Audio

CD vs. 24-bit streaming - Sound of the past vs. sound of the future (Turntable tips)

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David Long:  It's great to finally see more and more YT channels that don't pander to the audiophile silliness that has been shoved down our throats for decades be it by magazine or online BS. Rational educated people are no longer just sitting back and letting "reviewers" spew their outright lies about how pricey components and magic cables always sound better just because they were too lazy to do any double blind tests or lie about how that would be too hard or that they are flawed tests. The old guard of BS will fade in a few more years when the dinosaurs die off and hopefully the younger crowd will not take bribes from the snake oil manufacturers to give their crap good reviews.

Christopher-Titus Mark Vanderwall-Brown:  I am curious though if running at 24 bits provides the advantage of lessening the likelihood of data loss when recording at lower amplitude. Like, If I record something without cranking it up to the max, does having higher bit depth potentiate more data being being gleaned so I don't have to worry that the "quiet sound" simply won't be heard? [I'm notorious for blowing out mics because my body produces such rich, harmonically complex, and exceedingly loud sounds when I sing that I'm notorious for how much headache I cause on the recording side of things—God knows how many times I blown cheap mics out even at a distance because they simply can't handle all those varying resonant frequencies! 😂]

Christopher-Titus Mark Vanderwall-Brown:  Admittedly, I do find it funny that none of these people are commenting on the bit depth verse the number of samples taken per second. Both have their role. But, ironically, the higher bit rates really tend to matter (IMO) when it comes to DAWs & the maths being done on your audio. Rollover counting errors are a primary reason for why floating point calculations have 32, 64, etc., bits of depth. It isn't because you can necessarily hear it, but rather that during the engineering process, say when you run that lovely convolution reverb of the world's great acoustics, you want to limit the mathematical errors or their impacts introduced into the recording as the more you do to a recordings in the DAW, the more it can and will be adjusted in unforseen ways that can lead to artifacts and stuff that you may not have wanted. By increasing floating point bit depth (vs the recording bit depth — different things), you can lessen the errors a particular DAW can introduce. 😅

ThewayICit:  24 bit sounds better than 16 bit, and 96 MHz sounds better than 44, and 192 MHz is better than 96, but you do get fast diminishing returns as you ramp up the resources, or spend more money on your gear so the difference is subtle, and there is likely to be some placebo effect involved.

Nightjar on the Gate:  The final mastering only needs to go close to the maximum level if the music is meant to be very loud. With quieter music it is preferable to set the level lower to allow better control of the volume.

Matthew Hall:  Don't forget about dithering which moves the noise in a Redbook audio recording away from more audible frequencies. But even without it a 16-bit noise floor is more than sufficient for home listening.

HafiBeat:  Good Video, one should add that *there is almost nothing in the analogue world (= the frontend of any A/D-Converter) that delivers more than the equivalent of 16 Bit of dynamic range*. This is the main reason why even in music production 16Bit is enough, and not even "just enough" in most cases, except live classical recording with huge dynamic range and unknown levels.

GAoctavio:  Good point, easier to record but not that better for the listener

Vyl Bird:  If you spend an extra thousand dollars on your audio equipment, it /will/ sound better. But only if you are aware of how much it cost!

Lee Davidson:  Or.. to put in a more simple way (and im already repeating myself here..), if its recorded in 24 bit, which the vast majority of music is these days, then keep it in that format.. despite the limitations of the listener and the gear they are listening on, that 24 bit master is as good as its ever going to get.. and i figure that if the original is the best it can be, then that has to have a flow on effect, no matter what the limitations are after the fact.. any deviation from that original format has to (by definition) be a compromise.. then again, as you've pointed out.. most people probably cant hear the difference, but thats no argument in validating a compromise.

Gunnard Doboze:  1 bit, 6 db of headroom....24 bit. 96 DB of headroom....Versus 144 DB....more dynamic range in the 24bit world.

Michael Gilbert:  More bits pushes the noise floor down, and that's the only difference, period. What's said in this video isn't opinion. It's cold, hard, irrefutable, scientific fact. No matter what anyone says, no one can hear the difference between 16 bit and anything higher, just as we can't see infrared and ultraviolet.

Jack Danyal:  doesn't matter 16 bit or 32 even. what's really matter is the recording quality

RB Blackstone:  The vast majority of digital audio is dithered by HVAC noise. Lol

steady bloke:  Oh God

frogandspanner:  Mere humans can detect <2^16 levels. Audiophiles, with their superior imaginations, can detect an infinite number of levels, although in the metaphysical universe.

If we do calculations with numbers then we must have sum extra bits above the resolution to which we are working, hence 24 bits.

One of the first exercises we did in 1971 when I began my degree was to use hand calculators to perform additions, subtraction, multiplications and divisions, so we could see the problem when we were computing close the to extremes of number of bits. It was for this reason that for my PhD, using a PDP-11, I designed what I called floating fixed point arithmetic : at each stage in the process there were integer calculations with absolute precision and accuracy, but between the stages there might be an implicit shift of implicit decimal point.

Alan Robertson:  Good for those of you who have 24 bit ears. I've never listed to a CD or wav file and thought OMG only 16 bit. I had a friend who spent his redundancy money 8k on an amplifier but I'm a good enough sort of man.

OTL Cellartapes:  these are great - you really know your stuff on a scientist-engineer level, and that is visible in your face from the start! excellent! (also, i feel like another reason for studio wanting higher bit-depth than consumers is that when processing audio you might want to do maths on the data, and if your numbers are all being rounded off at a threshold level when you multiply, then when you divide back down there will be a lot of squaring distortion and loss of data-integrity - wrong numbers everywhere.,..,

Enossified Ossified:  As an electrical engineer, musician and home recording engineer I understand the theoretical advantages of 24 bits over 16 bits, or for that matter 32 bits over 24 bits, but I cannot hear it with my recording equipment.

Nick Beretanos:  It's a little bit (pardon the pun) like when my 14 year old son plays video games at 120FPS. When I tell him that most humans can only see 30~60 on the top end he asks me why then does the monitor and video card support and/or because we can.

JAE X:  Everyone knows that real audiophiles don't listen to music. They look at frequency response curves, modulation transfer functions, and S/N ratios.

Joseph Ward:  I use Amazon HD and is there an audible difference between 16/44 and 24/192.... I'm 49, not sure but with Unlimited Internet, Why not go 24/192... Bandwidth is cheap and plentiful.....

TokyoXtreme:  How much better is 24-bit audio than 16-bit audio? Well, 8! Seems pretty obvious to me, ah ha ha.

John Muoio:  I very much enjoy your clear, logical presentations based mostly facts. I’d like to have the opportunity to show you some interesting facts and mathematics, and cognitive science that address the sampling rates above 44.1khz make no difference.

Keith Moriyama:  When I listen to the highest resolution streaming services the quality of recorded sound is terrible. Not recent recordings-- the great masterpieces of classic rock. EVERY SINGLE RECORDING.
Case in point: Carly Simon, No Secrets This album is one of the truly great recordings of all time. If you were to stream it, it sounds ok-- smooth and blurred in comparison to the original. If you were not aware of the original you would think the stream version is fine. The recordings are night and day. My $650. JBL Century 100's blow away my two $30k audiophile systems playing the exact same song-- the original vinyl v 32bit digital.. On "Your so Vain" you can hear the grunt of the bass guitar; the drums explode with resonance. On the streamed version the bass is round and smooth; the drums lack dynamics.

Darren Ranalli:  I think of it this way, if you add 8 more bits, they're being added as additional "least significant" bits. The analogy in decimal would be 3.1415926535897932 (16 decimal digits) vs 3.141592653589793238462643
(24 decimal digits)

Kartoffelbrei:  6:13 wait what

Thiemo K:  In short: they knew that they were doing when they created the CD 💪😎

John Stopman:  Profesionally mixed/produced and remastered audio-album performs much better when it's (re)recorded in 24-bits @ 192khz (Not: 88.2khz or 96khz). 24-bit @ 192khz really blasts out of my high quality speakers (you could compare the difference in quality [somewhat] to the same AC/DC song played on a 7" single @ 33 1/3 rpm and a 7" single @ 45 rpm).

/Edit: downgrading a professionally mixed/produced and remastered album from 24-bits @ 192khz to a CD @ 16-bits / 44.1khz, has a positive effect on the quality of the sound. When you compare such a remastered CD to any non-remastered version, you can clearly hear the difference. I prefer such remastered CDs to 24-bit at any time: they are cheaper to buy ^^

Hauke:  Sounds very valid and convincing to me! But I wonder what those would day, who claim that analog is better anyway…

M Scott:  Sampling rate is far more important than bit depth. That said, even in a 'consumer' context processing in 24 bits is useful for the kind of simple DSP's many would like to be able to use, such as EQ or simply digital volume control - you can attenuate a signal by 40 dB or more, providing a range of volume more than enough to cover levels from the quietest 'background music' to party/neighbour-baiting without any perceptible loss of fidelity, whether the program is 16 or 24 bit itself.

Snhojbar:  This video needs more "air quotes". You can't have too many "Air quotes"!

Jeff:  I don’t know if any of the specs you mention are relevant to me as someone who listens to CD’s and Hi-Res audio streams on my budget receiver and speakers. This is level of audio that I will probably never experience in my lifetime so I’m just going to enjoy the music in the best format I have access to, like the rest of us. :)

Chris Harper:  First time I've listened to your channel and I agree with everything you've said. And to that point, I really appreciate being able to buy so many cheap used CDs at the used book store. 16 bits really is enough and if a CD sounds bad it's because it was poorly produced. Adding bits won't fix that.

アルバート:  And can’t count how many times I hear clipping CDs, people sucks at mastering

Tisimo:  I wonder if you would do a review on the MQA audio format, with regards to the tests GoldenSound did? I'm in agreement High-res really shouldn't matter much, especially when over 30, but am still inclined to use the best available, just to be sure that this at least is not a limiting factor. Hope you will concider it.

Adam Furtenbach:  Would using an equalizer be a limiting factor for the 16bit format?

spiculum1836:  WTF, the good old cd's 16 bit dynamic range of 90 dB does not even get fully utilized in any music recordings. Ask any vinyl head audiophiles who swear that a record sounds better than a cd. But guess what, the good older vinyl dynamic range is only 70 dB at best if it does not have any snap crackles or pops. Even the best vinyl with best everything, the music would only be heard with a dynamic range of around 40dB and that is damn good range utilization.
Most music we listen to even on headphones, utilize only 30dB to 40dB in practice. It would be very very annoying to hear music with dynamic range greater than 40dB. You would have to turn up the volume quite high to hear that -40dB part of the music and my God it will be very annoying for the volume to suddenly go to 0dB. Remember the audio compressors sold when CDs were first released? The CDs were recorded with too much dynamic range and it was annoying to listen to. So, 24bit is just marketing hype and you will never ever hear it in your music, ever. 🙂

Agent OOE:  24bit has more headroom when mixing, and often better s/n ratio. But, this is when mixing. Often times, mastering gets bumped down for CD, but often times the quality is even worse when getting mastered for streaming services. So, the bit rate alone, doesn't necessarily make for better fidelity. It all comes down to the process of how the music is mixed and mastered. I would make the comparison to 4K BluRay. Yes, you have the space on those discs to produce very high quality 4K movies/TV Shows/etc. But we know that a lot of "4k BluRays" are very subpar because of the lazy way the transfer is done.

Liberty Warrior:  If it's rap, it doesn't matter if it's 128-Bit, it's still crap.

zerocapacitance1:  Very interesting point brought up. I do notice that the more bits, the better the sound. But it could be a placebo affect.

Geoff mania:  I totally agree with this video.

winterhell:  If I cant hear the breathing of individual audience members in a recording of a live concert, then the sound quality isnt enough.

Robert van Geel:  At one moment the noise of your own breathing and the flowing of your own blood in your head is louder than the extra resolution you can get from better audio quality.

Dmitri Popov:  Very interesting. Thank you!

note5 camera:  Yeah, but I like the warm sound from analog records. he he.

Stig Henning Johansen:  CD is probably the best music format in the world, the extensive red book error correction and rock solid sound quality
is the best. Especially from old Philips gear like the CD100 or CD303. The TDA1540 oversampling DAC, the
AN5532, and the one eyed laser.. There is hardly anything that can compete with that today. Spotify premium my ass :)

Gh S:  The problem is not about the file format, the real problem is nowadays they are just terrible mixed

G. Fortin:  I have a few really great clean and beautiful sounding , well mastered CD's. If it's better I doubt that I could realistically hear the difference with my mid level audio equipment or Sennheiser phones. Anything but compressed ( aka 128 mp3) sounds decent to me. I avoid those LOL . Good video ! I think myself that CD's or 256 / 320 mp3's satisfy my ears.

UTJK.:  Vynil is the way... :-p

Chris Wood:  The number of bits used to encode the audio signal is only half the story... the other half, which you have not covered is the sampling rate. The sampling rate for audio CDs is 44.1kHz and according to our friend Nyquist, in theory at least, an analog signal needs to be sampled at least twice as fast as the highest frequency. Well for humans some people can hear up to 20 kHz, especially the young. Most instruments don't produce fundamental frequencies anywhere near 20 kHz... but there are harmonics! And these can go well beyond 20 kHz. Most people can't hear these but they do affect the sound because they interact with the lower frequencies and produce modulations which in turn change the feel of the sound... i.e. add the magic :) Well that's my 20 cents worth.

Gustavo Jacob:  Audiophiles don't read too much, they get distracted by the quality of the paper and how detailed and well defined the letters appear over it.

Plainsman:  Nope, sorry. Most people believe that the audio quality of 24-bit is better than 16-bit – and this is true in computing and scientific accuracy. But, conflating quality with a higher number isn't true perceptually. While there is a greater dynamic range and less noise, the human ear cannot perceive much difference between the two.

marius erasmus:  The Nr.1 most important factor regardless of bits, is the recording and mixing of an album.
an extremely well recorded sample even in high quality mp3 will sound better than a poorer recorded 24bit High res source file.

Some albums just sound better than others even at the same quality right. Well it's the recording and mixing technique. Some do it better and have a better ear and feel for the art.

An example:
Deacon Blue - Dignity (Producer Jon Kelly)
David Bowie - China Girl (Producer Nile Rodgers/ Bowie)

Anybody with an ear can hear that Dignity is by far a clearer mixing technique than China Girl. Jon Kelly has the ability to create a high quality sound regardless of the source file. If you take a quality mp3 of Dignity it would still sound better than a 16bit lossless China Girl source. China girl sounds dull compared to Dignity, whilst Dignity sounds big, spacious and clear. One would expect China girl to have a similar sound to Dignity because of the Bowie "sound". So, finding a "quality" recording then finding the hires version can make a difference.

But note: Hi-res is not always better, some hires sources have been screwed around with, other producers and some mixing to create the illusion of a better sound. A good recording just can't be beat no matter the "hires".

Almost all of Jon Kelly's producing has that "quality" sound.

I am only referencing to the sound difference. Many factors influence a quality sound and some of that is "space", "breathing room" amongst many others.

I love quality sound, I have a quality setup as well but the music must be alive first in a recording.
s. I love China Girl, wish it was a clearer sound though.

I would love to know how others perceive this especially from the professionals and other music lovers.

Steve Jones:  It's quite accurate to say that human hearing is logarithmic in nature, which makes the claims over 256 times better nonsense.

However, there's a more fundamental issue in that people fixate over something that matters in one domain but not in another. Mastering music at 24 bits makes absolute sense. You want to record the original instruments and performance at their highest fidelity, and you most certainly do not want lossy formats for that. The reason is that, during production, you want the absolute maximum amount of data available from the original recording as it may need boosting, equalising or even a bit of frequency shifting (although some of this will be anathema to purists). Every time a signal is manipulated there is some loss of data.

However, that's the production domain. The listening domain is something else entirely, and then you are into a realm which is affected by the real world elements, such as the reproduction devices, room acoustics, extraneous noises, and so on. Even earphones are not perfect, and they introduce an unnatural element too. How many people keep their hear rigid at a musical performance? Then there's the other inescapable issue, which is the capability of the human ear which is absolutely not a linear instrument, degrades with age, both in terms of dynamic and frequency range. In all, the human ear simply isn't capable of distinguishing all those 24 bit values, and a certain amount of lossy compression (and even reducing to 16 bits is a form of lossy compression) is not going to be distinguishable from the original, at least not in any way that matches real world experiences.

There are also those analogue purists who claim that analogue is pure and uncompressed. No it most certainly is not, and especially on vinyl. What people refer to RIAA equalisation is very much a form of lossy compression. Without it, the stylus movement would be impractically high at low frequencies. People don't think of it as lossy compression, but it very much is.

I should add that there's an exact parallel in the world of images, both moving and still. The best systems record the raw data from the sensor and then manipulate that raw data to produce the eventual, viewable moving or still image. However, it's only the master that has the original, uncompressed data. We do not, in general, send the original, uncompressed image to be viewed on a computer screen, a TV screen or even on print. You have now moved from what is the editing or production domain into a viewing one. The file formats used for viewing are optimised for that to get the best balance between size and the quality of the image being viewed.

The only thing to be said with audio is that, unlike video, the data volumes aren't impossibly large for modern communications networks (although they are a bit wasteful). Obsessing over 24 vs 16 bit for listening, rather then mastering and editing, really is pointless in the real world.

4Nanook:  It's not just about bits, it's also about sampling rates. The major issue with CD isn't the 16-bit resolution, it's the 44khz sampling rate.

Kevin Howard:  I know the discussion here is between 16 bit and 24 bit audio (i.e., industry standard recording). But, while we're at it, I would be interested to know your take on 32 bit float audio. I work as a television professional and typically record 32 bit float audio with a digital recorder made by Sound Devices. And the truth is I LOVE the massive dynamic range that 32 bit offers. Fretting over gain levels and any concerns about clipping are a thing of the past. You can set levels to record a whisper while a jet flies overhead and not clip. Now, I know that most will argue that 24 bit with limiters is more than enough in most scenarios, as you mention in your video. But, when I'm a "one man band," filming and recording audio at the same time, not having to worry about gain levels is truly amazing! You can always reduce your bit rate later on (as one can with video resolution), but it's much more problematic trying to raise it. Thanks for the great video!

René Jensen:  Great video.
It all comes to samplingfreq, and the DAC at the end. Just to keep the samplingnoise down, and liniarty in the DAC.
Lot of the older CD playes suffers with quantisasion noise, but when the 1bit/bitstream was introduced this improved a lot.
But still, a good mastered CD in 16 bit will stil be quit enough for most persons.

Patrick Daxboeck:  The problem with CDs is that in the upper frequencies you have too few bits for a good resolution. If you are older, this probably does not matter too much. There is something about the physical energy in a soundwave. Each doubling of a frequency you have half the amplitude for the same energy. which means you have one bit less available. So if you have a music piece which has a good bass at 25hz and which uses the whole 16 linear bits of a CD, then at 50Hz you have 15bits, at 100Hz 14bits, at 200Hz 13bits, at 400Hz 12bits 800Hz with 11bits, at 1.6KHz 10bits at 3.2KHz 9bits at 6.4kHz and 8bits at 12.8kHz. For a single Instrument at full Amplitude this is good enough. But as soon as you have more dynamic of your sound or you need to mix various instruments of different volume, things get a bit tricky and the quality is just not enough. So adding 8bits more gives more than enough resolution on a linear amplitude. The next problem is with frequency range. Yes at 44kHz you can play frequencies up to 22kHz. But the problem is in the detail. What is the smallest difference in a frequency you can record at that sampling frequency ? And thus increasing the sampling rate to e.g. 96kHz will allow to have way clearer separation of waveforms in the high frequency ranges. In the end the 24bits,96kHz are very comfortable for the linear waveform sent to the amplifier. For a long time this was comfortable for production. But nowadays more modern sound workflows tend to go to 32bits floating point for recording. Whereas such a detailed waveform is useless for hearing, it is very comfortable for recording. e.g. if you have microphones with that dynamic range, you will not need to adjust recording levels anymore. So for a studio 32bit floating point waveforms with 96kHz are super comfortable. The end user however will receive sound which was compressed, cleaned and then decompressed. Here good bitrates and audio methods will deliver an experience as good as lossless (as absolutely nobody will be able to hear the difference).

William Hopper:  I used to collect Vinyl. I now collect cds. I won't be going back to vinyl records. I Don't get the vinyl surge. Cds are the best sound format ever in my lifetime. I only stream to check out artist I want to buy on cd. Goodbye Vinyl.

Clive Broome:  Defining quality in terms of dynamic range limits the argument. 24 bit will have vastly increased resolution within the complex signal waveform. Like a TV with a 4k signal still doesn't appear as real as looking through a window, it gets closer, maybe at 8k or 16k?

Mechant Loup:  I only listen to CDs. I have perceived no benefit from anything higher in terms of a bit rate, but only less convenience fir the listening experience

Every time I carefully upgrade my audio reproduction chain, though, I get an improvement. Hence, I put my care in the gear, not in the bitrate since CD is good enough to exhaust the capacity of any audio gear.

Besides, most music is so poorly mastered these days with atrocious compression that even CD is overkill for modern pop/rock anyway. I recorded doubt music has ever sounded worse in technical terms than it does today. And people talk about the benefits of getting master grade audio… that is, getting master grade crap. Who cares?

Jeff Tapping:  So, how good are your ears?

zugzwang2007:  For years I thought that the Nyquist limit was the beginning and the end of the story. I persistently refused all inducements to reappraise high quality vinyl or experiment with high definition digital. Of course, this was wrong-headed. Increases in bit rate are the log of increases in information. It is not all about where the noise floor is, or the amount of dB above that. It doesn't follow from the Nyquist theorem that the ear cannot hear more nuances between the ceiling and the floor as the bit rate is increased (especially from a low starting point). I was eventually convinced by experience that there are audible improvements in resolution with higher formats, other factors (like the playing equipment and the original master) being held constant. Good 24 bit material sounds better than the same thing in 16 bit, particularly quiet sounds at low frequencies (double basses playing pp) are more audible. Things that sometimes sound horrible in CD (scratchy orchestral violins high up on the E string) can lose that edgy quality in a 24 bit download. Really well-mastered original material usually sounds perfect in 16 bit, regardless of source. Poorly engineered recordings that have gone straight from 32 bit studio masters to 24 bit retail versions can sound really bad. And, of course, record companies have gone for louder and less detailed remastering, often obliterating most of what made the original analogue release sound musical.

Crusader 2.0 _ Loading:  16 bit is just fine

Granville Kennedy:  I found when transferring audio cassettes of recorded live shows (yes, I'm a Dead Head...) the built in 16 bit audio of the computer wasn't up to the task. Getting a PCI audio card with 24/96 abilities allowed me to convert the shows to digital format, and then run noise reduction audio SW on the files. The 24 bit files are huge and had to be saved to multiple DVDs. I used the audio SW to convert the edited files back to 16 bit for burning CDs that can be easily traded and listened to. CD audio quality is perfectly adequate for these damaged old ears...

Paul Baptista:  I figure that the error correction on CD kicks in more more often, as reading bits off the CD even a new CD requires multiple reads or interpolation... Reed-Solomon so just to get the source bitstream. On streaming I figure the source stream is bit correct over at the apple server or tidal server. Things get error corrected over IP networks, and over the air like wifi or cellular but you are starting with the bit perfect source being read from a hard disk. So it is the transmission path where things get complicated were as on CD you are not starting bit perfect but the trip is shorter and no other issues with the bits now that jitter has been solved in DACs.

Sibby Eskie:  Took me over a decade of training my ears engineering, mixing mastering and producing, but now I’m very sensitive to sound differences. So I very much can hear difference in 24bit vs 16bit. I learned the hard way because I got to meticulously treat the low end JUST RIGHT, and pay carefully attention to high frequency roll off. Started noticing my beautiful bass tone harmonics weren’t quite right and the top end tended a bit harsh upon final result.

I did many tests figuring it was some anomaly in my DAW, but lo and behold it was as result of bit reduction to CD destination. Some can’t even hear the colouring of their limiters, while I can pick it out before it even does gain reduction.

Bottom line, most don’t have the facility to pick up on sound to a sufficient level of detail. Just like Im not a great piano player and can only differentiate great technique to a low level, but I can vaguely distinguish what’s “better” even if I can’t my finger on why that is.

So as a pro I can distinguish to an arbitrary level of detail, but that lets me pay attention to every detail that will in the end result in mixes that users will intangibly better appreciate. Maybe it will be reduced listening fatigue, a sense of cohesion, etc. Everyone serious about mixing as a craft should mind the details. It will pay off across all of the minute mixing details. Learning how to spot difference in bit rate isn’t a bad start. Do gain and phase matched A/B for days straight and you will make progress.

Niel Nitin:  It's always great hear about sound from the goat himself. Thank you Mr. McCartney!

Philippe Vigier:  It took more than 2 decades to perfectly extract signal from the CD format, and in an anechoic chamber with the best reproduction system available, you would still be limited by your hearing capabilities, 16 bits @ 44.1 khz is more than enough, in fact MP3 320Kbps is more than enough for 99% of the reproduction systems sold today (and their listeners).
When I hear most mainstream consumer reproduction systems, I cringe because they are trying to reproduce frequencies, not music. No coherency. No musicality.

Jari:  So SACD is 16 times better - 20 bit , guess thats enough

Jari:  is the laser 256 times better or the electronics? - i could claim the vidoe LP developed by RCA would outdate 24 bit streaming also being "better" if used only for sound

Rajiv B:  Most Audio DSP chips and Audio Processors today process & produce 24-bit outputs, the signal Audio flow inside DSP chip involves a lot of 24-bit processing like EQ, filtering, faders, mixers, headroom, volume control, compression and so 24-bit crops up in Audio...

Pauli DeVoss:  Yep and there’s also how compression choices affect harmonics, as well human factors such as those expressed in the LEQm Loudness standards. If 120dB is the pain threshold for sound, more dynamic range isn’t the huge bonus it would seem to be!

Alan Calvitti:  does that mic need to be in frame?

IMelkor42:  Correction: 24 bit has 255 times more levels than 16 bit. It has 256 times as many levels.

petermichaletzky:  Recording with 8 more bits is just one side of the equation. You also need to consider the frequency response of your DAC in your player. DAC would have to reconstruct the original continuous analogue waveform, but it only has information about discrete signal levels at the sampling points (in time I mean), i.e. a quantized signal curve. DAC will inherently also generate some harmonics of the original signal, adding extra noise in the final output, distorting frequency response. So more bits can help improve quality on the DAC end of the story too.

CaptainDangeax:  the problem with anatol to digital conversion is for frequencies one third of the sampla rate. Those frequencies are 14700 Hz for CD and 16000 Hz for DVD, and it can be heard for a young and trained audiophile. I choose 16 bits 96 KHz against 24 bits 48 KHz. The loss is permanent and can not be recovered by oversampling, neither frequency nor bit resolution. Because many recordings were performed at 44100 ou 48000 Hz, I see no point in oversampling at 24 bits previous 16 bits material

Terje Mathisen:  The easiest way to see what happens when you have multiple mixing stages all running at 16 bits is to do the same with a photo: As soon as you reduce the color resolution, any big, nicely graduated blue sky will suddenly display very obvious banding. The same thing happens to audio, it just isn't that easy to explain what's wrong.

Dimitrios Kalfakis:  considering that psycho-acoustics is the determining factor for human auditory perception i would say that you don't even need 96dBs of theorical S/N ratio since classical good vinyl recordings could produce satisfaction with 70dBs at most. The insane 24bit claim requires a few nV analog resolution on the analog side which is ridiculous - most practical schemes would stop at 20dB useful S/N ratio.

Jacob:  24 bit is audibly the same as 16 bit.
85 dB of SNR should be good enough for audible transparency, so 96 dB should be fine.
You can also get a much higher snr than 96 dB out of 16 bit with noise shaping.

Chris Bullock:  Good video. I was under the understanding that the few quadraphonic cd's that were made were done at higher than 16-bit.

jason carey:  I think its more about sample rate for the way the brain processes music and audio.. Higher sample rates do make a difference.

wateezit:  I remember back in the 90's i heard music from a DAC fitted with a 24 bit Burr Brown chip and it really did sound better than the normal chip, is that the same issue we are talking about here?

Martin Lewis:  I'd rather have 16bit 44hz 5.1 atmos master lossless done by Steven wilson, of all my fav bands

Roger Blackwell:  I only use 96KHz 24bits for recording because it gives a lot of scope for editing. When reduced to 320kbps MP3 I can't really hear any difference. It's like RAW photos reduced to JPGs to save data.

aliensporebomb:  Yet no mass market streaming service is doing 24-bit streaming as an audiophile would want. It’s all lower to save on bandwidth.

T W:  Are you guys talking about 16 bit vs. 24 bits of autotuned voices and drum machines?

Ultimately played through mediocre headphones?

That's a useful conversation on multiple levels.

Jason Dagless:  I always smile at this topic. Most of the people (you know the type) that have gone fully hi-res and say they can tell the difference, are of the age that havent heard anything over 15kHz since 1998. Higher bit rate, fine for novelty value and help in the actual recording but the higher many speakers go over 22kHz even now?

laurence cope:  It's not thw data width that make the difference, it's the data rate in bits per second.

MrChippiechappie:  Someone said I’m not listening to CD as I said it’s 24 bit well it certainly looks like a CD and it definitely sounds better, far clearer than the same album on 16 bit standard CD.

Extraneus:  all i know about eb/no is that when its too low it doesnt work and too much can be degrading to the equipment. there really is no difference once you reach a certain point where things just work

Gunther Mampaey:  24bit for normal music for consumers is overkill, we mix, recording and mastering engineers use these to track music (depends on the recording agreements, but the max is 192Khz, mixing is mostly done 24bit,96Khz, and end mastering to 16bit 44100Hz. Its downmixing, without loosing quality. And like someone stated here, these days it's more important who does a mix/ master. Because clipping until +2dbfs isn't mastering, it's destroying your sound, and at that level, a mp3 can sound better than the garbage sometimes is put on CD. At a certain moment, someone decided that all CD's had to sound like an FM radio, using fat FM dsp's to "master" their crap. Look up Orban 8500 DSP, they squash, and squash the sound several times, at the end you get a compact signal from 35-16600Hz, but at 0 to +2dbfs. Some of the idiots are simply use the Pre-emphasis too, because that sounds better in the higher frequencies. It's good that there are regulations from the AES/EBU to stop that madness. Some of these guys don't even know what a composite clipper is, but use it on a normal signal. I was watching a guy on youTube and he said, I have my secret sauce for my masters. Yup watching his rack, an analog Orban FM 8100, the guy removed his post after I noticed that.

Strangemagic:  Let's be honest here. Most people don't give a shit. I remember audio tapes/cassettes with a constant hiss. CD's is my preference as it doesn't rely on Internet

Sir Vivor:  A voice of reason is always good to hear. Thanks for the video!

Art Gale:  I am continually amazed at how little concern is shown for micrphones, microphone technique, room acoustics and mastering.
Say your source only gets to 19khz and you hear screams of "low fi"
Listen on 12 ga zip cord speaker wire and see looks of horror!
Plug your power amp directly into the mains and get written off as a know nothing.
Gladly speaker placement and room acoustics are penetrating some skulls.
96 decibels...good enough for me!
Ill spend money elsewhere

Vrilya Mahpee:  Bits and the definitive utility of bits streaming is not the panacea. The issues is; what data is streamed today is confounded with utility bit streams not wholely involving bandwidth of music signal streamed data. Today imbedded in the bit streaming includes ( !!!!meta data!!!!!) . Those respective bits streamed ar not utilized for bandwidth musical data. Meta Data is imbedded in streamed bit data to direct the objects of signal by mixing producers. To are that is to subscribe to denial. I choose to not placate object directed signals navagating what channels etc will be directed to wherever. You can see, to omit addressing what increased bits will be durected to do by mixing engineers does not dedicate increased bit bandwith to the listeners usage authority. It is directed by the object composurer directors remixing as isxwere to recompose and therein basterdize the original intended musical signal and its original mastered sound. Sorry, I don't split hairs and circumvent what it is to understand what the contemporary Meta Data remixing producer will take upon themselves to basterdize the music bandwidth quality. You all can through omission of the comprehensive data and obscure the total facts all you little denial hearts desire. I does redefine hamburgers like today mix producer are doing by meta data waist ed on object directing that relieves the listerner of deciding they want their burger meat on the mayonaise was spread on the bread. It not yourge business to decide for me it best to use meta data to facilitate the slice of cheese placed on top of my lettuce instead of next to the burger meat patty. The musicians and the listeners orchestrate what we will listen to mixed and in the order of authority over administrating for ourselves what we will allow others to season our hamburger with. We'll prefer to consume our burgers as we the musicians and listeners choose.

vdochev:  That's fine, but where are the turntable tips? Or is there an inside joke of sticking "turntable" or "vinyl" in every title that I don't understand?

Peter Yianilos:  It can be said objectively that CD encoding is plenty of dynamic range. After all, the world’s greatest music exists, and has been fallen completely into love with, with CD playback. My producing career spans the years 1975-today so I’ve personally used all the formats. The fundamental reason we moved on to 24 bits was to better accommodate the common studio practice of copying, re-bussing, and other techniques that could easily reveal artefacts in 16 bits. In that, it has worked splendidly. Best to think of it in photographic terms. In 24 bit, we can zoom in losslessly quite a bit.

Robert M Ledford:  I would always choose 24 bit when possible but only a small fraction of people have the audio equipment to resolve the difference and can physically hear the difference (maybe your dog can). I even enjoy MP3 320 on a very high quality system on occasion. Great video.

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Tuesday April 18, 2023

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David Mellor

David Mellor

David Mellor is CEO and Course Director of Audio Masterclass. David has designed courses in audio education and training since 1986 and is the publisher and principal writer of Adventures In Audio.

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