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16/44.1 or DSD/DVDA ?
Old 10th September 2007
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16/44.1 or DSD/DVDA ?

Audibility of a CD-Standard A/D/A Loop Inserted into High-Resolution Audio Playback.

Conventional wisdom asserts that the wider bandwidth and dynamic range of SACD and DVD-A make them of audibly higher quality than the CD format. A carefully controlled double-blind test with many experienced listeners showed no ability to hear any differences between formats. High-resolution audio discs were still judged to be of superior quality because sound engineers have more freedom to make them that way. There is no evidence that perceived quality has anything to do with additional resolution or bandwidth.

Abstract:
Claims both published and anecdotal are regularly made for audibly superior sound quality
for two-channel audio encoded with longer word lengths and/or at higher sampling rates than
the 16-bit/44.1-kHz CD standard. The authors report on a series of double-blind tests comparing
the analog output of high-resolution players playing high-resolution recordings with
the same signal passed through a 16-bit/44.1-kHz “bottleneck.” The tests were conducted for
over a year using different systems and a variety of subjects. The systems included expensive
professional monitors and one high-end system with electrostatic loudspeakers and expensive
components and cables. The subjects included professional recording engineers, students in
a university recording program, and dedicated audiophiles. The test results show that the
CD-quality A/D/A loop was undetectable at normal-to-loud listening levels, by any of the
subjects, on any of the playback systems. The noise of the CD-quality loop was audible only
at very elevated levels.

Source: Journal of the AES, September 2007.
Old 10th September 2007
  #2
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santibanks's Avatar
interesting but I think we have some things to take into account.

First, a lot of people don't care at all and won't try to hear it. Humans are conditioned with certain perceptions. If people pretend themselves they can't hear the difference between lets say an MP3 or the CD source, then they can't hear. If they think they cant hear the difference between SACD and CD then they can't. People have to be open minded to spot anomalies and hear the difference. If you don't want to hear, then you will not hear. Simple as that.

Second, there truly is difference. Take any SACD where the audio was originally recorded in high resolution audio. Play back the stereo SACD layer, then play back the normal CD layer. And do some A/B tests.
10 seconds of acoustic piano playing (I think it was Rachmaninov) convinced me and made me clearly hear the difference...

To be honest, I dont think that a lot of engineers care for audiophilic sound if I see how hot everything is mixed and mastered... Every tiny grain of dynamics is squeezed out with a brickwall limiter and a rack full of compressors. I really don't think that SACD just sounds better because some engineers put more effort into it.
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