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  1. #1

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    Default Good article on HRA - High Res Audio

    This gives a good overview of digital music formats over the years, and hints we are moving into a time of even better sounding music. I like how he classifies MP3 as low-res, CDs as mid-res, and the rest (DVD-A, SACD, 24/'x' files, and DSD) as HRA.

    I suspect we are on the verge of a new wave of HRA source components. Gee, I thought after what I went through over the last year I was done with upgrades for awhile.

    http://www.hometheater.com/content/c...high-res-audio

  2. #2

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    I posted several months ago that I really believe the CD is going to die in the next 10 years or so. The virtues of the CD (for the masses at least) was instant gratification. You could immediately pull up your favorite song seconds after plopping it in the player. They also take up very little space compared to some mediums. With digital on the rise, especially for the masses, I feel the SACD has an opportunity for a bit of a "rebirth" if you will. The sound quality should be superior to the redbook offerings, thus eliminating most of the draw of a CD from the audiophile community as well. What population will the CD appeal to then? While you still can't play SACD in a car AFAIK, the days of the CDP being the main feature of the system are over. Now its the same as everything else: digital, either via mp3 player, phone, or even a streaming service via internet. I could see specialized "audiophile grade" head units offering the SACD option, but I don't see it becoming any sort of norm in the car.

    Some people, like myself, will always prefer a physical copy of their music, so there is a draw to the SACD still from the audiophile community. Short of writing an essay, I simply see a world on the horizon where if you want physical media, you either have to buy vinyl or SACD.
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    Eh, we don't agree on that one. The CD offers good sound on the cheap, and that still suits a lot of people. SACD is too expensive, High rez downloads are too expensive right now too. To kill the CD, prices and compatibility issues need to improve. I don't see all the copy protection coming off of SACD, and I don't see their prices coming down either. Digital downloads in MP3 is moveable from computer, phone, laptops, car, and other portable devices, hence the popularity. Good sound isn't as popular as convenient sound.

    The death of vinyl was well written eons ago, but look today and you see a resurgence. Same with the gear that goes along with it. Tubed gear was almost dead with the intro of SS gear. SS at the time just couldn't compete sound wise with tubes. While technology will make it easier to obtain and play hi-rez files, prices to the masses need to come way down. Maybe that will happen in 10 years, maybe not....who knows. What I do know is, the general public won't pay 5 bucks a song and not be able to listen on their phone or in the car. Heck, I wouldn't pay that anyway. Good sound never goes out of style no matter what changes, for some of us anyway.

    It's all about making money, always has, always will be. The costs of hi-rez files and the compatibility issues of SACD is whats holding them back. I just don't see a screaming consumer base for higher rez....yet. Plus, think about this. How long before music services start with higher rez music ? That would force online sellers of higher rez files to lower the prices. Either way, the big corporations are going to have to give up some to gain some, otherwise the next 10 years will be the same as the last.

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    I agree with both points of view. Elect me.

    Anyway, the issue is not whether CD, or physical media, is going away, but that we are now seeing more and more opportunities to buy and hear better sounding music. For me, that is why I have paid bueno dinero for stereo gear. The funny part is I have yet to download a single high-res file. Aside from being lazy, I can't really justify the price at this point. So it is a good thing we are seeing things such as Sony offering up their catalog for DSD downloads. Competition will put pressure on HD Tracks and others to lower their prices.

    Also, I am not to worried about a format war between PCM and DSD since it is easy to make DAC chips that can decode any file format.

    In regard to CDs going away, we are seeing sales decrease. Both Wadia and Cary have stopped making CD players and it is reasonable to expect other smaller players to also stop as sales dwindle. While vinyl sales are increasing, they are still tiny in regard to overall music sales. At some point we can expect people to get tired of all the associated hassle with vinyl, and reduce their purchases. As mentioned in another thread, SACD is a niche product for a 'few' people. While I still buy SACDs I find myself buying the CD equivalent so that I can put it on my music server. When I can start buying the DSD file without the copy protection then I will stop buying SACDs. Of course, if Bryston hasn't updated their DAC firmware to play DSD then I will need a new DAC, but that is a good thing since the whole point of having separates is to be able to upgrade as better components are available.

    Anyway, for music lovers we are entering a golden age of good sounding music. Better upgrade those power cords so you can hear it.

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    tony, in the current state, yes. What I think would happen if CD's become obsolete is an ensuing price drop in SACD. Right now, they are considered a better version of a CD, so of course they are going to sell for more than the CD counterpart. Even then, you know the only reason that price is so high is because audiophiles are willing to pay for it. Compatability is the only issue I could see being a roadblock, but all it takes is a "forced" transition for that to take place. I could be wrong and this is just speculation, but I don't think it'd cost much more to build a basic, just give me the music SACD drive as opposed to a regular CD or DVD drive. The only reason I don't think its happened is its not the go-to physical media as long as CD's rule that realm. There will come a time when sales are so close between the two that the big companies might say eff it and just force people to switch to SACD. I could definitely see Sony leading this revolution in a few years since they prize their SACD so much.

    I also quit my search for DAC's and decided to instead focus on my amp/preamp because of issues like this. This is very much a transitionary period in media, and I don't want to jump the gun and get what I consider a high-dollar unit, only to be heading for a dead end in 18 months or so. I've also read some good discussions about DSD and many feel that the file type doesn't matter until the compression wars are over. I do know that, at this point, I wouldn't even consider buying a DAC that didn't offer the ability to decode DSD.
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    Why man ? Dacs will add a whole dimension to the sound, DSD or not. Look, if your holding off because of format wars, you'll never buy a dac then because format wars will always exist. It's that constant struggle between companies for the all mighty consumer dollar that keeps these wars afloat. If every player was to accept DSD, then they'd come out with super hi-rez DSD. It's the nature of the beast.

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    Agreed, but there was more to it than dac. My system had a lot of flaws and I was going to make one big change. My other concern was USB tech. There is a lot of growth there too and I want to see where that is going too. My next big upgrade at this point will be the 105, but I was also hoping that by the time I've got the funds, a new offering would be out. The functionality of the 105 far exceeds the 95, and I really want to see if they outdo themselves again.
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    I hear ya, but if you keep waiting for the next latest and greatest, you'll always be waiting. Their will always be something better around the corner. Once everyone has bought newer gear, then they'll make something else that isn't compatible and the cycle continues.

    The Oppo 105 is a machine, does everything and does it well from all accounts. You won't find that much for that little in cost in another product. Break out the S&H green stamps your hording under the bed and go get one.

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    What do you guys consider "CD's becoming obsolete"? If (as some of you claim) CD sales decrease and SACD's increase? Being as a majority of SACD's are hybrid CD/SACD, even if "SACD's" overtake "CD's", since most SACD's have the CD layer included, "CD's" really won't be going anywhere assuming your scenario above. That's my thinking anyway.
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    tony, the idea was that within the next year, I was going to pull the trigger. I figured it would be best to upgrade the parts of the system where technology is not growing at PC-type speeds. I'm hoping to have the funds available in about 6 months, but I still might wait and see what the new Oppo model has to offer. The amps were a HUGE upgrade and far outweighed what a DAC could've added IMO. Starting the journey into higher fidelity is definitely a puzzle with limited funds. The Oppo is still everything I want in one package and one of the best bargains in audio. One will definitely be making a home in my rig in the near future.

    head, I don't necessarily see SACD sales jumping up in figures, but I do see them having substantial growth in the physical media realm. In other words, I see a big jump in percentage of sales vs. other physical mediums. As the sales in CD's dwindle down, there will be a point IMO that the differences in sales are for all intents identical. At that point, with one medium holding steady and the other doing nothing but declining, it will force a decision in the audio industry which path to continue down. This is all just speculation on my part, but I really do believe the day will come. The hybrid disk just adds more fuel to the fire if they are able to work with regular CDP's as well.
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    unless apple sells lossless audio music quality will never never improve. the average person is ok listening to music with their iphone speaker or headset.
    I would love to see CDs or SACD make a comeback, I would really love to see the MP3 go away and have the option to buy AIFF or WAV files from iTunes or xbox music. But MP3 is cheap, small file size, and the average person doesn't care.
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  12. #12

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    Quote Originally Posted by RamZet View Post
    But MP3 is cheap, small file size, and the average person doesn't care.
    Ding ding.....plus the convenience factor of just buying a song on the fly no matter where your at. Anyone can use a computer to download a quality file these days and playback on quality gear. Apple/Itunes is for the I want it now generation that only cares about convenience, not sound quality.

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    I believe the demand for better quality audio will improve. The demand for quality head phones is on the rise enlightening the 20 something generation for better quality downloads. Hence the slight rise in TT and vinyl sales.

    You have to remember most of us here on the forum are 28+ and actually average close to 40+ yrs or older. We grew up with different formats, and we have the money.

    Is it our 15 yr old fault they only know MP3 & Itunes,.... no because its all they know unless they are taught different.
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  14. #14

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    C'mon man, what teenager knows squat about quality sound, let alone how to get it ? All they care about is loud, cheap, portability. The industry has zeroed in on that and that's why Ipods/ITunes, music on your phone, is so popular. That's why we have the "loudness wars" in recorded music. Only when they get older and have some change in their pockets will they seek better audio.

    Another aspect is teenagers don't even know how to listen, or for what. All they listen to is loud and a pounding bass. I did a small experiment with my 20 year old nephew. I asked him to listen to this guitar solo and tell me what he hears. Dire Straights, was the band of choice and he never heard of them. Mark has a few small solo's in a variety of songs but I believe Local Hero was all him doing his thing. So I throw it in, crank it up. I ask the lad, what do you think ? Anything stick out worth mentioning ?

    He says to me, I thought it was going to be someone jamming on the guitar....like Van Halen. I said, Did you notice how the notes just floated in the air, the sharpness of the tones, his fingers sliding on the guitar strings ? He said......HUH ? That's all I needed to hear.

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    All of the convenience of digital sources is well and good. I enjoy all sources wether it be CDs, SACDs, DVDAs, computer files, streaming, or vinyl. They all have their strengths and their place. In the end though, when it comes down to serious listening digital will never replace the enjoyment I get from vinyl. I always welcome more sources of high quality recordings though no matter what form they happen to be.

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    I get all that Tony, but when you were young there were very few media types, the family core was completely different, and so was the music. There wasn't 5 TV's, multiple stereos etc.

    When the TV was turned off and the stereo turned on thats what you "listened" too. We "listened" to what out parents, and grand parents played which we now call real music vs whats popular today. But do you remember when the music started to change and how our elders complained about th genre?

    It's just a different world and we're in it.
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  17. #17

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    Of course, but this is beyond genre. It's an appreciation for good sound. When I was young, transistor type table top radio's were all over. Sounded like crap too, but when I went to my grandparents house they had an old console style tube radio in the living room which sounded fantastic in comparison. Did I really care at that age ? Nope, but I had a preference if given the choice. Think of the battery powered transistor radio as yesterday's Ipod. You could carry it wherever you went, even fit in a shirt pocket too. Popular beyond belief, yet sounded like crap.

    Point being, nothings changed. Portability still hasn't addressed the issues of quality sound, nor do I think they are in a hurry to do so because frankly, their targeted audience doesn't care about quality sound.
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    The the vast majority doesn't have a sound system good enough to provide the benefit HRA offers. In my system the differences between sacd and 320kbps subtle at best. I have a/b tested dsd over hdmi and streaming the same the same track via spotify (onkyo's built in app) the differences were there but pretty subtle. If I wasn't critical I would have never noticed.
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    Well just to try, I just got Marquise Knox Here I Am from HD Tracks at 192khz/24bit in FLAC it sounds amazing and this is using the Oppo 103

    They have Norah Jones I may get that also and compared to her SACD......

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  20. #20

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    As far as portability, what other option did you have to maintain it and increase fidelity? Nada, right? Since the music is now stored on something the size of my pinkie's fingernail, there is more to the picture than ever before. As storage space continues to double, eventually size of the storage is not going to be a factor for choosing which file type to download: quality or quantity. Mp3's will eventually die, but its going to have to get to a point where 95% of the population can fit their entire collection of music on a unit with high res/lossless quality. What file type would you choose with unlimited storage? Do you really think people will still choose quantity over quality when there is no consequence for the latter?

    The real issue with that argument is, what will be the "new" hi Rez file type once this shift is possible? Hi Rez as we know it today may be laughed at in 15 years, with people saying "how did we ever think that sounded good?" It is an endless cycle, but I still personally feel that portable storage will still far exceed file size in technological growth. Eventually, regardless of the newest and best, file size is going to be a moot point for society.
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    There will always be more people that don't care about SQ then do, forever and until the end of time.

    Edit: Of these same people the vast majority cannot tell SQ differences past a certain point which is surprisingly low. I know more people that cannot tell the difference between 128kbps MP3 and SACD/FLAC/DVD-A then can. Especially on your average piece of audio equipment out there you can purchase from Walmart.
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    Regardless of whether you hear the difference or not, if there is no consequence, which one would you choose? If you could get a sub sandwich in either 6" or 12", and it was going to cost you the same, which would you choose if you were only going to be able to eat the 6" (meaning the additional 6" is a total waste)? It's human nature man, more for your money, regardless of whether you're going to use that "more" or not. The whole thing is again when there is no (or arbitrarily small) consequence for choosing the "more" verson. It will be the go-to format by default, but the whole argument could be made again if there is some new, exotic hi-rez format once we hit this point.

    Either way, digital audio is not going to stay stagnant. It's going to improve regardless of the masses. I'm sure in the near future the gov't will step in and say mp3's have too many calories and everyone has to listen to lossless anyways...
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    Your proposal is a long, long way off. The biggest iPhone you can buy is still only 32Gb. Even if it had a slot for microSD, such as most Android phones which is the next most popular device used to play music by the masses, the largest card you can buy on Amazon right now is only 128Gb and costs $300. I have 15Gb of FLAC just in five randomly chosen bands and DSD files are even larger.

    When that time DOES come though there would still be benefits to smaller file sizes such as conserved battery life and lower transfer times.
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    Actually, 64GB is the biggest iPhone you can currently buy. My 5 is 64GB. However, your point is still valid. I wonder when somebody will develop a lossless compression algorithm for DSD and high-res PCM files.

    http://store.apple.com/us/question/a...9D9HYA2JC4Y2JY

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    Quote Originally Posted by Nightfall View Post
    Your proposal is a long, long way off. The biggest iPhone you can buy is still only 32Gb. Even if it had a slot for microSD, such as most Android phones which is the next most popular device used to play music by the masses, the largest card you can buy on Amazon right now is only 128Gb and costs $300. I have 15Gb of FLAC just in five randomly chosen bands and DSD files are even larger.

    When that time DOES come though there would still be benefits to smaller file sizes such as conserved battery life and lower transfer times.
    http://www.amazon.com/Lexar-Professi.../dp/B0090BEWKY

    256 GB cards were announced over a year ago. I didn't say it was cheap, but its going to continue doubling. That's exponential growth, something we aren't seeing in audio formats.
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    Quote Originally Posted by DSkip View Post
    http://www.amazon.com/Lexar-Professi.../dp/B0090BEWKY

    256 GB cards were announced over a year ago. I didn't say it was cheap, but its going to continue doubling. That's exponential growth, something we aren't seeing in audio formats.
    That card is not microSD, those are normally used on cameras and such not really phones. The 128Gb microSD is relatively new.

    Is there anyway to find out how much a 64Gb microSD cost when they first came out?
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    No clue, but like everything, I'm sure it wasn't cheap. The point still stands though. We will probably be seeing 1 TB SD/microSD cards by the end of this decade. When I started college in 2003, the average thumb drive was 128 MB. 10 years later (and still in effing college!), the average is what, 64 GB, and a 128 GB can be had for $60?

    To be honest though, I've read many topics on this subject and tend to agree with the crowd that believes higher resolution doesn't mean squat if the loudness wars continue to trump all. Compression is the enemy, and if its recorded that way, well, you still can't polish a turd.
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    Calling CD's "mid-fi" is not only incorrect in literal terms (see the definition of "High-Fidelity"), it's a dumb statement. I have many CD's that far outperform any previous vinyl releases. The weakness of Red Book is human error. I've been at this 37 years; owned every source available (vinyl/8-track/Cassette/Reel-to-Reel/CD---and yes 24/192 material) and a well engineered/recorded CD (with the possible exception of 24/96--24/192 material) sounds excellent. Hi-Res (24bit) stuff can edge it out, but it's relatively subtle in the grand scheme of things.

    Just my opinion.

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    Actually, I agree Steve. I've long said a well recorder redbook cd can sound fantastic. The problem comes in at finding one. What most are making today in the cd format is junk, possible exceptions of course. The file format wars is driven to sell gear. 16/44 is now the bastard child. While I have no doubt higher rez files can sound better, it is no guarantee that it actually will in all cases.

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    Exactly Tony---Redbook has the potential to be the much promised "perfect sound forever" if the human element could get it's **** together. Changes in audio formats reminds me of a kid that's ADD; instead completeing the job at hand, we jump around looking for other solutions instead of addressing the REAL problem.

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