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Confused by all the bits

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kitkat's picture
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My Marantz cd player (CD 7300) is 16 bits and has always sounded really good to me, not harsh / bright but am I missing much with this 16 bit player when you can now get players rated at 32 bits, Will these sound harsh or just more detail. Can anyone explain please ?

Benedict_Arnold's picture
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RE: Confused by all the bits

AFIK CDs are in 16-bit.  Beyond that I'm as confused as the rest.  The only logic (pardon the pun) I can come up with is that the World has moved on and 16-bit DACs are now about as rare as rocking horse manure, and the manufacturers are trying to make a virtue out of necessity by switching to 32-bit DACs.

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RE: Confused by all the bits

Quote:

16 bit player

all CDs are 16/44.1 so 16 bits 44.1 khz sample rate - a 24 bit player wont make any difference - you will still get the same detail off the CD

Stick with the CDP you have!

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RE: Confused by all the bits

When you start talking 24/ 192 khz or 24/96 khz music then thats when a DAC comes in! This is Hi-Res music - it sounds smoother, less compressed etc.

 

 

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RE: Confused by all the bits

The first thing to understand is the difference between processing and resolution. As has been pointed out, CD's are 16 bit so a 16 bit processor should be fine, but the industry has moved on to 24 bit processing (of16 bit data) to provide a 'margin of error' or to allow the use of a digital attenuator (volume). The resolution of a normal commercial CD player, ie the capability of te electronics to resolve bits is usually limited by circuit and power supply noise and is typically about 17-18 bits.

The best digital converters can sometimes manage around 21 bits ( they are quieter than players) but that is truly exceptional and requires a noise floor 126dB below full output, very difficult to achieve and largely pointless.

Ther is no evidence to suggest that 24/96 offers any advantage over 16/44.1 all things being equal, but all things are not equal, some high bit rate product may sound better than the CD equivalent but this is more likely to be due to the quality of the master and the care taken in production.

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RE: Confused by all the bits

How do you get 21 or 24 bits from 16? Does 1010 1010 1010 1010 come out as 0 0000 1010 1010 1010 1010 (21 bits for example) (spaces inserted to help me count) or does the DAC "invent" extra bits to tag onto / into the original 16 bit binary?

And when all the bits (however many of them) have been through the DAC how is the analogue signal affected?

I can understand how oversampling might be used for error correction, and I can understand how a greater bit count and baud rate might help in the original analogue to digital conversion (and if not downsampled to CD quality in the playback. but inserting "invented" bits I don't.

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RE: Confused by all the bits

stevebrock wrote:

This is Hi-Res music - it sounds smoother, less compressed etc.

 

Well that's the theory....... 

 

From wikipedia's SACD page:

 

Comparison with CD[edit]

In September 2007 the Audio Engineering Society published the results of a year-long trial, in which a range of subjects including professional recording engineers were asked to discern the difference between SACD and compact disc audio (44.1 kHz/16 bit) under double blind test conditions. Out of 554 trials, there were 276 correct answers, a 49.8 % success rate corresponding almost exactly to the 50 % that would have been expected by chance guessing alone.[40] The authors commented:

Now, it is very difficult to use negative results to prove the inaudibility of any given phenomenon or process. There is always the remote possibility that a different system or more finely attuned pair of ears would reveal a difference. But we have gathered enough data, using sufficiently varied and capable systems and listeners, to state that the burden of proof has now shifted. Further claims that careful 16/44.1 encoding audibly degrades high resolution signals must be supported by properly controlled double-blind tests.[1][41]

Following criticism that the original published results of the study were not sufficiently detailed, the AES published a list of the audio equipment and recordings used during the tests.[42]

Comparison with DVD-A[edit]

Double-blind listening tests in 2004 between DSD and 24-bit, 176.4 kHz PCM recordings reported that among test subjects no significant differences could be heard.[43] DSD advocates and equipment manufacturers continue to assert an improvement in sound quality above PCM 24-bit 176.4 kHz.[44] Despite both formats' extended frequency responses, it has been shown people cannot distinguish audio with information above 21 kHz from audio without such high-frequency content.[45]

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RE: Confused by all the bits

Benedict_Arnold wrote:

How do you get 21 or 24 bits from 16? Does 1010 1010 1010 1010 come out as 0 0000 1010 1010 1010 1010 (21 bits for example) (spaces inserted to help me count) or does the DAC "invent" extra bits to tag onto / into the original 16 bit binary?

And when all the bits (however many of them) have been through the DAC how is the analogue signal affected?

I can understand how oversampling might be used for error correction, and I can understand how a greater bit count and baud rate might help in the original analogue to digital conversion (and if not downsampled to CD quality in the playback. but inserting "invented" bits I don't.

OK, once again the confusion is between processing capability and actual bits. A CD is 16 bit so a 16 bit processor should do fine. The industry likes 24 bit (and now 32 bit) processing for a variety of reasons, most of them marketing. However 24 bit processing does have advantages, most notable the ability to 'lose' bits without affecting the 16 bit signal as in a digital volume control.

In simple terms it works like this, the 24 bit processor adds noise (zeros) to the 16 bit signal to make it 24 bit, this is then processed as a 24 bit data stream. If you use a digital volume control you lose 1 bit for each 6dB of attenuation, the bit lost is always the 'least significant bit', ie one of the added zeros so that the 16 bits that contain the music remain intact. This should have no impact on the analogue output after conversion.

It is worth remembering that attempting to resolve a 24 bit signal requires a processor/dac to have a noise floor 144dB below full output, way below the capabilities of even the best modern equipment. The best I have ever seen was a very expensive dac run on a synthesised low noise power supply in a very electrically quiet environment, and on a really good day it could just about resolve 21 bits, 126dB below full output.

For any CD player in a normal environment 17-18 bits is really the best you can hope for.

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We do so many shows in a row,

And these towns all look the same,

We just pass the time in our hotel room

And wander 'round backstage,

Till the lights come up, and we hear that crowd,

And we remember why we came.

Jackson Browne

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RE: Confused by all the bits

If you enjoy the sound of your CD Player, then there's no reason to change.

However, the moment you need a DAC (Digital Analogue Converter) for computer audio playback, ideally with a preamp and headphone output (better value), while needing to support multiple digital and possible one or two analogue inputs for your system, then that's the time to buy the best converter you can afford, and at sensible money, not silly money talk to the hand   

Don't ever buy a product just because it supports 192kHz/24bit.

Regards,

Peter

 

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davedotco's picture
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RE: Confused by all the bits

igloo audio wrote:

If you enjoy the sound of your CD Player, then there's no reason to change.

However, the moment you need a DAC (Digital Analogue Converter) for computer audio playback, ideally with a preamp and headphone output (better value), while needing to support multiple digital and possible one or two analogue inputs for your system, then that's the time to buy the best converter you can afford, and at sensible money, not silly money talk to the hand   

Don't ever buy a product just because it supports 192kHz/24bit.

Regards,

Peter

 

Very sensible, but it does somewhat beggar the question as to what makes a good dac in that application.

It has been my experience that some dacs appear to react poorly to some computer outputs, sorry this is not precise, I have not, as yet, had a lot of experience of this.

My theory (and it is just a theory) is that some computer sources have high levels of jitter and substantial out of band noise, it seems to be very important that the dac of choice handles these issues well and I believe I have identified one or two that do not.

Once again I reiterate my view that the differences that we hear in h-fi components is not always the differences that we think we are hearing, an issue that I return to from time to time.

 

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We do so many shows in a row,

And these towns all look the same,

We just pass the time in our hotel room

And wander 'round backstage,

Till the lights come up, and we hear that crowd,

And we remember why we came.

Jackson Browne

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RE: Confused by all the bits

You can get DACs that support 192kHz/24bit for around £100 so you don't have to spend a fortune either.

 

Its debatable whether you can hear the difference between 16 and 24 bits anyway, more important is the recording and mastered. 32bits is a waste of time IMO. If buying cds now I always check out which are the best editions.

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RE: Confused by all the bits

BigH wrote:

You can get DACs that support 192kHz/24bit for around £100 so you don't have to spend a fortune either.

 

Its debatable whether you can hear the difference between 16 and 24 bits anyway, more important is the recording and mastered. 32bits is a waste of time IMO. If buying cds now I always check out which are the best editions.

Just out of interest, how do you check this?

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We do so many shows in a row,

And these towns all look the same,

We just pass the time in our hotel room

And wander 'round backstage,

Till the lights come up, and we hear that crowd,

And we remember why we came.

Jackson Browne

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RE: Confused by all the bits

Dynamic range database maybe? It's what I always use.

 

http://www.dr.loudness-war.info/

 

 

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RE: Confused by all the bits

davedotco wrote:

BigH wrote:

You can get DACs that support 192kHz/24bit for around £100 so you don't have to spend a fortune either.

 

Its debatable whether you can hear the difference between 16 and 24 bits anyway, more important is the recording and mastered. 32bits is a waste of time IMO. If buying cds now I always check out which are the best editions.

Just out of interest, how do you check this?

 

DR database is one place but that only measured DR which is only a limited part of the sound quality, some of the high DR canbe rather bright and thin. I go to Amazon reviews although that is a bit of a chore as they don't split the reviews into different editions all lumped together but it can help, also there are other forums like Steve Hoffman. For me its not worth spending loads on Japan editions/sacds etc, I tend to buy the bog standard RB cds mainly used ones, then if no good not loss. It seems generally the older cds are better than the more recent ones but not always the case as in Bob Dylan where the 2004 remastered ones are the best.

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RE: Confused by all the bits

davedotco wrote:

most of them marketing

 

Ding ding ding!!!  We have a winner!!!!party time! party time! party time!

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RE: Confused by all the bits

Interestingly (or not) I use Spotify premium a lot. A lot of music is available on different 'discs', ie remasters, compilations and regional variations and sometimes the differences are very obvious indeed.

It has helped to convince me that mastering quality is far more important than anything else when it comes to the quality of the final product. 

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We do so many shows in a row,

And these towns all look the same,

We just pass the time in our hotel room

And wander 'round backstage,

Till the lights come up, and we hear that crowd,

And we remember why we came.

Jackson Browne