High-res audio (HRA) has emerged as arguably the ultimate sonic selection for digital music fans, but what's it all about, what do you need and how can you get it? Allow us to explain.

2015 has seen high-resolution audio (HRA) hit the mainstream, thanks to the release of more devices and services that support the audio format.

From Neil Young's PonoPlayer to high-res audio support on the Sony Xperia Z3 and high-res streaming on Qobuz, there's been plenty of noise around HD audio.

But how did it all start and where is the market heading?

As the music industry shifted away from physical media such as CD and vinyl (the vinyl resurgence not withstanding), many of us moved to digital downloads from sites such as Amazon and iTunes, and latterly streaming services, such as Spotify.

These sites use compressed file formats with relatively and low bitrates, such as 256kbps AAC files on iTunes and 320kbps MP3 streams on Spotify.

And with regards to sound quality, these formats aren't telling the full story of our favourite songs. The use of lossy compression means that data is lost in the encoding process, which means resolution is sacrificed for the sake of convenience and smaller file sizes.

This might be fine on the bus when you're listening to your iPod or smartphone, but some serious music fans want better. This is where high-resolution audio – or HRA, the term coined by the Consumer Electronics Association – steps in.

Astell & Kern, LG, Samsung, Sony and FiiO are just some of the companies to have launched high-resolution audio compatible products so far, while several download sites now offer better-than-CD quality music files, with the likes of HDtracks and Qobuz now live in the UK. HRA also has the support of major labels and musicians.

But what does high-resolution audio actually mean? Where can you get it? And what do you need to play it on? Don't worry – all your questions and more are answered on this page. 

What is high-resolution audio?

Before we address this, it’s worth pointing out that the definition of high-resolution audio isn’t set in stone. Unlike high-definition video, which has to meet certain criteria to earn the name, there’s no universal standard for high-res audio. 

But it tends to refer to audio that has a higher sampling frequency and bit depth than CD, which is 16-bit/44.1kHz. High-resolution audio files usually use a sampling frequency or 96kHz or 192kHz at 24-bit, but you can also have 88.2kHz and 176.4kHz files too.

Sampling frequency means the number of times samples are taken per second when the analogue sound waves are converted into digital. The more bits there are meanwhile, the more accurately the signal can be measured in the first place, so 16-bit to 24-bit can see a noticeable leap in quality.

The Digital Entertainment Group, Consumer Electronics Association and The Recording Academy have, together with record labels, come up with a formal definition for high-res audio

As well as the definition - "Lossless audio that is capable of reproducing the full range of sound from recordings that have been mastered from better than CD quality music sources" - there are four different recording categories based on the source of the file.

There are several high-resolution audio file formats to choose from, all of which support the above sampling rates and bit-depths. They include FLAC (Free Lossless Audio Codec) and ALAC (Apple Lossless Audio Codec), both of which are compressed but in a way that (in theory) no information is lost.

Other formats include WAV, AIFF and DSD, the format used for Super Audio CDs. The relative merits of the formats can be argued but most crucial will be compatibility with your particular products and system.

FLAC tends to be the most popular, scoring points over WAV for better meta-data support, ensuring your tracks have artist and title information. There's a healthy debate on the What Hi-Fi? Forum on the subject of FLAC vs. WAV.

Of course, as well as downloading your music in these superior formats, and now streaming, you can - and should - also rip your existing music library in these higher-quality file formats.

What’s so good about high-res audio?

Obviously the main claimed benefit of high-resolution audio files is superior sound quality over compressed audio formats.

To illustrate why they should sound better than MP3s, for example, let’s compare the relative bitrates. The highest quality MP3 has a bitrate of 320kbps, whereas a 24-bit/192kHz file is transferred at a rate of 9216kbps. Music CDs are transferred at 1411kbps.

24-bit/96k or 24-bit/192kHz files should therefore more closely replicate the sound quality that the musicians and engineers were working with in the studio.

With more information to play with, high-resolution audio tends to boast greater detail and texture, bringing listeners closer to the original performance.

Though, as always, there are some people that can't hear a difference. As with all the products we review, if you can't see or hear a difference, then save your money... 

MORE: High-res audio - the science behind the numbers

Where to buy and download high-res audio?

There are currently a handful of UK download stores and several US and European sites, though not all of them let you purchase from the UK. Here are a few of the best:


Pioneering US high-resolution music store HDTracks is now available in the UK, initially launching with more than 10,000 uncomprossed high-resolution albums.

The company says it has partnered with every major record label – including Sony Music Entertainment, Warner and Universal – to create the world's largest catalogue of high-res audio files.

HDTracks has also announced a deal with Liztic, a music management application that aims to deliver a seamles digital music experience across PC, Mac, Android and iOS.

Naim Label

Better known for its home entertainment systems, Naim has a nifty sideline in hi-res audio files, including music from its own Naim Label.

Its site offers music in 320kbps MP3s right up to 24-bit/192kHz WAV, FLAC and ALAC files. High-res albums cost between £9.99 and £16.99.

Linn Records

Linn’s website offers what it calls Studio Master downloads in 24-bit/192kHz FLAC and ALAC, as well as 24-bit/96kHz, 16-bit/44.1kHz and 320kbps MP3 formats. A Studio Master album costs £18, or £10 in CD quality.

Bowers & Wilkins Society of Sound

Another hi-fi brand that turned its hand to hi-res downloads, B&W’s site boasts a range of studio-quality albums. You can also subscribe and access albums not available in the store. Files are available in 24-bit and cost £15.


Neil Young's long-awaited Pono high-res service looks finally set to launch, with news that a Kickstarter campaign will make the PonoPlayer available to buy. The PonoMusic service promises DRM-free high-res downloads from major and independent labels and there's a dedicated music management software application, too. You can read our first impressions of the Pono PonoPlayer for more details.


French website Qobuz launched in the UK back in August and offers in excess of 20,000 high-resolution albums. Files are available at a minimum of 16-bit/44.1kHz while many are offered in 24-bit/192kHz. High-resolution files are also available through the Qobuz streaming service.

Technics Tracks

Building on the return of the brand in the form of new AV products, Technics has also launched a download store, complete with high-resolution music. The store claims 'tens of thousands' of tracks are available.

Onkyo Music 

Onkyo Music meanwhile claims 'hundreds of thousands' tracks for download, and is now live in the UK, US and Germany.

Other sites: 

2L – Norwegian site offering up to 24-bit/96kHz and multichannel DSD

7Digital – Offers 24-bit FLAC downloads

Gimell – Studio Master 5.1 downloads in 24-bit/96kHz

HD Klassik – Classical music high-res downloads

Sony, Warner and Universal have also announced that they will make their extensive music catalogues available to hi-res download services – all of which is a real shot in the arm for fans of high-resolution audio in this country.

With all sites, make sure it's clear what file format and bitrate you are buying and let us know your experiences with using these and any other HRA websites in the comments below.

High-res streaming?

Tidal and Meridian demo high-res streaming

We've now seen the launch of CD-quality streaming services, with Tidal and Qobuz launching in to the market offering lossless audio streams.

This delivers a step-up in quality over the established services such as Google Play Music, Rdio and the market-leader, Spotify. And indeed the new Apple Music streaming service.

But it's not strictly high-res audio, which refers to better-than-CD-quality files.

There is one exception - if you have an Android phone you can stream high-res audio on Qobuz.

Tidal and Meridian have also successfully demonstrated streaming high-res audio, using Meridian's MQA format. But there's no sign of an official public launch yet. It could be that Meridian's MQA format is key for any further high-res streaming services.

MORE: Meridian Audio MQA paves way for high-res streaming

What do I need to play it?

From AV receivers and stereo amps to all-in-one music systems and streamers, a growing number of products on the market are handling high-resolution audio. 

As yet, there remains a certain amount of variation when it comes to file handling and maximum bitrate support on different devices, so check the specifications match your requirements before you buy a new product.

Some systems allow you to play high-res files directly from USB storage devices or from a networked PC via Ethernet. 

You can also play high-resolution audio stored on a PC by connecting it to a USB DAC like the Arcam irDAC (pictured, above), the Naim DAC-V1 or the T+A DAC 8, then feeding it to a power amp, powered speakers or headphones.

Complete systems, such as the Monitor Audio MA100, now support high-res audio (as well as wireless streaming features), while companies such as Sharp have also got in on the act.

You can even buy dedicated headphone amps with built-in DACs that handle high-res audio. The ever-popular Sonos system supports WAV and AIFF files but only up to uncompressed CD quality.

However, you will need a high resolution audio player, as not all music software is compatible. iTunes will play high-res files but not FLAC files, for example.

If you're on a Mac, you can try Amarra or Channel D's Pure Music. We also hear differences in sound quality, so it's worth experimenting. On a PC? Try JRiver Media Center

High-res music on mobile

High-res audio isn’t just confined to the hi-fi market. Several of the latest smartphones play music in sparking 24-bit/192kHz quality, including the LG G3Sony Xperia Z3 and Samsung Galaxy Note 4, while the Onkyo HF Player app allows you to play high-res music on any compatible mobile phone.

The iPhone 6 sadly doesn't support high-res audio out of the box but there is the potential to connect devices via the Lightning output rather than the headphone jack to send a digital audio signal.

The Philips M2L headphones are the first to use the Lightning connection, bypassing the iPhone's internal DAC to instead use their own high-res capable DAC.

And Qobuz has provided a world first for Android mobile users: the ability to stream high-res music on your phone via its streaming service.

More after the break

Best high-res audio streamers

Best music streamers under £600

Bluesound Node

Five stars

Tested at £400 / compare prices

"An all-round multi-room music, high-res beauty, from sound to features to design."


Pioneer N-50a 

Five stars

Tested at £500 / compare prices

"A superstar, improved. Pioneer has done it again."


Best music streamer under £1000

Cambridge Audio Stream Magic 6 V2

Five stars

Tested at £700

"The best at this price made better – the Stream Magic 6 V2’s added functionality makes this a better proposition than ever."


Best music streamer under £1500

Cyrus Stream Xa

Five stars

Tested at £1250 / compare prices

"If you're looking for a premium streaming option, the Stream Xa is a fantastic proposition."

Best music streamer £2000+

Cyrus Stream XP2-QX

Five stars

Tested at £2300

"This superb streamer sounds absolutely fantastic"

Best portable high-res music players

High resolution audio doesn't have to be saved for home listening anymore. Companies such as Sony and Astell & Kern believe we should be able to access high-resolution audio on the move, and as such, have produced portable high-resolution music players. Here are our favourites, in price order. Click through for the full reviews, latest prices and more details.


Acoustic Research M2

Four stars


If you're looking for a premium portable high-res player, then the M2 deserves a listen. 


Astell & Kern AK100 Mk II

Four stars


We’re very impressed with the Astell & Kern AK100 MkII, but there are issues. We’re pleased to see DSD support, but that’s offset by the sluggish interface. 


Sony NWZ-F886

Five stars


One of the best portable high-res music players on the market today, the F886 delivers high-resolution tracks with supreme precision. The fact it's built around the Android operating system, granting access to the app store and web browsing, makes it a lot more desirable. 

MORE: Sony NWZ-F886 review


Sony NWZ-A15

Four stars

£170 / compare prices

If you’re not after flashy features and merely want to dip your toe into the high-resolution water, this is a very good place to start.


See all our portable music player reviews 

Upcoming music players

Astell & Kern AK240

Unveiled at CES, the flagship Astell & Kern AK240 was one of our Stars of CES winners, and features a 256GB internal memory and a microSD card slot supporting up to 64GB of extra storage. It can play DSD files without having to convert them, and will also stream music from a NAS device.


Sony NWZ-ZX2 


Sony's new £950 NWZ-ZX2 Walkman was one of the big announcements at CES 2015. The initial signs appear promising - but then for this sort of money you'd certainly hope so.

Just how good it is and whether it can justify the price tag for a portable music source remains to be seen. You can read our ZX2 hands-on review.


Pono PonoPlayer 



First impressions of the PonoPlayer, complete with an unboxing video, this is the portable high-res music player that's part of Neil Young's PonoMusic high-res ecosystem. Read our PonoPlayer hands-on review.

Multi-room high-resolution audio

Multi-room audio products have seen a major boost in 2015, with many manufacturers looking to expand their product arsenal's or new manufacturers looking to steal the limelight away from current multi-room audio champion, Sonos.

Bluesound entered the market in 2014, promising high-resolution, 24-bit audio across the entire range - and we've been seriously impressed by the results. Products in the range include the Node wireless streamer, Powernode standalone streaming music player, Vault high-resolution music server, Pulse all-in-one music streaming system and Duo 2.1 speaker system and subwoofer. 

MORE: See all our Bluesound reviews

Sonos can only stream in CD-quality 16-bit/44.1khz.

Other multi-room audio systems have followed the lead of Bluesound, with systems such as the LG Music Flow, Lenco PlayLink, Harman Kardon Omni and Monster SoundStage all offering high-res support on their new wireless speaker systems.

MORE: Multi-room audio: everything you need to know

What's next?

Since receiving its own dedicated zone at CES, high-resolution audio gained a lot of traction in 2014 and in to 2015.

Manufacturers including Bowers & Wilkins, Naim and Linn have been pushing for and producing high-resolution audio products for some time. We've now seen mass-market heavyweights such as Sony, LG and Samsung adopt the format to bring it to a larger audience. 

With this wider availability, more people are able to learn and understand exactly what high-resolution audio is, and the benefits it brings to music listening. There's plenty of content out there - and now we have the hardware to go with it.

Moving through 2015, we expect more manufacturers to produce more affordable high-res audio products, as high-res becomes a standard feature on music players, streamers and more, giving consumers the choice to get involved, should they value the potential jump in audio quality.

OPINION: The science behind the high-res audio numbers



Tecneek's picture

AT the end, this is the type

AT the end, this is the type of process that will get the sound to outstanding.  The higher bits will never capture the magic..

dmans's picture

many factors

You have to give Neil Young some credit for starting this conversation. There is a parallel situation with photos that might be a bit easier to picture. Cameras, especially phone cameras are marketed as 10 megapixal, or 14 megapixal, or 23 megapixal, and the perception is that more pixels are always better. This totally ignores the lens which is a huge factor in the quality of the picture result. There are many factors at work that will determine the quality of a recording. Garbage in garbage out.

Gringo's picture

High Resolution Audio

I would recommend that you all try and audition the Meridian MQA offering that should be made available early in the new year. Those like myself that have heard it are in general agreement that it is amazing.  Although direct comparisons between MQA and hi-res files as yet are not readily available I for one will not be investing any money until I can.  I offer no technical support for these claims as that is readily available on line and better explained than I could do justice for, I am however quietly optimistic that when you have heard it you will be impressed and want to re-think the future or digital files and which  of the formats you will want to back. 

PS I have no connection whatsoever with Meridian, MQA or any other  interested party. I have heard MQA on several occasions now and believe my ears.

Graham Luke's picture


I dunno much about your bits and Nyquists but I'd like to hear what the bird in the picture is listening to; looks like she's reaching the climax. Of the music, that is...

utomo's picture

I hope many Brand/

I hope many Brand/ manufacturer try to improve their products/ system (especially Amplifier and speaker) so it can show the High Resolution audio Real quality. 


Franco Bluto's picture

"you can - and should - also

"you can - and should - also rip your existing music library in these higher-quality file formats."

  ^^^^^^^^ Completly wrong all that upsampling does is increase the file size and add zero data bits and *can* degrade the signal in some HDWE for reasons well beyond the scope of this discussion .   The article also states incorrectly *that* hires in general is better than 16/44 again not true and audio [bit depth ] has nothing at all to do with audable resolution beyond 16 bits outside  af an anechoic chamber but only i.e.  dynamic range and amplitude loudness points above the noise floor on a digital wave form representation . whereas most of all that above 16 bits is inaudable anyway on a good recording/mix  .   44.1 sample rate only represents the the sample rate intravals within a 20 hz to 22.5 khz (lower nyquist ) bandwith which nobody can hear at close to 20khz and beyond antway.   IOW 16/44.1 (if done correctly) which all to frequently it is not on CD mixes )  *can * cover the  needs  of humans quite well and artifact free.    Generally with some exceptions including being poorly deighned HDWE .digital filters etc and more commonly CD compresed mixes Hires doesen't sound any better than 16/44 or 16/44 RBCD on a good mix/recording .    That being said it's not  infequent that a better qualuty recording /mix is avaliable in hires and not otherwise available at 16/44 or on a CD mix . OTOH a lot of hires is  just upsampled from lower resolnbmution CD/tape mixes and is a case by case situation .   Vinyl at it's best is 8 bits and likewise 11 bits for studio master tape .     I would suggest the author study up on human hearing perception and Nyquist Shannon discrete time signal sampling and signal reconstriction theroms within a limeted bandwidth and specifically the lower Nyquist rate at 16/44 and RBCD 16/44 and what it all means ☻☻  
alex2016g's picture


Interesting article but no mentioning about Bluetooth and its capabilities to streem hi-res audio. Does Bluetooth version matter? What else matters when streaming to your speakers?

I know there are streaming codexes too, which one are best? How to choose?

alex30's picture

If you are in any doubt about the desirability of HiRes music ..

For those not sure if they should go down the road of HiRes music please read this.   http://xiph.org/~xiphmont/demo/neil-young.html                                                                                  I can't promise that it is an easy read but boy, doesn't it just make sense of this stupidity that is being promoted as the next step forward.                    









alex30's picture

If you are in any doubt about the desirability of HiRes music ..

For those not sure if they should go down the road of HiRes music please read this.   http://xiph.org/~xiphmont/demo/neil-young.html                                                                                  I can't promise that it is an easy read but boy, doesn't it just make sense of this stupidity that is being promoted as the next step forward.                    









papstdfrisco's picture

my 2c on the subject

I came here looking for some detailed information given the title of the article.

(Now that I’ve finished – I’m sorry for being so long winded – but I hope this info / opinion helps)

Being an electrical engineer who has spent 30 years designing embedded microprocessor and control systems, I like to do research and understand technology. Then I can better assess if it is worth pursuing.

First off, for a technical person, there is not a lot of meat on the bones of the article. It is very much pointed at the lay consumer. There are a few nice tid-bits of information but mostly it does not delve into the technical aspects and comes nowhere close to everything I would ever want to know about hi-res/hi-def audio. There's a lot more information presented in the comments.

On the front side of this I will give my biased opinion on what I know at this point. I still need to do research to know if the hardware and dsp systems will support the extra information that may or may not be encoded in any stream from 44/16 to 192/24. Because, as my knowledge and the information presented by some of the responders have given can conclude, it really depends on what is/was implemented. And most of it as implemented or described seems to be a resounding no.

Can a 44/16 CD style stream sound better than a 192/24, yes or no - it really depends on many factors. Sounding - implies listening. So you have a source (CD/DVD/stream/etc...), typically, a pre-amp, an amp, and then speakers of some sort - headphones / a pair of stand-alone speakers, or an array. All of this will affect what you "hear". This is totally subjective and what one or many like, many others will prefer something else. Oh, let's not forget on how the surrounding affects what you hear too.

Is the discussion about what you hear or an accurate reproduction of the original signal that is produced by artists/musicians? If it's ‘hear’ than good luck - go listen and decide for yourself if 'you' think it's worth it. If it's more about accurately reproducing the original signal then there is something to discuss at least on that front.

To cover one main point that was brought up multiple times, Nyquist's theory. To try to explain this simply, if that's possible, it basically states that you need to sample a 'bandwidth limited' signal at a minimum of twice its frequency to be able to reproduce it in the same 'bandwidth limited' fashion. So in the audio reference this means a 44.1khz sample can reproduce no frequency/sine wave higher than 22.05khz. Now what does that mean. That means any signal that is composed of sine waves no greater than 22.05khz - so that is the highest frequency component that can exist within the sampling. So, in a raw sense a 192khz sampling rate can contain a signal go greater than 96khz. This is also why CD players and the like had an output filter that had a corner frequency between 20 and 22khz and would then start attenuating/limiting higher frequencies rapidly - to help with the bandwidth limiting, get rid of unwanted artifacts, etc…

Let's take a closer look at what that means. Let's examine a square wave of say 1khz. That seems to be totally within either the 22.05k or 96k range. But a square wave is far from a sine wave. In fact, if you look at the frequency content of a 'square' wave with either a spectrum analyzer or a Fourier analysis, you will see that there are many, many frequencies /sine waves that combine to make this signal. The frequency’s extent and amplitude is really defined by the slope of the leading and falling edges of this signal. The faster the signal’s slope, the higher the signal’s frequency content.

So, in the terms of the CD world, if a square wave at 1khz was encoded, how accurately would one be able to reproduce this at 44.1k sampling. To get a little technical a 1khz signal has a period of 1ms (0.001s), the 44.1k sampling rate gives a sample every 22.675us (.000022675s) This means, since I picked an easy 1k frequency, that there will be 44.1 samples of the 1kz signal on average every period. Clearly it follows that a 192k sampling rate would have 192 samples in that period. It's pretty obvious, that if all we were doing was sampling this waveform, the 192k would give a better representation of the original signal. In my world, I want as many samples as is practical to look at a signal and what it is doing – ringing, overshoot, undershoot etc…

So given this, why wouldn't a 192k sample rate always be better at reproducing that signal? Why wasn't this used as the base sample rate all along or even a higher sample rate? Well it all comes down to technology and trade-offs. CD players from the beginning cheated this by using dsp (digital signal processing) techniques and specialized filters to allow the 44.1k sampling to be effective at reproducing the original signal. I'm quite sure that many a PhD was earned on these theories. That's where what they've, in marketing terms, used oversampling to help in the dsp processes to generate a better output signal. It basically allows the designer to drive the output at a higher rate than the input to better shape the output signal. This is generally why input oversampling was not used – because it required more upfront resources to do that vs. the dsp and creative filtering on the output. And it would have limited the amount of music put onto a CD in the early days when memory/storage was far more limited.

In a nutshell, can every possible signal be recreated in the audio spectrum using a 44.1k or even a 192k sampling rate. No is my answer, because you only have so much sampling resolution to recreate the original as well as by Nyquist only 20.05k of bandwidth to use. Since you only have that available, you would not be able to accurately recreate even the 1khz square wave.  The ultimate question is, does that really matter? Is it close enough for audio purposes? Some say yes, some say no. Again a lot of time and effort has gone into what the typical listener’s ears can hear or distinguish.

One needs to look at the hardware and how it reconstructs the analog signal to make an ascertainment as to whether or not it really does a better job of recreating the audio signal you want to listen to. So, even if you get to that point, do you have the equipment to listen to the sounds in a manner that will produce the desired effect?

Some have always contended that records sounded better than CDs. I think it all comes down to the frequency that each can reproduce and all that comes down to the implementation of the hardware.

So, can 192khz make a difference, yes and no. Depends totally on the implementation and the frequency content of the source material, oh and let's not forget about the quality of the master material that was used to create the source. Now all we need to do is figure out if any of that really matters to what we can hear. This is where it would be nice if someone who has current design knowledge of how things are being implemented in the dsp processes and output stages for DVDs, Blue-Rays, etc... that are using these higher rates would chime in and give details on what they are doing and how it can make a difference.

Until then, I'm not sold that there will be a significant enough difference. Could there be a difference, absolutely. Does any of the hardware treat the different sample rates differently enough to make a difference, it's unknown to me. I am also convinced that with modern music - synthesizers, effects boxes, dsps, etc...that adding extra frequency content to what can be produced can only help to reproduce what these things can generate. So - does the hardware do this - I want proof. These guys/vendors that are pushing this technology need to supply proof that their products better recreate the original content – where’s the beef – science to back their claims. It really shouldn’t be that hard to produce it if it exists. For me, an engineer, I don’t want subjective listening tests, blind studies or the like unless they can prove that the setup doesn’t affect the results. Because if the hardware treats the source the same and the output filters are the same, then 44.1k vs 192k will be limited to the same bandwidth and hence sound basically the same.  As I’ve said, implementation/hardware can make a difference. I’d also think that if the double blind studies weren’t reasonably effective, all the proponents of the high grade audio would be out to de-bunk them. Who knows…? Maybe there’s enough confusion there for the average consumer that doesn’t matter to them – only what they can sell you on.

If I have the strength I may come back and comment on some of the different posts - there is a lot of good information there that could be summarized and consolidated and commented on.

I will comment on dmans - many factors - this is absolutely true and applies on so many levels - garbage in inevitably gives garbage out. So start with a good source and build upon it.

papstdfrisco's picture

my 2c

sorry - dbl post

Romas27's picture

I am amused

Ran across this site and have to admit I am a bit amused by the commentaries.

Reminds me of what I read on the computer tech sites regarding Windows 0, apple products, etc.  A lot of highly opinionated comments with strong arrogant language to validate their point.  No denying that quite a bit of the facts (as individual items) are true; but as a whole did anyone really give a good argument to support their viewpoint?

A lot of stuff about the limits of hearing and somehow making a direct correlation to the a digital sampling rate.  To accurately represent an analog sine wave one must integrate that curve with more data slices (a higher sampling rate).  Does this sample rate have a direct correlation to the frequency response of the audio signal?  No.  All it will do is better represent the quality of the original.

So bottom line is if the original master of the music is garbage (not sure if I can use better describers) then no matter what the sampling rate is the end product will be garbage.

Most audio out there is over compressed and equalized.  If you start with that, foget about it.

And sure if the raw master was digitized at optimal sampling rates, etc. and one plays that back on equipment that can reproduce that and is foolish enough to crank his system up to max outpit then yes that person may develop hearing damage - death?  Give me a break.  That is a bit of a stretch.

As far as I am concnerned, there is some music out there with the dynamic range that requires this type of recording and playback equipment.  Most rock does not fall into that category.

So rather than argue about what the ear can hear (because that is exactly what the vinyl vs digital crowd say), key in on where this technology makes sense and were it does not.

Rmeber listening live to a symphony orchestra is not an example of any bit rate or sampling rate.  It is a pure analog signal that digital tries to duplicate.

Heaven Shall Burn's picture

You're wrong about Spotify

Spotify uses ogg Vorbis, that is better than mp3 in terms of quality

marksinclair's picture

Maths & Science Inconclusive

So I agree with the maths/science that a 44.1 sample rate is in theory enough to capture all the frequencies the human ear can detect, but what the maths can not tell us is what in practice is the impact on the playback chain of the missing frequencies on the reproduction of the frequencies you can hear.  The lower the sample rate as you approach 44.1 the more and more frequencies that are being discarded and missing.  You may not be able to hear them but what impact do they have on the frequencies you can hear.

The maths would appear to also drive expectation bias here as well!