The blogosphere is a buzz about high-resolution digital sound and whether or not one can hear its advantages. How about we listen to high-resolution music instead of just sound. No one listens to music by some A/B test. Of course little snippets of sound won’t tell us very much about anything. This “scientific” testing is so old-fashioned and ridiculous.
A true audiophile listens to music and not sound. The quality of the audio enhances the listening experience. If we have listen to high quality audio over the years we have tuned our ears to good sound. The better the sound the more listenable is the music. What our ears are trained to hear quality it is so hard to go back and listen to mediocre audio. The mediocre gets in the way of the enjoyment of music.
One of the way we train our ears is to attend live concerts. When we get home and listen to our audio system we want to approximate the experience of live music. No one listens to music by an A/B test. We need to listen to all of the recorded music at one time. Then we can compare that same recording on another audio system to see how it might compare to our last experience. The experiences are the test results. Did we enjoy the experience? Did we enjoy the music? (How about it Mr. Pogue? You are a musician!)
Of course, if we are using crappy speakers or headphones in our testing, we may only hear the distortion that is inherent in those that those devices. EarPods? Please. The good news is that there are very reasonably prices headphone and speakers that are more than adequate for us to listen though back to the recorded music. We do not need outrageously priced components to enjoy recorded music. But we do need quality components to hear the difference. How about the Koss Porta Pro KTC headphones priced at lest the $50.00$? Naturally we might want to use the AudioEngine A2+ speakers as a reasonably priced $250 alternative.
Crappy components are one thing, but crappy recordings are another. A digital recording played back through a high quality DAC is going to sound better than any poorly recorded vinyl. Bad digital recordings are going to sound bad no matter what playback system we use, be it high resolution or not. We compare apples to apples not apples to oranges. Only Consumers Report likes to compare mismatched items.
What do many typical digital recordings sound like? The highs often sound harsh and metallic. Cymbals do not shimmer. The piano and female voice often sound unnatural, which is true for almost any playback system. If it is recorded at all, there is little hall ambiance coming through with digital. Analogue sounds airy and alive. Digital can approximate this effect if we are talking about the highest quality digital. Digital has to replicate an analogue wave form. This is much harder to do as the frequency of the recorded sound increases. In order to smooth out the sound we need to greatly increase the sampling rate of the digital playback.
The ear can easily hear the difference, especially over time. Or maybe we just want to blind A/B test our music in snippets? Not me, I enjoy the music too much.