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Is there an audible difference between CD and "HD" audio?

PaulyT

Behind the Curtain
Staff member
Administrator
Moderator
Superstar
So I spent an hour this morning, at least, listening to ... wait for it ... Tom Sawyer :laughing: from the recent Deluxe Edition CD+BD combo pack of Moving Pictures. Mainly I was going back and forth between the CD (16bit/44.1kHz sampling) and the "HD" stereo that is on the blu-ray (24bit/96kHz according to the packaging - I could only verify the 96 part which my pre/pro shows, it doesn't tell me the bit depth). In both cases the audio was coming in to the pre/pro digitally, and thus the DAC is done in the same place.

I must have listened to the first ~1:30 of that song twenty times or more, going back and forth between CD and HD. At first I thought I might be able to hear some difference, but after so many times, any little new thing I picked up on with one version, I could go back to the other version and hear it the same. So my conclusion is, that in this case, and on my system, there is not an audible difference.

This is in contrast to when we did the same at T7's, but as I mentioned in the other thread, the player was doing some re-encoding of the audio stream when playing the stereo tracks from the BD, which sounded pretty obviously worse to me, so my conclusion is that yes, that particular test was messed up by the player. (Yes my sony bd370 can play the stereo pcm just fine, though I did discover that in the default settings, it re-encodes CD as DTS! Weird, guess these guys like to play games, or are paid by Dolby/DTS labs to turn these things on...?)

I may try to repeat this experiment at some point with some other albums, comparing for example the CD layer and stereo SACD layer from a hybrid SACD, assuming it has SACD stereo which not all do.

Anyone else want to comment on their experience with "HD" audio?


Incidentally, I really dislike the multi-channel mix on this Rush album. The sound is weird and hollow sounding, the bass is muddled... it's not a good surround demo IMHO.
 

Flint

Dog Faced Pony Soldier
Superstar
Re: Is there an audible difference between CD and "HD" audio

I have argued for years that CD-Audio is very, very close to being capable of reproducing everything the human ear can detect. Most rock music is recorded with intentional limitations on it (compression, EQ, filters, filters, duckers, synths, etc.) which are often lower fidelity than the CD-Audio format itself. Thus, it is nearly impossible to hear the difference between a 24/96 copy and a 16/44.1 copy of most rock/pop recordings when the exact same master track is used, even with a trained ear and the best gear on the planet.

In my experience, most labels and producers choose to alter the recordings marketed as "high-resolution" from the CD-Audio versions in order to justify the cost and second dip for the fan base.

Now, with an original recording which really does push the envelop of the CD-Audio format, like a really, really good classical recording, or a natural acoustic jazz recording, you might be able to hear a real difference between CD-Audio and 24/96 when using the same original source.

The only reason, in my opinion, to purchase a high resolution recording of most pop/rock albums is to get different material, different mixes, or just because you are a super fan and want the absolutely best sounding copy, just to be safe.
 

Huey

Well-Known Member
Famous
Re: Is there an audible difference between CD and "HD" audio

Pauly, it has been my experience with HDCD, that those artists that choose to use that format, tend to also master the recordings better. I've never compared the two formats, but the couple of HDCD's that I own, they all sound fantastic, but that is probably more from doing it right on the recordings, rather than the sampling rate.
 
D

Deleted member 133

Guest
Re: Is there an audible difference between CD and "HD" audio

Pauly,

Sorry you think that way about the Rush BD multichannel tracks, since it might have been me who influenced your decision to buy in the first place with the review that I posted. Yours and my views on the mix could not be more far apart!

To address the rest of your post, I have notice some pretty big (positive) differences between CD and SACD versions of the same song, but I suspect, like Flint says (to paraphrase), it's not like we're necessarily comparing apples and oranges in most such cases. (Just for fun I've compared the surround mix from a mutichannel SACD, with the mix provided when I play the stereo (CD) layer and have my pre/pro "re-mix" to multichannel. In many cases I like both - but always prefer the SACD.)

Jeff
 

PaulyT

Behind the Curtain
Staff member
Administrator
Moderator
Superstar
Re: Is there an audible difference between CD and "HD" audio

Dunno Jeff, maybe my opinion was swayed by having just spent an hour listening to the 2-channel mix, and it was just too much of a change...? It's ok how they separated the voice from the other instruments, but I wonder how they did it? Did they really have the original tracks to re-mix completely, or did they use some processing technique to split 2 channels into 5?
 

Yesfan70

I'm famous now bitches! vvvvv
Famous
Re: Is there an audible difference between CD and "HD" audio

PaulyT said:
...Did they really have the original tracks to re-mix completely, or did they use some processing technique to split 2 channels into 5?



My guess is the used the master tapes and these tapes have many many more tracks than two. The producers moved the different sounds and instruments where they wanted, before doing the transfer to disc. Remember, the mixes the producers use are not the finalized two channel version (so no splitting required), but the number of tracks they used during recording. The vocals would be on more than one single track so Geddy could lay down the harmonies. The same could be said with Alex's guitar playing and well, there's Neil....nuff said.

I think this is why some of the CD versions of these new remasters sound different than previous remasters. The sources are not the same (as Flint mentioned), so you really can't get a true comparison between two separate remasters.

Using Pink Floyd's Dark Side Of The Moon as an example, I could tell differences between the CD layer of the SACD and the remaster from '94. On the other hand, I was really pressed to hear anything different between the SACD and CD layers.
 

Alien

Active Member
Re: Is there an audible difference between CD and "HD" audio

I used to use my SACD player in my system but never got a real apples to apples comparison between it and the HD layers of hybrid disks for example. The reason being was that the outputs for CD were optical and the HD was analog. There was definitely an audible difference that was easy to hear on every SACD I had, but the HD version of each recording wasn't always better. Was it the outputs making the difference? I'll never know. All I can say though is that whenever I listened to CD's on the same player though I preferred the optical output.
 

malsackj

Well-Known Member
Re: Is there an audible difference between CD and "HD" audio

With Pink Floyd working a new release of their material we should have good 4 channel or surround from this new release. Much of Pink Floyd was aimed for quad release and will be remastered to what I feel will be a good show. I would like to hear what they do with the wall, the marching, the plane and crash, the wall falling.
 

Yesfan70

I'm famous now bitches! vvvvv
Famous
Re: Is there an audible difference between CD and "HD" audio

malsackj said:
With Pink Floyd working a new release of their material we should have good 4 channel or surround from this new release. Much of Pink Floyd was aimed for quad release and will be remastered to what I feel will be a good show. I would like to hear what they do with the wall, the marching, the plane and crash, the wall falling.



On another note, I have often wondered why newer bands like Radiohead (ok, specifically Radiohead) doesn't follow suit with some of their albums. They are totally different from each other, but one thing Floyd and Radiohead have in common is no one else sounds like them.
 
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