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  1. #1
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    What sort of quality do people get when they download so-called "Hi Rez"

    Name:  HDTracks Sampler 2017.jpg
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    In order to evaluate this I downloaded what one might expect to be one of the most reliable "Hi Rez" web sites: HDTRACKS.COM. I donwloaded what should be one of their most exceptional collections: their headlining sampler. This is he music that convinces audiophiles to buy their products!

    Remember this is the web site that posts proudly on their home page:

    "HDtracks is the only music store founded, funded, and operated by musicians, artists, and audiophiles. Started in 2008 by Norman and David Chesky, pioneers of revolutionary recording techniques and founders of the groundbreaking audiophile label Chesky Records, HDtracks takes their obssession with quality to the most important part of any recording: you, the listener. With industry-leading and painstaking quality controls, everything sold on HDtracks is of the highest possible quality, and available in a diverse range of formats so technology doesn't interfere with the listening experience."

    "We're looking to ensure all files sold on the site are true to the format they are listed as on the site. All 24bit is tested to have true 24 ACTIVE bits so 16 bit upsamples can be identified. We also test to make sure the freq extends to 1/2 the sampling frequency nyquist in order to identify they are not coming from lower resolution recordings (96khz will extend to 48khz nyquist)."

    Please review the attached graphic.

    The first picture is of the description of the tracks in the 2017 sampler. I downloaded it on the *last* day of the year 2017, so it has probably been downloaded thousands of times and its sound quality as perceived by its clients has convinced those thousands of audiophiles that it is as described above.

    Or, why else did they sign up and pay good money download tracks from it?

    The second picture is a FFT of the first track (Track 1) in the sampler. It is rather obviously slavishly upsampled from a 44 KHz file.

    The second file in the sampler is not pictured because despite being identified as 96 kHz FLAC, it is in fact a 44 KHz FLAC.

    The last picture is a typical expanded view of that second file. Please note the rather obvious clipping.

    Now, just for grins look at this page and view the faces of the people who have brought this collection of files to you: https://www.hdtracks.com/about-us

    BTW this is by no means the extent of exceptional findings about this file collection. Check it out

  2. #2
    Senior Member ralphpnj's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by arnyk View Post
    What sort of quality do people get when they download so-called "Hi Rez"
    CD quality but with a much larger file.
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  3. #3
    Senior Member stereoptic's Avatar
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    Nice analysis, but I am confused as to the relationship between how the people at HDTracks look, and the quality of the downloads? Is there a particular high resolution facial structure?

  4. #4
    Senior Member Jeff07971's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by stereoptic View Post
    Nice analysis, but I am confused as to the relationship between how the people at HDTracks look, and the quality of the downloads? Is there a particular high resolution facial structure?
    No they just have bat ears !
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  5. #5
    Senior Member Mnyb's Avatar
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    Yes this is a quite common case the existing master is 44,1kHz or sometimes 24/48 which seems to be the popular music standard some niche audiophile or some classical labels may use higher resolution but they are the exception .

    But it does not really help with much of thier content which is much baby boomers rock from the 70’s even captured in glorious 384kHz or DSD that analog tape still has less resolution than reedbook 16/44.1 kHz .

    Now I make my piont the actual technical spec is completely uninteresting as soon as it is 16/44.1 or better .
    What would matter is which master they source .

    If you truly wanted to sell HD or “Hi Fi” versions of anything you would select the masters with great care ,curated by humans .
    Not just making sure the dowloadfiles have big impressive numbers. That would include asking labels to actually not send their latest remaster effort in some cases , these are sometimes plagued low dynamic range and accompanying “ loudness war “ problems .
    But something else that the aficionados of a certain work/artist preferrers . It could in some cases actually be the latest carefully made remaster so I don’t dismiss all remasters.


    ( some goes for so called hifi streaming services, who just lets the labels upload whatever they fancy without any QC ) .

    I would truly be an imidiate custommer if some service or shop provided definitive versions of the music or choices if they are several well liked versions
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  6. #6
    Senior Member Archimago's Avatar
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    Yup... A chronic issue.

    Happy New Year everyone!

    Yup. No surprise about the paucity of actual hi-res music. For years HDtracks has been releasing upsampled music. And few of the recordings of course achieve anything close to needing beyond 16-bits if even that. Years ago, I wrote the article on "Hi-Res Expectations" and I see absolutely nothing has changed over the years.

    I wondered back then and still today just how much of this stuff they're actually selling... Hard to imagine a big market.
    Last edited by Archimago; 2018-01-06 at 21:26.
    Archimago's Musings: (archimago.blogspot.com) A 'more objective' audiophile blog.

  7. #7
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    Quote Originally Posted by Mnyb View Post
    Yes this is a quite common case the existing master is 44,1kHz or sometimes 24/48 which seems to be the popular music standard some niche audiophile or some classical labels may use higher resolution but they are the exception .
    An interesting instance of 20-ish kHz band limiting can be found in LP needle drops. For example take a look at this one which shows clear evidnce of digital processing:

    Name:  needle drop of supertramp give a little bit.jpg
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    (correction, the peak identified here @ 22.05 Khz was later examined more carefully and found to be @ 24 kHz (48 kHz digital sampling)

    How might this come to be? Starting in the late 1960s digital delay devices such as the Ampex ADD-1 were used to provide a look-ahead facility for automating disk cutting by increasing groove pitch for loud passages:

    Name:  ampex add-1 figure 1 dB magazine 1979-11.jpg
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    This device was placed in line with the electronics that drove the cutter:

    Name:  ampex add-1 figure 2 dB magazine 11-79.png
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    The last two illustrations were taken from an archived copy of dB Magazine, 11/1979
    Last edited by arnyk; 2018-01-06 at 07:52.

  8. #8
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    Quote Originally Posted by Jeff07971 View Post
    No they just have bat ears !
    Name:  Stereophile_high_resolution_secrets_cover.jpg
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  9. #9
    Senior Member pablolie's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by ralphpnj View Post
    CD quality but with a much larger file.
    Awesome summary. :-)
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  10. #10
    Senior Member pablolie's Avatar
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    Thanks for an interesting read...

    ...I had no idea that digital recording pollution had started as early!

    I present the following little experiment I have gone for over the years with one of my favorite recordings ever.

    Name:  bevans.jpg
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    One version is a 320k CBR rip from the original CD, the second the HDtracks download, supposedly from the "previously undiscovered, cryogentically-frozen and kept-in-a-vacuum master tape". F__k me if I can ever hear a difference. And I've listened to it on $4k headphones (not mine), spending an utterly unenjoyable hour trying to convince myself I *had* to hear a difference. I've done the same experiment, only comparing a 16/44 and a 24/192 of very well recorded, 2000-ish albums, much to the same result. Maybe *there* I'd be able to detect a difference between the 320 and 16/44 version, but it's not one I'd particularly care for other than for archiving purposes. And I supposedly can still hear up to 17kHz, so it's not like I have deafened myself over the years.

    And now that it's easy to score $2 CDs in the used market, I've rediscovered the joy of roaming around in a music store on a weekend. Vintage CD stores, who would've thought! :-D
    ...pablo
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