I work part time as a recording engineer and end up getting into intractable arguments with other engineers, especially on the internet about high resolution audio. It’s a friendlier space in the audiophile world because people here actually listen to things in order to make judgements about them.
I’ve recorded and listened extensively over 15 years with DSD, 24 bit, 192khz, and even 352khz digital, as well as 2" 24 track tape. Every one of this is qualitatively better than 16/44.1, in many cases WAY better. I’ve also found all of these changes in audio recording and reproduction to have distinct and predictable signatures across various sets of AD and DA converters. When I talk about this with other people they say I am crazy, delusional, ignorant, etc. and ask me to prove every observation with a double blind ABX test like in a research study.
Because my subjective experience of high res audio is immediately tossed out, I often try to argue in technical terms citing research papers, which gets tiring. I’ve probably had the ubiquitous Monty Montogomery Audio Myths video recommend or posted at me in the dozens of times, where Monty uses his oscilloscope to demonstrate that standard digital AD and DA perfectly recreates all and any signals with just 16 bits and a 44.1khz sample rate.
I end up fighting an uphill battle against these claims:
- Resolution above 16 bits in digital audio is pointless because nobody listens to music loud enough to hear the 16 bit noise floor. 24 bit audio is only used for practical recording and editing purposes and has no sonic benefit.
- Thanks to the existence of dither, 16 bit, 24 bit and DSD all sound exactly the same. Any benefits of 24 bit audio are completely preserved to CD quality when you add dither.
- Digital filtering has no impact on sound quality whatsoever because we can’t hear filter ringing, and timing smear is just an optical illusion from looking at impulse/sinc plots. Time and frequency are the same, therefore, all audio below the filter cutoff is represented perfectly and completely, with perfect impulse/transient response according to Nyquist. (therefore sample rates above 44.1khz are bogus)
- Sample rates above 96khz create heavy amounts of intermodulation distortion, degrade audio, and will wreck your equipment. Dan Lavry from Lavry Engineering says so.
- All PCM has perfect linearity so there is no need for greater bit depth or DSD
- 192khz exists because of fraudulent conspiracy to sell audiophile and pro audio equipment
- Double blind tests show that nobody can hear the difference between 16/44.1, 24/192 and DSD
- Because of its high noise floor, analogue tape can be perfectly recorded with only 12 bits.
Experience tells me that all of the above claims are false, but I have a hard time making the case.
Does anybody have good answers, or insights about these points? I know they are pretty technical in nature. I think this is a significant topic because outside small corners of the audiophile world and even smaller corners of pro audio, the Monty Mongtomery perspective that 16/44.1 is audio perfection and that High Res is delusion is now the consensus viewpoint and it becomes hard to even talk about practical audio stuff without every claim getting called into question.