My disappointment with Hi-Rez - am I expecting too much? Paul McCartney

I am starting to buy downloads… I just downloaded Paul McCartney’s Venus and Mars… I really love this album. Cost me just under $20 from ProStudioMasters… this Hi Rez 96/24 version was redone by the studio as part of a big package re-release and should represent Hi-Rez done right.

Boy what a disappointment… 20 bucks worth. Sure there is some more detail and it definitely sounds different… but I think it is really just polished dodo. In some respects it kinda sounds worse… at least my CD version blurs the bad recording(?).

I have been an audiophile for almost 40 years… I get Hi Fi … but I am really getting gun-shy spending money on these high dollar downloads. I think if I have a CD that I really like… I am gonna leave it that way… replacing music I love with high-doller Hi- Rez versions ain’t doing it for me.


BTW: I don;t mind spending money if I feel it is worth it… heck I just purchased a DSJ!!! But $20 is $20 too much if I am not happy with it.

BTW2: J Gordon Holt was correct… the better the recording, the less satisfaction… or something like that.

Bruce in Philly

In a galaxy far far away before DS and DS Jr Hi rez was better as it allowed the filters to work with fewer distortions at the high end. But now that problem is eliminated with the fundamental design concept of the DS’ DSD techniques, even redbook CD’s sound pretty darn good. In other words, High Rez may have been overtaken by events with the advent of the DS & DS Jr.

If you’re happy with it, save your money and get better gear instead of re-buying tracks in Hi Rez that you already have.

We wouldn’t fault you if you did.

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As someone who’s got over 4000 cds ripped into lossless, I’m counting on the marketing of the DSJ being at least half true. I have no intention of buying the same record twice if the DSJ can do 16/44.1 justice. When In the market for new music I do try to find them as a HiFi download before buying a CD. You’re in a tough place. You obviously cared enough about the record to buy it twice but in the end it’s the “original” that you prefer. I went through something similar with the recent remaster of Wilco’s Being There. It’s a record that’s a desert island favorite for me and I still have the original from years ago. In all honesty, I would be hard pressed to point out any part of the remaster that actually sounds better than that original CD on my current system.


Just my opinion, of course. Recording and mastering matter way more. Modern recordings and/or remasters, generally, don’t sound good (yes, there are always exceptions). I do have lots of hires that sounds great: Chic, Waylon Jennings, The Barkays (Soulfinger is amazing), Simon and Garfunkel (slightly too compressed) and others. It’s a crap shoot like every other recording you buy. I have more hires that disappoints than sounds great.

BTW…agree on not buying hires versions of loved recording. Life is too short, buy new music with your precious money!

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My advice is to put your money in a Qobuz Sublime+ account. Tons of music and >65.000 albums in Hi-Rez, offering more every day. Only using original studio masters Qobuz doesn’t work with upsampling. Use BubbleUpnp to stream them to the Bridge (howerever I prefer streaming Qobuz using my Melco and Audioquest Diamond USB), always working like a charm. As a bonus you can use the original Qobuz app for browsing and share selected music with Bubble to stream. Only buy (Hi-Rez) music and quality you really like to own yourself after listening, most at great discount.

Holt’s Law is often correct: Holt’s Law," the better the recording, the worse the musical performance—and vice versa. Precisely why I aovid recordings audiophiles drool over.

I also like his observation, “The better the ad, the worse the product.”

I think your expectation that a premium priced recording sold as “better” should live up to its billing is completely reasonable.

Bruce-I-P - Potentially different things at play here.

A) You might not like the remaster compared with the mastering of the CD - no guarantees it will be “improved” if you already love it the way it is…and this is unrelated to high-res. You’d dislike a CD of the remaster.

B) The master they did it from could be seeing the effects of age, in which case even the original master’s sound may not be recoverable at this point. Again - unrelated to high res. Crap in - crap out. Though I would think anything a Beatle has done would be stored properly. But stuff happens, certain tape formulations may not hold up as well as another, Paul kept it in his closet, etc.

C). High res seems to me to be best in terms of capture, or keeping what was captured. If the recording was 16/44.1, it’s not necessarily going to be any BETTER at 24/192, but you’ll lose a bit less. If it’s recorded a 24/192, it would sound best at 24/192. Nonetheless, it’s often not a difference lots of people would really care about one way or the other.

D). The Junior is uprezzing everything to 20x DSD, which tends to make resolution less important. If you have a 24/96 PCM DAC, it will potentially be more noticable that there’s a difference between a 24/96 source and a higher or lower res version of the same thing.

I just DL’d a 1xDSD of the Hazelrigg Brothers 4-song EP today (on Cookie’s Blue Coast). It’s a very good sounding bit of high res, assuming you like piano trio jazz covers of the songs they chose. Some are pretty cool choices - Zep and Hendrix, etc. I went for the 1x DSD despite the fact that it was recorded 2x and then mixed analog to 4xDSD. I’m sure the 16/44 version sounds great, because it’s a great recording to start with. But not if you don’t like the music ; )


I have also recently begun to tip-toe into the world of hi-rez downloads. It is, indeed, a mixed bag. I generally do not go for a hi-res download unless (a) I don’t already own the CD, (b) the recording sounds pretty damn good when streamed via Tidal (I don’'t do MQA), and © the performance rises to the level of me wanting in my permanent collection in case all of these streaming services go belly up (I don’t think any of them are making $$).

My belief is that 85% - 90% of SQ is established in how carefully the music was recorded and mastered in the first place. Since many “hi-rez” titles are merely upsampled 44.1/16, it’s definitely a case of buyer beware.

That said, there ARE some gems out there. If you are into jazz, try Bill Evans: Some Other Time (The Lost Session from the Black Forest) by 2xHD. I splurged for the 2X DSD files (HD knowing this was a recording made by Hans Georg Brunner-Schwer and Joachim-Ernst Brendt in Germany’s Black Forest studio and it is stunning, but I did not compare it to the lower res versions also available.

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I wonder if hi-res recordings even render a great advantage. Seems if a redbook CD is properly recorded and mastered, the DS Sr, or DS Jr would ultimately convert the music file to 20x DSD irrespective of the original sampling rate.

If originally recorded at higher resolution, this higher resolution file will possess more musical information than Redbook 44/16. At least theoretically, this should produce better sound.

When the DACs upconvert the incoming data stream they do not add additional information. It is the same information as the original file but now contained in a higher resolution bucket.

Venus and Mars was recorded analog. What is not clear to me with the new release is how they made this digital copy. Did they archive it to digital years ago and now just release the archive file? Did they go back to the analog masters and digitize and to what format? Did they go back to the original multitrack session tapes, remix, then digitize? After digitization, did they convert to 96/24?

Lotsa mystery, results speak for themselves.

BTW, “masters” are not the original session tapes.

Bruce in Philly

A very common complaint regarding remasters is provenance. Only on a very few remasters is this known in sufficient detail. Spend 15 minutes on the Steve Hoffman web site for a litany of complaints regarding remasters and HD in general.

I DID IT AGAIN!!! ARgh!!! I am stupid.

I purchased and downloaded a few Stevie Wonder Classics… some of my favorite records… Inversions… if you don’t own this record, you … you… well you… - insert insult here-.

The high rez versions SUCK. I knew it and did it again. Money out the window. I am really sour on this hi rez stuff. Not the potential, but the fact these companies sell this crap. Not the websites, they just pass it on, but the record companies.

Will I ever learn?

Bruce in Philly

There’s some great ones out there. Waylon Jennings, Booker T & The MGs, and Simon and Garfunkel come to mind quickly. Agree 100% most of the time! Mostly remastered crap selling at premium prices!

I personally hear a big benefit from most hires files, but this might be because I don’t hear a lot of 1960-1990 Pop/Rock. I think disappointment there happens frequently…

I’ve been burned a few times with high resolution purchases so I have a few guidelines for myself.

  1. I no longer purchase pop/rock new releases in high resolution out of fear they will be brick-walled during mixing or mastering - if dynamic range is minimal, I may as well just stream it.

  2. I only purchase high resolution jazz reissues after a little research on who did it. Releases by Mofi, Analogue Productions/AcousticSounds and others seem to retain a lot of dynamic range.

  3. I only purchase rock reissues if they are mastered by someone like Steve Wilson who refuses to ruin music during mastering.

  4. I have had very good luck with classical high resolution new releases. For the most part, I have found the major labels, small labels and most of the in-house labels do really good work.

Could not agree more. Some of my favorite music (early digitally recorded classical) fall very short in the recording/mastering area but we have such great DACs these days so I’m able to enjoy them immensely.

With the availability of Qobuz/Sublime+ oversea soon comes the times to listen Hi-Res before eventually buying in formats of choice :wink:

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That’s interesting, because I don’t. I cancelled my HD Tracks email subscription, I won’t buy hi-rez any more.

Quite a few early digital productions done with the Soundstream recorder and released on vinyl first as far as I remember, are really well done, i.e. by Delos or Pro Arte.