SQ Differences for Hi Res at Various Sampling Rates

For those here who listen to hi res: How much sound quality difference do you hear between different sampling rates? Have you ever done an A/B comparison of different versions of the same master?

Below is my experience. My DAC is the Marantz SACD 30n. I have an HP laptop running Audirvana Origin feeding it downloaded files via USB. I don’t do streaming.

I did an A/B comparison between the 96 and 192 versions of Norah Jones’ Come Away with Me taken from the same mastering session. I was expecting to hear a difference in the treble. Instead, the 192 version had a smoother, more lifelike midrange. Hmm, interesting.

I haven’t done any A/B comparisons with 44.1 or 48 recordings. However, my general impression is that these seem to be a step down in sound quality compared to 96. I only have a few 88.2 recordings. They sound about as good as the 96 recordings.

For comparing DSD, I got the NativeDSD Starter Pack in 64 (free), 128 (free) and 256 ($5). There was an obvious improvement moving from 64 to 128. The music was smoother (less grainy) and had more soundstage depth. Moving from 128 to 256, the improvement was much more subtle and was most evident when there was a solo instrument or voice versus a dense passage.


To me, it depends if it was a true re-issue or some companies (HD Tracks I’m very suspicious of their PCM Hi-Res non DSD offerings) effort to upsample a 16/44/1 CD.

I do appreciate Octave Records ability to let you hear all sample rates and let yourself be the Judge. I find a properly re-issued SACD/DSD file the best in overall sound quality. But there is buyer beware here as well. Some SACD’s/DSD files are simply a Hi-Res PCM file converted to DSD. No benefit there whatsoever.

I do have several red book CD’s & PCM rips that I swear by to this day.


Can depend very much on the DAC used (and in particular, it’s filters) also.

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I should start exploring the Octave Records catalog.

I’ve heard of pseudo-hi res releases. Rush Moving Pictures is a good example. The original recording was done in 16/44.1 when digital recording was brand new.

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Definitely. The current Marantz SACD players convert all playback (whether from a disc or a digital input) to DSD 256 rather than using an off-the-shelf DAC chip. I haven’t listened to very many DACs, but I’m pretty happy with the sound quality I’m getting. I’ve been using the default filter, but I should probably spend time listening to Filter 2.

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I have compared the various sampling rates and different formats and this is what I find consistently.

Between DSD 64 and PCM 24bit 192k, the DSD is slightly smoother and PCM slightly sharper. Resolution is about equal. What you like more will depend on the recording and preference.

Between PCM 16 bit 44k and PCM 24 bit 192k, the 24 bit 192k is smoother but more micro and macro detailed.

Between PCM 24 bit 96k and PCM 24 bit 192k, the 24 bit 192k is less veiled sounding than 96k. The higher sampling rates has the advantages in sound quality.

Between DSD 64 and DSD 128, it is very close, but DSD 128 still has a slightly advantage in clarity.

Between DSD 128 and DSD 256 is a similar slightly better micro detailed, so again, higher sampling has an advantage.

I even compared FLAC files of the same sampling rates with WAV and AIFF files and this is really, really, close, but the FLAC files are ever so slightly less detailed. The WAV and AIFF, I couldn’t detect any difference whatsoever.


I agree with your assessment and have tried this listening experiment several times with several different recordings. I do have one exception. No matter how much I lean in on speaker or headphones, I personally cannot hear the difference between DSD 128 and 256.

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I have done this comparison on a couple of recordings and found the difference very slight. I really had to go back and forth many time to be sure, but the 256 has a little better presence. Many people probably would find this little difference insignificant, but it’s there.


Thanks for sharing your experience. Which DAC are you using?

I’m using a PS Audio Direct Stream Dac Sr.


I just purchased a DSD 256 Jazz at the Pawnshop to compare with my DSD 128 copy and maybe it could be different mastered, but the difference is not close at all, the DSD 256 is way better. The DSD 256 gives a much better soundstage and is much more 3D sounding than the DSD 128 version.


I have that recording, but only at DSD64. Where did you purchase the other resolutions?

I purchased the DSD 128 version from Acoustic Sounds some time ago when Chad was selling downloads and it blew away my CD in SQ.
I just purchased the DSD 256 version from ProStudioMasters. Today’s the last day of the sale. Just type in TOP when you check out.
This 256 version is incredible sounding. I have never heard Jazz at the Pawnshop sound so good, ever!! Play the track Barbados. The transients and air is much better than my 128 version. Hurry and get it, then you can tell me about it.

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Grrr… I am already a few hundred into this current sale. 25% off was hard to pass up.

Fine… Diving in.


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Yeah, the Rush re-issues are a mixed bad. All the different Anniversary reissues regarding the 2 channel mixes sound no better IMHO than their CD counterparts (get it ?) from the Bob Ludwig 1997 reissues and going back as far as the 1987 Anthem/PolyDor 1st issues. The beauty there lies in the 5.1 remixes. Some mixes fared better than others.

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I’ll assume it is a typo. That said, if not I would whole heartedly agree, not being a fan. LOL.

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Sorry to be late to this discussion, but thought I’d come in anyway.

For my listening partner spouse and I, higher resolutions (to 24-352 in PCM and to 256 in DSD) offer better and more enjoyable sound, all things being equal. But, being equal is clearly a challenge. The underlying recording quality and the mastering quality will trump higher resolution any day. Higher resolution in a poorly made recording simply lays bare the problems in the recording—no difference from our analog days.

On the PCM side, we found that step-ups in word length and sampling rate provided us enjoyably greater resolution and transparency. No surprise to anyone here, right? We found that once we got to 24-192, things could sound very nice indeed. But our enjoyment of things in the PCM domain really lights up with 24-352/DXD. We’ve been enjoying DXD recordings immensely. Recordings originally made to DXD by 2L, Pentatone, TRPTK, and Northstar (to name just a few) are simply amazing. I’ve written about their recordings previously and will continue to do so.

Some folks whose ears we trust report hearing and being bothered by PCM artifacts in DXD. We don’t hear this. But, as with many things in our audiophile experience, we simply may not yet have identified the artifact and, so, we remain blissfully unaware (at least for now).

However, for us, DSD256 presents a yet higher level of audio excellence. DSD256 delivers, to our ears, a further degree of ultimate transparency and fidelity to the timbre of the instruments that subtly elude DXD.

For examples and further thoughts if you’re interested, take a look at the discussion in this article and share your experiences here.


Yes, indeedy. (Along with the quality of the musicianship/performance…)

Thanks for sharing your experience. And no need to apologize for lateness to the discussion. Some threads hang around for years.

My Marantz SACD 30n upsamples everything to DSD256, which is different from most DACs. I’ll have to try out some DXD recordings sometime.

We are in a similar listening situation here. Our Playback Designs MPD-8 converts everything to DSD256, also, but then additionally modulates that DSD upwards another 4x before finally making the transition to analog.

DXD recordings can sound very very good. Pure DSD256 just sounds even better. :sunglasses:

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