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  #1  
Old Sep 27, 2019, 03:24 PM
BlazingAbyss BlazingAbyss is offline
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Default What exactly is "Hi-Res" audio?

Recently I've been browsing music on ototoy.jp and noticed that some albums are listed as "Hi-Res," Hi-Res albums are 24bit/48kHz-96kHz while Lossless albums are only 16bit/44.1kHz.

Seeing as both are in lossless formats (FLAC/ALAC/WAV) does that mean that "Hi-Res" is actually all around better than Lossless?

Furthermore, assuming that Hi-Res is superior than Lossless, is Hi-Res the same or better quality to that of an actual CD? For example, would this ototoy listing for Bloodborne: The Old Hunters soundtrack be better or exactly the same as the initial promo CD packaged with the Japanese Limited Edition version of the game?

Edit: The Hi-Res audio on ototoy seems to mainly range from 48kHz to 96kHz depending on the album (though I did come across a few 192khz albulms,) so they're not all 96kHz like my original wording implied.

Last edited by BlazingAbyss; Sep 28, 2019 at 05:32 PM.
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  #2  
Old Sep 27, 2019, 03:30 PM
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Chris Porter Chris Porter is offline
 
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CD audio is 16bit/44.1kHz, so Hi-Res versions at 24bit/96kHz will be higher quality than what you can get on CD. I haven't purchased any Hi-Res music yet to compare, so I can't tell you if it's worth the investment or not. However, I know that Yasunori Mitsuda and Takeshi Abo have both been making a lot of their music available in Hi-Res versions at various sites that host those kinds of files.
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Old Sep 27, 2019, 05:24 PM
BlazingAbyss BlazingAbyss is offline
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Interesting, I do typically prefer to own physical copies of soundtracks, but if Hi-Res tracks are of higher quality than what's available on a CD then perhaps I'd be better off going with the Hi-Res digital releases and saving a bit of shelf space in the process.

Thankfully, it doesn't seem like I already own too many albums that have gotten Hi-Res releases, probably since Hi-Res seems to be a more recent thing and most of my collection consists of soundtracks for older games and anime.

Regardless, thank you for the explanation. Please let me know if you do ever decide to do any lossless/Hi-Res comparisons for any albums. It'll probably be a while before I go diving through all the Hi-Res albums available on ototoy, so it be good to find out in advance if it is indeed worth the investment.
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  #4  
Old Sep 27, 2019, 10:58 PM
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LuxKiller65 LuxKiller65 is offline
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I don't think my ears could tell the difference, just like the same wine in two different bottles would fool my brain into thinking one is better than the other.
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  #5  
Old Sep 27, 2019, 11:54 PM
Kentaro Sato Kentaro Sato is offline
 
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I should be able to answer the question...

First of all, as many are aware, 44.1kHz/16bit is the format for audio CD. It just mean an audio CD "could" records sound waves upto 22.05kHz, and dynamics range from 0 degree to 65535 degree.

By definition of the Hi-Res forum, "Hi-Res" just means any "format" better than CD. So, it could be 44.1kHz/24bit or, 48kHz/16bit. But the standard in the industry is either 48kHz/24bit or 96kHz/24bit.

With that stated, can we tell the difference between let's say CD format (or lossless 44.1kHz/16bit) and 96kHz/24bit format? The industry answer is "no" for the most people (including many professional audio engineers). This is why the most audio professionals work in 48/24 and not any higher. 48/24 is used because of the standard in the video industry.

Some genres of music which primarily work with live instruments like orchestra, chorus, and jazz do benefit in 96/24 format, ONLY IF the right equipment and software are used in the production and mix, and listeners' environment is great.

But unfortunately, any synth or sample-based music will not benefit in 96/24, and there will be few people who could tell differences between in 44.1/16 and 48/24 with this kind of music.

So, my advice would be, go with 48/24 if there is no price difference from 44.1/16. Go with 44.1/16, if that is cheaper than Hi-Res. Go with the 96/24 or above, ONLY IF you care the recording VERY MUCH, and trust the producers.

For video game companies production, I say go with 48/24 (or 44.1/16). There is nothing up there, unfortunately. I learned this hard way....
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  #6  
Old Sep 28, 2019, 04:19 AM
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TerraEpon TerraEpon is offline
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Note that lossless isn't actually an indication of the bitrate/bitdepth, but the....purity....of the waveform as it were.

You could have lossless that was worse than CD quality -- say 22khz. Lossy is specifcally a format like Mp3 where things have been done to the audio to make it smaller, removinf a part of it,l rather than just reduce the bitdepth full stop.
(Obviously in practice you can't upsample even a lossless file into a bigger one, but it's a different type of loss between them, as it were)
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  #7  
Old Sep 30, 2019, 09:35 PM
BlazingAbyss BlazingAbyss is offline
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I've been trying to look more into Hi-Res audio and as a result I think I've become a little more wary of it.

As Mr. Sato said, the general consensus seems to be that there is little to no audible difference between 44.1kHz/16bit, 48kHz/24bit and beyond. There are some exceptions such as live performances, but even then if the music hasn't been recorded using the proper high-resolution capable equipment then it isn't even really Hi-Res.

This automatically rules out any analog recordings or albums made using less than 24-bits and the first one to do so apparently wasn't until 1996. Despite that you can still find many "Hi-Res" albums being sold online even though they were created before 96/24 digital recording technology even existed. However, I'm not actually sure if this still applies to albums which were remastered later down the line, for example, the original Greatest Hits album by Queen was made before the introduction of 24-bit audio, however it was later remastered in 2011 so I'm uncertain if that means that the remaster could potentially be 24 bit. Either way, in scenarios such as that you could potentially be paying more for a larger Hi-Res file that isn't actually any better than what you would find on a CD.

To make matters worse it's apparently possible to fake Hi-Res audio by simply adding high frequency content back into a recording and depending on how well it was done it may be difficult to reliably detect a fake, especially if you're unaware of what method was used to do so.

With all that said I think I'll continue to just stick with regular CDs for my own peace of mind, though there's still a handful of digital exclusive albums on ototoy that I'll have to get around to buying such as Metal Slug 7, mainly since it appears to be the only means of acquiring them in a lossless format.

Right now the only Hi-Res 24bit/96kHz soundtrack that I feel safe about purchasing is the Remastered soundtrack for the Shadow of the Colossus Remake, mainly because it's only available in that format, thus there is no reason to have any reservations about it as there are no other alternatives.

Speaking of which, Mr. Sato, would you by chance know if any of the Hi-Res Final Fantasy albums featured on ototoy actually benefit from being 24bit/96kHz? I believe you worked on the soundtracks for TYPE-0 HD & Dissidia NT, correct? Both of those are exclusively Hi-Res on ototoy, while the Final Fantasy XIV albums listed only come in Hi-Res and 320kbps. I've been interested in those soundtracks (especially the XIV ones,) but not to the point where I felt the need to buy the physical CDs, hence it might be nice to get the Hi-Res digitals from ototoy, but I'd only be interested in doing so if there are any actual improvements to them when compared to their CD releases.

Last edited by BlazingAbyss; Sep 30, 2019 at 09:39 PM.
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  #8  
Old Oct 1, 2019, 04:16 AM
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TerraEpon TerraEpon is offline
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Note that first off, before 1996 they recorded in 20bit sound for quite a while before then.

But when talking that it ONLY matters for digital -- analog sound is an extremely different kettle of fish as it were.

Also note that even if you pay for CD quality you actually sometimes get Mp3 quality because of incompetance/laziness.
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Old Oct 1, 2019, 05:07 AM
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LuxKiller65 LuxKiller65 is offline
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Sort of related -- What's with Namco's "20 bit K2 Super Coding"?

They started adding that text on the obi of Namco Game Sound Express Vol. 10 (january 1994). Volumes before only have "Digital Recording", and volume 1 has nothing.
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  #10  
Old Oct 1, 2019, 12:56 PM
BlazingAbyss BlazingAbyss is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by TerraEpon View Post
Note that first off, before 1996 they recorded in 20bit sound for quite a while before then.
Interesting, I wasn't aware of that. That does make me curious about one thing though, perhaps you might know the answer. Back in 2015 "NIPPON COLUMBIA" re-release a bunch of the Lupin III soundtracks for the 2nd series and a couple of the movies, this time using something called "Blu-spec" CDs, from what I can gather that just means that the CDs were manufactured on Blu-ray pressing machines. More importantly, the page notes for these remastered albums state that they are a "96kHz/24bit digital remastering."

To my knowledge most if not all of these albums were originally made before the use of 24bit, so how could the remasters be anything above 20bit at most? Does that not matter when it comes to remasters or something?
I was curious because I had heard that these remasters are supposedly the best releases of these particular albums and they even come with a lot of bonus tracks on top of that.
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  #11  
Old Oct 3, 2019, 08:29 AM
Kentaro Sato Kentaro Sato is offline
 
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Dear BlazingAbyss

>>would you by chance know if any of the Hi-Res Final Fantasy albums
>>featured on ototoy actually benefit from being 24bit/96kHz?

I can at least tell you that all the live-orchetral/choral recordings and its related live band recordings was done in 96/24. However, I cannot guarantee the mastering part, therefore I can not say any further to tell you the truth.


====
Before the digital recording, there was (and still is) "analog tape recording."
Then came ADAT (44.1/16), then ADAT Type 2 (20bit), and then later introduction of 48/24 (these were recorded with S-VHS)...
Some recordings with original multitrack data or tape (or original two mix in analog tape) could benefit better audio equipment and effects of today in new mix or new mastering.
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  #12  
Old Nov 4, 2019, 10:31 AM
Leon T Leon T is offline
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I'm sure most people won't be able to tell the difference, especially if played through an average playback system.
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  #13  
Old Nov 5, 2019, 04:07 PM
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To add to the confusion, there is a problem in that some streaming/digital platforms are going to starting to call "Hi-Res" 44/16 to differentiate from MP3 type files. Things that are a higher bit will be called "super hi-res". I believe this change is coming to a major platform such as Apple/iTunes in the near future, but I cannot for the life of me remember if it is indeed Apple or another of the major names that this change is coming to. But it IS one of the heavy-weights.

Personally, I can hear quite a difference between 44k/16 bit--Even when downsampling later on. But the problem from a mixing standpoint is often hard drive space, processing power. So these days I used 48/24 for recording.

But to be honest , here is the problem with any "differences" one might hear. First of all, you are not going to hear them if you have sub-par DA converters and speakers and lack a good listening environment.

Secondly, if you think about it, people simply cannot hear beyond 44.1 K --We are not dogs. And technically, the only reason we need anything beyond 22 KHZ has to do with something called Nyquist theory, since the best of us cannot hear beyond 20 K, the only reason we double this frequency has to do with making sure there is no inter-sampling conflict when you add more than 1 channel or speakers.

Third, when I stated above that I CAN hear differences between 44k and 88K, take into mind that what I mean by this can be summarized by a white paper published by Engineer Dan Kennedy well over a decade ago--since we cannot hear above 44.1k in stereo systems, any "differences" we are hearing most likely has to do with filtering roll-offs that are a bit more gentle of a slope as they creep into the audible bandwidth. When people say that they can hear more smooth high end detail in 96K, this is most likely what to attribute this sensation to.

The proposed cure is better filtering design for lower sampling frequencies, but many designers and listeners simply jump on the "higher is better" mentality, and don't focus on this as a solution very often.

I won't even talk about DSD , even though the concept has great merits...almost nobody has the capacity to mix an album on that stuff due to the sheer amount of processing power required, even some great studios. Most albums that were recorded in DSD eventually end up being converted to PCM since just adding a simple digital effect requires some crazy horsepower at such a high rate of sampling.
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Last edited by Jazz Paladin; Nov 5, 2019 at 04:35 PM.
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  #14  
Old Nov 5, 2019, 04:18 PM
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Good article I found that touches a few of the points I mentioned.

https://www.digitaltrends.com/music/...olution-audio/
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  #15  
Old Nov 6, 2019, 08:36 AM
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With regards to the marketing of "High Definition Audio" as 44/16, the culprit is Amazon after a bit of research. Buyers beware, this isn't true Hi-Def/Hi-Res

Amazon has a new, high-quality streaming tier of its music service called Amazon Music HD. It’s priced at $12.99 per month for Prime members ($14.99 per month for everyone else) and you can add it to your existing Amazon Music subscription for an additional $5 per month, whether you’re an individual or family plan subscriber. What you get for the additional cost is access to more than 50 million songs in what Amazon is calling HD (16-bit, 44.1kHz or around what you’d expect from a CD), and then “millions” in Ultra HD (24-bit, up to 192kHz), which the company says is the highest available quality for any music streaming
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Old Nov 6, 2019, 10:44 AM
LiquidAcid LiquidAcid is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Jazz Paladin View Post
And technically, the only reason we need anything beyond 22 KHZ has to do with something called Nyquist theory, since the best of us cannot hear beyond 20 K, the only reason we double this frequency has to do with making sure there is no inter-sampling conflict when you add more than 1 channel or speakers.
You haven't understood what the Nyquist-Shannon sampling theorem tells you. It has nothing to do with number of channels.
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Old Nov 6, 2019, 12:07 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by LiquidAcid View Post
You haven't understood what the Nyquist-Shannon sampling theorem tells you. It has nothing to do with number of channels.
Yes, thank you, I stand corrected on that one, there is indeed no correlation between preventing aliasing/capturing all the frequencies in digital and number of channels.

I'll be the first to admit that I can forget a lot when it comes to math, I mainly try to be well-read in this as much as I can as to avoid purchasing the latest snake oil while still retaining a focus on music-making itself. Will always yield to the true mathematicians here, no qualms about it.

Thanks again.
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