I just spent 40 minutes on the phone with a very nice gentleman that had left me a message earlier today regarding my iTrax.com HD-Audio music download site. I called him back thinking that he wanted to discuss the functionality of my website…it’s being redesigned and reworked as I write this…but instead he simply wanted a few questions answered.
First, I should let you know that this is a gentleman that has a high-end audio system including my favorite speakers: B&W 800Ds. He explained that he’s been purchasing tracks from HD Tracks for a few months and is confused because the “so-called HD” tracks that he’s acquired don’t sound any different than the CD rips that he’s loaded onto his server. In fact, he mentioned that he has three versions of a Nora Jones release. One if from HD Tracks, another from iTunes and his original CD. When he and his friends sat and listened to them and compared the sound, they were very hard pressed to tell any difference. His questions started with…
Question No. 1
If I’ve downloaded a 192 kHz/24-bit version of a track from HD Tracks for $27, why can’t I easily detect a dramatic improvement over the “standard definition” tracks that I already owned?
The reason is because there isn’t a dramatic different between the original CD version and the new and improved “HD” version. The specifications of the released digital file might be 192 kHz and 24-bits but the original recording might have been recorded in a format that doesn’t match those new, higher specifications. In other words, if I take my 8mm Waldrep home movies from 1959 and transfer them to the Ultra HD video format (the recently named 4K format which is 4 times the resolution of HD-Video), are they going to look Ultra HD or will they be as good as the original 8 mm movie? The answer is obvious. The potential fidelity of a piece of music is at its maximum at the time of the original session. By simply transferring it to a larger bit bucket and raising the price doesn’t elevate the sonic fidelity. What’s you’re hearing from your original CD is about as good as its going to get.
…if I take my 8mm Waldrep home movies from 1959 and transfer them to the Ultra HD video format (the recently named 4K format which is 4 times the resolution of HD-Video), are they going to look Ultra HD or will they be as good as the original 8 mm movie?
This gets back to the whole issue of musical provenance and the fidelity of the original recording AND the particular production path that was used on the tracks.
The caller emailed the providers of the file and according to him was given a “non-answer” in response. If he couldn’t tell the difference than either his system is deficient or his hearing is flawed. Not quite the reply he was hoping for, I think.