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8 thoughts on “Who’s Responsible?

  • February 10, 2014 at 4:02 pm
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    No big surprise indeed. Qobuz is just as Tricky Dicky as HD Tracks.

    How they can possibly write this:
    “Studio Masters Quality Guarantee.” A team is dedicated to Qobuz Studio Masters albums. They check and test each source album one by one before the sale. Signal analysis, real-time monitoring, verification are part of routine checks.

    …and then think it is an acceptable excuse, when caught out with CD-quality music on 24/192 files, to say that they took their supplier at his word, is hypocritical. Their “dedicated team” seems to spend their days with their feet up on the test bench, reading up on “How to Make a Million without Doing any Work” – French Edition.

    • February 10, 2014 at 4:14 pm
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      It does beg the question of who is responsible for policing the content that is offered through a site. All any site has to do is be as honest as they can be and then who can complain?

  • February 11, 2014 at 5:16 am
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    Maybe it is a deliberate scam, with a business model built on the principle that if enough people don’t complain, there’s plenty of money being made to pay off the few who do.

    • February 11, 2014 at 10:26 am
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      The folks at the questionable high-resolution digital download sites know the limitations of their offerings. They have license commitments and need to make targets. If you can’t tell the difference between a CD and an HD download then it’s because your ears or equipment are not good enough. Don’t you know.

  • March 1, 2014 at 6:37 am
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    My take on the high resolution debate is that although the audio files are recorded at “standard definition” resolution – say the resolution of analogue tape – the greater bit depth and sample rate leads to a more natural presentation of the sound (by natural presentation read: sounds like real musicians playing real music).

    As an anology, think of a 1080×1920 pixel image which is reduced to 8 bit depth; for this image to appear acceptable it will need the introduction of noise (dither) but will still not look natural. If the image is then viewed at at it’s native bit depth of 8 bits per pixel (24 bit) it will not need dithering and will look as was shot (subject to manipulation in Photoshop et al).

    The debate is more complex than this in the audio domain since Nyquist theory suggests that the highest frequency in a waveform can be captures using a sampling frequency of at least twice this.

    The people at Linn Records to explain their take on this: http://www.linnrecords.com/linn-what-is-a-studio-master.aspx

    Personally I don’t think Qobuz are deliberately trying to mislead, I think they see high resolution audio as the photo analogy above.

    • March 1, 2014 at 1:08 pm
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      Dave, thanks for your comment. I have a film analog of my own that explains things a little better, I believe. Imagine you’re going through a box of memorabilia and come across an 8mm home movie shot back in 1960 of a special family gathering. There are no pixels involved in film. Professionals shoot at 70 mm or 35mm. Documentary filmmakers used to use 16 mm and amateurs had little 8 mm cameras. The more surface area that was exposed to the light the more “resolution” was captured (funny the wider the analog tape track the better the dynamic range…double the wide and get 6 dB more!). You decide to share your home movie and make Blu-ray disc copies for your brothers and sisters. So you go to a professional post production facility and have them “telecine” the 8mm film to HD-Video at 1920 x 1080. Each frame is captured by a CCD chip at full high-definition (10-12 bit per pixel). You view the footage on their HD television and you’re surprised that it looks exactly the same as it did back in 1960…not better and no worse. You thought you would have a high-definition copy because the distribution file is at 1920 x 1080. But in reality, you have exactly the same “visual fidelity” as before. The image is still standard definition.

      I read the Linn article. It’s so full of incorrect information that I’ve decided I have to write a post about it. If a major company like Linn Records (and I must say that I like their equipment and the quality of their recordings) can’t explain the relative merits of a vinyl LP or analog master and a compact disc or high-resolution recording, then how are consumers supposed to get the facts. Very distressing…real today’s post.

      The Qobuz site are uninformed as well. I honestly don’t think they care about the validity of their offerings…it just doesn’t matter to them because they are a business. They are not passionate audiophiles in search of the ultimate music experience. Their quality guarantee is meaningless if they claim that there are audio engineers checking every “studio master”. What are they checking for? What happens is that the labels provide a file that lights up the “studio master” indicator (based on sample rate and word length) and they put a “studio master” tag on it. We deserve better.

      Sorry for the rant…just finished the last training run before next weekend’s race. Here we go.

  • March 2, 2014 at 7:41 am
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    A quick reply:

    “You decide to share your home movie and make Blu-ray disc copies for your brothers and sisters. So you go to a professional post production facility and have them “telecine” the 8mm film to HD-Video at 1920 x 1080. Each frame is captured by a CCD chip at full high-definition (10-12 bit per pixel). You view the footage on their HD television and you’re surprised that it looks exactly the same as it did back in 1960…not better and no worse. You thought you would have a high-definition copy because the distribution file is at 1920 x 1080. But in reality, you have exactly the same “visual fidelity” as before. The image is still standard definition.”

    Agreed, although I would not be surprised as I would simply want to capture what was stored on the film and would not expect to get more out of the movie than it contained. Further, had a lower bit depth been used to sample the movie the original would not have been reproduced, but an inferior copy. I believe that this is the debate against “CD quality” music, by using lower sample rates and bit depths the argument is that the original studio master has not been fully captured, just as using a 256 colour pallet (8-bit) would not fully capture all the colours in a photograph or movie.

    • March 2, 2014 at 9:58 am
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      Dave, I agree. The term CD-Quality is a marketing scheme to make consumers believe that an album or track is up to the fidelity of a compact disc…but using much less bandwidth. It’s true that a lot of listeners can’t tell the difference…but it still matters that “CD-Quality” should more accurately be called “reduced resolution” since there is musical information that has been thrown away.

      If my family 8mm had been telecined into an 8-bit digital version, we would be getting less than we started with.

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