The recent flurry of articles/product reviews that continue to dismiss high-resolution audio has prompted Cookie Marenco of Blue Coast Records and Paul McGowan of PS Audioto issue a couple of similar challenges. We all responded to the Gizmodo and Yahoo Tech articles authored by Mario Aguilar and David Pogue, respectively. I found fault with their facts but not so much the conclusion. And now Michael Lavorgna has written a piece that talks about the invitations that both PS Audio and Blue Coast Records have issued to these writers.
Apparently, Paul of PS Audio wants Mario to come to Boulder to do some listening comparisons. He points out some of the flaws in Mario’s article and then issues the following challenge at the end of the piece:
“The idea that we cannot hear differences between 192/24 and 44/16 is, of course, absurd. I would welcome Mr. Aguilar, Meyer or Moran to take a moment and do a blind AB in Music Room One at their convenience. I would wager a fine dinner anywhere in Boulder these gentlemen would be able to tell the difference consistently, time and again.”
I have a sister in Boulder…I’m going to have to take the challenge using files of my own choosing.
I wonder what Paul would play? He’s a very strong advocate for DSD so it’s probable that he would play a DSD file of an older analog master and compare it to the CD. That would prove nothing since they are different masters and don’t accurately reflect the formats that we need to compare. And what would be the other components in Paul’s Music Room One? Does he have a system that can deliver the level of fidelity that real high-resolution audio requires as specified by the JAS? I’m confident that PS Audio has a really great demonstration room but I seriously doubt they have the hardware to do better than CD quality or DSD 64 reproduction. However, they’re biggest problem is getting files in both standard and high-resolution that came from the same source and were processed in exactly the same way. This is the biggest problem confronting anyone that wants to attempt a comparison…this includes Mario and David (and Meyer and Moran).
Paul states emphatically, “The idea that we cannot hear differences between 192/24 and 44/16 is, of course, absurd.” Where does this come from? Nobody has yet proven that anyone can reliably hear the difference between 192/24 and 44/16. The tests that have been done thus far haven’t used actual high-resolution recordings. Maybe Paul is saying that he and his golden ear associates can hear the difference between a commercial CD of one of his favorite recordings and the high-resolution versions acquired from HDtracks. The HDtracks version will be a newly transferred and remastered version…that’s what he’s probably hearing.
As for Blue Coast Records, Cookie’s label, she offered David a similar experience at her studio:
“I can help you set up a test…or better yet…I invite you to our studio to have us give you a listening test…not to convert you to high resolution audio, but as the technology reporter, a musician and journalist, I believe you sincerely want to report accurately to your audience.”
One of the comments on the Audiostream site called Cookie out on the equipment that she uses to produce and playback her “high-resolution” tracks…many of which are transfers of older analog masters or newly recorded in DSD and mixed through an aging analog board using Lexicon 480 16-bit PCM reverb unit. The tracks she produces sound wonderful but many aren’t real HD-Audio.
I left a note at the Audiostream site saying it would be easier for everyone to simply download some of my files, for example “Mosiac”, and do their comparisons. It would save on the travel costs. That’s my contribution to this high-resolution audio challenge.