Yesterday’s post talked about the use of standard definition tracks as demo material for new “high-resolution” devices. I’ve found many bundled tracks that sound really good…when we need really incredible sound! If the move from standard definition to high-resolution audio is “very subtle” and “hard to hear”, then perhaps we’re chasing rainbows with all this talk about high-resolution. It’s real easy to slap a logo on a piece of hardware. But it’s not so easy to convince people that the “new and improved” is actually sonically “new and improved”…especially if you playing the same “old and the same” music tracks.
A few of you asked me to provide some additional information on the spectra that I described as lacking. For those of you that are not familiar with the spectrograms that I post from time to time, you should read the sequence of four posts I wrote a while back. Here’s the link to the first one.
Figure 1 – The four demo tracks included with the Sony NWZ-A17 portable high-resolution player. [Click to enlarge]
The reason that had commented on the spectra of the four “high-resolution” tunes bundled with the Sony NWZ-A17 (they actually have a high-res indicator associated with the files on the device) is because none of the examples has any signal present above 22 kHz. Look at the orange line. This is the one from the Dave Brubeck selection. There’s a telltale “bias” frequency from the analog tape machine at around 29 kHz and a gentle upward rising curve of increasing amplitude past 30 kHz. One might hope that this might be ultrasonic partials present in the music. It’s not. It’s pure noise.
The other tunes exhibit similar compromises. However, the red line (the spectra from “Watermelon Man”) has been run through a low pass filter to remove the ultrasonic noise. These are very good recording…they sound great…but they don’t measure up to the status of stellar demo tracks. And they are decidedly not high-res tracks.
I’ve included the plots of the two tunes that I mentioned yesterday. Take a look at the spectra of two Real HD-Audio tracks:
Figure 2 – Spectra of “Let Them In” by John Gorka and “Mosiac” by Laurence Juber.
In these plots, you don’t see any reversal of the frequency vs. amplitude plot. There’s just a continuous slope from the higher energy present in the lower portion of the audio band and a continuing gradual amplitude loss as the frequency increases. This is the way all recordings should look…if you want high-resolution frequency response. Tracks like these work great for demos. In fact, I’ve shared these tracks are numerous events and they both blow people away. Doesn’t it make sense to include some tracks of this quality as “first experiences” when auditioning a new “high-res” player. I certainly think so.
While if unlikely that anyone will know who John Gorka or Laurence Juber are…they will experience incredible music making without any of the sonic compromises that virtually all commercial releases suffer from.