Does anyone know the best places to download High Resolution audio from and what the best file format would be to purchase? There seems to be a multitude of options - from FLAC to DSD, ALAC to AIFF with not a lot of information on what would be the best choice.
The High Res logo seems to be slapped on everything these days and as I have various equipment with it on I thought it was time I at least tried it out.
FLAC is an open sourced format that uses lossless compression. DSD appears to be some kind of coding method that was developed by Phillips and Sony. ALAC is an Apple format that uses lossless compression. AIFF is an Apple format that just stores uncompressed audio files basically like a WAV file.
Personally I would go for FLAC files as they are open and will be easy to play anywhere. As there all lossless audio standards FLAC, ALAC and AIFF should all sound the same when encoded at the same bitrate/ depth.
Does it actually sound better? I wonder if it's just more of a marketing gimmick. Does the iPhone/Mac support FLAC though? Or will I then have to have 2 versions of the same song just so I can play it on different devices?
Not unless you have full range speakers starting around £200 a set up, generally speaking. Like a set of studio monitors.
You can hear more dynamic range and details in the very high end that tend to get cut. The best way to describe it is "presence".
It's mostly the difference between a CD and a compressed audio format that you're hearing though. This technology is not new. The reason 44/16 was chosen for the CD format was most humans just can't hear the difference.
It's basically digital vinyl, without the warmth of analogue. You'll only benefit if the original recordings were done at a higher sample rate too. Which they often are, but not by much. 24/96 is about the standard.
I basically can't be bothered to upgrade and store all this high res audio. I'd prefer to buy a CD and put it in the ps3.
Plus there's an argument to be made that if you already own a license to listen to the music and the only thing that got in the way originally was technology, just download the FLAC. I might buy lossless/hi res in the future, but I certainly wouldn't bother double dipping for it.
I can just about tell the difference between 320kb/s mp3 and FLAC but only when listening through semi decent speakers (currently using some Audioengine A5s which while good aren't exactly audiophile level) but it's not as obvious as the difference between a 128kb/s mp3 and a 320kb/s one.
Most of my music is in WMA format and I'm fairly happy with that but now Windows Media Player can rip CDs to FLAC I've been using that.
I still buy at least 90% of my music on CD though as I don't use itunes and Amazon's digital music store doesn't offer any lossless formats (variable bitrate mp3 only, they can't even stick to 320kb/s.
I think this is a different thing though. Those are just compressed formats that sound closer to a CD.
This is CDs, as well as compressed formats (such as lossless but nonetheless compressed FLAC), that have a higher bit and sample rate. E.g 24/96 24bit/192Khz. And yeah mostly these are outside the normal hearing determination of your average person and are mostly used so that when music is mixed down and mastered through inumerable processors, when it is eventually mastered to CD etc. there is less loss of quality in the original audio recordings than if you started at 16/44.1 and processed the gooseberry fool out of it. As most modern music does.
Basically you need strawberry floating amazing hi-fi components and like multi-amped, multi-driver speaker towers to hear any of this extra detail in the recordings.
Unless I'm misunderstanding what "hi-res" actually means - in audio engineering this refers to the resolution of the audio standard and all the digital equipment used to record, mix and master that piece of sound.
Super Audio CDs were the same thing - I have a Pink Floyd album that's the same and one or two others that's also in 5.1 for some reason.