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Do we need High Definition Audio?

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Re: Do we need High Definition Audio?

Postby EnlightenedHand » Wed May 07, 2008 12:24 pm

I think the dynamic range in movies can also be a bit much but maybe it's not the range so much as the way things are mixed within it. Or maybe it's our familiarity with the lack of dynamic range in popular music that stifles our enjoyment.

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Re: Do we need High Definition Audio?

Postby Mel David » Wed May 07, 2008 2:53 pm

You could always reduce the dynamic range upon playback though. I think pretty much all amp/receivers have this feature. You also have the option of increasing the level of the center speaker.


What would be cool is using the DVD or Blu-ray audio standard to create a multitrack mix. You could then take the pres from your receiver into a small mixer and adjust levels during playback. Attenuate the center channel for instant-karaoke mix, etc.
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Re: Do we need High Definition Audio?

Postby Evie McCreevie » Wed May 07, 2008 4:47 pm

Either

A. There is a real public demand for high-end audio, and various companies are responding to it.

OR

B. Various companies are coming up with new and "better" products for us to buy - which happens to keep the whole design/production/consumption cycle going nicely.

I know which scenario I find more likely. ;)
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Re: Do we need High Definition Audio?

Postby MadManDan » Wed May 07, 2008 5:21 pm

EnlightenedHand wrote:... As far as the argument pertaining to how we once had terrible audio quality and now we have great well that may be true but the increase from current standards to what is coming down the pike with high def isn't nearly as dramatic as what was when recording first got off the ground. We have crossed a great divided from simply making crude facsimiles of audible events to making very close reproductions of actual sonic events with the current standard. I imagine the possibilities can't get much better than "it sounds just like real life." We're already very close to that when good recording and mixing technique is used. I don't see enough incentive to go further when we abuse what we have and we don't have a definite need.

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+1 !!!! There's a studio mag out this month that published results of a blindfolded test of a group of non-music professionals. The only req was that they passed standard hearing tests. Anyway, this test used some pretty high end equip to play back the same material in both 96k and 44.1 formats. In double blind tests people could not tell the difference. I really think 96k is slight overkill, but I will get there some day, when I HAVE to, and I will not go any further.
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Re: Do we need High Definition Audio?

Postby Tomás Mulcahy » Wed May 07, 2008 5:55 pm

I would've thought this debate's been done to death on this forum, but...

For playback, 96k is the cheapest way to get around the problem of making a reconstruction filter that doesn't cause audible ringing. It's not because someone decided a few of us can hear above 20kHz. However, marketing is selling as just that, and of course, bigger is always better...
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Re: Do we need High Definition Audio?

Postby dmills » Wed May 07, 2008 7:34 pm

MadManDan wrote:+1 !!!! There's a studio mag out this month that published results of a blindfolded test of a group of non-music professionals. The only req was that they passed standard hearing tests. Anyway, this test used some pretty high end equip to play back the same material in both 96k and 44.1 formats. In double blind tests people could not tell the difference. I really think 96k is slight overkill, but I will get there some day, when I HAVE to, and I will not go any further.

If it is the AES paper of a few months back that you are referencing, it is even more revealing then that, the group were (in many cases) musicians and engineers and the source was SACD, pumping this through an EXTRA stage of 44.1/16 AD->DA was not detectable at sane listening levels on a fair range of good kit.

44.1/16 would appear to be more then sufficient as a distribution format (but some more channels would be nice).

Ref the reconstruction filter thing, that is what oversampling converters are for, I just wish there were a few more choices out there that actually did the decimation filter correctly (Most use half band designs that are only -3db at nyquest!)....

Regards, Dan.
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Re: Do we need High Definition Audio?

Postby steveman » Thu May 08, 2008 12:32 am

Robin Lemaire wrote:Isn't DVD audio 24/96? Too much dynamic range on some movies (especially when trying to watch late at night without disturbing the rest of the house or the neighbors).

Blu-ray films on an HD TV look exceptionally good though. I've not watched the TV since just because it looks so blocky and awful by comparison.

'DVD Audio' and audio on film DVDs are two different things. The former is uncompressed and (usually ) multichannel audio on a disc used solely for that purpose. Audio on video DVDs is usually Dolby Digital or DTS both of which are compressed formats.

Re Hi-def audio, it'd be nice but I can't see it happening any time soon, but that doesn't mean we shouldn't aim for the best now.

Format lifecycles are accelerating as the industry is desperately looking for ways to sell us the same 'content' (uurrghh) again. AFATAC developing new artists/ideas is too expensive, much better to sell us what we already have in a 'better' format.

Video lasted 20 years or so? DVD is being replaced in half that time. Did you know they're already working on a successor to Blu-ray - HVD, before it's barely established. There are also plans for 2160p HiDef, yet we've barely got any true 1080p HiDef content right now. What message does that send to the public - don't bother buying as we've got something better coming out next year.

Pointless buying anything right now. IMO Blu-Ray won't take off, HiDef by itself isn't a big enough draw. CDs beat LPs and cassette by sounding better, but more importantly by being far more convenient and robust. DVDs looked a lot better, but again convenience won it.
So tell me again, what's so great about Blu-Ray. BTW I must make sure I've got the right sort of TV with the proper licenced HDMI connection, otherwise I'll actually be watching SD pictures on my HD screen.

So if we want HiDef audio to succeed, it must be more convenient than CDs or MP3s.
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Mike Senior (I think) on Surround in SOS

Postby Jeraldo » Thu May 08, 2008 3:11 am

I hope I have Mike Senior's name right-anyway-read his very recent SOS essay on Surround.

His thesis is that very few people are even listening to stereo! And he's right.

My own thoughts are that listening has changed with "life style." (I hate that term, I'm sure everyone else does, also.)

People do much less "foreground" listening than in the past. And that includes all genres of music.

Listening is much more a background activity, and the gear needed to accomplish that is very different different than high quality stereo systems of the past, and needs necessarily to be less expensive-since more gear is needed to be stuffed everywhere in homes, offices, pockets, backpacks, and so on.

If a hardware marketing group can change people's listening habits and desires, or respond to already changed habits and desires, then maybe we'll have something different-better or worse.

Probably worse.
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Re: Do we need High Definition Audio?

Postby Forum Admin » Thu May 08, 2008 7:05 am

Listening to Zeppelin tracks on AM Radio Luxembourg (Fabulous 208) under the bed covers as a child, with static and a whining carrier signal fading in and out on my crappy transistor radio did NOT detract me from getting excited by the music/songs and make me want to discover more about the band.

In time I grew to appreciate quality sound and production values, and bought some records simply because the sounds interested me ( :blush: Trevor Horn's fab production on Dollar's Videoteque single) but rarely at the expense of good songs or tunes or arrangements (I like instrumentals too).

Studios probably always need to use the best possible recording formats, but playback quality is acceptable to most people on a range of inferior formats, eg. cassette, MP3, etc.

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Re: Mike Senior (I think) on Surround in SOS

Postby matt keen » Thu May 08, 2008 10:23 am

Jeraldo wrote:I hope I have Mike Senior's name right-anyway-read his very recent SOS essay on Surround.

His thesis is that very few people are even listening to stereo! And he's right.

My own thoughts are that listening has changed with "life style." (I hate that term, I'm sure everyone else does, also.)

People do much less "foreground" listening than in the past. And that includes all genres of music.

Listening is much more a background activity, and the gear needed to accomplish that is very different different than high quality stereo systems of the past, and needs necessarily to be less expensive-since more gear is needed to be stuffed everywhere in homes, offices, pockets, backpacks, and so on.

If a hardware marketing group can change people's listening habits and desires, or respond to already changed habits and desires, then maybe we'll have something different-better or worse.

Probably worse.

I agree with Jeraldo.

Also I have have just realised that since I gave up running a commercial recording studio in the mid 90's (where my great delight was to put Peter Gabriel's Sledgehammer on flat out in our very nice acoustically treated control room etc etc.)- I have given up on domestic systems myself.

I couldn't compete budget wise with my listening experience at work and have ever since had pretty basic home systems. I tend to listen to a lot of music that has very little compression, so can prove a problem when listening in my preferred listening environment - on my own in the car.

So here I am an ex professional and now part time recordist and musician listening to my ipod through a pair of powered Yamaha speakers whilst on the computer but really enjoying the listening experience. Doesn't stop me wanting to make things sound as good as I possibly can though whilst recording and mixing.
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