24 bit downloads: Why are HD tracks saying WAV files are not recommended?*

Discussion in 'Audio Hardware' started by gazatthebop, Jan 5, 2016.

  1. Archimago

    Archimago Forum Resident

    Yup! Not only this but I've always believed that the quality of one's collection is not only whether one has built up a library of the best sounding masterings, but also how meticulously and consistently albums have been tagged.
    c-eling, Synthfreek and crispi like this.
  2. TarnishedEars

    TarnishedEars Forum Resident

    Seattle, WA
  3. crispi

    crispi Sound Archaeologist

    If we were writing the year 1995, I'd agree with you. But the computational power needed to decode FLACs in realtime back into WAV PCM is so small for today's computers that you probably risk of causing more "power supply noise" when visiting stevehoffman.tv to check your latest analogue vs. digital threads. I mean, even smartphones can decode FLACs and those don't even have proper power supply anymore.

    Let's not forget to put things into perspective. This is 2016 and we've long passed the times when decoding a FLAC would be a power-consuming task for a computer. Heck, it's probably consuming more power to read embedded artwork.
    Last edited: Mar 29, 2016
    Brother_Rael, Tim S, rxcory and 4 others like this.
  4. L5730

    L5730 Forum Resident

    I found it strange that a site offering downloads would offer any uncompressed format at all. After all bandwidth costs money, and if you could deliver E X A C T L Y - T H E - S A M E product but in a smaller package and take up less bandwidth, why would you offer the larger option?. Uncompressed vs. Lossless format data is really not open for debate - the audio data is the same, it's testable and repeatable - it's not perceived as the same as in the supposed case for lossy mp3, wma etc., it is in fact a clone of the data when unpacked. There are zero differences, and can be proved over and over again.

    This is exactly the same as many software being zipped (zip, rar, 7zip etc) up when you download them. They take up less server space, less bandwidth and require less time to download. The contents is just the same as if they hadn't have compressed it.
    Heck, even when you install an operating system from CD or DVD files are compressed - Windows uses lots of .cab files. Would Windows function any better/less worse if they didn't compress these and provide another 10+ discs for the install? Of course not.

    When the file gets played back, I am not getting into that. I can't hear a difference between any LOSSLESS format or uncompressed file in any of the players using ASIO or WASAPI or Kernel Streaming myself, but I won't tell someone else they can't hear a difference, especially on a likely far superior rig, and with ears more discerning than I have. If someone wants to decompress their lossless file to WAV for playback because they feel there is an improvement, who's the right to tell them what to do or not. If they ask for help in trying to find out why, then the best that people can offer is sensible suggestions as to why it happens for them (eg. software issues, system strain, human error in testing), just don't immediately run to the top of the church tower and shout "placebo" at the top of your voice, and start throwing low remarks calling for psychiatric assistance. Insults don't help anyone.

    But I stand by it not making sense to deliver stuff in an oversized and bloated package, when an alternative offer the exact same thing in a smaller fashion. If you want uncompressed, unpack it.

    (edit) To answer the OP original post, I don't think HDTracks are doing much at all. Maybe they are hinting at trying tog et people to download lossless compressed, because it'll save them bandwidth, but they aren't making a big case for it at all.
    crispi, OcdMan and Robert C like this.
  5. Steve Martin

    Steve Martin Wild & Crazy Guy

    Plano, TX
    As someone else noted, the HDTracks downloader always downloads flac and the converts it to your chosen format on your computer. So the bandwidth is the same no matter what option you choose in that case.
  6. Robert C

    Robert C Forum Resident

    London, UK
    This thread just reminded me of an audio guy I met who religiously ripped all of his CDs to 24 bit because it sounded better. :unhunh:
  7. PMC7027

    PMC7027 Forum Hall Of Fame

    Did you ever think that a 24 bit D/A may do a better job then a 16 bit D/A? If the CDs 16 bits are stored in the highest 16 bits of the 24 bit word the decoder can have non-linearities in its decoding of the least significant 8 bits (which would be all zero) with no audible consequences. If a 16 bit D/A has non-linearities in its decoding of the least significant bits there could be audible consequences.

    Just a thought...
  8. Robert C

    Robert C Forum Resident

    London, UK
    Wouldn't you have to have a very dynamic recording for that to matter?
  9. c-eling

    c-eling Forum Resident

    I tried a test a few years ago upping to 24 bit, I failed miserably at distinguishing between the two and only ended up with huge-ass files :laugh:
    Jack Flannery and Gaslight like this.
  10. Robert C

    Robert C Forum Resident

    London, UK
    You should try the 16-bit v/s 8-bit Blind Listening Test :D
    rbbert, crispi and c-eling like this.
  11. Grant

    Grant A Musical Free-Spirit

    Again, You are totally misunderstanding what FLAC is and how it works. The FLAC encoder does not discard any data. It simply compresses, or zips the data. Nothing is thrown away as in a lossy format like lossy AAC or mp3. @TarnishedEars stated as much, too.

    Buffering the data after it has been decoded could certainly make a difference. I fully believe that this is the case when you play music through certain devices, say, in a car. The buffering is necessary for a CD player to eliminate skips on a bumpy ride. The buffering relies on the processor and memory, and this is the only way in which a FLAC file could sound different than a wav file. The question is: which actually takes less processing power: FLAC, or wav, and is that dependent on the playback device. It makes sense when you realize that digital playback isn't a steady stream. The data is read in groups of data, then it is buffered so it sounds continuous. It's the way all digital playback is achieved.

    Some people genuinely believe they can hear a very slight improvement by increasing the bit-depth. I am one of those people.
    EddieVanHalen and enfield like this.
  12. Solitaire1

    Solitaire1 Carpenters Fan

    That's an experience I have with Media Go (my main program for listening to music on my computer). Most of the standard tag information is stored in the ID3 tag. Some information (such as Tags) are stored in a separate file (Media Go does tell you how to take the information from one computer to another if you are migrating).
  13. Time Is On My Side

    Time Is On My Side Forum Resident

    Madison, WI
    They don't recommend it because of file size.
    Grant likes this.
  14. Robert C

    Robert C Forum Resident

    London, UK
  15. Grant

    Grant A Musical Free-Spirit

    I just do. I hear it in the high frequencies. There seems to be a bit more "air".
  16. testikoff

    testikoff Forum Resident

    Did you mean to say "in fade-ins & fade-outs"?.. ;)
  17. mesfen

    mesfen Forum Resident

    lawrence, ks usa
    Kinda off subject; I have never used hdtracks and was wondering if these files that you acquire can be copied for backup purposes? I saw dsd abraxas and might try 'em
    Dusty Chalk likes this.
  18. MrRom92

    MrRom92 Forum Supermodel

    Long Island, NY
    The files are pretty much like any other file/document on your computer, you're free to do with it as you please, you can copy or back them up to whatever media you deem fit for the job. Backups are certainly a good idea and should be encouraged.
    Dusty Chalk and shaboo like this.
  19. Bingo Bongo

    Bingo Bongo No music, no Life

    I haven't had any issue with my Mac, but a PC is obviously different.
  20. Doug Sclar

    Doug Sclar Forum Legend

    The OC
    Perhaps for the same reason error correction can alter the sound of disc playback.
  21. jkauff

    jkauff Putin-funded Forum Troll

    Doylestown, PA
    Well, maybe, but error correction is making educated guesses, and sometimes doesn't have enough data to do a good job.

    In the case of FLAC, the de-compression algorithm knows exactly how the data was compressed and can do the job correctly every time. After that, it's just a PCM stream extracted from a container. Whether the container is WAV or FLAC shouldn't matter, neither affects the PCM content.
    shaboo likes this.
  22. Grant

    Grant A Musical Free-Spirit

  23. Grant

    Grant A Musical Free-Spirit

    The wav format does not handle tags very well.
  24. testikoff

    testikoff Forum Resident

  25. Grant

    Grant A Musical Free-Spirit

    Yeah. Whatever. :rolleyes: WTF? Why the attitude?

Share This Page