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Old 02-08-2014, 11:33 PM
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BruceBanner BruceBanner is offline
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Join Date: Feb 2009
Location: Australia, NSW
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Default Hi Res Audio Discussion.

With an array of new players popping up on the market it is clear they are trying to market themselves as being more audio specialized than what a smartphone can be. They are appealing to the audiophile market. I’m curious if there is any truth in this ‘Hi Res’ age of listening or whether it is Mp3 players last attempt at a sale before dying out.

I for one have a lot of confusion over the subject and perhaps more knowledgeable people here can clear this up.

In an effort to be clear about the points I make I will number the following so any question asked shall be easier to respond to.

1) To start with the DAPs I am referring to are (for example), the Sony Android NWZ-F886, the Fiio X3 and X5 and Astell&Kern. Sony mentions ‘Hi Resolution Audio’ and the others 192k/24b. Are they the same thing, just different terminology? Or is Sony’s DAP doing something unique to Sony and Sony only?
2) I recall reading a review of the F886 and the reviewer stated that the supplied IEMs that came bundled were actually ill-equipped to handle Hi Res Audio, that these other types of headphones were needed (I think they were actually Sony ones, how convenient…). If someone like me wishes to try and see if I can hear a noticeable difference to Hi Res songs how am I to know what equipment I will need?
3) For example, I have a few Cowon DAPs that can play FLAC files (but I have never actually played a FLAC file), is ‘FLAC’ considered Hi Res Audio? Do FLAC files have a varying bit rate like MP3 files do? Or is FLAC always just one type of quality? Is there rubbish FLAC files (akin to Mp3 files at 128kbps vs Mp3’s at 320kbps) or just one standard?
4) Playing a FLAC file on a Cowon DAP (which doesn’t advertise as being a Hi Res player), does that mean the experience will be different than that of hearing the same FLAC files on aforementioned DAPs (with all things being equal ie no DSPs, neutral eq etc)? Or is FLAC FLAC regardless of player?

5) Now I’m hearing about ‘DSD’ files, what are they?
6) The reviewer of the F866 seemed to be able to notice a difference between the various Hi Def Audio formats. I am convinced that placebo exists, I for one would argue that I can’t tell the difference between a 192kbps mp3 file vs same song at 320kbps. But would the difference be noticeable for me listening to a song at 192kbps vs FLAC? Everyone here who knows me knows I’m pretty deaf, well at least I like my songs played loud. Armed with a pair of Soundmagic E10’s and a Cowon’s i9+, can I experience Hi Res Audio or am I out of the club unless I buy these DAPS (what I’m kinda saying is that because Cowon and Sansa have offered FLAC for ages now, were they just ahead of the trend or are there products lacking what is required to truly do FLAC justice?)
7) What is this 192k/24b? How does this relate to Mp3 320kbps files? Is it overkill for someone listening to 320kbps mp3 files, to get the '192k/24b' effect is FLAC required?
8) For someone who owns a PC, running foobar2000, is there a way to test myself regarding Hi Res Audio. I’m aware of the ABX Testing plugin (never used mind you), but do I need more equipment to conduct the test properly.
9) FLAC files, they can’t be MP3Gained can they? From a volume leveling perspective are we at the mercy of how the files are recorded as is (and any Volume Normalizing feature the DAP has or doesn’t as the case maybe). Personally I have used MP3Gain to solve problems with DAPs (like the Cowon E2) whereby I feel they fall ‘just short’ of optimum volume for me. I don’t like the idea of going Hi Res FLAC if everything is too quiet for me

Basically I’d like this confusion cleared up, I want to do as accurate a test as possible to ascertain whether my broken lugs can recognize the difference between a 320kbps mp3 file on a Cowon DAP vs choosing other equipment in the future that is ‘Hi Res’ and switching to FLAC. Personally I have never even tried FLAC due to larger file sizes, limited capacity DAPs (16-32gb capped etc) and the fact I doubt my ability to recognize the difference between even 192-320kbps, so I assumed FLAC would be wasted on me, I didn’t really give it a second thought (but I can recognize a 128-160kbps file, I’m not completely deaf
SOURCE: Xclef (gone) | Cowon X5(gone) | Cowon D2 (dead) | Sansaclip+ RB | Sansa ClipZip RB | Cowon i9+ (32gb) | Cowon C2 (4gb)
HPs: Soundmagic E10's | Hippo VB's | UE 600's | Superlux HD 668B | Superlux HD660 | Sony XBA3 | Sony XBA2VP
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