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RE: Xiph Foundation Leader Calls High-Res Audio a Waste of Bandwidth

Fascinating, to see that acolytes of "perfect sound forever" still remain with us.

First, the author's stated premise of the article is specious. Is there really great concern over the bandwidth consumed by high-res audio? The main physical carrier, the optical disc, has essentially the same form-factor for DVD audio, and Blu-Ray, as it does for CD. Increased data storage density has seen to that, and is the raison d'ĂȘtre for the newer disc technologies. Even hard drive capacity is dirt cheap these days, so the storage cost for a music file server is not really much of a concern either. Particularly, given the relative dearth of high-res titles. This isn't an issue of conserving some shared limited broadcast bandwidth resource. There, done with that, as the article's author might smugly say.

Second, I note that the author wisely focuses on playback, not recording. Do we really want to settle for what some arrogantly believe to be good-enough, to capture musical performances by treasured artists? Some of whom may never record a particular work again. Doesn't it seem prudent to record and archive with the best technology available at the time? If that eventually proves to be some amount overkill, so what? Better safe than sorry, yes? Particularly, when so many have expressed misgivings about the perceived sound of CD quality digital.

Third, as far as technical arguments over what constitutes sonically perfect playback, I'll take the research and analysis of Bob Stuart over the rather poorly researched conclusion of the author. Stuart shows that a linear PCM channel of 20-bits dynamic range and 58ksps sample rate are required to deliver audibly perfect digital sound. That the high-res standard is 24-bits is overkill by 4-bits,, so what. What harm does it do? Whether 192ksps is overkill is debateable. No, not in terms of the badwidth of human hearing, but in terms of the time-domain affects of the sharp digital filters necessitated by having the desired information bandwidth so close to the channel bandwidth. Is that bit efficient, in terms of information theory, yes. Should such efficiency be of paramount concern for music reproduction, when the physical storage mediums today have such high capacites and low cost, and where those who do have storage space concerns can easily trade quality for data compactness via MP3 compression? I think not.


Lastly, the author's tone strikes me as inappropriately smug. A tone too prevalent among both subjectivists and objectivists alike. We, unfortunately, encounter such smugly closed minded people all the time in audio.
Ken Newton

Edits: 03/12/12 03/12/12 03/12/12 03/12/12 03/12/12 03/12/12 03/12/12 03/12/12 03/12/12 03/12/12 03/12/12 03/12/12 03/12/12 03/12/12 03/12/12 03/12/12 03/12/12

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