Does Hi-res Audio Really Sound Better: A Quick Overview[2022]

Does Hi-res Audio Really Sound Better

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After years of being neglected in the realm of niche music, high-resolution audio has now reached the mainstream, but does hi-res audio really sound better? It owes to the support from streaming services such as Apple Music and Amazon Music HD and gadgets ranging from smartphones to smartphones the majority of digital hi-fi components.

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However, should you be concerned about high-resolution audio? If you want the greatest digital music experience possible, or at the very least a higher-quality sound than you’re accustomed to, hi-res audio is certainly worth researching.

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What is Hi-res Audio?

Does Hi-res Audio Really Sound Better

In 2014, the Digital Entertainment Group and The Recording Academy, in collaboration with record labels, defined high-resolution or hi-res audio as lossless audio capable of regenerating the complete range of sound from recordings mastered from higher-quality music sources than CD quality.

In the simplest terms, hi-res audio refers to music files with a higher sampling frequency and/or bit depth than those found on CD, defined at 16-bit/44.1kHz.

With all these modifications, one simple question arises. Does hi-res audio really sound better?

The sampling frequency specifies how often the signal is sampled per second during the analog-to-digital conversion process. 

The more bits in a signal, the more precisely it can be measured in the first place; therefore, upgrading from 16-bit to 24-bit may result in a substantial-quality improvement. High-resolution audio files are often sampled at 96kHz or 192kHz at 24bit. Additionally, you may have 88.2kHz and 176.4kHz files.

Does Hi-res Audio Really Sound Better?

Does Hi-res Audio Really Sound Better

While the technical advantages of hi-res audio speakers are often emphasized in marketing brochures and audio journals, similar benefits are frequently realized with standard-resolution systems.

The advantages of sampling at higher frequencies than 44.1 kHz may be realized and are now being realized via the use of oversampling in standard-definition analog-to-digital and digital-to-analog conversion.

Almost all analog-to-digital converter and digital-to-analog converter chips presently available oversample at high frequencies, often 96 kHz or higher. Oversampling enables the anti-aliasing filter in the ADC and the reconstruction filter in the DAC to operate at higher frequencies with more gradual slopes. 

Suppose the audio is saved at normal resolution. In that case, the excess samples are simply deleted – the advantages of the higher filter frequency and/or more gradual filter slopes remain. Still, the IMD issue at ultrasonic frequencies is removed.

A digital audio system’s noise floor is often specified as minus 6 decibels per bit – i.e., a 16-bit digital audio system’s noise floor is 96 decibels below the highest recordable signal level. However, audio has a widespread misconception that the noise floor is an impenetrable barrier under which nothing can be heard, which is wrong.

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Final Thoughts

So, does hi-res audio really sound better? While some music labels, audio equipment makers, and consumers have extolled the virtues of high-resolution audio, there is currently no certain scientific evidence that hi-res is useful for usage in consumer audio devices for sound quality or any other features. 

However, there is some evidence that high-resolution audio may result in lower quality in specific instances when compared to standard-resolution audio.

Images: Sony Website

This post was last updated on 2022-09-28 / Some images from Amazon Product API & some links may be affiliate links which may earn us a commission from purchases.


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