(Currently listening to spoken words at 48kbps and my ears are by no means bleeding)
AptX HD implementation on Pixel 2 XL, on the other side, is subpar. I sometimes get nasty clicks on music with high dynamic range and there's no way to avoid them other than to set output codec to anything but aptX HD, which tremendously affects the quality.
Google might not be at fault here, I suspect this is Qualcomm code.
The difference in quality is HUGE for music, not so much for anything else.
If there was demand, Spotify would just add FLAC. They already added 320kbps compressed streams, and I doubt anyone can hear the difference between that and FLAC.
The vast majority of the audio perception people are going to pick up on happens during production. And https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Loudness_war is why everything sounds worse than it used to. When records were being made for vinyl, the physical material wouldn't allow for the level of "loudness" that removes dynamic range from the track. That changed when all music started being produced digitally for digital distribution. Ironically, digital audio actually has a much larger dynamic range and should be better, but because of the way it's mastered it comes out louder but with less dynamic range.
Audio compression is the least of the problems for people interested in high quality recordings.
It's sort of the the audio equivalent of increasing contrast, sharpness, and saturation in a photo. These are variations of compressing dynamic range. Instagram took this to the extreme. And phone cameras exploit this by simply pairing mediocre lenses and sensors with software that blurs out the noise and yanks up the contrast and saturation. It works. Consumers love it.
Audio filters do the same with sound. What goes on the master already lost most of the information during the editing process and this is on purpose.
The irony of course is that rock musicians like Neil Young used analog audio filters for creative purposes. An electric guitar is basically a guitar that passes sound through lots of electronics to distort the sound in all sorts of pleasing ways. The distortion is intentional. I'm a big fan of Neil Young early Crazy Horse recordings. If you need a nice example, "Down by the River" exists in many versions on Spotify. One of the better ones is a live recording from 1970; four years before I was born. Sort of escalates into some nice guitar work. There's nothing subtle about that and it sounds fine to me on Spotify. Which he grudgingly unbanned a few years ago after withdrawing all his music for a year or so.
As an aside, there was a study done where they took high-bitrate (do not remember if it was SACD or DVD Audio) audio recordings and truncated the signal to 16 bits with no dithering. Nobody could tell the difference between the truncated and the original. On the other hand the truncated signal often sounded better than the CD version, likely due to better mastering of the high definition version.
Lastly, there is a case for higher definition recordings, and that is for remixing. There is some N at which N stages of applying 320kbps compression will become audible, and that N is fairly low, so if you want to sample and remix audio, lossless audio (and even higher sampling-rate and resolution audio) becomes useful.
And even if they were clean 24-bit masters from an original recording, it's not obvious if the recording chain was 24-bit - a lot of early digital recordings were 16-bit - or if the analog masters were compressed and limited to the point where there was 24-bits of detail left.
This sounds ridiculous, but I know for a fact that some CDs in the 80s were recorded from vinyl records instead of being recorded and mastered from the original analog master tapes.
Generally getting hold of original master tapes can be a huge pain in the ass, so it's not unusual for record companies to take shortcuts - especially for relatively low-run formats like DVD-Audio.
The way to do this test is to record a clean acoustic performance through a top-quality microphone with no compression. If you can still hear no difference, then it's fair to say that 24-bit audio is pointless.
In fact it's complete normal to hear a difference on good studio monitors under those conditions.
Edit: the point being that audiophile audio is a thing. Even if only 10% of the population cares about it, that's still a perfectly valid reason for it to exist.
Also, I trust the state of Neil Young's hearing even less than I trust my own.
> At ground level, which is to say not the level where technologists live but the level where artists write and record songs for people who care about the human experience of listening to music, the internet was as if a meteor had wiped out the existing planet of sound.
> digital-recording technology, as opposed to low-quality streaming services, can be a gift to musicians, properly deployed
The article doesn't really have any interest in talking about streaming, or quality, or music, or the various actually realistic options people currently have... I guess that's fine. The closest this comes to having something useful to say about its ostensible topic is a small aside about how music production has changed over the years.
Take one part modem noise, mix thoroughly with 2 parts bass and 1/2 part melody line. Serving suggestion: crank the bitrate way up to a full 96 Kbps!
Lyrics are one thing that makes some music meaningful. If there aren't any, or if they are unintelligible, then that meaning is lost.
From https://www.audiologyonline.com/releases/by-time-we-got-to-3...: "It was guitarist Neil Young who suggested Stills try a new modern-design, behind-the-ear hearing solution called Dual."
24/192 Music Downloads
...and why they make no sense
[edit, add prior discussion on HN:]
Video by the same man of the same topics but with shiny lights and graphs.
So it’s not surprising that most users aren’t interested in lossless or other high-fidelity options.
Meanwhile, I assume most audiophiles with traditional hifi setups would prefer downloads or physical media over streaming.
I find that unlikely. Sure, it's preferred but that's because of the quality. Not because audiophiles enjoy fumbling with one disc at a time.
(Obviously up to a point)
But it's usually good enough. Ultimately, your brain has to reconstruct something from what your ears give it. If the experience is close enough to what it would have been if you were there, then you are getting some value. The experience might even be better, if you would have been distracted, there, but now can give it your full attention. But it is never "the same".
It's just a question of whether the replication could have been better than it is, given reasonable care. It always could have been, and you might have paid enough to get that, but nobody is selling. People who claim to be selling it are peddling snake-oil: vinyl this, tube-amp that, FLAC t'other, none are the real thing.
Don't get me started about speaker wire.