Apple to make high quality 24 bit / 96kHz audio mainstream by offering it in Apple Music

vbimport

#1

We’ve just posted the following news: Apple to make high quality 24 bit / 96kHz audio mainstream by offering it in Apple Music[newsimage]http://static.myce.com//images_posts/2015/12/lightningconnectorplug-294352-95x75.png[/newsimage]

Apple is working on an improved audio format that provides higher quality audio for its music streaming service Apple Music. The new format will have sample rate of 96kHz and a bit depth of 24 bits, according to the Japanese website Macotakara.

            Read the full article here: [http://www.myce.com/news/apple-to-make-high-quality-24-bit-96khz-audio-mainstream-by-offering-it-in-apple-music-78188/](http://www.myce.com/news/apple-to-make-high-quality-24-bit-96khz-audio-mainstream-by-offering-it-in-apple-music-78188/)

            Please note that the reactions from the complete site will be synched below.

#2

Actually, the only thing that affects the file size of formats like MP3 is bitrate. I’m sure you could compress a 96khz/24-bit audio with 128kbits/second. Of course, that doesn’t mean the audio quality would be any good, but IMHO the quality of 128k MP3s is not that good even with 44khz/16-bit audio.

Anyway, WTF is Apple thinking? Nobody cares about 24-bit audio. There’s a reason most people still use 16-bit audio. The only logical thing about these new changes is the deprecating of the 3.4mm plug. Of course, that’s not good for consumers, but it will probably be good for Apple. After all, this is the perfect chance for them to sell more accessories to consumers. Any customers who don’t like this will have no choice but to live without the ability to listen to their music.


#3

^ I fully agree - If I buy individual tracks, I would much rather receive them in a lossless format such as FLAC - 44.1kHz 16 bit stereo is adequate.

With a blind audio test site I tried a while back (lost the link), I was 9 times out of 10 able to distinguish a 320kbps MP3 from the original wave file with a decent pair of headphones. However on another listening test site, I could not distinguish their 8-bit audio clips from the 16-bit audio clips, where the 8-bit test clips were encoded with dithering, similar to the current process where 24-bit audio is down-sampled to 16-bit.

As for the 96kHz sample rate, I can understand if people are buying music for their pets with the wider hearing range. Based on what I’ve read, 96kHz audio can actually produce unwanted harmonics with lower end sound cards that otherwise would not be present when playing a properly down-sampled track at 48kHz.

So in turn, I wouldn’t be surprised if Apple’s 24-bit, 96kHz offering struggles to beat the fidelity offered by 44.1kHz 16-bit stereo lossless compression as used on CDs. If anything, it will probably just benefit from the higher bitrate over Apple’s existing lossy compression, similar to how 4K looks better than 1080p on satellite mainly due to how much the broadcasters crippled the bitrate on 1080p over the years (i.e. ~20Mbps when HD first started broadcasting to between 3Mbps and 8Mbps now).

The following listening test site is worth checking to see if you can distinguish between 8-bit and 16-bit audio as well as other tests to see if your audio equipment (and ears) can even take the full advantage of standard 44.1kHz 16-bit audio. :wink:


#4

Sounds pun like another way to rip money from music listener… I thought iTunes w/DRM was bad enough and now this?


#5

Perceived audio quality has almost nothing to do with the resolution of the codec used for delivery, and everything to do with the care and quality of the mastering. There are many examples of high-res music that sounds like crap and low-res music that sounds great. Even variable rate MP3 can sound terrific if its made well from a quality source. Fixed rate MP3 almost always sound poor.


#6

I’m pretty happy with CD quality.  If you’re going to go above that it also needs to be lossless and the file sizes are huge.  It might not work that great for online streaming?

I’d rather see a push away from mp3 (or other compressed sources) and to lossless formats like flac/alac.   Storage and internet speeds are good enough now that I think lossless should be done.


#7

Apple and audio means poor quality in my mind. Add to it proprietary connectors which means I have to (initially) select from the lower half of the shelf quality-wise and I am already gone, why on earth would I want to pay extra for less.

So why on earth am I replying? Can’t help but voicing a few facts obviously :wink:

I do not agree that 16bit/44.1KHz is good enough. It does not even cover the entire spectrum of the ear… It is close though, so if they raise that from 44.1 to 48KHz it would finally [B]be[/B] adequate.
I am a lossless-audio-phreak though, and voice the same opinions as those on the video-side welcoming overkill for our eyes’ abilities, the more the merrier, but on the audio side of course.

Naturally and as a consequence, if I have a choice, 24bit/96KHz or better is always chosen and I have never ever bought any MP3 download as the CD format is below par as it is, it survives by compensating technologies like oversampling.

It is easy to believe some of the absolute rubbish out there like the recent falsehood that came from xiph.org, no less!
In reality, the subject is very advanced including quantification of the sampling-signal, thus introducing infinite resolution to the analogue signal, but this is still not solved.
Until it is, there simply is no truth as to what ‘ought to be good enough’, meaning every so called technical report is down to opinions. Now, I do not hold anything against opinions as long as they are presented as such. However when they present opinions as fact, they manage to annoy me more than a little.

It s way out of scope here of course… I may be starting a discussion thread later on to bring up the full scenario if anyone is interested.


#8

I don’t mean to rain on anybody’s parade, but 16-bit/44.1khz (CD quality) is already sufficient for the range of human hearing. 24-bit/96khz contains information that isn’t necessary for listening. While I would agree it is needed for mastering as to keep the source as pure as possible, no one can hear a difference compared to the same thing at CD quality.

[B][U]I challenge anyone to find evidence that would prove otherwise.[/U][/B]

Besides, the format that Apple sells music in ([I]iTunes Plus[/I]), which is 256kbps VBR AAC/M4A is already a great format that is usually indistinguishable from CD quality at that bitrate. And odds are they would jack up the price for only a minor increase in sound quality.

I’m not an audiophile, but most new music and remasters today sound like absolute garbage because they don’t take care in mastering. I think that should be addressed before moving to huge files with sound you can’t even hear.


#9

[QUOTE=hogger129;2765795]I don’t mean to rain on anybody’s parade, but 16-bit/44.1khz (CD quality) is already sufficient for the range of human hearing. 24-bit/96khz contains information that isn’t necessary for listening. While I would agree it is needed for mastering as to keep the source as pure as possible, no one can hear a difference compared to the same thing at CD quality.

[B][U]I challenge anyone to find evidence that would prove otherwise.[/U][/B]

Besides, the format that Apple sells music in ([I]iTunes Plus[/I]), which is 256kbps VBR AAC/M4A is already a great format that is usually indistinguishable from CD quality at that bitrate. And odds are they would jack up the price for only a minor increase in sound quality.

I’m not an audiophile, but most new music and remasters today sound like absolute garbage because they don’t take care in mastering. I think that should be addressed before moving to huge files with sound you can’t even hear.[/QUOTE]

There never were any parade… At least not on my behalf.
In this case, I really do not need to provide evidence, you will have to check your facts, that is all.
To cover the entire theoretical spectrum of the ear, it will have to be raised to 48KHz.
I do not disagree with you in your other views as I firmly agree, especially when it comes to 12db loudness-war remasters…

We do not need 4K screens either, but we would like to have them just as I would like to have the common audio unit process 24/192 while fact is, most fails above 24/96.
When it comes to the theoretical facts, they speak for themselves. No matter how many times we sample each second and how many bits we use for saving, there will always be a difference to to the constantly varying analogous signal which means we have to introduce quantification to finally introduce infinite resolution to the signal. In this process quantification-errors occur and that is the current culprit not solved yet…

No offence or anything :flower:


#10

[QUOTE=Xercus;2765797]There never were any parade… At least not on my behalf.
In this case, I really do not need to provide evidence, you will have to check your facts, that is all.
To cover the entire theoretical spectrum of the ear, it will have to be raised to 48KHz.
I do not disagree with you in your other views as I firmly agree, especially when it comes to 12db loudness-war remasters…

We do not need 4K screens either, but we would like to have them just as I would like to have the common audio unit process 24/192 while fact is, most fails above 24/96.
When it comes to the theoretical facts, they speak for themselves. No matter how many times we sample each second and how many bits we use for saving, there will always be a difference to to the constantly varying analogous signal which means we have to introduce quantification to finally introduce infinite resolution to the signal. In this process quantification-errors occur and that is the current culprit not solved yet…

No offence or anything :flower:[/QUOTE]

There is an easy way to test and see if you can hear a difference between 24/96 and CD quality. Buy a 24/96 track, properly downsample it to 16/44.1 (CD quality) with something like Voxengo r8brain that will do it properly, and then blind test yourself. I could not hear a difference. I’d bet nobody else could either. 48khz makes no difference because 44.1khz already covers everything within the audible range of human hearing.

As for 4K, not quite the same thing because there are situations where 4K does make a difference and it can be seen. Think more like if they had movies that had X-rays or infrared (which are light that is outside of the visible spectrum) and they charged a premium price saying it was better.


#11

[QUOTE=hogger129;2765800]There is an easy way to test and see if you can hear a difference between 24/96 and CD quality. Buy a 24/96 track, properly downsample it to 16/44.1 (CD quality) with something like Voxengo r8brain that will do it properly, and then blind test yourself. I could not hear a difference. I’d bet nobody else could either. 48khz makes no difference because 44.1khz already covers everything within the audible range of human hearing.

As for 4K, not quite the same thing because there are situations where 4K does make a difference and it can be seen. Think more like if they had movies that had X-rays or infrared (which are light that is outside of the visible spectrum) and they charged a premium price saying it was better.[/QUOTE]

Izotope RX3 would be my choice, but O.K. Of course I would not… I am 50 years old, but why oppose to the entire theoretical spectrum of the ear at the very least?
I would like the challenge to quantification errors to be solved though as the subject finally would have a facit both for you and me…

Like I said above, I am all in for overkill and I know there will be many that disagrees like yourself (I am used to that). I would like the information to be available for the electronics to present the best audible picture from which my ear can sample, that is all…


#12

[QUOTE=Seán;2765586]The following listening test site is worth checking to see if you can distinguish between 8-bit and 16-bit audio as well as other tests to see if your audio equipment (and ears) can even take the full advantage of standard 44.1kHz 16-bit audio. :wink:

http://www.audiocheck.net/blindtests_index.php[/QUOTE]
FYI, I took that test and got 4/10. I do consider myself to be an audiophile, so I think it goes without saying that higher sample rates do not automatically equal better quality. Of course, there are other factors at work, such as the fact that I used ear buds instead of higher-end Sennheiser headphones, not to mention the fact that these audio sample appear to be MP3s. In any case, I do think that this goes to show higher sample rates will not yeild better quality for me, nor will it sound any different to non-audiophiles. But we already know that, don’t we?