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Audio files for Audiophiles

MP3s for digital snobs
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There are audiophiles , and then there are poser audiophiles. Since there are so many people in the latter crowd--who may buy things because of the status it might bring them as one who has good taste and can tell the difference--they make a better target audience for a marketable idea. These could be the same people who buy flawless diamonds or pretend to know the difference between vintages of a particular wine. Proposed is a massively bloated, well over-specified, deadly accurate audio file standard with more audio information than any mortal human could ever hope to hear or understand. One key advantage to such a format is that it could have a lot of staying power as a long-term standard. It might seem excessive now, but when the hardware catches up, the opportunity costs will have been reduced, and the extra computing power will be basically free. (As an example, it's hard for me to imagine that people once used 2-digit years in their dates to save space, and now we're talking about using a microsecond unix timestamp BIGINT to replace common integer unix timestamps when that format becomes technically constrained in 2038.)
kevinthenerd, Apr 12 2012

Neil Young and Steve Jobs http://www.guardian...ung-ipod-steve-jobs
Not baked YET.... [kevinthenerd, Apr 12 2012]

Dolby Atmos http://www.dolby.co...ma/dolby-atmos.html
3-Dimensional Surround Sound [csea, May 23 2012]


       [ ] I'm pretty sure it exists. THE recording system to have back in the '80s (and still is even though the company is long gone) is a Synclavier: 100kHz sampling.   

       While I'm not an audiophile per se: never A/B'd records and CD's for instance, I can see how lack of ultra-high frequencies makes a difference: not directly since the human ear doesn't do that, but indirectly through their interactions which *do* extend down into the audio range; call it "good" zippering. (The "zipper" effect is normally a bad thing: it refers to the artifacts that are produced because of the interaction between the music source frequencies and the frequency of digital recording)
FlyingToaster, Apr 12 2012

       There's a theory that our hearing is actually damaged by prolonged exposure to low band sound - i.e. sound lacking in the higher frequencies, including those beyond the range of direct hearing - such as modern traffic and industrial noise, and CD and most other digital recordings. The higher frequencies supposedly act like physical dithering, preventing, for instance, auditory cilia from getting stuck. I met someone who was into producing high bandwidth recordings, on the best chrome or whatever cassette tapes, specifically intended to reverse this damage when listened to. Of course, he often had a hard time explaining to people that no, you can't just put it on a CD.
spidermother, Apr 12 2012

       Isn't this basically what FLAC files are? or are you talking about even higher quality?
erenjay, Apr 12 2012

       Historically, audio has advanced by steps, improving the "weakest link."   

       I'm convinced that storage formats are no longer the w.l. as they were for a decade or so, along with A/D/A converters.   

       I'd guess that improvements to sound field capture (microphones) and reproduction (loudspeaker / headphone technology) are next, followed finally by improvements in acoustical acquisition / rendition.   

       So it's a bit premature to plan on a storage format, when the signal to be stored hasn't yet been defined.
csea, Apr 12 2012

       FLAC files are of any quality you want, although they are typically CD quality. FLAC is just a lossless compression standard.
spidermother, Apr 12 2012

       Well, 24 bits per channel is a pretty common de-facto standard these days. It just exceeds the signal-to-noise ratio of a very good recording setup, which makes it ideal. 16 bits is not good enough any more. As to sample rate, again, 44100 Hz is too slow. Maybe the best approach is to use a format that matches your equipment. If you can record at 24 bits per channel, 192 kHz, then do so. That's my approach, anyway.   

       //So it's a bit premature to plan on a storage format, when the signal to be stored hasn't yet been defined.// I agree. The idea that there even has to be a standard is a little outdated. It's all data and software now. If your hardware can't handle a particular format, your software can overcome that.   

       One exception perhaps is the base unit for sample rate. The existence of two nearly identical but deliberately incompatible standards (power of two multiples of 44.5 and 48 kHz) is rather irksome.
spidermother, Apr 12 2012

       [bigsleep], Audio recording is still a bit like magic - the art of (re)creating an illusion - either that you are present at a real event, or that you are present at an event than never existed.   

       Both are worthwhile!
csea, Apr 13 2012

       This idea belongs in the same class as homeopathy and psychic readings; it's nothing more than a shameless attempt to sucker gullible yet smug people out of their hard-earned cash by throwing around meaningless terminology and supporting it with "scientific" data that are questionable at best, and more often than not are simply out-and-out lies. [+]
ytk, Apr 13 2012

       There's a lot of information missing from audio files as they stand, more than i'm aware of naturally. For instance, surround sound seems to be about two- dimensional space rather than three and sounds outside the range of human hearing are missing, both in terms of frequency and intensity. Might it be possible to convince people that the sound output needs to be tweaked so it sounds better coming through oxygen-free cables because of an impedance issue or something? There's also the question of metadata: a single could include TIFFs of all known record sleeves, three-dimensional images of the band lineup at the time, book length biographies, both approved and unapproved, details of the instruments used including their place of purchase and price, precise positions of the musicians determined by GPS and a facility to alter the sound quality by changing the level of obesity or muscle tone of the drummer.
nineteenthly, Apr 13 2012

       Ultimately, the hifi unit in your living room needs to be placed against an outside wall, with a concealed door that opens onto a loading bay where autonomous high-speed trucks arrive from the central instrument warehouse with whatever exact instrumentation is required for the selected track; the instruments are mounted behind the oversize speaker baffles and are played by mechanical fingers and lips and vocal tracts controlled by an extremely powerful cloud-based AI algorithm (wired up to cameras and microphones monitoring the room) that uses a kind of synthetic intuition to perform, with true-to-life imperfection and variation, exactly what the artists _would_ have performed had they visited your living room to play a private gig for you.
pocmloc, Apr 13 2012

       ^ and at the end a machine runs around the den knocking things over and putting out cigarette butts on the carpet just to make it perfect.
FlyingToaster, Apr 13 2012

       //I'd guess that improvements to sound field capture (microphones) and reproduction (loudspeaker / headphone technology) are next, followed finally by improvements in acoustical rendition//

It's no good having a millon dollars worth of audio equipment when you've only got a $10 ear. I'd guess that artificial improvements to the human ear will be on the agenda before too long.
DrBob, Apr 13 2012

       mmm.... I don't think you need an F1 license and skillset to be able to appreciate driving a GT308 over a Datsun.
FlyingToaster, Apr 13 2012

       //artificial improvements to the human ear//   

       It's called "Ear Training," is available at most music schools, and I highly recommend it!
csea, Apr 13 2012

       //surround sound seems to be about two- dimensional space rather than three//   

       Btw, see what Dolby have been up to in this regard [link].
csea, May 23 2012


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