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3. Yarikoyazina, Percussion & Bass; files ripped from DVD (available as: CD – Master CD-RII or HQ – Ultimate Master Data Disc).
This was a one of the more interesting sessions that night. We compared two 24/96 files digitally recorded, one as uncompressed WAV, the other compressed in the studio using the MP3 algorithm to generate a 24/96 MP3 at 192kbs. The files came from the same studio master WAV ripped from DVD.

Opinions. Here I’ll distill the lengthy discussion which followed. The MP3 file surprised us all. While everyone identified it correctly, we were shocked by how good it sounded. Even though our audiophile hearts wanted to jump from our chests for admitting it, if all MP3 files were prepared like this, we’d have 100% satisfaction over less costly gear. In the real world where compressed files are generated from 16/44.1 source material the results are far inferior but the Fraunhofer Institute clearly knew their stuff when they wrote this codec. The bad rap MP3 suffers is mostly due to the inferior generation of such files. Yes on better systems the difference remains evident but—I’ll repeat!—in this form MP3 was shockingly satisfying!

Zbigniew Namysłowski, Open, Polish Jazz, vol. 74, SX2539, 1987

  • 24/96, source CD-R copy of the master tape before processing – louder by 3dB
  • 24/44.1, source CD-R copy of the master tape before processing – louder by 2dB
  • 16/44.1, source CD-R copy of the master tape before processing
This compared three different files of an analog recording. Here we compared word length and sampling frequency changes separately. The source for these files was Ms. Karolina Gleinert who is responsible for the remasters of parts of the Polish Jazz Series recordings (I conducted an interview about this for Audio). The material was recorded from analog master tape directly to PC in 24/96 format, then converted to 24/44.1 and 16/44.1. Otherwise no processing was applied. The files were direct copies from analog tape.

Opinions. Rysiek R: "Without doubt the 24/96 file was best. I have no doubt about that. The recording itself is not very good, the piano was not properly recorded. The CD version was too flat to appeal to me. The 24/96 version was much easier to accept."
Janusz: "The difference was audible as more breath and calmness on the 24-bit versions. Going to 96kHz was less audible. I am not sure if those changes would be audible over less resolved gear."
Rysiek S: "For me 24/96 was clearly the best. It sounded nice."
Andrzej: "Without a doubt the last file—as it turned out 24/96—was best. We cannot pretend otherwise. But I agree with Janusz that the change from 16 to 24 bits was more audible than going from a 44.1kHz to a 96kHz sample rate."

III. Charlie Haden & Antonio Forcione, Heartplay, 2006 Recordings: Anna, La Pasionara

  • 24/96 source HDTracks – quieter by 3dB
  • 16/44.1 source CD, Naim CD098
This compared two versions of an analog recording from two sources. The 16/44.1 files was ripped from CD, the 24/96 file was downloaded from the HDTrack website. Both were prepared in the same mastering facility from the same source.

Opinions. Janusz: "Let's leave this. I am sure that the second file was the 24-bit version. What an embarrassment for the CD. I heard it before and thought it good. Only after this comparison it was shattered to pieces. Here the difference was positively colossal!"
Rysiek R: " Oh my, I did not know that CD can sound this bad – or put differently, 24/96 this brilliant."
Rysiek S: "Indeed the hi-res file showed the guitar timbre fantastically and brilliantly placed the contrabass on the spot. The beautiful decay trails were really incredible."
Andrzej: "This left not a trace of doubt, this wasn’t a subtle difference but a completely altered reality. If all hi-res files sounded like this it would mean the certain demise of CD."