Audio Quality: Sample Rates, Bit-Depth, Human Physiology & The Golden Ears

studera800.jpgThere is a curious interface between science and the senses. Perception is often wrapped in psychological or emotional elements. This comes in many forms. It can be a group trying to share their impression of the taste of a particular wine. It can be people listening to music. Every persons experience of such things, being filtered by all that is us, both physically and mentally, is unique.

In a recent post I referred to a silly trend in very high sample rate music. This has been promoted by a variety of people, including HD Tracks, a music reseller that promises to provide “audiophile grade high-resolution recordings.” This term they use to generally describe digital recording a structure beyond the 44.1 KHz sampling and 16 bit linear word length defined by the CD format. They offer music at up to 24 bits and 192 KHz sample rate.

I’ve come to regard this trend as having very little merit. I came to this conclusion after many years dealing with digital audio production, after some experimentation and a lot of research. Like everything else on this site, I don’t profess to be any kind of expert, but I am happy to share my experience.

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Considering Opus Implementations

Opus-over-skypeOpus promises to be a great tool for online audio. In technology, as in music, not all opus are implemented equally. Allow me to explain.

Earlier this week I happened into a Twitter exchange with Mike Phillips. Mike is a podcaster. VUC founder Randy Resnick has introduced us once before. Mike is seeking a replacement for the role that Skype plays in his online toolbox.

It came to light that Mike has tried to leverage various soft phones, even giving some focus to finding one that implements the Opus codec. Opus is after all, open source, the current state-of-the-art in audio codecs, and a new IETF standard. However, in Mike’s attempts to tap its potential he has to date come up short relative to Skype.

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