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Why We Can't Compare Different Audio Formats

Audio format comparison inspired by aspiration to found way bring recorded music. In better case compared records made by single analog source. In worse converted from one format to another. Here I want discuss why the comparison is the permanent "holywar".

Most cases comparison performed via audition. As alternative, more right, in my opinion, comparing via measurements. Comparing both ways out of the article.

Let us look: what we comparing actually?

Comparison audio formats


What really compared in DSD vs. PCM test?

DSD vs. PCM comparision


Actually formats here only middle parts: "File in DSD" and "File in PCM".

For this case we try compare only middle parts. But rest parts defines result too: ADCs (analog digital converter) and DACs (digital analog converter).

I.e. we compare two absolutelly different system. And result depend on implementation of each system. We may get the better result for DSD system. And we may get better result for PCM system too.


High resolution vs. CD

Here we consider what really compared in CD vs. High Resolution comparison.

CD vs. High Resolution Audio


First we don't know what actual format ADC and music production project. Even single ADC can have different features in different modes. Mode here is sample rate + bit depth combination.

Second we don't know how the music production project was converted to 44/16. Or non-converted.

Third our DAC can work in different mode for high resolution and 44/16 input audio streams.

Here we again compare two diferent systems.



Fully correct (from techical point of view) comparison between different audio formats impossible for cases considered above.

Format of audio file is only part of a system.

For this cases we can compare only full systems that placed between analog source and analog signal restored from digital data.

And we can compare quality of the full systems, but not the audio formats as formats.


Author: Yuri Korzunov, 04 March 2016

Last News

How to Improve Sound Quality


In this article term "to improve sound quality" mean "to decrease sound playback distortions at analog output of digital-analog converter". How to try to decrease the playback distortions for used equipment or portable device (digital audio player, mobile phone, etc.) will be considered below.

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AuI ConverteR 48x44 - Free Audio Converter

AuI ConverteR 48x44 is pro audio converter of music files DSF, DFF, ISO (1-bit audio), FLAC, WAV, AIFF, m4a, CD-audio, CUE, APE, ogg, mp3. The converter is intended for music production and audiophiles.

AuI ConverteR 48x44 FREE may be used as free audio converter for Windows and Mac OS X. There is professional digital audio processing (altering resolution - sample rate, bit depth and dithering) of audio files is provided.


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