For the first time I’ve been playing around with various sample rates and resolutions. I picked up new versions of Gaucho by Steely Dan, Kind of Blue by Miles Davis, and New Moon Daughter by Cassandra Wilson. Gaucho is 96/24 flac, New Moon Daughter is 192/24 flac, and Kind of Blue is 192/24 AIFF. So, I’m maximizing sample rates and sample resolution on music remastered using the best known techniques. Furthermore, all this music is stuff I know very, very well.
What did I hear? First, I can’t hear the difference between 96KHz and 195KHz sample rates. Maybe there’s something there I haven’t focused on yet, but I just don’t think I can hear a difference and I would challenge anyone to do so. Second, I definitely can hear the difference between 44.1KHz and 96KHz. I can hear the difference difference between Apple Lossless and 96/24 flac. Cassandra Wilson had bass I’ve never heard before, Miles Davis has resonances that I’ve never heard before. Gaucho is crisp and tight as expected from Steely Dan.
However, I have to be on my big system to hear this. Big system being Benchmark DAC1, Audio Research LS26, Parasound A41 and Snell C/Vs. I have a much harder time picking anything out on my VOX, NuForce, Bryston 3NRB, PSB Alpha system at work. Maybe it’s there, but I certainly don’t notice like I do on the big system. I’ve not listened using headphones yet, but I think the limiting factor is the NuForce DAC. It’s really good, but it’s not my Benchmark. The PSBs are also good, but they are small and may not be able to achieve enough resolution.
None of this is the least bit scientific, so don’t out and replace your mp3 and m4a files with high resolution without doing some serious listening on your own. Your mileage may vary!