Music High ResolutionSurprisingly, there are now strong adherents of the upgraded audio (usually 96k / 24-bit) resolution digital files as presented by labels on albums, and, more often, as HD Tracks issues. I even have a friend who is selling off much of his physical media in favor of the high quality tracks that can be obtained.

Aside from the few remixes of adored albums (Jethro Tull, YES, ELP, etc) that contained the high-resolution remix files, I have not stepped out in to the digital realm apart from the low level MP3s pulled from my own collection. I have heard FLACs from other bands.

My question to you is a simple one. If you were to start accepting these high-quality transfers and remasters/remixes as the method by which you were to listen to your music, which album is THE one that you just simply have to have? Pick the title (or titles, if you’re extremely impassioned about which you needed).

Soon, Neil Young’s new fledgling service, Ponos, will be fully operational. Personally, I’m wanting remasters rather than flat transfers. One of the highlights of the upcoming Ponos service will be the long awaited arrival of some of Neil Young’s classic titles including Time Fades Away.

My great fear – and it IS a great fear – is that much of the important music in my life will NEVER see these upgrades. Bands like Wishbone Ash will likely NEVER see the light of day other than a flat transfer (like their Argus issue on the costly SHM-SACD – blecchh)!



By MARowe

15 thoughts on “The High Resolution Realm of Digital Music Files”
  1. A flat transfer is INDEED what you want if you want to hear the music as it was originally intended to be heard. “Remasters” often involve adding compression, limiting the dynamic range, and adding (or removing) EQ from the source tapes.

    1. Honestly, I have little experience in all of this. I did get a flat transfer of Argus on SACD. I expected more, and felt let down.

  2. I’ll stick with my physical media, thank you.

    I can’t figure out how I get the music from my computer to the audio system that I’ve spent so much on? Seems easier just to pop a disc in. If it takes any more effort than that then just give me an sacd, dvd-a or bd.

    To answer your question, excluding all the hi-rez titles that I already have, I’ll say ELO “Out Of The Blue”. That one has never been released in any of the advanced formats.

    1. Thanks Bill,

      My sentiments exactly. About the only thing that would drag me over (after a prolonged hiatus) would be 5.1 or 7.1 mixes of albums AND remasters/remixes in high resolution that would NEVER be available on any physical format. Then, I would have to weigh the costs of equipment upgrades and connections against the potential gain. Tough fight.

      Anyhow, if they gave Permanent Waves by Rush this treatment, and a good surround mix, I just might try it.

      However, getting a disc in the mail is a lot easier… Call me “lazy.”

      1. I’m with you on Rush “Permanent Waves”. Even more for me is “Hemispheres” but since I’ve already got the AF sacd I opted for ELO “Out Of The Blue”. Truth is, being a diehard Rush fan, I’d buy any Rush album with a 5.1 mix. I could add, any Floyd, Zep, Beatles, Sabbath, Hendrix album released in a 5.1 mix would result in my clicking the “pre-order” button.

        In fact I am a sucker for 5.1 mixes. I even bought the Tears For Fears “Songs From The Big Chair” bd and I don’t even really like TFF. I won’t say I am sorry that I got it but I probably won’t listen to it very often.

        1. I omitted “Hemispheres” due to the SACD issue. And, it would be nice to have hi-res physical product for all of the Rush albums – WITH 5.1 mixes included. And, it wouldn’t hurt to get a new surround mixer.

          If I had to pick a band that is really in need of a surround visitation, it would be Zeppelin. There were some slim hopes with the recent series of box set’s, but nothing yet on the surround or hi-res front. I would happily start to migrate over to a digital stream for 5.1 hi-res Zep mixes – if no physical option was available.

          And, yes, all of us “5.1 junkies” have probably bought surround mixes of bands we wouldn’t otherwise think about listening to, just to hear a decent surround mix. Sometimes to our surprise on the musical end…

  3. As long as the original mixing of the album was good, you don’t really NEED remastering. Simply taking that original master and transferring it into the digital realm in a way that losslessly represents the original sound is a massive part of the battle. So many of us have never even heard the original level of quality already present in the master.

  4. I would argue that rather than a flat transfer or a remaster the best sonic upgrade can be achieved by a remix using the method that Steven Wilson uses. He goes back to the original multitracks and does the high resolution transfer to digital at that point. Any multi-generational analogue losses are therefore eliminated.

    He goes about recreating the original mix from these stems and the end result is a familiar mix with a much improved sound. He generally goes with a flat transfer to BDA or DVDA from there, but there’s no reason they couldn’t be high resolution flac files or the like.

    He also does the multichannel mixes using the identified multitrack stems for those that like surround, and I’m one of them. The important thing is that the recreated stereo mix is done first.

    As for what I’d like to hear, Year of the Cat by Al Stewart would be nice!

  5. I prefer ripping from my physical media, but, if available I would say John Williams’ scores for STAR WARS, EMPIRE and RAIDERS.

  6. I suspect that at least 75% of my favourite albums will not be available in lossless files. Individual tracks perhaps but I would miss the flow and intention of the artists. I have spent the most I can afford to have a stereo system that I love. I have priced the cost of adding (or converting to) an equivalent DAC and player, and I just can’t justify it. Besides which, I may be in the minority, but I am a fan of remixing done well – to be able to hear every instrument on every track at its optimum gives me great pleasure. Often, and especially albums from the 60s and 70s, the original masters sound thin and lifeless. Bringing those same albums to a level of today’s recordings is what I crave (though not always successful). I think physical CDs will not disappear, but the big companies will stop producing them in favour of only digital files. I think we will be facing the same choice we were given when vinyl stopped being made in the mid-80s.

  7. Essential Albums I. Hirez:

    1.Sade-Love Deluxe
    2.Zero 7-Simple Things
    3.Paul Weller-Paul Weller
    4.The Cure-Disintegration
    5.David Bowie-Aladdin Sane
    6.T Rex-The Slider

  8. Most of my main points have already been made above. While I agree that the sound of original mixes should be preserved, it is undeniable that the days of 4-track tape forced compromises on many bands, most notably to me, the Beatles. Most Beatles masters are far removed from the original source tapes; the tracks were repeatedly “mixed down” from four tracks to one to enable three more tracks to be added. The only way to fully reveal the original performances is to extract them from each generation of tape, and then to remix them. By definition this will not be identical to the original mix; if done with sensitivity (e.g., Wilson, and Elliott Scheiner) it can be even better. This does NOT usually involve ” adding compression, limiting the dynamic range, and adding (or removing) EQ from the source tapes,” at least not on high-res mixes. I have yet to hear a simple high-def remaster sound as good as numerous of my 5.1 remixes. IMHO, more discrete channels simply means more opportunity for individual instruments to be heard.

    What would I like to have?
    All of the Beatles
    Year of the Cat and other Al Stewart
    the rest of Elton John (Universal did most of his classic catalog before pulling the plug on their SACD releases)
    the rest of the Eagles (the Elliott-Scheiner-mixed Hotel California is one of the best discs in my entire collection)
    Classic Santana

  9. I’ve recently started ripping CDs in my collection in Apple Lossless (ALAC), and have been impressed with the results. I’ve also been adding BD HFPA discs to my music collection. I would second the request for ELO’s Out of the Blue, but would prefer Face the Music. It’s the better album, retaining some of the experimental nature of the earlier work, but also the pop sensibilities that would inform Out of the Blue.

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