I wanted to ask the opinions of users here on high resolution audio. To start, it is clear that there is a difference between compressed digital formats vs lossless digital formats. So skipping past that.
When we get to Flac (I am using Flac as all lossless audio formats), we have 16 and 24 bit options (anything larger is just non standard, so skipping those as well). Then we have the sample rate, 44.1k, 48k, 88.2k, 96k, 176k, 192k, etc. So what is this, really?
We know the human ear is generally said to be capable of 20-20k hearing. Most adults cap out at ~16k. So Nyquist tells us that 44.1k as seen on CDs is perfectly fine, as 44.1k / 2 ~= 22k, well beyond what a person can hear. I mention the above, not implying others do not know this, but to create a baseline. For casual listening, 16 bit at 44.1k should be just fine and high quality.
When we get into the even higher qualities now, what do others use these for?
In general, this is my experience:
- 16/44 - this is good for listening, but cannot accommodate further editing very well. If you do not intend to edit the audio further, should be perfect for most all uses.
- 24/44 - for casual listening, I have never experienced a difference compared to 16 bit. However, there often times is a difference that if you are listening you can hear. Especially in recordings with a high dynamic range.
- 48kHz - I like the bump from 44.1 to 48, whether 16 or 24 bit. On the listening side, I like that when the releaser converts the recordings, assumingly recorded at 96k, it is a nice conversion to 48 vs 44.1. Better filters and such, providing a better quality result. On the editing side, I like the headroom it offers with little change in disk size.
- Getting into anything above 92k sample rate I believe is just a waste of everything, disk space and money. It has its place for sure, but I am not archiving recordings in a studio.
So my opinion is that as an end user / listener and a light editor, 24/96 is the largest I want to see in my collection. That applies to only those releases / recordings that I really care about, or those of a large dynamic range. I would prefer my lossless audio to be 48k, 16 or 24 bit. When I am stuck with the CD rate of 44.1, it is what it is, still is quite good. Obviously when there is a release, I accept the what is offered. So if a release is offered with a 88.2k sample rate, I will take it although I would rather take 48k or 96k.