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Amazon HD Music

#1
I tried Amazon Ultra HD Music today. I was quite pleasantly impressed. There was a HUGE difference in quality over normal services. 

Granted, I'm somewhat of an audiophile. I have a fairly precise ear and can hear artifacts in most compression formats, but Spotify's 320kbps premium is one of the few lossy compression algorithms that is totally transparent to my ears. It sounds exactly like the CDs in every single perceptable way. (Ogg at 192kbps is very close as well). 

So when I compared Spotify and Amazon Ultra HD side by side, I was shocked when I heard FAR better than CD quality audio. It was a landslide difference. It was so noticeable that it was like being colorblind your whole life and learning to see.

Truthfully, I wonder if it was actually the mastering job and not necessarily just the format. Because suddenly I could hear where instruments were coming from spatially so much better than just sounding muffled between my ears. I could hear extremely faint sounds clearly (rather than being muffled or blending in with other parts of the mix). Even on live recordings, very quiet clapping from even a single audience member or very slight nuances that I couldn't hear were now audible. And the keyboards and guitars sounded so much more clear.

I can't explain it. The human range of hearing tops out at 20 khz, and CDs (with a sample rate of 44.1khz) can reproduce 22.05 khz accurately (above the human range of hearing). Furthermore, CDs use 16 bit audio which is well known to be more than enough to have plenty of dynamic range. Going from 16 to 24 bits only allows already imperceptable noise to become even quieter. Usually the differences are imperceptable. 

But somehow, when you take 96khz 24 bit audio and put them together on U-HD, everything sounds so much more spacious. It sounds less muffled, more nuanced, more detailed, and more alive. And scientifically that should be impossible, but it absolutely did sound noticeably better. 

Perhaps it really was the mastering (production) and not necessarily the format itself. I honestly dont' know, but in any case, if you have decent headphones, I'd recommend trying it. You won't regret it.
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#2
I pirate all my music in either flac of v0 mp3. I've built quite a library of music on my Plex.
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