Listening to 16/44.1 v. Higher Definitions
One thing that comes up repeatedly in discussions with other music lovers and audiophiles regarding CD vs. high resolution digital formats, is the fact that most folks have no means of making a valid comparison. Often, the high resolution version of a record is mastered at a different session, sometimes by a different engineer. At many so-called "format shootouts", one hears level differences, EQ differences, etc., making a true comparison of the formats impossible. Astute listeners realize these are comparisons of different masterings and not of the formats themselves.Wait there's more...
In an effort to provide some help, Soundkeeper Recordings is providing these samples from the same album, same mastering session, etc. A number of folks we know, who use upsampling devices to play back their CDs, have found these useful in illuminating the pluses as well as minuses of their upconversion, as they can now compare the results with a true high res version.
When comparing the files, be sure your system is not performing any sort of resampling and/or dithering to either one. Some will by default, either upsample the 16/44 or downsample and dither the high resolution version.
You can download the files here. Note that Soundkeeper Recordings offers 16/44, 24/96 and 24/192 versions of each track. Of course you'll need a DAC capable of handling 24/192 and if you're wondering how many of those are out there, here's a list that can handle 24/192 via USB.
Of course even if you find you have a distinct preference for one of these versions it does not necessarily mean anything more than that. You may just have a DAC that sounds better with a particular bit/sample rate or you may have a system and ear that enjoys one kind of presentation more than another. Regardless of any other considerations measurable and repeatable or not. And that's not only to be expected it's the most important aspect of this hi-fi hobby where enjoyment of music is the ultimate goal.
From my perspective, if a 24/192 music file sounds better than (and by "better" I'm referring to the relevant use of that word in this context which simply means the one I enjoy listening to more) the lower resolution versions—for whatever reason—I'd want the ability to play back 24/192 music. Even if some people think this doesn't make much sense.