Pop Quiz: What's More Important—Hi-Res Or Everything Else?

I'll give you 1 hint.

deckeda's picture

... but my answer is "neither."

Over the years, the single most important thing to me has been the interface, not the format, let alone lossy vs lossless vs high res.

And I say that as a person who (still) enjoys the "rigamarole" of playing records, often more than I do tapping or keying software to play music.

But yeah within any platform I will vigorously fight for the best implementation of it, so high res is "most important" to me for digital platforms, assuming competent production values.

(It's not about choosing gear over music. It's about advocacy for finest potential enjoyment.)


My understanding is that 2016 was a watershed year for digital interface, as Roon matured onto more hardware and finally, comes embedded in hardware (ELAC.) That said, relying on a tablet or desktop computer to access that makes me nervous, as compared to say dedicated hardware (Sooloos remains the example?, i.e. having one entity control "the whole widget" for continuity).

I never worry about having a seemingly innocuous update bork my turntable or amp, let along my LPs. I value appliance-like predictability, and we remain eons away from it with digital music reproduction.

(Playing records isn't "better" than playing files; it's MY chosen poison.)

tgibbs's picture

Depending upon the source, I get just as much enjoyment from CD rips, PCM hi-res, DSD, whatever -- if the music fires my imagination, it's all good, regardless of the hardware involved. Of course, great hardware helps, but the music is much more important!!

dmhenley's picture

The music brings us back together, after all the arguments over how best to play it back. None of us would be here to argue about vinyl, glass, bits and chips without the artists making music.

JoeWhip's picture

the room. I find the effect of the room to be way more important than any format.

markbrauer's picture

Is production part of "everything else"? Must be.
Well produced 320 kbps lossy files convey more musical enjoyment/excitement/engagement than poorly produced high res files every time.

harry thind's picture

I agree. Well produced music (recording, DR etc) most important component for me.

solarophile's picture

As others have written over the years, there is barely any good hi-res out there. Most of the mainstream stuff is fake like upsampled stuff or terribly mastered.

Other than classical, i haven't bothered with these so called hi-res downloads in a couple of years.

Speaker, room, good DAC, good mastering are what matters to me.

Todd Giencke's picture

Definitely everything else (e.g. a DAC with a FPGA digital filter).

Hi-res files like LP reissues need to have their pedigree researched.

Itsaboutthemusic's picture

I've got to have music that engages me before anything else matters. Bad or boring music on a "perfect" rig - who cares? Great music on a fair system - I may wish for better, but I'll still probably enjoy it.
Speakers come next for me. The better (a loaded word, I know) they are, the more the music carries me away.
All that said, I've gotten into Tidal/Roon over the last year and thoroughly enjoy the almost unlimited selection, so improving the elements of the digital chain is what I've been focused on recently. It's all pretty new to me still, so each improvement is a wondrous thing.
I collect and switch out amps and preamps continually because I love comparing hardware setups, always looking for that unexpected combination of pieces that just sounds great. I love the process but rarely get too attached to a particular amplifier setup, although I do have a handful of go-to pieces I hope to be buried with.
Music - speakers - format/access - other hardware: I suppose that's the order of importance for me.

stevebarret's picture

Like on films, I prefer hd video when I watch. Same in music, high resolution audio have more brilliance in my ear.

FransZappa's picture

must be the first price for the winning answer so I'd like to go for everything else. If you want the address where to send it to, please get in touch with me.

jond's picture

You have to start out with a good recording as folks have said above. Next have a good system or at least a system you like. I would say for me all things being equal hi-rez recordings, and my experiences are very limited thus far, is better sounding. But I don't miss it at all when I'm listening to good music at 16/44 on my system. And I'm not running out buying hi-rez recordings either.