As I said on my ‘about me‘ page, inspiration is important to me. A day without inspiration (and those are more frequent than I like) is a mediocre day.
But inspiration is sometimes found when least expected.
A few weeks back, I was working in the office. It was a quiet day – all projects were running smoothly, I had already updated all my reports and was going through some backlogs that I needed to keep up with – so it was a great time to listen to some music.
Earlier this year, I bought a great pair of earbuds, the GEEK IEMs as they were called back then on Indiegogo. Later they were rebranded to ‘LHlabs Verbs’. You can find a review here.
LHlabs is a company that specializes in equipment for ‘audiophiles’. They make (very) expensive equipment to make your music sound like it was supposed to sound. Their GEEK IEMs were really low priced compared to their other products – probably to get a lot of people to buy them online, so they could expand their customer base and then spam those new customers with all kinds of nice, fancy and geeky equipment offers.
Fine with me; I’m very happy with my very cheap but really great earbuds.
BUT (you were expecting this, weren’t you?) on their LHLabs.com site is a part where you can download free high resolution audio. Because; what good are great earbuds if you use them to listen to crappy sound recordings?
What is high resolution audio you ask? Well, here is a link that explains everything in great detail.
In short: sound is analogue; a continuous wave (eg a string vibration of an instrument). Converting it to a digital form (recording it) means transforming that continuous wave into blocks of data. The more blocks you make and the more data you use to store each block, the better you can recreate the original wave (play back the audio recording).
CD quality music breaks up an analogue wave in 44100 blocks of sound per second (44.1kHz) and uses 16 bits per block to store it.
High resolution audio uses 24 bits to store that same block and next to that, the sample rate of high resolution audio can go as far up as 192kHz.
Let that sink in for a second.
CD quality audio: 44.1/16. 16 bits * 44100 times per second = 705600 bits per second.
High res audio: 192/24. 24 bits * 192000 times per second = 4608000 bits per second.
That’s roughly 6,5 times the amount of information to recreate the original sound wave. A normal human being should be able to tell the difference, right?
Now, back to my inspirational storyline.
So I wanted to try out my new earbuds to see if they really were so special. So I downloaded some of the free high res audio files from the hdlabs.com demo page. Of course you need an audio device capable of playing the high res audio files. I so happen to have a Sony Xperia Z3 Compact smartphone, which is capable of playing 192/24 audio files. Lucky me!
One of the songs I downloaded was called ‘Magnificat’, by Kim André Arnesen and performed by Nidarosdomens jentekor & TrondheimSolistene.
I’m really not into classical music, but I started listening to this song… and woke up in wonder 5:36 minutes later. What a beautiful voice! What an intense performance!
I was sold to high res audio immediately.
Why? Because the Youtube video of the same recording is still amazing – but nowhere near as compelling as the 192/24 version.
So, if you like the following, I encourage you to go look for somewhere or someone that has high res audio equipment, so you can go listen for yourself.