Any guesses why 24/96 would sound "worse" than 16/44 on my system?

Core Machine (Operating system/System info/Roon build number)

Roon running on my Synology NAS (Roon itself on an SSD, library itself on spinning disks)

Network Details (Including networking gear model/manufacturer and if on WiFi/Ethernet)

Fiber/Gigabit internet. Wifi6 mesh routers throughout the home

Audio Devices (Specify what device you’re using and its connection type - USB/HDMI/etc.)

Roon -> (wifi) Cambridge CXNv2 -> (analog out) Analog Tube Amp (Cronus Magnum II) -> vintage Klipsch Cornwall speakers

Description Of Issue

Hi. Brand new to Roon and have been very happy with the product so far. No issues at all during setup etc. The only bummer / nagging issue is that my 24/96 files seem to sound noticeably “worse” than their 16/44 counterparts. On both downloaded files and my own vinyl rips.

I think best way to describe it is : muddy and borderline distorted. Am i missing something (or perhaps have an incorrect setting?). I attached a screenshot of the signal path

as well as the roon player waveform of the same song. One at 24/96 and one at 16/44. Am I crazy or does the 16 seem more “dynamic” than the 24?




Any help or insight would be greatly appreciated! Thx!

Try these from the same master:

See if you still find 16 44.1 to be better.

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The dynamics look better to me on the top pic. Flat dynamics at any resolution sound… Flat…

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I have preferred many a cd quality master over many remastered high Res ones. Remastering to highres seems to be being pushed but it does not mean it will sound better. Its the master that makes the files that counts and a lot of remastering means they compress the life out of it and mess with dynamic range compared to the original releases. You have to compare a cd and hires version of same release to compare accurately to see which is better or comparing apples to pears.


Yep. Top is 16…

In general, above the obvious quality limit (you know what I mean and there is no need to philosophize … ) sound quality is a psychoemotional phenomenon.

The signal path for 96 shows that your streamer is upsampling to 384. I assume the path for 44/16 is identical?

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CA DAC’s upsample internally to the Max for the DAC chip , always have since the DAC Magic

I assumed it was standard behaviour but assumptions get you into some bad places. Thanks for the confirmation/info.

The value of ‘high res’ recordings is questioned by some as Nyquist-Shannon states that redbook is sufficient

Hence, assuming there is no misconfig in the replay chain, it comes down to how your particular DAC handles high res data (in other words in an engineering issue, not a mathematical one)

Just because a chip/DAC says it can handle a given res, doesn’t mean it performs equally well across all values

So for example my Exogal easily sounds best when fed DSD128 (from HQP) but with my Chord DAC I really struggle to differentiate redbook from high res PCM and PCM sounds much better than DSD

In the end what sounds best, is best :wink:

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You could download the free software “spek” and quickly see what spectral information is in the files you are comparing.

I once used it to look at some 192/24 files I foolishly purchased, and saw there was nothing above CD resolution anyway. Useful, free and simple.

+1 for trying the test files from 2L…

Thank you for all of the replies. Legit super helpful, I tried 2L files this afternoon and 24/96 did sound better, which leads me to believe that my file source in addition to my own vinyl rips were incorrectly processed. Appreciate the help on this one!!

As @Chrislayeruk pointed out, your 24-bit waveform looks flat (non-dynamic) when compared to the 16-bit waveform, that is a crucial evidence that your 24-bit files are not of the best quality. This is why I suggested listening to different sample rates of the 2L files from the same masters. It’s good that you’ve found this to be a problem with the source files. Otherwise it’ll be much harder to fix in the playback chain or network.

@zappyroon mentioned the possibility of fake Hi-Res (upsampled from CD), that is indeed a possibility. You can use tools to see if your Hi-Res purchases are fake or not. Hopefully only a very small portion of Hi-Res music are fake, most of them are real. I think there are online stores that guarantee the Hi-Res they sell are not upsampled.

For vinyl rips, I have no experience on that but since it involves ADC, I expect the quality of that will significantly impact your results regardless of the bit depth.

Interesting to see the difference in the waveform seekbars - even if it is a low-res and crude approximation of the sound! It would be helpful if the waveform seekbar could be more detailed, as seen in some other music apps - then we would get a much better visualisation of the music.

I don’t know why this would be happening, but are you getting clipping?

This is not the same issue, but it reminds me when I had the same problem a few years ago. The trouble was with ALSA (Advanced Linux Sound Architecture). I was using the built-in sound card with it’s S/PDIF out to my DAC. Found this comment in their source code:
/* We got noisy outputs on the right channel when
* 24bit samples are used. Until any workaround is found,
* disable the 24bit format, so far.
Further digging revealed they were TRUNCATING 24-bit to 16! No wonder it sounded bad. It had been that way for years so it didn’t seem like they intended to fix it. This would not affect a USB-connected DAC only a device using the Intel HD driver (most built-in sound cards). When I politely pointed this out they banned me from the user forum.

Sometimes Hires recordings may expose the shortcoming of your system like limited dynamic range, more high frequencies energy that your playback system and you will feel less easy to play and listen than 16/44

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