HDtracks 24/96 downloads

slinco -- Thu, 10/02/2008 - 12:15

I read with interest the article in issue 185 on Chesky Records new HDtracks download website. At this point I'm still a "disc spinner" and don't use any computer audio. So, as a "newbie", I've got a few basic questions...

The thing that interests me is the high res 24/96 downloads. I'm wondering what the simplest way to utilize these would be. I have a DAC that will accept a 24/96 data stream (Monarchy Audio NM24). Could I load the 24/96 FLAC files into an iPod and use the new Wadia 170i dock to connect to my DAC? Will the iPod and Wadia handle 24/96?

Or, even easier, could I burn the 24/96 FLAC files onto a DVD-R and use a DVD player as a transport into my DAC? Are there any DVD players that read FLAC files and can send 24/96 out their digital outputs?

Is there any other easy way to use these downloads without hooking a computer up to my system or going wireless? I'm on a low budget, use an old desktop Mac, and will not be buying an iBook anytime soon.

Any other solutions?

Thanks for the help.

Steven Stone -- Thu, 10/02/2008 - 14:15

iPods won't work with anything higher than 48/16.

I don't know of any players that will read 96/24 FLAC files either.

Two ways down. Frankly a computer is your best source and receptical for 96/24 files.

The current method is computer to 96/24 enabled DAC. Wired Ethernet will probably be a lot more reliable than wireless, although for short distances wireless should be able to handle 96/24 files.

Your desktop MAc might work fine. You don't say how old, but a G4 or newer will work fine, and probably even a G3 will work if you don't overtax it with other processes. Obviously an decent Internet connection is a must for downloading 96/24 files.

Steven Stone
Contributor to The Absolute Sound, EnjoytheMusic.com, Vintage Guitar Magazine, and other fine publications

hps9999 (not verified) -- Tue, 12/09/2008 - 12:01


Don't know if I understood the question correctly but there are definately some players out there that can play 96/24 files in either FLAC, WAV or ALAC (Apple Lossless) format.  They're usually described as 'network players'.
Linn's DS range starts at around £900 GBP and is 'high end' all the way.  Logitech also produce the Squeezebox range at around £300 GBP; they have a high end product too called The Transporter for about £1300 GBP which is 'audiophile' garde and reviewed well in HiFi+ and Stereophile amongst others.

All my audio is ripped to a small NAS (network attached storage) server, made by QNAP, which means my music can be played without my main computer (a MacBook Pro) being turned on.  I hooked everything up using Ethernet Over Mains (EOM) adapters and it works fine - no latecny, drop-outs, noise or other gremlins.

Linn also have an online store that offers 96/24  'Studio Master Quality' downloads and offers a few freebies to tempt you to try.  Some bands (such as Nine Inch Nails) have started to offer versions of their albums in 96/24 too - some FREE !

The Linn website (www.Linn.co.uk) has plenty of good information, as does the Logitech site.

Good Luck !



ahpoh2008 -- Tue, 12/09/2008 - 23:06

Hi Steven

Currently I have connected my Apple G4 with an external 1TB HD, and hooking up with Stello DA100 via USB, will upgrade to Apogee Mini Dac or Benchmark Dac.  However I found out my G4 is only exporting 16/44 and I unable to change the spec.  Is it any way I can install an external/internal soundcard, any recommedation,which can export 24/192? I will love to play with RR new HRx disc.  I already bought 2 disc, unfortunately can't listen their full potential.  Looking forward to your response.


Steven Stone -- Thu, 12/11/2008 - 11:03

 You do not need to install a new or additional sound card if you want 96/24. What you do need is an external DAC that will support 96/24.

If you open the Apple Audio Midi Set-up program (found in Applications/utilities) you can see what bit-rates your outboard sound devices will support. I suspect that the Stello only support 44.1 or 48 kHz. I have only needed to do 96/24, so I haven't tried to output higher bit rates than that.

So your first step is getting a DAC capable of taking higher bit-rate inputs.

Steven Stone
Contributor to The Absolute Sound, EnjoytheMusic.com, Vintage Guitar Magazine, and other fine publications

ahpoh2008 -- Fri, 12/12/2008 - 08:15

Hi Steven

THanks for the information, yes when I opened the Apple Audio Midi setup, it is showing 16bit and 48kHz only.  I bought the Stello a couple year ago, and 24bit/96kHz is not that popular yet.  Actually I am thinking to get either the Benchmark or Apogee Dac, but one more question, can USB transmit 24bit/196kHz data or Firewire will be better?  Appreciate your kind repsonse.

I always enjoy TAS, great reviewing and informative.


Steven Stone -- Fri, 12/12/2008 - 14:11

 Firewire is the pro standard. It will support 192 kHz. Many USB devices draw the line at 96 kHz so you must look at their specifications VERY carefully to see what they will support and which input types support their various rates. Just because their internal clocks can run at a higher bit rate doesn't mean they can support that rate at their input - The Stello is an example of this.

Steven Stone
Contributor to The Absolute Sound, EnjoytheMusic.com, Vintage Guitar Magazine, and other fine publications

ak (not verified) -- Thu, 12/11/2008 - 00:42

Will it work in Itunes and stream to an Apple TV as a server?

Steven Stone -- Thu, 12/11/2008 - 11:05

 Apple TV only supports a maximum of 44.1 kHz bit rates.

iTunes knows this and only sends 44.1 kHz music files to it.

Higher-bit rate files are down-sampled before going to the Apple TV.

Steven Stone
Contributor to The Absolute Sound, EnjoytheMusic.com, Vintage Guitar Magazine, and other fine publications

guest (not verified) -- Sat, 04/24/2010 - 01:48

....I don't know of any players that will read 96/24 FLAC files either.....

Hi, I know some players which will read (and play) 96/24 WAV files.

Abc (not verified) -- Fri, 05/21/2010 - 11:58

Can you please share with use which players you know of that will play onad output these 96/24 files

Steven Stone -- Fri, 05/21/2010 - 18:29

Here's the specs on the Oppo BD)-83:


Go for the SE version if you can swing it - the analog section is better.

Steven Stone
Contributor to The Absolute Sound, EnjoytheMusic.com, Vintage Guitar Magazine, and other fine publications

Ashok B. Shiroor (not verified) -- Mon, 01/05/2009 - 00:35

We would like to understand what the '96kHz 24-bit Super DIGITAL Transfer'
mentioned on some of the CDs means (case in point Decca Legends').

Also, if it means higher definition, does one need a specialised or
advanced CDP to play these back and make the most of the higher definition
or is it that on a regular CDP these would be down sampled to 16/44?

Lastly, is 96/24 different from HDCD.

Marc Crooner (not verified) -- Wed, 02/04/2009 - 01:44

 You guys can try VLC Player to play these 24/96 Flac files, this is what I use and it works great.

MrPanz (not verified) -- Sun, 06/28/2009 - 17:31

 BSW (Broadcast Supply Worldwide) carries several flash audio recorders which handle 96/24. I don't see any reason why one of these could not be used to play 96/24 WAV files. 

Steven Stone -- Sun, 06/28/2009 - 17:40

 You can easily play 96/24 several ways:
First if you will need player software in your computer that supports 96/24 without downsampling. Once you have proper software you can move on to the next step.
1. if your DAC supports 96/24 via USB, you can use that to play the files
2. If your DAC supports 96/24 via SPIDF and your computer has SPIDF outs you can use that to play files.
3. If you have a 96/24 player, you can transfer the files onto the player and play the files through the player's analog outs.

Steven Stone
Contributor to The Absolute Sound, EnjoytheMusic.com, Vintage Guitar Magazine, and other fine publications

Pat Brody -- Sun, 07/05/2009 - 16:11

Steve- question I just sent Alan in this forum.... your thoughts?
Hi Alan-
Enjoyed reading your articles in the latest TAS on USB connectivity, and converters.  Coincidentally, I have just (last month) hooked up my MacBook Air to a musical fidelity v-dac.  I run a couple of external hard drives, 1 terrabyte each.  The whole thing is hooked up via USB and the sound, as you described, is 'lacking' at best.
I'm confused about something - in the article on USB you say that the airport express (which I just ordered on Amazon a few minutes ago, based on the article) is one way to get out of the USB issue if you are using a laptop.  Then in the article on format converters you say that firewire is 'hardly a step up from USB.'
Am I going to get S PDIF quality sound from airport express connected to the VDAC SPDIF input from the airport express output (the digital audio out.)?
Since it only costs $100 to find out, and I can always use the AE to send music to another room anyway, while I await a reply I'm just going to give it a shot.
My next step is to build a server with a  pro audio sound card that supports 24/96 files, and hook it straight to the VDAC.  That's a $600 or so solution (by brother in law builds computers, so it's a lot less than buying a purpose built server, and I will already have the drives, etc....)
But will the AE through the SPDIF connection on the VDAC give me the same fidelity (should I save the six hundred in other words)?
Thanks to you and Steven Stone for your articles on music servers and related, I read them all a few times each....
Pat Brody

Pat Brody
patbrody [at] comcast [dot] net

Steven Stone -- Sun, 07/05/2009 - 16:59

 The airport express has high measured jitter, so whether you will find it sounds better than USB is questionable.
Sure, why not cut to the chase and put a Lynx card in a PC - that's the pro solution.

Steven Stone
Contributor to The Absolute Sound, EnjoytheMusic.com, Vintage Guitar Magazine, and other fine publications

ctbarker32@gmail.com -- Thu, 08/12/2010 - 15:31

 The Sansa line of portable players support FLAC (and ogg) natively. I have not tested 24b/96k files but I have test FLAC and it works.

andypenry@aol.com -- Wed, 12/29/2010 - 16:02

What is the best way to play media files (audio and movies)  stored on a hard drive and maintain some level of fidility for someone using a surround processor or receiver.  I have read a lot of information on the audio side of the question, however, I'm not clear on the best approach for movie performance.  I look forward to your advice and recommendations.

Steven Stone -- Fri, 12/31/2010 - 12:49

I route both my Sonos and Apple TV (both S/PDIF feeds - one coaxial the other Toslink) into a Monarch Audio 96/24 DIP upsampler before running its digital feed into my Lexicon MC-12 HD. I use the Monarch both for ergonomic reasons (it gets me an additional digital input) and sonic reason - the Lexicon natively supports 96/24 and the Monarchy DIP is better at upsampling than the Lexicon.

My Blu-Ray audio comes from both digital and analog outputs from my Oppo BDP-83 SE.

I would run your Blu-Ray player's digital audio output to your processor even if the processor does not support all the latest formats. You can always set your player to convert DolbyHD to AC-3. As for streaming video - most from sources such as Hulu or uTube will only be two-channel so you'll be using your processor's derived surround modes for these..

My best advice is to keep the system connections as simple and direct as possible and make sure they work, then try more elaborate methods that might give you acess to the newer movie sound formats.

The best approach is always the one that uses the least number of steps and connections.

Steven Stone
Contributor to The Absolute Sound, EnjoytheMusic.com, Vintage Guitar Magazine, and other fine publications

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