Do bits matter for CD playback?

Discussion in 'Playback Devices' started by VinhT, May 13, 2005.

  1. VinhT

    VinhT Second Unit

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    I'm in the market for a new CD player and am a little perplexed by the XX-bit specification. I noticed that some 18-bit players are more expensive than some 20-bit and 24-bit players. Choosing among 18, 20, and 24-bit players, is this something I need to concern myself with? Or does it not matter?

    I did a search on HTF and Google, without much luck. All I found was that there may be a signal-to-noise ratio difference.
     
  2. ChristopherDAC

    ChristopherDAC Producer

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    The Compact Disc Digital Audio format encodes audio as Pulse-Code Modulated samples of 16-bit word length. Although cheaper CD players often employ a high-speed single-bit Digital to Analog converter, such solutions are imperfect; a 16-bit D/A is really required for accurate playback. Unless you have a collection of so-called "HDCDs", which stuff extra data into the CD structure while retaining playback compatibility with standard discs, more than 16 bits are unnecessary; some manufacturers employ D/A devices with a greater word length, and mathematical techniques of more or less fidelity to map the CD-DA word to the converter word. There are advantages to this technique if extensive audio processing is being done in the player, but otherwise I would not expect it to be very useful [and it could in fact produce poor results].
     
  3. ChrisWiggles

    ChrisWiggles Producer

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    processing in higher bits just allows the DAC to push the fierce HF freq filter to be applied at a much higher, and hopefully less audible frequency. I think this is well explained in the Guide to High End Audio, if i recall.
     

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