Sansa Fuze and Clip need to support 24-bit FLAC

The lack of support for 24-bit FLAC by both the Sansa Fuze and Clip has been brought up before in this forum.

24-bit FLAC is rapdily becoming the standard for audiophile digtal music. In the last year, online stores have opened up that sell 24-bit FLAC (e.g., HDTracks.com), and of course the Beatles have released most of their catalog in 24-bit FLAC.

And the sound quality is amazing–I’ve been listening audiophile vinyls ripped on 24-bit FLAC, and it really captures the essence of the music that gets lost in 16-bit. For those who argue that the human ear can’t tell the difference, I say ‘phooey’. Right now I’m listening to the 24-bit version of Garcia/Grisman “The Pizza Tapes”, converted directly from the master, and there is no way anyone can see there’s no difference in sound quality between this and the 16-bit version.

I’m very frustrated that I can’t play these tracks on my Fuze. And I don’t want to downconvert…that defeats the whole purpose.

I would think it would be in Sandisk’s best interests to make this work, for two reasons:

  1. Sell more Fuze’s and Clips–capture the growing audiophile market

  2. Sell more SD cards–a 16 GB card can only hold about 12 albums ripped to 24-bit/96 KHZ. 

Anyway, Sandisk, I hope you’re listening and upgrade your Fuzes and Clips to support this rapidly-expanding format. And if that’s not possible, maybe you need a new portable player…call it ‘Vinyl’.

Message Edited by databass on 06-04-2010 09:29 AM

Message Edited by databass on 06-04-2010 09:30 AM

I can’t believe I am saying this, but are you saying you could ABX the 24 vs. 16? Because most of us can’t even ABX .flac from LAME V0 or 320.

@marvin_martian wrote:
I can’t believe I am saying this, but are you saying you could ABX the 24 vs. 16? Because most of us can’t even ABX .flac from LAME V0 or 320.

no chance in hell…

summerlove wrote:


@marvin_martian wrote:
I can’t believe I am saying this, but are you saying you could ABX the 24 vs. 16? Because most of us can’t even ABX .flac from LAME V0 or 320.


no chance in hell…

I think you’re right. The OP’s example of the Beatles remasters being released in 24-bit .flac and being so much better doesn’t fly with me, because even the CD remasters (which are 16 bit) are noticeably better than the older CD’s…I’ve compared some of then back to back.

Oh, I’m sure the original poster could tell the difference. Especially through earbuds, or even IEMs, while using the Fuze as a portable player in the real world. Probably even through computer speakers.

After all, the files are (a moment of hushed awe followed by a spectacular fanfare) 24-BIT FLAC!!! Feel the magic, people!!

Yes, I can definitely tell the difference between 24 and 16 bit. Forgive my lack of a technical explanation, but those extra 8 bits helping bring out the emotional layer (e.g., wailing guitar, deep bass) that’s stripped out in 16 bit, no matter how good the master is. I realize that your typical music consumer might not be able to tell the difference, but there is a growing portion of the music-buying public that does appreciate high-resolution digital music.

And it sucks that I can now buy all this 24 bit music online, but I still can’t play it on my Fuze.

And I just don’t get it from a business perspective as to why Sandisk would not want to make this possible. High-resolution music takes means larger file sizes and more demand for their cards, which is a major source of revenue. 

@marvin_martian wrote:
I can’t believe I am saying this, but are you saying you could ABX the 24 vs. 16? Because most of us can’t even ABX .flac from LAME V0 or 320.

Actually, I listen to my 24-bit music on a Logitech Touch, driven through an ancient Nakamichi Amp and some Bose Speakers that I bought at Best Buy. Average equipment, but with a high-quality source, you can still tell the difference.  

 

@ whatchamacallit wrote:

Oh, I’m sure the original poster could tell the difference. Especially through earbuds, or even IEMs, while using the Fuze as a portable player in the real world. Probably even through computer speakers.

 

After all, the files are (a moment of hushed awe followed by a spectacular fanfare) 24-BIT FLAC!!! Feel the magic, people!!

Rockbox it.

 Rockbox has tons of support ofr music like aac and midi, but i don’t know if rockbox supports 24 bit flac.

it probbaly does, but i don’t know

@databass wrote:

Yes, I can definitely tell the difference between 24 and 16 bit. Forgive my lack of a technical explanation, but those extra 8 bits helping bring out the emotional layer (e.g., wailing guitar, deep bass) that’s stripped out in 16 bit, no matter how good the master is.

 The extra 8 bits just encode all the noise on the original tapes (which do not have >16 bit resolution in practice) in more detail.

The beatles remasters are a great example.  Its precisely the same audio on the 16 bit and 24 bit tracks, not because they didn’t remaster correctly, but because the source tapes aren’t even capable of matching the resolution of the original CD release, let alone the 24 bit version, so remastering does nothing.  Don’t buy the hype, 24 bit is just a scam to get people to buy the same albums again.  Once they’re done with that they’ll start trying to sell you 32 bit tracks.

Well, I have to partially agree with you in that I still prefer the sound of the Beatles on the remastered analog vinyl over the 24 bit Flac. And yes, the Beatles source masters were of relatively low quality, compared to a lot of the music the followed in the 70’s, like Led Zeppelin or Yes.

But before anyone says there’s no difference between 16 and 24 bit, you should really try listening to a high quality vinyl lp, played on a decent turntable, that’s ripped to 24 bit. We can argue about resolution and numbers and all that, but there is a difference. 

 I really think that Sandisk’s strategy of selling more cards through crappy-sounding SlotMusic and SlotRadio content is not that way to go. And I believe that sales figures bear me out on this. Instead they should be going after audiophiles, who may be relatively limited in number, but are growing and consume lots of memory. Obviously, Sansa will never catch up with Apple in the digtal audio player space. But it can remain a respectable second place by capturing the audiophile market, and sell lots more memory.

Hell, just check out hdtracks.com…this is just a small example, but it would be a perfect partner site for the Fuze, that is, if the Fuze could support the high-quality content that hdtracks is selling.

 

 

 

@saratoga wrote:


@databass wrote:

Yes, I can definitely tell the difference between 24 and 16 bit. Forgive my lack of a technical explanation, but those extra 8 bits helping bring out the emotional layer (e.g., wailing guitar, deep bass) that’s stripped out in 16 bit, no matter how good the master is.


 

 

 The extra 8 bits just encode all the noise on the original tapes (which do not have >16 bit resolution in practice) in more detail.

 

The beatles remasters are a great example.  Its precisely the same audio on the 16 bit and 24 bit tracks, not because they didn’t remaster correctly, but because the source tapes aren’t even capable of matching the resolution of the original CD release, let alone the 24 bit version, so remastering does nothing.  Don’t buy the hype, 24 bit is just a scam to get people to buy the same albums again.  Once they’re done with that they’ll start trying to sell you 32 bit tracks.

@databass wrote:

 

But before anyone says there’s no difference between 16 and 24 bit, you should really try listening to a high quality vinyl lp, played on a decent turntable, that’s ripped to 24 bit.


 

 

http://www.theaudiocritic.com/downloads/article_1.pdf,

http://www.soundstageav.com/mastersonaudio/20050415.htm,

http://www.mastersonaudio.com/audio/20030101.htm.

@databass wrote:

Well, I have to partially agree with you in that I still prefer the sound of the Beatles on the remastered analog vinyl over the 24 bit Flac. And yes, the Beatles source masters were of relatively low quality, compared to a lot of the music the followed in the 70’s, like Led Zeppelin or Yes.

 

 

This is very common.  People typically prefer something with larger or better sounding numbers over something with smaller numbers, even if they’re identical.  Usually though when talking about audio, one makes a distinction between things that actually have improved audio quality and things which simply have better marketing.

databass wrote: 

But before anyone says there’s no difference between 16 and 24 bit, you should really try listening to a high quality vinyl lp, played on a decent turntable, that’s ripped to 24 bit. We can argue about resolution and numbers and all that, but there is a difference. 

 

 

  I’ve done this many times.  Its quite rare to see a vinyl rip with even 14 bit resolution.  Typically what happens is the recording has something around 12-13 bits (or even worse if the source was in bad shape) and its simply put in a 24 bit flac file simply because more people will download a 24 bit rip instead of an identical 16 (or less) rip.  But calling something a 24 bit flac file doesn’t actually mean its a 24 bit master :slight_smile:

The Beatles 24 bit tracks are a great example of just how badly misunderstood the whole 24 bit hype is.  If you run them through a program like lossywav that can give a very rough estimate of the actual resolution of the file, you’ll get about 12 bits!  No one wonder the 24 bit files are identical to the 16 bit ones, the source masters are too low resolution to be called even 16 bit. 

@databass wrote:

Well, I have to partially agree with you in that I still prefer the sound of the Beatles on the remastered analog vinyl over the 24 bit Flac. And yes, the Beatles source masters were of relatively low quality , compared to a lot of the music the followed in the 70’s, like Led Zeppelin or Yes.

Can I remind you that The Beatles (from November '63 to mid '68) recorded on one inch, four track tape.

Only from 1966 were four track to four track tape reductions made (and not for every song)  and that EMI had state of the art mics, recorders and, of course, manufactured their own magnetic tape.

The Beatles tapes have been stored at Abbey Road in climate control conditions and apart from a few splices that have had to be repaired are in excellent condition.

Most 70s tracks were recorded on 16 track two inch tape - you do the maths!

Message Edited by Nobby on 06-09-2010 02:41 PM

Well, to all the 24-bit and vinyl detractors, I guess we’ll have to agree to disagree. I’m not as technical as a lot of you are, but I know that my ears can appreciate the difference between 16 and 24 bit, and it’s not placebo effect either. There’s just a much warmer and textured sound with 24-bit, for lack of a more technical explanation.

If it were legal, I would post a link to a 24-bit rip of my CSN 2009 vinyl remaster of their first album, so you could perhaps hear the difference, but this argument is not worth getting a knock on the door from the FBI :slight_smile:

What really doesn’t make sense to me though, is that some of you detractors appear to work for or are affiliated with Sandisk, and Sandisk’s core business is selling memory cards. So then why Sandisk wouldn’t even try to make their Fuze compatible with 24-bit. Regardless of whether or not you feel that there’s a difference in sound quality between 16 and 24 bit, there definitely a growing community of people who are archiving and buying their music in high definition, and if Sandisk really wants to increase demand for one their core product, SD and Micro SD card, then I would think they would want to make the Fuze (or perhaps a new model) play 24-bit files.

FYI, There is a new 24-bit player that just hit the market, but unfortunately it’s way out of my price range: http://hifiman.us/sale/

@databass wrote:

Well, to all the 24-bit and vinyl detractors, I guess we’ll have to agree to disagree. I’m not as technical as a lot of you are, but I know that my ears can appreciate the difference between 16 and 24 bit, and it’s not placebo effect either. There’s just a much warmer and textured sound with 24-bit, for lack of a more technical explanation.

 

 

 

 

 If you think 24 bit sounds warmer, then I’m sorry, but something is wrong.  There are real benefits to higher bit depths, but warmth isn’t one of them.  Generally changes in warmth mean the test was not done properly, or the 16 and 24 bit samples were mastered differently. 

databass wrote: 

If it were legal, I would post a link to a 24-bit rip of my CSN 2009 vinyl remaster of their first album, so you could perhaps hear the difference, but this argument is not worth getting a knock on the door from the FBI :slight_smile:

 

 

 

 Its legal to post 30 second clips, so please do.  I bet we can figure this out.

  

databass wrote: 

What really doesn’t make sense to me though, is that some of you detractors appear to work for or are affiliated with Sandisk,

 

 

 

No one from Sandisk has posted in this thread.  I don’t think they have a problem with 24 bit FLAC, they probably just haven’t gotten around to fixing it. 

  

databass wrote: 

FYI, There is a new 24-bit player that just hit the market, but unfortunately it’s way out of my price range: http://hifiman.us/sale/

 

 

 

 Yes but due to analog design its output SNR is less then 16 bits, making 24 bit flac relatively useless on it.  You can find test results here:

http://rmaa.elektrokrishna.com/Comparisons/Hifiman%20vs%20Clip%20vs%20Clip%2B%20vs%20H300.htm

The DAC is firmly sub 16 bit, and generally performs worse then the Fuze and Clip. In general you will find this is true on most mp3 players.  The power and budget constraints will generally mean that >16 bit performance is unlikely on portable devices.    

   

I’ll see if I can get a splice made. The rip was made from a friend’s TT and computer.

And I’m being very fuzzy when I say “warmer”, but somehow the extra bits bring out a quality in the sound that I prefer. It’s very subjective.

Anyway, I do hope that Sandisk is monitoring this thread and gets this working, either in a firmware upgrade, or maybe even a model upgrade (Clip++)?

I’d shell out a $100 or so for a new model that supported this format, especially if it could take their new 64 GB cards.

@saratoga wrote:


@databass wrote:

Well, to all the 24-bit and vinyl detractors, I guess we’ll have to agree to disagree. I’m not as technical as a lot of you are, but I know that my ears can appreciate the difference between 16 and 24 bit, and it’s not placebo effect either. There’s just a much warmer and textured sound with 24-bit, for lack of a more technical explanation.

 

 

 

 


 

 

 If you think 24 bit sounds warmer, then I’m sorry, but something is wrong.  There are real benefits to higher bit depths, but warmth isn’t one of them.  Generally changes in warmth mean the test was not done properly, or the 16 and 24 bit samples were mastered differently. 

 

 


databass wrote: 

If it were legal, I would post a link to a 24-bit rip of my CSN 2009 vinyl remaster of their first album, so you could perhaps hear the difference, but this argument is not worth getting a knock on the door from the FBI :slight_smile:

 

 

 


 

 

 Its legal to post 30 second clips, so please do.  I bet we can figure this out.

 

 

  

 


databass wrote: 

What really doesn’t make sense to me though, is that some of you detractors appear to work for or are affiliated with Sandisk,

 

 

 


 

 

No one from Sandisk has posted in this thread.  I don’t think they have a problem with 24 bit FLAC, they probably just haven’t gotten around to fixing it. 

 

 

 

 

  

 


databass wrote: 

FYI, There is a new 24-bit player that just hit the market, but unfortunately it’s way out of my price range: http://hifiman.us/sale/

 

 

 


 

 

 

 

 Yes but due to analog design its output SNR is less then 16 bits, making 24 bit flac relatively useless on it.  You can find test results here:

 

http://rmaa.elektrokrishna.com/Comparisons/Hifiman%20vs%20Clip%20vs%20Clip%2B%20vs%20H300.htm

 

The DAC is firmly sub 16 bit, and generally performs worse then the Fuze and Clip. In general you will find this is true on most mp3 players.  The power and budget constraints will generally mean that >16 bit performance is unlikely on portable devices.    

 

   

@databass wrote:
And I’m being very fuzzy when I say “warmer”, but somehow the extra bits bring out a quality in the sound that I prefer. It’s very subjective.

 

So you’re basically using “warmer” to mean “better”.  If you mean “better” please just say that, don’t use words that have other meanings.   But really if you just think something sounds “better” but can’t remember any specific way it sounds better, that usually means its just placebo. Generally when something is actually “better”, you’ll notice the ways its different too :slight_smile:

Rockbox has no problems whatsoever playing 24 bit files. I get 24 bit FLACs of vinyl rips and they sound better than the original CD because analog masters are usually superior. Back then, analog to digital conversions weren’t very good and companies usually just slapped analog masters on the CD format. Now that we have better technology, Audio Fidelity and MFSL are releasing proper original CDs that sound better than crappy remasters. Even old CDs that weren’t converted properly sound better than new remasters because they don’t suffer from compression and maximization.

That being said, if both the clips and fuze can support 24 bit files, there is absolutely no reason not to make a firmware release that will allow support.

I installed Rockbox on my Sansa Fuze, and I can now play 24 bit/96HKZ Flac on a portable device! Big up to all the folks at Rockbox for the hard work that made this happen.

It does sound good, especially considering the hardware and battery limitations of the Fuze. Though I can notice the downconversion during the playback; the same 24-bit track played on my Squeezebox Touch sounds better. But regardless of the sound quality, I like having just one version of the song. I can pop the micro SD card out of my Touch and put in the Fuze when I go on the road. (All 5 albums that fit on the 8 GB micro sd card :frowning: )

Note to Sandisk folks who might be monitoring this board: you really need to come out with a new version of the Fuze that supports your new 64 GB cards as well has more native playback of 24-bit/96KHZ.  

 

 

 

 

 

@ d_headshot wrote:

Rockbox has no problems whatsoever playing 24 bit files. I get 24 bit FLACs of vinyl rips and they sound better than the original CD because analog masters are usually superior. Back then, analog to digital conversions weren’t very good and companies usually just slapped analog masters on the CD format. Now that we have better technology, Audio Fidelity and MFSL are releasing proper original CDs that sound better than crappy remasters. Even old CDs that weren’t converted properly sound better than new remasters because they don’t suffer from compression and maximization.

 

That being said, if both the clips and fuze can support 24 bit files, there is absolutely no reason not to make a firmware release that will allow support.

Message Edited by databass on 06-13-2010 01:26 PM

i was goign to say ROCKBOX it man because that will play 24bit FLAC and Gapless too.

big fan of the 180gram vinyl 24-96 rips out there. this is the best thing to happen to digital music.

sansa - get crackin and make a 24/96 gapless firmware - you’ll own this market when the audiophiles take note and start spreading the word. repackage/rebrand it as he HD AUDIO FUZE. work with the rockbox folk and use rockbox as the underlying OS and slap a sansa theme on there.