actually the cd should be listened to in one piece. but if you want to load some titles into a playlist, it’s difficult, because when ripping the cd you often have the end of the previous or/and the beginning of the next title in the file. therefore you can order – in addition to the cd – single songs with defined beginning and end, without introductions or transitions. these are available as high-resolution audio files per download – with a small surcharge.
if you are interested and want answers to the following questions, please read on:
– can you hear a difference between 16 and 24 bit?
– why are the individual songs mastered differently?
– why 24 bit / 96 kHz?
can you hear a difference between 16 and 24 bit?
yes. and no. the 16bit / 44.1 kHz resolution of an audio cd actually offers a frequency range that is significantly higher than human hearing, plus a theoretical dynamic range of 96 dB – that means a dynamic range from (nowhere existing) absolute silence to jackhammer without ear protection.
a 24-bit master can theoretically represent a dynamic range of 144 dB, from silence to a jetplane at a distance of 25 m – no one really needs that. isn’ it?
of course, the subject is much more complex. 24 bit has recording advantages, the background noise of devices has to be considered, the background noise of rooms, the frequency-dependent perception of loudness and many other physical and psychoacoustic factors. all this would lead far too far here…
what i definitely can say:
– of course you can create excellent audio masters in 16 bit / 44,1 kHz (cd-quality), which sound good on any system. there are countless proofs for that. (and i hope “cycle one” is one more)
– the difference between slightly different mixes of a song is much more noticeable than the difference between a 16-bit and a 24-bit audio file.
– a mastering for a cd that should work everywhere will be different than a mastering for a hi-end environment with optimal acoustic conditions.
and this brings us to the essential point:
why are the individual songs mastered differently?
the album “makoulé – cycle one” is meant to be heard as a whole, gliding from one song to the next. that means the mastering has to be as consistent as possible: no matter how different the individual tracks are, everything has to sound as a whole. in addition, the album has to work on very different systems and also in the car (important! when do you have an hour to listen to!) . this leads to a mastering that is dynamically a bit more compressed and the bass should be a bit leaner.
since the continuous listening of “cycle one” is important to me, the album is principally only available as cd. but if you want to listen to single songs (apart from listening as a whole) detached from interludes, transitions and introductions, you can get these songs – only in addition to the cd – as single audio files, with a defined start and end, without transitions.
and since i do separate masters of these songs, the consistency is now less important, so some songs will have a higher dynamic than on cd, others a bit more sub bass etc… and beyond that I would now like to master them without the technical limitations of a cd (whether they are actually perceptible or not). and thus back to high resolution.
why 24bit / 96kHz?
since several years we record all audio tracks in 24 bit, because it can provide a higher dynamic range, thus allowing more headroom and reducing the risk of unwanted distortions (by the way, the internal resolution of the daw is 64 bit floating point). so the master should preferably also be in 24 bit. but since the specification of a cd only allows 16 bits, the resolution of the cd-master has to be truncated, which in the worst case could be heard at very quiet parts. there are tools against this (dithering), which were used for the makoulé cd master of course – but when i have the choice and don’t have to master for cd, i stay at 24 bit resolution.
and why 96 kHz sampling rate? actually, a sampling rate of 44.1 kHz would be sufficient, since frequencies above 20 kHz (and thus beyond the audible range) are reproduced. in extremely unfavorable cases, however, it can happen that interference frequencies down to the audible range occur during conversion. whether these are actually perceptible or rather only measurable, is left open. however, if i have the choice to exclude these possible interferences, then i choose a sampling rate of 96 kHz: audio up to far more than 40 kHz can be reproduced with it – nobody’s able to hear that, but if interference frequencies arise, nobody hears them either…
but when high resolution, why not mastering with a sampling rate of 192 kHz?
because i don’t like bats in the studio… 😉