44.1 khz sounding brighter than 192 khz?

I´ll definitely go crazy!
I´ve noticed a brighter sound, when playing files, from Qobuz, limited to 44.1 khz, being thier maximum resolution 192 khz.
Those 192 khz files, sounded a bit muffled through my Meridian Explorer 2 DAC, when played at maximum.
I made sure that the DAC lights were on, to confirm that the songs were being played correctly.
Surprisingly, when I limited the maximum DAC resolution, on “settings”, at 24/44.1 khz, the sound, from the same files, sounded punchier and brighter.
I changed to 192 khz again and…the muffled sound returned.
Any technical explanation for this? I thought that the same files, played at 192 khz, would have a clearer sound. More defined.
But the sound is, apparently, better if I limit the resolution to 44.1khz.
I tried with very different styles: from metal to melodic jazz. And, in every case, the sound is brighter and warmer when limited to 44.1 khz
Just changing to 192 khz again…and the same songs sound dull, muted, “subdued”… For the same files.

Any opinions on this? Has anyone noticed something similar?


192khz is snake oil.
There is no point to distributing music in 24-bit/192kHz format. Its playback fidelity is slightly inferior to 16/44.1 or 16/48, and it takes up 6 times the space.
Just two articles on this… the second one is a video.there are many more.

In my long experience, there is no sound difference from CD quality and any HiRes quality. Even to me 192 khz seems to be even a little worse than the others, but can only be suggestion. Our ear is not a precise measure instrument, is higly influenced from what we expect to ear. In case of big differences our ear can claearly notice, but not for little.

This also depends on the DAC. Some DACs sound better at red book resolution as this is the most common format and manufacturers test and optimise for that. Some already sound worse at 16/48, typically NOS DACs.

Once you go beyond 24/96 you’re better off with DSD and DSD native DAC.

Here is one simple explanation of why 24/192:

In my opinion ,differences you mention i cannot ear. Actually I use Chord Qutest DAC and for me is nirvana listening any sound resolution. From MP3 320 to HiRes i can not tell a clear differenze. From my opinion, is the quality of the master that matters. A well recorded esecution sounds great in all formats, and is true the opposit

I can tell the difference between MP3 and 16/44.1. Beyond that it’s a bit tricky. Either my ears or my equipment is not good enough.

What is clear to me, the 24/96 doesn’t sound worse than 16/44.1. This is what often guides audiophiles in their choices, if you’re not sure and it has no negative (perceived) impact, go for the overkill.

By experience tell difference from MP3 320kbit and 16/44.1 is hard but some people can. I cannot in blind test. I totally agree with you that listening to HiRes i never feel that CD quality was better. So i listen mainly from Qobuz Studio Hi Res music. And stop asking me sound quality comparison. In my experience, listening with headphone maybe High Res sounds to me a little bit more enjoiable than CD quality (iPhone, Dragonfly Cobalt, Sennheiser Momentum 2 over ear)

MP3’s, even 320k CBR true stereo, just … no. They have no place here. The artifacts of lossy compression are obvious even with mediocre gear, quality is bad enough to be disturbing. Anyone advocating hires audio should certainly notice the distinctive “MP3 sound” even without any comparison.
Sometimes Tidal acts up and sends me a “normal” quality stream - I tend to catch it even if music is just playing in the background.

Sample rates get tricky. By and large, CD quality is enough, I can’t spot a difference. 48 kHz may have the slightest edge over 44,1 kHz, beyond that, definitely doesn’t get any better. Sample rate has everything to do with high frequencies; My ears these days probably don’t do much over 18 kHz. Besides, oversampling and such magic is used to counter well-known issues.

Having a choice of bit depths, more seems better, but it’s barely noticeable even when I know which is which (16 vs. 24) - the difference is most likely coming from somewhere else. 16 bits can carry more dynamic range than I can hear.

MQA … I hate everything about MQA (proprietary, licenced, DRM, lossy and totally unnecessary). I’d very much like to say that it sounds worse than pure 44.1/16 even when unfolded at least once, but can’t. Better though? So far, I’m not convinced.

There are also two big problems. First and foremost, all material released with rate/depth above 44.1/16 tends to be of higher overall quality right from the start. We should only ever compare hires audio to that same true hires audio file (not MQA) downsampled to 44.1/16. I’m just as lazy as anyone else and happily keep comparing apples to oranges and speculating.

Second, my environment. I listen mostly via an USB DDC (Topping D10) plugged through an impedance converter into the digital inputs of a pair of Genelec 8330’s and a 7350 sub. I can also use the D10 as a DAC and route the analog output via a balancing line mixer to the analog inputs, but it’s pointless, unless I actually mix several sources. The monitors treat everything as 48/lots-of-bits, be it from AES/EBU or the analog input, which internally first goes into an ADC…
At work I use ok-but-nothing-special headphones (AKG K272), which could render frequencies up to 28 kHz, plugged into an old Lead Audio LA-100 DAC/HPA. Via it’s S/PDIF inputs it can take high sample rates, but it filters out anything over 20 kHz. You’d be surprised how many amps do, for a good reason: it’s the domain of electromagnetic interference and other noise, more than anything else.
So much for those sample rates, then.

In my perfect world, everything would just be standard 48/20 FLAC’s (and everything would support that bit depth too). Not so much more bytes, yet quite comfortably above our human abilities…

I’m not a big fan of MQA either, but some arguments you make are a bit weak. It’s a lossy format for sure, but lossy from higher resolution and in the parts of the spectrum that in theory shouldn’t affect the quality of the audio. It promises better than CD sound at the same file size/bitrate as CD. Whether it delivers on that, the jury is still out on that one. People with much more capable systems and trained ears seam to agree that it does fulfil the promise.

The second argument about the DRM is also true but to the extent it’s referred to the authentication part. The DRM is not used to limit your ability to play the file but the ensure that the file is what it says it is and has been converted from a master under controlled conditions. What is there not to like? There are many “high resolution” files in circulation. There is no way of knowing if those files are not just upsampled MP3s. Some even sound like crap.

What I don’t like about MQA is the requirement to have a specially licensed DAC to benefit from it, the licensing around it and the control it imposes on the whole delivery chain of music.

What never ceases to amaze me is the quality of the work of the Philips and Sony engineers, that went into designing the redbook 16/44.1 PCM. Even after almost 40 years, the limits of the standard have not been reached and we keep getting better and better DACs that push the envelope of what can be extracted in terms of audio detail from the old standard.

What came after it is just marginally better, mainly due to the limits of our auditory organs and the lack of willingness to invest money into quality audio when background/casual listening is the norm.

This may well be the cause of demise of MQA and HiRes audio, not the technical merits.

Exactly. The CD quality after 40 years still sounds great, with a good Dac. MP3 320 is a straordinary quality in comparison with the space occupied in bytes.
In my experience tell difference among the is non so easy and simple. Just because MP3 320 CBR sounds “almost” great. Even when someone can notice the difference, is not sure they prefer the CD quality. HiRes is an enormous waste of space and bandwith, but since space and bandwith today is almost free, i listen HiRes a lot and sometimes it seems to me some music is better than CD

One interesting experiment you could do is to limit the playback to 24/96 and try to see how that sounds. How it compares to 16/44.1 and 24/192.