As has been their wont, Warp released the download version of Autechre’s new album Move of Ten as a digital download in advance of the physical product. So I bought it yesterday.
I got the 24-bit WAV file version because, well, I have the hardware to play it and it was only a dollar more. I’ve spent a little time comparing the 320kbs MP3 file and 24-bit WAV files and it’s intriguing. I honestly can’t hear the difference — but then I only have a $500 playback system and nearly 53-year-old ears.
I messed about a bit with the track Rev(1) comparing the 2 files audibly, and then figured screw it — let’s get scientific. I loaded both the WAV and MP3 files and mixed the inverse of one with the other, trying to get as close as I could to do it 100% in phase. Then I normalized it.
This is the result:
The apparent difference between the WAV and MP3 is some white noise with a pretty wide stereo field. Interestingly, it’s not clear to me whether that’s what’s missing in the MP3, or what was added to the MP3. I suspect they added additional mastering processing to the MP3 to try and match the WAV and MP3 by ear.
If that’s the case, then the residual difference between the two could be the application of a digital exciter process, whose job is to subtly distort the signal to make it sound brighter and more ‘in focus.’
The Album itself is pretty ace, too, audio geeking aside.