Your thoughts are a great summary, Matt.
All I'll add is that should it turn out that a completed song is going to be compressed, and the quality of that final stage compression is important, then the Audiophile edition could be beneficial.
I'll explain.Some more thoughts on audio quality...
When the original Realtrack and Realdrum wav files are converted to 128 kbps wma, there is some minor reduction in audio quality. Even though these wma files are reconstituted as wav files when BIAB plays, the quality losses from the initial conversion of wav to wma are still present.
The above means that when a final mix is assembled and then compressed as part of the final stage of presentation (for example, publishing on Soundcloud where Soundcloud automatically compresses everything uploaded), the Realtracks and Realdrums in the final mix will undergo the equivalent of a second compression. This could potentially reduce sound quality even more noticeably.
With the Audiophile edition, it's possible to work entirely with the original wav files without any loss of audio fidelity. Then, when the final mix is compressed, only a single compression is undergone.
- With the previous thoughts in mind, when I upload a song to Soundcloud, I always create a final wav file mix and then upload that wav to Soundcloud. Because I use the Audiophile edition of the software, when Soundcloud compresses the uploaded wav, that's the only compression the Realtracks and Realdrums undergo. As a result, the audio quality of my streaming song on Soundcloud is the best that I can achieve using 16/44.1 original wav files.
- Radio broadcasting is another area where music is compressed prior to being used. So if songs are likely to be played back by radio transmission, it's possible that the Audiophile edition will be useful in obtaining a better quality final sound.
The above thoughts stand outside of an individual user's ability to hear the high fidelity sound of Audiophile Realtracks and Realdrums. It is the overall hearing ability of the final audience that is considered.
To test what compression does to an audio file, try the following.
1. Create a small song.
2. Save the final mix as:
- (a) wav (at least 16 bit, 44.1 kHz);
- (b) 128 kbps stereo mp3;
- (c) 96 kbps stereo mp3.
3. Upload all three versions to Soundcloud (keep the tracks Private if you don't want the world to hear them).
4. Play the tracks back and compare.
During its preparation process, Soundcloud will compress each of the uploaded files. While some instruments survive this compression better than others, it's usually possible to hear audio artifacts creeping into to the published audio as a consequence of Soundcloud's compression.
Hope this makes sense.
NoelDecember 3, 2016