Timbre definition from Wikipedia, “In music, timbre, also known as tone color, is the quality of a musical note or sound or tone that distinguishes different types of sound production, such as voices and musical instruments, string instruments, wind instruments, and percussion instruments. The physical characteristics of sound that determine the perception of timbre include spectrum and envelope.
I believe every piece of audio equipment has its own sonic signature. E.g. CD transports, cartridges, tone arms, turntables, preamps, amps, cross overs, speakers, interconnects, basically every component, part, and wire in (and around, e.g. power supplies) the audio signal path will have its own sonic signature, whether designed or not. Technically, a sonic signature is called a transfer function, but we will get to that shortly. I also believe there is a direct correlation between what we hear
As an ex recording/mixing engineer/producer, http://www.thepikes.com/bio here are a few thoughts with respect to evaluating high resolution masters for sound quality.
Unfortunately, for most recordings, especially multi-track, there are many, many steps/paths from the mic to the final master we listen to. Most folks I think would be surprised to see the workflow. But that is another post.
The criteria I use to eval music sound quality is:
While visiting a friend in The Big Smoke recently, I had an opportunity to assist in tuning a set of DIY speakers to his critical listening environment. This is a walkthrough of what we did, how it sounded, and lessons learned. I tried to present this in a step by step format so if desired, by following the same steps, you could obtain similar results. Here is pic of my friend’s rig:
Updated with more info on Audio DiffMaker, plus ABX listening tests.
Lots of discussion around this article: 24/192 Music Downloads...and why they make no sense http://people.xiph.org/~xiphmont/demo/neil-young.html
I decided to run a science experiment using Audio DiffMaker to compare 16/44 to 24/192 format of the same master from Soundkeeper Recordings: http://soundkeeperrecordings.com/format.htm
I have used Audio DiffMaker before to compare FLAC vs WAV