Lol, round the bend
We got CD, ignoring issues with the actual recording, issues with lazy mastering and issues with the listeners equipment, CD give us perfect audio, lossless (albeit only stereo). Some improvements made here and there, oversampling being the main one and boom, perfect high res audio. barring the issues stated, which are beyond the scope of any playback medium to control.
Then we got MP3, which threw away loads of audio to compress the audio from something like a CD to something that the fledgling home internet could stand to distribute. Also there was the move to solid sate devices but I'm not considering that considering my first MP3 player held only 32MB which a CD simply laughed at.
We got other codecs etc, then we got faster internet and capacious solid state devices that could happily hold an uncompressed CD track, if not a flac track.
We have gone from lossless perfect audio (no, there are NO stair-steps, NO phase issues, there is only aliasing which was resolved by the 90's with oversampling), prefect because it perfectly reproduces any human hear able frequency (yes, you in the back, that DOES include multiple frequencies mixed together and the harmonics, if a HUMAN can hear it then its perfectly reproducible by CD technology) with a dynamic range that if used fully would make the listener deaf! We even extend that dynamic range further, just because we can, for just a little better noise management.
We then went to lossy audio.
Now we are back with lossless audio. Funny that, we were already there. Ok, people wanted it in their pocket and the tech we had took a while to outperform a CD, but now instead of just sitting back and enjoying a ripped CD or non-ripped one, we have those who think the CD is lossy, that it is not perfect. So off they go wasting bandwidth and storage space buying 192kHz sample rate files with no understanding that EVERY player will oversample to something as high if not higher than that, on the fly, at playback. My 90's CD player has 6x oversampling, that means it will up-sample the 44.1kHz audio to 264.6kHz.
Why? Well what they dont know is that there is NO audio supplied in the 192kHz file above 22kHz or so, which is stored exactly the same as on a CD, just with more samples, which are surplus. The reason why we oversample, on the fly at playback is because we can then move the quantisation noise above the 22kHz limit. We need the higher sampling rate to hold that JUNK audio above 22kHz, otherwise it will appear under 22kHz as aliasing/distortion. EVERYTHIG above 22kHz CAN NOT be heard and CANT be reproduced by speakers/hadphones etc. To prevent that JUNK noise from being a problem and distorting the audio because the dumb speaker will TRY to reproduce the waveform, we filter it out!
Oversampling is thus the method used since 90's CD players to push artificial quantisation noise above the human hearing range, we do this by ADDING in shaped noise (dither) that the player generates. The higher sampling rate thus allows for a filter design which is very simple and effective. The older CD players tried to filter HARD at 44.1kHz but they are never perfect and making them so was expensive. By oversampling, or even just jumping to 48kHz like with DVD audio, we can have a much better and cheaper filter. Its all filtered out above 22kHz or so and what was there was SHIT that you dont need.
All of this is done during playback, on the fly. Its merely maths and you only need a 44.1kHz sample rate to do it. Selling people "hi-res" audio is nothing more than selling people an ALREADY OVERSAMPLED file. The player does not need assistance, it can do it on the fly. There is no effing reason why the hell anyone would want to store such a file (for playback, recording and editing have other benefits here). For playback the final sellable file need never, ever to be at a sample rate greater than 44.1kHz or 48kHz. The player will create the 192kHz version on the fly during playback, no storage or bandwidth needed.
Hi-res is snake oil. A reason to have fast broadband, a reason to pay again, a reason to get a player with the same kind of "wank features" that used to be put all over CD players.
It a wank feature.
Unfortunately, to help force you to purchase the wank feature the mastering of the CD version is left to the idiots whilst the "hi-res" version is given the care that should have been there in the first place! The CD version thus sounds shit because they made it sound like shit so you get the hi-res version and bingo, the sucker now thinks he/she is hearing "hi-res" and that CD's sounded like shit all this time.
So, everyone. Lets be clear. Anyone thinking the hi-res version sounds better is only correct because:
1. They THINK they hear the difference.
2. The recording is a newer better one
3. The CD was mastered shitty
There are no other reasons. Its all down to the quality of the source material and mastering.
So buy the hi-res ones if you know thats the better recording/mastering etc. Then do the smart thing and downconvert it all back to 44.1kHz and save the space. It wont sound any different, in any way.