Head-Fi.org › Forums › Equipment Forums › Computer Audio › Can I hear the difference between 320kbps & Lossless?
New Posts  All Forums:Forum Nav:

Can I hear the difference between 320kbps & Lossless? - Page 2

post #16 of 46
Quote:
Originally Posted by Cheule View Post
I know a lot of you are going to say "no duh" to this thread, but I post it only because I have heard the following statement a bunch of times; "no one can tell the difference between 256kbps (or put a bitrate there) and lossless."

I finally got off my arse and did some ABX testing to see if *I* could hear the difference. I used a MacBook Pro, and MacABX. I was using the DAC on a RSA predator to a set of AKG K701s as well as Sony MDR-7506s. I used a few tracks, but the one I spent the most time with was the Brazilian from the 2007 remaster of Genesis' Invisible Touch.

I did ABX testing with the following bitrates of MP3s: 128, 160, 192, 256, 320. The baseline was an Apple Lossless encoded version of the same track.

The results were clear, and surprised the heck out of me. I could hear the difference between a 128, 160, 192, and 256 kbps mp3 from lossless 100% of the time. This was using the methodology described on wikipedia about ABX testing. Using 10 samples per round, then letting my ears rest, etc.

Even more amazing (to me) was that I was able to differentiate the difference between a 320kpbs mp3 and the lossless file over 82% of the time. MacABX reported a less than a 1.9% chance that I was guessing.

This has really changed the way I view my encoding, and I will probably never use anything less than 320, but probably start using Apple Lossless or FLAC only!

p.s. My father who is 58 years old, and suffers from known hearing loss was able to discern 256 from lossless 100% of the time too. When he reach the 320 vs lossless tests, he scored less than 50% correct, and MacABX reported that he was guessing 100%.
Your post is pointless because it doesn't state the exact encoder version nor settings used. A crap MP3 encoder makes enough of a mess of music even at high bitrates that it's no surprise you can hear a difference, while current versions of LAME at high quality presets cannot be distinguished from the original (and if you have ABX results that prove otherwise, I suggest you go make yourself famous over at HydrogenAudio).
post #17 of 46
Yeah, a test with LAME might be pretty cool to look at. As it stands, I can very rarely tell between LAME VBR 0 and FLAC, to the point where I only notice if I'm really listening for flaws. But really, in practice when I'm just listening to my music I don't care enough to notice some tiny flaws, I'm more engrossed than anything else.

Plus, most of the music I listen to isn't really well-mastered enough to warrant anything beyond VBR0 - I just really don't like the genre of music that ends up being mastered expertly (not that I wouldn't pay top dollar for my favorite artists to issue well-mastered albums).
post #18 of 46
http://www.head-fi.org/forums/f46/pu...ght=public+ABX

LAME 3.97 -v2 encodings there, as well as a good ABX app.
post #19 of 46
I call crappy encoder, especially since both you and your father score 100% on 256kbps. I'm sure you won't be able to repeat that with proper lame encoding unless you happen to be using a problem sample.
post #20 of 46
I have many friends that never hear any sound differences between bit rates, digital/vinyl... They have set up countless A/B comparisons and every time I bat 1000! I have come to the conclusion that they do not know what REAL instruments sound like!
post #21 of 46
Folks, I'd like to remind everyone (as a few of you seem to have forgotten for a moment) that we require civility in our exchanges.

As for the OP's original point, in my own experience (using Apple Lossless and AAC 320K files) in the last week I was able to identify the lossy vs lossless files using decent equipment (USB DAC & iPod via RSA Predator w/ AKG K81-DJ) much more often than not. With better equipment (high-end source with better headphones), I've been able to do so even more reliably.

It's not a huge difference, but as has already been pointed out, with hard-drive space becoming less of a bottleneck every day, why not opt for lossless?
post #22 of 46
Quote:
Originally Posted by elrod-tom View Post
It's not a huge difference, but as has already been pointed out, with hard-drive space becoming less of a bottleneck every day, why not opt for lossless?
Because for portable use, hard drive space is still a bottleneck. And long lossless files tend to skip and pause when they exceed the buffer size of the player. Lossy makes sense for portable use. Lossless is best for playing at home on a computer.

I don't doubt that in some circumstances, it is possible to discern a difference between high bitrate lossy and lossless. But it probably isn't a difference that involves sound quality. I find that lossy files play back slightly quieter than lossless. If you play them back at the same volume level, you can easily tell a difference. If you balance the levels, they sound identical.

See ya
Steve
post #23 of 46
Quote:
Originally Posted by Cheule View Post
Bigshot, the way my setup works I use my iTunes library as the cornerstone of my music. It is then streamed to my media center for speak play, and synced to my iPod and iPhone for mobility. So in my case, since I can hear a difference, I would rather just get a large iPod (160GB) and use 320 or lossless. It's just not worth it to me to micromanage two separate music libraries, one for home use and one for the iPod.
It's very simple to maintain separate lossy and lossless music libraries. Not difficult at all. I have seven iPods, each with a different kind of music, and I still run out of space. You can never have too much music, or too much hard drive space to hold it.

See ya
Steve
post #24 of 46
Quote:
Originally Posted by bigshot View Post
Because for portable use, hard drive space is still a bottleneck. And long lossless files tend to skip and pause when they exceed the buffer size of the player. Lossless makes sense for portable use. Lossless is best for playing at home on a computer.
Yes, we are in agreement on both counts.
post #25 of 46
Ah... I just finally converted to fulltime lossless. Bought a 320 GB Maxtor drive for use with my Thinkpad. Fortunately I had ripped to Flac images and burned to DVD. (I also have some ALAC files - Foobar reads both).

So I spent the weekend getting my hard drive up and running - copying the DVDs to the HD, cleaning some tags, copying album art from my Lame V2 folders, scanning the FLAC images for replay gain etc. Hard work but done!

IMHO Maintaining two sets of files makes sense. I have folders for:
1. Lossless
2. MP3s from lossless (Lame V2 vbr-new for my H160)
3. Mp3 and M4a (stupid early iTunes store purchases and a few other files for which I do not have lossless originals)

1 and 3 are played in Foobar, 2 and 3 on my iRiver. Not difficult to maintain at all.

And I can definitely hear the difference between V2 and lossless. ABXing in Foobar proves that (less than 5% likelihood of guessing).

More important than the proof... the songs just sound sweeter.
post #26 of 46
Quote:
Originally Posted by bigshot View Post
[snip] Lossless makes sense for portable use. Lossless is best for playing at home on a computer.

[snip] If you play [lossy & lossless files] back at the same volume level, you can easily tell a difference. If you balance the levels, they sound identical.

See ya
Steve
Quote:
Originally Posted by elrod-tom View Post
Yes, we are in agreement on both counts.
touché, elrod-tom. TFF......
post #27 of 46
The are some thoughts that come to mind Cheule, however first congradulations.

Some samples are easier to ABX than others, some encoders are worse than others (although arguably not significantly at higher bitrates), and depending on the exact software/method other factors such as EQ could have been in effect unintentionally. Can you consistantly and successfully ABX music using LAME CBR 320 or V0? If you can sometimes ABX some samples with greater accuracy than others, maybe you have discovered what could be a problem sample. It may be worth going over to the HydrogenAudio forums where there is a rush to start testing the newly released LAME 3.98 and contribute. Did you use PCABX/foobar2000 to help with the ABX process, or did you somehow use only itunes (I don't use itunes so am unsure if it actually allows for ABXing in a randomized fashion).

The majority of people, even with practice/experience, cannot distinguish between well-encoded CBR 320/V0 mp3's and the lossless original on most music. There are random problem samples where the ABX process is easier, but when a person randomly claims that they are successful in doing what most cannot, usually they are incorrect (even if unintentional). Before feeling proud please be sure there is nothing askew in your ABXing process and reveal the necessary information (no offence intended).

As far as the lossless vs lossy arguments, basically since space is increasingly less a factor lossless becomes increasingly viable over lossy. However for casual/portable use since HQ lossy is usually transparent there is not really a reason to use lossless under such circumstances, and since the majority of people are mininformed/oblivious/apathetic as to the benefits of lossless over lossy, lossy continues to remain prevalent. However since lossy is generally near-transparent, if not transparent at normal bitrates this is not a total tragedy. Wow did I just go in a circle?
post #28 of 46
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by badmonkey View Post
Your post is pointless because it doesn't state the exact encoder version nor settings used. A crap MP3 encoder makes enough of a mess of music even at high bitrates that it's no surprise you can hear a difference, while current versions of LAME at high quality presets cannot be distinguished from the original (and if you have ABX results that prove otherwise, I suggest you go make yourself famous over at HydrogenAudio).
It wasn't in the original post, but if you had read the thread a bit closer, you would see that I state what encoder I used. iTunes 7's Fraunhofer encoder.

You might argue that the iTunes' included encoder is crap, and it may be. But guess what, I'll use 320 or Lossless. Problem solved for me.
post #29 of 46
I did see that but I'm not familiar with what version of the encoder Apple are using in version X of their software, nor do I trust it to use whatever the optimal options are. Apple push AAC, no surprise, and I doubt they are motivated to provide the best MP3 encoding possible.

You should either use lossless, fine if you have the space and playback capability, or find a superior MP3 solution. There is no point in just using 320 CBR with a poor encoder, when half the bitrate from LAME VBR is equal if not better.

For example, all my music is FLAC, but I have to transcode it to MP3 for my car stereo. There's only 700MB space on the CD, so the incentive exists to lower the bitrate as much as possible while keeping it transparent.

Read this:
List of recommended LAME settings - Hydrogenaudio Forums

It is extremely unlikely you are able to ABX LAME 3.98 @ -V 0 --vbr-new (which is around 230K), even with known problem files. With most music your 'ceiling' will be much lower. People that claim otherwise are generally talking crap, or have issues with their software (either encoding or decoding). If you honestly can, publish the results of an ABX, then do the community a service and go help the LAME guys at HA with the next version of their codec
post #30 of 46
To the OP - congrats! This is no surprise to me and it's nice to know some other people also have no problem in distnguishing the LAME 320kb/s mp3 against lossless.

LAME is overrated, it's second best after FhG but for me significantly worse. First of all - in Joint Stereo mode the imaging is unstable and the soundstage is unclear. When you switch to Stereo mode, it's not enough bits to fully encode the voice timbre - it's incomplete. I don't know how people cannot hear the cold, incomplete midrange in the -V0? The lower the bitrate, the worse things get. If you don't here the difference then maybe:
1) You really don't here the difference but respect people who do hear.
2) Your equipment is of too low quality to let you hear - headphones/speakers, cables, amplifiers, digital sources

I ABXed myself against LAME 320kb/s on a laptop and Sennheiser's HD25-1's and it's a piece of cake. FhG makes things more complicated as it's both spatial and timbral correctness simply outperforms LAME. The encoder speed is several times higher than LAME.
If you cannot afford buying professional FhG encoder embedded in some software tools, try ripping with the WMP10 or 11, there is the same FhG encoder. To be more sure about the rip quality, turn on error correction for CD ripping in the WMP. Compare it to both lossless and LAME on a good equipment and see where the truth is. It's even better to rip to 256kb/s CBR FhG than --preset-extreme or 256kb/s CBR by LAME.
New Posts  All Forums:Forum Nav:
  Return Home
  Back to Forum: Computer Audio
Head-Fi.org › Forums › Equipment Forums › Computer Audio › Can I hear the difference between 320kbps & Lossless?