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Poll: Audible Difference between FLAC and 320kbps MP3?

post #1 of 242
Thread Starter 
I left this poll anonymous so that everyone with an ego will still (hopefully) poll honestly. I - and I'm sure the bulk of many of you - would love to get a feel for just how much of a difference FLAC makes to the bulk of digital listeners.

Piece of mind is, imho, definitely worth using FLAC; I couldnt stand to know that I was limiting anything in the audio chain, even though I know that I cant hear a difference


Please leave comments about your experiences! It'd be great to get some qualitative reasoning to back this poll
post #2 of 242
I went for "can distinguish after much time." It was between that and "cannot tell a difference" and I went with the former because I can tell a difference a good percentage of the time, but I find it very difficult and my ears get tired after around five trials plus with some tracks I can't find any difference whatsoever. I think anyone saying noticeably better has never done any ABX tests for themselves because the differences are very minor. Of course I'm expecting plenty of posts saying "differences are obvious, you're deaf if you think 320 is good."
post #3 of 242
It completely depends on the song, as well as the quality of the encoding

On fast songs with very high vocals and lots of instruments playing (the best example would be jpop songs) it is often extremely easy to tell, as there is a usually very noticable clipping on vocals. A popular example would be "float on" by modest mouse, if you listen to an mp3 recording (even if it is 320kbs) you will hear breakup in the singer's voice during the chorus, but it doesn't occur on my cd recording or on my .flac copy

On most songs, I cannot tell a difference, or I need a LOT of careful listening to tell a difference.

On slow songs without many high notes, I usually can't tell a difference no matter how hard I try



And btw, the main reason why I prefer .flac over mp3s is because it is a "safer" bet. Many many many "320 kb/s" mp3s have had terrible quality in my experience (worse than 320kb/s quality), especially those encoded with a VBR. FLAC files from reliable sources have never given me any trouble
post #4 of 242
I most probably can not tell a difference most of the time.
Of course depending on the source material and the MP3 encoder used.

But for sake of mind I use lossless, to not need to worry about if I loose out of something or not.
post #5 of 242
I like 128kbits, it makes the sound less agressive and much beytter to my ears
post #6 of 242
I can tell the difference about 50% of the time. It seems like it really depends on the type of music.
post #7 of 242
I voted for the second option: 320k mp3 sound pretty good, on some tracks the difference is there after some ABing but on some others, i have to admit i am not able to tell them apart...especially with badly produced music.
post #8 of 242
After spending many hours ABX testing, I can only tell the difference on a very few recordings. As such, I stick with flac on my desktop, but have an mp3 library that I use for portable devices. After all, how often do you leave the house and go somewhere where it is quiet enough for you to be able to tell the difference.
post #9 of 242
On my laptop, 320K is plenty...on my main computer rig, it's FLAC, as that computer has much more space. When I used my Rio Karma, I used 320K MP3 as I was unable to discern a difference between that and FLAC. It should also be noted that FLAC and other lossless codecs use much more battery (at least it did on my Rio Karma and iPod). MP3 is a much better solution for portables.

On main computer rigs though, I don't see why FLAC wouldn't be the best choice (space is cheap these days). Plus it's a nice backup should something happen.

~Thomas
post #10 of 242
Depends on the source and components, but usually it's rather distinguishable. Noticeable in the transients (indeed muddy), higher noise floor, poorer dynamics. Sometimes the treble doesn't come out as smooth either..
post #11 of 242
Can't distinguish them 99% of the time. But I did succeed an ABX test with a killer sample. So 1% of the time, flac is better.

At that bitrate, I think that internal clipping occurs more often than quality loss. Internal clipping is when the original is clipped (metal, pop...), and the encoder removes some of the harmonics of the square wave. It makes it oscillate (Gibbs effect), which introduces additionnal clipping, that was not there on the original.
Setting the internal playback volume to -2 dB, or better, using Replaygain with clipping prevention, solves the problem.
post #12 of 242
I'm with AtomikPi. I'll notice if I'm paying attention to the fine details, but I have the space for Apple Lossless, so it's easy just to use that universally.
post #13 of 242
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Pio2001 View Post
At that bitrate, I think that internal clipping occurs more often than quality loss. Internal clipping is when the original is clipped (metal, pop...), and the encoder removes some of the harmonics of the square wave. It makes it oscillate (Gibbs effect), which introduces additionnal clipping, that was not there on the original.
Setting the internal playback volume to -2 dB, or better, using Replaygain with clipping prevention, solves the problem.
that is fascinating!

i'll take care to remember this the next time i batch-encode some notoriously over-compressed albums
post #14 of 242
I don't know why it is, but I can tell a difference only when I am using VLC media player
post #15 of 242
A little to moderate difference going flac+a little-moderate difference using better interconnects+a little to moderate difference for headphone cables+a little to moderate difference selecting better tubes all equals a whole lot of difference in your system.....out of all of those things, flac files are by far the cheapest.
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