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What to listen for in mp3?

post #1 of 11
Thread Starter 
Helllo, I was just interested in the science if listening to *gasp* mp3. I was wanting to know for those who hear the difference, what is the difference? And how does the music sound at these bitrates?

for example: what whould I listen for or what does it sound like or specific instruments at:

64kbps:

128kbps:

192kbps:

256kbps:

and lets not forget the 320kbps. What is it that makes it sound so different from a lossless? (is 320 muddy bass or what?) I hope I didn't confuse you too much. If I did, I'm sorry..

Thanks for all your answers..

I am using some Alessandro Ms1's and a USB DAC/AMP by hotaudio.
post #2 of 11
MP3 music at 64k is unlistenable to me. It sounds glitchy and warbly. 128 is better but still some annoying artifacts. 192 sounds basicly good, I don't really notice artifacts, but it seems "flat" (flat as in lack of depth, not pitch). 256 and higher starts adding back most of the depth to the music, the fine details that give an impression of a real 3D soundstage.
post #3 of 11
At 128K, I can definitely hear differences in midrange as well as treble. Voices can noticeably echo or sound hollow, cymbals seem like they echo and/or blend together.

At 192K I usually can't tell the difference when it comes to vocals, although sometimes with higher pitched or female vocals maybe. The cymbals and other high-pitched fast stuff I can usually still tell the difference.

At 256K and above, I will sometimes hear differences with a song I'm familiar with but I won't make any specific comments because I'd be hard-pressed to do it in a blind test. The lower bitrates I'm confident I could.
post #4 of 11
192 kbps is good enough most of the time. Anything below 128 kbps, hell no... And if I would for some reason rip to mp3, it would be 320 kbps.
post #5 of 11
Thread Starter 
Doesn't that also depend on the type of headphones you are using as well? I hate I guess to admit, but when you listen to a 128kbps mp3 or anything for that matter, through a $9 pair of earbuds, everything is not well defined, is muffled, "sizzles" in the high frequencies.
post #6 of 11
Artifact Training Page

and lots more on codec and listening tests - with DBT Required! are found at

Hydrogenaudio Knowledgebase:Main Page - Hydrogenaudio Knowledgebase
post #7 of 11
It's like jpeg - the more compressed (to a lower bitrate), the more noticeable the artifacts. If you don't know where to look, you may not even notice them on higher bitrate files. Cymbals and other high frequency noise seems to suffer the most detail loss.
post #8 of 11
white noise in mp3 is good.
post #9 of 11
I just find everything sounds...just off. Sounds thin...I cannot describe it I guess.
post #10 of 11
It very much depends on track and encoder used too. There's some items that sound fine at 128kbps and others that sound poor at 320kbps.

Consider listening to some killer tracks listed at hydrogenaudio as they'll be most revealing as to what you should listen to.
post #11 of 11
Off laptop speakers, I'm usually hard pressed to hear anything better than 128. Details/vocals/instruments are for the most part all mushed together.

With better gear, 320 only sounds marginally better than 192 to me when running through a dac. Usually the highs and lows will be a bit distorted, and if there are a lot of instruments and chords running through then it will sound a bit... grainy for lack of a better word. For a single voice and instrumental accompaniment though, I find this range acceptable. If I'm not going lossless, I typically will rip with vbr which averages around 230 ish for most of my music.

The only time I've been able to *easily* tell the difference in lossless/cd quality was when I was sitting in a hifi store listening through their gear. For the stuff I have at home, 320 or vbr is good enough for me (and is within the realm of what I can afford).
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