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Audio Quality Rankings

post #1 of 183
Thread Starter 
Obviously the source is crucial, but for the purpose of this post let's assume that we are dealing with a perfect source, in a perfect room, with perfect everything.
What I am wondering is, in order of quality, how do the different formats stack up?

Would it be:
SACD
CD
FLAC
ALAC
wav
ogg
MP4
MP3
windows audio (I forget the achronym)
mpc
raw

I am sure there are other formats, I guess these are the most common?
where does analog (vinyl) fit into the mix?
post #2 of 183
My take would be:
SACD
CD / FLAC / ALAC / raw (whatever that is) / wav (PCM audio I presume).
mpc
MP3
windows audio (I forget the achronym)

These are audio/video containers, so does not really belong here.
ogg
MP4
post #3 of 183
SACD - theoretically capable of 144db dynamic range, technically far superior to CD (96db) but whether you could tell the difference is open to debate.

CD
FLAC
ALAC
wav
(assuming 16 bits and 44.1k sampling all the same in absolute quality terms unless there are decoder/playback hardware/software/error issues)

Quote:
where does analog (vinyl) fit into the mix?
Dynamic range of up to 80db with a pristine pressing and well setup hardware and in the outer grooves, declining as you reach the middle, capable of higher frequencies than CD but technical limitations on the level at which high frequencies can be stored especially in the inner grooves.
post #4 of 183
Quote:
Originally Posted by krmathis View Post
My take would be:

These are audio/video containers, so does not really belong here.
ogg
MP4
Doesn't spotify stream a variant of ogg? I might be wrong
post #5 of 183
Quote:
Originally Posted by St3ve View Post
Doesn't spotify stream a variant of ogg? I might be wrong
Vorbis, which is one of several codecs supported by the Ogg container.
post #6 of 183
WMA (Lossless) would be at/near CD quallity.
Thats what I have all my ripped/archived content in.
post #7 of 183
Thread Starter 
that is the windows media I could not think of. as good as cd quality?
post #8 of 183
This is not an easy question guys.
Quality is relative. If you are an audiophile who wants to reproduce natural and alive sound structures then its obvious the vinyl sphere would be the best quality to go.
Otherwise in digital world you have SACD to be the purest of all at this time.
post #9 of 183
Don't forget DVD-A. There are still a few discs out there and it sounds wonderful.
post #10 of 183
Quote:
Originally Posted by GWorlDofSPACE View Post
This is not an easy question guys.
Quality is relative. If you are an audiophile who wants to reproduce natural and alive sound structures then its obvious the vinyl sphere would be the best quality to go.
Otherwise in digital world you have SACD to be the purest of all at this time.
It depends on what you mean by quality, if you mean an accurate rendering of a source signal then vinyl has some technical limitations such as noise, speed variations, dynamic range and various distortions at such levels that render it less accurate than digital systems.

For pop music with loud average levels this is not a problem, but for classical music with quiet passages and for instance sustained solo piano vinyl's limits become apparent, as Scotty says "ye cannae change the laws of physics".
post #11 of 183
Quote:
Originally Posted by freakydrew View Post
that is the windows media I could not think of. as good as cd quality?
Assuming the Windows codec creates a truly mathematical 'lossless' file (which I am), then yes it is.
post #12 of 183
i would think .wav would be better then .flac as far as quality as it is not compressed at all and .flac and .aac is a compression. I am not sure that's why I'm asking
post #13 of 183
Quote:
Originally Posted by d3adeyes View Post
i would think .wav would be better then .flac as far as quality as it is not compressed at all and .flac and .aac is a compression. I am not sure that's why I'm asking
they're compressed, but the encoded only rid the file of useless bits that weren't conveying any musical information. thus, as far as information stored, flac=alac=wav=cd.
post #14 of 183
thanks
post #15 of 183
Aww don't forget HDCD
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