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MP3 Debate: 320CBR vs V0

post #1 of 59
Thread Starter 

I see a lot of people on the forums posting that 320 CBR should be the preferred listening format, assuming you don't want to use FLAC/WAV/Other lossless. When I read about this I always wonder why people choose 320 CBR over other "better" formats, such as the various Lame V# presets. I'm not going to get too much into transparency, so for the sake of things I'll just compare 320 to V0. 

 

For those unaware of what V0 is, V0 is the highest preset you can choose from the Lame encoder for variable bit rate mp3. It's largely considered the "smartest" of choices due to it's transparency as well as reduced file size in comparison to CBR rips, there's a reason why it's the most popularly downloaded format on any private torrenting site, aside from 320 CBR on electronic sites but that's for another reason. Now why is V0 better than 320? Here's some comparisons:

 

-Both are mp3, so they can both be used on every single audio players you'll use.

-Both are transparent, meaning aside from the rare few who can hear frequencies above 20k, then you can not and will not notice a difference between this and FLAC/Wav/Other lossless.

-Both are capable of reaching 320kbps.

 

That's about where the similarities end though. V0 surpasses 320 in everything else. The V0 preset allows the music to reach 320kbps, but only when needed. For instance, that song you're listening to with 30 second of silence? With 320 CBR you're getting 320kbps of silence, which is completely unnecessary, it simply wastes space. With V0 it dynamically changes the kbps of the song depending on how complex the actual sounds coming through are, so you're not wasting space on 320kbps silence, where it may go to 128kbps. 

 

To give another view, think of it like this: Wav=320 CBR, Flac=V0. Wav is a constant 1,411kbps stream, like 320 CBR is a constant 320kbps stream. Flac is the exact same information bit for bit of the Wav, but compresses it smartly to allow it to dip below 1,411kbps, much like V0 does.

 

Keep in mind though, lossy to lossy transcodes are bad. Transcoding a 320 CBR, or any other lossy format (mp3, ogg, aac, etc) to a better or worse preset will cause artifacts and lost information each time, degrading the music regardless. The only music that should be transcoded are lossless formats, like Flac/Wav, to mp3/aac/ogg.

 

I hope that makes sense, I'm very tired but I would love to hear other's rebuttals.

post #2 of 59
Thread Starter 

Up. I would love to have someone who listens to 320 to explain why.

post #3 of 59

Ideally, digital audio should be restricted to 24bit 96Khz FLACs. However, i find any lossy format 192bps or above adequate enough.

post #4 of 59
Thread Starter 

FLAC is only relevant if you're capable of hearing frequencies over 20k. 

post #5 of 59

Thats the theory at least. But in my AB testing the mp3 version sounded fuller and more satisfying, while the 24bit flac version sound dull in comparison. You should try it sometime as i was really shocked by the difference. FLAC is not better, just different, acoustically.
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by keanex View Post

FLAC is only relevant if you're capable of hearing frequencies over 20k. 

post #6 of 59
Thread Starter 

I don't see how that's even possible to be completely honest. Have you done ABX testing, not AB?

post #7 of 59
Quote:
Originally Posted by yifu View Post

Thats the theory at least. But in my AB testing the mp3 version sounded fuller and more satisfying, while the 24bit flac version sound dull in comparison. You should try it sometime as i was really shocked by the difference. FLAC is not better, just different, acoustically.
 


 


I would hazard a guess that there are a lot of variables involved in this comparison that we do not yet know and thus it is hard to know what to make of your test. It could just be a simple preference for the lossy version or it could be that the comparison did not ensure that all other relevant variabes were adequately controlled. Questions to ask include:

 

1) Was the tested sighted or unsighted ?

2) What was the media player or software used for the test ?

3) Were the tracks compared the same i.e both from the same artistic work ?

4) Were they 2 different versions downlaoded or was the FLAC converted and downsampled  - this is v. important !

5) How did you ensure that the volume levels for both tracks were the same ?

 

and so on.....i.e what did you do to make sure the comparison was only on the codec

 


 

post #8 of 59
Quote:
Originally Posted by keanex View Post

That's about where the similarities end though. V0 surpasses 320 in everything else. The V0 preset allows the music to reach 320kbps, but only when needed.


And that's the catch. The encoder needs to decide on what bitrate is high enough for each frame. Since the decision is based on some psychoacoustic model the results aren't always "perfect".

320 CBR guarantees that every frame will be encoded in the highest possible (mp3) quality. VBR on the other hand makes a trade-off between quality and space.

 

While both might yield transparency in many cases there'll always be some killer samples and I'm pretty sure that the number of such samples is higher for VBR. Nevertheless, I'd say that both are fine and VBR is definitely more useful on a portable player with limited space.

post #9 of 59
Quote:
Originally Posted by keanex View Post

FLAC is only relevant if you're capable of hearing frequencies over 20k. 


I'd be careful with such a statement.

 

If you're rip your CDs yourself and encode them with the latest lame for example, with high bitrate etc., then most tracks in your music collection should indeed be transparent.

 

However, I know a lot of people that have "gathered" mp3's from various places over the years ranging from 128 (or even lower) to 320 kbps, encoded with outdated or simply poor encoders, with corrupted tags and mp3 header errors and so on... nobody know what really happened to those files and that's why some of them sound like crap.

 

 

Go the FLAC route and you won't have to touch ripped CDs anymore, simply convert from flac to anything you want, anytime.

post #10 of 59
Quote:
Originally Posted by xnor View Post


And that's the catch. The encoder needs to decide on what bitrate is high enough for each frame. Since the decision is based on some psychoacoustic model the results aren't always "perfect".

320 CBR guarantees that every frame will be encoded in the highest possible (mp3) quality. VBR on the other hand makes a trade-off between quality and space.

 

While both might yield transparency in many cases there'll always be some killer samples and I'm pretty sure that the number of such samples is higher for VBR. Nevertheless, I'd say that both are fine and VBR is definitely more useful on a portable player with limited space.



Thank you xnor! biggrin.gif I was afraid that no one would point out that the dynamic bitrate is always more prone to audio glitches that, while being more or less noticeable, will be there, while CBR on the other hand is just like its own name, constant wink.gif

 

But while there are good mp3s out there, I'll take ogg for lossy and flac for lossless any day beyersmile.png

post #11 of 59
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by xnor View Post


And that's the catch. The encoder needs to decide on what bitrate is high enough for each frame. Since the decision is based on some psychoacoustic model the results aren't always "perfect".

320 CBR guarantees that every frame will be encoded in the highest possible (mp3) quality. VBR on the other hand makes a trade-off between quality and space.

 

While both might yield transparency in many cases there'll always be some killer samples and I'm pretty sure that the number of such samples is higher for VBR. Nevertheless, I'd say that both are fine and VBR is definitely more useful on a portable player with limited space.



If you're looking for fidelity, you're already "losing" by using mp3, as V0 is transparent and no one in their right mind would ever begin to think they could ABX 320 CBR and V0. Also based on your assumptions FLAC would also follow the same problems since it's also VBR, which is not the case. The encoder does just a fine job.



Quote:
Originally Posted by xnor View Post


I'd be careful with such a statement.

 

If you're rip your CDs yourself and encode them with the latest lame for example, with high bitrate etc., then most tracks in your music collection should indeed be transparent.

 

However, I know a lot of people that have "gathered" mp3's from various places over the years ranging from 128 (or even lower) to 320 kbps, encoded with outdated or simply poor encoders, with corrupted tags and mp3 header errors and so on... nobody know what really happened to those files and that's why some of them sound like crap.

 

 

Go the FLAC route and you won't have to touch ripped CDs anymore, simply convert from flac to anything you want, anytime.


 

While transparency is subjective, I would be willing to bet 99% of people couldn't ABX V2 from Flac consistently. The ones that you're talking about are surely encoded with FHG and are also probably transcodes since the average user doesn't know what he's doing. A properly encoded V2 from a lossless source will be transparent to most people.

post #12 of 59

For me, I found that listenning to my walkman with my monster turbines, V0 is transparent (that's the word right?). I keep a library of FLAC files on my desktop for archiving though.

 

Once I get my new DAP I'll be doing plenty of tests to find that perfect encoding option once again...

post #13 of 59
Thread Starter 

For actual on the go, outside noise is a factor always, as are microponics. I'd bet most people would be fine with V4 on the go to be honest. I've also never understood the concept of archiving, it makes no sense to me.

 

Edit: Never made sense assuming you're on private torrent trackers. If you're archiving you're own CDs then that makes sense to me.

post #14 of 59

Its very simple. The number one factor effecting one's enjoyment of musical fidelity is perception. What you perceive IS essentially what is real, as far as one's brain is concerned. 320 is guaranteed to provide better perception. Done and done.

 

The human mind is a absolutely pathetic instrument when it comes to objective reasoning. In this thread alone we have heard someone argue that mp3 better than FLAC, because one time he probably thought it sounded different. Is such an opinion demonstrably absurd? Of course.

 

320 is the guaranteed best bitrate, so your brain can rest while listening. Its identical to V0, of course. But can you really trust your brain to not think about that stuff while listening? Of course not.

 

(V0 listener here. No 320 or Flacs.)

post #15 of 59

"-Both are transparent, meaning aside from the rare few who can hear frequencies above 20k, then you can not and will not notice a difference between this and FLAC/Wav/Other lossless."

 

This statement is far to broad, not for everyone!

 

"To give another view, think of it like this: Wav=320 CBR, Flac=V0. Wav is a constant 1,411kbps stream, like 320 CBR is a constant 320kbps stream. Flac is the exact same information bit for bit of the Wav, but compresses it smartly to allow it to dip below 1,411kbps, much like V0 does."

 

v0 is NOT bit by bit the same as 320 so this analogy is irrelevant.

 

"Ideally, digital audio should be restricted to 24bit 96Khz FLACs."

 

No, that's a waste of space.

 

"FLAC is only relevant if you're capable of hearing frequencies over 20k."

 

no, it's always relevant but it contains more information than lossy files.

 

"320 is the guaranteed best bitrate, so your brain can rest while listening. Its identical to V0, of course. But can you really trust your brain to not think about that stuff while listening? Of course not."

 

It is not identical to v0, as explained by xnor.

 

 

 

I used to use 320, but recently I've been using a special flavor of v0.

 

 

 

 

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