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Can I get better than 320kbps sound quality? - Page 8

post #106 of 134
Quote:
Originally Posted by JesperZ View Post

Yes it is. It's a compression format for digital audio, not analog audio. So to compare it with the CDA source (which is the actual source, not a vinyl or a collection of instruments or whatever you are referring to) it is lossless, as in it hasn't lost any audio details during compression from CDA to FLAC. That CDA is missing details compared to analog audio is a fact, whether audible or not, but that isn't really relevant to the discussion of whether FLAC is lossless compared to its source (CDA).
 



 



I understand what you're saying. But all studio masters get down-sampled before they are burned to CD anyway, so it technically does go through processing. I can see how it may be understood as lossless in terms of the owner of an audio track converting it to another format without loss of quality. But all i'm trying to point out is that digital can never truly be lossless in terms of quality as there is always some kind of mathematical limit. 

 

The discussion of this thread isn't about FLAC compared to CDDA as it isn't even subjective. The OP was asking if they could get better quality than a 320kbps CBR lossy file. I wrote a post on the last page talking about using the "joint stereo" function in lame when using 320CBR MP3 which generally has a cut off at about 21.5khz. I haven't seen any ABX tests been done using the "joint stereo" function. I'm only aware of ABX tests that have been done using full stereo mode, which tends to cut off at about 20 - 20.5khz.

post #107 of 134

Yes I get your point, but even analog media has physical limitations. As with digital audio the details are limited by the bitrate for the given format, analog media is limited by the level of precision of the machines used to create the media. The only real "lossless" format would then be a live performance with no use of speakers. Regardless, all recorded music today is produced on a computer so even vinyls are limited by digital measurements. I'd definitely say that the best audio quality OP can get hold of is either vinyl or CDDA (or any lossless CDDA compression formats), where both are equally detailed but the vinyl requires better equipment to avoid mechanical resonance. I'd rather just put it simple and say FLAC all the way if you want the best possible audio quality.
 

Quote:

Originally Posted by Fraiz View Post

I understand what you're saying. But all studio masters get down-sampled before they are burned to CD anyway, so it technically does go through processing. I can see how it may be understood as lossless in terms of the owner of an audio track converting it to another format without loss of quality. But all i'm trying to point out is that digital can never truly be lossless in terms of quality as there is always some kind of mathematical limit. 

 

The discussion of this thread isn't about FLAC compared to CDDA as it isn't even subjective. The OP was asking if they could get better quality than a 320kbps CBR lossy file. I wrote a post on the last page talking about using the "joint stereo" function in lame when using 320CBR MP3 which generally has a cut off at about 21.5khz. I haven't seen any ABX tests been done using the "joint stereo" function. I'm only aware of ABX tests that have been done using full stereo mode, which tends to cut off at about 20 - 20.5khz.


 

 

post #108 of 134

er, i'm sorry to say that this discussion is veering off topic and has now become random discussions on whether digital audio is actually lossless...

 

Just sayin for all the people who are going to view this thread...

post #109 of 134
Quote:
Originally Posted by SunBakedEmoKid View Post

er, i'm sorry to say that this discussion is veering off topic and has now become random discussions on whether digital audio is actually lossless...

 

Just sayin for all the people who are going to view this thread...


^This   popcorn.gif

 

Anyhow, I can tell the difference between 320kbps and FLAC, and I, personally, recommend FLAC over 320kbps. Yes it does take a lot more space than a 320kbps MP3, but I think it's worth it. Not only that, hard drive space is fairly cheap nowadays so I don't mind too much.

 

If you can *somehow* tell the difference between 256kbps and 320kbps, I give you the thumbs up to go ahead and start listening to things in FLAC because there actually is a difference.

 

As for obtaining FLAC files...I mostly rip mine from CD's. There are some FLAC files you can purchase online such as HDtracks.com.

 

post #110 of 134
If your mp3s don't sound as good as lossless, you should try using a different encoder. I use iTunes to make 256 AAC VBR files and I am hard pressed to find any difference between them and the original CD.
post #111 of 134

Prior to getting my HD650s I could barely tell a difference between 320 and FLAC.  However, with my current setup I can certainly hear a difference.

post #112 of 134
Quote:
Originally Posted by bigshot View Post

If your mp3s don't sound as good as lossless, you should try using a different encoder. I use iTunes to make 256 AAC VBR files and I am hard pressed to find any difference between them and the original CD.


Well I agree that it is sometimes hard to tell the difference, it depends on the track. For some of my songs it really is hard, while others are easier to tell. With some of my FLAC files, highs and lows seem richer and more detailed than the 320kbps version. If you're out and about though, it would not make a difference whether I listen to FLAC or 320kbps tracks.

post #113 of 134
Quote:
Originally Posted by miceblue View Post




Well I agree that it is sometimes hard to tell the difference, it depends on the track. For some of my songs it really is hard, while others are easier to tell. With some of my FLAC files, highs and lows seem richer and more detailed than the 320kbps version. If you're out and about though, it would not make a difference whether I listen to FLAC or 320kbps tracks.


Sorry - I know what you're saying, and if you had a Stax setup, or something else high-end, I'd be more likely to give you the benefit of the doubt.  Unless you've got other gear that's not in your sig, I have serious doubts as to whether you can really distinguish it blind.  I'm not being argumentative or nasty either - I just question anybody who makes that statement.

 

What I'd suggest you do is the following:

Get a CD - and rip to FLAC.
Convert the FLAC to 320 kbps mp3 using latest lame

 

Load both tracks up in Foobar2000.  Volume level match them.  Then use Foobar's ABX ability (ie it randomly selects blind) - and see if you can tell the difference.

 

I also thought I could distinguish - until I volume matched and actually did it blind.  It was en eye opener for me.  I'd love to try again with better gear - but I have my doubts if it would become any easier.  For the record - I can't tell the difference.


Edited by Brooko - 7/12/11 at 10:43pm
post #114 of 134
The difference between high rate compressed files and lossless isn't frequency extension. They both go just as far in the highs and lows. The difference is artifacting. There are certain complex sound textures (orchestral massed strings in particular) that can't be reproduced with low bit rates without digital gurgling. But I haven't found any tracks with artifacts using AAC 256 VBR. Try it for yourself and you'll see.
post #115 of 134
Quote:
Originally Posted by Brooko View Post




Sorry - I know what you're saying, and if you had a Stax setup, or something else high-end, I'd be more likely to give you the benefit of the doubt.  Unless you've got other gear that's not in your sig, I have serious doubts as to whether you can really distinguish it blind.  I'm not being argumentative or nasty either - I just question anybody who makes that statement.

 

What I'd suggest you do is the following:

Get a CD - and rip to FLAC.
Convert the FLAC to 320 kbps mp3 using latest lame

 

Load both tracks up in Foobar2000.  Volume level match them.  Then use Foobar's ABX ability (ie it randomly selects blind) - and see if you can tell the difference.

 

I also thought I could distinguish - until I volume matched and actually did it blind.  It was en eye opener for me.  I'd love to try again with better gear - but I have my doubts if it would become any easier.  For the record - I can't tell the difference.


Hm...from doing a similar test, I guess I really cannot tell the difference between 320kbps and FLAC with the tracks I listened to. I basically took a FLAC file, converted it to 320kbps MP3 using the program called Max on Mac OS X, opened the original FLAC and the converted MP3 files in VLC and shuffled between the two so I wouldn't know which one is which, and tried to AB them. I guess I didn't know what I was talking about earlier. >_<

 

Man I feel stupid right now, hahahahaha. So my question to you guys is why do you keep FLAC files if 320kbps really has a negligible effect on the sound quality of a track? Maybe there really is a difference and I just don't have the right equipment for the test at the moment...right? Otherwise why would people spend thousands of dollars on audio equipment.

 

post #116 of 134

Lossless is best for archiving music in backups. That way you don't have to double encode if you want to reduce the file size for portable use.

 

I have been systematically ripping my thousands of CDs to AAC 256 VBR files in my media server. The CDs go in a closet. No need for them unless I want to make some other type of file.

post #117 of 134

What about the quality that I've downloaded from itunes store?. Is it reliable to trust their encoding or not?.

post #118 of 134
Quote:
Originally Posted by miceblue View Post




Hm...from doing a similar test, I guess I really cannot tell the difference between 320kbps and FLAC with the tracks I listened to. I basically took a FLAC file, converted it to 320kbps MP3 using the program called Max on Mac OS X, opened the original FLAC and the converted MP3 files in VLC and shuffled between the two so I wouldn't know which one is which, and tried to AB them. I guess I didn't know what I was talking about earlier. >_<

 

Man I feel stupid right now, hahahahaha. So my question to you guys is why do you keep FLAC files if 320kbps really has a negligible effect on the sound quality of a track? Maybe there really is a difference and I just don't have the right equipment for the test at the moment...right? Otherwise why would people spend thousands of dollars on audio equipment.

 


Don't beat yourself up - welcome to reality.  It just means that modern lossy codecs have become a lot better.  But it's better to actually know.  I see a lot of people say they can easily AB - but when you do it properly (ABX), it suddenly becomes a lot more real.  The good thing is that for your portable you can use 256aac or 320mp3 and be happy with the extra space (without continually subconsiously thinking that you are missing out by not using lossless).

 

Like bigshot - I rip everything to FLAC purely for archiving (and also for listening from my PC - where space is not an issue).  It just means that if I ever have to transcode again, I don't have to rerip.  You don't want to transcode from one lossy file format to another.  I have two directories - one for FLAC (which I back-up religiously) - and one for AAC.  Every time I buy a new CD, I rip it to FLAC, and immediately transcode a copy to AAC as well.

 

I can't answer your final question re really high end gear.  I'm purely entry-fi / mid-fi at the moment.  You'd need to get someone who has a high-end Stax set-up (or other tier one gear) who's willing to undergo the same sort of test.  There are a few on head-fi that 'may' be willing to do it.  If I ever climb the ladder high enough I'll let you know wink.gif

post #119 of 134
Quote:
Originally Posted by Rainman26 View Post

What about the quality that I've downloaded from itunes store?. Is it reliable to trust their encoding or not?.


I've heard one report of a bad rip turning up in the iTunes store but I think that was an anomaly caused by ripping from a scratched CD. Their quality control is generally very good. The problem there was a bad rip (obvious dropouts) not bad encoding. However the standard 128 AAC encoding is a bit low for my taste.

 

post #120 of 134
Quote:
Originally Posted by Brooko View Post

I can't answer your final question re really high end gear.  I'm purely entry-fi / mid-fi at the moment.  You'd need to get someone who has a high-end Stax set-up (or other tier one gear) who's willing to undergo the same sort of test.  There are a few on head-fi that 'may' be willing to do it.  If I ever climb the ladder high enough I'll let you know wink.gif

 

You already know how I feel about that. tongue.gif
 

But yeah, high end gear isn't about being able to pick out differences, it's about presenting the sounds in a particular way that just hits the spot.

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