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Can you tell the difference between: FLAC + MP3 + WAV ?

post #1 of 73
Thread Starter 

I am listening to Tails of the Coin Spinner on a standard Clip+ using various IEM's and headphones but I cannot tell the difference between these formats, they all sound exactly the same to me. Can anyone else hear any differences or is it just me ? if there are no audible differences then maybe I should stick to using 320 kbps ?

post #2 of 73

With good equipment the difference between 128kbps and 320kbps MP3 is audible with decent recordings. 320kbps vs. FLAC is harder, but can be done with certain recordings. There is literally no difference between FLAC and WAV beside the extra processing.

 

You shouldn't really rip to FLAC for the sound quality. You do it so you have a bit-perfect copy of the original. Keep FLAC you get from your ripped CDs on your computer, then make lossy copies (variable bitrate MP3 or something like Ogg Vorbis) for your portables. There's not much reason to use lossless on a portable if you have a copy on the computer.

post #3 of 73

I cannot hear the difference all of time between 128 and 320, but on certain recordings I can.  I never listen a track and say "oh this must be 128".  The only time I notice is when I A/B them.

 

In fact on the "Do 320kbps mp3 files really sound better" thread over 50% of us could not tell the difference with the chosen track.  You are definitely not alone.

 

I think anything above 160kbps will sound great through 90% of what is out there.


Edited by NA Blur - 9/5/11 at 2:44pm
post #4 of 73

It depends on what you listen to but honestly a 320kbps MP3 is a pretty fine sounding music file. I listen to a lot of progressive metal (Coheed and Cambria, Dream Theater, Protest the Hero, etc.) and in extremely complex, layered passages a 128kbps MP3 is pretty easily distinguished from a 320kbps but 320 vs FLAC is so close you would almost never be able to tell the difference at any sort of comfortable listening volume.

post #5 of 73

That's the thing many people don't mention - the compression artifacts that let you distinguish these files are pretty low in amplitude and can require pretty uncomfortable listening levels to be heard clearly. That and, as mentioned above, files only tend to sound different in comparison - it's not as if many people instantly can guess the bitrate of a file listened to in isolation.

post #6 of 73
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Head Injury View Post

With good equipment the difference between 128kbps and 320kbps MP3 is audible with decent recordings. 320kbps vs. FLAC is harder, but can be done with certain recordings. There is literally no difference between FLAC and WAV beside the extra processing.

 

You shouldn't really rip to FLAC for the sound quality. You do it so you have a bit-perfect copy of the original. Keep FLAC you get from your ripped CDs on your computer, then make lossy copies (variable bitrate MP3 or something like Ogg Vorbis) for your portables. There's not much reason to use lossless on a portable if you have a copy on the computer.

 

Quote:
Originally Posted by NA Blur View Post

I cannot hear the difference all of time between 128 and 320, but on certain recordings I can.  I never listen a track and say "oh this must be 128".  The only time I notice is when I A/B them.

 

In fact on the "Do 320kbps mp3 files really sound better" thread over 50% of us could not tell the difference with the chosen track.  You are definitely not alone.

 

I think anything above 160kbps will sound great through 90% of what is out there.

 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Remonster View Post

It depends on what you listen to but honestly a 320kbps MP3 is a pretty fine sounding music file. I listen to a lot of progressive metal (Coheed and Cambria, Dream Theater, Protest the Hero, etc.) and in extremely complex, layered passages a 128kbps MP3 is pretty easily distinguished from a 320kbps but 320 vs FLAC is so close you would almost never be able to tell the difference at any sort of comfortable listening volume.

 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Willakan View Post

That's the thing many people don't mention - the compression artifacts that let you distinguish these files are pretty low in amplitude and can require pretty uncomfortable listening levels to be heard clearly. That and, as mentioned above, files only tend to sound different in comparison - it's not as if many people instantly can guess the bitrate of a file listened to in isolation.


 

Thanks, this is good to know as most of my collection is ripped at either 256 or 320 kbps MP3. I was concerned that something in the master copies hadn't made it to the compressed files, but when I listened and compared the different formats I just couldn't hear the difference. I have been reading the Wikipedia article on the MP3 format, which has also helped clear things up for me:

"The compression works by reducing accuracy of certain parts of sound that are considered to be beyond the auditory resolution ability of most people. This method is commonly referred to as perceptual coding. It uses psychoacoustic models to discard or reduce precision of components less audible to human hearing, and then records the remaining information in an efficient manner."

Most of the music I buy online is 320 kbps CBR so there is really no choice there. I could use Amazon's VBR, but I'm not to keen on that format. It's the rare CD's that I buy that pose the real problem. I guess the question now is which lossy format should I use ? I cannot tell the difference between 256 kbps and 320 kbps MP3, and I cannot tell the difference between AAC and MP3 so I may as well use the most compatible format at the most optimal storage/quality ratio: 256 kbps MP3 ?

 

 

post #7 of 73

Don't discount VBR so soon, it's really the best trade-off between file size and quality as far as mp3s go. Get the latest LAME and code at V0. In absolute terms, other lossy codecs may offer better quality than mp3, but a noticeable difference remains rare.

 

I have a similar approach to what you're doing, that is I compress to V0 or 320kbps mp3 for the sake of compatibility. All the while I'm rebuilding the entire collection in FLAC for archival purposes, though this will take years to complete.

post #8 of 73
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by anetode View Post

All the while I'm rebuilding the entire collection in FLAC for archival purposes, though this will take years to complete.

 


I think I will use FLAC to backup some of the really rare albums I have, just incase they go missing. Is there any reason to use FLAC over WAV or AIFF other than tag support ?

 

 

post #9 of 73

 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Head Injury View Post

With good equipment the difference between 128kbps and 320kbps MP3 is audible with decent recordings. 320kbps vs. FLAC is harder, but can be done with certain recordings. There is literally no difference between FLAC and WAV beside the extra processing.

 

You shouldn't really rip to FLAC for the sound quality. You do it so you have a bit-perfect copy of the original. Keep FLAC you get from your ripped CDs on your computer, then make lossy copies (variable bitrate MP3 or something like Ogg Vorbis) for your portables. There's not much reason to use lossless on a portable if you have a copy on the computer.


Pretty good advice!

 

Most people put Flac on their portables, or never use Flac and only rip in lossy, not many people rip on lossless and listen to lossy, even though that is the most logical!

 

 

post #10 of 73

 

Quote:
Originally Posted by NA Blur View Post

 

In fact on the "Do 320kbps mp3 files really sound better" thread over 50% of us could not tell the difference with the chosen track.  You are definitely not alone.

 


If that's the test I thought it was it was a terrible test!

 

It was only ONE TRACK and a not very good sounding one imho, and I think the author reversed the results on purpose just to get a laugh!

 

I've seen a better MP3 bitrate test online than that one where there were much more favourable results.

 

post #11 of 73
Quote:
Originally Posted by Head Injury View Post

You shouldn't really rip to FLAC for the sound quality. You do it so you have a bit-perfect copy of the original. Keep FLAC you get from your ripped CDs on your computer, then make lossy copies (variable bitrate MP3 or something like Ogg Vorbis) for your portables. There's not much reason to use lossless on a portable if you have a copy on the computer.


I agree.  I use 320cbr for my DAP and lossless for my desktop system.  Given my portable setup, and that I'm usually in a distracted state of mind when using the DAP, the lossless on the D2 is a waste of capacity.

post #12 of 73

 

My 2 cents I think 320 kbps is too space consuming! I'd prefer if music was offered in 192 kbps and FLAC those two are my favorites, not 320 because it doesn't have the small file size of 192 kbps and it doesn't have the perfection of Flac so what's the point? Lol.

 

Eventually lossy will be phased out, as internet speeds increase and storage capacity stupidly increases people will be more happy with music collections purely in lossless, it's going to take a few years but we'll get there, for sure!

 

I'd rather be ahead of my times and keep everything in Flac, but I'm suffering from the dilemma of 2011, if everything is in Flac on my DAP it fills up to quickly!!

 

Btw I bought a nice looking 4GB USB key today at a store for $6!! Times are moving!! Use lossless!!

 

 

Edit: And let's keep in mind 24bit/96kHz is going to become ever more popular as well!!

 

A few years ago I remember thinking "this sucks why does everyone think 128kbps MP3 is the best and not realise audio quality is worse now than in the 90's?" but now I most certainly have faith that we're on an upwards path in audio, for sure!! Just look at the explosion of IEM's and amplifiers and all that recently, and with the fast internet speeds in Japan for instance most music samples online are lossless.

 

 

 


Edited by kiteki - 9/8/11 at 12:59pm
post #13 of 73

I've just conceded defeat today and started converting my FLACs into V0 VBR for portable listening! redface.gif

post #14 of 73
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by kiteki View Post

My 2 cents I think 320 kbps is too space consuming! I'd prefer if music was offered in 192 kbps and FLAC those two are my favorites, not 320 because it doesn't have the small file size of 192 kbps and it doesn't have the perfection of Flac so what's the point? Lol.

 

 

 

 I could hear significant loss at 128 kbps, I wasn't sure about 192 kbps, so I finally settled on 256 kbps for my collection back in the late 90's when EAC had just been released.

 

 

Quote:

Originally Posted by kiteki View Post

 

Eventually lossy will be phased out, as internet speeds increase and storage capacity stupidly increases people will be more happy with music collections purely in lossless, it's going to take a few years but we'll get there, for sure!

 

 

 

I agree, it reminds me of dial up modems and analogue television, now its fibre optic internet connections and digital television; lossless may well be the norm in the near future.

 

 

Quote:

Originally Posted by kiteki View Post

 

Btw I bought a nice looking 4GB USB key today at a store for $6!! Times are moving!! Use lossless!!

 

 

 

I remember when a 4 GB USB flash drive was a little under $3000 ! around 8 years ago if my memory serves me well, and yet earlier this year I picked up a 64GB stick for $89.

 


Edited by StargateRecords - 9/8/11 at 1:48pm
post #15 of 73

My husband and I had this argument and we did a blind A/B with FLAC and 320. 10 songs played randomly that I listen to routinely and I was correct on 8/10. Not exactly a huge sample.

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