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What is the best audio file type

post #1 of 24
Thread Starter 

Not even sure if this is the correct section to post this in, but anyway I'm pretty ignorant when it comes to this type of stuff.  All I know/have ever downloaded is mp3 or wma.  My question is what is the best audio file type?  If I'm going to download a new album or something, where should I go, what program should I use to download the best audio quality I can find. 

post #2 of 24

I would say lossless like flac is propably the best but there are many factors involved.

post #3 of 24

It's not so much about the program you use to download a file, or the file type--it's more about bit rate.

post #4 of 24

 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Eric_C View Post

It's not so much about the program you use to download a file, or the file type--it's more about bit rate.

 

Not quite true as bitrate doesn't really matter all that much when talking about lossless audio.

 

Quote:
Originally Posted by mac336 View Post

Not even sure if this is the correct section to post this in, but anyway I'm pretty ignorant when it comes to this type of stuff.  All I know/have ever downloaded is mp3 or wma.  My question is what is the best audio file type?  If I'm going to download a new album or something, where should I go, what program should I use to download the best audio quality I can find. 

The best audio quality, is always lossless as it is a perfect 1:1 bit accurate copy of the original tracks.


Lossless may or may not be right for you based on what you want to do with your music and how much space you have to use.


Edited by ROBSCIX - 2/15/12 at 6:47pm
post #5 of 24

is an 1411.2 kbps AIFF file better sounding than the 1000kbps ALAC file that was properly encoded fromt hat AIFF file with error checking and all that? no. like ROB said. lossless. >_< it really depends on what you define as best. do you mean the ....most recommended or best "compressed" lossless format? or... as in performance? if it was performance wise it would be a lot harder as then you get into LAME MP3 and AAC, ogg vorbis etc. yes i said MP3's and AAC's! they have very good performance. a 320kbps LAME MP3 is about 10x less the size of an ALAC file and most regular people can't tell it apart. audiophiles can usually but even then we get only 80% of the time listening to top notch rigs on the computer and having to listen to it multiple times ABX'ing it.... -__-


Edited by bowei006 - 2/15/12 at 6:49pm
post #6 of 24


 

Quote:
Originally Posted by ROBSCIX View Post

Not quite true as bitrate doesn't really matter all that much when talking about lossless audio.

 


 

Yes, but as the OP stated he's really very new to all of this, and even asked "what program should I use to download"--which indicated to me that he might be thinking of downloading off the Net, and in that case there is no difference between different programs used to download. I was trying to point him in the direction of learning about bit rate to get a better understanding of what affects audio quality, as opposed to thinking in terms of "mp3 vs wma".

post #7 of 24
Thread Starter 

Anyone who downloads music have any preference on a program or website good for downloading (I have used utorrent in the past.  i am indifferent towards it)

 

So if I was choosing a track to download, ideally i would look for a flac file type with the highest bit rate?

post #8 of 24
Quote:
Originally Posted by mac336 View Post

Anyone who downloads music have any preference on a program or website good for downloading (I have used utorrent in the past.  i am indifferent towards it)

 

So if I was choosing a track to download, ideally i would look for a flac file type with the highest bit rate?



Flac are flacs...bit rate doesn't matter in the same was as it does with destructive compressions like Mp3.

Look up lossless audio compression and do some reading, there are various routines available but provided they are lossless you're good.

 

I encoded my own music library to lossless so I cannot help you with locations or dowloading apps..etc.

You can always compress a lossless track to an Mp3 for a player etc..but you can never turn an Mp3 into a full quality Flac.

 

 


Edited by ROBSCIX - 2/15/12 at 7:19pm
post #9 of 24

flac because it seems to be the common type of lossless.

post #10 of 24

For a CD rip, which is Linear PCM 16/44.1 has the highest fidelity, lossless codecs such as alac and flac are alternatives that give up no quality but save drive space.

Linear PCM can be coded as AIFF (Apples standard L.PCM format) WMA (Windows standard L.PCM format). There are other formats out there that achieve the same lossless quality.

 

There is also high bit word length and sample rates, ranging from CD quality 16/44.1 to 24/192. Which can be purchased online as high resolution recordings, these can be stored as the same formats as CD audio, but they are substantially larger files which contain higher quality audio recordings.

 

There is SACD (Super Audio CD) which is recorded as DSD at a 1 bit word length but a sample rate in the MegaHertz as opposed to tens or hundreds of KiloHertz.

SACD recordings are incredibly large files and the format is not used outside of the discs, you'd have to convert it to a L.PCM format to play back or to use with a standard DAC.

 

WIki has a pretty good article on the subject.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sampling_rate

 

Also check out bit depth.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Audio_bit_depth

post #11 of 24

FLAC is an excellent choice not only because it is common, and of course lossless, but it allows you to include all of your metadata :)  I laugh at those who stick to .wav, who have no way of properly storing each song's data

post #12 of 24

I would say don't worry too much about file format if you're downloading music. The reason is these tracks were ripped from CDs by somebody else, and you have no way of knowing whether it went from:

CD > FLAC

or 

CD > MP3 > FLAC

or some other terrible conversion journey.

 

To put it another way: if you really care about audio quality, you'll buy the CDs and do the rips yourself.

post #13 of 24
Quote:
Originally Posted by El_Doug View Post

FLAC is an excellent choice not only because it is common, and of course lossless, but it allows you to include all of your metadata :)  I laugh at those who stick to .wav, who have no way of properly storing each song's data

Some of us are perfectly happy living without tags at all. And if, for some reason, I decide I want tags, I can easily convert my library to FLAC or whatever and use an autotagger....

Sent from my SCH-I510 using Tapatalk
Edited by headfinoob - 2/15/12 at 9:55pm
post #14 of 24

Basically get MP3 320kbps if you want to save space. 256kbps AAC from iTunes is also very good. CD rips into WAV and AIFF but that is uncompressed and will take up more space as it's still 1411.2kbps. FLAC and ALAC save space and retain full info and quality. FLAC is more "supported" on more programs and devices.But in terms of popularity of device ALAC is supported on. ALAC will be the more "mass supported" format as Apple devices use it.  If you use an ipod and given a choice of download. ALAC. tends to be bigger but hey...you have an ipod. if alac is not availble(keep in mind the file end of alac is .m4a as alac is wraped in a mpeg 4 audio container) but if you can only get flac. then convert/encode that flac into ALAC with a good program with error checking. i use dbpoweramp on pc and "max" on mac

post #15 of 24
Quote:
Originally Posted by Eric_C View Post

I would say don't worry too much about file format if you're downloading music. The reason is these tracks were ripped from CDs by somebody else, and you have no way of knowing whether it went from:

CD > FLAC

or 

CD > MP3 > FLAC

or some other terrible conversion journey.

 

To put it another way: if you really care about audio quality, you'll buy the CDs and do the rips yourself.


Not so.  When ripping a cd, it is possible to generate a checksum for each track that can be verified against publicly available databases to guarantee that the file is bit-perfect.  Many cd rips available include this file as proof, and you can further verify any file yourself.

 

OP - the advantage to lossless files, besides saving space while maintaining bit-perfect copies, is that you can convert between file types at will.  Once you compress, you can no longer do this without significant deterioration of the file.

 

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