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MP3 vs. FLAC - Page 2

post #16 of 34

Problem with 'blind test' and 'consistently' is to do more so with the equipment and listening environment.

 

 

I am into audio and have the good fortune to have a system which reveals the differences. It would be in the top 1-2% of stereos around the globe. When friends who previously were adamant that the difference was nil, listen to said files on this system, they nearly drop their jaw in the first few seconds. It is night and day obvious. Certain genres have greater payoffs/more overt in the difference (many instruments/orchestras for example).

 

Even before my teenage years it dawned on me how much 'bang for buck' headphone setups could get, vs performance 'high fidelity' gear, and think therefor that this forum would likely have an excellent spread of users, with varying setups, more likely for critical listening.

problem is on the internet, voice being free and easy to offer, and the masses, if elegant in their argument, can derail the truth (because THEY haven't experienced it).. Sure we can argue subjectiveness. We can argue about the variance in two people hearing..

 

 

We CAN argue..

 

 

Or we can accept the very real advantage that uncompressed offers with the only drawback being the space taken up.

 

I grew up with portable cd players, before CD wallets even. Carrying multiple discs was a pain.

 

Today, I have no problem carrying an 8GB portable player with uncompressed albums on it. It still holds more music than I will need before the battery drains out, and is smaller than a packet of tictacs.

 

I did explain that 1200+ cds ripped in a lossless compressed format filled around 300GBs, so I find it hard to understand what the problem is for reference storage.

 

but sure if some low capacity "i device" needs to have all the worlds music for wonderful random play, drop the last little bit of detail. No one

will care. No one will be listening critically to it.

 

 

In a world of compressed music playing through modern garbage AV receivers (some with digital restoration of the 'lost data'), sound files don't sound different to each other, in a meaningful way, anyway. Most people haven't really heard the music. A lot of amplifiers built before the late eighties introduction of the integrated circuit, offer a real bang for buck advantage offer setups now mostly designed for compressed movie soundtracks. Even running quality power amps and speakers off $1800 pricepoint audio visual receiver, back in the late nighties, hearing the difference between Dolby digital and dts was something to strain to hear. Improving that front end to flagship receiver, and wow, I'd take Dolby digital or dts through that (lossy formats) rather than dts master audio or the new highend formats through a crap $600 surround system. I hear so much more detail, beautifully nuanced on the better gear, even with the low bitrate version versions.

 

If you want actual feedback on how these things sound, get a top tier setup, setup properly (room acoustical control matters, positioning etc), play familiar tracks, and blind test away. You might finds these results worth a grain of salt, or better. Will it help you convince anyone or be worth the time? Anyhow I'd rather enjoy the music, so 'statistically' belong to the people who generally don't sell ourselves as top dogs or big shots, prefering to sit back and ENJOY the music.

 

writing on my phone, very hard to edit, but I use the term uncompressed here to represent lossless formats. I do use lossless compressed file formats to save 25%-50% of the storage space wherever possible (not all playback devices support all if these file formats).

post #17 of 34
Quote:
 

Problem with 'blind test' and 'consistently' is to do more so with the equipment and listening environment.

 

 

I am into audio and have the good fortune to have a system which reveals the differences. It would be in the top 1-2% of stereos around the globe. When friends who previously were adamant that the difference was nil, listen to said files on this system, they nearly drop their jaw in the first few seconds. It is night and day obvious. Certain genres have greater payoffs/more overt in the difference (many instruments/orchestras for example).

...

Certainly, the equipment and the listening environment are a key factor. I would love to try my blind test in you system! Would you be kind enough to do it for me? I am very interested in the results. Here are the links:

 

http://goo.gl/Xin6xthttp://goo.gl/Dfawrbhttp://goo.gl/dDYldg

 

I have quite a collection of countries in my data, but Australia is not in the list, yet!

post #18 of 34
Usually I think complex/dense music providing good examples of the differences. However, I have an easy example that most equipment would show differences between 320k and red book/lossless. I am embarassed to use this as an example. Let me start off by saying this is my wife's music, not mine. But try Miley Cyrus Party in the USA I both 320k and losses. I think you will hear some obvious differences for whatever reason. Maybe the mp3 encoder just hates Miley Cyrus. I know I find her more than a bit annoying and untalented.
post #19 of 34

Music mastering come first, and then the equipment come next if you have high fidelity music files.  If you have an ipod with ibuds for Britany Spears track, forget about flac.  

 

Id be more worried about quality of the the mastering.

post #20 of 34
Quote:
Originally Posted by SilverEars View Post
 

Music mastering come first, and then the equipment come next if you have high fidelity music files.  If you have an ipod with ibuds for Britany Spears track, forget about flac.  

 

Id be more worried about quality of the the mastering.


I have a HD800 and I don't hear a single difference between MP3 320kbps and FLAC or other lossless format.

post #21 of 34
Quote:
Originally Posted by Okamoto View Post


I have a HD800 and I don't hear a single difference between MP3 320kbps and FLAC or other lossless format.

Did you try my Miley Cyrus, party in the USA example?
post #22 of 34

Actually, as humans, we are hearing differences, because we are changing all times psychologically or in physiology... OK, if do not postulate this in level of absolute rule, even then it is easy to understand that even minimal changes of our real ear (inner or outer ear) is changing what we hear (some persons are more aware of those changes some are not). And its true too, that our tension in muscles connected to ear (or ear surroundings) is changing all the time, so actually we change ear (and ear channel) shape and position during listening... sure, it means that sample A or B are are not repeatedly same way different...

 

lossless audio track is really only bit-for-bit identical to its source if it's been decoded and processed correctly...

http://www.highdefdigest.com/news/show/Joshua_Zyber/High-Def_FAQ_Uncompressed_vs_Lossless_Audio/1233

 

But if to go onto normal 'mundane' level I can hear differences between lossless .Wav and .Mp3 (320 kbps) even when using just a primitive (and already old) mediaplayer Sony A818 with just Denon AH-D5000 (sure, all kind of EQ's and 'audio enhancers' not in use)... no need to compare separately with my other more higher end stuff. Differences are mostly in subtle details (decay, echo, transparency, 'attaca', etc.), just listen neutrally or relaxed, don't try to 'forcefully find' big differencies (don't 'look for', just 'let it happen/be')

post #23 of 34

These free download files are incredibly well recorded, and excellent material for the discussion in this thread.

 

http://www.soundliaison.com/all-our-products/179-formats-to-compare-wav-flac-cd-mp3

 

Quote:
 

Free Tracks Format Comparison

Here is a zip file containing samples of 2 tracks in 4 different formats.

A: 96/24 WAV
B: 96/24 FLAC
C: 16/44 WAV (CD)
D: 320kbps MP3

All the different formats have the same source file 96/24 WAV (Studio Master).

We used WAVELAB for the conversion.

When you compare the files start with the lowest resolution: D (MP3 320 kbps) and move on up through example C and B ending with A.

Be careful: If you start with A, and move down through B and C ending with D, your mind will remember the ''Blueprint'' of the higher resolution file, making it difficult to hear the difference even when finally listening to the MP3 file. Don't be frustrated if you can't hear a difference at first. Hearing is as individual as taste but hearing is also something which can be acquired, like the taste of good wine.

post #24 of 34

I do find the MP3 vs FLAC debate interesting. Maybe I am a biased audio snob but I think it is easy to hear the difference between 320k MP3 and FLAC. I have a good but not excessive stereo at home (Marantz NA7004, Consonance amp, Tannoy M2 speakers) and every time I have played someone two files back to back they pick the FLAC file as better. Even on my car stereo, admittedly giving it my full attention, you can hear the difference.

 

I do have some 24bit/96k FLAC files. I think there is a difference between them  and 16bit/44k (maybe it is the audio snob in me coming through) but doing it blind I can't tell which one is better.

post #25 of 34
Quote:
Originally Posted by Crashem View Post

Usually I think complex/dense music providing good examples of the differences. However, I have an easy example that most equipment would show differences between 320k and red book/lossless. I am embarassed to use this as an example. Let me start off by saying this is my wife's music, not mine. But try Miley Cyrus Party in the USA I both 320k and losses. I think you will hear some obvious differences for whatever reason. Maybe the mp3 encoder just hates Miley Cyrus. I know I find her more than a bit annoying and untalented.

There's no need to be embarrassed. Music is music. I always want to be careful not to become an audio snob or music snob.

 

I also have the HD800s and while I have not done extensive testing abxing FLAC vs 320kbps MP3, I can't really tell a difference. But I don't really care that much, I have my songs in FLAC because storage space is cheap on a desktop computer and I don't take my music on the go.


Edited by Dark_wizzie - 7/24/14 at 4:19am
post #26 of 34
Listening to my He-500, I thought flac had a bit more treble extention and overall transparency towards the original recording than 320 mp3.
post #27 of 34
Quote:
 

When you compare the files start with the lowest resolution: D (MP3 320 kbps) and move on up through example C and B ending with A.

Be careful: If you start with A, and move down through B and C ending with D, your mind will remember the ''Blueprint'' of the higher resolution file, making it difficult to hear the difference even when finally listening to the MP3 file. Don't be frustrated if you can't hear a difference at first. Hearing is as individual as taste but hearing is also something which can be acquired, like the taste of good wine.

http://www.soundliaison.com/all-our-products/179-formats-to-compare-wav-flac-cd-mp3

I have noticed that the ''blueprint'' statement from the Sound Liaison people has caused quite a heated debate on other forums, good to see that on this thread/debate everyone stays calm.

I also think that hearing differs between people and that hearing can be improved by......... listening.

post #28 of 34

I have recently taken the time to compare FLAC to MP3 with what turned out to be… in my view… some pretty extensive testing for my own purposes.

To provide some background, I recently purchased an iBasso DX50 as my main media player had become temperamental, and with Xmas on the way, the DX50 seemed a good place to spend some Xmas cash. It certainly sounds better than my other media players, so I’m happy with my choice.

As far as headphones go, about a year ago I upgraded from the Grado SR80 to the SR225i, and more recently and SR325e. In fact I still have the SR225i’s, so the comparisons I have been making between FLAC and MP3 have been using both pairs of Grado’s, and also some SonyXBA-H1 and SoundMagic E10’s, plus a pair of Sennheiser HD 380 PROs.

I loaded 26 pairs of songs onto the DX50 from the following artists in both FLAC and MP3: Steely Dan, Joe Bonamassa, Nicola Benedetti, Jamie Cullum, Pink Floyd, Crusaders, Eva Cassidy, Derek Trucks, Tracy Chapman, Slash, Rush, Pearl Jam, Rory Gallagher, Shinedown, Rainbow, plus a good recording of Jupiter from Holst’s Planet Suite.

The 52 files were ripped from CDs, and therefore had the same source, and played at the same volume on the DX50.

Over the space of 5 days, I let the DX50 run through the tracks sequentially by title, therefore playing each song twice. Depending on where I was at the time, (lounge, home office, bed, etc) I switched between headphones the Grado SR325e and SR225i, Senn HD380 Pro, Sony XBA-H1 and SoundMagic E10’s, but always using the DX50 running the same songs.

Maybe I was expecting too much, but having ready plenty beforehand, I was anticipating the difference between FLAC and MP3 at 320kbps to be similar to the difference between HD and “normal” TV. I listened hard and analytically, and I also relaxed and just enjoyed. There were times (many) where I would go back and forth between FLAC and MP3 versions of the same song to try and determine whether the “little bit of this or that” was any clearer or better defined or presented. I also asked someone to select the track version for me, so I had no idea whether I was listening to the FLAC then MP3, MP3 then FLAC, FLAC then FLAC again, or MP3 then MP3 again. I was happy for him to try and trick me with this, and I did the same with him in return. I also asked my wife to assist, but she thinks I’m an idiot who should get a life. She has a point!

Now I’m not going to accuse anyone of falling for the Kings New Clothes, because if any of you reading this can hear a difference between the two formats, I’ll just say that I’m glad you’re able to enjoy the benefits. For me, it doesn’t happen.

My own conclusion based on my own experience, is that MP3 at 320kbps is as good as I’m going to get out of the gear I have listed above. I also have my old faithful Arcam CD92 feeding a Musical Fidelity XCans tube headphone amp. Now THAT sounds better, and is my source of choice with my Grado SR325e’s when I’m at home. It also confirms to me that my ears are capable of hearing differences… In fact I know I can hear differences, as my Arcam also feeds a pair of Monitor Audio GR60’s through a Naim Pre and Power amp set up, and I did a lot of A-B testing when selecting speaker cable. I could hear the subtle differences, but it just doesn’t happen for me when comparing FLAC to MP3!

Maybe I’ll need something better than the iBasso DX50 and Grado SR325e’s. Maybe in time I’ll try again, but for the time being I had better listen to my wife and get a life!

Hopefully this has been of some use, but I’m anticipating some ranting from people accusing me of being deaf, as I’ve seen plenty of derogatory feedback on other postings.

Regardless… let’s go and enjoy music!

post #29 of 34

Thanks for posting!

And you are definitely not deaf.

post #30 of 34

ooh and now they have DSD as well;

But it is different songs so not so easy to compare;

 

http://www.soundliaison.com/all-categories/8-free-tracks-wav

Quote:

 
  Free Tracks Sound Liaison DSD64 DFF (326.37 MB) -  
  Free Tracks Sound Liaison WAV (274.18 MB) -  
  Free Tracks Sound Liaison FLAC (156.03 MB) -
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