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Is FLAC better than 320 MP3?

post #1 of 31
Thread Starter 

We all know the huge size of a FLAC album or CD but is there a clear difference for some people? I feel i can't hear a difference between them. There was one instance where i thought i could tell a slight but now i just think it plays tricks on your mind where you're expecting it to be better quality. I don't want to fill my HDD up with FLAC if the difference is hardly noticeable.. thanks in advance.

post #2 of 31

Yes, FLAC is a tiny bit better than a 320KBPS coded MP3 file... you just have to know where to look, and you shall find the "difference".

though, it's not a huge one... but it's there.

 

The MP3 file, being of a compressed type, has "digital artifacts", or "grain"... much more than the FLAC file.

it all comes down to the material you're listening to...

 

This question has already asked on the head-fi community quite a lot.. if you can use the search function, you'll find PLENTY of answers to that.


Edited by eyal1983 - 5/5/14 at 1:30pm
post #3 of 31
Quote:
Originally Posted by Morph91 View Post
 

We all know the huge size of a FLAC album or CD but is there a clear difference for some people? I feel i can't hear a difference between them. There was one instance where i thought i could tell a slight but now i just think it plays tricks on your mind where you're expecting it to be better quality. I don't want to fill my HDD up with FLAC if the difference is hardly noticeable.. thanks in advance.

 

I'm going to "guess" that unless your looking at spending lot of cash for audio hardware for your computer, chances are you not going to have a noticeable difference between 320k & FLAC.

I have about 10 FLAC audio files on my Win PC, for those really special songs, otherwise the other 2000 songs are 256K & 320K..

post #4 of 31
Thread Starter 

Thanks for the answers. I think i will just stick to 320 and just keep the few FLAC files i have.

post #5 of 31

I assume that, in order to really notice a significant difference between the two formats, you need to both a) have a very expensive audio system and b) be much better than the average person at hearing slight differences, either through training or innately.  I personally cannot tell a difference with my respectable mid-fi system (Little Dot DAC_I -> Schiit Vali -> HD600 or previously DT 880.  For me, the price and file size differences are enough to avoid FLAC files.

post #6 of 31
Some complex passages of songs, for example reverb of instruments with a lot of texture, are sometimes not compressed properly with lossy algorithms such as MP3. If you can use AAC it would likely prove better because of it's better compression algorithms. These compression artifacts are really rare though, like if you had neutral equipment and knew exactly what to look for you might spot them. It's the kind of thing that recording engineers would be trained to listen for, not the average audiophile. At 320 MP3 I wouldn't even worry about it.
post #7 of 31

Why don't you test yourself to find out if you can't hear the difference? Most people can't, and those that can normally state that it isn't easy and a lot of concentration is required.

post #8 of 31

some people have hard time to compare.

but I do go both FLAC and mp3.

keep the FLAC files for nice song like audiophile, instrument.

keep the MP3 files for rock, RnB, pop.

post #9 of 31
Quote:
Originally Posted by kraken2109 View Post

Why don't you test yourself to find out if you can't hear the difference? Most people can't, and those that can normally state that it isn't easy and a lot of concentration is required.

Agreed.

And of those people who swear they can hear a good difference, some of them have never donedouble blind testing. The differences could be all in their imagination. I personally find the differences so subtle (when they do exist) that it's not worth worrying about.

If you download Foobar 2000, there is an ABX testing module that would allow you to see for yourself if you can tell the difference with your ears and your equipment smily_headphones1.gif
post #10 of 31

Here is how difference between FLAC vs 320kbps vs 192kbps MP3 of the same song looks like:

 

But personally I couldn't tell any differences in ABX testing, so I try to use 320kbps when I'm downloading untested albums and I redownload the ones I really like in FLAC (placebo works even if we are aware of it!). 

post #11 of 31
Quote:
Originally Posted by ieee754 View Post
 

Here is how difference between FLAC vs 320kbps vs 192kbps MP3 of the same song looks like:

 

But personally I couldn't tell any differences in ABX testing, so I try to use 320kbps when I'm downloading untested albums and I redownload the ones I really like in FLAC (placebo works even if we are aware of it!). 

"(placebo works even if we are aware of it!)" True! Placebo is really amazing. Looks like you are using spek to analyze your tracks...

I am amazed at the similarities between a lossless track and a lossy one coded with iTunes at AAC 256k. They certainly look much better than your screenshots, though I cannot see the freq. scale.

I am conducting a survey on telling CD and AAC 256 apart, would you be interested in taking part? http://goo.gl/Dfawrb and http://goo.gl/Xin6xt

post #12 of 31

Well, FLAC is better per definition, the real question is; Can you hear the difference? 

I have personally come to find that I 9/10 cannot, simple as that. In some rare instances that I can hear the difference it's always the same instrument, cymbals and to be honest, it doesn't alter my enjoyment of the music that much/at all.

 

With that said, I have all (as much as I can atleast) my music I have on my computer in FLAC. Why? Because why not? I have more music than I could ever listen to and that's about 300 GB at the moment. Space on my harddrive is not something that I worry the least about so when I download/rip from CDs I choose FLAC not only because I can but also because it's nice to have a "master" copy of the albums. If I sometime in the future want to convert it to any other format, no problem! But if I had 320 mp3 I would suffer quality losses. 

post #13 of 31

On a blind ABX I personally can not hear a difference consistently.  I still encode all my CDs (16 BIT, fwiw)  in lossless format though, simply because 500G hard drives are cheap enough for me to keep two separate libraries, one lossless and the other compressed for portable use.  Its more a psychological peace of mind kind of thing, than anything based on sonics... at least for me.


Edited by kramer5150 - 6/6/14 at 2:12pm
post #14 of 31

There is a small improvement. When I really love a song or album, I try to get it in FLAC. For everything else, 320 is sufficient.

post #15 of 31
Quote:
Originally Posted by cdvsmp3 View Post
 

"(placebo works even if we are aware of it!)" True! Placebo is really amazing. Looks like you are using spek to analyze your tracks...

I am amazed at the similarities between a lossless track and a lossy one coded with iTunes at AAC 256k. They certainly look much better than your screenshots, though I cannot see the freq. scale.

I am conducting a survey on telling CD and AAC 256 apart, would you be interested in taking part? http://goo.gl/Dfawrb and http://goo.gl/Xin6xt


I only had time to check the first 7 samples and I could barely notice (or imagine) a teensy tiny spec of difference in two of them.

 

In my experience, in most music styles and with modern encoders, even 128kb can be indistinguishable from loss-less, let alone 320kb which I think is biologically impossible for adult ears.

 

now It also depends on the gear you have,  some headphones and amps might emphasize on the freqs that poorly encoded mp3's have artifacts in?

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