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Does higher bitrate produce more, clean volume?

post #1 of 21
Thread Starter 
When I switched from lower bitrate mp3s/AACs to the LAME alt-preset-extreme setting on Cdex, the biggest difference I noted was VOLUME. Never could put a finger on artifacts or other such reported deficiencies of 128 Kbp files, but always felt the music was squished and flat compared to uncompressed aiffs/wavs...and ultimately would sound blaring if I wanted to crank it up when so inclined. When VBR with above settings takes it to over 220 Kbps, or even more so using Apple Lossless, it simply seems to me that I don't have to turn up the volume as much. All the sonic frequencies are in play at lower levels, they don't "blare" any more when cranked (less) and the music sounds fuller and cleaner.

Could this be the solution to my (and apparently other's) endangered love affair with my ER4s? I've been considering portable amps, 4P to 4S conversion cables, Xin cables, etc., etc., but could it be that all I need to do to achieve portable audio transcendance with my minIpod is toss the loss and give my Etys the clean digital file they deserve? I know, I know, an amp will improve the signal, but I'm mobile - I ride a motorcycle. I just need to clip Pete (my gold minIpod, we're Boilermakers) or Willie (my silver minIpod, because he's silver) - plug in my Etys and go. Don't want to fuss with an amp in my pocket, a conversion cable yata, yata. Oh wise and sage Head-Fi sooth-sayers, what say ye?
post #2 of 21
At lower bitrates, it's hard to adequately represent the highs. In fact, 128kbps MP3s usually just throw away all information above 16kHz. This effect can easily be perceived as lowering the apparent volume, even though in real terms the volume is not actually lower. Because there are fewer highs, you may also be tempted to raise the volume, but when you do that, it exposes the compression artifacts more readily.

If you're using Etys, it's worth considering moving to higher bitrates or even lossless files. Short of electrostats, canalphones are among the most resolving headphones in terms of presenting little details and exposing compression flaws.
post #3 of 21
Thread Starter 
EXACTLY, exactly! Listening to Apple Lossless version of Transatlantic right now...hasn't p##d me off yet.....
post #4 of 21
sorry to go a little off topic but can i run something passed you??

is a lossless file one with no compression? it means that the sound 'looses' nothing right? or am i completely off the button.

I am thinking of getting an mp3 player but am a little scared of the sacrifices in sound quality i would have to make. So i just want to understand compression more. i know that mp3 takes away frequencies that we are supposed to not be able to hear, but thats it...

ferg
post #5 of 21
yes you are right. lossless: lose no quality, lossy=lose quality.

but know that lossless are very big files so they will consume memory very fast. also very few players out there actaully support these lossless formats.

for mp3, you can go up to 320kbs. most people cannot tell the different between 320kbs and real cd, which require high quality equipments, but then we are in a hi-fi forum.

for me, 256kbs vbr mp3 is sufficient for portability, i can tell very little differences. up to 320kbs, i have a hard time doing so. on the go, i probably won't be putting so much attention to the details.

(yes i am considering hi-md players)
post #6 of 21
There are a number of players that support FLAC (a popular lossless format) including Foobar200 (the best AUDIO player IMHO), Winamp, and XMMS.

Lossless files are large, averaging only about 50% to 60% of a WAV/AIFF version, however they don't "take up lots of memory". Also, with lossless archives, if a CD fails, you have a perfect quality backup, and if you want to encode some files into your favorite lossy format for a hardware player (like an iPod or something) you won't need to dig up your CD to avoid losing audio quality.
post #7 of 21
Quote:
Originally Posted by ferg
sorry to go a little off topic but can i run something passed you??

is a lossless file one with no compression? it means that the sound 'looses' nothing right? or am i completely off the button.
Actually it has compression, it just doesn't throw away any info. Provided the decoder has no problems, it should sound the same as a WAV/AIFF/PCM/CDA?etc.

Sometimes people refer to non-compression as lossless, but not usually. The only two portables that currently support lossless is the Rio Karma (FLAC) and the third generation Apple iPod (ALAC). Most others though play uncompressed WAVs.
post #8 of 21
Thread Starter 
I am not an audiophile, but I can tell you in no uncertain terms that the difference between compressed and uncompressed audio files is NOT insignificant when one enjoys music. I am now hearing a high quality recording converted to Apple Lossless from a WAV file. ABSOLUTELY ----- no question about the superiority of the audio versus a compressed version . My Ety ER4Ps are offering a rare gift that is clearly not trivial. Interestingly, my minIpod managed to produce a couple of non-trivial skips in the music (of Transatlantic's SMPTe album) that have me wondering about it's efficacy as a DAP. (just sitting here listening, really)

Nevertheless, the sound is clear, crisp, clean...bass is thumping just right for me and I can distinguish the instruments and voice in wonderful harmony - not blaring or distorted. I had concerns about the Etys relating to these issues...but simply stated, just give them the info they need and hold onto your seat...there's nothing better!!
post #9 of 21
This is more a source topic but lossless is no loss in quality but it can be uncompressed (AIFF or WAV) or compressed (FLAC, Apple Lossless, and a few others). The compressed file produces the same quality but take up less space. It just takes a little longer to encode them and uses more processing during playback. Also more battery life on the ipod.

Lossless could be the answer using etys or any other detailed heaphone. Mp3s or AAC seem to lose the extended dynamics, some of the little details, and background sounds that is hard to pick up in a quick listening test but something that you will notice after extended listening.

I think that now the ipod has this new compressed lossless audio, it better to switch to that first and then think about getting an amp or better headphone later. Plus you can get another hd for storage cheaper than many amps.
post #10 of 21
Quote:
Originally Posted by vranswer
Interestingly, my minIpod managed to produce a couple of non-trivial skips in the music (of Transatlantic's SMPTe album) that have me wondering about it's efficacy as a DAP. (just sitting here listening, really)
Same thing on my 40G ipod after I switched to Apple lossless. Ever so often is has a skip 20sec into the song. Sometimes it plays part of the song and skips to the next. I haven't any reports of this but not sure how many are using the new format. It's still worth using even with the occassional errors.
post #11 of 21
Lossless compression can be compared to a .Zip file for music. In other words, you can compress a number of programs into a .zip file, then decompress the file later and recover exactly the same content. The theory is identical with lossless music compression... the music is digitally compressed, but when uncompressed the exact same bytes are recovered -- thus it will sound identical to the original, because when uncompressed it *is* the original.

With "lossy" compression (like MP3, AAC, etc) the recovered bytes are different, and are a sonic approximation of the original. The goal is not to recover something resembling the original byte-wise, but resembling the original *to the human ear*. Thus a lot of complex models of human hearing (psychoacoustics) are used with MP3's and other lossy compression techniques.
post #12 of 21
Thread Starter 
iamdone -
Your report of AL skipping confirms my concern that the format is apparently still unstable, but I'll disagree (to an extent, with all due respect) that this is a source topic. I guess I'll opine about that after the heavyweights chime in (Lindrone, DJGeorgeT), but I believe this is a core topic for all head-fi enthusiasts. If your output device is incapable of delivering the goods due to source, who do we hold accountable? The artist? The device manufacturer?

I just want to listen to good music. That may now mean that I will be forced to purchase a 15GB or 40GB Ipod to accomodate the file sizes I now know will be required to reproduce the music I love. The Etys just seem to thumb their noses at the compressed files I toss(loss?) at them. I do not believe that is their fault. I believe that they are a time-tested product that provides reference quality sound...just wanting a worthy original.
post #13 of 21
Quote:
Originally Posted by vranswer
The Etys just seem to thumb their noses at the compressed files I toss(loss?) at them. I do not believe that is their fault. I believe that they are a time-tested product that provides reference quality sound...just wanting a worthy original.
You'll find that this is true with most of the high-end headphones, not just Etys. Oftentimes people first getting into the hobby underestimate the importance of the source and source material (I definitely did ). Grados above the SR-60 for instance can sound shrill when fed with a sub-par source. Your source and source material generally make more difference than amplification. There are a few cans that are forgiving of poor source material (e.g. AKG K240S) but most of the high-end cans are quite revealing. The iPod with Lossless compression is a very decent source and I think you'll be really satisfied with it. I'm guessing that the occasional gaps will probably go away with the next release of the iPod's software. This is version 1.0 of Lossless support, after all, so it's reasonable to expect a few bugs.
post #14 of 21
Quote:
Originally Posted by vranswer
iamdone -
Your report of AL skipping confirms my concern that the format is apparently still unstable, but I'll disagree (to an extent, with all due respect) that this is a source topic.

I don't think the format is unstable since I'll had no problems with playback on the pc using iTunes. I think the current ipod software release might have a bug.
post #15 of 21
Thread Starter 
Funny about this whole thing is that just a few months ago I was merrily zooming around town, or the byways of Texas with my Koss Plugs and minIpod in this sort of ignorant innocence. Now the bar is raised so high I can hardly look down, and even then I'm inclined to keep tinkering with it to raise it further and further.
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