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128k MP3's versus WAV/Lossless

Discussion in 'Sound Science' started by anaxilus, Jun 12, 2010.
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  1. Anaxilus
    Okay, back in the day when DAP's just got started and lossless wasn't on the radar I recall it being obvious as night and day in hearing the difference between 64k, 96k, 128k, 256k, 320k, etc.  Some programs even used to let you preview sample compression rates before ripping to hear the difference before making your decision.  Today I was challenged to tell the difference between a 128k rip and a lossless file.  The differences were nearly indiscernable.  Not believing my ears and questioning the source I decided to take my own WAV files and make 128k MP3 rips to compare.  Same result!!  My question is this...
    Has something changed in how MP3's are now encoded and decoded compared to the past?  It used to be as easy as night and day to tell from below 256.  Is it my imagination or is something going on here??
  2. Sumflow
    Are you listing to it with your Monster Miles Davis dynamic one speaker earphones?
  3. 11amaberry
    Hearing loss maybe? Lol
  4. El_Doug Contributor
    128k is a threshold indeed - the majority of people are capable of discerning below this level, but also find it indiscernible from lossless
    it also really depends on the music.  some over-compressed music which makes liberal use of synths will sound very similar between lossless and 128k - surely far more similar than if the source music was high dynamic range and acoustic
  5. Anaxilus


    PC w/ XFi Elite Pro THX 4.1 system.  It would be nice to hear the opinion of people who actually make an encode at 128 of their own Wav and compare.  Rather than those that search youtube and wikipedia to enthrall us w/ their sonic intellect.  I'm sure people will reply w/o even testing themselves and will have a hard time being honest w/ themselves.
  6. El_Doug Contributor
    Thats a rather poor attitude :/  Not only is it incredibly presumptuous, but it is unrealistic to say the least - who hasnt heard 128k mp3's before?  and who needs to consult youtube/wikipedia to learn what an mp3 is? 

  7. Anaxilus

    That was in dirested to a specific poster.  I've heard 128 mp3 before and stopped using mp3 at all for 10 years because I could tell the difference.  I heard 128 today and it is not the same animal I remember.  You obviously completely misread or didn't understand my op and the last response.  
  8. Spelaeus
    I'm not quite sure what to tell you. I decided to do some blind testing on myself to see if I could differentiate between various mp3 bitrates and lossless wav (my DAP isn't flac compatible). At 320kb/s I noticed some loss in quality and digital artifacts compared to lossless, but still listenable and not always terribly easy to differentiate from the wav file depending on the song in question. I found anything below that to be quite honestly terrible. By the time you get down to 128kb/s, the sound is tinny, clunky, and flat. Almost as if it was being played back by a clockwork music box. Mind you, a significant portion of my music is acoustic and very little electronic music. I'd probably find it next to impossible to tell the difference if I listened to techno...
    This test was done just using my MS-1i's through my Zen Vision W loaded up with the test tracks and set to random.
  9. Anaxilus
    OK, nvm.  Made some 128 encodes of some slower acoustic material and paired them w/ their wav counterpart and looped them.  Closed my eyes and spammed the next track button fast enough to not be able to track it in my mind.  After repeated loop cycles to be certain of my conclusions before opening my eyes I was able to pick out the wav files reliably.  Still the gulf between the 2 was smaller than I remember.  I recall 128 to be much grainier than I hear it now.  If its improved tech on the encode and decode side kudos to them.   
  10. Anaxilus

    Now that was my experience w/ 128 before.  Totally unlistenable.  I haven't been able to use my headphones or DAP yet since I can't upload new files atm  (I have no mp3 on my DAP's).  I don't know if Lame and Monkeys audio is really good at encoding or my XFi is doing something to the mp3.  I don't have crystallizer or anything else enabled so it shouldn't be the case.  But as I said above I could pick it out fine.  If anything my 128's sound like what I'd expect from 256-320, they should sound far worse.
  11. Spelaeus

    That's a point. Any mp3's that I was listening to would have just been ripped using Windows Media Player.
  12. eucariote
    Higher bitrates primarily allow the encoding of waveforms at higher frequencies - and age-related hearing loss usually affects the hearing of higher auditory frequencies, so your hearing may be the critical factor.  Can you hear frequencies over 17kHz?
    (^ warning link that is an mp3 of a 17.4kHz tone, turn yer amp down)
    Another possibility is that years of audiophilia has biased your recollection of the differences between low and high bitrates.  This is very likely, as memory is not stored as much as it is reconstructued, and is thus succeptable to bias and change during recollection and subsequent re-encoding.
  13. Anaxilus


    I can hear up 18kHz but no higher.  Probably a combination of all the things you mentioned.  From what I recall of my poor memory lower bit rate mp3 reduced resolution across the board so the whole song sounded thin and gritty.  Are the new encoding protocols focused on trimming resolution from the higher frequencies now?  If so, that would explain a lot!
  14. krmathis Contributor
    The MP3 encoders have improved in quality since then (some ±10 years ago).
    So 128kbps may not have been transparent to your ears back then, but be so today. Plus the fact as others say - your hearing may not be the same as back then.
  15. El_Doug Contributor
    DAMMIT MAN!  You shoulda posted a warning about that - i had my amp volume at 1 o'clock and everything!!! 
    crap that hurt

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