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320kbps Vs. ALAC

Discussion in 'Sound Science' started by twilight dawn, Jun 24, 2012.
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  1. wberghofer
    Quote:
    Code:
     Originally Posted by [b]Joe Bloggs[/b] 
    /img/forum/go_quote.gif http://mac.softpedia.com/get/Audio/ABXer.shtml
     
    Thank you!
     
     
    Code:
     [size=12px]-------------------------------------------------------------- ABX Test Completed: 2012-06-29 07:07:21 +0000 Number of tests performed: 10 Number of correct answers: 9 Percentage correct: 90% File 1 = /Users/wb/Music/iTunes/iTunes Media/Music/Agnes Buen Garnås_Jan Garbarek/Rosensfole/02 Rosensfole.m4a File 2 = /Users/wb/Documents/02 Rosensfole.m4a File placement was static. n [A] [X] [B] Choice Score 1 [1] [2] [2]  B  1/1 2 [1] [2] [2]  B  2/2 3 [1] [1] [2]  A  3/3 4 [1] [1] [2]  A  4/4 5 [1] [1] [2]  A  5/5 6 [1] [1] [2]  A  6/6 7 [1] [1] [2]  A  7/7 8 [1] [2] [2]  B  8/8 9 [1] [2] [2]  A  8/9 10 [1] [1] [2]  A  9/10 --------------------------------------------------------------[/size]
     
    File 1: Lossless ALAC file
    File 2: AAC 256 kbps CBR
    Both files have been ripped using XLD. Playback via Schiit Bifrost, Schiit Lyr and Beyerdynamic T1 headphones.
     
    Are the skeptics now satisfied?
     
    Werner.
     
  2. BlindInOneEar
    No.  Sorry, the test has to be double blind to be dispositive of anything.
     
     
  3. wberghofer
    Quote:
     
    OK, I give up. Just like anybody else on this planet is free to listen to whatever he wants, I hope I’m also allowed to do so.
     
    Werner.
     
  4. BlindInOneEar
    Quote:

    Werner, you certainly are free to listen to whatever you want.  I hope you enjoy yourself while you do so!
     
    However, please understand that if you want to make claims that are objectively probative they have to be verifiable under objectively neutral circumstances.  I am NOT trying to attack you personally.  That said, your self-reported test, while anecdotally interesting, proves nothing.  There are simply too many uncontrolled variables unaccounted for.  YOU are not the issue, it's the lack of rigor in you experiment that is the issue.      
     
  5. wberghofer
    Quote:
     
    It’s OK, I didn’t understand your post as offensive, so don’t worry. Please excuse me if I sounded insulted.
     
    You see, I don’t operate a scientific lab to explore psychoacoustics. I just love to listen to music in the most convenient way and best quality I can afford. Considering my own insights when moving to file based audio and keeping in mind the storage capacities and prices of today’s hard disks, I’m convinced that the most save and future-proof way is to losslessly rip audio files to a local computer. Compressed or transcoded versions for playback on mobile devices easily can be created on the fly.
     
    Of course it may be quite difficult to identify audible differences between 256 kbps AAC and ALAC, but knowing that my precious music library is stored in the best possible quality certainly makes me feel better.
     
    Werner.
     
  6. BlindInOneEar
    Quote:
    Whew!  That's a relief! 
     
    I'm a Windows guy myself, but otherwise I agree with what you are saying about storage.  I too have made the switch from optical media to magnetic media.  Even after the floods in Thailand magnetic disks are still very reasonably priced these days. 
     
    My preferred file format is FLAC.  However, having downloaded the Nero encoder and fiddled about with encoding files with Foobar over the last few days I have to admit that ~256K VBR AAC sounds very nice indeed.  I'm not at all sure I could distinguish a FLAC file from a 256K VBR AAC file nine out of ten times!  I hope your ears continue to give you such good service!     
     
  7. Joe Bloggs Contributor
    Quote:
     
    I can understand the AAC possibly being not level matched with the FLAC, but what the heck is a double blind ABX test when the test administrator is a computer??  Is it like A and B have to be mixed up each time as well as X?  What's the point of that?  Aren't you allowed to A/B A and B to remember differences you can legitimately identify?  As long as X is random I don't see any possible cheating?
     
  8. fatcat28037 Contributor
    Quote:
    I think if I was in your shoes I'd opt for a player with more capacity. Yah yah, I know it's another piece of gear but you can keep your high-res files and have all the capacity you want.
     
  9. OJNeg
    Quote:

    This is what I've been thinking the whole time. I'm sure I couldn't pass a DBT between any high bit rate lossy and lossless, but that doesn't mean I'm going to compress my whole library for the hell of it. I have more hard drive space than I can shake a stick at and I see no reason to test the limits of audio compression. I'll stick with FLAC files.
     
  10. bigshot
    Not to make anyone mad, but I kinda feel sorry for people who have more hard drive space than great music. I never have enough room on my iPod and iPhone. My master music library is bursting at the seams of a 2TB partition on my drobo, and my everyday library isn't even on that drive. I encode AAC256 VBR. If I did lossless, I shudder to think of how big it would be.

    By the way, you can't do an A/B test between lossless and AAC without level matching. AAC is always at a slightly lower volume.

    One interesting thing I read is that you should never encode CBR with high bitrate AAC. It fills your file with unused bulk. VBR frees up the encoder to use exactly the amount of bitrate to transparently render the sound. CBR does the same, but then fills up the rest of the file with digital packing peanuts.

    At high bitrates, AAC sounds just as good as lossless, it can be transcoded many times with no loss in sound quality, it's supported by more players than FLAC or ALAC, and it allows you to put MUCH more music on your mobile device. The only advantage to lossless is the "peace of mind" some people feel when they have big, chunky file sizes.
     
  11. OJNeg
    Quote:
     
    That's cute. I have....2TB of space connected to my mobo, another 2TB sitting idly in my desktop, a 1TB external hard drive that I use for back-up, another TB in a secondary desktop, and 500GB of space in my laptop. Most of it goes unused. And I'd be surprised if you listen to all that 2TB of music on a regular basis.
     
    But for the record I do compress to MP3 on my Zune. Mobile devices are for casual listening IMO so it doesn't really bother me.
     
  12. BlindInOneEar
    Quote:

    I am not saying Werner did this, but "gaming" a Foobar ABX session would be trivially easy.  Indeed, it could easily be done unintentionally.  That's not to say a Foobar ABX session is not without value!  I've been doing a lot of them myself over the last few days and it's been a real ear opener for me.  The rigor associated with proper double blind testing isn't just from the listener not knowing which track is which.  It also includes the design of the test itself to be sure no hidden variables can creep in.
     
  13. BlindInOneEar
    Quote:
    I guess I'm one of the guys you have to feel sorry for.  For me at least, the cost of music simply dwarfs the cost of disk.  While I'm becoming increasingly convinced that good AAC files are an acceptable substitute for lossless files, given the cost disparity between the amount of music I can afford and the amount of storage I can buy I see no reason to abandon lossless storage.  Count yourself lucky that you've so much music!  We should all have such problems!
     
  14. grokit
    Quote:
     
    X2, the methodology used seems blind enough to satisfy even the Sound Science requirements [​IMG]
     
  15. bigshot
    Quote:
    It's on random play 24/7, streaming through my whole house by means of my Airports. I have the best Muzak system in the world!
     
    2TB is just my music. I have another 25TB of movies. I've been ripping my massive CD and DVD collection for the past several years. I have a garage full of old disks.
     
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