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For casual listening on the move, no.
For critical listening, when you want to spend an hour or two single-tasking, yes.
The one I tried before is GR07 mkII (very balanced IEM), and frankly, it's not so revealing to my ears as in picking up minor details because I find it rather dark (lesser treble). Therefore, I think 256kbps is really good enough.
I second proton007's opinion. During casual listening, it's quite difficult to pick up the difference compared to lossless. If there's very glaring or bothering difference, then you consider lossless copies.
Me? Rip all the CDs and convert into ALAC all the way. iPod Classic is a garbage can!
Yeah I forgot to add this ^^.
If you have the capacity in your player, then why not. Saves the need of keeping both compressed and non compressed formats.
I did a line level matched comparison between AAC 256 and the original CD. They sounded exactly the same. I compared using the kick ass speaker system I've been building for thirty years, and my Sennheiser HD 590s.
There is absolutely no reason to worry about sound quality at AAC 256. It is good enough for the most critical listening. Any difference between CD and AAC 256 is probably all in your head, not your ears.
Agree pretty much with this ^^
Quick question - have you ever actually performed an abx yourself between aac256 and lossless? If not, it is very easy to set-up. Rip a CD with something like EAC to lossless, encode using a good encoder to aac256. Use Foobar2000 with the abx comparator plugin. Make sure you level match (there is an option in Foobar2000 to do it). Run the tests with your most "revealing" headphones. You need to do at least 15-20 samples to make it significant. The plug-in means there can't be any placebo - as the files really are blind.
If you haven't tried it - you should do. It's quite enlightening.
AAC is transparent at an even lower bitrate than that.
No. Ipod's have very good audio hardware in them.
not if your ipod drives them loud enough.
I wouldn't worry about it... too much. For IEMs, don't worry. For hi-fi speakers or full size audiophile headphones, it does matter a little.
For me, it is worth it to have loseless rips of my best recorded albums, which are generally ones that feature a lot of acoustic instruments (Jazz, etc...). If you are listening to some underground black metal album that was recorded on a 4 track tape recorder in some Swedish dude's bathroom, who cares.
The effect of mp3 compression on audio fidelity is real and measurable. If you spend a lot of money on your stereo setup, it is a little silly to listen to mp3 rips if you could be listening to CD quality instead.
Certain individuals can consistently tell mp3s apart from loseloss in blind listening tests, but it isn't always the case that they'll prefer one over the other because the effects are pretty subtle.
There are a lot of other things that have huge effects on sound quality that don't get mentioned ever. Cord noise from IEMs, background noise (AC, street traffic), and various issues with room acoustics (for speakers), can seriously detract from sound quality. But these are much more difficult to control than simply ripping/downloading loseless music.
I found one CD that artifacts a bit at 192. For everything else, 192 is fine.
Always use VBR. It can only help. It can't hurt.