After listening to FLAC/ALAC I can't go back.
Jan 3, 2011 at 12:33 PM Post #18 of 188

Minishark

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Even if you can't hear the difference, FLAC is not for listening, it's for archiving. When MP3 becomes extinct and some other format is used on PMPs, you will be ready.


This. If you've got the hard drive space, then I don't see any reason not to keep everything in flac, and just encode it into whatever lossy format as you need it (e.g. for putting on a portable player where space is a concern).
 
Jan 3, 2011 at 12:36 PM Post #19 of 188
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Quote:
 
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If you can't hear the difference between mp3 of any bit rate and FLAC I would suggest that you are probably deaf and wasting your money on expensive headphones
 


 
That's pretty inflamatory. I assume you've done some double blind tests yourself?
 
It's possible to find some samples that mp3 at any bitrate can not make transparent. The codec has always had problems with certain things like transients and pre-echo.
It's also possible to jack down the bitrate far enough that nothing is transparent, and even simple music sounds wrong.
 
That said those are the extremes. Generally mp3 with a good encoder (read: LAME) around 192kbps or so sounds transparent to most people on most songs on most equipment most of the time. Double blind listening tests show this again and again. If you are specifically looking for it, you can sometimes pick out mp3 vs lossless/source, but it's very hard to do even on good equipment and you have to have a trained ear. That is, you have to have spent time learning exactly what it is that mp3 does wrong and look for it. Even then, if you don't have the source to compare to, it's usually very difficult to notice that anything is wrong.
 
I've found that auToV 5.7b ogg vorbis is transparent to me as low as q3 (about 118kbps) on the vast majority of my music. That's what I use for portable. I found this out by doing ABX testing and failing it.
 
If you can pass 10+ ABX tests of Q6 or higher vorbis or -v0 Lame, then more power to you. Congratulations, you've got better hearing than 99.9% of the population, and your prize is having to spend 10x as much on gear as the rest of us to achieve the same aural quality. Ignorance is bliss, no?
 
*Disclaimer: I do use LAME lossless on my home system simply because I have the storage space to do so and I can transcode it without worrying about artifacting.



What is this "LAME lossless" of which you speak?
confused_face%281%29.gif

 
And to add to the thread, FLAC stays on the computer, and I use LAME V2 for most portable use, V0 only for certain things, like Diana Krall.
 
Jan 3, 2011 at 12:38 PM Post #20 of 188

afinch1992

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I can definitely hear the difference between mp3s and flacs. Im not sure if i could pass a blind test completely, but in an a/b comparrison, the difference is quite clear to me. I'm only using my laptop and m-audio q40s. most of it has come down to bass and cleaness of the highs combined with the mids. those are the 2 places where mp3s start to reduce quality. As for 320 or flac, i still prefer flac, but understand that its more efficient to do mp3s
 
Jan 3, 2011 at 12:44 PM Post #21 of 188

JoetheArachnid

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You're all wrong and you should all be listening to tape-to-tape.
 
...in all seriousness, I mostly can't hear the difference between 320kbps and FLAC. Certainly I have a bunch of 128kbps mp3s from the old Limewire days and they sound worse than lossless files, but at higher bitrates the difference is minimal. The FLAC is mainly for peace of mind and choking my HDD.
Also in all seriousness, if you've never heard a good analogue rig you're missing out. Vinyl done well is glorious.
 
Jan 3, 2011 at 1:03 PM Post #22 of 188

Skarecrow77

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In my experience, all audiophiles are sure that their equipment and their ears are refined enough to easily detect the differences between the source CD and dirty dirty MP3. I was certain I could. The thing is, when using a quality rip encoded well, most of us can't tell. Not when we sit down to "prove it". When people tell me that they can tell the difference without even setting up a test, I'm convinced that it's the placebo monster rearing it's ugly head. We expect MP3 to suck (Because so many encodings online DO suck) and we expect a lot more from the source. We are just not ready to believe that our special ears could possibly not notice the 80% or 90% of the missing data, right?
 
The first time I did some ABXing, I was able to ABX vorbis (my lossy encoder of choice) as high as Q5, which is roughly the quality equivilent of MP3 around 192kbps, although Vorbis has it's own artifacts that are different than MP3 such as noise floor. It was HARD. I had to listen to each sample, A, B, and X at least 3 or 4 times before I made my choice. I did this across multiple songs and some took me as many as 14 attempts before I got a result higher than 99% chance that I "wasn't just guessing".
 
My gear isn't the best in the world anymore, but for the time it was pretty damn good. An EM-U 1212m source going into a perreaux SXH-1 amp with headphile silver interconnects, feeding a set of senn HD-650s attached with a moon audio silver dragon cable.
 
That was several years ago. What I learned from that test was that lossy audio was far better than the bad reputation it gained from the Xing and bladenc MP3 encodings that populated napster..
 
About a year ago I decided to see how far vorbis had really come since then, and see if perhaps my -q6 choice was too high (I was running out of space on my ipod). I ran the newest (at the time) vorbis encoder, the aoTuV 5.7b tweaked encoder, through the gauntlet using the same songs I'd used years before, plus a few new ones. I failed Q6. I failed Q5. I failed Q4. I was able to somewhat pass Q3, but after around 20 attempts I still wasn't past about 80% "chance you're not just guessing". That was on my home rig. That tells me that aoumi is a programming genius, and that aoTuV vorbis q3 is more than good enough for my portable use, which is just a RockBox'd ipod 5gen into a set of Alessandro MS1s.
 
My hearing isn't perfect, and I've got the hearing test curves to show that, but how many of us TRULY have golden ears? Sit down and test like I did. Maybe you'll be surprised and humbled, just as I was. Sure some of you probably can tell the difference between mp3 and flac on a few encodings, but can you even do it on most, especially if it was encoded properly? Don't use something you downloaded, don't trust anonymous rips. EAC/LAME it yourself.
 
I'm man enough to say I was humbled by the truth when it was right there in a black and white percentage.
 
 
Quote:
What is this "LAME lossless" of which you speak?
confused_face%281%29.gif


 
Doh, that should have read FLAC lossless.
 
Jan 3, 2011 at 1:14 PM Post #23 of 188

JoetheArachnid

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Jan 3, 2011 at 1:22 PM Post #25 of 188

saber8689

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In my opinion, if you have the space go for FLAC for peace of mind. Honestly though, I've tried with hundreds of songs to hear the difference between 320kb mp3s and FLAC tracks. Each time I "hear" a difference I eventually boil it down to placebo. I've concluded that (at least to my ears) there is no difference between the two.
 
Jan 3, 2011 at 1:26 PM Post #26 of 188

Skarecrow77

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Quote:
Quote:
Quote:
What is this "LAME lossless" of which you speak?
confused_face%281%29.gif

 

Doh, that should have read FLAC lossless.


Free Lossless Audio Codec Lossless?



Yes.
 
As opposed to Monkey's Audio Lossless or Apple Lossless or WMA Lossless.
 
I was specifying that I used lossless at home, as well as which type of lossless, in a single sentence.
 


 
Quote:
In my opinion, if you have the space go for FLAC for peace of mind. Honestly though, I've tried with hundreds of songs to hear the difference between 320kb mp3s and FLAC tracks. Each time I "hear" a difference I eventually boil it down to placebo. I've concluded that (at least to my ears) there is no difference between the two.

 
That has been my experience as well. FLAC "just in case", but I can never prove that I can hear a difference.
 
Jan 3, 2011 at 2:05 PM Post #27 of 188

JoetheArachnid

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Quote:
Yes.
 
As opposed to Monkey's Audio Lossless or Apple Lossless or WMA Lossless.
 
I was specifying that I used lossless at home, as well as which type of lossless, in a single sentence.
 


I just meant that FLAC is alreadly lossless in name so calling something 'FLAC lossless' is a misnomer. It's like saying the RIAA Association, or the BBC Corporation.
Just nitpicking, don't mind me.
tongue.gif

 
Jan 3, 2011 at 2:37 PM Post #28 of 188

RexAeterna

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i doubt that. it all comes down to the recording from the studio and how it was recorded. there is even amazing recordings in 128kbps mp3 files.  if it's a bad recording no matter if it's uncompressed wav or compressed 128kbps it will always sound like crap.  i mean it also comes down to how well the software used as well cause badly compressed you can clearly hear the compression artifacts and can be absolutely annoying. that's why i can't listen to youtube sometimes cause how youtube servers compresses the source.
 
Quote:
If you can't hear the difference between mp3 of any bit rate and FLAC I would suggest that you are probably deaf and wasting your money on expensive headphones
 


 
I really hope that is a joke.  



 
Jan 3, 2011 at 3:18 PM Post #29 of 188

eggontoast

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i doubt that. it all comes down to the recording from the studio and how it was recorded. there is even amazing recordings in 128kbps mp3 files.  if it's a bad recording no matter if it's uncompressed wav or compressed 128kbps it will always sound like crap.  i mean it also comes down to how well the software used as well cause badly compressed you can clearly hear the compression artifacts and can be absolutely annoying. that's why i can't listen to youtube sometimes cause how youtube servers compresses the source.
 
Quote:
If you can't hear the difference between mp3 of any bit rate and FLAC I would suggest that you are probably deaf and wasting your money on expensive headphones


 


Your argument is correct to a certain degree. There are some really poor recordings which sound poor in FLAC and get worse as you compress but it is less noticeable. The good studio recordings obviously sound better in all formats and are much more pleasing to listen to even at 128kbps but, if you were to compare one of these recordings in MP3 and FLAC formats there is still an obvious improvement with the lossless format.
 


Quote:
 
Quote:
If you can't hear the difference between mp3 of any bit rate and FLAC I would suggest that you are probably deaf and wasting your money on expensive headphones
 


 
That's pretty inflamatory. I assume you've done some double blind tests yourself?
 

 
Naturally otherwise I would have not made the statement.
 
I did extensive comparisons when deciding what format to rip my library in and concluded that FLAC was the way forward. As someone else has already mentioned though it makes sense with the cheaply available storage to rip in FLAC then convert to mp3 etc for your various devices.
 
 
Jan 3, 2011 at 3:21 PM Post #30 of 188

Danz03

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Agreed, like some of the early Beatles recordings, the quality is bad, there's probably not much difference between the original master and a 128kbps MP3 file of it.
A lot of the MP3 files downloadable from the internet have really bad sound quality, they are bad probably because the source they ripped from were bad to begin with, so if the FLAC files were ripped from bad source, they wouldn't sound any better than MP3 files ripped from the same source.
Besides, even with FLAC, there are certain levels of compression when converting from an aif or a wav file. With the best quality setting, the file size is around half of that of a wav file, so if sound quality is that important, one might as well use the original aif or wav file. 
wink.gif

 
Quote:
i doubt that. it all comes down to the recording from the studio and how it was recorded. there is even amazing recordings in 128kbps mp3 files.  if it's a bad recording no matter if it's uncompressed wav or compressed 128kbps it will always sound like crap.  i mean it also comes down to how well the software used as well cause badly compressed you can clearly hear the compression artifacts and can be absolutely annoying. that's why i can't listen to youtube sometimes cause how youtube servers compresses the source.
 
Quote:
If you can't hear the difference between mp3 of any bit rate and FLAC I would suggest that you are probably deaf and wasting your money on expensive headphones

 

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