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Audio Quality Rankings

Discussion in 'Sound Science' started by freakydrew, Feb 3, 2010.
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  1. freakydrew
    Obviously the source is crucial, but for the purpose of this post let's assume that we are dealing with a perfect source, in a perfect room, with perfect everything.
    What I am wondering is, in order of quality, how do the different formats stack up?

    Would it be:
    SACD
    CD
    FLAC
    ALAC
    wav
    ogg
    MP4
    MP3
    windows audio (I forget the achronym)
    mpc
    raw

    I am sure there are other formats, I guess these are the most common?
    where does analog (vinyl) fit into the mix?
     
  2. krmathis Contributor
    My take would be:
    SACD
    CD / FLAC / ALAC / raw (whatever that is) / wav (PCM audio I presume).
    mpc
    MP3
    windows audio (I forget the achronym)

    These are audio/video containers, so does not really belong here.
    ogg
    MP4
     
  3. nick_charles Contributor
    SACD - theoretically capable of 144db dynamic range, technically far superior to CD (96db) but whether you could tell the difference is open to debate.

    CD
    FLAC
    ALAC
    wav
    (assuming 16 bits and 44.1k sampling all the same in absolute quality terms unless there are decoder/playback hardware/software/error issues)

    Quote:

    where does analog (vinyl) fit into the mix?



    Dynamic range of up to 80db with a pristine pressing and well setup hardware and in the outer grooves, declining as you reach the middle, capable of higher frequencies than CD but technical limitations on the level at which high frequencies can be stored especially in the inner grooves.
     
  4. St3ve
    Quote:

    Originally Posted by krmathis /img/forum/go_quote.gif
    My take would be:

    These are audio/video containers, so does not really belong here.
    ogg
    MP4




    Doesn't spotify stream a variant of ogg? I might be wrong
     
  5. krmathis Contributor
    Quote:

    Originally Posted by St3ve /img/forum/go_quote.gif
    Doesn't spotify stream a variant of ogg? I might be wrong



    Vorbis, which is one of several codecs supported by the Ogg container.
     
  6. sbtruitt
    WMA (Lossless) would be at/near CD quallity.
    Thats what I have all my ripped/archived content in.
     
  7. freakydrew
    that is the windows media I could not think of. as good as cd quality?
     
  8. GWorlDofSPACE
    This is not an easy question guys.
    Quality is relative. If you are an audiophile who wants to reproduce natural and alive sound structures then its obvious the vinyl sphere would be the best quality to go.
    Otherwise in digital world you have SACD to be the purest of all at this time.
     
  9. Uncle Erik Contributor
    Don't forget DVD-A. There are still a few discs out there and it sounds wonderful.
     
  10. nick_charles Contributor
    Quote:

    Originally Posted by GWorlDofSPACE /img/forum/go_quote.gif
    This is not an easy question guys.
    Quality is relative. If you are an audiophile who wants to reproduce natural and alive sound structures then its obvious the vinyl sphere would be the best quality to go.
    Otherwise in digital world you have SACD to be the purest of all at this time.




    It depends on what you mean by quality, if you mean an accurate rendering of a source signal then vinyl has some technical limitations such as noise, speed variations, dynamic range and various distortions at such levels that render it less accurate than digital systems.

    For pop music with loud average levels this is not a problem, but for classical music with quiet passages and for instance sustained solo piano vinyl's limits become apparent, as Scotty says "ye cannae change the laws of physics".
     
  11. sbtruitt
    Quote:

    Originally Posted by freakydrew /img/forum/go_quote.gif
    that is the windows media I could not think of. as good as cd quality?



    Assuming the Windows codec creates a truly mathematical 'lossless' file (which I am), then yes it is.
     
  12. d3adeyes
    i would think .wav would be better then .flac as far as quality as it is not compressed at all and .flac and .aac is a compression. I am not sure that's why I'm asking
     
  13. etiolate
    Quote:

    Originally Posted by d3adeyes /img/forum/go_quote.gif
    i would think .wav would be better then .flac as far as quality as it is not compressed at all and .flac and .aac is a compression. I am not sure that's why I'm asking



    they're compressed, but the encoded only rid the file of useless bits that weren't conveying any musical information. thus, as far as information stored, flac=alac=wav=cd.
     
  14. d3adeyes
    thanks
     
  15. a_recording
    Aww don't forget HDCD [​IMG]
     
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