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Can you hear the difference between 128bit MP3 and uncompressed WAV?

Discussion in 'Computer Audio' started by itsikhefez, Dec 16, 2017.
  1. itsikhefez
    Hey all.

    I consider myself as someone that can tell the difference between good quality and bad quality sound. I pay a service to get 'high' quality streaming, but at the same time prefer to buy CD's of the the albums I like and rip to FLAC.
    I would say my "chain" is almost top of the line:
    PC -> iFI iUSB/iPurifier -> Bryston BDA-2 -> Bryston BHA-1 -> HD700 or DT990.

    So, I found this audio quality "test" online:
    https://www.npr.org/sections/therecord/2015/06/02/411473508/how-well-can-you-hear-audio-quality

    I can hardly hear the difference between any files, and I chose the 128bit samples a few times.
    Did anyone else do this test and do better?
    Usually, when I play a FLAC and 128bit file from my computer, the difference is crystal clear.

    Thoughts?
     
  2. Anarion
    Easily (I don't need to do that test - I've tested compressions numerous times myself just for the fun). 128 kbps MP3 (it's kbps, not bit - totally different things) is bad in every possible way - some tracks sound really bad because at that bitrate there's just no way it could sound as good as lossless original.

    If you know how the lossless original sounds then it should never be hard to tell the difference.
     
    Last edited: Dec 16, 2017
  3. Music Alchemist
    128 kbps sounds absolutely awful to me compared to lossless. (I have compared them for years.)
     
  4. itsikhefez
    I agree, but did you try the test? I usually hear the difference between encodings but couldn’t on the website.

    I’m interested to hear if your experience is the same, or perhaps there is an issue with my gear / hearing
     
  5. Music Alchemist
    Hmm. Now I see what you mean. Next to no difference to my ears on that link, despite there being a huge difference when I encode the files myself using high quality software. (The difference is even larger when others encode them, since they apparently used lower quality methods.)
     
  6. itsikhefez
    Thanks for checking. Good to know nothing is broken on my end.

    Something may be flawed with that test, perhaps also an issue with how the browser plays the file
     
  7. BrightCandle
    I certainly can't tell the difference on that site. Have they encoded those with fixed or variable bit rate as they haven't said. Although with a clip that short it probably wouldn't make much difference. VBR does a lot better for songs that are pretty varied.

    I know I can't tell the difference between 384 kbps and lossless so I don't bother with anything larger than that. All my 128kbps MP3's clearly stick out but perhaps they are just badly encoded?!
     
  8. tonally_challenged
    There's obvious differences if you know what your looking for. Sss sounds like in that Kate Perry song. Piano sounding weird.

    Can't tell the difference between 320 and wave on this setup but 128 stands out like a sore thumb.
     
  9. ProtegeManiac Contributor
    Most of the tests online aren't full spectrum music and don't get to show where MP3 suffers at either ends of the range.

    If you listen to metal, here's an example. Nightwish's Angels Fall First has percussion that is horribly badly recorded. All the drums, including the kick drum, sounds like a snare drum with stuffing. Compress all their albums at 128kbps and they all end up sounding like that first album.
     
  10. Wallboy
    Took the test. I got 5/6 Uncompressed WAV correct. For the one wrong answer I chose the 320kbps version. Listened from Modi 1 -> Vali 1 -> AKG K712 Pro
     
  11. tonally_challenged
    Another telltale sign is cymbals
     

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