FLAC or MP3-320 For Portable Gear

Discussion in 'Sound Science' started by ryder78, Oct 8, 2017.
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  1. ryder78
    I have searched the archives and there isn't much discussion on this. I am not seeking for a debate on this. I would just like to know what format do you guys usually use when listening to music on your portable gear.

    Basically I have compared both FLAC and MP3-320 on both my low-end headphone gear and home audio rig. There is a difference in sound quality between FLAC and MP3-320 when music was played on the home audio system, not a night a day difference but noticeable enough to my ears. When played through my headphones, my ears could not detect any difference between the two formats. For this reason I am inclined to use MP3-320 for my portable gear.

    I would like to seek the experience from folks who use higher-end gear. Do you usually listen to MP3-320 or FLAC? Any thoughts or advice would be appreciated.
  2. RRod
    I use 96k Opus for stereo, 256k for surround material. Were these blind comparisons you did between FLAC and 320k mp3?
    JaeYoon likes this.
  3. JaeYoon
    Try out the ABX switcher with Lame V5 and work your way up to V0 and see where you pass and how many times you fail.

    Though some tracks can differ, as some genres may be more or less transparent. Some recommend if you fail -V3. You can encode at -V2 to be safe. (one number jump)
    RRod likes this.
  4. RRod
    These codec listening test results give a good comparison of the codecs at middling rates along with many sound samples for which V5 had a perceptible but not annoying difference. As you said, V3 or V2 will fix that no problem. Really no reason to cart around FLAC these days.
    Last edited: Oct 9, 2017
    JaeYoon likes this.
  5. JaeYoon
    Damn I wish my audio players supported opus.

    Im glad QAAC is also good! You can encode at a lower bitrate even.
    When I get time on weekend, I'm going to format my sd card and encode everything that's lossless to lossy. It's going to be freeing over 100s of gbs of space.

    I might not even need a 400 gb sd card anymore. Save a lot of battery life too.
  6. RRod
    Opus implementations can be buggy; most annoying example is that Kodi skips on Opus track changes. Also, Opus will bake-in ebu-r128 gain, though different players seem to handle this differently. Great codec though. I will say, AAC has many options for handling super-low bitrates that weren't tested in that codec test and that I haven't tested personally. But yeah, these days you'll need some pretty super ears want more than 128k for stereo material (though I'll admit there are examples of such ears existing with certain material).
    JaeYoon likes this.
  7. bigshot
    I use AAC 256 VBR for everything. When I first decided to build a music server, I didn't want to have to encode everything twice- once for home listening and again for mobile use. I did a lot of testing to determine the lowest setting that was audibly transparent. I compared various codecs and bitrates to lossless with a variety of different types of music. I determined that at 256 AAC was transparent and at 320 LAME MP3 was transparent too. AAC won out because the file sizes were smaller for the same sound quality. I added VBR to make the encoding more efficient. I now have over a year and a half of music encoded that way, and it all sounds perfect.
    Polar1 and TheTrace like this.
  8. gregorio
    Yep, for portable use I exclusively use AAC 256 VBR. At work I use bwav exclusively.

    TheTrace likes this.
    I used special preset of lame vbr 100 to fit ~300 songs onto a cd for car audio.
  10. Killcomic
    I always try to get FLAC whenever possible.
    Having said that, I was listening to some music and this track came on. I can't remember exactly what it was but I was blown away by the quality, depth and fullness of the sound.
    I looked at the track I was playing expecting to see it as a FLAC.
    Nope, it was MP3 320k.
    At the end of the day, it's the mastering that matters, not the format.
    Last edited: Nov 8, 2017
    Polar1, sonitus mirus and JaeYoon like this.
  11. Caribou679
    As portable I use Sansa Fuze Rockboxed and it does not recognize AAC. So I use either MP3 or OGG encoding. I like the sound this format gives.
  12. bigshot
    MP3 LAME is almost as good as AAC. At 320 it's perfectly transparent.
    JaeYoon likes this.
  13. stalepie
    Last edited: Nov 8, 2017
  14. Whazzzup
    Portable gear apple lossless, flac desktop.
  15. bigshot
    I’ve noticed some encoders slightly change the volume level. They should attenuate to avoid clipping in normalized tracks, but some of them don’t do that
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