FLAC or MP3-320 For Portable Gear

Discussion in 'Sound Science' started by ryder78, Oct 8, 2017.
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  1. Killcomic
    Hell, even 128kbps MP3 encoded with LAME was hard to tell apart from lossless. I had to really concentrate, and even then I failed like 3 out of 10 in ABX testing.
  2. Vatnos
    I find AAC noticeably worse than LAME or OGG, especially at sub-200 bitrates. They've always sounded tinny and plastic-ey to me. That's just my hearing though. Your mileage may vary. Some people like the sound. Some people like the sound of 128 kbps mp3s.

    Here's an interesting test that was done a few years ago: https://www.reddit.com/r/audiophile/comments/1903bi/lossy_vs_lossless_results/

    Flac vs 320 kbps mp3 vs 190 kbps AAC vs 128 kbps mp3

    Across all the hundreds of people listening on every kind of setup imaginable, on average the files scored in proportion to their bitrate. You could take whatever you want from these results to support any side of the argument though. What I take from this is that the differences are subtle and hard to pick out in a single song, as they should be. Over many songs though, the difference will add up and have an impact. I think there is a big difference between listening to songs you've never heard before, and trying to pick the higher fidelity format, vs listening to an album you love hundreds of times, which could make you more sensitive to subtleties of different formats for it. That second one is what matters to your enjoyment.

    It's a silly argument, in my view.

    Hard disk space is pretty cheap now. These lossy formats were developed decades ago when drive space was precious, and they served their role for that time. Now they seem fairly obsolete for personal use, unless you're running a large website like Youtube. It's more convenient for me to have one playlist of Flac I never have to worry about or change and can easily move folders around than to maintain multiple playlists. By the time I fill my drives up, which will not be any time soon despite my rapid rate of collection, the space will become even cheaper.
    Last edited: Dec 18, 2017
  3. bigshot
    I have a test with three codecs at three different bitrates vs lossless. Would you like to take it and find out for yourself what sounds best to you?

    By the way, I have a media server with nearly 100TB of online storage. I wouldn't be able to house and access my archive without compression codecs. That's why I've made the effort to find out the truth about them, not just assume that "more is better".
    Last edited: Dec 18, 2017
  4. Vatnos
    Sure, sounds like fun. I'd love to do it.

    I've been meaning to put together a test of my own in Foobar, but it's low on my priority list because 1) regardless of the result, I wouldn't change anything I do, and 2) I don't spend my nights sleeplessly worrying about what format I used. I'm confident it's 'good enough', and if it's more than I need, that's okay. Better safe than sorry.

    My library used to be in 172 kbps VBR LAME mp3s, with some AACs and Vorbis thrown in here and there. I had to change it after upgrading my headphones and noticing how fatiguing that format sounded after long listening sessions. I could've gone for either a higher lossy bitrate or a lossless one. I didn't spend too much time AB testing the options. Rather than risk undercutting it and having to re-rip even more, I just went with FLAC so I wouldn't have to think about it ever again, which feels great by the way, and I'd highly recommend it to those who are in such a position. If you have a giant server to run that requires conserving bandwidth, your needs are obviously different. :wink:
    Last edited: Dec 18, 2017
    JaeYoon likes this.
  5. pila405
    I use 320kbps LAME mp3, though I can differentiate between this and flac (blind testing), but difference is too negligible that I wouldn't notice without the original right after it.
    320 is good enough for me on the go...

    I think I should give Ogg and AAC a try
    Last edited: Dec 18, 2017
  6. bigshot

    Let me know if you prefer a FLAC or ALAC file and I'll pm you the download link. This is different than a Foobar test. You get ten samples, each one different and you rank them from best to worst.
  7. Vatnos
    I use FLAC mostly because I'm not an apple guy, but lossless is lossless and I don't care ultimately. Bring it on.
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