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FLAC vs. 320 Mp3

Discussion in 'Sound Science' started by icedup, Sep 7, 2011.
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  1. IcedUP
    My friend tried to tell me yesterday that flac is no better than a 320k mp3 quality-wise. He said it had to do with the fact that everything is recorded digitally now rather than in analog. They record at the rate of 320 kpbs so you're not getting better sound quality by ripping into flac unless the music had been recorded in analog originally. Was I misinformed or is this untrue? I've been ripping my music into flac, but I don't want to continue to do so if it's not giving me better quality.
  2. Elysian
    FLAC = Lossless
    MP3 = Lossy
    Most people will not be able to tell the difference between 320cbr vs lossless, particularly given what normally passes for audio gear, like bundled iPod earbuds.
    bryanswy and SCTinkering like this.
  3. Head Injury

    Your friend is wrong. Even if the recording on the CD is really only a 320kbps file in a lossless package (CDs you buy are always lossless), you would be damaging the file further by ripping to lossless again. Lossless formats preserve exactly what data they're fed. Lossy formats always take some away. Feed a lossless format with a 320kbps file, it will sound like that 320kbps file. Feed a lossy format a 320kbps file, you're getting something worse than 320kbps.

    And every other headphone too [​IMG]
    If you hear the difference with your gear, it's not because of your gear. It's because you're blessed with good hearing, or you know what to listen for. And, of course, there's placebo if it's a sighted test.
    bryanswy likes this.
  4. firev1
    There are times last time when i did not managed my audio files properly and constantly mix up my lossless and lossy files for playback on ASIO while surfing. Safe to say, there is an audible difference between 320k and lossless playback because of possible artifacts introduced but how different really depends on the source and encode library your using. There are some songs I heard where there is absolutely no difference at all between lossy and lossless but that may just be my hearing :3
  5. TMRaven
    Unless it's a cd with an unusually high dynamic range, then I doubt it would be very easy to tell the difference.  One of the biggest things lower bitrate takes away is the bit depth, which in turn effects the dynamic range of the music, but the reality of it is that most albums have no greater than 50-60db of dynamic range.  That leaves to having heavily trained ears to notice very subtle differences in treble decay.
    omniweltall likes this.
  6. Astrozombie
    Question is can we tell the difference between 192/256 and 256/320? I want to try this now...........
  7. FalconerHUN
    For example I cannot make a difference between 320 and flac at all.
    I am using an SGS with Voodoo sound, tried it with an Ortofon EQ5 and Brainwavz B2 as well. The B2 is far more detailed compared to the Ortofon, and yet I cant tell the difference. I tried it listening to various music, I find symphonic orchestra to be the best for this.
    On the other hand, I can absolutely tell the difference between 256 and 320k. So viva mp3 320! :)
  8. xnor
    Think of ripping into flac as a backup of your CDs. You might not be able (and are not supposed) to hear a difference between flac and 320 kbps mp3s but if you do any kind of processing or transcoding you really should use lossless compressed files as source. As lossy codecs improve you might want to re-encode your files or even change the codec altogether to save some space on your portable player. If you take an mp3 as source you'll only further decrease quality.
  9. bowei006 Contributor
    Technically Lossless CD ripped format like FLAC is superior to MP3 and the difference is technically there and immense as MP3 cuts down so much data. In reality, MP3 and AAC have specific algorythmns that cut away noise and frequency and mainly parts that the human ear can not hear(there are problems sometimes) many people can't tell the difference between MP3 320kbps and FLAC and that is fine, i have only done one test myself and got a very nice score to show that i can but i won't admit or deny my ability yet as i have only done it once.
  10. ImperialX
    I have a HD800 and I can't accurately tell between 320kps and FLAC with most of my recordings. True statement.
    TronII likes this.
  11. bowei006 Contributor
    I found that with time on head-fi..i personally was able to. most don't. and didn't but i learned what to listen to and with my equipment and stuff. again i've done the ABX once. ill try it again in a few days 
  12. snoopy007
    Short answer to your question. keep as flac on the computer for optimum quality and for the future. Plus you can generate the mp3 for your portables anytime via foobar2k
    Flac - lossless - same as the original CD
    mp3 - lossy - can sound nearly the same as the original CD. Basically a lot of "irrelvant" sound data have been thrown away. whether or not these "irrelavnt" data is actually important is another matter.
    As for a comparision, this is what I found. I mainly listern to more vocal stuff and using pretty decent iem.
    flac vs lame 3.98.4  cbr 320
    If you Abxing  them when the volume has be equated (very important). There is usually a very small subtle difference. you will notice that one of the track on the vocal with have more "air" and slightly  more resonance. Vibration on string instruments seems to last just a tiny bit longer as well.   From experience, that is usually the flac.
    However, if you just give me one track and ask me if it is flac or mp3. It would be like more like near 55:45 guess for me.
    Basically, the better your setup, the easier it is for you to notice the difference.  Personally, I think the main reason why some people can tell so easily besides having a very good ear, is because the volume of the flac and the mp3 have not been equated when abxing. Unless of course the encoder have created "artefacts" when encoding. yes this can happen, whether you will notice these artefacts during normal listerning is a different matter. But you are certainly more likely to notice these artefacts during ABxing.
    Personally, I prefer to use lame 3.98.4 vbr0 instead of cbr 320 for portable use. Which of course will usually generate a far smaller size size. And I listern to the flac files while I am at the computer.
    The real reason for me to use vbr0 instead of cbr 320 is as follows.
    1- not every second will require 320kb.
    2- vbr 0 can go up to 320kbps if required.
    3- Perople often forget that  vbr is joint-stereo and cbr default setting is stereo. Which means that instead of just 160kbps per a channel for cbr. more kbps can be allocated to one of the channel as required. ( not sure how much more since I can't find any documentation on this.)
    4- LAME vbr pyschoacoustic algorithm has been constantly worked on. Yes, all lossy format depends on how good its pyscho acoustic algorithm is.  This why mp3 made over 15 years ago can sound so different to the the mp3 being generated by a more modern encoder. even if using cbr 320. But usually the difference is more obvious for the lower settings.
  13. flight567
    the way it was explained to me, is that a lossy file will open the file, when it opens it decompresses, and in that decompress, there is a "loss" then it saves the file again after the loss.so each time you open thefile, you lose some of the quality, they may be the same "out the box" but overtime the lossy will degrade. from what i understand atleast.
  14. ImperialX
  15. nanaholic


    Do us all a favor and slap the guy over the head who told you this.
    Pro tip: the file doesn't get saved over, EVER, during playback.
    eldus and bowei006 like this.
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