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FLAC vs. 320 Mp3

Discussion in 'Sound Science' started by icedup, Sep 7, 2011.
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  1. JohnSantana
    What about ALAC or APE audio ?
    are they any better than the 320 KBps MP3 ?
  2. JohnSantana
    So does this means is that VBR is best of both worlds because with VBR bit rate, it can actually adapt to the musics as needed thus saving some disk space more than CBR 320 KBps ?
  3. c61746961
    They are both lossless formats.

    Pretty much, yes.
    JohnSantana likes this.
  4. JohnSantana
    Cool, thanks for the clarification.
  5. Iamnothim
    Opinion from the New Guy..
    FLAC v 320 Mp3

    Ordinary headgear, probably not
    Great headgear, probably
    A mid-top end home system, absolutely. 

    It's the same as the photography argument of RAW files vs jpeg files
    More data, better picture.   Others will say jpeg is fine, no difference.

    Digital music, more data better sound.
    Caveat.... Professionally engineered flac files from a studio.  As purchased on HD Tracks.

    A previous post noted sustain on string instruments.  Correct.  The guitar pick, the singers breath, clearer percussion.   The definition of the sound staging is amazing.  
    Sound staging can be difficult to discern with headphones.

    I like rock and blues.  Old recordings of Buddy Guy & Jr. Wells are 16 bit / 44.1 kHz
    They sound amazing.   There's a reason these files are 70Gb.  The 192 k/Hz files are 130 Gb

    Like a $10 Cabernet (10Gb Mp3) vs a $130 Cabernet (130Gb FLAC / AIFF)
    There are people that can tell the difference.   Are there some great tasting $10 Cab's?  Yes, but not often.

    I get them from HD Tracks, put them on a dedicated Mac Mini running Sonic Studio Amarra with iTunes.
    I go out the Mac USB to a Cambridge Audio DAC Magic plus. The DAC Magic clocks the Mac at 192kHz. Amarra switches rates on-the-fly.   44.1/88.2/96/192

    The DAC Magic is connected to an Anthem DVM20 preamp via balanced analog XLR  ports.  An Anthem 6 ch amp powers Theil CS 1.5 speakers.

    Finding FLAC was like a rebirth of my system.

    Btw: Amarra does a great job with the Mp3 files.
  6. xnor
    Their sighted "abilities" usually go away in an ABX test.
    Otherwise, why are these people hiding when there are public listening tests?
    Brooko and streetdragon like this.
  7. Iamnothim
    Big mistake in my post.... make that MB rather than GB.  Dufus attack.
    Not sure about Public Listening tests.  I couldn't find one in google, but that doesn't mean they don't exist.
    The entire topic is subjective, that's what makes the discussion fun.   I simply posted my experiences, reasons, and beliefs.
    As you know it's all about the source.  My FLAC music is made from original master tapes with the goal of sounding exactly what was picked up in the recording session by the tape machines.  Mostly old music.   HD Tracks usually has a write up for a given album on the the process that was used to create the FLAC file.  In some cases the engineers try to find the same make/model of the equipment used to make the original.
    It's not made from another file and it's not made from a CD.  Again, IMO, these recordings sound better than a CD..... To me.  Perhaps psychosomatic.  
    That said, I'm not in love with every album.  Creedence Clearwater Chronicle 20 sounded only a bit better... on some cuts.  Same case with Beach Boys Pet Sounds.  The chimes are crystal clear with resonance but I expected more with a 192kHz recording of the #2 Rolling Stones top 500 album.  Like Creedence the album didn't have the dimensional sound staging as other FLAC's I've purchased.
    R.E.M. Automatic for the People...epic.
    Elton Madman Across the Water....epic
    Cat Stevens Tea for the Tillerman.... epic
    Buddy Guy & Jr. Wells, Alone & Acoustic 1991..... epic
    Buddy Guy & Jr. Wells, Drinkn' TNT N' Smokin' Dynamite 1982 ... amazing
    Hound Dog Taylor & the Houserockers,  Beware of the Dog 1976 ...... immense amount of fun.
    This is the music I play and I play it on very nice gear.
    Since the FLAC files are only on my dedicated Mac Mini in my equipment closet it's hard for me to comfortably test it with head gear.
    I have not done this, as I'll either need to stand there, use a very long cord, or get WiFi phones.
    Is it like being a wine snob, or some other over-the-top passion? Maybe.
    btw.  If you like metal,  Give Hound Dog a spin you might be surprised.  Be sure to turn it up.
  8. Brooko Contributor
    The real question is if you can distinguish flac from mp3-320 in a blind test.  So take your highest resolution, best known track.  Rip it to flac, and using same track (same master) rip to 320-mp3 (or 256aac - both are same transparency).  You can then use your high resolution source / speakers / normal chain - as long as you feed it from an application that can double-blind (Foobar2000).  Make sure both tracks are volume matched (Foobar has a tool to do that too).  Run the ABX - aim for at least 15-20 iterations.  Post the log.
    You might be surprised under true blind testing that those differences you perceive suddenly disappear.  The brain is a wonderful and powerful thing ...... 
  9. streetdragon
    128 vs 320 is not too hard, flac vs 320 i will admit i failed. i actually thought the FLAC one sounded harsher, i was wrong[​IMG]
  10. Iamnothim
    Ok, I believe you.
    I'm probably confused on a couple of points.
    Here's my comparison:
    FLAC files from HD Tracks.  Then Amarra software converts them to AIFF
    Compared to
    iTunes music  Apple MPEG-4 audio
    a CD burned into iTunes with files showing up as an AIFF file at about half the size.
    Picking the FLAC from an iTunes download is a slam dunk.
    Comparing to a ripped CD…  that's hard, on many tracks.   The sound staging depth "seems" richer on the HD Tracks file.  As you said, it's hard to level the playing field.
    It dawned on me that I am ignorant / uneducated about 320 Mp3 vs 128 Mp3.
    Where do these files (320) come from?  Can't be iTunes.
    My FLAC is all purchased not ripped from some source I might have.
    For a comparison would I take the AIFF that was created from the HD Tracks FLAC file and duplicate it in a 320 Mp3 format then use your application for the ABX?   The HD Tracks is the best stuff I've heard.  Do I use that?
    At the moment I'm listening to a 24 / 96kHz flac recording of The Doors LA Woman for the first time.  OMG
  11. bigshot
    You're making it very complicated for yourself thinking about all that stuff at once. It's easier to think of it as a line across which sound can't get any better because it's audibly identical to the master. You can make a bigger file out of it, but it doesn't sound any better.

    In general that line is around 320 MP3 or 256 AAC.
  12. Iamnothim
    I will simplify .
    Any song I have purchased from HD Tracks sounds better than any song I have purchased from iTunes and many CD's

    That's all I'm saying.

    If iTunes is 320 than I have dog grade hearing.
  13. Brooko Contributor
    To make a side by side actual comparison - you need to use exactly the same track (same mastering source).
    So you take your HD Tracks download, and transcode it to whatever format you want to compare - that way you are using the same mastering source (just different format container).  Next you must make sure the comparison is completely blind (abx) - which is why we suggest using Foobar's abx comparator.  Finally the output must be level matched to ensure they are same volume.  Louder volume is often perceived as better quality.
    If you compare this with your opening post - you were suggesting that you could absolutely tell the difference on your mid/high tier system between 320mp3/flac and you mentioned CD as well.  In fact, you were probably listening to:
     - different masterings
     - at different volumes
     - and the test was sighted
    You can probably see why you can't make your initial statement.  Of course you can tell the difference if effectively you are listening to two completely different tracks ......
  14. bigshot
    Those are two different masters. Take the HD Tracks song, knock it down to 16 bit/44.1 then to 320 MP3 and you won't be able to hear any difference.
  15. xnor
    The biggest crime in the industry, besides borderline fraudulent marketing (I'm thinking expensive cables): selling different masters as more expensive "high-res" tracks and use crappy mastering for CDs.
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