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FLAC vs. 320 Mp3

Discussion in 'Sound Science' started by icedup, Sep 7, 2011.
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  1. julian67

    You quoted me and replied to me specifically, saying "You should uncheck "joint stereo" when you encode". which, as I described, was something of a strawman. Even if you now claim it to be a general statement it is still not a good argument (even if accompanied by a piece of bossy hubris). Stereo image in a lossy file does not depend only on where the encoder selects joint/mid side/intensity, so your "advice" is simply wrong in any case.


    The differences between lossless and well encoded lossy can be subtle. You might find small differences in the amount of bass or treble, or in the decay of notes, or in the definition of transients etc. etc. etc. These are not gross artefacts and may pass completely unnoticed in normal listening, and might even be difficult in a side by side comparison. But they can exist and do. If you've only been listening out for gross artefacts then your listening tests are flawed.


    That's an appeal to what? Your purchasing prowess? Are you going to publish your address and pay my transatlantic air ticket? I prefer business or first class by the way. This is all so much hot air.


    All of that is very convenient but that's all it is: convenience. If convenience is king than just be happy with that. Why bother trying to also claim that you "KNOW" that the lossy audio files are as good as the uncompressed originals? You cannot know that, you can only believe it. All you can reasonably claim is that you don't notice a difference.

    It doesn't matter if you attempt to upbraid Rem1x for some supposed lack of effort, or try to issue me orders like you're my commanding officer. Because your logic is flawed, and that is actually what matters (not your super hifi or the size of your library or how long you've been collecting it). Rem1x is right in saying

    I agree and like Rem1x I can claim with absolute reason and without any room for doubt or error that I hear my music at the best quality possible on the playback equipment I own. No ifs, no buts, maybes, additional claims or special pleading required.

    Another problem with asserting beliefs as facts is that if the day comes where the claim is found to be less than golden, it's much easier to deal with if one doesn't feel personally invested in the matter. Ask a naked emperor.
     
  2. julian67

    I'd say you were doing the perfectly reasonable thing under the circumstances. "I can't tell the difference" in combination with " I do have limited disk space, and I don't have unlimited funds" makes a compelling argument in favour of using lossy audio.

    It's when people stop saying "I can't tell the difference" and start saying instead "it's identical/perfect/beyond criticism" often accompanied by "everyone should use it and anyone who disagrees is lazy/dishonest/foolish/ignorant" that things get a bit more exciting.
     
  3. ForShure
    Here's my two cents on the whole FLAC vs. MP3 debate. Looking at other compressed forms of media such as photos I see the same arguements going on but with different outcomes. In photo compression lossy formates like JPEG closely resemble the MP3. Most people use it and are perfectly fine with it. It's files take up much less space and consumer level cameras only support JPEG. Meanwhile many photo professionals shoot in uncompressed lossless files such as RAW. These files are many times bigger and only higher end cameras support shooting in this format. When examining a JPEG and RAW photo up close one can see the differences between the two. The edges tend to be less crisp and detail tends to be lacking.
     
    The difference in the debate is that while both deal with Lossy vs. lossless compression photo enthusiasts all agree that uncompressed RAW photos look better than their compressed brethren no matter how advanced the encoder is. While in the MP3 vs. FLAC debate people can't seem to agree on what sounds better. I believe the biggest factor in this is that with photos it is much easier to point out compression artifacts because it is something visual. Humans rely on their eyes much more than hearing and because of this naturally we trust what we see to be true. Listening on the other hand is very subjective and one it is much harder to get somebody to listen to the exact same thing you do. Part of this may be because we have way fewer words in our language to describe sound than describe sight.
     
    As far as I'm concerned there is a difference between lossy and lossless compression and how they sound. The numbers state that is true, however...if any human can tell the difference is a matter still up for debate. If humans had the hearing of a cat then I'm sure we would be able to tell the difference but because all of us (i think) are human we are limited in what we can hear. I personally will always try to rip my cd's in FLAC for bragging rights and archival reasons but if an artist only releases a 320 mp3 online then I wont lose any sleep about missing out on the music.
     
  4. waynes world
    Quote:
     
    I understand your points. But if you like to edit your photos, another big advantage to shooting in RAW is because there is a lot more latitude for editing RAW files than there is with JPG files.
     
  5. ForShure
    Quote:

    Facepalm* forgot to mention that bit lol. I'm ashamed I forgot that since I use Photoshop every single day at work.
     
  6. Dillan
    The audio and image files are a great comparison, I never thought of it like that. I wish comparing things that you hear were as easy as what you see. Our echoic memory is honestly pretty bad, I feel like mine is especially sometimes..
     
    ForShure likes this.
  7. sonitus mirus
    This is certainly not beyond criticism.  As for facts and beliefs, I can only speak for myself.  I've done tests that to this point have convinced me that I cannot hear a difference and I am not sacrificing audible sound quality by using a lossy format.  Sure, I can't know for certain in any reasonable manner, but I have actual results that I can fall back on, and I've never seen reliable evidence that shows anyone else would have different results.
     
    It was asked why anyone would use a lossy format other than simply trying to save space.  I was only attempting to explain the reason behind my decision, and that it was not as simple as just trying to save space.
     
  8. Dillan

    You can't prove to anyone that you can or can't hear a difference, unless you can read minds, and even then - echoic memory is deceptive, so a lot of people don't even realize what they hear even if they hear it (or don't hear it for that matter). You can however look at what Lossless audio really is and what it is made for, and I can sit here and listen to it, and not have to prove anything, because it is a lossless file, it is scientifically better than lossy. It literally keeps every particle of sound that the album had, and makes it into a digital file. Whether certain human ears can hear the quality lost or gained is the only thing that can be debated, but there is quality lost with MP3. So while someone with a lossy album has to guess, the lossless album can know for a fact, why even deal with potential loss? I never understood. The only reasons I can think of going with a lesser quality format such as MP3 would be because you are saving space, or for compatibility issues - perhaps on mobile devices. Other than that, I can't even imagine.
     
  9. bigshot
    Quote:
     
    You're resorting to attacking the person not the argument again. I'm not going to reply to you if you do that. I'll talk past you to the rest of the readers of this thread.
     
    There is absolutely nothing wrong with ripping to FLAC or ALAC. They're fine formats. Lossless is great if you don't own the CD you're ripping and you need an exact backup. But if you do own the CDs in your collection, there is no practical advantage at all. High bitrate current lossy codecs are completely transparent. I have good ears and a kick ass sound system and I use AAC with no loss of sound quality. High bitrate lossy does however have definite advantages if you have a large collection, limited storage and backup space, if you stream your music regularly or if you use portable DAPs like iPods, iPhones or iPads. Also, MP3 LAME is the most versatile music format of all. It will play on just about anything that plays digital audio. I've found that it's possible to play FLAC on a Macintosh, but it's far from convenient. And although ALAC is open format, it isn't as accepted as MP3 by a longshot.
     
    No sound difference. More convenience with lossy. No brainer.
     
  10. bigshot
    Quote:
     
    The reason professional photographers use RAW is the same reason that recording studios use 24 bit audio... It has a wider dynamic range, so it allows for more room for post processing. A sound mixer may need to pull up a small sound in a mix, and not pulling up a noise floor with it is a definite advantage. A professional photographer may want to adjust the exposure or color balance in photoshop, and RAW files give him the latitude to do that.
     
    HOWEVER...
     
    Once the mix is complete, and the high bitrate master is bounced down to redbook and then high bitrate lossy, the original master and the high bitrate lossy are identical in normal listening situations. And once a RAW file is adjusted in post processing and saved out as a high quality jpeg, the RAW and jpeg are identical in normal viewing conditions.
     
    24 bit, RAW and lossless redbook all have their place when the sound or image is being manipulated. But for looking at pictures or listening to music, they are just bigger files with no added benefit to the viewer/listener.
     
  11. bigshot
    Quote:
     
    Welcome to Sound Science, the only board on Head-Fi where I can say this...
     
    YES! You CAN prove it. It's called a double blind, level matched, direct A/B comparison. I've seen lots of reports of controlled listening tests, and I have done some slightly less formal ones myself. It's been proven time and time again. High bitrate AAC and MP3 LAME are aurally transparent to lossless. At this point, you can't prove that it *isn't* transparent without piling up a good amount of supporting test results to tip it the other way. Good luck with that. It won't be easy!
     
  12. Dillan
    Honestly what it comes down to is, what does the individual want. Do they need a smaller sized file, do they need a file more compatible on mobile devices, if my personal situation called for those two things, or maybe another reason, then yea the first thing I would do is start worrying about the possibility of a difference and loss in quality. I would probably spend many hours testing this, (not to say I have no experience comparing the two already), but for me?.. None of these things are the case. I have plenty of storage, I have devices and software for bit-perfect playback, and I chose to obtain a large collection of FLAC, and at every chance, I choose it over lossy formats. I don't hate lossy, I will happily download lossy if I have no other option - But I will always rip to flac, and download flac or other lossless formats when I can. Why? Because the previous scenarios do not reflect my situation and I chose with something that scientifically is better, and allows me to feel secure without having to do extensive testing. I too have a large collection of audio and I too have a very high end setup, both in the headphone world and speakers. Another thing to consider is how good is the setup, better setups tend to show poor quality audio more than your average pair of apple earbuds. (of course) But I don't use that as any form of proof, excuse, or anything like that.


    So yea.. People have different situations, different hearing etc. Like I said, there's no negative with FLAC for me personally. I put sound quality above most any other possible factor. So for me I chose the safe, easy, scientifically proven route. I support high quality lossy, and I also support high quality lossless. My situation was a no brainer, especially since I am a little OCD and like to feel that everything is as perfect as it can be.
     
  13. bigshot
    Human hearing can be damaged and not as sensitive as other people's hearing, but when it comes to the specs of sound that relate to sound reproduction, the range of human perception is pretty well understood.
     
    I often hear people say... "if you have really good hearing..." or "if you have very good equipment" you might be able to hear the difference between high bitrate lossy and lossless. I don't believe that's true at all. I've seen too many controlled tests that show that golden eared audiophiles using stereos that cost as much as houses are just the same as everyone else. Statistically there is no audible difference.
     
    Sound quality is not an issue here at all.
     
    Does washing machine that runs on 220 clean clothes better than one on 120? Bigger numbers don't always relate to quality. It all comes down to "I would worry about missing out on theoretical sound." or "I'm not going to worry about what I can't hear."
     
  14. Dillan
    Well I associate loss as quality. In my earlier posts I am talking about audio quality being bad if you lose audible pieces of music from the original recording and obviously being good for the opposite. I do think that good systems and bad systems do play a part, but that's not what I am trying to argue.. In fact that whole aspect doesn't even need to be brought up. Numbers cant always be ignored either, they do matter. Numbers and statistics always matter, you can't ignore them. If you asked yourself if you truly thought there was the smallest most insignificant possibility of observable difference between two extremely large collections of music in both Lossy and Lossless - Would you, without any shred of doubt, honestly say that there isn't the possibility? No matter your testing methods or the extent of them.. How can you be so sure. Especially when you look at the scientific facts. The truth is, you can't be sure, and I would bet the majority of people would say that they didn't have 0 doubt. To me, would the little bit of possibility be worth going out of my way to choose flac over mp3? Yes.

    Would the next person say the same thing? That's up to them. Really this entire discussion grows and becomes a lot better if the people who chose the lossy side of things would admit that there isn't fact behind their argument only opinion, and for the lossless side there is fact behind their choice, but the lossy side at least has the chance of being correct too. But with lossless your safe. Its factually either FLAC is the best hear-able quality, or they both are. Definitely in no dimension can you say FLAC is the one that is lower in quality and MP3 is the correct one.
     
  15. bigshot
    The big problem was when they named compressed audio "lossy". It gave people an incorrect impression. No audio is lost. Only file size. Lossless is not "better sound". It's the same sound.
     
    Imagine you have a freezer in your home and you want to make ice cubes made of water that freezes at 32 degrees fahrenheit. A refrigerator salesman tells you that he has two models to choose from. One of them goes down to 20 degrees fahrenheit. That one is called "not as cold". But he has another model called "SUPER DUPER cold" that uses ten times more electricity, but it goes down to 5 degrees fahrenheit. Wow! 5 degrees! That's better, right? No. The ice cubes are exactly the same.
     
     
    Don't be tricked by the name people gave compressed audio. Modern codecs are designed scientifically using state of the art psycho acoustic principles. It's based on what human ears can and can't hear. They eliminate what you can't hear and keep what you can. Redundant info is eliminated to create an efficiently created file that streams smoothly and takes up less space. Win win.
     
    What is the point of archiving data you can't hear?
     
    By the way, logic is a very interesting subject to study. Google the term "logical fallacies". I did that back when I first got the internet in the dark ages and it was fascinating. Kept me busy all night until the sun came up in the morning.
     
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