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FLAC vs. 320 Mp3

Discussion in 'Sound Science' started by icedup, Sep 7, 2011.
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  1. nanaholic
    I've lost the thread but I was pretty sure that deadlylover had use the ReplayGain plugin for foobar and had the level matched (he posted his entire test log etc), so I was convinced that he did do the test properly.  That said those who does have these golden ears probably make up less than 0.1% of the population.  
    It's like it is possible for someone to run 100m under ten seconds and for sure someone has done it, but if some random joe comes up to me and say they can ran 100m under 10 I'm naturally not going to believe him until he shows me.  It's the same for mp3/FLAC test here, I'm certain a tiny amount of people can do it, just not 99% of those who claims they can do it, especially not those who says it's "easy and if you can't you must be deaf" kinds of people. [​IMG]
  2. Albedo
    I don't really know how much the different codecs have improved, but how can anyone tell... if AAC 256 VBR was transparent four years ago for some ears?
    Well back in 2008 there was an article in Stereophile (from fig. 7 and downwards) about FLAC vs. AAC vs. MP3 that might be of interest.
    Quote: http://www.stereophile.com/content/mp3-vs-aac-vs-flac-vs-cd-page-2
    Back then it supported what majkel had to say about going beyond 320 kbps...
  3. Eee Pee
    I'll go along with that.  I spent way too much time reading and learning about the under $200 Sony Blu-Ray players this weekend, and have a BDP-S590 in my Amazon cart currently.  My DVP-S9000 has MAAAANY hours on it.
  4. bigshot
    I like how everyone who does a careful comparison finds out that there's no audible difference, but then they ask why anyone would play compressed audio on good equipment. Well duh! Because it sounds the same!
  5. BlindInOneEar
    LOL at Stereophile using "objective" data to conclude that something sounds "sonically compromised."  Funny, objective data in Stereophile never seems to prove that two things actually sound the same.
    What does the objective data reported in that article even show?  That basically the lossy formats reproduced almost all the signals the lossless formats reproduced.  The lossy signals just had a higher noise floor.  Just how high was that lossy noise floor?  About -80db.  Any one know what the noise floor is on a reel to reel analog tape deck?  On a vinyl record?  Just how audible is -80db?  Heck, stereo separation on fancy phono cartridges is less than -30db.  And that was just the 128K files.  The 320K files had noticeably lower noise floors.  Indeed, for the 320K AAC files "the noise-floor components have dropped to below –110dB below 16kHz, and to below –120dB for the lower frequencies."
    One thing that Stereophile article doesn't do is mention that any one actually listened to the various lossy formats to determine the audibility of any "sonic compromises."  Indeed the only mention I can find of a listening test in that article is in one of the footnotes which refers to a different article from 1995.  In the 1995 article the writer stated "I found the performance of the DTS system in its 240kb/s mode ... phenomenally good."  http://www.stereophile.com/reference/456   The article from 2008 does admit: "the AAC codec produces a result that may well be indistinguishable from CD for some listeners some of the time with some music." 
    While I agree with the writer's conclusion that "Both MP3 and AAC introduce fairly large changes in the measured spectra, even at the highest rate of 320kbps," nothing in the article itself supports the statement that these changes result in the music being "sonically compromised."  They may well be, but without a proper, double blind listening test we'll never know. 
    leogodoy likes this.
  6. bigshot
    Stereophile was a joke even when I was in high school.
    Eee Pee likes this.
  7. BlindInOneEar
    Props to Steve Eddy for mentioning this in a different thread.  I'm posting here so he can respond if he wishes.  Thanks, Steve Eddy, for mentioning this!
    This is the Audio DiffMaker:  http://www.libinst.com/Audio%20DiffMaker.htm 
    I highly recommend downloading it and then trying the "Downloadable DiffMaker 'Dyf' files."  The "Listener Challenge" at the end is a hilarious "ear opener."  How many of the tracks can you identify that have the "difference" in them?   
    I think this bolsters my point above that -80 db would be very hard to hear.
  8. Albedo
    Can we boil down the question of this thread to CD's dynamic range at 96 dB vs. the "instantaneous dynamic range of human audio perception" at 85 dB?
  9. bigshot
    Normal listening volume is boosted a bit because our ears aren't very sensitive at very low volumes. In order to hear the quietest parts of a recording with music at -85dB, you would have to raise it 20 or 30 dB to over 100 dB, which is around the point where listening gets pretty uncomfortable. Play it on speakers and you'll have to add a bit to overcome te room's noise floor. Add 20dB more and pain is going to start to set in.

    Most recorded music only has around 45-50dB or so, even the most dynamic classical music. Music that goes all the way to te edges of the dynamic range would be unlistenable. You'd be adjusting te volume constantly.
  10. Albedo
    I was thinking more of transients and attack, which "is often forgotten in the traditional Fourier analysis based reasoning on sound characteristics".
    Quote: http://www.zainea.com/physiologicalsound.htm
  11. OJNeg
    This x1000. All the talk I hear about the different dynamic range values between formats is silly. A vinyl record is already capable of producing all the dynamic range you could ever want. Recorded music doesn't go beyond that, and you wouldn't want it to either.
  12. bigshot
    I'm not understanding you, Albedo. I'm not good with scientific theories. I only know about the practical application of them.... Digital audio has a 90dB dynamic range which extends downwards. You put your loudest sound... the transient peak... at the top of that range (aka normalizing) and the differences between one dynamic range and another is the difference between noise floors. The transient peaks are the same if you have a 60dB dynamic range or a 110dB dynamic range.

    Recording engineers compress sound to maintain a listenable balance. In particular, they compress transient peaks so they can organize sound into an overall level that is comfortable to listen to. They'll allow a certain amount of headroom for dynamic effects and percussion, but in general, it isn't desirable to have huge spikes that go far beyond normal listening levels.

    If you wanted to record in a perfectly unfiltered manner, you could certainly set a level that contains the peaks without clipping and digital audio would give you an accurate reproduction of it. But recording and mixing is a creative process that organizes sound to make it clearer and comfortable to listen to without straining. I don't know why you'd want to jettison all of that just for the sake of theory.
  13. Lan647
    No, no. It's all just your imagination. If you work SOO hard analyzing you get confused and perhaps your brain starts playing games on you. I have an HD 800 which is said to be a very analytical headphone, and a pretty good system built around it. There is no difference. However, there is a difference between 320kbit/FLAC and 160kbit tracks. 

    320kbit compression is high enough you are pretty much eliminating all audible artifacts with the file, if the encoding itself is of high enough quality. 
  14. nanaholic
    I wish you would actually read my post - it's not me imagining it but some forum poster who actually posted EVIDENCE (which was scrutinized here btw) that he can tell the difference.
    I personally can't tell the difference and I don't bother with lossless either - just like I can't run 100m under 10seconds and many others can't either, but some gifted individuals can.  The fact is scientifically 320kbps is not completely transparent compared with lossless, even though it may be inaudible to 99.99% of the population, but that doesn't mean that 0.01% of people who can tell the difference don't exists, and that certain people does have better hearing which is also perfectly within reasonable human biological limits.
  15. BlindInOneEar

    No disrespect, but the fact that a forum poster convinced YOU that he could tell the difference between high bit rate lossy and lossless hardly constitutes "scientific fact" that high bit rate lossy is audibly distinguishable from lossless, or that there is a select group of individuals who can make the distinction.  The incident may be interesting.  It may even be worth investigating further.  What it's not, though, is proof.
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