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FLAC vs. 320 Mp3

Discussion in 'Sound Science' started by icedup, Sep 7, 2011.
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  1. bigshot
    When I was testing codecs, everything encoded transparently at 192 AAC, except one track. It cleared up at 256, so I encode AAC 256 VBR and I've never encountered any artifacts in thousands of hours of rips. It's exactly the same as the CD.
  2. Lan647
    I only use FLAC. In my 1,6TB music library (thats over 50000 songs) only two or three albums are MP3 320kbps. But it's mostly because it's satisfying to know you have the best quality possible :wink: 
  3. youngngray
    Ok bigshot, since you seem to have done the most testing for yourself, did you ever compare MP3 V0? Or any other variable bit rate encoding? How did you find it in comparison to the others?
  4. Lan647

    No clue.
  5. immtbiker Moderator
    Here's an analogy that I came up with while reading this thread:
    When my wife is agitating me, or a person who feels a need to tell me how I can be a better driver like him, I'd rather hear it in 128kbps instead of FLAC. I still hear them,
    but there's no reason to hear them in hi-def audio.
    If I am listening to music that I love and that gives me gobs of insatiable joy, I'd rather hear it in Lossless FLAC or ALAC instead of 256 or 320kbps. When my
    wife is telling me why she loves me and how great a lover I am, I don't want to miss one consonant, or any tonal imbalance that might stop me from getting
    110% of what is being broadcast.
    I might not be able to hear all of the benefits of the higher bit-rate, but if there's a chance I might miss one, that's one too many.
    Yes, the difference between 320 and flac might be almost negligible to most of our ears, but when comparing a 8MB 320 kpbs file to a 80MB 1100 kbps file, there is ~ 10% more information available to our ears, which equates to a deeper fuller soundstage with more air between all of the instruments and vocals, and a larger dynamic range, with
    more sustained cymbal hits and a bass curve that doesn't die out as quickly.
    Do I need a Bugatti Veyron that does 0-60 in less than 3 seconds? No, but it's nice to know that you have car that can get on the highway from a stop in less than 6 seconds.
    You might not need it when transporting a crystal ice sculpture, but you do need it when getting on the Long Island Expressway during rush hour, when people are being mean
    and closing you out just because they get joy out of other's misery. Do I need 520 hp? No, but I do need unending power when passing a semi who, if I don't pass, means that
    I will be stck behind him doing 35 the next 7 minutes pulling out the the rest area onto a highway of rush hour mean people who would swallow you up alive, if given the chance.
    To sum it up, the difference between 320 and lossless is very small when using anything other than really hi-quality home or portable equipment. But, it is there. If you have the space and you have a player that handles lossless, why not have the best files that you can, for those times that it makes a difference.
    On my iPhone, I have everything at 320, rather than ALAC because, the iPhone will never give me quality that I crave, on the go. But, on my iMod with a high end DAC/Amp add-on, hi-quality output wiring, and my UE-10's or JH-13's, then you can bet that I am only going to contain a lossless library.
  6. soozieq
    Just brilliant. Thanks for that  [​IMG]
  7. Clarkmc2
    That's a great analogy, but I was laboring under the idea the audibility was the issue. I use only full or FLAC, but I can't defend it on the basis of audibility. Ten times the information, digitally, does not mean better auduble reproduction if it is not audibly different.

    Your concept brilliantly addresses WHY you and I use FLAC, but not if it leads to audible differences.
  8. bigshot

    I'm a Mac guy, so some of the settings aren't the same for the software I was using. I compared a dozen or so CDs using CBR AAC and MP3 out of iTunes and MP3 LAME (can't remember the app or settings I used to make those because I didn't keep it- sorry). I encoded all of those at 128, 256 and 320, and compared them to an AIFF rip off the CD.

    The 320 MP3 out of iTunes was very, very close to being transparent, but not quite. MP3 LAME became totally transparent at 320. And AAC out of iTunes became transparent at 192, but I found one CD that artifacted but was perfect at 256. I settled on AAC 256 and added VBR to the mix. It was still transparent, but it distributed the bitrate more intelligently, so I stuck with it.

    I line level matched carefully and compared on both my speaker system and my Sennheiser HD590s. It took two days... A real pain in the ass. I know why so few people do it,
  9. bigshot

    The best way to avoid missing out on good sound is to only take the numbers on a page as a starting point. Go the extra mile and test it for yourself and know for sure.

    I'm sure there are people with FLAC libraries with just a few 320 MP3s sprinkled in who worry about those MP3s and wish they had them as FLAC files. It's like a burr under their saddles to have those few lossies. That's because they really don't know exactly what the difference is between a high bitrate MP3 and lossless.

    I know. I did the test. I have a library full of over a year's worth of 256 AAC VBR, and I don't miss a second of sleep over it. I know it sounds exactly the same as lossless because I compared them and found out. I know AAC makes a good master because I took one and encoded it and reencoded it over and over ten times. It still sounded very good. That's all I need to know and I don't have to guess or take someone else's word for it.

    I highly recommend doing controlled listening tests on every stage in your audio chain. You'll learn a lot, but the best thing you can possibly learn is what matters and what doesn't. Most audiophiles expend WAY too much energy on the latter, and not enough on the former.
  10. bigshot

    That's a bingo. The reason people use lossless instead of high bitrate lossy has absolutely nothing to do with actual sound. It's all about *potential* sound.

    I keep hearing people say that with equipment more fabulously expensive than they happen to own and ears more sensitive than theirs, that the difference is audible. Well... First of all, without that equipment and those ears all that is nothing more than a guess. And secondly, who needs sound better than they can hear anyway? There are plenty of things you can do to improve your sound that actually *does* make a measurable and clearly discernable difference. Worry about that stuff.
  11. bigshot

    No offense, but everything you say in that paragraph is totally wrong, and I don't mean just your math.

    Not 10%, 10X. High bitrate lossy has audibly identical soundstage and "air" (which are functions of the transducers, not the file format), the dynamics are identical and the response curve on the bass is the same.
  12. youngngray
    Thanks for the reply!
  13. Magick Man

    HD storage is cheap and for archiving I'd rather have the whole thing. I like having complete digital "masters". For my mobile devices I use 256k AAC VBR, I just convert the songs and send them over.

    That's my system and it works well for me.
  14. bigshot
    I have at least 10,000 CDs in boxes in the garage. Maybe more. Those are my master copies. In nearly five years of building my media server, I haven't ever had occasion to need to go back to them. AAC 256 VBR works perfectly for every application, from my ipod with portable headphones to my main listening room with my speaker setup. All of my itunes libraries, with a year and a half worth of music, fit on a 2TB single hard drive partition. Massively simple and the exact same sound quality as lossless. Easy peasy.
  15. Magick Man
    I'm encroaching on 17k myself, counting LPs and all other disc formats. I back up all the CDs then carefully pack them away in the basement. LPs, SACDs, and DVD-As I keep in the music/HT room (mancave) and retrieve them as I want them. I like having complete and well organized collections, it probably comes from being an avid bibliophile.
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