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FLAC vs 320kbps

Discussion in 'Sound Science' started by olear, Jan 28, 2012.
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  1. ohhgourami
    I decided to man up and do an ABX test myself.  The track I chose is The Who - Enimence Front from the greatest hits cd, which I know pretty well.  I converted my FLAC file to 320 CBR.  The gear I use is foobar2k>WASAPI>digital interface with psu>Stello DA100>Marantz PM-84>HE-6
    I did not ace the ABX test, but my results give a very strong correlated that I can tell the difference between FLAC and 320 CBR.  8/10 is pretty damn valid to me.  I honestly don't think I could tell the difference if my gear was at a lower level, especially the headphone and DAC.
    I really doubt anyone can hear the differences with a budget to midfi setup, especially portable setups.  I tried about a year ago with a HM-602 and e-Q7s and failed miserably.
    From taking that test, 320 CBR is perfectly fine for non-high end gear.  I won't even bother putting FLAC into my DAPs anymore.  Of course having lossless for everything is perfectly fine too as hard drives are so cheap but lossless can be useful when better gear is obtained.
  2. nick_charles Contributor
    8/10 is not quite good enough. Why not redo it with say 20 trials,  if you can manage 16/20 that has much more statistical power (the more trials the less the % difference from chance needs to be) , 8/10 can still just be lucky. It does not mean you cannot tell a difference but you cannot reject the null hypothesis until you get a p of < 0.05 - then the thing to do would be repeat with different tracks possible different genres, I suggest a segment from  a beethoven Piano Sonata.
  3. Jaywalk3r
  4. ohhgourami
    When I have more time, I'll do another ABX test then.
  5. Devarika Woulf
    I just use Lossless. I bought the harddrives for it. I mean, if I am gonna spend my hard-earned money or risk my ass downloading from the internet I better get all I can get from it.
    .MP3s are for iPods only IMO. This has inspired me to try out Rihanna's "Only Girl In The World" which I've been listening to a lot lately. I should compare them.
  6. kryten123
    I will always buy the CD or FLAC download and then I have options to whether I downgrade to mp3. Any other option makes no sense to me as I see it as being offered Vhs and Blueray movies for pretty much the same price and opting for the VHS movie...why?
  7. jiggawhat
    In my experience, FLAC seems to have just a bit more subbass than MP3, but the detail at the rest of the spectrum is identical (when you encode to 320 kbps). Still, I think we'll eventually reach a point where data storage and bandwidth is so cheap that everything will be lossless.
  8. Linkin


    Pretty much this.
    MP3 (from CD) vs FLAC (from CD) is pretty tough. There are subtle differences that you need to listen multiple times for. It also depends on the mastering of the recording (whether it's had dynamic range compression done to it or not, or how much of it has been done), whether it's an original pressing CD or a modern re-release.
    With my own setup, MP3 320k sounds good, FLAC sounds better, vinyl rips to 24-bit/96khz sound pretty awesome or pretty average depending on the mastering (I find that my van halen 1984 and the who who are you rips sound better than, say, my queen greatest hits or judas priest screaming for vengeance rips)
  9. ivantoar
    I can't differentiate between 320 and FLAC with my setup. That's embarrassing but I'm glad I can't. No need for bigger disk space, ha!
    But I do keep some FLACs for the purpose of future-proofing my favorite albums.
  10. mister skinner
    As I re-rip some of my lower res music to the 320 MP3, I decided that I simply have to go with the 320 mp3 simply because I have an iPhone,Pioneer Head Unit with 3-way Burr Brown DAC crossover in my car, multiple PCs, Zune.
    It's literally impossible to find a consistent file format that will play on all these things besides an MP3. Apple Lossless is apple products only, FLAC isn't read by my radio...etc.
    It's hard to truly justify that kind of trouble for an extra 5% of SQ
  11. glassglue
    To all those who say that hard drives are cheap enough to use FLACs. You are right! However, if you have a very large collection and want the convenience of sticking it on one drive, then compression is handy. I am just (as I type) running a batch job, converting FLACs to 320kbps MP3s on my 1TB portable drive to make space for more stuff. I think that once it is all in one place, my music collection will be somewhat over 1TB at 320kbps. But this drive will have worn out long before I have it all ripped and organised, and by then it will probably fit on some kind of memory card.
  12. please22
    I'm in the same dilemma.  I've been switching over to FLAC recently but I'm questioning the move now mostly because I'm wondering if my rig is inadequate / too bare.
    On my computer I currently have a Creative X-Fi Xtreme Music (http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16829102188) that I'm playing through a Sennheiser R180 (http://www.smarthouse.com.au/Reviews/Real_Hi_Fi/B5G7X9L6).  Not a whole lot, but should I be able to hear a difference?  What if I hooked up my logitech z5500 (http://ncix.com/products/?sku=12847) to the computer instead?
    What about on a portable gear like the Colorfly C3 hooked up to AKG 550 (with no amp or anything else) would one generally be able to hear the difference?  Most importantly to hear the difference even on really good gear, do you have to be solely actively listening or is the difference apparent even while you're doing other things and partly listening?
  13. HamilcarBarca
    In most cases, FLAC is indistinguishable from MP3's encoded using 320kbps CBR or LAME's 'V0' VBR. Even so, I rip only to FLAC. At one time, I believed there was a major difference. Disc space is cheap enough (for me) that I've never worried about it.
    I don't think it makes sense to use FLAC vs. MP3 considerations to rate electronics as "inadequate". If there is an audible improvement with FLAC, you'll just be sending higher-quality audio to the DAC in your X-Fi. This can't hurt, can it?
  14. drez

    You can set up some blind testing to see whether you can actually tell the difference. If you don't hear a difference, then you don't need to worry. If you are buying music online that is a different matter - I would go for lossless every time just for peace of mind and then convert to mp3 for portable use if need be.
  15. please22
    The main reason I'm rethinking FLAC is because of bandwidth limits.  I don't do singles, I get albums and a FLAC versions easily creep upwards of 300 MB.  That's a lot of data.  Second consideration is portable gear that may or may not support lossless formats.
    It's weird, I've deleted flac files before but now after getting more knowledgeable about encoding formats, lossless versions seem to have a special aura around them.  It feels like sacrilege to delete them.  God ignorance was bliss when I wasn't paying attention.
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