FLAC vs mp3
Nov 4, 2008 at 1:44 PM Thread Starter Post #1 of 63

Mental_Medical

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Since I have some Audioengine A5s coming, I got super excited about the rather daunting task of re-ripping all my CDs into FLAC.

I Googled around a bit, and decided to give MediaMonkey a try. I use Winamp 5, which supports FLAC, but I chose MediaMonkey to rip my CDs. I don't need it to play the music, but the FLAC site had so many options. It ripped just fine.

However, I set the FLAC compression level to 0, but I'm confused. I read that FLAC, though lossless, is still compressed in the sense of smaller files. Should I rip with 0 compression, or can I up it a bit?

Anyway, I don't have my speakers yet (sold my old ones a couple weeks ago), so I was using my Sennheiser HD212Pro headphones. I ripped a CD into FLAC, compression level 0, and then placed three versions of the same song into MediaMonkey to compare quality. The CD track, the FLAC track, and a 192kbs mp3.

Honestly, and I'm disappointed in myself, I couldn't tell much difference. I know my headphones are low-end, but the mp3s seriously sounded very close to the other versions. Please assure me that it's a limitation of my headphones!
 
Nov 4, 2008 at 2:38 PM Post #2 of 63

vegaman

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Flac is lossless, the "compression level" just configures how much time will be spent on the compression, the more time the smaller the file will be, but it will still be completely lossless at any compression level. Level 8 gives the highest compression, so I use this, but it's up to you really.

Yeah, I can't tell the difference from all 192kbps tracks myself either, it depends on the content. What really stands out to me is cymbal decay, I hear horrible artifacts in it at 192kbps.
 
Nov 4, 2008 at 2:45 PM Post #3 of 63

Mental_Medical

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Sweet, I'll use level 8.

The FLAC file seemed to have better highs, but overall it didn't seem much different. I ripped Dave Matthews Band's Before These Crowded Streets album. All of their albums are produced and mixed very well, so I thought it'd be a good album to test. I'm hoping the A5s will give me a more distinguishable difference, although they were tuned with compressed audio in mind.
 
Nov 4, 2008 at 3:46 PM Post #4 of 63

HeadLover

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I am using FLAC
Using level 8 is super
smily_headphones1.gif
 
Nov 4, 2008 at 5:21 PM Post #5 of 63

krmathis

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Yeah, the different compression levels on FLAC are just related to compression level, as it will be lossless no matter what.
* Higher compression level (->8) = more complex compression algorithm, and hence smaller files and longer compression time.
* Lower compression level (0<-) = less complex compression algorithm, and hence larger files and shorter compression time.
 
Nov 4, 2008 at 7:12 PM Post #7 of 63

Xan7hos

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So wouldn't that mean that the best (dare I say only) option would be compression 8, given that you do have the time and that you have a limited amount of space on your Hark Disc Drive (portable or desktop)?

To clarify, there is no audible difference between 8 and 0 (as they are both lossless)?
 
Nov 4, 2008 at 7:19 PM Post #8 of 63

linuxworks

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its like 'gzip' compression. its lossless but if you tell it to 'try harder' it looks 'deeper' to find repeating patterns it can tokenize (in essence).

either way you get lossless playback. the only 'hit' is in how much cpu is used to CREATE the flac file. once that's done, all flacs play back the same since they all generate the same bit output (they have to!).
 
Nov 4, 2008 at 8:13 PM Post #9 of 63

krmathis

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Quote:

Originally Posted by Xan7hos /img/forum/go_quote.gif
So wouldn't that mean that the best (dare I say only) option would be compression 8, given that you do have the time and that you have a limited amount of space on your Hark Disc Drive (portable or desktop)?


Yeah! With todays relative fast computers there are few reasons not to go for level 8. The encoding speed will be multiple of what you are able to rip from an audio CD anyway.

Quote:

To clarify, there is no audible difference between 8 and 0 (as they are both lossless)?


There are no audio data loss. So its quite safe to say there are no audible difference either.
 
Nov 4, 2008 at 8:31 PM Post #11 of 63

linuxworks

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Quote:

Originally Posted by krmathis /img/forum/go_quote.gif
There are no audio data loss. So its quite safe to say there are no audible difference either.


of course, those that *really* care rip their music over wide scsi3. its the only 'audiophile' disk transport, really. ok, SAS is also good.

(I'm kidding!! sheesh.)

wink.gif
 
Nov 4, 2008 at 8:49 PM Post #12 of 63

krmathis

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Quote:

Originally Posted by linuxworks /img/forum/go_quote.gif
of course, those that *really* care rip their music over wide scsi3. its the only 'audiophile' disk transport, really. ok, SAS is also good.

(I'm kidding!! sheesh.)

wink.gif



Well, there are lots of people around here who claim there are an audible difference between WAV (PCM) and FLAC. So it would not be a surprise to me if they claim they could hear a difference between FLAC -5 and -8 as well.. **shakes head**
 
Nov 4, 2008 at 9:28 PM Post #14 of 63

Kurotetsu

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Quote:

Originally Posted by Mental_Medical /img/forum/go_quote.gif
I ripped a CD into FLAC, compression level 0, and then placed three versions of the same song into MediaMonkey to compare quality. The CD track, the FLAC track, and a 192kbs mp3.

Honestly, and I'm disappointed in myself, I couldn't tell much difference. I know my headphones are low-end, but the mp3s seriously sounded very close to the other versions. Please assure me that it's a limitation of my headphones!



I really depends on the encoder and what settings you use. I also have several 256kbps and 320kbps MP3s (VBR and CBR) that sound just as good as FLACs. At the same time, I have 320kbps mp3s that sound like absolute crap. However, I've heard the Audioengine A5s are really, really sensitive to source. So I'd wait until they come in before coming to a decision. You may be able to hear differences from the A5s that you can't from your current speakers.

Personally, I'd just rip to both MP3 and FLAC. You can usually get near-lossless quality using EAC + LAME and the right settings, while saving alot of space on your comp. Then take the FLACs and burn them to CDs/DVDs or dump on an external drive for archiving (so you don't have the rip the original CDs again). Now, this only applies if you still can't hear a difference after your A5s arrive. If you find the MP3s don't sound as good, just stick to FLACs.
 
Nov 4, 2008 at 9:31 PM Post #15 of 63

Mental_Medical

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I already have mp3s of everything. I'll use them for my iPod, and play FLACs while at my computer.

I used CDex to rip CDs into mp3 format. I don't remember what version of the LAME encoder I've been using is though. It's one of the latest if not the most recent.
 

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