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Poll: Audible Difference between FLAC and 320kbps MP3?

Discussion in 'Sound Science' started by el_doug, Aug 10, 2009.
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  1. Junliang
    To me..
    I will just rip to lossless, to prevent myself from losing out on any details [​IMG]

    But to be frank, if you want me to a/b it, I cant tell most of the time =(
    Some 320kbps and flac or alac simply sound similar, there is a definite difference, but I cant tell whether this difference implies song A is lossless or not, as it makes both of them unique, like comparing wav lossless against apple alac.

    but heck, just get the highest form of uncompressed audio and stop worrying is what I would say..
    the difference might be small and might be only engraved onto your "sound" memory after time, but we are pursuing high quality audio, yes ?

    but for some music, there is certainly very audible SOUND QUALITY difference, and not mere different sounding, but SQ differences.

    Well, some of my friends claim that they can differentiate them easily, but oh well, it cant be helped, so why fret over it ? [​IMG]
  2. St3ve
    I voted "I cannot tell the difference 99% of the time". Put it down to the insensitivity of my ears and/or equipment, but I doubt I could honestly tell the difference if tested.
  3. Pepito
    I listened to "Hotwax" by Beck ripped at 320kbs using HD555's for over a year. I then re ripped Odelay to FLAC. With 320kbs, I couldn't tell that Beck had recorded two slightly different singing tracks and mixed them on top of each other ("two" Beck's singing the same song at once.)

    FLAC is noticeably better with my ears.
  4. Pariah1
    Easily can tell a difference between lossy and lossless, always could, even when I had junk headphones and just a stock computer sound card. Now with better components (and more trained ears) it's very easy to pick out the better quality whether I'm using cans or speakers/sub.

    And yes, I've been tested blindfolded by my gf and another friend and picked the FLAC over the lossy at least 9/10 times on both cans and speakers.

    It's FLAC or silence for me.
  5. MadMan007
    If there was a n option between 2 and 3 I would have voted for that. The reason I rip to FLAC is not for better SQ or transparency per se but rather because if I'm going to go through the hassle of ripping I want to *archive* my CDs as well. Lossless is the only way to do that.
  6. Skylab Contributor

    Originally Posted by MadMan007 /img/forum/go_quote.gif
    If there was a n option between 2 and 3 I would have voted for that. The reason I rip to FLAC is not for better SQ or transparency per se but rather because if I'm going to go through the hassle of ripping I want to *archive* my CDs as well. Lossless is the only way to do that.

    AMEN - more people need to understand that! With disc space so cheap, it's crazy not to rip lossless. You can always transcode to lossy later for portable use.
  7. Nachkebia
    Indeed, FLAC ripped directly from CD always sounds noticably better. I switched my whole library to FLAC and APE and could not be happier. I have two TB drives and both I full. I need to get me some more TB`s. People who buy expensive cans and listen to 320 files are missing out...
  8. Deep Funk
    Some recordings are easy to recognize. Some aren't. FLAC, WAV-lossless etcetera are the best way to get the most out of your music.
  9. tunarat
    I'm new to this forum because I haven't really been into headphones for 35 years. Current living events have renewed interest (necessity) in the field. My hearing has obviously diminished over time. That being said, in my opinion the difference between mp3 320 and flac rips is not at all subtle. Again, my perspective is only from listening to "speakers" in mid to high end systems, not headphones. SET setups seem to lose a lot of what makes them special in lossy formats imho.
  10. mikeymad
    Where I have been able to tell the difference between the FLAC and 320 was the soundstage. FLAC it is all there (most of the time), at 320 it starts to fall apart, and below that it pretty much goes away. Almost all other aspects for me are okay from FLAC to 320. But this one aspect (if there is a soundstage to the music) points it out to me every time.

  11. vinnievidi
    I'd have to admit that most of the time I cannot distinguish between 320 and lossless--really only with songs that I know inside-and-out. But I do agree with earlier posts that it's safer and maybe more future proof to rip in lossless.
  12. kenta
    I believe the ability to distinguish the difference between FLAC and 320-kbps mp3 depends strongly on the equipments used as well as the person.

    If your gears are quite linear, nutral and dynamically fast, you will hear a spot in the SQ. You will realize something is unusual and missing. This is caused by the compression algorithm which eliminates the small details in the music which should be not be able to reproduce anyway when the normal equipments are used. However, the higher quality gears can reproduce these fine details, if the details are eliminated in the first place, it will result in an unrealistic experience.

    Telling which one is mp3 and FLAC, IMO, can be told from its naturality which is likely to exist in FLAC or lossless format rather than in a compressed one.

    Nevertheless, the mp3 compression is vary. With a good algorithm, which intelligently erases the actual details which are extremly hard to hear at first place, the end result can be really impressive. I am afterall love to rip things in FLAC at most of the time, but not hesitate to try to convert them from time to time in mp3 for a transport gear.
  13. Bilavideo
    I rip lossless just in case, but I have yet to hear a difference between 256k and lossless.
  14. Trysaeder
    All my music on my clip+ is 320 since I want to save space and I won't be able to hear the difference while outside.
    On my computer I leave it as flac but I don't mind 320 at all.
  15. danroche
    A few years ago I was of the opinion I could tell the difference between even high-bitrate MP3 and uncompressed. A series of blind tests I conducted for myself convinced me otherwise. At about 192kbps my ability to reliably tell which is which drops off a cliff, and I found this is the case regardless of the quality of equipment - artifacts are usually apparent regardless of whether I'm listening with earbuds or on a boutique set of speakers.

    Above 192, I found I needed to actively search for "killer samples" where I'd be able to find any audible artifacts, and was only able to do so by literally Googling "killer samples." I discovered then that pretty much all of the established killer samples (read: they've proven to reveal themselves in numerous DBX's with numerous test subjects) are in very "synthetic" areas of music - particularly synth-heavy techno or other forms of music where lots of square and complicated waveforms are thrown at the encoder all at once. Usually, there would be a longer reverb trail that would breathe a bit in the presence of lots of other square wave activity, or a particularly other-wordly series of percussive hits that would reveal some pre-echo with the volume cranked up.

    I was unable to find ANY classical music where these kinds of artifacts were encountered at the higher bitrates. I'm guessing part of this is that classical music doesn't throw that kind of challenge at an encoder.

    What was really interesting here was that ALL of the artifacts above, say, 200kpbs were VERY ACUTE and subtle. There was nothing broad and aesthetic along the lines of "oh, the soundstage was damaged" or "there was less shimmer in the highs" - it was very temporal around certain moments of the music where a load of stuff was going on all at once.

    The best thing about it was that, were I not provided with both uncompressed and compressed samples to compare, I would have never spotted the artifacts. The reverb trails would just seem to blend in, or the 'pre-echo' would sound like a pre-planned part of the music.

    So in summary, I rip to 192kbps AAC. And I don't look back. Hi-Fi or Audiophile recordings ripped this way retain their identity and flavor. I will never, as long as I live, think of what I could be "missing" by ripping this low.

    Looking back to my earlier days I know that if I WANT to hear the difference between FLAC and even 320kbps MP3, my brain will oblige and make me hear something. It doesn't mean it's there.
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