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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. smurfz
    Great news!
     
    Finally, I've been able to hear the difference between lossless and 320kbps MP3.
    I've been testing with Foobar+ABX. I have found a section where I can reliably (100% out of 8 ABX tests). I stopped after that.
     
    Source: The Four Seasons by Amandine Beyer & Gli Incogniti - 24bit 96khz FLAC
    Track: 5 Concerto Pour Violon RC372
    Section: 1:50 - 2:04
     
    Initially, I was looking for a better filled sound stage in various bass strings section strikes (which helped me pick out 192kbps vs 320kbps mp3). But this time, I wasn't hearing the differences there. So I started looking elsewhere and found harpsichord. There, I picked out the differences in the details while there were fairly high amplitudes of bass and violins. Once I found it, it was easy to pick it out reliably.
     
    I will test with some other types of music and report back with the findings.
     
  2. spahn_ranch

     
    Quote:

     
    Illlusion. Which is not what I'm saying.
     
    The kind of spiked brightness detail fitting the description of illusion would be rather tiring, whereas this detail is quite the opposite and sweet as music naturally is. Detail is improved all across the spectrum and ABX - should you actually need it - is as easy as described by smurfz.
     
    It's been about a year since the first talks of Amarra on various audio fora. Most of it not on this one. Amarra isn't the only show around either; I've run a demo of Vinyl 3 as well which I also find sounds better than itunes. The full version of Amarra is very expensive; for me the value of the mini version covers and far exceeds its not negligible price tag.
     
  3. Head Injury
    Quote:

    I'm not talking about brightness. I'm talking about believing one hears more detail based on placebo. You switch to one sighted file, believe there's some significant improvement in detail based on the codec, then switch to the other sighted file. A few things happen when you switch back: you already concluded that the first file sounds more detailed whether it does or not, so you fully expect the second to sound less so; audio memory is so weak and short that by the time you start listening you can't even remember what the detail sounded like; taking those two things in mind, your brain tricks you into thinking not only that you're right, but that you remembered more detail in the other file even if you didn't.
     
    He ABXed lossless vs. 320kbps, not iTunes vs. Amarra. I'm not talking about lossless vs. lossy. I fully expect there to be some audible, but often small, difference between those two. It's no good claiming ABX is easy if you haven't done it. So sorry, but I can't go by your word and the trust you place in your ears. Ears are too tricky.
     
  4. aimlink Contributor


    Quote:

    Well, poor old me who hears differences in cables, cannot hear a difference that others claim exist when using Pure Music Player (an iTunes plugin).  I'm now very skeptic about Amarra.  The thing is that a DBX test isn't hard to carry out.
     
    I did sited testing on 256Kbit and lossless.  I'm getting better and better at hearing the differences.  In the past, I genuinely couldn't most of the time.  I should revisit 320Kbps since the last time I fiddled between them, I couldn't tell the difference.
     
  5. nick_charles Contributor


    Quote:


    Did you do the encoding yourself. I ask because Linn samples are notorious for there being actual differences between lossy and lossless samples apart from just the format. If you do the mp3 encoding yourself you remove this problem. Also 10 is better statistically, 20 is better still as it is more reliable, lucky runs of 8 are rare but not impossible. Still I also found a track where I could differentiate high bitrate mp3 and lossless in a DBT (17/20) and as you say once you find a telling artifact it is hard to not hear it, I was at 4/7 then it just clicked and I went 13/13, fun isnt it. In my case it was a source track that was recorded consistently very close to clipping and the mp3 encode seemed to exacerbate this..
     
  6. spahn_ranch

     
    Quote:
     
    To be certain, there's nothing at all to be sorry about. It's not like I'd be asking anyone to trust anything or anyone but their own ears and judgment. 
     
    Re ABX and placebo,
    I've said my piece on placebo. I also did reply to your suggestion of ABX, with a nod to how easy it is setting that up Amarra. Conducting such tests and the real benefit of them is indeed a whole nother matter; but again, to my ears the sound quality is too far apart for placebo, and likewise for ABX to be meaningful. Personally, at this point, I have other hobbies and expenses, and the money is too big to spend on something I'd have to ABX.
     
  7. Head Injury
    Quote:

    It's not meaningful to you right now, but definitely meaningful to everyone else. How long would it take to do a 20 trial run? Say a 10 second clip, probably only 30 seconds a trial if the differences are a big as you claim. Ten minutes of your time. If you don't want to share some short and simple results, forgive me for calling you a victim of placebo, and forgive me for saying that your impressions hold little bearing down here in the Science pit.
     
  8. haloxt
    Quote:

    Or maybe he's just lazy? No offense to anyone, but sometimes all this demanding people of proof reminds me of the sort of roadblocks in research into animal intelligence, man thinks he is so smart because he fails to train intelligence into animals. Or in this case, man thinks he is so smart because he can't induce cable believers to prove it.
     
  9. Head Injury
    Quote:

    I'm sure he's lazy or busy or something. I wouldn't want to test something the minute I'm asked to. However, that doesn't change the fact that he's wrong until he proves himself right. With something so easily tested, and with supposedly such marked differences in sound, ABX results will speak much louder than sighted beliefs.
     
  10. spahn_ranch


    Quote:
     
    How could 10 hours of my time possibly help anyone more than 10 minutes of their own would, in a matter such as this? Might it be safe to say that no one in this here saloon need be told how much the demo is.
     
  11. Head Injury
    Quote:

    Ten minutes, not hours. Was that a typo or are you just a very patient listener? [​IMG]
     
    I don't have a Mac so I can't rip with Amarra. Though if you want to upload the Amarra and iTunes ALAC files somewhere, or clips of them that you think best represent the sound difference, then I'd be happy to do a 10- or 20-trial ABX on them. Just don't cry tin ears if it comes back negative. Unfortunately I think it's easy to be biased in a blind test when expecting no differences like I do. Of course, anyone else will Amarra or the demo is encouraged to try, too.
     
    However, you're the one making the claim that it sounds better, so regardless I would still like to see you do a test at some point.
     
  12. spahn_ranch

     
    Quote:
    Minutes is right on; I should have said even 10 hours. Lest I forget all about it up here in the wondrous heaven that is Amarra... if you can call me victim of placebo, tin ear is the least I can cry, fair enough? :wink back at ya:
     
    But sincerely, I'd be happy to spend well over 10 minutes arranging what you suggest, if it could be done. Amarra doesn't rip the bits, it only plays them.

     
     
  13. Head Injury
    Quote:

    Oh sorry! With the thread being about lossless vs. lossy, I thought you were comparing files ripped by one and the other. I think it was the word "processed" that confused me. The ABX plugin and Foobar will be of no use then, though a blind test with a friend shouldn't be too hard. But I will direct you here and say that you're not alone, though many there (and the only ones who seem interested in proving it one way or the other) don't believe there can be a difference if the players are bit-perfect.
     
    I'm also going to say that $995 for an audio player is ridiculous [​IMG]
     
  14. spahn_ranch


    Quote:

    Would you have me jump into that thread? I'm in the "I'm just saying" camp on this; that's where I belong, as do probably most folks on the outside of Sonic Studio. The bits will have to do the talking, because I can't.
     
    Is it just $995 now? It was $1500. One can give that a lot of names beside ridiculous. But it's a pro price tag, for those requiring 24/192. Amarra is based on what's apparently known as Soundblade with the pro crowd. The Mini is much cheaper than that and handles anything up to 24/96, which was requested by and should be an excellent alternative for real people.
    As per a recent newsletter, the v2.0 due June 15th will spawn another version, Junior, which plays up to 16/44.1 and is priced $80.
     
  15. smurfz
     
    Quote:
     
    Yeah I did encode them myself using XLD which uses LAME. I used 320kbps CBR High Q (-q 2), Stereo, down-sampled to 44.1khz.
    But you're spot on with spotting the artifacts. My count of 8/8 was after I found it. I stopped after 8 because my ears were so tired of listening.. :) 
    I must say listening out for artifacts aren't really about enjoying the music. But I needed to make sure that there is no placebo in lossless with the setup that I have.
    I think I will go and just listen to some good music for a while before I get back into testing again. (-:
     
     
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