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Question Regarding Sound Quality of MP3 Files from Different Sources

Discussion in 'Sound Science' started by TheSonicTruth, Aug 10, 2018.
  1. TheSonicTruth
    Which do you all think would sound better: A MP3 purchased and downloaded from a service such as Amazon, or, one ripped, at a high enough bitrate(256kbps or higher) from one's own CD of the same song?
  2. bigshot
    The data rate settings would determine that. An MP3 LAME 256 VBR file is an MP3 LAME 256 VBR file, regardless if you buy it or roll your own.
  3. TheSonicTruth

    Well, that depends on where the download services get their MP3 files from. I have some doubt that Amazon rips all their MP3s from CDs, except for really rare or hard to find songs or albums.

    Wouldn't a 256kbps VBR MP3 dithered down from a 24-32bit 96khz master sound better, slightly in any case, than one ripped at home from the CD of the same album?
  4. bixby
    I would rather surmise it depends on the mp3 algorithm. Progress has been made since it was first developed and supposedly some are better than others, not everyone uses fraunhoffer's (sp) math or license. Take Apples aac for example, lower bit rate than the best mp3s, yet good math and a good sounding result. Then of course there is the playback software with yet another version of math to decode the file.
  5. bigshot
    Nope. All of the inaudible goodness of the 24/96 would be shaved off when it was encoded.

    If it’s the same mastering, it doesn’t matter who encodes it.
    Last edited: Aug 10, 2018
  6. sonitus mirus
    If you can grab the CD for <$10, used or new, I'd pick it up and rip it yourself. Used CDs almost always have shipping costs that bring the total to the same as any new Amazon Prime equivalent, and a couple of times the used CD was the correct jacket, with the wrong CD inside.

    If you rip it yourself from a CD, you can make sure that the conversion is not adding any clipping. Some CDs are right at 0dB and the lossy compression psycho acoustic modeling might be too aggressive at default settings and clip. This can be remedied with command line setting when converting, but without the original CD, you would lose this option and could be stuck with an annoying version that glitches during playback. Once you hear the anomaly, it might drive you crazy. It does for me.

    I've found that Lame vbr at the highest setting is sometimes smaller than 256kbps cbr mp3. I filled any immediate gaps I had with Google Music by purchasing CDs and ripping them to mp3 to upload. Those CDs are stored in a big box out of the way. I have yet found any need to pull out those CDs for any reason. The ripped music is still available to stream or download on any PC or smartphone, even years later and several PC and phone acquisitions/decommissions.
  7. bigshot
    I have Amazon Unlimited. That is about $15 a month and I can stream millions of songs and download a big chunk of them if I want.

    I've never run into clipping with iTunes when I rip fully normalized CDs. But I have when I convert fully normalized AIFF files, so it may automatically drop the level of CDs a dB or so while you rip.
    Last edited: Aug 10, 2018
  8. sonitus mirus
    I'm grandfathered into a low $7.99 a month subscription with Google. Music streaming is awesome and I love the convenience. I like the idea that my own music (up to 50,000 songs) is seamlessly part of any playlist, random shuffle, or similar artist/genre. I got most of the info about ripping CDs or converting Hi Res to mp3 from the Hydrogen Audio gang over the years. While probably not too likely using the latest versions of the encoders, if ever one song did clip, you could adjust the gain lower so that it was removed. Though, like you have experienced with Amazon, I'm not finding any issues like this, but it has been mentioned to occur now and again.
  9. TheSonicTruth
    So in your estimation, a CD rip MP3 and a downloaded one are both fine.
  10. bixby
    I've never run into clipping with iTunes when I rip fully normalized CDs. But I have when I convert fully normalized AIFF files, so it may automatically drop the level of CDs a dB or so while you rip.

    This is very interesting. Have you have observed audible clipping on aiff files that were ripped from cd or aiff converted to a different format?

    I use a sw program to adjust some suspected rips that may have some intersample overs above 0db. They never really clip like an amp clip but they do sound compressed and the adjusted files are a bit nicer, yet if the whole recording is just pushed to 0db and the limiters worked overtime, there is not much you can do. I'm looking at you London Grammar!
  11. bigshot
    They were my own needle drop files. They sounded fine as AIFF but they had clicks in peaks on the lossy. I now normalize everything down a little below zero and it isn't a problem.
  12. castleofargh Contributor
    I personally don't care about the encoder or settings used aside from avoiding stupidly low bitrates(if I'm paying I want at least something typically transparent to my ears). the only real issue IMO would be intersample clipping, and replaygain usually saves the day. or I'll just edit the tag to a lower value until nothing clips. as I'm always toying around with a bunch of VSTs, keeping on eye on clipping has become second nature now.
    that seems like a paradox to me. if I really believed that encoding from a 24/96 was making the sound noticeably better and that it mattered to me, then I most certainly wouldn't purchase or encode to MP3 which is way more destructive.
  13. bigshot
    Destructive in every way but audibly!
  14. sonitus mirus
    I hear that!

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