Should i convert to 256 kbps aac on itunes
Feb 14, 2013 at 3:14 PM Post #31 of 49

jaddie

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Maybe it is true that we cannot hear certain frequencies, and there is no difference between those formats on what we hear.

Here is my opinion about it,  when someone plays a guitar, all the range of sound frequencies go into our ears, granted, we won't "hear" all of them, but what if in some way, even though there is no sound, there is still a "feel" of something there, just like when you play a really low or high frequency, there is no sound, but know something is there.
With MP3 or lossy you are cutting all that "feel" that someone decided you didn't need.

I don't know, that's my opinion and maybe I'm just crazy, but aren't we all around here?


Well, we sit around pumping recorded music directly into our ears. Nah, nothin crazy there.

Just a suggestion, you might want to do your own ABX tests of various formats. Might help you feel more comfortable with whatever final opinion you land on. Worked pretty well for me.
 
Feb 14, 2013 at 6:15 PM Post #32 of 49

bigshot

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Quote:
Here is my opinion about it,  when someone plays a guitar, all the range of sound frequencies go into our ears, granted, we won't "hear" all of them, but what if in some way, even though there is no sound, there is still a "feel" of something there, just like when you play a really low or high frequency, there is no sound, but know something is there.
With MP3 or lossy you are cutting all that "feel" that someone decided you didn't need.

 
Well, first of all, there have been carefully conducted tests done that have determined that even if super-audible frequencies can be felt, they add absolutely nothing to the sound quality of music.
 
Secondly, a high bitrate AAC or MP3 file has the same frequency range as a CD. The compression used does not involve band filtering.
 
Feb 15, 2013 at 12:13 AM Post #33 of 49

JamesHuntington

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So just to make sure it wasn't some fluke, I trashed all my AAC 256 and re-converted all my lossless into AAC 320 again. I truly believe they sound 50% better at 320. In my car i could do it blind test in minutes. There is just more bottom end and it comes effortlessly. With 256 I tried to compensate with EQ but was not getting near the same results and enjoyment. I use a neutral setting on everything in my car because I actually found that using mega bass (or Sony's explode etc) setting on any of my music in any format just leads to distortion in my car system. I'm not a bass head nor does my car have huge woofers/amps either. I just like to hear bass guitar and feel it a little when I turn it up. 256 leaves a lot to be desired. 320 is something i found i can appreciate. Trust me, I came across this by accident, I'm not trying to sell a pig with lipstick. I actually know a little more about crappy mp3 recordings and can remember the first time I did all my music in 128 and hearing the screeches on guitars etc. I was using 192 mp3 or straight CD for a few years up until about 3 months ago when I got my W4S uDac and converted all my stuff to apple lossless. But after a lot of reading I decided to put all my ipod stuff in 192 AAC, but on accident put settings at 320. I was so impressed at the SQ and was actually stoked on it. Then about a week ago I realized I had done it all in 320 AAC, so I thought I'd try 256 just to save a little space on my 16gb iphone. Noticed it right away. Tried to make it work, but with no results as close.  
 
Feb 15, 2013 at 10:18 AM Post #34 of 49

chewy4

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So just to make sure it wasn't some fluke, I trashed all my AAC 256 and re-converted all my lossless into AAC 320 again. I truly believe they sound 50% better at 320. In my car i could do it blind test in minutes. There is just more bottom end and it comes effortlessly. With 256 I tried to compensate with EQ but was not getting near the same results and enjoyment. I use a neutral setting on everything in my car because I actually found that using mega bass (or Sony's explode etc) setting on any of my music in any format just leads to distortion in my car system. I'm not a bass head nor does my car have huge woofers/amps either. I just like to hear bass guitar and feel it a little when I turn it up. 256 leaves a lot to be desired. 320 is something i found i can appreciate. Trust me, I came across this by accident, I'm not trying to sell a pig with lipstick. I actually know a little more about crappy mp3 recordings and can remember the first time I did all my music in 128 and hearing the screeches on guitars etc. I was using 192 mp3 or straight CD for a few years up until about 3 months ago when I got my W4S uDac and converted all my stuff to apple lossless. But after a lot of reading I decided to put all my ipod stuff in 192 AAC, but on accident put settings at 320. I was so impressed at the SQ and was actually stoked on it. Then about a week ago I realized I had done it all in 320 AAC, so I thought I'd try 256 just to save a little space on my 16gb iphone. Noticed it right away. Tried to make it work, but with no results as close.  

There must be something screwy going on with your encoder if bass volume is changed.
 
Feb 15, 2013 at 12:59 PM Post #35 of 49

jaddie

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There must be something screwy going on with your encoder if bass volume is changed.

Could possibly be something happening in decoding too.  
 
James, I wonder if it's possible to post a couple of short clips that show the bass problem?  5-10 seconds would be plenty, we'd need the original lossless, a 320K and a 256K.  We could all then share the experience and see if there's a difference in playback.
 
Feb 15, 2013 at 1:49 PM Post #36 of 49

bareyb

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Could possibly be something happening in decoding too.  
 
James, I wonder if it's possible to post a couple of short clips that show the bass problem?  5-10 seconds would be plenty, we'd need the original lossless, a 320K and a 256K.  We could all then share the experience and see if there's a difference in playback.

Ohhh... I like this idea. I'd rather hear it for myself and then decide. 
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Feb 15, 2013 at 5:47 PM Post #37 of 49

JamesHuntington

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I still have all 256 AAC on my iphone, which is the unit i first discovered the better sound of 320AAC. Then I put 256 on my ipod touch is where I first discovered the worse quality difference. So I put 320 in my ipod touch and found it much better, like  I remember it being on the iphone. I think it would be easier for you guys to convert a song on your own, than for me to upload them and try to guarantee good quality. Then you can prove me wrong if you're so sure. I don't think the encoder could be the problem. I have a bairly 2 yo computer and all updates on itunes. I think I'll spend some time today comparing on my home headphones, because I've only tried my car so far as testing. Maybe there isn't a huge difference on headphones.
 
Feb 15, 2013 at 6:00 PM Post #38 of 49

bareyb

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I still have all 256 AAC on my iphone, which is the unit i first discovered the better sound of 320AAC. Then I put 256 on my ipod touch is where I first discovered the worse quality difference. So I put 320 in my ipod touch and found it much better, like  I remember it being on the iphone. I think it would be easier for you guys to convert a song on your own, than for me to upload them and try to guarantee good quality. Then you can prove me wrong if you're so sure. I don't think the encoder could be the problem. I have a bairly 2 yo computer and all updates on itunes. I think I'll spend some time today comparing on my home headphones, because I've only tried my car so far as testing. Maybe there isn't a huge difference on headphones.

I'd be interested to hear your finding with headphones. I'd hate to go to all the trouble to convert everything and then not have it make any difference. How are you converting from 256 to 320? Can you do that in iTunes? 
 
Feb 15, 2013 at 9:36 PM Post #39 of 49

bigshot

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You can't go from 256 to 320. You have to re-rip from the original CD. The best way to tell is to take your favorite song, load the into iTunes and rip it at several bitrates... AAC 128 VBR, AAC 192 VBR, AAC 256 VBR and AAC 320. Play them on random play a dozen times through and only look at what's playing if you hear something wrong with the sound. If anything, the only file you'll probably be able to hear artifacting in is 128.
 
Feb 15, 2013 at 11:59 PM Post #40 of 49

JamesHuntington

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With headphones I could hear a quality difference. To hear a huge bass difference I had to blast my headphones to an uncomfortable level. I use my ipod touch mostly in my car, so it will stay 320. My phone will likely stay 256 because i only listen to headphones with it. All these files are coming from a lossless file. I have the cd and a separate lossless file for all my music so I was converting down to either 320 or 256 from the same file. In headphones, like I said, their was very little difference in comparison of 256 and 320. i tested about 10 songs. The bass was not as lacking in the 256 on headphones but it sounded less quality to me and distorted a little more than the 320 track. Since my car speakers are not right next to my ear might be why I am turning them up more and able to hear and feel a difference in bass more. I assume it would be the same on a home stereo. Like I said before too, when you download a track at 256, I think they are using really good equipment and the difference might be even less observable. i have a 2010 Lenovo lap top that was about $900 US with the free itunes download. Anyone else on the street shouldn't be able to get considerably better sound at 256, but i assume artists want their downloads to be clearer on itunes downloads and there is better equipment used at music download sites.      
 
Feb 16, 2013 at 12:14 AM Post #41 of 49

bareyb

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You can't go from 256 to 320. You have to re-rip from the original CD. The best way to tell is to take your favorite song, load the into iTunes and rip it at several bitrates... AAC 128 VBR, AAC 192 VBR, AAC 256 VBR and AAC 320. Play them on random play a dozen times through and only look at what's playing if you hear something wrong with the sound. If anything, the only file you'll probably be able to hear artifacting in is 128.

Ah, and there's the rub... I've recently gotten into Electronic and Dubstep (funny how headphones do that to you) and I don't know enough about the Bands yet to buy CD's. I'm basically just using the "Top Sellers" at iTunes to make my picks. I've found a couple of songs in the review threads here as well.
 
Headphones have actually reinvigorated my love of music. With two kids I'd long ago stopped being able to listen to the big Stereo in my living room. The only music I've had in the last 8 years or so is Mickey Mouse Club and the crap they play on the Radio in the car. 
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Feb 16, 2013 at 12:43 AM Post #42 of 49

bigshot

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The AAC 256 VBR files that they sell at iTunes are audibly identical to the original CD. Not to worry.
 
Feb 16, 2013 at 12:47 AM Post #43 of 49

bigshot

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The bass was not as lacking in the 256 on headphones but it sounded less quality to me and distorted a little more than the 320 track.

 
That has nothing to do with the bitrate of the AAC file. The difference between bitrates above 192 isn't overall distortion or altered response, but momentary artifacting, which is generally clearly apparent. At some point, the artifacting gets less frequent and eventually goes away entirely. For most music AAC 192 VBR is audibly transparent compared to the original CD. Some very complex textures, like audiences applauding might require AAC 256 VBR in some cases. But there isn't much to be gained above 256.
 
Feb 16, 2013 at 3:36 AM Post #44 of 49

JamesHuntington

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That has nothing to do with the bitrate of the AAC file. The difference between bitrates above 192 isn't overall distortion or altered response, but momentary artifacting, which is generally clearly apparent. At some point, the artifacting gets less frequent and eventually goes away entirely. For most music AAC 192 VBR is audibly transparent compared to the original CD. Some very complex textures, like audiences applauding might require AAC 256 VBR in some cases. But there isn't much to be gained above 256.


I'm just saying when i try to listen to music at higher levels I hear more distortion at 256 than with 320, which makes it less bearable to turn my music loud. This is especially true in my car because the music isn't right in my ear and I can crank it up, not like like headphones. I like some distortion, as most of the music I listen to already is distortion heavy. But I hear the difference not in sound, but as an inability of the music to be clean at louder levels. It's like looking at 720p vs. 1080p on a 89 inch t.v., you are more likely to notice the difference than on a 20 inch t.v. Maybe it's different with downloads too, but that is what I've found with the program they give you to convert CDs with in itunes. As far as downloading music, I've heard really good low bit rate downloads.
Trust me, I'm stumped by the whole situation too. My lossless files sound very good. Then my 320 make me want to roll down the car windows and let everyone hear what I'm hearing on my 1999 acura speaker system with an upgraded 50watt Sony player (6 way system with stock 6x9s mids and tweeters.) Then 256 makes me think something was missing and caused me to mess with the EQ for most of a 2 hour trip, until i gave up
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. Then back to 320 and windows down again.
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All this from the same lossless file, so don't think there's anything wrong with my encoder.
 
Feb 16, 2013 at 1:33 PM Post #45 of 49

bigshot

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Compression doesn't add overall distortion like that. It sounds more like clipping. Do you listen to music that is likely to be hot mastered? Maybe the encoder is bumping up the volume slightly and pushing it over the edge. Are you using a volume gain app to even out the volume levels song to song?
 

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