To what extent will good headphones improve sound quality at an MP3 level
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Jim Barry

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Quote:

Originally Posted by regal
I can't even listen to 192kbs cbr MP3's. The voices sound like their singing in a wind tunnel.


Really? Are you using an old encoder or something? With a modern encoder like LAME, 192 kbps should be virtually indistinguishable from the uncompressed source. At 160 kbps it is still difficult to notice any degradation. Heck, even 128 kbps doesn't sound bad, though I wouldn't go that low myself.
 
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mirumu

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Quote:

Originally Posted by Jim Barry
Really? Are you using an old encoder or something? With a modern encoder like LAME, 192 kbps should be virtually indistinguishable from the uncompressed source. At 160 kbps it is still difficult to notice any degradation. Heck, even 128 kbps doesn't sound bad, though I wouldn't go that low myself.


LAME is good but that compression level is just too high to be unnoticeable, it will come down to personal taste. I consider 192 kbps LAME encoded files acceptable generally but I can still pick encoding flaws quite easily. I can pick the difference even at 320 kbps although not usually without immediate direct comparison with the source and multiple listens. 192 kbps encoded by something other than LAME usually sound terrible to me. If you don't notice the flaws or they don't bother you then there's little point encoding better (unless you get some more revealing equipment) but it bothers me no end, especially the tunnel effect that seems to plague some MP3 encoders.
 
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Jim Barry

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Quote:

Originally Posted by Pwntendo
Well I was thinking of getting some beyerdynamic DT990's for christmas.

This would be the first time I've bought any sort of top range headphone.

And the reason I was attracted to the DT990's was because I've read they are the most comfortable headphones you can get, and are great for long listening sessions.

Now the problem I have is that I'll be playing them from an iPod mini which will obviously be playing in MP3 format, and all my songs have been downloaded from soulseek and whatnot, so they will have bitrates from 192 fluctuating upwards. Is this good enough quality for such a good pair of headphones, or should I go for something a little less good.



192 kbps and up should be plenty. The idea of headphones being "too good" for MP3 is a bit silly I think. A lot of the time I use WMA at 160 kbps for portable audio and it sounds just fine. Yes, the Beyers will be revealing of lower bitrates and also of poor recordings but that is no reason to purchase an inferior headphone.

The main problem with the DT990 for you will be the 250 ohm impedance, which is a bit hard going for a portable player. The new 2005 edition comes in a 32 ohm version, which would be the one to go for. You might also consider the DT990's closed sibling, the DT770, which comes in an 80 ohm studio version that can be had for a fraction of the price of the 2005 DT990.
 
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richierich

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I don't know if it's the encoder or whatever, but I can really tell the difference if an mp3 is lower than 192 kbps. It's even more pronounced now that I got decent headphones now.
 
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Jim Barry

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Quote:

Originally Posted by mirumu
LAME is good but that compression level is just too high to be unnoticeable, it will come down to personal taste. I consider 192 kbps LAME encoded files acceptable generally but I can still pick encoding flaws quite easily. I can pick the difference even at 320 kbps although not usually without immediate direct comparison with the source and multiple listens. 192 kbps encoded by something other than LAME usually sound terrible to me. If you don't notice the flaws or they don't bother you then there's little point encoding better (unless you get some more revealing equipment) but it bothers me no end, especially the tunnel effect that seems to plague some MP3 encoders.


Yes, I really hate that effect too. I agree that it's possible to hear encoding artefacts with A/B comparison even at higher bitrates, but this just isn't important for portable applications. You're not going to be sitting on a bus thinking "oh I simply must just do an A/B comparison of this track with the FLAC version that's taking up enough space for a whole album of MP3s." Or if you are, you should be taken outside and given a jolly good kicking
 
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mirumu

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Quote:

Originally Posted by Jim Barry
Yes, I really hate that effect too. I agree that it's possible to hear encoding artefacts with A/B comparison even at higher bitrates, but this just isn't important for portable applications. You're not going to be sitting on a bus thinking "oh I simply must just do an A/B comparison of this track with the FLAC version that's taking up enough space for a whole album of MP3s." Or if you are, you should be taken outside and given a jolly good kicking



Sure, but that depends how you use the portable device. My iPod doubles as an at home source too mainly because it's so much easier than hunting down the CDs. It also is used heavily at work to avoid carting around the fore mentioned CDs. In fact it isn't used that often in a noisy environment at all, only going to and from work. It really comes down to usage patterns.
 
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Tyll Hertsens

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I hear 192kbs as the turning point; just barely acceptable. I agree with the LAME coments above. It's pretty hard to hear the differences between 320 and uncompressed if the rest of the gear is good. I'd consider the 990 too sizzly on top for compressed stuff. I'd go with the new 880 before the 990, personally, it's a little smoother sounding to me.
 
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