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Refractive Reflections
08-06-2016, 07:02 PM
Music files have come a long way from the traditional MP3 format, with the pursuit of people wanting higher and higher music quality (particularly with audiophiles). Some of the preferred formats have become AAC (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Advanced_Audio_Coding), FLAC (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/FLAC), etc.

But are MP3s really that substandard nowadays? There have been some articles posting and comparing: 128K MP3 quality, 320 MP3 quality, and uncompressed WAV file (the original CD format). And they say the results are barely higher than a person guessing since most people can't recognize the difference.
http://www.npr.org/sections/therecord/2015/06/09/412271433/audio-quality-quiz-results-you-did-slightly-better-than-guessing-randomly
http://www.slate.com/articles/news_and_politics/explainer/2007/04/are_itunes_premium_downloads_worth_it.html

If you want to try it yourself, you can check them out here:
http://www.npr.org/sections/therecord/2015/06/02/411473508/how-well-can-you-hear-audio-quality
http://mp3ornot.com/
http://www.noiseaddicts.com/2009/03/mp3-sound-quality-test-128-320/

So I looked further into the MP3 format, and I learned the following cut-off bit rate frequency compressions (https://thesession.org/discussions/19642):
1411kbps >20kHz 1:1
320kbps 19.5kHz 1:4.4
192kbps 18kHz 1:7.3
160kbps 17kHz 1:8.8
128kbps 16kHz 1:11
96kbps 15kHz 1:14.7
64kbps 11kHz 1:22
32kbps 5kHz 1:44

To go further, I tried to hear what frequencies would be cut off at the following qualities, and I found a hearing test website here:
http://www.noiseaddicts.com/2009/03/can-you-hear-this-hearing-test/

The normal range of human hearing (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hearing#Frequency_range) is 20Hz to 20kHz (or 20,000 Hz), but as we get older, we hear less and less of these upper frequencies due to normal aging but much more so due to exposure to loud noise/music (earbud usage, loud concerts/clubs, loud workplace machinery). On average those under 50 can hear up to 12kHz, under 30-40 can hear up to 15kHz, and under 18 can hear up to 17kHz.
https://www.yahoo.com/beauty/try-it-can-you-hear-these-sounds-only-young-112627654778.html
http://metro.co.uk/2016/02/27/if-you-cant-hear-this-sound-youre-getting-old-5720888/

Anyways to get back on track, even though I can hear those upper frequencies, I find them actually more annoying. I find myself preferring 192K quality or even 128K quality if it has been converted from the CD source very well, especially considering it has diminishing returns as higher and higher quality is reached.

So what music file format do you prefer? And what program do you use to rip old CDs? Can you really hear the difference in quality, or do you think it's just a placebo effect as some cynics speculate about so many being able to hear the minute difference?

Krutch
08-22-2016, 07:36 AM
I'm a 320 MP3 quality guy myself. I used to collect FLAC files but can't be bothered anymore. The difference I hear between the two is insanely minimal, to be honest.

TheSkeletonMan939
08-22-2016, 08:01 AM
I'm a 320 MP3 quality guy myself. I used to collect FLAC files but can't be bothered anymore. The difference I hear between the two is insanely minimal, to be honest.

320k MP3 is a waste of space. VBR-0 is the way to go!
Variable bitrate means that the sound file's bitrate changes depending how much it "needs" per given moment. Silence at the beginning and end of a track, for instance, gets, like, 1-2 kbps. That number shoots up once the music actually starts. It's a great space-saver, and sounds just like 320k.
But don't go transcoding all your 320k to VBR-0! Lossy -> lossy conversion degrades sound quality. Instead, in the future, I recommend converting to VBR-0 MP3 only from a lossless source.

As for myself, I take lossless when I can get it. I know no human ear can hear the difference, but as an audio editor hobbyist it's always nice to have a lossless source. :) And I'm not desperate for hard drive space, so it's not a big deal in that regard.

And what program do you use to rip old CDs?

I use the ripper in Foobar2000, the best music player ever.
http://i.imgur.com/GxM9xBw.png

Some people swear by Exact Audio Copy, but I think it's a bunch of malarkey. Even if EAC is supposedly better at ripping than anything else, whose ears could tell the difference?

Can you really hear the difference in quality, or do you think it's just a placebo effect as some cynics speculate about so many being able to hear the minute difference?

It's all placebo. Some people claim to have Superman hearing and can hear all the additional sound, but at the end of the day they'll be content with a VBR-0 or 320k MP3 too.

snake
08-22-2016, 09:50 AM
I listen to albums on youtube. I can find pretty much everything there.

MsMarvelDuckie
08-22-2016, 10:20 PM
I use mostly mp3 or vma. Im not well versed in any of the technical aspects of audio storage so I just use what is most common and easiest.

Refractive Reflections
09-21-2016, 10:46 PM
...didn't know this thread received replies after 2 weeks, until I looked a little further down the Music sub-forum. :lol:


I use the ripper in Foobar2000, the best music player ever.
http://i.imgur.com/GxM9xBw.png

Some people swear by Exact Audio Copy, but I think it's a bunch of malarkey. Even if EAC is supposedly better at ripping than anything else, whose ears could tell the difference?


I was reading many webpages about the whole "which has better sound quality" debate between Foobar, WinAmp, AIMP, iTunes, and Windows Media Player, particularly if there was a better alternative to Windows Media Player for ripping CDs and for audio conversion software.

Thank you for your response. I'm definitely leaning toward Foobar2000.

EDIT: By the way did anybody try the audio tests I posted earlier? How did you all perform? :P Did you need good headphones/speakers to hear the difference?

If you want to try it yourself, you can check them out here:
http://www.npr.org/sections/therecord/2015/06/02/411473508/how-well-can-you-hear-audio-quality
http://mp3ornot.com/
http://www.noiseaddicts.com/2009/03/mp3-sound-quality-test-128-320/

TigerClaw
09-21-2016, 10:48 PM
I prefer 320k MP3s, They are close to CD quality, I don't care about the space since I have plenty of it. :)

Shark_Blade
09-21-2016, 11:24 PM
I don't care as long it sounds good.

sdp
09-21-2016, 11:26 PM
I mostly stream stuff, I can only tell the difference if I play close attention. If I had the time/energy I'd definitely go for the highest quality though.

Roseangelo
09-21-2016, 11:28 PM
I also go with 320kps MP3s. I'm not an audiophile, and FLAC files become redundant, since iTunes doesn't accept them and I have to convert to MP3 anyways.