Re: Getting Real - AAC 320 vs. FLAC
Reply #15 – 2020-08-18 08:41:16
@ OP... I would not obsess over it as 320kbps for any lossy audio is overkill and a waste of storage space. just pick a efficient bit rate and be done with it. basically one of the following for AAC(Apple)... 96kbps or 128kbps, maybe 160kbps or 192kbps TOPS for the more paranoid types.
also, here is something to think about... unless someone is really young etc, I am confident if you just start giving people random music files made @ q45 TVBR (96kbps) with Apple AAC and Opus @ 96kbps, very few would complain from a all around sound quality perspective (since you can't compare to the original lossless file and are just sitting back enjoying the music and there is no obvious hits to the overall sound quality at this bitrate on a typical pair of speakers/headphones etc) as the sound quality is easily high enough overall at that point. even for a little safety margin, 128kbps or so is plenty and still quite efficient. hell, I am fairly confident many would not mind Opus @ 64kbps since the since there is not any obvious hit to the overall sound quality. NOTE: although with MP3 I would avoid anything lower than v5 (130kbps) to be safe and with AAC (assuming we are talking standard AAC-LC) I would avoid anything lower than 96kbps as a general guideline (but with Opus, I feel 64kbps is in that conversation). plus, once someone has to start really focusing to hear differences (especially if the core sound (like singers voice and basic sound of instruments etc) is not really effected) you know your sound quality is easily within the 'good enough' range since they are straining/nit-picking at that point. because I figure if one can't fairly quickly (say within 5-10 seconds) detect any obvious differences when sampling random songs, you know it's good all around sound quality and is not worth obsessing over the tiny details. in this regard with MP3 (which is the encoder that will fail the quickest at the lower bit rates), like where things become more obviously weak compared to the original lossless file, I feel that point is at a bitrate lower than v5 (130kbps), which makes v5 generally in the 'good/safe enough' range overall and even the general word around these forums considers MP3 @ v5 to be good, or good enough one could say. so while I get the users around here are a bit more OCD with audio quality, I think what I said above is a more practical view of encoding bit rates for most people, if not the vast majority, especially those who are not really young, and are on average-to-above average speakers or roughly your average-ish set of headphones. this helps put things into perspective and gets one out of the OCD with absolute top quality sound when using lossy files (i.e. AAC/MP3/Opus etc). p.s. I suggest you keep your FLAC files as you may need to re-rip to another format in the future. but if a person is sticking to only one lossy format, and not going to keep their FLAC files, then MP3 is the safest all around choice since it's the most widely supported. so if one is going to use MP3 as their only copy of music, on the side of caution from a sound quality perspective, I would just use v2 (190kbps) and be done with it as while it's not the most efficient you ain't got to worry from a sound quality perspective at that rate for pretty much everyone and there is still a little efficiency left at that bit rate. although even v5 (130kbps) is never going to be a bad choice especially for someone with a little age on them and we all are not super young for very long as our ability to hear the very fine details won't last all that long as I tend to see things more from a average or so level of hearing (and speakers/headphones) and in this regard MP3 @ v5 is never going to be a bad choice although when using bit rates around 128kbps or so and less I tend to prefer AAC or Opus if possible instead of MP3 since around that rate and lower those tend to pull ahead. Are there more recent tests? Is it possible to have another test? Someone correct me if I am wrong, but I think the reason no one has bothered is because things have not really changed in a long time (call it roughly 10+ years) on MP3/AAC (they are quite strong once you reach a sufficient bit rate) even though Opus has a bit in fairly recent memory. but even with Opus it seems to be mainly at lower bit rates that there have been some level of sound quality tweaks (like around 48kbps and less if I recall correctly). so anyone using sufficient bit rates for music (with Opus I feel anything 96kbps+ is quite strong and even 64kbps is usable for sure) is already high enough to where very few people would complain and has been this way for many years now.