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Stereophile Article: MP3 vs AAC vs FLAC vs CD

  • Bourne
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Stereophile Article: MP3 vs AAC vs FLAC vs CD
Reply #1
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  • Last Edit: 01 April, 2008, 10:48:11 PM by Bourne

  • j7n
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Stereophile Article: MP3 vs AAC vs FLAC vs CD
Reply #2
They used JPEG on the spectrum charts. That about sums it up what they know about data compression.

  • pdq
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Stereophile Article: MP3 vs AAC vs FLAC vs CD
Reply #3
Someone correct me if I am wrong, but I notice that the added noise in the mp3 plot is flat across the audio spectrum. Doesn't this mean that the decoder output wasn't even dithered?

  • Ron Jones
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Stereophile Article: MP3 vs AAC vs FLAC vs CD
Reply #4
I think it's very stupid saying MP3 is not CD quality.

But it's a correct statement. MP3 isn't CD-quality even if it may sound no different to all listeners -- data is still lost. I suppose it depends on how you define 'quality' in this respect.

As expected, the article is rather senseless. I don't actually expect that Stereophile readers spend thousands on their equipment so that they can listen to test tones with supreme fidelity. I'd guess that Stereophile readers spend thousands to better enjoy music, and the article doesn't even attempt to touch upon the effects of lossy compression on actual music.

I think Atkinson's goal was to make it seem as if MP3 and AAC fail at the simplest of tasks and that they couldn't possibly be appropriate to use for actual music. To those who are well-informed, he failed quite miserably.

  • skamp
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Stereophile Article: MP3 vs AAC vs FLAC vs CD
Reply #5
Bleh, don't read articles from so-called audiophiles if you want a fair take on audio codecs. You might as well read press releases from the RIAA about P2P software...

Stereophile Article: MP3 vs AAC vs FLAC vs CD
Reply #6
Quote
MP3s and their lossy-compressed ilk do not offer sufficient audio quality for serious music listening.

I suppose true audiophiles hear graphs instead of sound, so who am I to argue.

They used JPEG on the spectrum charts. That about sums it up what they know about data compression.

Heh, good call.  It's wonderfully ironic to see that in an article about the horrors of lossy compression.
  • Last Edit: 10 March, 2008, 03:06:46 PM by MuncherOfSpleens

  • sld
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Stereophile Article: MP3 vs AAC vs FLAC vs CD
Reply #7
Stereophile: "We love our music, but we know NUTS about how it works!"

  • john33
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Stereophile Article: MP3 vs AAC vs FLAC vs CD
Reply #8
Yet another example of those who understand so much actually understand so little!!
John
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My compiles and utilities are at http://www.rarewares.org/

Stereophile Article: MP3 vs AAC vs FLAC vs CD
Reply #9
How disappointing - that the "golden ears" rely purely on measurement to make a case of audibility!  The opposite error of "I can hear it but can't measure a difference," now we have "I can measure something but won't bother to check if I can hear the difference."  How about measuring some spectra of cables while we're here.... Meter reading when its convenient and listening only test when it's convenient to a predetermined outcome.  C'mon.  I'm not against subjective evaluation per se, but this is weak.

Of all things audio, codecs are some of the simplest to do a listening test on (ABX, blind, etc.).

I think it does a disservice to their readership to say anything but lossless is unacceptable.  Lossy surely has its place in the real-world life of an audiophile given its portability and small file size.  I think a better position would have been "use lossless when doing very critical listening and use good lossy to enjoy as much music as you can everywhere."
Was that a 1 or a 0?

  • sven_Bent
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Stereophile Article: MP3 vs AAC vs FLAC vs CD
Reply #10
They used JPEG on the spectrum charts. That about sums it up what they know about data compression.


Ain't that the truth. 
Sven Bent - Denmark

  • MichaelW
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Stereophile Article: MP3 vs AAC vs FLAC vs CD
Reply #11
As expected, the article is rather senseless. I don't actually expect that Stereophile readers spend thousands on their equipment so that they can listen to test tones with supreme fidelity. I'd guess that Stereophile readers spend thousands to better enjoy music, and the article doesn't even attempt to touch upon the effects of lossy compression on actual music.


I think it's actually an interesting question *why* people do spend so much money on audio equipment. I'm not being snide here--there was a time when I spent big money on photographic gear, beyond the point of producing visible differences. I'm assuming, BTW, that the only thing on which it makes sense to spend the really big bucks is loudspeakers, and that with everything else you get good enough (that is, no audible difference) for quite modest sums.

My thought is that perhaps it's kind of sacrificial, a statement of how much audio reproduction matters to the individual. The other question is whether it's music they're listening to, or reproduction. In my limited experience of people who are heavily into classical music in a roughly professional way, they have good equipment but not the exotica.

Does anyone else know Flanders and Swann, "A Song of Reproduction" from "At The Drop of a Hat" (Parlophone CDP 7974652). The phenomenon was already around in the 1950s.

  • Woodinville
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Stereophile Article: MP3 vs AAC vs FLAC vs CD
Reply #12
Does anyone else know Flanders and Swann, "A Song of Reproduction" from "At The Drop of a Hat" (Parlophone CDP 7974652). The phenomenon was already around in the 1950s.


Have some Maderia, m'Dear!

But you must know about the arguments between the thorn needle and steel needle people for Gramophones, yes?
-----
J. D. (jj) Johnston

  • TechVsLife
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Stereophile Article: MP3 vs AAC vs FLAC vs CD
Reply #13
Good question.  My guess is that it's the attachment to or pursuit of something perfect, and the hope of being associated with or worthy of it.  The question of whether it is actually good for the listener would detract from that, by reminding one of the pathetic limits of the listener, compared to the invulnerable and infinite thing being pursued.   

I think it's actually an interesting question *why* people do spend so much money on audio equipment. I'm not being snide here--there was a time when I spent big money on photographic gear, beyond the point of producing visible differences. I'm assuming, BTW, that the only thing on which it makes sense to spend the really big bucks is loudspeakers, and that with everything else you get good enough (that is, no audible difference) for quite modest sums.

My thought is that perhaps it's kind of sacrificial, a statement of how much audio reproduction matters to the individual. The other question is whether it's music they're listening to, or reproduction. In my limited experience of people who are heavily into classical music in a roughly professional way, they have good equipment but not the exotica.

Does anyone else know Flanders and Swann, "A Song of Reproduction" from "At The Drop of a Hat" (Parlophone CDP 7974652). The phenomenon was already around in the 1950s.

  • tycho
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Stereophile Article: MP3 vs AAC vs FLAC vs CD
Reply #14
The AudioCritic, Issue 22 (1995)
I won't give away the rest of the plot to those of
our readers who haven't seen the movie and may want to,
but doesn't Doctor Zaius resemble certain key figures in
the high-end audio community? He knows the truth but
it's bad for the establishment. The system would come
crashing down if the truth were revealed. To pick an ob-
vious example, consider John Atkinson, the subtle and
highly articulate editor of Stereophile. Don't you think he
knows? Of course he knows. But if he admitted that
$3000-a-pair speaker cable is a shameless rip-off or that
a $7000 amplifier sounds no different from a $1400 one,
the edifice of high-end audio would begin to totter—or so
he thinks (and may quite possibly be right). Consequent-
ly, he spouts convoluted scriptural arguments and episte-
mological sophistries, just like Doctor Zaius, in order to
pervert the obvious, uncomplicated, devastating truth.



The AudioCritic, Issue 23 (1996)
It's certainly not the engineering/academic commu-
nity that supports Stereophile; I hear only snickers from
degreed professionals when the name comes up, if not
vehement contempt.
What's truly insidious about this publication is that
they use electronic measurements cosmetically, just to
create a visual aura of scientific objectivity, without the
slightest effort to link the readouts, graphs, charts, etc., to
their totally irresponsible subjective conclusions. They
are opposed to controlled (ABX) listening tests, which of
course do not serve their agenda, and come up with the
most outrageous pseudoscientific sophistries to reject the
overwhelming evidence of such tests as performed by
others.


The AudioCritic, Issue 24 (1997)
John Atkinson (Stereophile)
Highly intelligent, extremely competent, transpar-
ently insincere. I don't know when the hypocrisy started;
maybe in his earliest days at Hi-Fi News & Record Re-
view in England he actually believed the tweako B.S. he
now redacts and asseverates in Santa Fe; but I refuse to
believe that he still believes it. He has been exposed to
too much overwhelming scientific evidence to the con-
trary and he just can't be that dense. (See also Issue No.
22, p. 10.) At this point he mechanically reiterates the
party line and comes up with progressively more tortured
sophistries to bolster it. Why? Because his job at Larry's
place requires it, and it's a good job. The trouble is, he
has too many readers who still take all that rubbish at
face value.


and
I regard "double-blind comparative listening tests" as the last refuge of the agenda-driven scoundrel.
—JOHN ATKINSON, Stereophile (December 1996, page 23)

  • tgoose
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Stereophile Article: MP3 vs AAC vs FLAC vs CD
Reply #15
While this article does contain rather a lot of nonsense, I'm very happy that the writer does at least concede that
Quote
The bits were the same—the music will also be the same!


That's several leaps ahead of most audiophiles, in my experience.

  • Soap
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Stereophile Article: MP3 vs AAC vs FLAC vs CD
Reply #16
While this article does contain rather a lot of nonsense, I'm very happy that the writer does at least concede that
Quote

The bits were the same—the music will also be the same!


That's several leaps ahead of most audiophiles, in my experience.


I'm not Jewish, but the I believe it is the Zohar which contains this gem:
"So whoever wants to tell a lie will first lay a foundation of truth and then construct the lie."
Creature of habit.

  • nonreality
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Stereophile Article: MP3 vs AAC vs FLAC vs CD
Reply #17
Hey leave the "audiophiles" alone. They have to be a bit elite because they're  still in debt on their $1000 power cables. 

  • MichaelW
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Stereophile Article: MP3 vs AAC vs FLAC vs CD
Reply #18
But you must know about the arguments between the thorn needle and steel needle people for Gramophones, yes?


I'm so old I remember a little device, sandpaper on a wheel, for resharpening fibre needles. I was always under the impression that steel needles were cheaper, but wore records out quicker; was there a sound-quality debate?

Thank Ceiling Cat for digital, I say.

  • retro83
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Stereophile Article: MP3 vs AAC vs FLAC vs CD
Reply #19
If the graphs were at least of music (rather than tones) showing obvious differences then perhaps they would be somewhat useful in determining why a given compressed file can be ABXed.
To me, this seems the same kind of test as using JPEG to compress graphs or line-art, or PNG to compress photos. Simply meaningless as the compressor is finely tuned only to specific inputs.
  • Last Edit: 11 March, 2008, 07:55:43 AM by retro83

  • Squeller
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Stereophile Article: MP3 vs AAC vs FLAC vs CD
Reply #20
I like the audiophiles, they give me hope: The older you get, it seems, the better your hearing will be. (Assuming self proclaimed audiophiles tend to have the more expensive gear and therefore are likely to be wealthy and older).

  • pdq
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Stereophile Article: MP3 vs AAC vs FLAC vs CD
Reply #21

But you must know about the arguments between the thorn needle and steel needle people for Gramophones, yes?


I'm so old I remember a little device, sandpaper on a wheel, for resharpening fibre needles. I was always under the impression that steel needles were cheaper, but wore records out quicker; was there a sound-quality debate?

Thank Ceiling Cat for digital, I say.

I remeber as a kid playing my grandfather's old wind-up 78 phonograph. It had a stockpile of steel needles because they wore out quickly, and I was warned never to put a worn needle back in the player because if it wasn't oriented in exactly the same way then its sharp edges would damage the records.

  • N!Ce
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Stereophile Article: MP3 vs AAC vs FLAC vs CD
Reply #22
No offense really, but they don't sound like they actually have a clue about what they're writing 

Oh cool we now can use flac for our ipods, car hifi and even for my 10bucks pc speakers, blub. Very efficient 

Of course mp3 is not CD quality, that's why it's called compressed. But it's quite ignorant to insist on lossless in 100% of cases. In which cases lossless is actually useful depends on many factors, thus is not possible to generalize. 
  • Last Edit: 11 March, 2008, 10:45:18 AM by N!Ce

  • Woodinville
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Stereophile Article: MP3 vs AAC vs FLAC vs CD
Reply #23

But you must know about the arguments between the thorn needle and steel needle people for Gramophones, yes?


I'm so old I remember a little device, sandpaper on a wheel, for resharpening fibre needles. I was always under the impression that steel needles were cheaper, but wore records out quicker; was there a sound-quality debate?


Yeah, the thorn needles were "more natural" and sounded "warmer and more realistic", we were told.
Quote
Thank Ceiling Cat for digital, I say.


Hear, hear!
-----
J. D. (jj) Johnston

  • ech3
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Stereophile Article: MP3 vs AAC vs FLAC vs CD
Reply #24
Read it here:
http://www.stereophile.com/features/308mp3cd/


Wasn't Stereophile the home of that Armor-All debacle from back in the 80s?