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Topic: New lossless codec comparison, categorizing electronic music (Read 815 times) previous topic - next topic
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New lossless codec comparison, categorizing electronic music

Hi all,

Seeing that the last version of this lossless codec comparison turned 6 years old last week and there having been talk of improvements of Monkey's Audio, I thought it would be a good idea to create a new lossless comparison document. I've been working on rebuilding the list of music I use for this comparison for quite some time now, but I'm stuck on electronic music.

Last time I did this comparison, the list was based on genres. This didn't really show strengths or weaknesses in individual codecs, while many of you know certain music compresses (much) better with certain codecs. To combat this, the new list is based on instrumentation instead of genre. This works fine for orchestral, acoustic and amplified music, but it doesn't work with electronic music. If I used the same classification for electronic music, many entries would say something like voice, synth, samples.

Here is the current list: http://www.audiograaf.nl/misc_stuff/CD-table-v1.html

All comments on this list are welcome, but I think especially the electronic section needs quite a bit of work. If you have an addition, please explain what it is that makes it different from the rest. If you can think of a better way to classify electronic music, please let me know.

Music: sounds arranged such that they construct feelings.

Re: New lossless codec comparison, categorizing electronic music

Reply #1
I thought it would be a good idea to create a new lossless comparison document.
Big "Yay!", but someone needs to kick the FLAC executives into motion on getting your improvements into the official release.
(On the other hand, a test conducted by a FLAC contributor but biased against FLAC from taking on board every other codec's updates but the incoming FLAC improvements ... at least none of the competition should whine then.)

I am stuck in the industrial corner of the electronic genres (uh, Kraftwerk and Skinny Puppy and Laibach and half the Cold Meat Industry catalog ... actually a lot of darkwave need not be "electronic" as such, some use real fiddles and horns atop the synths) and certain eras (Tangerine Dream, more Kraftwerk) so this will not be more than "consider this" - where at least I try not to push my faves all the time:
* Laibach: LaiBachKunstderFuge. Yep, Bach. But deliberately done on computers, "since the work is very much based on mathematic algorithms".  Laibach has darker releases, and more upbeat too, but this is a bit special in that it is (allegedly) overwhelmingly digitally generated.  https://www.laibach.org/discography/laibachkunstderfuge/ FLACs to 728, not that dense music. And it saves my selection from being, uh, so last century.
* Skinny Puppy. Likely, VIVIsectVI is the album more considered a landmark in the genre of then-considered-ugly industry. Drum machine and lots of samples - the latter is kinda both a pro and a contra if one is interested in synthetic-created waveforms. Sounds like this: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qtySNoe0gMw FLACs to 930, that is quite dense.
* The Cold Meat Industry label was a subgenre by itself in the nineties, but it might just be my pet subgenre of synth music. They used extensively the pesky CD pre-emphasis thing - which could be an idea in itself to include in the corpus, but not too much of it.  Maybe In Slaughter Natives for the dark ambient genre. Maybe you could pick their label sampler. I can get you a copy of either.
* Klaus Schulze: maybe pick Dig It for being (as the title puns at) his first fully digital recording. (Edit: bad argument - digital recording isn't the same as electronic music. But it fits a corner of the genre too, as well as Schulze starting to use more digital synths.)
* Biosphere: Substrata (although a track from the predecessor might be more familiar for its appearance in Levi's commercials). In the cold minimalist ambient direction it is a classic. See the couple of links at  https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Substrata_(album)#Reception
... those links also lead to proposals of Brian Eno and Aphex Twin. Hard to argue against those, but:
* But while Ambient vol. 1 - Music for Airports is an obvious choice if you want Brian Eno to be represented, and/or if you want ambient to be represented - but it has so much acoustic instrument content that ...?
* Maybe Aphex Twin's Selected Ambient Works 85-92 over the successor? Only because I have proposed beat-less ambient already https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Selected_Ambient_Works_85%E2%80%9392
* Something by Art of Noise? Early Fairlight CMI-created (digital domain!) music, that's why.
* Björk: Vespertine? Hard to argue against her relevance (and ... there wasn't enough post-2k and not enough female vox on my list ... ?) - but here I am maybe taking an artist I like, who turned to electronic music ...

Though when it comes to Biosphere, part of me wants Biosphere/Deathprod: "Nordheim Transformed", doing the music of Arne Nordheim. Killing more birds with one stone.




Then, not what you asked about, but ...

You list a CD table, but then to make it more relevant (at the cost of time & effort, and for the second item: at the risk of lending credibility to the marketing of useless end-user formats):
* Multi-channel?
* High resolution?
There is more available by now. (Also there is much more available for free.)

Last two months' worth of foobar2000.org ad revenue has been donated to support war refugees from Ukraine: https://www.foobar2000.org/

Re: New lossless codec comparison, categorizing electronic music

Reply #2
I thought it would be a good idea to create a new lossless comparison document.
Big "Yay!", but someone needs to kick the FLAC executives into motion on getting your improvements into the official release.
Well, I tried here and here but no response yet. I also mailed Xiph.org's Monty, but haven't heard from him either.

Quote
so this will not be more than "consider this" - where at least I try not to push my faves all the time:
The problem here is that I really want to be able to have some kind of foundation as to why I'm including certain albums. That's why I'm listing instrumentation. The current list of electronic music has a very basic synths (Game Boy Color emulator), an album with only FM synths, a Kraftwerk album with analog synths... the idea is that differentiating on the source of the sounds used in the music is better than differentiating on something as arbitrary, vague and opinionated as genre. However, I feel unable to differentiate electronic music further then "really simple synth", "FM synth", "analog synth" and "sampling". I don't know what to put in the "Main instrumentation" column for the releases you list.

Quote
Killing more birds with one stone.
Actually, I'd rather have discs that "kill exactly one bird" so it might become a little clearer why a certain codec performs better on that music.

Quote
Then, not what you asked about, but ...

You list a CD table, but then to make it more relevant (at the cost of time & effort, and for the second item: at the risk of lending credibility to the marketing of useless end-user formats):
* Multi-channel?
* High resolution?
There is more available by now. (Also there is much more available for free.)

Yes, very true. However, as using my FLAC testbench showed me that a lot of devices do not support multichannel or high-resolution, I still think most people only use CDDA and that should really stay the focus of comparing.

Still, it wouldn't hurt to expand the multichannel and high-res part beyond what I did last time.
Music: sounds arranged such that they construct feelings.

Re: New lossless codec comparison, categorizing electronic music

Reply #3
To the extent that people buy (rather than just stream), there is much more hi-rez around by now.  Maybe one doesn't want to lend credibility to the selling point of it, but maybe one doesn't want to put that much opinion into it.


As for "electronic" music that isn't really a genre (maybe it was when it first (?) made the hit lists with Switched-On Bach, but that is more than fifty years ago), then for the purposes of a comparison, one may want to
* cover the genres and styles people may want to compress (probably with more EDM and contemporary hip-hop)
* cover various signals to see if that makes for a difference. 

The first is not unimportant, but it does not classify the way you are asking.

The sorting you are using on the other genres often is a bit "in increasing denseness", and a similar sorting for electronic genres would be from minimalist to Merzbow.  (I see that you are putting Merzbow different, and I kinda disagree here: this kind of noise music is electronic - and *the* CD with a specific trait is the audiobook!)   And for a "denseness" rough sort, you might just see how many bits LAME V0 thinks is adequate? 
But a couple of other dimensions:
Percussive or not?  You got music that is beat-less and you have music dominated by percussion - and percs that are notorious killer samplers for lossies (Prodigy's "Fighter Beat" got infamous on HA ... the version you are listing got this (bonus) track?). 
Vocal-oriented or not?  The instrumentation might still dominate the need for bits, but if the music is an acoustic-recorded signal with instrumentation accompanying it ... that is something else at least "by ear"
Indeed, how much is "recorded in free air" is a classification in itself, only it isn't that obvious to know.  As you mention it sounds a bit artificial (like, cooked up for some constructed purpose), but I think it is a point.

So I suggested the Biosphere for being the chill, non-dense, non-percussive corner of the spectrum - maybe you should find some even more minimalist; some synth industrial for being a missing style (quite dense some of it), Laibach's take on Kunst der Fuge for being instrumental "electronic-only" and apparently not having used a microphone, and I forgot about this techno classic https://www.discogs.com/release/3144862-U-96-Das-Boot - but even if the Laibach (and Prodigy) got released way into the y2k's, my suggestion list is likely too heavy on "mom and dad's plastic disc collection", and too little of that neo-rave that the music industry rebranded as "EDM" to distinguish it from what parents did - and you seriously need a major hip-hop producer to belt out some beats from the hard drive.



Oh, and one suggestion: while your diagrams are pretty clear on what compresses fastER and slowER, a novice won't necessarily be able to relate it to ... I guess one benchmark is MP3.  Suggestion: a vertical bar (as to not mix size into it) that indicates speed of LAME default 128 CBR?  And/or maybe an AAC if there is a "canonical" encoder choice.
Last two months' worth of foobar2000.org ad revenue has been donated to support war refugees from Ukraine: https://www.foobar2000.org/

Re: New lossless codec comparison, categorizing electronic music

Reply #4
Okay, the electronic music part of the list is still a mess I think, but I've now added a bunch of multichannel and high-res audio discs I have at my disposal.

See here: http://www.audiograaf.nl/misc_stuff/comparison-source-table-v2.html
Music: sounds arranged such that they construct feelings.