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Topic: Wma 9 At Soundexpert. (Read 5911 times) previous topic - next topic
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Wma 9 At Soundexpert.

Hi,

Windows Media Audio 9 codec is supposed to be added to SoundExpert rating system soon. Suggested encoder settings are:

w9c – Windows Media Audio 9 (CBR)
ENCODER: MS Windows Media Encoder v9.00.00.2799
- 32, 64, 96 kbit/s: 44100 Hz/16bit, 2-pass CBR
DECODER: MS Windows Media Encoder v9.00.00.2799

w9v - Windows Media Audio 9 (VBR)
ENCODER: MS Windows Media Encoder v9.00.00.2799
- (67.0) kbit/s: 44100 Hz/24bit, quality-based VBR – Q50
- (91.7) kbit/s: 44100 Hz/24bit, quality-based VBR – Q75
DECODER: MS Windows Media Encoder v9.00.00.2799

Your comments & criticism would be helpful.
.
WBR, Serge.
www.soundexpert.info
keeping audio clear together - soundexpert.org

Wma 9 At Soundexpert.

Reply #1
Quote
w9c – Windows Media Audio 9 (CBR)
ENCODER: MS Windows Media Encoder v9.00.00.2799
- 32, 64, 96 kbit/s: 44100 Hz/16bit, 2-pass CBR
DECODER: MS Windows Media Encoder v9.00.00.2799

I'm also interested in 48 or 56 kbps (either CBR or VBR), because that would make things even easier when downloading a file from a website and trying to listen to it while downloading with a 56k modem.

Quote
w9v - Windows Media Audio 9 (VBR)
ENCODER: MS Windows Media Encoder v9.00.00.2799
- (67.0) kbit/s: 44100 Hz/24bit, quality-based VBR – Q50
- (91.7) kbit/s: 44100 Hz/24bit, quality-based VBR – Q75
DECODER: MS Windows Media Encoder v9.00.00.2799

Your comments & criticism would be helpful.


Why did you choose 24-bit resolution with 44.1 kHz? My soundcard wouldn't support it, if I considered decoding such a file directly. I assume you reconvert all test files on your site back to WAV before someone is supposed to rank them? And how do you compress them again? I would rather prefer RAR to any lossless encoder, because I don't like to pile a dozen of different applications/formats on my PC that do basically the same thing.

Anyway, I'm quite interested in WMA9, too, because it came out second best for me in the recent c't listening test at 64 kbps, one step behind AAC and somehow equal to mp3PRO.
ZZee ya, Hans-Jürgen
BLUEZZ BASTARDZZ - "That lil' ol' ZZ Top cover band from Hamburg..."
INDIGO ROCKS - "Down home rockin' blues. Tasty as strudel."

Wma 9 At Soundexpert.

Reply #2
Oh i have critisizm alright ..

Having WMA included is not bad i guess. More encoders, more results, more comparisons, more blah..
The bitrates you'll include are fine, except for 24bit ?!? WHY? It's absolutely most definately worthless. Especially with WMA..
I don't know however why higher bitrates won't be included as well.
Anyway..
The fact is that WMA sounds horrible. MP3's encoded by LAME sound much better, always. Of course, MP3 has no 5.1 capabilities, but well... OGG is progressing very well, and it too sounds better than WMA. I'd say everything but MPEG-1 layer 1,2, and VQF, and.. can't remember, sounds better than WMA.
I ask, don't support WMA, ever. Not even if it's quality will be actually high (something that i'm 99.8% sure will never happen). The reasons are many, and have already been well discussed at this forum.

Wma 9 At Soundexpert.

Reply #3
Quote
I'm also interested in 48 or 56 kbps (either CBR or VBR), because that would make things even easier when downloading a file from a website and trying to listen to it while downloading with a 56k modem.

I'm too, but each bit rate needs 60 more participants of SoundExpert...  May be later.
keeping audio clear together - soundexpert.org

Wma 9 At Soundexpert.

Reply #4
Quote
Why did you choose 24-bit resolution with 44.1 kHz? My soundcard wouldn't support it, if I considered decoding such a file directly. I assume you reconvert all test files on your site back to WAV before someone is supposed to rank them?
As WMA 9 Professional has slightly better audio performance I chose it for low bit rate VBR testing. It uses 24-bit sample size audio, which will be converted to 16-bit WAVs as usual. WMA players render WMA-24bit as 16bit automatically, if 24-bit audio is not supported.
Quote
And how do you compress them again? I would rather prefer RAR...
All SoundExpert test files are packed with RAR.
keeping audio clear together - soundexpert.org

Wma 9 At Soundexpert.

Reply #5
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I'm also interested in 48 or 56 kbps (either CBR or VBR), because that would make things even easier when downloading a file from a website and trying to listen to it while downloading with a 56k modem.

I'm too, but each bit rate needs 60 more participants of SoundExpert...  May be later.

By looking around on your website I found that you use RAR for packing the WAVs, so that "problem" has been solved already.  But I couldn't find any kind of discussion board which would probably necessary, because it's very unlikely that you get some feedback here. Or do you just want to collect ratings for your test files, and that's it - no comments, opinions, flame wars?

By the way, do you know if the new WMA9 files can be played back with WMP 6.4? And did you also provide samples done with WMA8 in the past, perhaps? I think this comparison would be very interesting, especially for the users who don't have Windows 2000 or XP on their PCs and can't use the WMA9 encoder.
ZZee ya, Hans-Jürgen
BLUEZZ BASTARDZZ - "That lil' ol' ZZ Top cover band from Hamburg..."
INDIGO ROCKS - "Down home rockin' blues. Tasty as strudel."

Wma 9 At Soundexpert.

Reply #6
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The bitrates you'll include are fine, except for 24bit ?!? WHY? It's absolutely most definately worthless. Especially with WMA..
My preliminary tests showed that WMA Professional (24-bit) provides a bit better audible quality.
Quote
I don't know however why higher bitrates won't be included as well.
In case of SoundExpert testing it's just senseless. Please, see SoundExpert FAQ (4Q) for detailes (www.soundexpert.info/theory.htm).
Quote
I'd say everything but MPEG-1 layer 1,2, and VQF, and.. can't remember, sounds better than WMA.
May be and may not. Let's investigate this together with the help of blind tests. That's SoundExpert for.
Quote
I ask, don't support WMA, ever. Not even if it's quality will be actually high (something that i'm 99.8% sure will never happen). The reasons are many, and have already been well discussed at this forum.
Take it easy, Microsoft could undertake legal actions against you for using their marketing methods. To be serious, I'm sure that audio quality is the most important factor in codec wars. Finally everyone will choose the format best suited their needs (common users are not stupid). I don't believe there will be the one for all, but I do believe that information about all codecs have to be open and as true as possible. (Long live SoundExpert! he-he...).
keeping audio clear together - soundexpert.org

Wma 9 At Soundexpert.

Reply #7
Mp3 HAS 5.1 capabilities.

There is no software using this feature now, but it is part of the standard.

Wma 9 At Soundexpert.

Reply #8
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But I couldn't find any kind of discussion board which would probably necessary, because it's very unlikely that you get some feedback here. Or do you just want to collect ratings for your test files, and that's it - no comments, opinions, flame wars?
Yes, the board is necessary. While it is under construction I would like to get feedback here (I'll put the link to this place on my site).
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By the way, do you know if the new WMA9 files can be played back with WMP 6.4?
CBR - Yes (automatic codec downloading), VBR - No. I don't know about their plans yet. Usually MS issues special codec packs for their players. Some information about WM9 compartibility is in Help for Encoder 9, but I havn't it now at hand.
Quote
And did you also provide samples done with WMA8 in the past, perhaps? I think this comparison would be very interesting, especially for the users who don't have Windows 2000 or XP on their PCs and can't use the WMA9 encoder.
Yes, wm8 is under testing at SoundExpert.
keeping audio clear together - soundexpert.org

Wma 9 At Soundexpert.

Reply #9
Quote
Mp3 HAS 5.1 capabilities.

There is no software using this feature now, but it is part of the standard.

DAMN!! I KNEW it, i was so certain that i saw once or twice in documentations that MP3 DOES have 5.1 support, but, i never heard one, and from all i've read at this forum i thought that i must be wrong, so many say it doesn't have 5.1 support. Or maybe i'm just reading only at the wrong places .
I'm very curious WHY no software is using this feature even so many years later.

Wma 9 At Soundexpert.

Reply #10
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Quote
But I couldn't find any kind of discussion board which would probably be necessary, because it's very unlikely that you get some feedback here. Or do you just want to collect ratings for your test files, and that's it - no comments, opinions, flame wars?
Yes, the board is necessary. While it is under construction I would like to get feedback here (I'll put the link to this place on my site).

Yes, I saw it today... by the way, does the link also work without "www", because you left that out? Also nice places for a discussion seem to be the AAC forum at http://www.audiocoding.com and the mp3PRO forum at http://www.mp3pro.com, but not as "active" as this one, of course.

Quote
Quote
By the way, do you know if the new WMA9 files can be played back with WMP 6.4?
CBR - Yes (automatic codec downloading), VBR - No. I don't know about their plans yet. Usually MS issues special codec packs for their players. Some information about WM9 compartibility is in Help for Encoder 9, but I havn't it now at hand.


Thanks, so it should work to encode with WMA9 at CBR and inform people with WMP 6.4 to download the necessary new player "plugin" from Microsoft before trying to listen to the WMA files from a website, did I get that right?

Quote
Quote
And did you also provide samples done with WMA8 in the past, perhaps? I think this comparison would be very interesting, especially for the users who don't have Windows 2000 or XP on their PCs and can't use the WMA9 encoder.
Yes, wm8 is under testing at SoundExpert.


That's nice, BUT:[/color] 
I can't download specific single test files from your site, if I only would like to listen to certain codecs at certain bitrates, hmmm... I understand that you designed it this way in order to prevent some dumb people from falsifying the results according to their personal "beliefs".

But this also makes it harder for me to participate in your tests, because I really wouldn't like to download a 1.5-2.5 MB file without knowing what it will contain, at least roughly. To be more precise: I would hate to waste my time (and money and HDD space) having to rank a 32 kbps MP3 file, for example.  So maybe you could offer an option to choose some specific samples from all available files without giving up the idea of a blind test by saying "These are all 64 kbps files I have with CBR" or "These only contain 64 kbps with VBR" or something similar, maybe sorted according to your nine different samples?

You see, I really like the idea of having a constantly growing internet "database" of all relevant codecs with the bitrates that are the most interesting for me. But I would rather prefer to use this database for valuable comparisons like "Today I wanna know how Bach sounds with WMA8 compared to WMA9 at 64 kbps" and not caring how other people have ranked them before. See what I mean? But this would of course need a lot of webspace, then...
ZZee ya, Hans-Jürgen
BLUEZZ BASTARDZZ - "That lil' ol' ZZ Top cover band from Hamburg..."
INDIGO ROCKS - "Down home rockin' blues. Tasty as strudel."

Wma 9 At Soundexpert.

Reply #11
Quote
...to encode with WMA9 at CBR and inform people with WMP 6.4 to download the necessary new player "plugin" from Microsoft before trying to listen to the WMA files from a website
Right you are. WMP 6.4 downloads the "plugin" automatically from MS when trying to play WMA9 for the first time.
Quote
I can't download specific single test files from your site, if I only would like to listen to certain codecs at certain bitrates, hmmm...   So maybe you could offer an option to choose some specific samples from all available files without giving up the idea of a blind test by saying "These are all 64 kbps files I have with CBR" or "These only contain 64 kbps with VBR" or something similar...
In that case you couldn't make inter-bitrate comparison of codecs, as each bit rate would have it's own rating scale and audience. Really, blind testing is not comfortable undertaking, but it's the price of valuable results it generates.
Quote
"Today I wanna know how Bach sounds with WMA8 compared to WMA9 at 64 kbps" and not caring how other people have ranked them before.
It's easy! Just encode and listen!  SoundExpert blind testing is something different.
keeping audio clear together - soundexpert.org

Wma 9 At Soundexpert.

Reply #12
Kind of OT:

Quote
I'd say everything but MPEG-1 layer 1,2, and VQF, and.. can't remember, sounds better than WMA.

I think MP2, especially with a good encoder and an appropriate bitrate, should sound better than WMA.

It appears that many people are under the impression that MP3 is better than MP2 and MP1 simply because it is newer.  I'm not so sure about that though.. especially given the fact that MPC was based on MP2 and then heavily optimized for quality, and also given the fact that Frank has said he's made an encoder in the past that uses the MPC psymodel, but outputs MP2's that sound very good.

I'm thinking that perhaps that there were never really any MP2 encoders in the past which have been very heavily tuned and optimized for quality like there have been with some MP3 encoders (some FhG and especially LAME).

Of course, at low bitrates MP3 should win, but if we're talking pure quality not limited to a low bitrate range, then it's an entirely different matter.

Wma 9 At Soundexpert.

Reply #13
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Quote
So maybe you could offer an option to choose some specific samples from all available files without giving up the idea of a blind test by saying "These are all 64 kbps files I have with CBR" or "These only contain 64 kbps with VBR" or something similar...
In that case you couldn't make inter-bitrate comparison of codecs, as each bit rate would have it's own rating scale and audience. Really, blind testing is not comfortable undertaking, but it's the price of valuable results it generates.

But it would be a more realistic approach to people's preferences, I think. Those who would like to compare all available codecs for streaming purposes normally aren't interested in 96 kbps or higher and vice versa those wishing to archive at a near-transparent quality usually do not care how anything at 32 kbps would sound.

Quote
Quote
"Today I wanna know how Bach sounds with WMA8 compared to WMA9 at 64 kbps", not caring how other people have ranked them before.
It's easy! Just encode and listen!  SoundExpert blind testing is something different.


But I can't, because I don't have Windows 2000 or XP, so that the WMA9 encoder wouldn't work on my PC. Nevertheless I'm interested in its sound quality for low bitrates and especially how it would compare to WMA8 with the same sample. 

I do understand what your site is up to, like I wrote already. But it might also be a great help for people that would like to have a quick and easy access to different test samples without bothering how they would produce such samples. Furthermore your nine sound excerpts seem to be well chosen and so could be a perfect "common ground" for a discussion. Of course this would have to be separated from the "normal" usage of your site which is doing blind comparisons for a lot of codecs.

Don't get me wrong, I think your idea is great, I only wanted to suggest some "supplements" that might motivate more people to participate in your tests, so that some day you will have about 60 results for each codec and each bitrate.
ZZee ya, Hans-Jürgen
BLUEZZ BASTARDZZ - "That lil' ol' ZZ Top cover band from Hamburg..."
INDIGO ROCKS - "Down home rockin' blues. Tasty as strudel."

Wma 9 At Soundexpert.

Reply #14
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But it would be a more realistic approach to people's preferences, I think. Those who would like to compare all available codecs for streaming purposes normally aren't interested in 96 kbps or higher...
I would say it will be less realistic approach. Are those people going to stream audio to themselves? Hardly they are. Then it would be logical to ask their potential audience to grade that streaming codecs. If they don't trust their audience, the only solution is to make such tests by themselves. There are several pretty good tools in the internet for personal blind testing. Otherwise, they just can look at SoundExpert ratings (of their interest) and make a conclusion. Not enough grades are added to particular bitrates? OK. Let's make together a little contribution to the whole project by downloading more test files and everybody will have the real objective ratings, - not a collection of different bitrates and sound samples graded mostly by some user groups or even single persons. There have to be some common ground - indivisible rating scale.
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...and vice versa those wishing to archive at a near-transparent quality usually do not care how anything at 32 kbps would sound.
I'm sure that those guys don't care about 96kbit/s as well. "Near-transparent quality" is beyond SoundExpert possibilities.
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But it might also be a great help for people that would like to have a quick and easy access to different test samples without bothering how they would produce such samples. Furthermore your nine sound excerpts seem to be well chosen and so could be a perfect "common ground" for a discussion. Of course this would have to be separated from the "normal" usage of your site which is doing blind comparisons for a lot of codecs.
Well, it's not bad idea, but I'm afraid, this could reduce the number of SoundExpert testers and the project will transforms slowly to discussion club. Discussions themselves are great, but in most cases they don't produce any valuable results. SoundExpert does, it's the most important difference of the project. In order to have some figures (ratings) we don't have to discuss, we have to listen and grade, listen and grade. That's it. Very simple. And BTW, I don't want to take the bread of audio forums. Discussions are their business; I could hardly compete with them. 
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Don't get me wrong, I think your idea is great, I only wanted to suggest some "supplements" that might motivate more people to participate in your tests, so that some day you will have about 60 results for each codec and each bitrate.
Don't worry, Hans! Your feedback is helpful indeed. I'm ready to accept any "supplements" if they lead to the main goal - totally blind and reliable ratings - the only value of the project.
keeping audio clear together - soundexpert.org

Wma 9 At Soundexpert.

Reply #15
Quote
Kind of OT:

Quote
I'd say everything but MPEG-1 layer 1,2, and VQF, and.. can't remember, sounds better than WMA.

I think MP2, especially with a good encoder and an appropriate bitrate, should sound better than WMA.

It appears that many people are under the impression that MP3 is better than MP2 and MP1 simply because it is newer.  I'm not so sure about that though.. especially given the fact that MPC was based on MP2 and then heavily optimized for quality, and also given the fact that Frank has said he's made an encoder in the past that uses the MPC psymodel, but outputs MP2's that sound very good.

I'm thinking that perhaps that there were never really any MP2 encoders in the past which have been very heavily tuned and optimized for quality like there have been with some MP3 encoders (some FhG and especially LAME).

Of course, at low bitrates MP3 should win, but if we're talking pure quality not limited to a low bitrate range, then it's an entirely different matter.

Thank you for this information Dibrom, it seems like i learn something new every time i visit this site .

 

Wma 9 At Soundexpert.

Reply #16
Hi ALL,

A few minutes ago WMA 9 and newly encoded OggVorbis 1.0 were added to SoundExpert rating system. You are welcome!

Serge.
keeping audio clear together - soundexpert.org

 
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