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Topic: Seeking data on PC power consumption for decoding common audio formats (Read 3126 times) previous topic - next topic
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Seeking data on PC power consumption for decoding common audio formats

I'm interested to know if there is any comparative data on how much
PC power is required to decode audio.  My PC is taking a long time to
load large speech files (usually 30MB wma) into the audio editor Goldwave. 

I want to re-encode the files into less power hungry formats.  I'm
interested in the common formats such as mp3, flac, aac, wma, etc. 

Any info would be useful.  If the data compares files of the same approx
quality then that's even better.  But any data at all will give me a start!

Thank you.

Moonshot

Seeking data on PC power consumption for decoding common audio formats

Reply #1
The most useful answer to your question is greatly dependent on your purpose in Goldwave.  Are you editing?  Analyzing?  What will be happening to the files after you get them loaded?

Seeking data on PC power consumption for decoding common audio formats

Reply #2
Generally lossless formats, such as flac, will process fastest and (obviously) have the highest quality. They will also be the largest, so take longest to read from your hard drive.

Seeking data on PC power consumption for decoding common audio formats

Reply #3
Don't know about Goldwave, but Adobe Audition decodes lossy file and stores uncompressed audio to temporary file on disk. So even for lossy formats HDD speed can be important.

Seeking data on PC power consumption for decoding common audio formats

Reply #4
I don't know the answer, but, I think most of the lossy formats require similar processing power. 

You also need to consider that the 30MB file is the compressed size, and you are working with much more actual data.    GoldWave (like most audio editors) decodes the file and creates creates an uncompressed PCM 32-bit floating-point temporary file.  So a 30MB WMA file might result in  a 300MB temporary file!!!!

Quote
...into the audio editor Goldwave.

...I want to re-encode the files into less power hungry formats. I'm  interested in the common formats such as mp3, flac, aac, wma, etc.
  For editing and production it's best to use original uncompressed files (if possible).   If your final goal is a compressed format, the general rule is:  Compress once to your final format.  If you can't do that, you should try to minimize the number of times it's re-compressed. 

For example, if you open, edit, and re-save an MP3, or WMA, the file has been through lossy compression twice.  Or, if you convert WMA to MP3, the file has been through lossy compression twice.  You can't always avoid it (and the results aren't always terrible), but it's something to keep in mind.  If you are going to open and edit a WMA file several times, save it in WAV format until you're done editing.  This will result in better quality, and you won't have to wait for decoding/encoding every time you open/save the file.

Quote
If the data compares files of the same approx  quality then that's even better.  But any data at all will give me a start!
  That's a difficult question...

In general (with lossy compression): Higher bitrates = bigger files = higher quality.  At some point, the compression becomes "transparent" and the file sounds exactly like the uncompressed original (assuming your'e starting with an uncompressed original).    That "point" depends on the program material and on the listener.  If you're not too concerned with disk space, you can simply choose the highest-quality setting.  If you want to squeeze the files more, you can try some recommended settings or you can perform your own ABX test[/u] to find the settings that are best for you.

Seeking data on PC power consumption for decoding common audio formats

Reply #5
I don't know the answer, but, I think most of the lossy formats require similar processing power. 

You also need to consider that the 30MB file is the compressed size, and you are working with much more actual data.    GoldWave (like most audio editors) decodes the file and creates an uncompressed PCM 32-bit floating-point temporary file.  So a 30MB WMA file might result in  a 300MB temporary file!!!!

{rest of reply trimmed}


Thank you to everyone who replied to my original post. Thanks to you for your extensive info. It is useful to know about the large temp file created by the editor and how it can affect performance.

I probably need to clarify my question.  I was thinking some decoding algorithms may require less processing than others. This is my line of thinking: many recent audio formats such as MP3 are designed so the hardest work is done by the encoder. This means the decoder has a much easier task.

As a result maybe some audio formats may be noticeably easier or harder than others.  For example, it seems a WMA file takes longer to be opened for editing than other file types. I inferred that the WMA decoding algorithms needs more power.

These audio files are of conversations/meetings and are being manually keyed into a word processor.  It's slow work which can take hours and this means any particular file will gets loaded into the audio editor many times.

Some of these audio files take a long time to open so I was going to re-encode them into a format which opens more quickly but doesn't lose too much quality. I would keep the original audio file for reference and work with the new file that loads faster.

Any further views about which format to use would be welcome.


Moonshot

Seeking data on PC power consumption for decoding common audio formats

Reply #6
In that case I recommend you convert the files to wav. Then there will be no decoding, just copying into a temporary file (unless Goldwave operates directly on the original file, in which case it would be virtually instantaneous).

 

Seeking data on PC power consumption for decoding common audio formats

Reply #7
I agree that conversion to WAV is the way to go (if the larger files are not a problem).  Or, if you are using GoldWave to record you can just save as WAV and there is no conversion.

If you want to archive the files after transcribing & editing, it would be good idea to use a compressed format.

Back to your orignal question...  You can do an experiment looking at CPU usage!  Make files in several different formats.  Click Ctrl-Alt-Del and open the Task Manager, and click on Performance.  Then, open the files with GoldWave and compare!

WAV files are limited to 2GB or 4GB (depending on what spec you read, or what software you're using). The recording/playing time for a 2GB file depends on the sample rate, bit depth, and number of channels.  This probably won't present a problem, but it is possible to exceed the limit if you're recording a meeting that goes-on for several hours.  However, in that case, it would probably be beneficial to break it into a few shorter files anyway.  (GoldWave can hold longer files in it's temporary format, but you can run into trouble if you try to save a huge file in WAV format.)

Quote
These audio files are of conversations/meetings and are being manually keyed into a word processor.  It's slow work which can take hours and this means any particular file will gets loaded into the audio editor many times.
If you're not actually editing the audio, it's probably a BAD IDEA to use GoldWave for playback, as it has the potential of altering or erasing the file.  (Not such a big deal if you make a backup file.) 

And, if you are using GoldWave as a recorder, that kind of thing MAKES ME NERVOUS!  Computers are notoriously unreilable, and I'd feel better if you were using a dedicated recorder and/or if you have some kind of backup system recording in parallel.  I also feel better if you have a dedicated "audio computer" that doesn't get used for anything else... Still, you should have a backup if the recording is critical and there's no chance for "take 2".

 
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