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Topic: FLAC vs. 320 VBR AAC - For OLD People (Read 6640 times) previous topic - next topic
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Re: FLAC vs. 320 VBR AAC - For OLD People

Reply #25
I'm in my mid 60's. I know to a certainty that my ears just ain't what they used to be (an open question is if they ever were what I think they used to be).

So, I am ripping vast numbers of CD's to FLAC. I've got a pretty decent setup. An A&K SE100 player, good ripper, good quality CD's that were not abused so that they might skip, and, at the end of the chain, a FIIO Q5S portable headphone AMP, and Focal Clear headphones.

I would argue a decent setup.

The main problem, I think, is that my ears are way over 60 years old. I've tried testing AAC vs. FLAC with this setup, flipping back and forth and back and forth a number of times so that I don't know what format I'm listening too, just to see if I can notice a difference. I don't think I do. Not double blind, but worth something ,I guess.

Ok, long-winded. Should I just I let it go and go for AAC, and not be missing anything? I mean, I hate to give up audio quality, but if the ears just don't hear them, what's the point? The issue is size of files, and even with 512gb I'm a little cramped, what with all of both Rock and Classical, and soon really will be.

Have any of you reached this stage, or have thoughts on this?

I'm 54 and I can' tell the difference between a FLAC and decent bitrate AAC, not matter how may times I do blind ABX tests.

I first tried an ABX test about 4 years ago and failed.  I was 50 at the time.

With age, we all start to lose high-frequency hearing....so that probably is the explanation for why you and I can't tell the difference.

17,400 Hz is a frequency that only teenagers can hear.
15,000 Hz is difficult for anyone over the age of 40 to hear.
12,000 Hz is hard for anyone over 50 years of age to hear.
8,000 Hz should be easily heard by everyone with normal hearing.

But I've watched videos of college kids ABX-ing, and even though they did better than me, they had to concentrate REALLY hard and you could see most of them were struggling.

This article has audio samples that allow you to test your high-frequency hearing:
https://decibelhearing.com/high-frequency-hearing-loss/









Re: FLAC vs. 320 VBR AAC - For OLD People

Reply #26
15,000 Hz is difficult for anyone over the age of 40 to hear.

This article has audio samples that allow you to test your high-frequency hearing:
https://decibelhearing.com/high-frequency-hearing-loss/

Ill be 42 later this year and if I put my Klipsch Pro-Media speakers at more of a lower/comfortable volume (like in a room that's quiet short of general computer noise etc) it's debatable if I can hear it (I think I can but it's faint and turning my head a bit fairly close to the speakers (so my ears might be aiming a bit more directly at speakers etc) seems to somewhat have the sound go in and out a bit. like it seems more detectable by me but it is pretty faint).

but if I increase volume on the speakers to at least a moderate range (the volume knob is about half way, maybe a bit less) I can hear it. NOTE: if I then say play a random song in Foobar2000 the volume out of the speakers is somewhat loud as I generally don't play music that loud (at least not much anymore), for whatever that's worth.

so assuming that's a ball park estimate of ones hearing... I would assume my hearing is pretty much normal (give or take) for my age bracket.

But I've watched videos of college kids ABX-ing, and even though they did better than me, they had to concentrate REALLY hard and you could see most of them were struggling.

Yeah, that's kind of why I tend to consider music pretty much transparent once many start struggling to notice differences. because while you said they can notice the difference, it's not easy for them and once you reach that point where one struggles, or needs certain parts of random songs only to slightly notice the difference, that basically means whatever bitrate lossy audio format they are using is at least 'good enough' at that point, especially when one sits back and just enjoys the music it's unlikely they will notice it.

or one way I might look at it... if someone can't take a random song and ABX it fairly quickly that's probably a good sign the lossy encoder at that particular bit rate is working well.

p.s. like for myself, and especially given the public listening test from 2014 (i.e. https://listening-test.coresv.net/results.htm ), even the weakest of the good lossy encoders, which is basically MP3 (LAME), still does pretty good @ V5 (130kbps average) for what I would assume is just about any age. plus, I am not getting any younger either. I suspect maybe 10-20 years or so ago using a bit higher bit rate might have been a bit more beneficial for me but at this point in time, since I am not getting any younger, and obviously will continue to age, V5 is a pretty good option all-in-all (especially for those who favor storage space efficiency), especially for those who just sit back and enjoy their music. hell, even if my hearing is so-so in say 20-30 years, while I could likely lower bit rates that much lower (even if people are still using MP3 at that point which they might not be) and the music would still sound good enough to me, I would still leave it at V5 just to account for a wider range of people who may listen to it. hell, even not long ago I was doing a bit of ABXing to where I thought I was hearing a difference between V5 and say a V2 file and so I tried to compare V5 to FLAC and on the first couple attempts I was confident I was hearing a difference on my ABX choices but as I kept on going (like attempting to finish the ABX test) after a while I started to lose confidence I could hear a difference and then stopped the test (as when I do ABX tests I like to be confident as I continue that I am hearing a difference and not start doubting myself as I do the ABX). so at this point it's obvious I was struggling even though I did complete a ABX test of MP3 @ V5 on a random song back in the year 2013 and got 11/12 (0.3%). the song has pretty much a 124kbps bit rate. hell, I was trying that same song I ABXed in 2013 a moment ago and I got about 5/16 into the test and I gave up. so I am starting to think at this point, short of 'maybe' a more limited amount of things, I might not be able to reliably tell a difference, especially on random songs with MP3 @ V5, at least as far as testing on my Klipsch Pro-Media PC speakers goes which is what I used in the past (although in the past my test would have been done using the motherboards sound where as currently, while I still have that same motherboard, it's using one of those cheap USB sound cards since the onboard sound on my motherboard died a while ago. but as far as I can tell I don't notice any difference between the two) even though I realize they say headphones are generally considered to be a more proper way to ABX. but just on a personal level... I kind of figure if I struggle to notice differences on these speakers, ill probably be similar enough with my headphones as I would not expect to notice any obvious difference between the two even though I suppose it's possible I may fair a little better with headphones(?). either way, at this point in time LAME @ V5 (130kbps) is easily good enough for me all-around.
For music I suggest (using Foobar2000)...
1)Opus @ 64kbps or 96kbps. NOTE: using 64kbps on Samsung J3 /w Foobar2k.
2)AAC (Apple or FhG(Winamp)) @ 96kbps.
3)MP3 (LAME) @ V5 (130kbps). NOTE: using on AGPTEK-U3 as of Mar 18th 2021. I use 'fatsort' (on Linux) so MP3's are listed in order on AGPTEK-U3.

Re: FLAC vs. 320 VBR AAC - For OLD People

Reply #27
15,000 Hz is difficult for anyone over the age of 40 to hear.

This article has audio samples that allow you to test your high-frequency hearing:
https://decibelhearing.com/high-frequency-hearing-loss/

Ill be 42 later this year and if I put my Klipsch Pro-Media speakers at more of a lower/comfortable volume (like in a room that's quiet short of general computer noise etc) it's debatable if I can hear it (I think I can but it's faint and turning my head a bit fairly close to the speakers (so my ears might be aiming a bit more directly at speakers etc) seems to somewhat have the sound go in and out a bit. like it seems more detectable by me but it is pretty faint).

Lol. My speakers are the Klipsch ProMedia as well.  Great speakers!!

Re: FLAC vs. 320 VBR AAC - For OLD People

Reply #28
Lol. My speakers are the Klipsch ProMedia as well.  Great speakers!!

Exactly!

I think for their price range, call it about $140, I can't imagine finding speakers better overall (at least not noticeably better). or another way ill put it... even assuming there are better speakers, if the price range is double or triple, ill default to Klipsch at that point since the difference almost surely won't justify the price difference. they are the best speakers I own/use straight up. I like their clarity as while I generally watch movies on my TV, that's one obvious advantage of watching them on my PC is the sound which is clearly better on the Klipsch than a TV. but since I generally favor a larger image I tend to watch movies on my TV with the basic speakers built into the TV itself. but occasionally ill watch some stuff on the PC's 24" 1080p screen and get a added bonus of better sound with the Klipsch.

I have the four speaker setup on mine as I got mine back-in-the-day (i.e. early-to-mid 2000's) but it seems like they only sell the 2.1 speaker setup now as you can see the ones you can still buy have a basic volume knob and subwoofer control (along with a headphone jack etc which mine does not have) where as on mine it has Subwoofer/Surround/Main volume knobs. since I have not used the 4 speaker/surround setup in many years (probably since sometime before 2006) I just leave that 'Surround' knob all the way down (towards the left) as I only had 2 speakers of the four in use since then (just 2 of the 4 speakers are connected). my only complaint about my current speakers, which have quite a bit of use on them, is the wiring as you can see just moving the sub woofer a bit can tweak the wires (like a bit of pressure etc) to where sound can slightly go out a bit on the left speaker etc. but this is not that big of a deal as I am used to it (it's been like that for many years now) as I just juke/move the sub woofer (which has the main wire connected to it etc) a bit and the sound comes back in like normal (like as long as the sub does not get moved much (since it sits near my feet under the computer desk) the sound will remain normal).

also, since there is no power switch (like on/off switch) on these Klipsch Pro-Media speakers I have, I got it plugged into one of those power center things as it's got a on/off switch which is basically like unplugging the speakers and plugging them back in.

p.s. if my current Klipsch Pro-Media speakers ever die, ill almost certainly buy another set (assuming I got the $). I want to say I have had my current Klipsch speakers since about 2002-2003. because I am pretty sure I initially used them on a PC I got in 2001, so it was probably a bit after that point (i.e. 2002-2003 or so). so closing in on 20 years now.
For music I suggest (using Foobar2000)...
1)Opus @ 64kbps or 96kbps. NOTE: using 64kbps on Samsung J3 /w Foobar2k.
2)AAC (Apple or FhG(Winamp)) @ 96kbps.
3)MP3 (LAME) @ V5 (130kbps). NOTE: using on AGPTEK-U3 as of Mar 18th 2021. I use 'fatsort' (on Linux) so MP3's are listed in order on AGPTEK-U3.

Re: FLAC vs. 320 VBR AAC - For OLD People

Reply #29
Lol. My speakers are the Klipsch ProMedia as well.  Great speakers!!

Exactly!

I think for their price range, call it about $140, I can't imagine finding speakers better overall (at least not noticeably better). or another way ill put it... even assuming there are better speakers, if the price range is double or triple, ill default to Klipsch at that point since the difference almost surely won't justify the price difference. they are the best speakers I own/use straight up. I like their clarity as while I generally watch movies on my TV, that's one obvious advantage of watching them on my PC is the sound which is clearly better on the Klipsch than a TV. but since I generally favor a larger image I tend to watch movies on my TV with the basic speakers built into the TV itself. but occasionally ill watch some stuff on the PC's 24" 1080p screen and get a added bonus of better sound with the Klipsch.

Not to derail the thread too much...but here's my story:
About 22 years ago, when I was living in Brooklyn, I had no stereo system and needed a set of good computer speakers. I did a lot of research and ended up buying the Klipsch ProMedia 2.1's. I absolutely loved them and had them for many years. But they got lost (long story) and I ended up just using headphones for many years.

Last year I moved back home to Texas, and realized I could blast music again. I'm in a house and not an apartment..no longer have people right on the other side of the wall. So I decided to buy some nice Bluetooth speakers for my laptop. I did a lot of research and ended up buying the highly-regarded Edifier R1700BTs speakers for about $150. When I got them, I was very underwhelmed. The sound quality was good, but the volume was seriously lacking. I was sad.

Then, totally by accident, I was in a Walmart a month later and saw that they had the Klipsch ProMedia 2.1's (non-bluetooth) on sale for $89....so I went ahead and bought them. I took them home and did an A/B comparison with the Edifiers, and it was NO CONTEST. The Klipsch completely destroyed the Edifiers. Not only better sound quality, but a TON more bass because of the subwoofer...and at least twice the volume.

So, I sent the Edifiers back. And I bought a $20 Bluetooth adapter for the ProMedias.

I am literally STUNNED that these speakers, which have not really changed in almost 25 years of production, are THIS great.

In fact, my brother, who is an audiophile, with $13k B&W speakers and MacIntosh components, heard me playing music and said "Wtf???? Your system sounds almost as good as mine! What are you listening on? What's the amp? What speakers?". I laughed and said, "The music is streaming from my laptop to those $89 speakers."  He then said "Those little speakers are making all that music? Where's the amp?". I replied "The amp is in the speakers."

He was completely amazed. My $89 system rivalling his $40k system.

And then I told him, "I'm thinking of buying another set of those speakers and running them together. That will increase the power from 200 watts to 400 watts...and I'll have four satellites and two subwoofers. I'll blow the house up!!!"

P.S. My one gripe is that they removed the power switch from the speakers. It's annoying...but I have mine plugged into a power strip with on/off like you.

Re: FLAC vs. 320 VBR AAC - For OLD People

Reply #30
@peskypesky

Yeah, I like the Klipsch general clarity and, like you mentioned, has solid bass and good volume. just pretty good all-around sound at a sane/affordable price that many can enjoy as I can't see spending thousands of dollars on fancy sound equipment as it makes almost no sense for the vast majority of people as once you reach a certain standard, it's just putting a match to ones $.

but seriously... he dropped $13k/$40k into a sound system? (you are joking, right?) ; but if your serious that's insane as someone who does that has more $ than sense as I figure even $1-3k or so would be really pushing it for fancy audio equipment etc for the vast majority of people simply because you can likely get more than enough quality at well under $1k. because after a certain point, it's almost entirely a waste of $ for nearly everyone. I just never understood that mindset of people obsessing over sound so much to pay literally thousands of $ more for minimum gain etc as you can only improve the all-around sound so much before the gains are not going to be obvious and at that point it don't make much sense to pay more and more $.

thanks for the story though as it was a nice read ;)

p.s. it does seem like those Klipsch can be had for around $100 or less if one can find a deal here and there. I don't remember exactly what I paid when I got mine in 2002-2003 or so but I want to say somewhere around $200. so to see their price even lower today is that much better and, like you said, their all-around sound quality is solid enough to where it's not like they will be dated as time passes as they were solid 20 years ago and still are today and will be another 20 years from now etc.
For music I suggest (using Foobar2000)...
1)Opus @ 64kbps or 96kbps. NOTE: using 64kbps on Samsung J3 /w Foobar2k.
2)AAC (Apple or FhG(Winamp)) @ 96kbps.
3)MP3 (LAME) @ V5 (130kbps). NOTE: using on AGPTEK-U3 as of Mar 18th 2021. I use 'fatsort' (on Linux) so MP3's are listed in order on AGPTEK-U3.

Re: FLAC vs. 320 VBR AAC - For OLD People

Reply #31
but seriously... he dropped $13k/$40k into a sound system? (you are joking, right?)

Not joking at all. And there are people who spend a LOT more than him. There are people who spend hundreds of thousands of dollars on a turntable alone:
https://moneyinc.com/most-expensive-turntables/

Or $50k on speaker cables:
https://www.thecableco.com/cables/speaker-cables/emperor-double-crown-speaker-cable-pair.html

or $500,000+ on speakers:
https://www.whathifi.com/features/11-worlds-most-expensive-loudspeakers

So his system is modest by high-end audiophile standards. He has MacIntosh amp, MacIntosh pre-amp, MacIntosh CD player, Rega turntable, B&W Diamond series speakers, two audiophile subwoofers and a few other things.

But...he's a doctor...and he has no children....so he can afford it. And he bought a lot of the gear used, so if he should ever need money (which he won't) he could sell and get most of his money back.

I myself am very happy with my $89 Klipsch ProMedia "stereo system". But if they go on sale again, I might get a second pair to really rock the house. At a grand cost of maybe $200.

Re: FLAC vs. 320 VBR AAC - For OLD People

Reply #32
@peskypesky

While that stuff is insane, I think the wiring is hands down the worst of the three as $50k on wiring/speaker cables, that's pure insanity, regardless of how much $ ones has (it's like they serve no other purpose than just to claim you dropped $50k on wiring as it's not like they even have a plausible case for something that looks great etc like maybe one could argue on the turntable/speakers etc at least I can see that angle for the turntable/speakers stuff). I don't even care if I was Jeff Bezos (on steroids) I could NEVER justify that kind of $ on something like that when any standard wiring gives the same result as it's like taking $50k and putting a match to it. hell, it makes me wonder if those cables are worth more than their weight in gold(?).

but anyways, I get he's a doctor and all (as I would spend more on stuff than I do now if I was in his situation). still, he can almost surely spend that kind money much more wisely/efficiently on nearly anything else. lol ; but just given the fact he spent that kind of $ on audio equipment, that basically ensures he's already got pretty much everything he wants and then some. like house/cars/electronics etc etc, because it's not like dropping insane amounts of $ into audio equipment would be a higher priority over other things in general. so once they get to that point where they can drop stacks of $ into overpriced audio equipment, you know they are already beyond the point where they got everything they want and then some.

even those turntables... looks like they are over-engineered. or that your just paying more for a fancy design/name than anything else.

but thanks for the info as it's kind of funny seeing the price of stuff like that. but at the same time it's kind of hard to believe people actually buy that stuff as after a certain point one would be better off donating the $ etc (hell, one could just go down the road and toss $5k in the air in random areas and watch people flock to it than to drop $50k on speaker cables ;) ) as it's beyond overkill luxury to the point I would feel guilty after a certain point of luxury.

p.s. sorry to the OP for getting off topic and all, but I could not help it ;)
For music I suggest (using Foobar2000)...
1)Opus @ 64kbps or 96kbps. NOTE: using 64kbps on Samsung J3 /w Foobar2k.
2)AAC (Apple or FhG(Winamp)) @ 96kbps.
3)MP3 (LAME) @ V5 (130kbps). NOTE: using on AGPTEK-U3 as of Mar 18th 2021. I use 'fatsort' (on Linux) so MP3's are listed in order on AGPTEK-U3.

Re: FLAC vs. 320 VBR AAC - For OLD People

Reply #33
Wait a minute ...

17,400 Hz is a frequency that only teenagers can hear.

[...]

This article has audio samples that allow you to test your high-frequency hearing:
https://decibelhearing.com/high-frequency-hearing-loss/


Can someone else try the 17.4 and listen if that is "too easy to be true"?

No, I am not bragging about my hearing here, I am trying to debug some unknown. There's got to be something too wrong about the path from upload through YouTube's Opus to this particular soundcard (that isn't my usual one).

Also I tried to download the AAC version, and that doesn't even show up in the spectrogram.
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Re: FLAC vs. 320 VBR AAC - For OLD People

Reply #34
17.4 KHz video is far from silence to my ears.
But If I filter all parasit sound below 17 KHz (caused by lossy encoding?) and only let the 17.4 Tone I can't hear anything anymore.

Re: FLAC vs. 320 VBR AAC - For OLD People

Reply #35
Thx. After a couple of minutes I was hearing mosquitoes everywhere even in dead silence, that's what I get for listening to beeps like that.

This is 251 kb/s Opus. Yes, both format "251" and bitrate (as reported by foobar2000) 251. Format 251 usually delivers a bit more than half that (and no, this has no "HD" symbol).
It is tempting to ask what transcodes uploader could have done first, but even then: why does YouTube's opus encoder skyrocket like this?
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Re: FLAC vs. 320 VBR AAC - For OLD People

Reply #36
That 17.4 kHz sample is not good at all, like guro said, "parasite" sounds are very easy to hear.
I just created a "pure" 17.4 kHz sample and tested using Foobar2000 and WASAPI, very easy to hear.
I am 23 year old engineer/officer that works in engine room and that place is loud, very loud, so my hearing is pretty far from perfect.

Anyway, I was interested in Porcus' post so I uploaded 48 kHz (for obvious reason) 32-bit float file directly to YouTube.
Opus definitely has some problems. (Nothing to do with YouTube, even if I use opusenc.exe myself it will still have the same problems.)
AAC is, well, lol......
We can pretty much say that "How high can you hear" tests on YouTube are bullshit.

Edit: I totally forgot about clipping. Even with clipping problem fixed, it is still not good.
Lots of parasite frequencies.

Edit 2: YouTube also plays it 17% volume. This simply proves that hearing tests on YouTube are not good.
Everything above 16/44 is scam.
Always download first release, never remastered/HD release.

Re: FLAC vs. 320 VBR AAC - For OLD People

Reply #37
AAC offers perceptual noise substitution. "Noise is noise". Except, here it isn't ... noise. That one must be close to four quarter-tones off?

I know that visuals are not TOS8-compliant evidence here, but se-ri-ous-ly ...

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Re: FLAC vs. 320 VBR AAC - For OLD People

Reply #38
AAC offers perceptual noise substitution. "Noise is noise". Except, here it isn't ... noise. That one must be close to four quarter-tones off?

I know that visuals are not TOS8-compliant evidence here, but se-ri-ous-ly ...

Blame Fhg encoder.
qaac is somewhat better but volume is definitely quieter.
Everything above 16/44 is scam.
Always download first release, never remastered/HD release.

Re: FLAC vs. 320 VBR AAC - For OLD People

Reply #39
"I've got a  ... good ripper ..."

May I ask what a good ripper is?  I was so impressed with the ease, user-control oversight/options, and above all clarity with which way Foobar2000 played various mp3, mp4 files on my PC I leapt into using it (Foobar, using FLAC) to rip CDs, thinking Foobar + USB cable to our B&W Zeppelin speaker was 'the future', as opposed to my Sony CDP-XB930 CD player into the Zeppelin's 3.5mm audio input.  Suffice to say, on first test, I was soon diving head first into my recycling bin in the rain to retrieve all the CDs even if sadly the paper inserts and cases are now gone.  And that was the supposedly lossless-sounds-same-as-WAV FLAC.  Do some tests before you throw anything away, and I'd say if AAC is lossy then it'll be even worse than FLAC!  I too, though only 49, have definite upper frequency hearing loss and struggle with too much bass hurting my brain.

 

Re: FLAC vs. 320 VBR AAC - For OLD People

Reply #40
If you hear the difference between CD ripped to FLAC and CD played, then the explanations would be one of the following:

* One of those pesky pre-emphasis CDs. They have a flag that says to change the EQ curve. You have played your FLAC without correction (actually it takes some work to fix it).
* HDCD. You played back a CD through a HDCD-aware player, and the FLAC via other hardware.
* Simply getting fooled by different volume controls.
* Placebo. You just think they are different.

My money is on one of the two latter.
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