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Topic: FDK encodes seem "too lossy" (Read 4004 times) previous topic - next topic
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FDK encodes seem "too lossy"

Hi,

I encoded "Wall of Shame" from the 2002 album "Superkala" by Course of Nature (I know its not a killer track) from CD-ripped FLAC to M4A using dBpoweramp v15.3 x64 with FDK Encoder Release 3 plugin from dBpoweramp's Codec Central at (max) quality 5.

When I listen to it, I cannot discern any artifacts, but analyzing the spectogram using Spek shows that the FDK encode has lost a lot more detail when compared to encodes of the same file using QAAC (with QuickTime v7.79) at TVBR 109 (~280 Kbps), and even TVBR 100 (~247 Kbps, tried it to get close to ~230 Kbps outputted by FDK). The latter mode introduced a cutoff just above 20kHz, doesn't matter, but the quality was still much better than FDK's encode. Even MP3 VBR v0 output by LAME v3.99.5 looks better (it came out ~290 Kbps, please ignore 320 Kbps in Spek's window), I guess due to the higher bitrate! I don't know how high/low FDK allows the bitrate to fluctuate versus LAME/iTunes/FhG, but whatever the alibi, the final result doesn't look very convincing of good quality (to me)...

Here are the spectograms:
FDK, TVBR 100, TVBR 109, LAME VBR v0, and original FLAC

So what do you guys think about it?...
Rap is NOT music

Re: FDK encodes seem "too lossy"

Reply #1
When I listen to it, I cannot discern any artifacts,

The latter mode introduced a cutoff just above 20kHz, doesn't matter, but the quality was still much better than FDK's encode.

Only one of those statements is true.

So what do you guys think about it?...

You're wasting your time looking at spectrograms. 

Re: FDK encodes seem "too lossy"

Reply #2
ABX the two tracks. If you cannot tell which one is the FDK-encoded one, that encoder would seem to be transparent for that particular track at significantly lower bitrates than QAAC.

That's a good thing :-)

Of course, at the bitrates you mention, any lossy codec in common use today for music will be completely transparent. Even good old MP3.

Remember, you don't listen with your eyes.

Re: FDK encodes seem "too lossy"

Reply #3
Never judge a lossy codec by a spectrogram. They aren't designed to fool your eyes, they are designed to fool your ears. Your ears in a blind ABX is the only reliable tool for you to evaluate them.

Re: FDK encodes seem "too lossy"

Reply #4
When I listen to it, I cannot discern any artifacts,

The latter mode introduced a cutoff just above 20kHz, doesn't matter, but the quality was still much better than FDK's encode.

Only one of those statements is true.

My apologies for the ambiguity, actually I meant by my last statement that the quality "looked" better (from the specs) than FDK's encode :)
Rap is NOT music

Re: FDK encodes seem "too lossy"

Reply #5
Never judge a lossy codec by a spectrogram. They aren't designed to fool your eyes, they are designed to fool your ears. Your ears in a blind ABX is the only reliable tool for you to evaluate them.
Actually, it wasn't my intention to judge the quality by checking out the spectogram, not entirely. I just wanted to check if FDK introduced a lowpass cutoff at 17 kHz as was claimed by deluge and MikeCerm on the dBpoweramp forum. It's old, still I thought it best to confirm, but when I looked at the spectogram, the "apparent" quality loss hit me, so I decided I'd rather discuss it here.

And about ABXing, I'm not really a fan of the process, I hope it's not a crime to say that here :-X but I'm thinking of giving it another try when I get the time.
Rap is NOT music

Re: FDK encodes seem "too lossy"

Reply #6
Spend some time at audiocheck.net, starting with the dynamic range test, being sure to read the info on that page. Then you will realize that you will not want to worry about the green, blue, and purple "detail" missing from the FDK spectrogram (i.e. sounds that are below the threshold of hearing or the background noise of your listening environment). In fact, you may be relieved that the encoder devotes more space to the frequencies you can hear, though the proof is in the pudding: "I can't discern any artifacts" is what you said... If by that you meant they all sound the same as the FLAC to you, then they are all providing perfect sound quality, same as lossless. How efficiently they do that and what the spectrograms look like is entirely inconsequential.

Re: FDK encodes seem "too lossy"

Reply #7
Like I mentioned earlier, I was only confirming whether FDK cuts off all frequencies above 17 kHz because I was looking for a good alternative to iTunes, and based on all the replies, seems like it is. It's just that the amount of detail missing raised my suspicion on the audio quality.

Thanks everyone.
Rap is NOT music

Re: FDK encodes seem "too lossy"

Reply #8
It's just that the amount of detail missing raised my suspicion on the audio quality.
Based on what, exactly?
Is 24-bit/192kHz good enough for your lo-fi vinyl, or do you need 32/384?

Re: FDK encodes seem "too lossy"

Reply #9
It's just that the amount of detail missing raised my suspicion on the audio quality.
Based on what, exactly?

...the spectrograms (duh!)

I know my eyes can't hear (no sarcasm intended O:)), but I used to think it sort of revealed a "picture" of sound quality, thanks everyone for correcting my misconception.

Before all the wise people start bashing me for this, here's something about me... I don't know squat about how these codecs or other audio technologies work as some people on HA, and I'm not a nerd/geek/developer either who'd bother to dig deeper. It's just that I love music and I'm a stickler for quality, but I'm dealing with a space constraint unfortunately :( to cram my ever-growing music collection, so I'm only bothering to learn here on HA, as much is enough, to ensure my lossy encodes are of the highest possible quality.

Thanks everyone, I've learnt A LOT during my short stay here \m/
Rap is NOT music

Re: FDK encodes seem "too lossy"

Reply #10
Careful; many of us here are not just know-it-alls, we are also afflicted the ramifications of knowing too much. We were once perfectly comfortable with the decisions we made about digitizing and organizing our collections. But then we learned about different settings, different codecs, different ways to tag and arrange everything... so we redid everything... and next thing we knew, we were second-guessing those decisions and redoing things again... and again... each time thinking we have it nailed this time, audio perfection... but it never ends.

I am jealous of a buddy of mine who still rips CDs the same way he did 15 years ago, same outdated encoder and everything. They sound like crap half the time, terrible pre-echo and ringing, and a loud click at the end of every song. He says he can't hear the difference, so he doesn't care; they all sound fine to him. He rips something once and then never touches the file again except to play it. He has lots of free time to do other things. Meanwhile I'm the chump still trying to get everything perfect...

Re: FDK encodes seem "too lossy"

Reply #11
Careful; many of us here are not just know-it-alls, we are also afflicted the ramifications of knowing too much. We were once perfectly comfortable with the decisions we made about digitizing and organizing our collections. But then we learned about different settings, different codecs, different ways to tag and arrange everything... so we redid everything... and next thing we knew, we were second-guessing those decisions and redoing things again... and again... each time thinking we have it nailed this time, audio perfection... but it never ends.

I am jealous of a buddy of mine who still rips CDs the same way he did 15 years ago, same outdated encoder and everything. They sound like crap half the time, terrible pre-echo and ringing, and a loud click at the end of every song. He says he can't hear the difference, so he doesn't care; they all sound fine to him. He rips something once and then never touches the file again except to play it. He has lots of free time to do other things. Meanwhile I'm the chump still trying to get everything perfect...
You know what they say... ignorance is bliss!
Rap is NOT music

 
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