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320Kb/s MP3 vs. WAV

320Kb/s MP3 vs. WAV

See the Dec 11th post on http://www.cdnav.com

I know, I know; all of you hardcore cats are scratching your heads and asking “why the hell would he even bother”, but please, bear with me guys, its something that I for one have always wished someone would hang on the web.  If I was so damned curious, I suspect others may be as well…

The files are sourced from a high-resolution CD whose musical content is loaded with cymbals (which I gather are excellent in singling out smearing / ‘pumping’ in codecs), and created using the very latest software that I could get my hands on; LAME ver. 3.97 and EAC ver. 0.99 pb3, on a very nice audio-specific / tweaked, PC workstation.  I also employed Audacity ver. 1.26 in some of the work.

Does anyone out there find these files reasonably easy to discern?

Andrew D.
www.cdnav.com

320Kb/s MP3 vs. WAV

Reply #1
I THINK, I can speak for everyone when I say "NO".

You should do some extensive ABX testing, to find out if you are able to discern the encoded files from the source (as mentioned in the TOS).

If you are SO worried about quality and appearently don't mind the size, why not go for lossless? That will keep your mind clear.
Can't wait for a HD-AAC encoder :P

320Kb/s MP3 vs. WAV

Reply #2
Without listening very carefully to those files (and I don't intend to do so since I don't want to ruin my lossy comfort) I cannot distinguish between them.

For the record:
1. "High Resolution CDs" don't exist. CD audio is a fixed format, 44.100 Hz, 16 Bit.
2. "Audio-specific" workstations are not necessary at all. As long as the CD is read correctly, every properly working PC should write exactly the same audio data into the files.
Nothing is impossible if you don't need to do it yourself.

320Kb/s MP3 vs. WAV

Reply #3
In my experience I have had difficulty discerning a difference in many things if I listen to one then the other etc... However, after long periods of listening I find myself fatigued by 320kbps files. I ripped 1000 CDs to this format once, then re-ripped them all to AIFF and will never go back.

- Chris
Computer Audiophile | Turn Down The Silence

http://www.computeraudiophile.com

320Kb/s MP3 vs. WAV

Reply #4
In my experience I have had difficulty discerning a difference in many things if I listen to one then the other etc... However, after long periods of listening I find myself fatigued by 320kbps files. I ripped 1000 CDs to this format once, then re-ripped them all to AIFF and will never go back.



here, I made this web page today just for people like you. 


http://www.m-ideas.com/sullivan/audio/woo.htm

320Kb/s MP3 vs. WAV

Reply #5
In my experience I have had difficulty discerning a difference in many things if I listen to one then the other etc... However, after long periods of listening I find myself fatigued by 320kbps files. I ripped 1000 CDs to this format once, then re-ripped them all to AIFF and will never go back.

- Chris
Computer Audiophile | Turn Down The Silence

http://www.computeraudiophile.com


Thats a nice joke there buddy :-)

320Kb/s MP3 vs. WAV

Reply #6
Simple answer:

Lossy compression is never perfect. It just gets more and more "almost perfect". Most people dont notice the difference between "almost perfect" and "perfect" almost all the time. MP3 320kbit CBR is "almost perfect". If "almost perfect" isn't enough for you, then the only alternative is "lossless". No, there is no way to get both "absolute perfection" and "MP3-Filesize" at the same time.
I am arrogant and I can afford it because I deliver.

320Kb/s MP3 vs. WAV

Reply #7
I THINK, I can speak for everyone when I say "NO".

You should do some extensive ABX testing, to find out if you are able to discern the encoded files from the source (as mentioned in the TOS).

If you are SO worried about quality and appearently don't mind the size, why not go for lossless? That will keep your mind clear.


Pre-echo effects are obvious.
Code: [Select]
WinABX v0.42 test report
12/11/2007 16:33:40

A file: C:\Documents and Settings\benski\Desktop\cymbals\30-Second WAV 1440K Clip.wav
B file: C:\Documents and Settings\benski\Desktop\cymbals\30-Second MP3 320K Clip.wav

Start position 00:04.6, end position 00:29.9
16:37:18    1/1  p=50.0%
16:39:49    2/2  p=25.0%
Start position 00:11.3, end position 00:29.9
16:41:28    3/3  p=12.5%
16:42:09    3/4  p=31.2%
16:42:53    4/5  p=18.8%
16:43:01    5/6  p=10.9%
16:43:14    6/7  p=6.2%
16:44:03    7/8  p=3.5%
16:44:20    8/9  p=2.0%
16:44:42   9/10  p=1.1%
16:45:36  10/11  p=0.6%
16:55:50  11/12  p=0.3%
16:55:59  12/13  p=0.2%
16:56:16  13/14  p< 0.1%

(edit: did 3 more trials to get the p value lower)

Quote
Does anyone out there find these files reasonably easy to discern?

Yes.  Although certainly not for casual listening.

320Kb/s MP3 vs. WAV

Reply #8
it will take some golder ears to ABX this... I mean, really golden...

320Kb/s MP3 vs. WAV

Reply #9
benski

Educate me man - is it a pre-echo on cymbals, drum beats, or simply everything?  I would like to know what to listen for.  Also, what hardware are you using - headphones, speakers, PC or laptop, Mac etc?  I am using an Asus Xonar sound card on a PC running Windows Vista via Audio-Technica ATH-M40fs headphones.

Always willing to learn.

Andrew D.


320Kb/s MP3 vs. WAV

Reply #11
Educate me man - is it a pre-echo on cymbals, drum beats, or simply everything?  I would like to know what to listen for.  Also, what hardware are you using - headphones, speakers, PC or laptop, Mac etc?


An easy artifact to focus on:  about 12 seconds in, there is a snare hit.  There is an attack at the beginning that disappears in the MP3 version.  It's subtle, but if you relax and listen you'll notice it.

I was listening on a PC.  Orban Optimod-PC 1100 soundcard (all processing turned off), balanced XLR output to an analog mackie mixer, Beyerdynamic DT 880 headphones.


320Kb/s MP3 vs. WAV

Reply #13
it will take some golder ears to ABX this... I mean, really golden...
Golden usually means trained. You can easily "upgrade" your ears by training. Of course the physical limits of your hearing will remain (you likely won't hear 30 kHz e.g. no matter how hard you try).
Transparency (of a device or process) is not an absolute qualification. It can apply to a single person or to a group. It can vary over time (training, hearing loss e.g.), vary per person (different sensitivities), vary per source (problem samples) etc.
Has it ever been tried to specify the degree of transparency, e.g. in % of population or dB below threshold ? (like dB(A), V(RMS), THD+N(20Hz-20kHz))
Which attributes would be required to make the term transparency unambiguous ?

Kees de Visser

320Kb/s MP3 vs. WAV

Reply #14

I THINK, I can speak for everyone when I say "NO".

You should do some extensive ABX testing, to find out if you are able to discern the encoded files from the source (as mentioned in the TOS).

If you are SO worried about quality and appearently don't mind the size, why not go for lossless? That will keep your mind clear.


Pre-echo effects are obvious.



Always? With all tracks?

And even if the answer is 'Yes' for you, is it yes for everyone?

Extant evidence is that the vast majority of people who have tried to ABX high bitrate LAME mp3 vs wave, using various musical examples not already known to be 'killer', can't.  That includes people who have reported their trials here...who could all be classified as 'casual' listeners.

So no, I would not claim that 'pre echo effects are 'obvious', even if they were  to *me*.

320Kb/s MP3 vs. WAV

Reply #15


I THINK, I can speak for everyone when I say "NO".

You should do some extensive ABX testing, to find out if you are able to discern the encoded files from the source (as mentioned in the TOS).

If you are SO worried about quality and appearently don't mind the size, why not go for lossless? That will keep your mind clear.


Pre-echo effects are obvious.


Always? With all tracks?

And even if the answer is 'Yes' for you, is it yes for everyone?

Extant evidence is that the vast majority of people who have tried to ABX high bitrate LAME mp3 vs wave, using various musical examples not already known to be 'killer', can't.  That includes people who have reported their trials here...who could all be classified as 'casual' listeners.

So no, I would not claim that 'pre echo effects are 'obvious', even if they were  to *me*.


the human hearing is very sensitive to pre-echo, in any case - when known or sought. Not all objects in audio pre-echo as audibly as other, or in certain contexts. It's all circumstancial.
Listening to music in almost any realistic environments, you shouldn't be able to hear these flaws unless they would be extremely obvious, ie. never.

320Kb/s MP3 vs. WAV

Reply #16
No, there is no way to get both "absolute perfection" and "MP3-Filesize" at the same time.
Well, there is hybrid compression with WavPack. Granted, the file size of the lossy file and the correction file together become large, but there is still the high bitrate lossy part suitable for portable playback.

And, no, I do not train myself particularly hard to discern artifacts in lossly files so I can not hear any particularly well. Artifacts usually get lost in the noise the crowd makes anyways.
OP can't edit initial post when a solution is determined  :'-(

320Kb/s MP3 vs. WAV

Reply #17

I THINK, I can speak for everyone when I say "NO".

Pre-echo effects are obvious.

Quote
Does anyone out there find these files reasonably easy to discern?

Yes.  Although certainly not for casual listening.

Sure there are problematic samples, people with golden ears and sometimes a few kinks with an encoder, but still I think it's irrelevant if other people are able to discern artefacts. If he thinks this may be a problem, he should perform some ABX tests to train his ears and see if he is able to discern these files, but still why not eliminate any possible problems entirely and use lossless?
Can't wait for a HD-AAC encoder :P

320Kb/s MP3 vs. WAV

Reply #18
Without listening very carefully to those files (and I don't intend to do so since I don't want to ruin my lossy comfort) I cannot distinguish between them.

For the record:
1. "High Resolution CDs" don't exist. CD audio is a fixed format, 44.100 Hz, 16 Bit.
2. "Audio-specific" workstations are not necessary at all. As long as the CD is read correctly, every properly working PC should write exactly the same audio data into the files.



Until we evolve 'hi def ears' it's more than good enough.

320Kb/s MP3 vs. WAV

Reply #19
If there is one thing this forum has taught me, it's the your ears will fake you out every time.  Since joining here, I have done DOZENS of ABX tests and have to find that I can't discern a different between a LAME ripped vbr 0 MP3 and a FLAC.  The one track that supposedly gets audiophiles to "win" an ABX test almost all the time seems to be "Call Me Al" by Paul Simon (I have seen it mentioned on a few forums, even here), and I couldn't distinguish a different after 3 ABX tests.

Other peoples ears may be more sensitive than mine.  But, why ruin music for yourself by purposely listening so hard, you hear the flaws?  We live in an age where it's possible to have your entire music library in your pocket and take with you everywhere you go.  I can't tell you how many times I was driving in my car back in the 80s and 90s and really wished I had that cassette or CD with me in the car.  Digital music has taken that problem away and given me music that sounds better that FM radio quality.

If you wan to ABX it yourself just for fun, feel free to do so and post your results.  But to sit there and continuously sit there and listen to music looking for faults in the compression algorithm takes away from the enjoyment of the music.  If it bothers you that much, switch to FLAC and move on with your life.

320Kb/s MP3 vs. WAV

Reply #20
This is an old thread . @ apastuszak  I agree on most points. Where I see trouble with digital a/v is a too low quality / bitrate encoding or heavy transcoding. This is becoming less of an issue than it used to be. A digital artifact is more vicious to my ears and eyes VS analogue like white noise unless severe - Or should I say more 'attention grabbing potential'. You can still hear / see it today with online services - youtube and others with ringing audio and banding on 'HD' video. Even if its slight it can be unnatural and attention grabbing which is bad. Its worse than the 80's-90's VHS  / or audio cassette yet there are obvious improvements in other areas. So the artifacts if any @320k should be subtle . For certain genres and listeners there may be audible problems outside abx or something small that may draw their attentions to it. The other problem i mentioned in another thread in a non smooth HF response in equipment can draw attention to all kind of 'flaws' and unpleasantness in original recordings that is not a lossy issue but can worsen it.
wavpack 4.8 -b3x6c

320Kb/s MP3 vs. WAV

Reply #21
If there is one thing this forum has taught me, it's the your ears will fake you out every time.  Since joining here, I have done DOZENS of ABX tests and have to find that I can't discern a different between a LAME ripped vbr 0 MP3 and a FLAC.  The one track that supposedly gets audiophiles to "win" an ABX test almost all the time seems to be "Call Me Al" by Paul Simon (I have seen it mentioned on a few forums, even here), and I couldn't distinguish a different after 3 ABX tests.

Other peoples ears may be more sensitive than mine.  But, why ruin music for yourself by purposely listening so hard, you hear the flaws?  We live in an age where it's possible to have your entire music library in your pocket and take with you everywhere you go.  I can't tell you how many times I was driving in my car back in the 80s and 90s and really wished I had that cassette or CD with me in the car.  Digital music has taken that problem away and given me music that sounds better that FM radio quality.

If you wan to ABX it yourself just for fun, feel free to do so and post your results.  But to sit there and continuously sit there and listen to music looking for faults in the compression algorithm takes away from the enjoyment of the music.  If it bothers you that much, switch to FLAC and move on with your life.
I've been on allot of music forums or forums with a music section and it always annoys me that people how go about saying how they can barely stand mp3 or have to have it at 256kbps+ are just pretending to know what there talking about or to have something brag about. But the worst one was a guy at a industrial forum i was at said that mp3 only sounds great if the CD had crap mastering and no idea how mp3 worked i stopped going after that. 


 

320Kb/s MP3 vs. WAV

Reply #22
This is an old thread . @ apastuszak  I agree on most points. Where I see trouble with digital a/v is a too low quality / bitrate encoding or heavy transcoding. This is becoming less of an issue than it used to be. A digital artifact is more vicious to my ears and eyes VS analogue like white noise unless severe - Or should I say more 'attention grabbing potential'. You can still hear / see it today with online services - youtube and others with ringing audio and banding on 'HD' video. Even if its slight it can be unnatural and attention grabbing which is bad. Its worse than the 80's-90's VHS  / or audio cassette yet there are obvious improvements in other areas. So the artifacts if any @320k should be subtle . For certain genres and listeners there may be audible problems outside abx or something small that may draw their attentions to it. The other problem i mentioned in another thread in a non smooth HF response in equipment can draw attention to all kind of 'flaws' and unpleasantness in original recordings that is not a lossy issue but can worsen it.


Wow, this IS a seriously old thread.  Why did it come up as a new post for me?  Didn't mean to rant about ancient news....

Anyway...

Can you explain about audible problems outside of ABX?  Shouldn't ABX expose audible problems?  Not trolling, but curious.

320Kb/s MP3 vs. WAV

Reply #23
Wow, this IS a seriously old thread.  Why did it come up as a new post for me?...
Because StephenPG replied to the 3rd post of an 8 year old thread that already had 18 posts in it.

320Kb/s MP3 vs. WAV

Reply #24
why ruin music for yourself by purposely listening so hard, you hear the flaws?

Well said and I agree entirely. The syndrome you refer to comes from treating music as a test signal.

IMO, as far as listening to music goes, there hasn't been a better time than now for both quality and a huge menu of choices.

It is a different matter if one is a maker of audio kit.

 
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