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Very confused... best codec to replace my v0 MP3 collection?

Hi there, I just re-installed EAC 1.5 and when it came to configure the "External Compression" tab I just stopped. I know MP3 is now kinda obsolete and I tried to find out what's the best option to totally re-encode my CD collection that I currently have in Mp3 v0 format. I am leaning towards AAC but I'm not sure, and also I am very confused about the many variations of AAC itself. I didn't even manage to find where to download Nero AAC...

Any help about all of this? Thanks a lot!

Re: Very confused... best codec to replace my v0 MP3 collection?

Reply #1
I encoded all my music back in the 90s with MP3, and doubtless the early encoders were pretty bad; I can tell that some of them were set to chop off the high frequencies severely.  When I had an opportunity to re-rip the CDs, I did a listening ABX test and decided that AAC @ 256K was better than my ears.  I typically just use iTunes because I have a dedicated computer that feeds my stereo, so if you're looking for command line tools I don't know what to suggest.

Re: Very confused... best codec to replace my v0 MP3 collection?

Reply #2
MP3 is not obsolete.  Newer codecs might sound as transparent at lower bitrates, but is taking up less storage space your goal?

If I were going to the trouble of re-ripping my CD collection, I would rip to lossless FLAC.  Lossless can be converted to any lossy format you might later need or want to experiment with.  I would also invest in an external drive in order to have a backup.

Re: Very confused... best codec to replace my v0 MP3 collection?

Reply #3
MP3 is not obsolete.  Newer codecs might sound as transparent at lower bitrates, but is taking up less storage space your goal?

If I were going to the trouble of re-ripping my CD collection, I would rip to lossless FLAC.  Lossless can be converted to any lossy format you might later need or want to experiment with.  I would also invest in an external drive in order to have a backup.

No, my goal would not be taking less storage space... on the contrary, I would like to take the same storage space (or even a bit more) and having a better quality. I have FLACs of many of my albums by I also need a more convenient format for my car, phone etc.

Re: Very confused... best codec to replace my v0 MP3 collection?

Reply #4
I have FLACs of many of my albums by I also need a more convenient format for my car, phone etc.

Than you don't have much of a choice, as you are limited by what your phone or car can play. Check the manual for car - if it's something newer, it could support aac and mp3, for example... and at such high bitrates, both aac and mp3 are inistinguishable to original, especially at noisy environments.
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Re: Very confused... best codec to replace my v0 MP3 collection?

Reply #5
An obvious one is rip to any lossless format (read FLAC) as to avoid re-ripping again.
Now having your entire CD collection in a lossless format it probably won’t fit on your phone (or any other portable) until that affordable 2 TB SD card comes along..
Have a look at transcoding= converting on the fly to a lossy format.
Most media players do support it.
An example: https://www.thewelltemperedcomputer.com/SW/Players/MusicBee/MusicBee_Sync.htm
TheWellTemperedComputer.com

Re: Very confused... best codec to replace my v0 MP3 collection?

Reply #6
Check the manual for car - if it's something newer, it could support aac and mp3, for example... and at such high bitrates, both aac and mp3 are inistinguishable to original, especially at noisy environments.
Also bear in mind that many car players that support MP3 don't support gapless playback, even if you have the appropriate LAME tags (although of course that might not be an issue for you).

Re: Very confused... best codec to replace my v0 MP3 collection?

Reply #7
AAC isn't just more space efficient, it ends up being more accurate and amplitude consistent on representing the frequency spectrum. Many modern lossy formats can't represent frequencies below 30Hz well regardless of quality settings. But AAC generally does, so with a good encoder you're guaranteed to have the full content, and clear results at 320 kbps.

The FhG encoder, available in previous versions of WinAmp, does a very good job at encoding AAC. More transparent than Nero, and often better than the Apple encoder 288 kbps and up IMO. FhG also optionally goes up to 448kbps CBR (highest quality).

Re: Very confused... best codec to replace my v0 MP3 collection?

Reply #8
Just throwing this out there, but if your existing mp3 album rips were ripped using the -v0 switch, then you're almost certainly at or beyond the threshold of transparency, and re-ripping as AAC or some other lossy format isn't going to aurally gain you anything.  For archival purposes, as others have mentioned and as you have said you have done some up, re-ripping to FLAC or a similar lossless codec is great future-proofing and will allow you to experiment or re-encode to different lossy formats in the future.

These days, I rip to FLAC, and then transcode to V0 mp3 for my portable collection which I sync up with iTunes Match for 256 kbps AAC/M4A parity with what Apple has in their database, and which uploads as a V0 VBR mp3 if it's something they don't have.  TO my ears, I'm set and won't need to re-encode for portable listening for the foreseeable future.

Re: Very confused... best codec to replace my v0 MP3 collection?

Reply #9
Many modern lossy formats can't represent frequencies below 30Hz well regardless of quality settings.
No. It's a misconeption.
It was discussed many times before.
Testing codecs on synthetic pure tones is not representative at all. It doesn't reflect performance on real music/speech material.
There are codecs those perfom very well on real music but can fail miserably on synthetic pure tones.

Now do You listen/enjoy pure tones as music? Me neither.

AAC isn't just more space efficient, it ends up being more accurate and amplitude consistent on representing the frequency spectrum.
Again, no.


Re: Very confused... best codec to replace my v0 MP3 collection?

Reply #10
Many modern lossy formats can't represent frequencies below 30Hz well regardless of quality settings.
No. It's a misconeption.
It was discussed many times before.
Testing codecs on synthetic pure tones is not representative at all. It doesn't reflect performance on real music/speech material.
There are codecs those perfom very well on real music but can fail miserably on synthetic pure tones.

Sine waves aren't simply synthetic tones; they're fundamental. Popular codecs aren't perfect in managing pure tones, yes, but psychoacoustic compression works best, at least in theory, with sine waves as it performs band-passes. Higher bit rates should better represent synthetic tones anyway, but it's cases like these where codecs like Opus and Vorbis produce considerable distortion whereas AAC does not. Opus also considerably affects the frequency response.

AAC isn't just more space efficient, it ends up being more accurate and amplitude consistent on representing the frequency spectrum.
Again, no.

Nero and QuickTime AAC topped the list of 100-pass recompression transcoding.

http://bernholdtech.blogspot.com/2013/03/Nine-different-audio-encoders-100-pass-recompression-test.html

Lossy encoding is never one-size-fits-all, but the test shows you're going to have dead-on coverage for what good AAC encoders do cover. (Not that you would want to transcode several times.)

Any form of loss may be acceptable to a given listener, but accuracy is accuracy. I don't remember where I found this tonal test (attached), but testing every codec under the sun with that test I know for myself that AAC does an outstanding job with tonal patterns, pure or not.  I will admit that LAME 3.99 does a better job with the 20 Hz test. In practice, however, for general sound at 288 kbps and up, FhG does a better job with better stereo fidelity IMO. Some codecs are better at being "less annoying" in terms of artifacting at low-to-moderate bit rates.

Re: Very confused... best codec to replace my v0 MP3 collection?

Reply #11
@ajp9

It's an old dissuccion and closed one.
Every developer of lossy encoders (audio or video) understand that testing on synthetic samples is a bad idea. (Please refer yourself to "masking" to better understand why pure / isolated tones aren't representative of human perception of sounds like music, speech etc.

Your theory contradicts to the  public test https://listening-test.coresv.net/results.htm .
Muiltple listeners have performed multiple test on a large set of music/speech/mixed samples. It's safe to say that Opus is better than AAC, at least at 96 kbps and MP3 at 128 kbps. 

Are You trying to say that somehow one single pure tone (or bunch of them) can be more representative than the whole public test we have performed, really?  8)

Also there are synthetic sounds like square wave which breaks MP3, Vorbis and AAC in a special way and actually benefits Opus because the last one is low-delay (low overlapp MDCT window) format and able to represent a transient signal better.

P.S. None of videocodec devs uses synthetic samples either to claim superiority of one format over another.  Human perception is way more coplex than simple color squares or white noise.

Re: Very confused... best codec to replace my v0 MP3 collection?

Reply #12
Many modern lossy formats can't represent frequencies below 30Hz well regardless of quality settings.
No. It's a misconeption.
It was discussed many times before.
Testing codecs on synthetic pure tones is not representative at all. It doesn't reflect performance on real music/speech material.
There are codecs those perfom very well on real music but can fail miserably on synthetic pure tones.

Sine waves aren't simply synthetic tones; they're fundamental. Popular codecs aren't perfect in managing pure tones, yes, but psychoacoustic compression works best, at least in theory, with sine waves as it performs band-passes.

Sin waves are used as the basis functions of Fourier transforms, but that doesn't make them fundamental.  Other transforms use other functions.  Pure tones often do not work well for psychoacoustic compression.  They're actually a very bad choice of test signals, which gives misleading results, as I suspect you have found here. 

AAC isn't just more space efficient, it ends up being more accurate and amplitude consistent on representing the frequency spectrum.
Again, no.

Nero and QuickTime AAC topped the list of 100-pass recompression transcoding.

That is a really awful test.  Even worse than sin waves. 

Any form of loss may be acceptable to a given listener, but accuracy is accuracy.

Accuracy is how much information is present, which is also called bitrate. Lossless codecs aim to be accurate.  Lossy codecs do not attempt to be accurate, that is why they are called lossy.  Instead, they attempt to sound good while being extremely inaccurate (bit rate many times less than lossless).  Worrying about accuracy misunderstands very fundamentally what the codec is trying to do. 

I don't remember where I found this tonal test (attached), but testing every codec under the sun with that test I know for myself that AAC does an outstanding job with tonal patterns, pure or not.

You've wasted your time doing a pointless test. 

Re: Very confused... best codec to replace my v0 MP3 collection?

Reply #13
Thank You! Saratoga for explaining.

In fact both Musepack and Opus outperforms AAC at high bitrates 170-200 kbps (as for for my ears) as the last one has more temporal errors as pre-echo. Those temporal errors can not be detected on pure tone samples for an obvious reason (tones haven't transients).

Re: Very confused... best codec to replace my v0 MP3 collection?

Reply #14
It seems we're both talking different kinds of ideals here.

There's what a psychoacoustic encoder should be able to handle well, but may not because of the limited test cases and the methods used for covering transients. (And yes, solid tones have no transients, which is why Vorbis encoders floor the bit rate for the 20Hz test, even at -q 10.)

And then there's which codec performs best at 128 kbps or less, where sounding better with fewer audible artifacts is the goal, though the results may be messy in some way. But frankly, a lower bit rate isn't a great option; regardless of format, a low bit rate will deliver lower fidelity one way or another. Opus is best for the 16-144 kbps range (IMO), and generally outperforms AAC there. But it's still not high fidelity. And should it affect the frequency response such that it promotes clipping in certain cases (it has), I wouldn't recommend it for higher rates anyway.

For high bit rates, fidelity and accuracy become one in the same. Because what's the point of having a much larger file if it's just going to perform transient patches on a limited bandwidth or messy results that may sound good to one person but not another?

But I digress. We can agree to disagree on what's best in general.

What the OP is going for is "the same storage space (or even a bit more) and having a better quality" with V0 MP3 as the baseline. So we're probably talking more moderate-to-high bit rates with high fidelity. When it comes to quality on a budget, I usually go with Vorbis -q 8.2 (averages ~268 kbps, and handles square waves pretty well  ;) ), and will run with Foobar 2000 Mobile; and I'm sure Musepack will sound good too. The problem is, these newer codecs mentioned in the thread in audio files aren't available on car players; traditionally car players only support WMA, MP3, WAV/AIFF/CDA; and more recently, AAC-LC and FLAC. A few even support DSD... (Seriously.) Some don't even support lossless.

One way around compatibility issues is to use the smartphone for everything; but if you're using Bluetooth, the phone will transcode lossily to SBC or AAC, etc. anyway; in that case, V0 MP3 is already great.

Re: Very confused... best codec to replace my v0 MP3 collection?

Reply #15
Opus is best for the 16-144 kbps range (IMO), and generally outperforms AAC there. But it's still not high fidelity. And should it affect the frequency response such that it promotes clipping in certain cases (it has), I wouldn't recommend it for higher rates anyway.

From the misconceptions you described above, and the faulty testing you have used, I think this opinion is certainly in error. 

For high bit rates, fidelity and accuracy become one in the same.

Once again, with respect to lossy codecs, this is totally wrong. 

Re: Very confused... best codec to replace my v0 MP3 collection?

Reply #16
traditionally car players only support WMA, MP3, WAV/AIFF/CDA; and more recently, AAC-LC and FLAC. A few even support DSD... (Seriously.) Some don't even support lossless.
Possibly interesting trivia: I own a Kia Cee'd station wagon, 2009 model, and its builtin audio player can play MP3 and Ogg Vorbis encoded files (but it's still an exception).

Re: Very confused... best codec to replace my v0 MP3 collection?

Reply #17
Hi there, I just re-installed EAC 1.5 and when it came to configure the "External Compression" tab I just stopped. I know MP3 is now kinda obsolete and I tried to find out what's the best option to totally re-encode my CD collection that I currently have in Mp3 v0 format. I am leaning towards AAC but I'm not sure, and also I am very confused about the many variations of AAC itself. I didn't even manage to find where to download Nero AAC...

Any help about all of this? Thanks a lot!

AAC-LC is the best bet for quality and compatibly with hardware players.  I wouldn't call MP3 obsolete, it's just less efficient than newer codecs. 


Re: Very confused... best codec to replace my v0 MP3 collection?

Reply #18
If I were going to the trouble of re-ripping my CD collection, I would rip to lossless FLAC.  Lossless can be converted to any lossy format you might later need or want to experiment with.  I would also invest in an external drive in order to have a backup.
^ this basically
No, my goal would not be taking less storage space... on the contrary, I would like to take the same storage space (or even a bit more) and having a better quality. I have FLACs of many of my albums by I also need a more convenient format for my car, phone etc.
If you already have them as FLACs, there's no need to re-rip CDs. Just convert the FLACs when needed.
Unnecessary re-ripping will at best give you the same results, waste precious time and electricity, and add wear&tear to the CDs.
some ANC'd headphones + AutoEq-based impulse + Meier Crossfeed (30%)

 
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