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Topic: FLAC vs. 320 VBR AAC - For OLD People (Read 2546 times) previous topic - next topic
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FLAC vs. 320 VBR AAC - For OLD People

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?

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

Reply #1
Hello,

10 Upgrade to 1TB microSD and go FLAC.
20 When microSD is full and you want to add another album, transcode to AAC 320.
30 When microSD is full and you want to add another album, transcode to lower bitrate AAC.
40 goto 30

More seriously, the answer is in the question. I doubt that you can make the difference between FLAC and AAC, even at 128kbit/s and even if your setup costs more than my car. Rip to FLAC and transcode to AAC.

    AiZ


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

Reply #3
http://archimago.blogspot.com/2013/02/high-bitrate-mp3-internet-blind-test.html

Rip to FLAC and transcode to AAC.
This is the smart move.  Once you have a lossless master, you can transcode to whatever format you need for portable use.

Thanks. I will always rip to FLAC. I just figured that there's no point in actually listening to it in flac.

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

Reply #4
Thanks. I will always rip to FLAC. I just figured that there's no point in actually listening to it in flac.

Why not? If you have it stored in FLAC and you are able to listen to it without transcoding why go through the extra step? I rip to FLAC. On my phone it's all MP3 but I listen to FLAC at home since that's the format available to me :)

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

Reply #5
You are overlooking the state of aural implants (AKA hearing aids). The modern versions cost in-line with your audio equipment and are advancing in quality and pricing in line with Moore's law. The features can be quite impressive from noise cancelling and equalization to custom fields, ensuring you probably will hear better than ever.
No reason not to consider such technology a part of a modern hi-fi investment and you'll likely appreciate the FLACs if you do.

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

Reply #6
AAC at 320 kbps is more than fine. At this bitrate you can really keep your peace of mind: I doubt you'll find any killer sample. If you need to shrink the size of a lossless collection the choice is really good.

 

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

Reply #7
It is well established that too long exposure to higher sound levels destroys hearing, especially the higher frequencies. Below blast level sounds, which can cause immediate destruction, too high a sound level gradually, and irreversibly, deteriorates hearing ability. I know there are skeptics, I’ve spoken to more than a few, – “I LIKE it this loud – but unfortunately the damage is done regardless of how the individual feels about it.

There are legal standards as to what is too high a sound level but those are (probably) compromises between not destroying hearing before the worker’s useful life span is used up and allowing industry to operate without costs getting out of hand. From my (admittedly limited) reading, more than a few auditory scientists unofficially admit that those official limits of X hours per day at Y decibels, or anything near that, will degrade hearing over time, just not as rapidly as still more would.

Lower levels and less time would (probably), in the general case, extend hearing acuity further into later life. There have, in fact, been published study(ies?) of the hearing ability of older people in isolated, primitive cultures (getting harder and harder to find these days), away from the created sounds of modern life, that reported no apparent lessening of acuity in the elderly compared to young children in the same culture. Possibly I read reference to such a study here but I don’t recall where.

It has longed seemed to me that the logical consequence of using hearing aids is the probably further induced degradation of the ability to hear. One cannot hear as well as before, mostly because of excess exposure over an extended time (yes, I know there are some other causes of hearing loss). The major function of the hearing aid is to deliver a higher sound pressure locally (inside the ear itself). Regardless of whether that seems to make the sounds “normal” or just barely useful, it is exposing the hearing mechanism to higher sound pressure levels and therefore steadily destroying hearing even further.

Does anyone have any factual, or logical, argument as to why this is not so?

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

Reply #8
I find it quite a waste to use lossy codecs on such high bitrates.
Go for lossless always but for portability and day to day, convert all to a lossy on say 160kbps. Even 128k mp3 is good enough for my ears.

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

Reply #9
Like yours, my ears are up there in age, though I'm only 50. My ears are probably well past that due to too much exposure to loud car stereos in the younger years and lots of motorcycle riding without earplugs.

I also enjoy using a dedicated DAP for listening. I'm using a Sony NW-ZX507 and HiBy R6 Pro. Wired headphones are Sony MDR-1AM2 and HiFiMan Sundara.

Our guy, guruboolez, seems to be a bit modest not including his most recent listening test of AAC at bitrates from 80 to 144. I'm no listening test expert and I know when other people have the experience, so I definitely pay attention to his tests and others here on HA.

Keep ripping straight to FLAC and use that as your gold master. Use it for listening when you're at the computer. Use FLAC on your DAP until you run out of space. When you do run out of space, you'll need to consider a 1TB microSD card or going for the FLAC to lossy conversion.

For my usage, it's all FLAC on the computer and I convert to AAC for portable devices. I was using AAC 160 before getting cramped on a 256GB card, then came guru's recent listening test and I've stepped down to AAC 144. Plenty good for my ears!

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

Reply #10
FLAC is a checksummed format, CD rips can be retro-verified against AccurateRip with CUETools etc, and there are good reasons to keep that for archive.

Because I keep it for archive, I don't bother to transcode to lossy. That would just give me another fileset that I don't need. The only reason to do so would be that this other fileset could be on a smaller drive.
Of course I have a backup - also as FLAC - and keeping my working set lossless makes it simpler to verify working set vs backup. Using say foobar2000 and external tags, you can also backup metadata only.

Where I do encode to lossy, is for the phone. But those files are disposable. And so I don't bother going 320 kbps. Heck I once tried to fill up my memory card with 32 kb/s .opus - for the hell of it, because 32 kb/s was the minimum bitrate for mp3, and come Opus, it is actually possible to get that bitrate sounding like music. (I take a chance that the mods will let the latter half sentence pass TOS8.)
High Voltage socket-nose-avatar

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

Reply #11

Where I do encode to lossy, is for the phone. But those files are disposable. And so I don't bother going 320 kbps. Heck I once tried to fill up my memory card with 32 kb/s .opus - for the hell of it, because 32 kb/s was the minimum bitrate for mp3, and come Opus, it is actually possible to get that bitrate sounding like music. (I take a chance that the mods will let the latter half sentence pass TOS8.)

For maximum storage optimization I used to convert a big chunk of my library to HE AAC V2 24kbps which also sounds like music. (TOS8 anyone?) Not really needed nowadays, but I still keep some thousand files on my phone micro SD card just to have them around... I woudn`t go for the trouble of recoding them and wasting more space for non favorite songs. And there`s spotify and similar services to recall 90% of the songs you ever heard in your life.

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

Reply #12
come Opus, it is actually possible to get that bitrate sounding like music. (I take a chance that the mods will let the latter half sentence pass TOS8.)
HE AAC V2 24kbps which also sounds like music. (TOS8 anyone?)

This has amused me a bit. Nobody ever bothered to write TOS8 to capture the intention of it. It would have been easy to do - "a statement concerning differences in subjective sound quality" would do, but no.

Saying "we have this smart algorithm that cuts a CD down to a tenth of its size with insignificant loss in subjective quality" is a fecking BIG statement "concerning subjective sound quality" - and there was a statement with big economic implications when HA was started and storage / bandwidth would be expensive. It sounds like the marketing of snakeoil, and would have gotten you banned by TOS8 if mods had applied TOS8 as it was carelessly worded.

Yes.I.Know what the null hypothesis is. I just wonder why whoever penned this did not take the opportunity to add a couple of words to highlight the point. Of course the explanation is that anyone who cares would know - which is wrong: the HA community has explained the point to many a n00b.
High Voltage socket-nose-avatar

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

Reply #13
Old person or not... I suggest 96kbps for AAC as a set-it-and-forget-it default as that's basically the sweet spot for sound quality/file size combo as beyond this there are diminishing returns on sound quality (generally minimal differences) and the file size start to shoot up for minimal gains overall. I figure 128kbps on AAC as a MAX as beyond that seems like largely a waste of storage space for lossy audio if you ask me since the whole point of using lossy audio is to get close enough to lossless audio quality but at the smallest file size and in this regard it's hard to argue against AAC @ 96kbps (maybe 128kbps MAX).

if the OP is strictly concerned with only himself... it's possible he could lower sound quality a bit further given his age but I figure for the minimal storage space gains it's probably not worth it. if your going to go less than 96kbps on AAC I suggest, if possible, use Opus @ 64kbps as you won't lose much quality and will free up about 1/3rd more storage space.

plus, with the amount of storage one can get on a MicroSD (and the like) nowadays if a person fills up one of those (like say 8-16GB or larger, which should be pretty common nowadays) chances are they got plenty of music on there that they don't really care about all that much as I figure if people tweaked things to where they only put the songs they really care about instead of full albums that right there can free up quite a bit of storage space for songs you actually care about and you won't need huge amount of storage space on say a MicroSD card etc. but on the flip side I realize this can potentially take up more of ones time tweaking this stuff though but it's probably worth it as then you raise the quality of music on your device unless of course you have a boatload of music to tweak etc.

I see the following as a general minimum guideline (and would be my default suggestion for the common person regardless of age as it's a good set-it-and-forget-it setting for the common person) that should be easily 'good enough' for most people while maintaining solid storage space efficiency and all around sound quality...

-AAC = 96kbps
-MP3 = 130kbps (LAME v5)
-Opus = 96kbps or 64kbps (64kbps is a pretty good alternative for someone who's a bit more concerned with storage space as it shaves off 1/3rd of the file size compared to 96kbps, which is worthwhile savings especially if your tight on storage space, and not all that much of a all around drop in sound quality compared to 96kbps)

NOTE: with MP3 one might be able to go a little lower depending on how picky someone is with sound quality but I figure the 130kbps setting is a safe minimum for all ages and is still storage space efficient as I never understood using unnecessarily high bit rates for lossy audio as it defeats the purpose of using lossy audio in the first place which is basically to keep file size at a minimum while retaining a close enough level of all around sound quality to the lossless file as it's not like some small artifact here and there will be a problem when listening to music on-the-go.

but in short... keep the FLAC for long term archival storage of your music but rip to 96kbps AAC for lossy music for general usage on-the-go.
For music on-the-go I suggest...
-Opus @ 96kbps (or... 64kbps minimum, 128kbps maximum). *preferred choice*
-AAC(Apple) @ 96kbps (q45 TVBR (or CVBR)) (or 128kbps (q64 TVBR) maximum). *secondary choice*
-MP3 @ v5 (130kbps) (or v2 (190kbps) as a alternative/maximum). *third choice*

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

Reply #14
but rip to 96kbps AAC for lossy music for general usage on-the-go.
I suppose you meant "convert to" rather than "rip to", but if not: there is no reason to do an extra ripping procedure for the lossies! Convert from the lossless archive files.
High Voltage socket-nose-avatar

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

Reply #15
@Porcus ; Yeah, I meant 'convert to'.

I use Foobar2000 and then convert from FLAC to the lossy file.
For music on-the-go I suggest...
-Opus @ 96kbps (or... 64kbps minimum, 128kbps maximum). *preferred choice*
-AAC(Apple) @ 96kbps (q45 TVBR (or CVBR)) (or 128kbps (q64 TVBR) maximum). *secondary choice*
-MP3 @ v5 (130kbps) (or v2 (190kbps) as a alternative/maximum). *third choice*

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

Reply #16
Despite my old memory and old ears, ostentatiously sized 80kbit mp3's should sound better than this transcode:

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

Reply #17
I actually don't think you should rip to FLAC at all.  Rip directly to AAC.  FLAC is original, lossless quality with tags, and that's great.  But you already have lossless quality on your CD's, and those CD's will last the rest of your life.  As long as you intend to keep them, there is no reason why you couldn't rip from them again if you want to change formats at some point.  But chances are you won't.  Chances are, you will always be happy listening to the AAC's and all software will support those and be able to read the tags and organize them.

If you intend to get rid of the CD's then go ahead and rip to FLAC.  If you have huge 8 TB drives and don't mind possibly buying more in the future, then go ahead and rip to FLAC.  For myself, my main hard drive is 2 TB  -- I could maybe load it up with FLAC's, but maybe just barely.  But I also have all my music stored on a Raspberry Pi server whose drive consists of an SD card at only 128 GB.  The server works great but cost me only $100, and that's why the drive is so small.  The server uses only around 3.5 watts of energy when idle, so I don't feel guilty about leaving it on 24/7.  But a low-power server using a solid-state drive necessitates that all of my music be stored in a small, lossy format.  If all my music were stored in FLAC then I'd have to convert EVERYTHING to lossy to listen to my library, or attach an external hard drive that uses quite a bit more power.  I will not spend $500+ for a solid-state drive that is 2 TB or more.

So yeah, I'm all for lossy.  I don't really see the point of FLAC's most of the time if you already have the original CD.  I had started out ripping all my CD's to FLAC but later switched to OGG and finally switched to OPUS.  I eventually converted all my FLAC's to OPUS and deleted all the FLAC's.  I no longer have to worry about hard disk space or buying another hard drive, and I can still use my CD's or get CD's from the library.  My 128 kbit/s OGG and OPUS files sound astounding in my car's Polk Audio speakers.

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

Reply #18
@midtempo

Suggesting someone to rip any large number of CDs directly to a lossy format ends up being short sighted and a potentially large waste of time.

Discovered there's a bug with your lossy format of choice? Re-rip the CDs.
Didn't ABX lossy formats and/or bitrates before your big ripping project and now you realize you made a mistake? Re-rip the CDs.
Want to change lossy formats? Re-rip the CD.

See where this goes? Lots of people here have gone through this YEARS ago. Rip to lossless, keep it as an archival format, convert to lossy for usage. New, flavor of the day lossy format? Convert from your lossless archive. Easy and so much faster than re-ripping CDs

CDs, while lossless, are subject to damage and loss. And, they take up space. Space = money. Real estate ain't cheap. My time ain't cheap, either. I have way better things to do than re-rip CDs.

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

Reply #19
But you already have lossless quality on your CD's, and those CD's will last the rest of your life.
Yeah, and they weigh more than half a ton in their boxes, and ripping took literally months.
Do it right the first time.
High Voltage socket-nose-avatar

 
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