Skip to main content
Topic: Getting Real - AAC 320 vs. FLAC (Read 1201 times) previous topic - next topic
0 Members and 1 Guest are viewing this topic.

Getting Real - AAC 320 vs. FLAC

I have many FLAC recordings ripped from CD and also some higher bit stuff. And use Foobar 2000, updated.

Is there the slightest chance that unless I am sitting in a noiseless, soundproof room with a $5,000 headphone, a $4,000 player, and am doing nothing but A/B testings of each format with each song, that I will ever hear the slightest difference between AAC 320 converted using Foobar and FLAC?

Re: Getting Real - AAC 320 vs. FLAC

Reply #1
No.

Re: Getting Real - AAC 320 vs. FLAC

Reply #2
I partly disagree - with the price of the audio equipment. I A/B tested some Ariana Grande tracks a few years ago with 256kbps AAC and FLAC with some $40~ headphones on my mid-range Android phone. When repeating the test multiple times (the same few seconds repeating over and over again) I was able to tell a very slight difference in the high frequencies, but it was extremely difficult and a rather pointless test. As much as I hate to admit it, unless you're very familiar with a particular piece of lossless audio (and a complicated or busy piece at that), I very much doubt you'd be able to tell the difference in less than perfect conditions.

With that being said, one time I was in the car and Tidal was playing a 48kbps track and I found it to be rather more pleasing than the FLAC equivalent copy I own - I'm not entirely sure why but I put it down to my car's audio system using some tricks  :-[

Re: Getting Real - AAC 320 vs. FLAC

Reply #3
When doing any comparison, especially codecs, you must be certain to get the levels matched - use software designed to do ABX testing and pay attention to preparation of the actual samples being tested to be sure there aren't any glitches or differences due solely to editing.

What that said, I have done (far too much) headphone-based ABX testing of some high quality music samples and once I get above 128k AAC it becomes very hard to prove I hear a difference.  I have never successfully ABXed a 256k track against the original on any music that I would normally listen to critically.

My hearing does tend to roll off above 14k, so perhaps there are some higher frequency issues that can be heard in the so-called killer samples.  The best answer is: do the tests yourself and know for sure.

Re: Getting Real - AAC 320 vs. FLAC

Reply #4
I remember participating in a 128 kbps mp3 listening test on here years ago and finding it surprisingly hard to tell a difference, outside of the low anchor.

And in theory, 320 kbps AAC should be at least as good as 128 kbps AAC, which should be at least as good as 128 kbps mp3, at least with a good encoder (read as one that's reasonably modern and isn't FAAC)

EDIT: And samples in a listening test tend to be ones that the encoder trips up on.

Re: Getting Real - AAC 320 vs. FLAC

Reply #5
Some tracks at 320 kbps can be ABX'd if you have great ears and training, but that's only because there's no ideal AAC encoder. Some encoders sacrifice higher frequencies too often, and some sacrifice side/stereo fidelity too often. (And you don't need to hear above 16KHz to hear a lack of stereo atmosphere.)

Re: Getting Real - AAC 320 vs. FLAC

Reply #6
To me it seems there is zero practical difference in the quality between say 192 and 320. it would be difficult for me to even determine which is better. To me, all these types of questions seem a little misguided, given that the difference between lossless and high bitrate lossy just seems more philosophical than anything. To me, a format is determined by the situation, compression was intended to make files smaller, so a high bitrate lossy files, become irrelevant. I just don't see the need for 320s at all. There's so little qualitative difference between even a 160 and a 320 that I don't see myself ever needing more than say 192; honestly, I don't even turn up my nose at 128s anymore. It seems that any modern lossy format is good enough for me. Despite all this, all my new music is FLAC and I never use compression any more. Is it dying?
Quis custodiet ipsos custodes?  ;~)

Re: Getting Real - AAC 320 vs. FLAC

Reply #7
I have noticed that some MP3 encoders (at least those available 5-10 years ago) sacrifice high end compared to the AAC encoders; when I re-ripped some CDs in AAC they definitely had more content above 5 KHz (visible in spectrograms too).  Not sure what they are compromising, because it wasn't audible even in headphones.  I didn't encode the MP3s, so I have no idea what encoder they were using.

Re: Getting Real - AAC 320 vs. FLAC

Reply #8
They're not usually sacrificing audible information. At least, not the latest encoders. Spectrograms aren't really a fair way to judge an audio codec, unless you can actually hear a difference and are looking for a visual representation of this issue.

Re: Getting Real - AAC 320 vs. FLAC

Reply #9
I have noticed that some MP3 encoders (at least those available 5-10 years ago) sacrifice high end compared to the AAC encoders; when I re-ripped some CDs in AAC they definitely had more content above 5 KHz (visible in spectrograms too).  Not sure what they are compromising, because it wasn't audible even in headphones.  I didn't encode the MP3s, so I have no idea what encoder they were using.

The OP isn't referring to spectrogram comparisons, but asks for possible audible differences. My first reaction still stands, with the assumption that a decent encoder is used of course.

Re: Getting Real - AAC 320 vs. FLAC

Reply #10
Is it not still the case that "all lossy codecs have some killer samples"? 

I didn't think AAC-LC had improved recently even if it's transparent (at that rate and below) with the cast majority of tracks.

If there are killer samples for AAC at 320kbps, and OP happens to select one, and be paying adequate attention at the right time, then sure there is "a chance" of hearing the difference.

Re: Getting Real - AAC 320 vs. FLAC

Reply #11
Quite a few years ago I did a test with a friend of lossless vs AAC vs MP3. What I found, for me, in that test was that for music other than classical it was effectively impossible to tell the difference between lossless and AAC at 256kbps. As a result I import everything other than classical at 320kbps (because it’s an insignificant difference in storage), and do classical lossless. I’ve imported around 1500 CD’s using this approach.

I find 160 sounds bad to me, but when I A/B my CD’s with the 320kbps files on my media server they both sound great to me.

Joel

 
SimplePortal 1.0.0 RC1 © 2008-2020