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Topic: MP3 sounds better than lossless? (Read 957 times) previous topic - next topic
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MP3 sounds better than lossless?

I was doing some experiments with various MP3 encoders.
LAME and Fraunhofer are transparent but Helix is not.
Helix sounds even better. I don't know if my hearing is bad but Helix encode sounds like it has larger soundstage.
My left ear seems to enjoy it, seriously.

lame -b320 input.wav output.mp3
mp3s -if input.wav -of output.mp3 -br 320000
hmp3 input.wav output.mp3 -B160

(MP3 cannot be better than lossless, obviously. Sorry for kinda clickbait title. It just seems to me like Helix is "doing something" that improves quality.)

Re: MP3 sounds better than lossless?

Reply #1
Since I cannot edit my original post I will have to reply.
I got the full song from "somebody". It is in FLAC format.
I usually use ffmpeg to convert everything into WAV files. (ffmpeg -i input.xxx output.wav)
If I use Helix with the WAV file created from ffmpeg it will sound better. (Like I said in the original post.)
If I use Helix with the WAV file created from flac (flac -d input.flac) it will sound like other encoders.
Both LAME and Fraunhofer produce bit exact files no matter what WAV file I am using.
Something inside the WAV file is obviously messing with the Helix encoder.
Here is the abx test if you need it:

Code: [Select]
foo_abx 2.0.6d report
foobar2000 v1.5.4
2020-07-30 00:55:03

File A: EKV - Original.flac
SHA1: 12a1e1a2f5ea7729afdeb82201b5794c3678798c
Gain adjustment: -2.47 dB
File B: EKV - Helix.mp3
SHA1: 3cfcac6d8485150ab5297b840b46406b961372a3
Gain adjustment: -2.44 dB

Output:
ASIO : BRAVO-X
Crossfading: NO

00:55:03 : Test started.
00:55:12 : 01/01
00:55:19 : 02/02
00:55:27 : 03/03
00:55:37 : 04/04
00:55:47 : 05/05
00:55:55 : 06/06
00:56:01 : 07/07
00:56:08 : 08/08
00:56:16 : 09/09
00:56:27 : 10/10
00:56:35 : 11/11
00:56:40 : 12/12
00:56:47 : 13/13
00:56:54 : 14/14
00:56:59 : 15/15
00:57:05 : 16/16
00:57:10 : 17/17
00:57:17 : 18/18
00:57:22 : 19/19
00:57:27 : 20/20
00:57:32 : 21/21
00:57:37 : 22/22
00:57:41 : 23/23
00:57:47 : 24/24
00:57:51 : 25/25
00:57:51 : Test finished.

 ----------
Total: 25/25
p-value: 0 (0%)

 -- signature --
f05fdc72ae40efea484ba3fc3106013dc99da09b

Re: MP3 sounds better than lossless?

Reply #2
Have you compared the two WAV files using output to identify their formats? Have you run them through a spectrogram to see if ffmpeg perhaps introduced something like dithering to the output?

Re: MP3 sounds better than lossless?

Reply #3
It only happens with the original file that I have. If you try with the FLAC file that I provided in the first post nothing will happen
because that file was already re-converted into FLAC.

Both ffmpeg and flac decode produce same files. I compared them in Audacity.
Only metadata or something is different.

It seems that Helix somehow swapped the channels, left is right and right is left.
Song is little louder/panned on the right channel and when it moved to the left it got "centered" and it sounds better.

I don't know if we should consider this as a serious problem. Most people use LAME but if somebody
with more knowledge types "mp3 abx test" into Google he will see posts by well known
members IgorC and Kamedo2 that Helix is better and he might decide to use Helix instead.

Edit: Added problematic WAV file. (ffmpeg -i input.flac -ss 00:00:58 -to 00:01:28 output.wav [30 second limit])

Re: MP3 sounds better than lossless?

Reply #4
Quote
It seems that Helix somehow swapped the channels, left is right and right is left.
Song is little louder/panned on the right channel and when it moved to the left it got "centered" and it sounds better.
On one hand...  "Sounds better" is the only thing that's important.   But it's subjective and a matter of opinion or personal preference.

On the other hand...  High fidelity means faithful-accurate reproduction.    When we do an ABX test we are simply listening for an audible difference, we are not saying which sounds better.

Some people might like the bass treble boosted and some people might like that boomy one-note bass you get from some car stereos, but that's not high fidelity.   Some "audiophiles" like the sound of analog vinyl...

 

Re: MP3 sounds better than lossless?

Reply #5
Only metadata or something is different.

It seems that Helix somehow swapped the channels, left is right and right is left.
Perhaps Helix is blindly assuming the audio data starts at a particular location in the file instead of parsing the headers correctly. Your example file has 222 bytes of metadata, which isn't divisible by 4, so the difference between where Helix expects the audio to be and where it actually is will swap the left and right channels and introduce a 1-sample offset between them.

 
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