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Transcoding MP3 to FLAC

This question comes up because I have recently bought a very nice, IMO, little media player that is unfortunately having difficulty with MP3 licensing issues, and will likely have MP3 support removed in future firmware upgrades.  (Meizu M6 miniPlayer, to answer your question.    )  On the upside, it will support FLAC in the next FW upgrade, and already supports Ogg.

So, yes, I can not upgrade the firmware, and keep my MP3 support, but I would miss out on enhancements/bug fixes.

What I'm wondering is if I can transcode MP3s to FLAC, and keep the sound quality of the MP3, while not having much impact on file size.  Transcoding to another "lossy" format would degrade it, while going to FLAC or another lossless would preserve all the information present in the MP3, in my understanding.

I did do a search of the forum, admittedly brief, and came up with nothing on point, which didn't greatly suprise me.  As I'm basically a lazy person, instead of digging into the inter-web and doing the research myself, I will ask you kind folk for your help and guidance, as I suspect some one or more of you will have the knowledge I seek, or can point me at a web site that has it.

So, in order:
1. Is MP3 -> FLAC transcoding possible?
2. Will the audio information present in the MP3 be preserved, while not greatly changing file size?
3. How best to do the transcoding?
4. Any seroius drawbacks?
5. Any other options you see for me?

Many thanks to all who bother to read, much less answer.

Transcoding MP3 to FLAC

Reply #1
Gee... this is first time I've heard... a DAP that plays Ogg but won't play MP3... 
Oh well, all the best for Ogg Vorbis then 

So, in order:
1. Is MP3 -> FLAC transcoding possible?
2. Will the audio information present in the MP3 be preserved, while not greatly changing file size?
3. How best to do the transcoding?
4. Any seroius drawbacks?
5. Any other options you see for me?

1. Yes, of course.
2. Yes, but no to the second part of the question. FLAC's will always be bigger than MP3's
3. foobar2000 
4. You can fit only a limited amount of songs due the the size of the FLAC's
5. Backup your MP3 carefully, in multiple media, then transcode to Ogg Vorbis -q 2 or better (ABX yourself and decide on a value; -q 4 should be transparent to many people. Also consider the environment where you will be listening your songs; in quiet enviro's -q 0 sounds baaaad for me  but in buses and trains the road noise drowns all artefacts and it sounds mighty gooood for me  )

Transcoding MP3 to FLAC

Reply #2
1. Yes.
2. The information will be preserved up to 16 (or 24...) bits, but file size will be much larger.
3. I'd use Foobar, but that's my answer for just about everything.
4. As much as you would like it, there is no way that the FLACs will be the same size as the MP3s, even though they are from MP3s.
5. Transcode to high-bitrate Vorbis and accept the quality loss, or re-rip if you have the originals.

I did a little test a long time ago (here), which shows that, depending on how the transcoder handles dithering, the FLAC made from MP3 can be either a little larger or a little smaller than the FLAC from WAV. However, it is still nowhere near the bitrate of the MP3.

[ edit: Rats. Beaten to it. Oh well  ]
"We demand rigidly defined areas of doubt and uncertainty!" - Vroomfondel, H2G2

Transcoding MP3 to FLAC

Reply #3
1. Is MP3 -> FLAC transcoding possible?
Yes, of course.
Quote
2. Will the audio information present in the MP3 be preserved, while not greatly changing file size?
May say so. Audio will be the same as you hear after decoding mp3 by player.
Quote
3. How best to do the transcoding?
Use foobar2000 converter. fb2k is the one of most quality mp3 decoders.
Quote
4. Any seroius drawbacks?
Greatly filesize increase only.
Quote
5. Any other options you see for me?
Change player?  Or re-rip CDDA and make Ogg from originals (for CDDA you can access).

Transcoding MP3 to FLAC

Reply #4
... depending on how the transcoder handles dithering, the FLAC made from MP3 can be either a little larger or a little smaller than the FLAC from WAV.
So, on average, the same

Sorry Omion, couldn't help it

Transcoding MP3 to FLAC

Reply #5
WOW!   

Thank you for the quick replies.

So, it's possible, but I'll get bit in the butt by filesize.  And use Foobar2000.  Seems to be some agreement there.   

A second possibility would be transcoding to Ogg Vorbis, after doing some ABX tests for bitrate, and accepting losses.  I imagine I'll go this route, as I want to pack as many tunes into 4GB as possible.  From what I understand, the quality hit grows with each transcode, so I can probably sneak in without horrendous results this time, as long as the files I have are first-generation.

All my CDs are in the process of being FLAC'd, and Ogg'd also.  I believe that I'm going to stick with Ogg Vorbis, no licensing issues there, AFAIK.  This question was regarding MP3 files I have with no access to the source.

And yes, I may get another player in the future, but this one will have to do for a little while.  Sounds like SanDisk/Sansa is having the same problem with MP3 licensing.

If anyone else has input, chime in, the more the merrier!

Transcoding MP3 to FLAC

Reply #6
So, on average, the same

Sorry Omion, couldn't help it

Well... yeah. 

What I meant was that if the transcoder doesn't dither, going through an MP3 tends to be a bit smaller than going directly to FLAC. If the transcoder does dither, it tends to be a bit larger. The linked page demonstrates that.
"We demand rigidly defined areas of doubt and uncertainty!" - Vroomfondel, H2G2

Transcoding MP3 to FLAC

Reply #7
WOW!   

Thank you for the quick replies.
Well, we're a bunch of guys (and gals) who are hopelessly addicted to HydrogenAudio, heh

So, it's possible, but I'll get bit in the butt by filesize.  And use Foobar2000.  Seems to be some agreement there. 
There are other transcoders actually, e.g. MediaCoder. But foobar2000 combines a player/transcoder/tag editor in one. And after the initial frustration of trying to make it look like what you want it to look like, it's mighty good enough.

All my CDs are in the process of being FLAC'd, and Ogg'd also.  I believe that I'm going to stick with Ogg Vorbis, no licensing issues there, AFAIK.  This question was regarding MP3 files I have with no access to the source.
Same here. But I still transcode them to Ogg Vorbis -q 2 (at least, except trance tracks at -q 1). AND, I backup the MP3's to CD-Rs. CD-R blanks are really cheap anyways.

And yes, I may get another player in the future, but this one will have to do for a little while.  Sounds like SanDisk/Sansa is having the same problem with MP3 licensing.
What??? Hmm... that's really news to me...

Could the age of Ogg Vorbis be dawning?

Edit: Stupid Tyopes?

 

Transcoding MP3 to FLAC

Reply #8
And yes, I may get another player in the future, but this one will have to do for a little while.  Sounds like SanDisk/Sansa is having the same problem with MP3 licensing.
What??? Hmm... that's really news to me...

Could the age of Ogg Vorbis be dawning?

Edit: Stupid Tyopes?

Yes, I saw a link to a story about SanDisk being sued by Sisvel over MP3 licensing issues.  (EETimes?  I can't remember right now.  The info was in their SEC filings, I believe.)

Although, some good news for me, the latest release of firmware does not break MP3 playback on my player, according to those who dug it out of the Chinese Meizu site. 

 
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