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Poll

For use at home:

  • Lossless, because I'm saving a lossless copy anyway.
    207 (71.6%)
  • At least two steps higher quality than N, because I'm paranoid or because I want to accomodate for people with better ears (please post: how much higher?).
    25 (8.7%)
  • One step higher quality than N (e.g. -q N+1 for Vorbis, -V N-1 for LAME, etc.), because I want to take a safe margin. After all I didn't check all music in the world.
    31 (10.7%)
  • The same quality N, because I want things to sound the same as on the CD but I don't want to waste more space than necessary.
    15 (5.2%)
  • One step lower quality than N, because the few audible differences I hear at that setting don't annoy me and I like to shave off 16-32kbps.
    3 (1%)
  • Even lower quality than the previous option, because I find efficiency more important than perceived quality (please post: how far down would you go?).
    1 (0.3%)
  • My choice is not listed above (please post).
    7 (2.4%)

Total Members Voted: 348

Topic: Now that you found your lowest transparent setting... (Read 45777 times) previous topic - next topic

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Now that you found your lowest transparent setting...
Reply #50
I did some extensive tests back when I adopted AAC( Nero) to find my Sweet spot of transparency.

For nero, this interval is usually Q0.5 at good listening conditions. But it actually fluctuates from Q0.4 to Q0.5 depending on source and background noise/focus.
I consider Q0.4 fine for listening at street/car/bus or with easy samples. (e.g. old Piano recordings)
With the exception of Killer samples, I've never found any type of music not being transparent at Q0.5 (170~180kbps).

Before Nero I used to use mp3 at 192cbr (for compatibility) and V2 VBR (for late LAME encodings). 160kbps was not transparent for me with mp3. Back in 2003 I had a chinese portable cdplayer which wouldn´t play VBR properly so I got traumatized and only transcoded to CBR192 mp3 for the next 5 years or so before switching to AAC.
Even today sometimes I need to transcode to mp3 for compatibility and then I use Lame V2. In 99% of the cases, It's 100% transparent to me, (actually I'd say V3 is transparent at 95% of times, I use one step more just to play safe) but in more than one occasion in the past I stumbled upon some difficulty samples that LAME couldn´t handle even at V1 and I could hear discernible artifacts. That's why I ditched Mp3 for aoTuV in the first place.
I used aotuv for about 3 years at around 200kbps (I found it's transparency threshold to be around 180kbps) before getting fed up with it and switching to AAC (I further detail my experience with aoTuV bellow)

So that's pretty much is it.

AAC all the way, FLAC for a few portion of my favorite music
Q0.5~0.6 for Lossy storage at home.
Q0.4~0.5 for portable listening
Usually I use 0.4 for "easier" music like piano chamber or quiet music, Q0.5 for more agitated or my favorite tracks.
In some rare cases I may go as down as 128kbps for nero but I'd never use HE for music. FdkVBR128kbps for video is ofter my first choice, but in some rare cases I may consider using HE for low quality video. But then again, a low quality video would probably be playing on a smartphone without headphones so I'd rather process is to mono 48kbits than using HE 48kbits or opus (due to lack of compatibility).

INB4: You should stop using nero, It's outdated and deprecated
Not really: see here

Hmm, you might regret that one day, birdie. Tastes change, I'm going through my library every few years and every time I notice I like some songs I didn't like more and some I liked, a bit less.


I also can´t afford the luxury of storing everything in FLAC. I have near 300 gb of music, Twice if you count my cold backup. I'm already squeezing the limits of my 6tb RAID 5 array + the corresponding backup so even for storage I only choose what I consider the "best" to store in flac. That's less than 5% of my library. In my country, importation TAXES makes HD not that much cheap like you guys are accustomed in america or even europe.

While tastes do change, I don´t usually start liking something more than I did in the past, only "losing the hype" of my current favorite band/composer, specially when related to pop Music. Classical music on the other hand, I store the master pieces and great symphonies in FLAC, but for everything else, Even if I find myself listening to a new chamber piece of bartok that was buried in my collection and fallen in love with it, since I already store everything in N+1 with AAC codec I never had any problems or regrets in not having in in FLAC. Even if I do, I could always try to find the original CD and re-riping it agay, which I rarely did. LOSSLESS is only useful for transcoding, editing or pretty much placebo anyway.

While transcoding from lossy to lossy (200kbps~ AAC to 150kbps AAC for listening on smartphone) usually is a taboo, I never really found the quality to significantly degrade. A lossy to lossy transcode from 200 - 150 will still sound better than a Lossless to 128kbps AAC transcoded file in my opinion (for playing on a Smartphone).

That would have been the only problem for me in storing music in Lossy format: transcoding lossy to lossy. While I do mix sometimes music for my personal video works, Video soundtracks tend to not suffer so much of absolute source quality since the viewer is mostly focusing on the image. And I don´t do much mixing on the soundtrack of my videos. Besides that, I'm not a mixer nor a dj so I don´t need LOSSLESS sources to edit without losing quality. I don´t really see why people that aren´t do either besides placebo.

A thing about LOSSLESS however, is being future proof.
I've made the mistake in the past of investing in the hyped aotuv optimization as the definitely superior and "future" lossy codec. I started transcoding large parts of my library into aoTuV with the expectation it would be widely spread. That never really happened. While Android players TODAY are finally accepting niche codecs like aotuv and Opus, I was already fed up with it back in the 2008s~ stuck with a deprecated unsupported format which I was already transcoding to other lossy formats for years by that time since I still had cheap nokias cellphones. And at the same time we saw the rise of the optimized AAC format surpassing aoTuV in both quality and compatibility. That was the time I choose AAC as my solely Lossy format and dumped OGG since it's highly optimized and pretty much accepted ANYWHERE. Only stupid car sounds still don´t accept it, but I plan on buying a new modern Pioneer sound with AAC native support now. Before that I'd have used use the LINE-IN with my cellphone playing AAC anyway.
That is why, by the way, I'll never adopt Opus. Even with its vastly superiority when used at very low bitrates, which is great for video! But I don´t want to transcode my videos for the lack on compatibility in the audio, and the size of the video stream is so much bigger than the audio that I don´t mind increasing the audio track up to the 96kbps mark where opus starts to lose it's advantage towards the universally accepted AAC anyway (for videos).

Storage and bandwidth have been ample for quite some time now, so it makes no sense to bother with transcoding anything.Clutter is your enemy, lossless all the way! (...)
If you HAVE to have the ENTIRETY of your library EVERYWHERE you go, then you are not a lover of musik but an audio gear miser who likes to dwell on the same pieces and/or his eclectic skills are seriously lacking. Even so, there are things like external hard disks one could employ for satisfying such "needs". In any case, being unable to pack enough musik in a memory medium to enhance a ride/walk is not a problem of storage size.


So many things wrong in this logic I don´t even know where to start.
I don´t even know what is worse, being victim to placebo like dumb audiophiles, or not enjoying a full symphony Like you probably don´t Since you can hardly fit all the symphonies of a couple of romantic composers together with anything else in a 32 gigabyte SD card together with APPS videos and other files. Imagine if you only had an Iphone without expandable storage. Gives me the chill just to imagine fitting my old 16gb iphone with FLAC music. Almost like recording a couple of Audio CD's for a 6 hour road trip 10 years ago and wasting several hours nitpicking a selection of my music. I can´t do that to every weeked! How many music do you have anyway? 500? And you call yourself an "ekletic"?

However, I do agree that if I really must listen to a an specific piece of music from my collection, I can always remotely access it through the internet on my cellphone and download it. But then again, I'd hit my 2gb bandwidth limit quite fastly if I had to download it in FLAC format, with just comes back to the initial point that using a bloated-by-placebo-format on the run is just plain DUMB. (I do access my library remotely, but when I do, I ofter transcode it to 128kbps AAC to save my data plan and avoid weak signal hiccups)
  • Last Edit: 02 July, 2014, 06:22:48 PM by sephirotic

  • UNHchabo
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Now that you found your lowest transparent setting...
Reply #51
I rip my CDs to Flac, and buy Flac from artists that only sell digitally. So far I've only bought a couple pieces of lossy music, because they weren't available in any other format.

Then I wrote FlacSquisher to help me encode my music to lossy formats:
*Ogg Vorbis at -q 4 for my Rockbox'd Sansa E200
*MP3s at -V4 for my car and phone

I've never done extensive ABX testing, but those settings seem to be good enough for noisy environments, even if I could ABX in an ideal environment.

Several years ago my CD collection was stolen; at the time I had ripped the songs I liked from my CDs to 160kbps CBR using whatever ripper came with my computer. A few months later I bought new speakers, and could suddenly hear tons of artifacts in my music, so since then I've been really paranoid about making sure that I have my music backed up in full quality, even if I can't hear the difference. As a side benefit, this means I can lower the bitrate for the lossy files, freeing up more space for a wider variety of music.

  • Mach-X
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Now that you found your lowest transparent setting...
Reply #52
Flac for CD ripping/at home playback. Like Canar, bounce around different codecs for portable use depending on dap du jour. Abx'ed lame at v4 with some effort and settled on v2. I consider that n+2 I think because what I heard during abx I would not have noticed in the wild. Also mp3/id3 is so universal.

Now that you found your lowest transparent setting...
Reply #53
When I first got into using the computer as a music source, I used WMA lossless when ripping CDs, because I had Windows and it was already there. Also, when I put files onto my portable player, Windows Media Player could, assuming you selected the setting, make a separate lossy WMA copy (at a bitrate of your choice) that would end up on the DAP, without losing the lossless original or making a duplicate in the WMP library.

Is there a Foobar equivalent of this utility for FLAC files? I don't know - I haven't looked into it. It'd be useful, for space reasons.

As it is, it's lossless all the way these days. Storage is so cheap, and life's too short to mess about with such things unless you have absolutely no choice.

  • JJZolx
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Now that you found your lowest transparent setting...
Reply #54
> Now that you found your lowest transparent setting...

I've never wasted my time doing this. For home I use FLAC. For portables, Mp3 encoded using LAME -V2, which seems to be good enough for the job. Any space savings to be had from using a lower level of VBR encoding are largely meaningless to me.

  • Dark_wizzie
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Now that you found your lowest transparent setting...
Reply #55
Storage is so cheap. Playing FLAC makes me happy inside. So I keep FLAC.

Now that you found your lowest transparent setting...
Reply #56
After finding Howard Shore's complete scores to The Lord of the Rings no different at V0 than at 24-bit FLAC, I adopted that as my N. Though with my mediocre ears and listening set up, I suspect I'd be lucky to ABX the difference even at V4.

Still, at home, I want lossless. With a 3 TB drive at Costco selling for $110, meditating on that pristine bit stream is an affordable luxury. (See preceding comment.)

When it's time to load up the iPhone, space limitations demand that I let iTunes transcode to 192 AAC. I feel a little unclean when I think about it. But, as indicated earlier, for me, it's certainly overkill.
  • Last Edit: 14 August, 2014, 05:30:42 PM by ribonucleic

  • MusicExp
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Now that you found your lowest transparent setting...
Reply #57
I use flacs whenever possible, if not highest mp3 bitrate. In my car I use mp3's.

  • robojock
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Now that you found your lowest transparent setting...
Reply #58
I use mp3 320kbps home and portable. It is just easier for me as i don't have to do any conversions from lossless files, it's one file that works everywhere for me. I also dj and that's the bitrate I get from most my sources. Which sounds good to my ears 

  • MusicExp
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Now that you found your lowest transparent setting...
Reply #59
Yea well, it is a gamble tbh. I heard 320 mp3s that sound better than flac. It is more important on how it was originally recorded and mastered.

  • Fairy
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Now that you found your lowest transparent setting...
Reply #60
Yea well, it is a gamble tbh. I heard 320 mp3s that sound better than flac. It is more important on how it was originally recorded and mastered.


Well, thats not possible if the mp3 and the flac were made of de same source recording.

I do have seen FLAC that were transcoded 128kbit/s mp3's. Thats not a flaw of Flac but plain user error or fraud.

  • MusicExp
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Now that you found your lowest transparent setting...
Reply #61
I'm just saying that sometimes the original recording is so bad that it doesn't matter in what format you listen to it.

Now that you found your lowest transparent setting...
Reply #62
back in the days, when downloading music was cool and easy... i transcoded everything to 64k he-aac, lol

recently found my old mobile phone backup and realised how terrible that sounds wiht my ne Pistons

now i go flac for cd rips and 320k mp3 or 256k aac for single tracks, and 128k opus for mobile use
  • Last Edit: 04 September, 2015, 06:15:35 PM by Tr4shCr4fT

Now that you found your lowest transparent setting...
Reply #63
I picked the most popular choices.  I feel so lame.

  • lamedude
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Now that you found your lowest transparent setting...
Reply #64
back in the days, when downloading music was cool and easy... i transcoded everything to 64k WMA, lol
TFTFY 
You kids don't know cool and easy if you weren't there for Napster.  I remember Lars complaining like it was yesterday.

  • ghot567
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Now that you found your lowest transparent setting...
Reply #65
well since i use a PSP i use nero aac at 170k since I've gotten better results than other encoders I've used.
  • Last Edit: 09 September, 2015, 02:16:26 PM by ghot567

  • Nystagmus
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Now that you found your lowest transparent setting...
Reply #66
I use 16-bit 44.1 kHz FLAC for my SoundCloud uploads, my portable media player, and my computer home stereo system. 
I like FLAC because I can add meta tags and PNG images, and because it uploads and downloads about twice as fast as WAV but is still lossless. 

A Sansa Clip Sport is my portable media player which is FLAC capable before and after Rockboxing.  Mine isn't rockboxed though. 

I remember the days when people acted like 22 kHz mono was great for computers because it was better than phone quality.  I feel that CD quality needs to be the lowest common denominator, and no lower than that. 
To my ears MP3 lossy encoding often degrades the cymbals and highhats and some synthesizer modulation effects.  I listen to my own compositions so I'm familiar with how they sound before and after encoding. 

High bitrate M4A's might be acceptable to me, but they don't offer those at Amazon.com, the place where I buy most of my music.  Also, my media player can't seem to play M4A's correctly anyhow. 
I do buy FLAC audio from http://AddicTech.com though also, and occasionally from http://BandCamp.com as well.  I feel like FLAC is better than CD because CD's can get scratched.
Be a false negative of yourself!

  • mohaba
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Now that you found your lowest transparent setting...
Reply #67
Lossless at home because I have a copy anyway.

Portable was vorbis at q0, now is opus at the closest equivalent, which I think is 64kbps.

  • greynol
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  • Global Moderator
Now that you found your lowest transparent setting...
Reply #68
To my ears MP3 lossy encoding often degrades the cymbals and highhats and some synthesizer modulation effects.  I listen to my own compositions so I'm familiar with how they sound before and after encoding.

People who can hear lossy artifacts usually don't need to be familiar with the material being encoded.

Out of curiosity, have you ever performed a properly controlled test in order to be sure you are actually hearing artifacts?
  • Last Edit: 30 September, 2015, 01:23:45 PM by greynol
Is 24-bit/192kHz good enough for your lo-fi vinyl, or do you need 32/384?

  • ghot567
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Now that you found your lowest transparent setting...
Reply #69
For home listening i use musepack and flac/CD's as my archives.

90kb/s for dark ambient, ambient and drone ambient.

170kb/s for everything else.


  • yuki96
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Now that you found your lowest transparent setting...
Reply #70
I use FLAC for both home and portable use, because my music collection is not that large (it's just shy of 25 GB), and it fits just fine on a microSD card. I'd convert to a free lossy format (like opus or vorbis) if space was a major concern, but it is not, since storage is rather cheap. I also find it easier to have just one version of everything, perhaps with two copies (one for desktop and one for mobile). It's easier for me to keep track of my music this way, and my portable copy serves as a complete backup of my desktop too.
  • Last Edit: 22 November, 2015, 08:48:48 PM by yuki96

Now that you found your lowest transparent setting...
Reply #71
I will just go with 256 kbps on any codecs since all of them is not even transparent on 200 kbps for me. Just to be safe. FLAC for home listening
I will think about tomorrow's problem tomorrow

  • lock67ca
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Now that you found your lowest transparent setting...
Reply #72
FLAC for archiving.

I've been using LAME on the --alt preset standard or -V2 setting for about 13 years for portable use. Tried AAC and a few others but, I've always stayed with LAME at those settings, since I've never had any problems with it. Really is the sweet spot for me, in terms of sound quality and file size.

Re: Now that you found your lowest transparent setting...
Reply #73
I do not use quality settings.

I use 128 kbps for opus for general audio, 32 kbps for opus for spoken content. Both are well above what I personally tested as transparent.

I know that using a quality setting could reduce the space used but it doesn't really matter to me.

Re: Now that you found your lowest transparent setting...
Reply #74
Lossless, because lossy is not consistently transparent for me at any bit rate.
FLAC -> JDS Labs ODAC/O2 -> Sennheiser HD 650 (equalized)