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Old 2011-10-12, 19:11   Link #21
Varaxis
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My hearing has been degraded enough due to my career working as a F-15 crew chief (high performance loud jet engines running in close proximity on a daily basis), but that doesn't prevent me from sensing significant differences between 320 or VBR and FLAC. Listening to the same song encoded with FLAC on my PC with 10 year old Sennheiser HD590 headphones, I clearly hear a lot more and sounds are clearer and crisper, in a large majority of cases.

The main downside is that I have to re-encode songs for my mp3 player, since some don't play flac (like my car's mp3 player) and higher bit rates require more battery power to play and I often am out for 5+ hours. With my portable mp3 player playing high bit rate songs, its life drops to about 5 hours, compared to the 16 hours claimed (playing 128 bit rate mp3 files).

Large hard drives are cheap, so I've been upgrading everything to flac.
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Old 2011-10-12, 21:37   Link #22
Urzu 7
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How does 320 kbps AAC compare to 256 kbps AAC? Is it a noticable difference on a good pair of headphones? I'm not talking top of the line headphones, I don't own any. But I want to get a nicer pair of headphones than my $20 ones.
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Old 2011-10-12, 23:51   Link #23
Varaxis
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I have a pair of $25 (on sale) Altec Lansing Backbeat Pro UHP606 and a pair of $90 (on sale) Ultimate Ears TripleFi to go with my Sansa Clip+, both buds using Conform ear tips. I have little doubt that you can get any better sound quality out of earbuds and mp3 player costing the same, from what research I've done, so my opinion might differ a bit from your case. The difference between 128 and 320 kbps mp3 isn't really all that great to justify going high bitrate with this particular setup. I notice clearer sound, but with ambient noise, all that difference is thrown out of the window. The difference between 320 and 256 AAC is even smaller, so unless you have a similar setup to my TripleFi and Clip+ and listen to it in an absolutely quiet setting, any difference is more likely attributed to placebo effect and preconceived impressions from reading unprofessional opinions.

In the end, you just have to try it yourself. If you still buy CDs, learn to encode your music with something like dBpoweramp and try it out to check if *your ears* are sensitive enough to appreciate the difference. Encoding it yourself with VBR and scaling the quality to suit your ears and quality of playback hardware is the best way to go, rather than let Apple or whoever decides what would best suit the masses.
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Old 2011-10-28, 13:47   Link #24
chikorita157
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iTunes MP3 encoder is always horrible, unless you are ripping it to Apple Lossless. For Mac users, the best bet is Max or better yet, X Lossless Decoder since it has better support for cue sheets, ripping, etc. Both are open sourced.

On a side note, Apple finally made its Apple Lossless format open source after 7 years... This is good news for users of other platforms like Android.
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Old 2011-10-29, 12:18   Link #25
Jaden
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I actually tested this a while back with my mediocre headset and a nicer 5.1 speaker setup. I used Foobar to convert the files. Listened to various music genres.

FLAC to 128kbs MP3, I could notice a slight difference listening to it in both ways, but only when I looked for it. If I didn't know about the bitrates I wouldn't have noticed. And although I noticed a difference I couldn't say which one was "better"

FLAC to 192kbs MP3, I couldn't notice a difference in any way whatsoever.

I guess it's nice to have stuff in a lossless format, because you can recreate the original recording from it and encode to anything you want. There's always a risk of anomalies being created by bad encoding or compression, even if the quality is supposed to be retained.
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Old 2012-01-21, 16:54   Link #26
Strange Chameleon
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Im kind of anal about audio quality considering audio engineering is my major. But things already get so compressed from the time you actually record some thing to when it is released. Its all in the ears of the beholder what bit rate/sound quality is good enough for them. For me 320 kbps is good enough for portables and on my computer. But recording or placback of recordings always have to be uncompressed wav files.
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Old 2012-01-22, 01:10   Link #27
sa547
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Files of master recordings have to be lossless to reproduce the highest possible sound quality in a digital format. Usually it's great if you want to make best-quality copies burned to CD, or that you're a hardcore audiophile with excellent listening equipment and massive data storage, or you're a radio broadcaster using all-digital systems.

For most people like me (I own a five-year-old 512mb Shuffle and standard earphones, and a PC with Sound Blaster Live! PCI card), I'm all right using MP3s, but as long as it's 320kbps and the volume is completely normalized during conversion. Anything lower than 128kbps will be readily noticeable due to the reduced quality (just like heavily-compressed JPEG files that will produce ugly artifacts on the edges of an image).
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Old 2012-01-22, 02:49   Link #28
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If you have the disk space, just go for loseless since there is no downside.

Or you can do a ABX test to see if there really is any perceivable difference to you - if there is none you can physically perceive, then pick which ever one makes you happy.
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Old 2012-02-01, 17:03   Link #29
Ledgem
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This was recently in the news (specifically about how there was a discussion to try and get Apple to release higher-quality encodes in the iTunes Music Store). The argument against higher bitrates or lossless audio is that there's no major benefit, because supposedly there's already a lot of compression and weird mixing that occurs in the music production stages. The other argument against it is that most consumer-grade audio equipment, whether headphones or speakers, isn't good enough to really make the difference apparent.

Personally, I only ever noticed a difference between lossless and lossy formats with piano music. Whereas the high range would "fuzz" a bit with lossy formats, it came across clean and clear with lossless formats. Upping the bitrate on MP3s helped a bit, but it couldn't equal APE or FLAC.
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Old 2012-02-03, 18:56   Link #30
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I have a relative who is an audiophile. He has about ~$2000 worth of headphones and spends a $good amount$ on amplifiers. He would always tell me that there is a significant amount of difference. I have a HD650 and a full hard disk of FLAC Touhou remixes, but I only notices a slight differences really(dem ears).
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Old 2012-02-04, 08:13   Link #31
houkoholic
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Izayoi View Post
I have a relative that is an audiophile. He has about ~$2000 worth of headphone and spent $good amount$ on amplifiers. He would always tell me that there is a significant amount of difference.
$2000 worth of headphones or a headphone that is worth $2000 dollars? It's a big difference.
$2000 worth of headphones for a supposed audiophile is... not really impressive, as pretty much any of the flagship headphones available now starts at around the $1200 mark. I have 5 pairs of headphones and the two most expensive ones together are close to $2000 already (Beyerdynamic T1 and Audio Technica W1000x). I also have a amp Woo Audio WA2 which is worth about $1200, money in the audiophile grade equipment world shoots up REALLY quickly.

Either way none of this matters really because it just becomes audiophile e-penis contest, and deciding who's claim has more truth just by who has the biggest e-penis is not scientific nor factual. Scientifically the difference between 320k and flac is pretty minimal, and ABX test results is there to support it. It's definitely there in measurements, but most people's hearing aren't THAT good to hear it. There're definitely some people with dog hearing but they aren't representative of people at large, so it's up to each individual to test how good their *own* hearing is relative to their equipment, source and usage is to decide whether it is worth going for lossless vs lossy.
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Old 2012-02-04, 20:14   Link #32
Izayoi
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$2000 all together is not that impressive... Oh you wealthy children.
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Old 2012-02-04, 20:47   Link #33
houkoholic
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Again, the current flagship headphones easily starts at $1200 (Beyerdynamic T1, Sennheiser HD800, Auduze LCD2, LCD3, Ultrasone Edition 8, Grado PS1000) and any serious audiophiles would strive to own at least one pair of those, some even ALL of them. Also custom IEM also rounds off at that price (eg JH16). Then there are even more exotic headphones like the STAX SR-009 which is worth $5000 alone, even it's cheaper sibling SR-007 is worth $3000, and they also needs to be paired with an exotic amp at about the same price and the entire set up would costs more than a car. Like I said, in the world of audiophile equipment the price hike goes up REALLY quick as you move up the ladder, phones that are in the $300 range are commonly considered to be "mid-fi" and not "hi-fi" amongst the audiophiles.

Unless of course if your relative is like 15 and his parents buys them for him, then yeah I guess it is impressive, as most audiophiles I know are actually working people earning good salary who just choose to spend that kind of money like other people spend $2000 on an SLR camera. *shrug*
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