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Do MP3s degrade in quality over time?


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#1 Motoko.

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Posted 15 December 2011 - 19:00

I was having a discussion with a good friend of mine on the difference between FLAC and mp3(320). He made a very startling claim that I didn't think was possible, he told me "Well yes. Hearing the difference now isn’t the reason to encode to FLAC. FLAC uses lossless compression, while MP3 is ‘lossy’. What this means is that for each year the MP3 sits on your hard drive, it will lose roughly 12kbps, assuming you have SATA – it’s about 15kbps on IDE, but only 7kbps on SCSI, due to rotational velocidensity. You don’t want to know how much worse it is on CD-ROM or other optical media."

Is there any merit to what he just said?


#2 Tekkerson

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Posted 15 December 2011 - 19:04

Lmao he's just trolling you or he's really stupid.

It stays the same always. You could play it for a billion years and your hard drive would die before the mp3 loses any "quality".

But still, mp3 will always suck compared to lossless compression. Granted that you have a very expensive system to notice the difference between the two.

#3 z0phi3l

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Posted 15 December 2011 - 19:06

Lmao he's just trolling you or he's really stupid.

It stays the same always. You could play it for a billion years and your hard drive would die before the mp3 loses any "quality".

But still, mp3 will always suck compared to lossless compression. Granted that you have a very expensive system to notice the difference between the two.


You don't need expensive gear, you just need quality gear to notice the difference, and I'm using on board audio, but my speakers are of good quality, I bet that if I invested in a semi decent sound card I would notice it even more.

#4 Hum

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Posted 15 December 2011 - 19:06

Bad sectors form on your drive. Files can become corrupted.

But you should back up MP3's to multiple sources.

#5 OP Motoko.

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Posted 15 December 2011 - 19:07

Lmao he's just trolling you or he's really stupid.

It stays the same always. You could play it for a billion years and your hard drive would die before the mp3 loses any "quality".

But still, mp3 will always suck compared to lossless compression. Granted that you have a very expensive system to notice the difference between the two.

My thoughts exactly, I encode to 320 most of the time to save space, some people claim flac is a placebo but not in all cases. I can hear a substantial difference (in some cases) on certain tracks depending on what headphones or speakers I'm using.

I use an ATH-A700

#6 iKenndac

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Posted 15 December 2011 - 19:09

I don't even... :huh:

MP3s are lossy, but after that you're either being trolled or told something incredibly stupid. "Lossy" means that the MP3 file loses quality compared the original when it is created. They don't lose quality over time! :rolleyes:

#7 etempest

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Posted 15 December 2011 - 19:10

No. A digital file does not degrade "over time".

Now if you were to convert a cd to Flac, and mp3 the flac will always sound better.

MP3 (to make the file smaller) is lossy and will throw out some of the music quality.
FLAC is lossless and loses no sound quality, however the files are a lot bigger.

Also, the quality of the equipment your playing it back on (if it's poor) you may not be able to tell the deference between mp3 and flac.

#8 +sanke1

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Posted 15 December 2011 - 19:10

Wow. I must have done millions of backups and restores. Oh no!!!! The files have all reduced by half in size, I think. :D on the other hand, I have gained more disk space!

#9 threetonesun

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Posted 15 December 2011 - 19:15

Also, the quality of the equipment your playing it back on (if it's poor) you may not be able to tell the deference between mp3 and flac.


Or, if you have normal hearing. Or are over the age of 30.

While I can hear the artifacts of really bad compression, most compressed files these days sound fine to me. It's a combination of me getting older, and the standard bit rate of compressed files getting higher.

#10 tiagosilva29

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Posted 15 December 2011 - 19:17

A digital file does not degrade "over time".

Correct. Just the medium where it is stored.

#11 Daedroth

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Posted 15 December 2011 - 19:18

Short answer; No. There is no merit in what your friend has said.

Long answer; No, MP3 files, or any other digital files do not degrade over time. The only risk is due to hardware failures, such as bad sectors or total disc failure. This is where backups come in.

FLAC does indeed have better quality, but that has nothing to do with degradation.

#12 +chconline

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Posted 15 December 2011 - 19:21

Haha, you got trolled. He just slapped a whole lot of technical jargon on that makes absolutely no sense. :p

#13 deactivated_

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Posted 15 December 2011 - 19:29

Thanks guys, I needed a good laugh today.

#14 thejohnnyq

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Posted 15 December 2011 - 19:33

Sounds likes he reads to many Wiki post.

#15 thommcg

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Posted 15 December 2011 - 19:35

Mmmm, what he said is the same as saying that a Word document or Text file will lose text over the years, i.e. wrong.

As for file corruption, well, FLAC and MP3 are just as susceptible. The benefit of FLAC (Or any other loseless codec) is you can transcode it to other formats in future without further quality loss (As in Lossless -> Lossless / Lossy versus Lossy -> Lossy).



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