FLAC Vs. 320kbps


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@Dr.Asik: I guess it depends on the song then. I sort of knew that, but it makes more sense with your example, especially since the songs I thought I might be able to hear a difference in are "post rock" or "math rock" or whatever, so they're a bit more complex.

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I can't tell the difference between FLAC and MP3 @ 320. I just rip/download all my music at MP3 @ 320.

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Assuming you are using very high quality headphones, you can actually tell differences between 128kbps-256kbps and maybe above. I've only tested this on a friend's $100+ headphones, and they were much sharper than mine which are about $50. With mine I can kind of tell the difference between 128-192kbps, but not above that. I'm not really that much of an audiophile to invest in $100-300 headphones, so as long as I'm at 192 I'm fine, but there are definitely differences (albeit very subtle differences).

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Like pointed above, it's all on the amount of cash you spend to listen to. IMO once you notice the details X Album or song has, you really can't go back... It's like "where did that background violin come from".

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FLAC is taking too much space, and AAC is not that supported as mp3. So I'm using 320kbps V0 CBR for all my music library. Quality is very good, and actually it's overall good value CD is taking about 170 Megs. If you have good sound card, cords and speakers/headphones go with HQ audio. If you have decent stuff go with 320kbps V0 CBR.

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I have a pair of speakers I built myself, with separate woofer and tweeter, my own crossover, etc, and I still can't tell the difference. There might be one, but not large enough for me to figure out if it's placebo or not.

So either

a) I suck at building speakers

b) people who claim they can hear the difference with anything less then studio quality equipment are lying

or c) i have terrible hearing

I wouldn't ABX anything without earbuds.

i dont know how people can tell the difference without sound isolating headphones

simply playing music on a home/car stereo does not seem like a good way to compare audio to me

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To me it's not about being able to tell the difference. I probably couldn't tell the difference between 128kbps and 320kbps mp3 unless I'd be paying extreme attention on near-field reference monitors. To me it's about altering your audio file when you could preserve it 100%. Why would you want to do that? Disk space is plentiful and cheap. The space I use for music is nothing compared to HD movies or games.

The only time I really want something smaller than FLAC is for sending a file over a slow connection or playing it on some device that doesn't support FLAC.

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I probably couldn't tell the difference between 128kbps and 320kbps mp3 unless I'd be paying extreme attention on near-field reference monitors.
Actually let me take that back, I can tell the difference easily, not paying much attention, at low volume on my Audioengine 5 speakers which are far from accurate speakers. I just tried this: http://www.noiseaddicts.com/2009/03/mp3-sound-quality-test-128-320/ and the difference was really obvious.
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Lossless audio codecs are good for archiving music, that's about it.

The main reason to use a lossless audio format is the ability to transcode the audio into another format in the future without having to rip all of your CDs again and without any quality loss.

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lol i think buddy got his answer ;)

Good topic and i enjoyed ALL your replies.. a lot of really good points made

and lots of info for people to absorb and it seems like there basicly 6 pages of us all agreeing with each other :o

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FLAC is taking too much space, and AAC is not that supported as mp3.

What on earth can't play AAC these days? Ever since the iPod it's pretty much the new standard.

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What's wrong with 128kbps ?

Is there any reason to mess around with decoding (or whatever the term is) when all you want is to listen to your favourite band ?

Try listening to 128kbps cbr mp3 on high end gear and you might understand.

FLAC is definately overkill unless you are archiving. 320kbps is probably overkill too. But under 256kbps there's definately a difference if you have a good expensive headphone.

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to me 320kbps MP3's are mostly a waste of space as LAME v2 (it's default encoding mode (i.e. average of 190kbps give or take)) is much more efficient on space with basically sound quality of the higher rates. even if you wanted higher rates the LAME v0 (i.e. 245kbps average) is basically same as 320kbps MP3 but smaller file size.

generally spekaing... LAME v2 (MP3) will be more than good enough for nearly everyone and does not waste a ton of space either. this is the safe all around choice simply because everything supports MP3. (although AAC is another good choice as it's also supported by a lot of devices to but depending on device i would assume is less battery efficient (at least it is on my Sansa running Rockbox v3.9.1)

and only way you can prove to yourself if you can hear the difference is to do a ABX test which you compare the original FLAC file to your encoded file which you can run a test using Foobar2000 and the ABX plugin for it (it's randomized so you don't know which is flac and MP3 so you can't be biased). just doing that test on myself (see if you can do it 15 times and get it all correct) on a random album i had from FLAC vs MP3 i basically could not tell the difference once i reached LAME v6 (which is 115kbps for average) prior to that i could tell the difference and i am sure my hearing falls within normal ranges (although i was not using headphones. i was using my Klipsch Pro-Media 4.1 speakers which are generally good PC speakers in general. but i heard using headphones is generally better for ABX tests). so in general ill bet most people could not notice difference between FLAC and a LAME encoded v5 (130kbps) MP3 file in most cases. although as far as MP3 goes i still prefer the default of 190kbps LAME v2 mode as that's the default and seems like a good idea to use for good measure just in case you ran across a album you could notice it as that seems to be the general rate (i.e. LAME v2) that's transparent (i.e. can't notice difference between FLAC and MP3) for vast majority of people.

and in my OPINION... i would say AAC (which you can encode with Nero's AAC encoder as i prefer not to have itunes installed on my PC) and Vorbis (aoTuV) OGG are the best encoders if your going under 128kbps or so bit rates (so basically say 96kbps or 64kbps etc)... but i tend to prefer MP3/MPC (musepack) for the higher bit rates due to they are generally more efficient (i.e. less battery drain) on your device, at least as far as my Sandisk Sansa e200 series is concerned. but i generally like MPC over MP3 on my device as it's battery efficient and you can typically get lower bit rates to vs MP3 as Musepack at the default encoding rate is 170kbps (q5) where as MP3 (Lame v2) is 190kbps. so saves on space. but obviously for people who can't run Rockbox firmware on there DAP's MPC is typically not even going to be a option since most hardware either supports MP3 and AAC with occasional support for OGG (i don't think anyone bothers with .WMA anymore).

but, at least for me, it's pretty easy to ABX LAME @ 96kbps and 64kbps vs Vorbis aoTuV/Nero AAC (or Itunes i assume) as those are clearly better sounding than MP3 at those low of rates simply because i can ABX Lame @ 96kbps or lower consistently on a random album i had where as ill bet i could not do it if i was using Vorbis aoTuV/AAC @ 96kbps and maybe even 64kbps to.

in general i avoid AAC simply because it's less efficient to decode on my Sansa e200 series so it drains battery faster vs MP3/MPC (and probably Vorbis (OGG)) to.

but i would assume for general portable use 128kbps (or so (say Lame v5)) is 'good enough' in most cases unless you got great hearing (i.e. above average) or some fancy headphones etc. i just prefer LAME v2 in general (as far as MP3 route goes) to play it safe and without wasting a ton of space.

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This is pretty much like the difference between 720p and 1080p. Most people can't tell the difference between the two when you are looking at 50 inch screen and below. But as you get bigger screen it becomes noticeable. This is why I keep everything in FLAC. You can always convert on the fly to other formats which I do. I don't understand why everyone is concerned about space. Harddisk are cheep. I stream to my PS3 and listen with speakers and can tell on some music not all but some.

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This is pretty much like the difference between 720p and 1080p. Most people can't tell the difference between the two when you are looking at 50 inch screen and below. But as you get bigger screen it becomes noticeable. This is why I keep everything in FLAC. You can always convert on the fly to other formats which I do. I don't understand why everyone is concerned about space. Harddisk are cheep. I stream to my PS3 and listen with speakers and can tell on some music not all but some.

If you had at least said 40 or below. But selling tv's I can tell you that's wrong to, on 40 inch tv's people easily see a difference between 720 and 1080, at close to medium viewing distances. Generally people remark on how sharp the picture is on 32 inch tv's and some even wonder if that's not a better choice since they get a better picture.

Anyway besides the point.

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If you had at least said 40 or below. But selling tv's I can tell you that's wrong to, on 40 inch tv's people easily see a difference between 720 and 1080, at close to medium viewing distances. Generally people remark on how sharp the picture is on 32 inch tv's and some even wonder if that's not a better choice since they get a better picture.

Anyway besides the point.

Then you are just validating my point if have really high end stereo your going to be able to tell difference between and mp3 and FLAC in some music. Not all.

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How is that validating your point.

Any half decent earphones will show a clear difference between anything below 256 at least.

When it comes to a proper stereo/surround system, you're going to need a pretty crap ones to not hear hat 320 is clearly better, nd a decent one will clearly show lossless is better.

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This is pretty much like the difference between 720p and 1080p. Most people can't tell the difference between the two when you are looking at 50 inch screen and below. But as you get bigger screen it becomes noticeable. This is why I keep everything in FLAC. You can always convert on the fly to other formats which I do. I don't understand why everyone is concerned about space. Harddisk are cheep. I stream to my PS3 and listen with speakers and can tell on some music not all but some.

Agreed. which is why lately i just keep FLAC on my PC but then use Foobar2000 v1.1.8 when needed to convert to any lossy audio format i need to.

i am sure people are concerned about space probably mostly for portable use as not everyone has a hard drive based DAP. mine is flash based and has 2GB internal with 8GB MicroSDHC card for 10GB total space which is quite a bit but still not to the point you got a ton of space to burn but i am sure i already got more than i will ever really need on it and worst case if i had to i could re-rip my collcetion to a smaller bit rate.

p.s. but with the whole 720p/1080p example... assuming your right, that should answer your question as not to many people have more than a 50"-ish TV in general since unless you got a big room it would be semi-overkill going to much over 50inch or so. even if you got a large projection screen well over 50inch i would guess that it still would not be to noticeable simply because, at least in my opinion, projection looks worse than a quality LCD/LED/Plasma type TV when paired with bluray.

but i always heard once you get around 50" (or larger) that 1080p IS noticeable but ihave not seen it myself to tell with my own eyes. but i am sure off the top of my head from what i remember that on a 50" TV i could definitely notice the difference between a real bluray and a compressed 720p x264 file. but i would have liked to have seen 720p and 1080p compressed to x264 just to see if there is a difference.

Any half decent earphones will show a clear difference between anything below 256 at least.

half decent earphones as in say 20-30bucks or less? , because i doubt most people would notice it on most songs once you hit around LAME v2 (i.e. 190kbps give or take). because i assume that was the rate which it's transparent to most people in vast majority of songs.

but assuming you can ABX like you claim i think your probably just above average in hearing. even if there are differences i would be willing to bet that it's still very minimal in overall sound difference.

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I love flac, for archive purposes. The though of data loss on music bother's me.

That being said, if on mobile device that doesn't have the ability to playback the quality, I will convert a copy in lower bit rate, but still keep the originals.

If you use flac as the base for re-encoding or burning to cd, you get no audio loss, but if keep re-encoding from a lossey codex, audio quality will degrade over time.

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I bought several 3TB hard drives for my re-ripping CD project. I'm currently ripping albums using Exact Audio Copy into FLAC, then converting (with no loss) to Apple Lossless for use in iTunes and my iPods. Coming up on 20,000 songs in Apple Lossless already. :D

Though I can hear differences between MP3s and FLAC/ALAC using my studio monitor speakers, I prefer lossless for archiving.

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Being able to hear a difference greatly depends on what speakers you're using. Does it have a subwoofer attached? Usually it won't be noticeable until you use high quality speakers, or at least ones with a subwoofer. I prefer my music to be encoded as mp3 V0, those usually sound great on my speakers. Anything below 256kbps is noticeable because the bass starts lacking a lot and certain instruments sound flatter.

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Being able to hear a difference greatly depends on what speakers you're using. Does it have a subwoofer attached? Usually it won't be noticeable until you use high quality speakers, or at least ones with a subwoofer. I prefer my music to be encoded as mp3 V0, those usually sound great on my speakers. Anything below 256kbps is noticeable because the bass starts lacking a lot and certain instruments sound flatter.

like i say the speakers i got are on the higher quality side as they are... Klipsch Pro-Media 4.1 which i paid around $200-250 (i think it was $250, but i know i paid at least $200 for them) back around 2002-ish and yes they have a subwoofer (basically 60watts each for the 4 speakers and the sub is 160watts for 400watts total). they are definitely not low quality speakers to say the least.

but basically at the time i got them they where pretty much as good as PC speakers got. even to this day i am sure they are still on the higher end side for PC speakers as they sound clear etc.

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I would say that storage is pretty cheep and if you are going to take the time to rip audio CDs might as well make it FLAC. Just keep in mind that every GB of storage needs a GB of backup ;).

(personally I don't bother and just rip to 256k AAC... news flash, as you get older your ears won't work as well so this conversation matters less as you age)

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