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mp3 sound quality

dashdespatch

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Jul 24, 2008
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this may sound a bit stupid but how do standard cds perform against cds ripped from mp3 files .lots of cds vary in quality i know but today i listened to tffs seeds of love album very high quality on cd against a mp3 cd of the same album and it seemed to lack lots of depth.

does the compression affect it that much if so can you uncompress a mp3?
 

JonnyD

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Mar 6, 2008
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the short answer is no!

You cannot uncompress an mp3 and get back the original quality. You can convert the file to other types, but by definition, lossy music formats loose quality that cannot be recovered.
 

chebby

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Jun 2, 2008
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dashdespatch:thanks would the difference in sound quality only be evident on a decent hifi?

Lossless files on my iPod (with Sennheiser PX-100 headphones) can easily be distinguised as much better quality than downloaded AAC files from iTunes so the answer is no. The difference is evident even on relatively humble equipment. (If the quality difference is evident even on a Nano with £30 headphones.)

The whole point of MP3 is not quality but the ability to cram as much music in as possible at some sort of 'just about listenable' quality for the average non-critical user. Bit like DAB compared to FM or even DAB compared to radio from Freeview (which is suprisingly good).
 

fr0g

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Jan 7, 2008
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chebby:dashdespatch:thanks would the difference in sound quality only be evident on a decent hifi?

Lossless files on my iPod (with Sennheiser PX-100 headphones) can easily be distinguised as much better quality than downloaded AAC files from iTunes so the answer is no. The difference is evident even on relatively humble equipment. (If the quality difference is evident even on a Nano with £30 headphones.)

The whole point of MP3 is not quality but the ability to cram as much music in as possible at some sort of 'just about listenable' quality for the average non-critical user. Bit like DAB compared to FM or even DAB compared to radio from Freeview (which is suprisingly good).

I bet you couldnt tell the difference with one of my MP3s, and lossless on those headphones.

On anything other than a decent, revealing system, a high quality ripped Mp3 is almost transparant.

In fact, try it. If you have foobar, you can download the ABX (double blind test plugin).
If you can ABX it, then hats off to you. But I have yet to meet anyone who can.

(This is WAV against MP3 at 220 VBR, or above, EAC/LAME ripped).
 

fr0g

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Jan 7, 2008
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dashdespatch:thanks would the difference in sound quality only be evident on a decent hifi?

If the MP3s were of a high standard (EAC/LAME) at 220 VBR and above, then the quality will be extremely high.
There is a difference, but it's very close.

(A good MP3 sounds better through my current system (squeezebox and Harmony DAC), than the original CD on my CD player only).
 

fr0g

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chebby:Assumed we were talking about normal highly compressed MP3 downloads vs Lossless formats here.

In that case... indeed. ;)

(I always feel that many peoples view of the format is tarnished by awful 128 Kbps pirated rubbish.) In all honesty, the only reason I rip in FLAC, is because disk space is cheap, and transcoding is perfect. My MP3s sound 99% as good as my FLACs, and I can only tell the difference through the main system, and even then, not all the time.
 

Thaiman

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Jul 28, 2007
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fr0g:(A good MP3 sounds better through my current system (squeezebox and Harmony DAC), than the original CD on my CD player only).

That, I can believe!

but and it's a big but. A top class CD player will sound better again! Since I know you mate i have turn my interest to compressed files which before that I never bother. I had 3 DACs and even a music server! (see what you bloody done!) and the result, after all that...A highend CD player do sound better than MP3 files (320 kps) and a very good DAC combo....a lot better!

Trust me, I wish I could be happy enough with computer's base source as I have far too many CDs and they slowly took over my room not to mention the nagging wife!
 

fr0g

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Thaiman:
fr0g:(A good MP3 sounds better through my current system (squeezebox and Harmony DAC), than the original CD on my CD player only).

That, I can believe!

but and it's a big but. A top class CD player will sound better again! Since I know you mate i have turn my interest to compressed files which before that I never bother. I had 3 DACs and even a music server! (see what you bloody done!) and the result, after all that...A highend CD player do sound better than MP3 files (320 kps) and a very good DAC combo....a lot better!

Trust me, I wish I could be happy enough with computer's base source as I have far too many CDs and they slowly took over my room not to mention the nagging wife!

Thaiman, you are doing it again! Comparing apples with shoes.
If you rip the CD, play the PERFECT files through the same DAC, as the CD is playing through, then at worst, the WAVs, FLACs etc will sound AS GOOD.
..And the MP3s will sound better than a cheaper CD player.

My point was only that MP3 IS HIFI...

(And I listen to less and less MP3s these days anyway, as I slowly rip my collection into FLAC...)
 

Thaiman

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Jul 28, 2007
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fr0g:Thaiman:

fr0g:My point was only that MP3 IS HIFI...

agree
but not ipod!

I have my doubts, but then Krell disagree. WHF Krell Kid

Yeb...heard them at the show and for the price we can do so much better.
 

JoelSim

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Aug 24, 2007
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fr0g:Thaiman:
fr0g:My point was only that MP3 IS HIFI...

agree
but not ipod!

I have my doubts, but then Krell disagree.
WHF Krell Kid

Not sure about that, I think they can see a profit opportunity and more importantly it's a bigger market, those who are young and have iPods will get older and more wealthy and Krell will be in there.

I don't think any hifi company can afford to be blind to what's happening, and no doubt in a few years when all the audio experts are in the market then it will be advanced. I don't think you can say that yet though
 

fr0g

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Jan 7, 2008
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Thaiman:fr0g:Thaiman:

fr0g:My point was only that MP3 IS HIFI...

agree
but not ipod!

I have my doubts, but then Krell disagree. WHF Krell Kid

Yeb...heard them at the show and for the price we can do so much better.

..but back into a previous context. Maybe AJ isn't so daft in saying an iPod ? his speakers can sound like a system costing much more.

To be honest I agree with certain other poeople who say it is utterly pointless to spend silly money on a transport, when a wireless £100 player will give you a bit perfect signal.
A CD transport is only a mechanism for reading a digital file, from digital media. Some transports cost crazy money.If you can simply transfer that file onto a (far better) different media, and then supply the DAC with an equally accurate digital signal, then for me it puts it into perspective.

I wonder why certain famous mid to high end manufacturers are charging (IMO) silly money for computer based systems...and my guess is it isnt anything to do with cost, but with performance.

CD will be dead, very soon. In fact I would stake my house on 2 things... It will be as good as dead within the next 10-15 years, and 2...Vinyl will outlive it... (And imo not for sonic reasons, but for tactile, and obsessive reasons)
 

chebby

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Jun 2, 2008
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fr0g:CD will be dead, very soon. In fact I would stake my house on 2 things... It will be as good as dead within the next 10-15 years, and 2...Vinyl will outlive it... (And imo not for sonic reasons, but for tactile, and obsessive reasons)

'MAMW£50&NB' will keep CD alive for a while yet (Middle aged man with £50 and no broadband) and it will be kept alive almost excusively on Amazon (high street CD sales will be dead in 5 years at the very latest).

However, once the middle aged men ARE people who grew up with the internet (very soon now) and once ADSL (or Cable) has reached everywhere (got to happen one day), then 'beermat' formats like CD and DVD and Blu-ray will fizzle out. (DVD last of all I think). HDDs in computers will soon all be the 'no moving parts' variety and will become even cheaper and far higher capacity than the present-day head-crash prone HDDs. Hopefully the big operators like iTunes will soon have affordable lossless format downloads.

Yes, Vinyl will rattle along as a quirky niche product with it's own unique appeal and more budget/mid-price turntables will sprout built in phono stages and USB outputs. (Even Rega if they get their head out their a##e and build a USB equipped Fono-Mini into their P1) It will not disappear totally for a couple of generations - if at all - but obviously will never be huge again.

The problem with downloads is that they MUST become cheap, good and easy and universal. LP, CD and even the humble cassette were all universal. That must be the key factor. Not just easy for geeks, or easy for hi-fi buffs, or easy for one particular age-group, BUT easy for everyone (from 5 years to 95 years) to download universally available, universally playable, high quality, lossless music that can be played anywhere on anything (car, home, hifi, PC, Mac etc.)

Whilst we still have a confusing plethora of download formats occupying a wide spectrum of cost and quality and compatibility then a lot of people will still want CDs, despite their occupying a late 1970's technological dead-end.
 

John Duncan

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Jan 8, 2008
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Vinyl will remain as an archive medium, since I seem to recall that the Library of Congress (or something) declared it was the only secure enough archival material.........
 

fr0g

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To be honest, I think a physical format will remain. But with the price of solid state at an all time low...( A 1 GB pendrive from Aria is 45p + VAT , up to an 8 GB for £9.95 + VAT), why not release albums on this format?

We could now, today, have a cost equivalent product to a CD, on a pendrive format.
I for one would love to see a dedicated audiophile solid state player. No moving parts, and perfect reproduction, time and time again.
 
A

Anonymous

Guest
fr0g:To be honest, I think a physical format will remain. But with the price of solid state at an all time low...( A 1 GB pendrive from Aria is 45p + VAT , up to an 8 GB for £9.95 + VAT), why not release albums on this format?

We could now, today, have a cost equivalent product to a CD, on a pendrive format.
I for one would love to see a dedicated audiophile solid state player. No moving parts, and perfect reproduction, time and time again.

Frog I'm sure you're right and I don't think it's all that far away because recently Laurie Fincham (ex Kef), who is a big wig at THX, announced at a recent Press conference that he didn't think people would want Optical Disk drives for much longer and that they might prefer to take a memory stick to a retailer and just plug it in and pay or download. This statement that I have not worded correctly was quickly retracted for obvious reasons, but I think it was prophetic.

I can't remember the numbers but the World's two biggest music retailers are on Line, Apple is top and Amazon.com second. The last quarter's figures for Apple have just been announced and over 11 Million iPods sold, their profits are up and so is growth up 43%. I gather that if it continues for two more years, which it shows every sign of doing, they will be bigger than Microsoft!

All sorts of protest have come from dedicated audiophiles about the sound quality of MP3's, but the reality is that while they may not sound quite as good as the best CD's, they still sound very nice. Also compression can sometimes help an over bright recording of which there are quite few. They are not like listening to a nasty harsh CD player or amplifier, and people are discovering this and it's putting them off hi fi IMO.

Ash
 

Clare Newsome

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Jun 4, 2007
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Ashley James:All sorts of protest have come from dedicated audiophiles about the sound quality of MP3's, but the reality is that while they may not sound quite as good as the best CD's, they still sound very nice.

Ah wonderful - welcome to the age of mediocrity.
 

professorhat

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Dec 28, 2007
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Clare Newsome:
Ashley James:All sorts of protest have come from dedicated audiophiles about the sound quality of MP3's, but the reality is that while they may not sound quite as good as the best CD's, they still sound very nice.

Ah wonderful - welcome to the age of mediocrity.

Yup, definitely seems to be the case. Shame really.
 
A

Anonymous

Guest
I think you'd both agree that the quality of CDs varies and that whilst some are excellent others can be dreadful. Some are too compressed, some have too much bass others too much treble, others have audible distortion, even digital clipping can sometimes be seen and all this means that a well produced track purchased from iTunes can easily sound better than a full 16 Bit file. The other factor is that some hi fi systems are mediocre and customers have bought PMPs and found they sound better. this is often mentioned on Forums.

Therefore I think it's a mistake to call it the age of mediocrity because it isn't, for some it's actually an improvement!

It's also important to remember that iTunes plays up to 24/192 recordings straight from the computer USB socket and SRCs to 24/96 from an Apple's optical digital output and 16/44 from the digital out of an Airport Express that Stereophile have proved is bit perfect and therefore as good as the best CD transport. In iTunes you can store and import whatever size file you like so that it can not only sound better but it's also much more versatile. it also stores movies and TV programs.

I import loads of CDs, if it's an old album and I only like one track I'll by a download and if I'm interested in getting the ultimate sound quality I download a 24/96 track from a company like Gimmell, whose recordings are stunning. I think this is the modern way and it's not mediocre it's just a better way of doing things.

Ash
 

professorhat

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Dec 28, 2007
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Ashley, I'm not berating MP3 as a format, I'm saying it seems the general public is pretty non-plussed about quality these days, they are after convenience and mobility. This isn't just the music market - look at the number of people who come on these forums and say they're not bothered about Blu-Ray as they don't think it's that much better. I would argue the same with them as you are arguing on the case of MP3 i.e. get a Blu-Ray with a decent visual and audio transfer in a proper home cinema system and then tell me it's not much of an improvment over the DVD equivalent.
The same goes for MP3s, but most people don't care about the quality. In fact ask the average person if they want an MP3 encoded in 128Kbs format or 320kbs format and they'll probably stare at you blankly and politely ask what you're talking about!
 

Clare Newsome

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Jun 4, 2007
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In your opinion, Ashley, it's a better way of doing things. In reality, it's a DIFFERENT way of doing things.

The key is choice, so everyone can get easy access to high-quality musical content in the format and manner that best suits them - not an either/or scenario.
 
A

Anonymous

Guest
Claire.

I'm sorry but it's not just different or just my opinion. The FACTs are that it's more versatile, it gives the potential for better sound quality and it's future proof and WHF have a responsibility to represent this fairly to their readers, just as we have to our customers. I do agree choice is personal and for the individual, but he or she must have all the information to make the right decision.

Ash
 

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