FLAC vs. MP3 320

mikey1987mikey1987 Posts: 68
edited July 2014 in Going Digital
Is it just me, or does FLAC sound way better than MP3, even at 320kbps?

Most people say you can't tell the difference, it's inaudible, abx test this, double blind that... blah blah blah.

I'm sitting here listening to the MP3 and FLAC rips of the same albums, and while the differences are subtle, they are definitely detectable.

Perhaps it's just the encoding on the mp3's (320kbps LAME) that I did years ago?

Some of the source material is Herbie Hancock, Deep Forest, and Shpongle.

Bass is tighter with the FLACs and the top end is more crisp and refined as compared to the MP3's.

Thoughts?
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Post edited by mikey1987 on
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Comments

  • dragon1952dragon1952 Posts: 4,688
    edited July 2014
    FLAC is lossless so it should sound better given a system that is half-way decent. Of course on a crappy system or for listening to music as background probably hard to distinguish. Considering most Americans listen on crappy systems or for background only it's no wonder they can't tell the difference.
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  • NightfallNightfall Posts: 8,212
    edited July 2014
    Of course it's not just you.
    afterburnt wrote: »
    They didn't speak a word of English, they were from South Carolina.

    Village Idiot of Club Polk
  • falconcry72falconcry72 Posts: 3,584
    edited July 2014
    It's not the encoding; LAME @ 320 is as good of an mp3 as you're going to get. Lossless rules!!!
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  • mikey1987mikey1987 Posts: 68
    edited July 2014
    dragon1952 wrote: »
    FLAC is lossless so it should sound better given a system that is half-way decent. Of course on a crappy system or for listening to music as background probably hard to distinguish. Considering most Americans listen on crappy systems or for background only it's no wonder they can't tell the difference.

    I can't even tell the difference between Youtube's audio (which is god awful, even at their "HD standard") and FLAC on my laptop's speakers.

    But streaming from my Laptop on Bluetooth to my Logitech DAC, I can tell. While I previously believed this cheap Bluetooth device was the weakest link in my system so encoding wouldn't be discernible - well, I was wrong.

    I'm sure a better DAC would yield even better quality overall, it's still strong enough to expose the weaknesses of lossy encoded music.

    I am glad I re-ripped all my CDs in FLAC that I own. "Borrowed" music will have to stay in MP3-320 until it can be purchased or "re-borrowed". :)

    Call me crazy, but I have come to believe that World Music and New Age are just as good if not better for demo-ing than Jazz and Classical. Lot's of dynamic range in there along with deep bass and good treble.
    Speakers: Polk RTi10
    Preamp: Parasound PL/D-1100
    Amplifier: Parasound HCA-1500A
    Neighbors: pissed off
  • mikey1987mikey1987 Posts: 68
    edited July 2014
    It's not the encoding; LAME @ 320 is as good of an mp3 as you're going to get. Lossless rules!!!

    Don't get me wrong - it doesn't sound awful for most music like Rock and Rap and you can't tell. But FLAC really brings out the best in certain genres.

    I'm sure it doesn't help that modern "popular" music is highly lacking in dynamic range. When compressed using MP3 there isn't as much detail to be lost since the entire tracks and albums are so loud.

    I get a real laugh out of people that pay $12.99 on iTunes for an album in a lossy format, when they can probably get the same album on Amazon on CD for $8.50 and then rip it in whatever format(s) they want. They now own a hard copy and have a digital copy as well.

    Oh well, people pay for convenience, I guess....
    Speakers: Polk RTi10
    Preamp: Parasound PL/D-1100
    Amplifier: Parasound HCA-1500A
    Neighbors: pissed off
  • tonybtonyb Posts: 31,439
    edited July 2014
    mikey1987 wrote: »
    Oh well, people pay for convenience, I guess....

    Yes they do.

    Can't tell you how many homes I've been in, both inside and out, that I see an IPOD dock with crappy little speakers as the main listening venue. Their IPHONE is like Santa Clause to them, a swiss army knife. Stick it in the dock and bam, they have music....crappy music, but sound none the less. Then they think it's cool to take it outside on their deck for parties. It never cuts the mustard as you can't hear it over the people talking and gets drowned out fairly easily. What kills me is everyone of them think this is the greatest thing since sliced bread.
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  • StantonZStantonZ Posts: 393
    edited July 2014
    dragon1952 wrote: »
    Considering most Americans listen on crappy systems or for background only it's no wonder they can't tell the difference.

    +1 Simple as that
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  • recoveryonerecoveryone Posts: 769
    edited July 2014
    In most cases FLAC should be the winner, but it all start's with the master. A bad recording is just that, a bad recording. And the difference of the same album from vinyl to CD can be night and day. Studio engineers has screwed over so many albums to please record execs who think they know what the masses want in audio quality.
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  • sucks2bemesucks2beme Posts: 4,888
    edited July 2014
    The internet is full of ramblings about how lossless doesn't sound better than lossy.
    What the **ll are they listening to? Normally, this closely follows the thread about how
    all properly designed amps and dacs should sound the same.
    "The legitimate powers of government extend to such acts only as are injurious to others. But it does me no injury for my neighbour to say there are twenty gods, or no god. It neither picks my pocket nor breaks my leg." --Thomas Jefferson
  • mikey1987mikey1987 Posts: 68
    edited July 2014
    sucks2beme wrote: »
    The internet is full of ramblings about how lossless doesn't sound better than lossy.
    What the **ll are they listening to? Normally, this closely follows the thread about how
    all properly designed amps and dacs should sound the same.

    Ahh, so you see the same garbage on the other usual forums that I do? Glad to see I'm not the only one. :D

    Not looking to point fingers or anything, but it's usually the headphone kiddies arguing that you can't tell the difference....

    Nothing is ever going to sound the same, period, but can and will sound very close (to the point of being indistinguishable) as you climb here up the ladder.

    Law of diminishing returns and all that jazz.....

    With the cost of storage these days, it is a huge surprise that people would even consider lossy storage. Rip it in lossless once and for all and then you never have to worry about it. Then you can focus on improving everything else in your "chain" when you find yourself with money to spend.

    I'd hate to know that a simple selection of AAC instead of FLAC (entirely a choice of mine) yielded music which is the weakest link in my set up.

    The funniest part, by far, is their common retort of "let me guess... a FLACkie... you probably also spend $1000 on power cables because you can "hear" the difference"...

    Don't even get me started on the "better sound through research" fanboys. :p
    Speakers: Polk RTi10
    Preamp: Parasound PL/D-1100
    Amplifier: Parasound HCA-1500A
    Neighbors: pissed off
  • recoveryonerecoveryone Posts: 769
    edited July 2014
    the only real arugment for Mp3 or most other lossy formats is that are compatible with vehicle systems and portable devices. If FLAC were commonly used in those devices then lossy formats would die off.
    Family Room HT 7.2/i]:
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    Living room 2ch:
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    Upstairs media room:
    Vizio D1 32" Pioneer Elite VSX 32 Sony PS4 Squeezebox Touch Polkaudio Rti 6's fronts Polk CSR Center Polkaudio PSW 10 sub Panamax M5300-EX
    Master bedroom:
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  • mikey1987mikey1987 Posts: 68
    edited July 2014
    the only real arugment for Mp3 or most other lossy formats is that are compatible with vehicle systems and portable devices. If FLAC were commonly used in those devices then lossy formats would die off.

    The only thing that drives innovation more than corporate greed is consumer demand. :D
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    Neighbors: pissed off
  • steveinazsteveinaz Posts: 19,000
    edited July 2014
    If someone claims to hear no difference between MP3 and flac, it's probably a waste of your time to point out why they're wrong.
  • recoveryonerecoveryone Posts: 769
    edited July 2014
    mikey1987 wrote: »
    The only thing that drives innovation more than corporate greed is consumer demand. :D

    You hit the nail on the head, we have a generation that truly have no real mearsure of quality reproduced sound.
    I personal have both formats on my Squeezebox system, but do to the lack of FLAC compatible vehicle systems I need those 320k Mp3's, I remeber when 192k was the limit on vehicle systems.
    Family Room HT 7.2/i]:
    Vizio P55-E1UHD Pioneer Elite SC-LX502 Pioneer Elite BDP 85FD Pioneer Elite N-50 Panamax M5300-EX
    Living room 2ch:
    Integra ADM 2.1 Teac EQ MKII Squeezebox Touch Fluance SX Speakers Panamax M5100-EX
    Upstairs media room:
    Vizio D1 32" Pioneer Elite VSX 32 Sony PS4 Squeezebox Touch Polkaudio Rti 6's fronts Polk CSR Center Polkaudio PSW 10 sub Panamax M5300-EX
    Master bedroom:
    Vizio VF550M Pioneer Elite VSX 33 Pioneer Elite BDP 80FD Squeezebox Touch Polk audio Monitor 40 II fronts, Rears Dayton B652 Jensen CCS center Polkaudio PSW 10 sub Panamax 5100
  • sucks2bemesucks2beme Posts: 4,888
    edited July 2014
    The headphone site sound science forum is full on nonsense.
    The only reason this site isn't like that is we tend to listen 1st and talk
    2nd. And people that can't hear aren't taken seriously.
    "The legitimate powers of government extend to such acts only as are injurious to others. But it does me no injury for my neighbour to say there are twenty gods, or no god. It neither picks my pocket nor breaks my leg." --Thomas Jefferson
  • steveinazsteveinaz Posts: 19,000
    edited July 2014
    You would think that headphones would really show the weaknesses of lossy tunes?
  • mikey1987mikey1987 Posts: 68
    edited July 2014
    steveinaz wrote: »
    You would think that headphones would really show the weaknesses of lossy tunes?

    I'm gonna go on a limb and say that people who listen to headphones don't usually blast them, for fear of hearing loss.

    Less likely to push the limits of their headphones and headphone amps...
    Speakers: Polk RTi10
    Preamp: Parasound PL/D-1100
    Amplifier: Parasound HCA-1500A
    Neighbors: pissed off
  • sucks2bemesucks2beme Posts: 4,888
    edited July 2014
    No, many of them them have speakers as well. The issue becomes they tried something that didn't work.
    And that becomes their basis to call all things audio myth. DBT becomes their only focus.
    One user reported that he heard a difference between two amps. Answer:one must be broken.
    Granted, some things done for better sound are at best silly. But to declare all amps and dacs equal?
    Sorry, I'm a gear w**re. And I've been known to rotate everything sometimes just to make sure
    what's what. Most amps sound different. Dacs sound different. Cables matter (within reason).
    A recent visit to a headphone meet confirmed most headphone users are just as passionate
    about their sound as speaker listeners.
    "The legitimate powers of government extend to such acts only as are injurious to others. But it does me no injury for my neighbour to say there are twenty gods, or no god. It neither picks my pocket nor breaks my leg." --Thomas Jefferson
  • NightfallNightfall Posts: 8,212
    edited July 2014
    mikey1987 wrote: »
    Not looking to point fingers or anything, but it's usually the headphone kiddies arguing that you can't tell the difference....
    I'm not so sure about that. There are just as many headphone audiophiles as are speaker audiophiles. They try different cables, amps, dacs, etc.

    I'd say the biggest group of people that "can't tell the difference" is the HT group.
    sucks2beme wrote: »
    A recent visit to a headphone meet confirmed most headphone users are just as passionate
    about their sound as speaker listeners.

    Agreed.
    afterburnt wrote: »
    They didn't speak a word of English, they were from South Carolina.

    Village Idiot of Club Polk
  • quicksilvergtsquicksilvergts Posts: 276
    edited July 2014
    An excellent video I found a few weeks back. The title says it all.
    how the current generation hears/views music.
    Posted it on Facebook , Audiophiles North America.
    Distortion of sound- by Harmon
    http://m.youtube.com/watch?v=mDZcz-V29_M

    Cheers,
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  • quicksilvergtsquicksilvergts Posts: 276
    edited July 2014
    For me, it felt like they hit the nail on the head.
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    "If your BOLD enough to try it,
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  • NightfallNightfall Posts: 8,212
    edited July 2014
    I enjoyed watching that, thanks for posting it up.
    afterburnt wrote: »
    They didn't speak a word of English, they were from South Carolina.

    Village Idiot of Club Polk
  • cnhcnh Posts: 13,310
    edited July 2014
    Will check the vid out later. For now. Yeah! Most people cannot hear the difference between 320K and FLAC:

    1. They're listening to files on a portable device in public with ShiXXy earbuds!

    2. They stream their music to a wireless blue tooth unit that compresses it.

    3. Their audio system is cheap and cannot resolve lossless files well enough to hear the extra information.

    4. And here I refer to experiments by Raife. people do not know how to "listen" and what to "listen" for when they play a song.

    5. The loudness wars have affected even FLAC files in that many modern recordings lack the appropriate scaling from soft to loud, so that people think all that matters is that something sounds LOUD.

    I'm sure we could add more to this list and, have done so above.

    Good set of speakers, good power, good source, proper ICs, and educated ears, etc. All musts for music appreciation!

    cnh
    Currently orbiting Bowie's Blackstar.!

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  • 11tsteve11tsteve Posts: 1,173
    edited July 2014
    my wife, bless her heart, bought me "Abbey Road" for Christmas, and I excitedly ripped it to my drive for a listen. I use AIFF, which is still lossless, because even though I use Jriver, others use Itunes.
    On first play of "Abbey Road", I couldn't believe how horrible it sounded... this classic album I had been missing for so long. Bad mix? Horrible master? Headphones and speakers both, I found it nearly unlistenable....
    Then, as I was scrolling through files, I noticed I had somehow change things in dbPoweramp, and had ripped it in mP3. I hadn't really experimented with comparing files, but there it was. I ripped it to lossless and was amazed......The difference was startling. It had just been so long since I had listened to an mP3.... and no more for me thank you.
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  • StantonZStantonZ Posts: 393
    edited July 2014
    Nightfall wrote: »
    I enjoyed watching that, thanks for posting it up.

    Me too!
    Yamaha RX-A2050 AVR (5.0.2)
    (4) Polk Monitor 10B's w/SoniCaps, Mills, and RDO-194 tweets (R/L F/R)
    (2) Polk Monitor 4's w/peerless tweets (Top Middle)
    Polk CS300 center channel
    Analog: B&O TX2 Turntable, Nakamichi Cassette Deck 1
    Digital: Pioneer CLD-99 Elite LD, Panasonic DMP-UB900 UHD Blu-Ray
    LG 65EF9500 4K OLED
  • mikey1987mikey1987 Posts: 68
    edited July 2014
    An excellent video I found a few weeks back. The title says it all.
    how the current generation hears/views music.
    Posted it on Facebook , Audiophiles North America.
    Distortion of sound- by Harmon
    http://m.youtube.com/watch?v=mDZcz-V29_M

    Cheers,

    Thanks. Great watch.

    The one thing that irked me was Linkin Park and Steve Aoki - these guys are part of the problem. Their albums are loud as **** and already compressed with respect to dynamic range because these albums even make it to CD....

    So they're not really ones to talk...
    Speakers: Polk RTi10
    Preamp: Parasound PL/D-1100
    Amplifier: Parasound HCA-1500A
    Neighbors: pissed off
  • steveinazsteveinaz Posts: 19,000
    edited July 2014
    Excellent video. Younger generations have been robbed, so take in a kid and sit them in front of your system for awhile. They'll be converted in a hurry. I'm the only hi-fi nut in the family, and my siblings and parents are in awe when they hear my system. I played some Roberta Flack for my Dad once, and he was completely captured in the music.
  • voltzvoltz Posts: 5,254
    edited July 2014
    Nice video!! I listen to headphones as much as do my speakers, I feel my "WOO Wa3 + SENN hd650's" sourced from either a SACD or Vinyl is breath taking at times. I'm ripping in ALAC for my ipod.

    Steveinaz - that is awesome with your dad :) My dad loved music more then anything but only had bad equipment to listen to, I wish he was still alive so he could hear my current setup, I know he would be camped out in my 2 channel room :)
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  • quicksilvergtsquicksilvergts Posts: 276
    edited July 2014
    Glad you all enjoyed it as much as I did.
    It felt as if that is how I try to tell my friends/family.
    But ultimately, they just want
    iTunes-buy now- transfer to iPod-put on some super jank BUT colorful ear buds.
    :/
    Polk Lsi9
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    Polk Fxi3
    Pioneer SC-1222
    Parasound 1200 II w/ Kimber Kable HERO + 4TC
    SVS PB12-NSD (Bash)
    PS4
    Sharp Aquos 55"


    "If your BOLD enough to try it,
    your BOLD enough to make it happen"
  • RamZetRamZet Posts: 776
    edited July 2014
    Go to HD tracks and download an album by the Muse called "The 2nd Law". Listen to the track "Madness" in FLAC. Then play it from your Spotify account or iTunes account. 100% of the time you will be able to pick out the different files.
    B&W
    B&K
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