FLAC vs. MP3 320

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  • GatecrasherGatecrasher Posts: 1,596
    edited July 2014
    MP3 was developed for one reason. File size. When MP3 first came out, there were no multi-terabyte hard drives and flash memory available. Space was a premium so file size was important - especially for portable devices. As the technology has progressed, file size isn't nearly as important as it used to be.

    I still use MP3 in my portable player but my main library is all lossless and there definitely is a difference in sound quality. MP3 doesn't sound too bad though. Lossless just sounds better. Especially at home on a nice sound system.
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  • mikey1987mikey1987 Posts: 68
    edited July 2014
    MP3 was developed for one reason. File size. When MP3 first came out, there were no multi-terabyte hard drives and flash memory available. Space was a premium so file size was important - especially for portable devices. As the technology has progressed, file size isn't nearly as important as it used to be.

    I still use MP3 in my portable player but my main library is all lossless and there definitely is a difference in sound quality. MP3 doesn't sound too bad though. Lossless just sounds better. Especially at home on a nice sound system.

    I remember my first MP3 download - "Liberi Fatali" from the Final Fantasy 8 soundtrack. My PC at the time had a whopping 1gb hard drive.

    Then, I remember upgrading PCs shortly after to one that had a 13gb hard drive. My first rip was Matchbox Twenty's Mad Season, and I was amazed at how small the total album size was. I kept thinking, WOW, 50mb! I can fit 20 albums per gigabyte, or a total of 200 albums on my HD.

    Now, looking back, I realize how ridiculous it would have been to imagine hard drives in the terabytes and ripping music in FLAC. That same album is 400mb now in lossless, and I can fit a total of 5000 similar length albums on my 2TB NAS.

    Brings back so many memories....

    Anyone else remember their first MP3 download?
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  • voltzvoltz Posts: 5,254
    edited July 2014
    I do remember the early mp3's. I keep thinking the sound is lame and it must be because of my cheap PC speakers, or maybe I need a better sound card, kept telling my self that music just sounds like junk on my PC, was almost giving up on playing music on my PC as I could not get it to sound good at all LOL. :) never thought it might be the MP3's fault! but what did I know?
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  • nspindelnspindel Posts: 5,346
    edited July 2014
    They named the encoder "lame". That right there ought to tell you something!
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  • AsSiMiLaTeDAsSiMiLaTeD Posts: 11,717
    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,
    That video is a good start, but unfortunately only tells half the story and is going to mislead a bunch of people into thinking the real problem here is compression. Compression is a problem for sure, but the bigger problem is the masters themselves. Compression is largely a function of technology, mastering is more a function of choice.

    When digital music landed in the form of files that go on a hard drive we were still mostly constrained by hard drive space and internet bandwidth. We didn't have hard drives with terabytes of data and the majority of people were still on dial-up internet. In fact I'd argue that those both changed in large part due to the digital music 'phenomenon', digital photography was probably a big part of this as well. So as a result we got a music format that compresses the music into a small file size, so that people can store a bunch of music on a small hard drive and can actually download the files in a reasonable amount of time.

    The problem is that although technology has evolved to the point where we don't really need compressed music, by the time that happened compressed music was already the norm, thus making it much more difficult to have lossless as the standard. More and more devices out there are playing lossless files these days, and I think it's just a matter of time before this problem gets solved.

    The real issue is the masters themselves and the dynamic range compression that recordings often get, that process is much more damaging and permanent than file compression. Even if/when all music files become lossless you're still going to be handicapped by the master quality. I'll take a file compression over dynamic range compression in most cases. Patricia Barber in 320kbps mp3 still sounds much better than an album like Tool's 10,000 days with heavy dynamic compression.

    Sure they can take an old album and remaster it, but that seldom results in better quality and is a very labor intensive process. So IMO the real problem here is the masters themselves.

    Here's another way to think about it - Apple could flip a switch tomorrow and turn all the files in iTunes into lossless files, but there's no quick fix for magically changing all those millions of songs into well mastered recordings.
  • quicksilvergtsquicksilvergts Posts: 276
    edited July 2014
    ^^agreed^^
    Even still to this day I love taking pictures taken with film.
    Very well said. It is a "masters" issue. Especially now since my own
    Audio setup is being developed, it's difficult to get more quality music.
    I have a lot BUT it is not the same. Still sounds phenomenal, I just want more lol.

    I just figured it was a good shirt film to get a bigger audience to understand.
    As most do not because they can't "see" like a TV so to speak.

    Cheers!!
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  • ApexproApexpro Posts: 97
    mikey1987 wrote: »
    dragon1952 wrote: »
    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.

    Q: Do you know what you get if you play new age music backwards?
    A: New age music.

    <kidding....I have all of Mannheim Steamroller's albums through the mid-80s>

    I personally use pipe organ music - Bach in particular: frequency and dynamic range, subtleness, and outright 'bring down the walls of Jericho' bass notes. But I concede the only thing that can top it is electronic music.
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  • ApexproApexpro Posts: 97
    steveinaz wrote: »
    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.

    Good advice. My son is 21 and asked me to put a system together for him for his 'pad' at college. I found a Sony STR-6055 that had been completely re-done, even the solid wooden case was refinished. Combined it with some Cerwin-Vega D3s (it is for a college student, lol), so-so DAC, and a LG Blu-ray DVD/CD player. Plus the cabling to hook up his MP3 player/phone/computer and he and his friends love it. I need to get him a better DAC.

    - Please don't clean up my mess. You'll only confuse me.

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  • pitdogg2pitdogg2 Posts: 14,310
    edited August 2014



    you can remaster till you're dead and rotten but if the master is compressed with a lossy format you'll NEVER get back what should be in there. Unless you go back into the studio and do over with a different format.

  • Vlad.GrigorianVlad.Grigorian Registered User Posts: 17
    I did a crude blind test a while back: MP3 vs FLAC vs 24/192 studio master.
    The results were clear - clouldnt tell one from the other. It was pretty shocking at the time because I was sure an MP3 version would sound different from a perfect SM , but not in a blind test.
    Having said that - FLACs is all I have. Studio Masters including (prefer them to WAVs).
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  • WLDockWLDock Posts: 2,623
    God, I remember the early days of visiting family and listening to bad MP3 files coming of of loud distorted speakers . I used to sneak and turn it down to stop the bleeding from my ears. LOL!
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  • tonybtonyb Posts: 31,439
    I did a crude blind test a while back: MP3 vs FLAC vs 24/192 studio master.
    The results were clear - clouldnt tell one from the other. It was pretty shocking at the time because I was sure an MP3 version would sound different from a perfect SM , but not in a blind test.
    Having said that - FLACs is all I have. Studio Masters including (prefer them to WAVs).

    If you can't tell the difference between those formats, one of two things is happening.

    Your ears just aren't that discerning

    Your system just isn't that revealing

    There's huge well noticeable differences in MP3 - 24/192....even MP3 to standard lossless files like flac is pretty obvious on even a mid level system. But....means squat anyway as we all like what we like regardless. If your happy with what you have, enjoy and pay no attention to anything else.
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  • tophatjohnnytophatjohnny Posts: 2,605
    edited November 2014
    znpmhcagsect.jpg


    All 2000+ CD's I have now ripped to my external HD are in FLAC and while I have only heard this format, I have to say, it is amazing. OP brought Herbie Hancock up and I have just about everyone of his CD's in my system and they all sound very good. Brian Culbertson's (for those of you who ain't hip) recordings just slam. Tight bass dynamic mid's and overall sound stage is lifelike, but it helps to have the right equipment to realize this. Quack!! lol
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  • BlueFoxBlueFox Posts: 12,033
    I did a crude blind test a while back: MP3 vs FLAC vs 24/192 studio master. The results were clear - clouldnt tell one from the other.

    If that is true then you are in the wrong hobby. :)



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  • 11tsteve11tsteve Posts: 1,173
    edited November 2014
    when I bought Abbey Road on cd, I fired up dBpoweramp and immediately ripped it to my drive. Fired up my rig, started playback in Jriver, and was astounded. What a horrible recording... thin, no range... then I tried headphones, going track to track, and just felt disappointed. It didn't seem, even given the age of the recording, that it could be so horribly mastered.
    I then was looking through the files, and noticed I had accidentally ripped it in Mp3... I had recently re-installed the software and it was set to use LAME and in my rush I hadn't noticed.
    Once done in lossless, everything was right with the world again. Nothing like the un-intentional blind test.
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  • voltzvoltz Posts: 5,254
    znpmhcagsect.jpg

    Since I have a Ipod I'm ripping all my CD's in Aflac ,err....Alac!
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  • steveinazsteveinaz Posts: 19,000
    I did a crude blind test a while back: MP3 vs FLAC vs 24/192 studio master.
    The results were clear - clouldnt tell one from the other.

    Ok, so you can't hear a difference between MP3 and 24/192; yet you "prefer" flac over wav files. Color me confused.

  • tonybtonyb Posts: 31,439
    steveinaz wrote: »
    I did a crude blind test a while back: MP3 vs FLAC vs 24/192 studio master.
    The results were clear - clouldnt tell one from the other.

    Ok, so you can't hear a difference between MP3 and 24/192; yet you "prefer" flac over wav files. Color me confused.


    LMAO....sums it up nicely.
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  • SCompRacerSCompRacer Posts: 7,165
    edited December 2014
    All you have to do is look at the definition of mp3....

    "The use in MP3 of a lossy compression algorithm is designed to greatly reduce the amount of data required to represent the audio recording and still sound like a faithful reproduction of the original uncompressed audio for most listeners.

    So what do you want to hear? A true recording or something that removes sounds musicians and recording engineers included in the recording with mp3 saying it doesn't matter cause it's beyond the auditory resolution ability of most people?


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  • tonybtonyb Posts: 31,439
    Oh stop it Rich, being all logical and that....it's the holidays man. lol
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