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128kbps & 320kbps - Can anyone tell the difference?

Old 09-18-07, 03:10 AM
  #26  
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I can.

But it's not like I can listen to an MP3 and say that it's a 128kbps or a 192kbps or a LAME VBR.

I'd say that it not only depends on the type of music, but also the quality of the MP3 itself. I think that various encoders produce different results. I've heard a few 128s that sounded very good, as well as a few 192 and greater that sounded awful.

But for the most part, the lower the bitrate, the more likely it is to sound like and old cassette or a lousy AM radio broadcast.

I listen to a lot of metal (particularly speed and thrash) and that stuff really needs a high bitrate as a lot of the detail in the sound easily gets lost.
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Old 09-18-07, 07:00 AM
  #27  
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I have no idea what the state of the art is now, but I do know back in '97 when I was huge into mp3s a guy on an irc channel I frequented did some waveform comparisons of various (quality) encoders and the original CD. According to his findings a 128kbps was 92% similar to the original differing most greatly in the highs and lows. A 192kbps was around 98.5%.

I certainly "think" I can tell the difference between a .flac and a 192kbps but I honestly haven't done ABX compares to see if it's just psychological. The .flacs just seem to have more pop.

Interestingly enough, one of my honest to goodness CDs from a European band was recorded on the cheap using musicians in different studios who recorded their parts separately and then sent them into the main studio where the vocalist was working. To my ears (and I'm rarely wrong about these things) the drummer sent in at least some of his tracks as 128kbps mp3s. On at least two tracks there is the tell tale shimmery awfulness that pervades 128bit encodes. Completely blows my mind, and while I like the CD, it makes it really hard to listen to.
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Old 09-18-07, 07:25 AM
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I grew tired of mp3s, so I recently installed a turntable in my car. The sound quality is excellent, but I can't go more than 5 mph.
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Old 09-18-07, 07:31 AM
  #29  
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I can definitely hear the lost definition in 128. Especially in headphones, a 128 MP3 or AAC sounds weirdly bloodless and flat. I always rip at 320, storage is cheap. However, it's more difficult to hear the difference between 192 and 320, IMO.

Having said all of that, even at 320, it's not that hard to hear the difference between an MP3 and a WAV. This is especially true with older albums that actually have dynamic range. With the newer, compressed/clipped, "it goes to eleven", pegged recordings, it matters much less.
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Old 09-18-07, 07:39 AM
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Originally Posted by abrg923
If you have an MP3 at 128, and you re-encode it to 192, does that even do anything?
It will do something, but it's likely to make the mp3 sound worse, since you're lossy compressing something that's already been lossy compressed.

Originally Posted by Dignam
No, an mp3 isn't a .zip file. Likewise, converting an mp3 to a .wav only changes the file extension, not the material within the file.
That's technically not true, since the .wav file is going to be a much larger file, presuming you saved the .wav as uncompressed PCM. It's going to have the exact same audio info as the original .mp3, but in a larger, uncompressed format.
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Old 09-18-07, 07:56 AM
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Originally Posted by abrg923
If you have an MP3 at 128, and you re-encode it to 192, does that even do anything?
Theoretically, it sure as heck SHOULD do something...make the resulting mp3 sound WORSE than before. MP3 is a lossy algorithm which means that by encoding an original sound file, you are losing a good deal of information from the source...depending on the encoder, some are more efficient than others at minimizing the harsh effects of information loss. However, you can't get back the information that was originally discarded so if you try to go back to wav or to re-process the 128 kbps file into a HIGHER bitrate (or transcode to ogg,aac, etc...), the primary effect is to create a less pleasing mp3 than you had before. This is one of the reasons, I fail to understand anyone who has gone 'download only.' Even though I listen to all my files digitally, I don't buy online and still support CD's just to make sure I can control the quality of my listening experience.

Oh, and I can most definitely hear the difference between 128 kbps and 192 kbps in my car ('95 tbird with premium sound system). I use alt-preset-standard via EAC or dbPowerAmp which results in a VBR file averaging around 192 kbps.

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Old 09-18-07, 08:31 AM
  #32  
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Yes, there's a clear difference and 128kbps is a bitrate unsuitable for music except when listened to under the least critical circumstances, like when doing construction work.
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Old 09-18-07, 09:20 AM
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Originally Posted by wendersfan
Yes, there's a clear difference and 128kbps is a bitrate unsuitable for music except when listened to under the least critical circumstances, like when doing construction work.
Must agree. Go with 320.
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Old 09-18-07, 09:36 AM
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Originally Posted by shaun3000
You can only get them if you purchase a whole album.
And only certain albums have them.
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Old 09-18-07, 09:42 AM
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I have been importing my CDs to iTunes at 256kbps AAC. I can tell a difference between that and 128kbps AAC. Although the stuff I have bought at the iTunes store encoded at 128kpbs sounds better than the albulms I've ripped at that bitrate.
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Old 09-18-07, 01:04 PM
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Originally Posted by JZ1276
Wait ... you renecoded a 128kb mp3 to 192kb and hear a difference? I dont think thats possible.
I meant that I was re-ripping my CDs at 192 (AAC) instead of 128.
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Old 09-18-07, 07:06 PM
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Originally Posted by Jay G.
It's going to have the exact same audio info as the original .mp3, but in a larger, uncompressed format.
That's what I meant. I wasn't trying to talk tech, just sound quality.
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Old 09-21-07, 11:16 AM
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Slightly off topic, but what's a good MP3 ripping program, quality-wise? I notice people have said some preserve quality better than others.
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Old 09-21-07, 01:24 PM
  #39  
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Now I have a new iMac and I was planning on re-ripping everything at 128K because of this even though I have the 160GB classic now.

I have already ripped some newer CDs at 128 on the new iMac.

So my question is - If I went back and reripped in Apple lossless or something else would its just replace the file?

I noticed thats what Itunes does if you re-purchase your old songs in the new DRM free songs for the upgrade fee.

Anyway I originally ripped in lossless because I have a lot of Jazz CDs. I think it's best to just stay with that system, although the numerous itunes downloads I have made have never bothered me.

Last edited by MBoyd; 09-21-07 at 01:26 PM.
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Old 09-21-07, 05:03 PM
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Originally Posted by abrg923
Slightly off topic, but what's a good MP3 ripping program, quality-wise? I notice people have said some preserve quality better than others.
Exact Audio Copy (EAC) coupled with the LAME encoder. Both are free.
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Old 09-21-07, 05:19 PM
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Re: EAC, read about secure mode in the drive options then read about the compression options avl. with LAME (--preset extreme is what I use if ripping to mp3s).
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Old 09-21-07, 05:20 PM
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Originally Posted by MBoyd
So my question is - If I went back and reripped in Apple lossless or something else would its just replace the file?
As long as the song title, artist and album name are identical, it would replace the file with the new one.
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Old 09-21-07, 05:25 PM
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BTW, has anyone actually done this?

Rip one song to various audio formats (WAV, AAC, MP3, etc) and bitrates, burn to audio CD then test it with good audio gear in an ideal listening environment?

I think that is the only way to really test the quality, but I still think it'd be very difficult to distinguish the quality between the various songs.
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Old 09-22-07, 04:38 AM
  #44  
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Originally Posted by Ranger
BTW, has anyone actually done this?

Rip one song to various audio formats (WAV, AAC, MP3, etc) and bitrates, burn to audio CD then test it with good audio gear in an ideal listening environment?

I think that is the only way to really test the quality, but I still think it'd be very difficult to distinguish the quality between the various songs.
If you're going to be making mix CDs, then there's really no need to bother with using lossy compressed formats. With all of the processor speed and drive space currently available, you might as well just use losses .wav files.
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Old 09-22-07, 04:51 AM
  #45  
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Originally Posted by Ranger
BTW, has anyone actually done this?

Rip one song to various audio formats (WAV, AAC, MP3, etc) and bitrates, burn to audio CD then test it with good audio gear in an ideal listening environment?

I think that is the only way to really test the quality, but I still think it'd be very difficult to distinguish the quality between the various songs.
As Josh pointed out, there's no point in reconverting songs to audio CD to do the comparison. The whole point of lossy compression formats is for use on portable devices. Other than that, I have done such a test, with a friend of mine operating my iPod so I didn't know what format or bitrate I was listening to.

I tested MP3s ripped with EAC and LAME, and AAC ripped with iTunes, with bitrates of 128, 160 and 192 kbps. I didn't go any higher, because the format of choice was what I was going to rip all my music at for my iPod, and space and battery usage were going to be issues with higher bitrates.

For listening, I used a fifth-generation iPod, with Shure E4c earbuds.

I found that I much preferred AAC to MP3, and 160 kbps variable bitrate was a good compromise between sound quality and file size. The LAME MP3 encoder has advanced some since I did my test. Supposedly MP3s ripped with EAC and LAME are now indistinguishable from AAC. However, ripping with EAC and LAME is slower and results in larger file sizes, so I still prefer AAC. However, if format compatibility is an issue for you, MP3 is probably the way to go.

If I ever pick up one of the 160GB iPod Classics, I might consider reripping CDs at 192 kbps VBR, but only if I'm bored. The improvement over 160 kbps VBR fell somewhere between negligible and indistinguishable.
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Old 09-22-07, 08:00 AM
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I switched from 192 to 320 awhile back and im not sure i hear a difference but it sounds great.Only downside for me is i have an "old" 6 gig ipod so whereas i used to get over 100 albums on it now i get around 40 so i hafta juggle them sometimes.I will solve that problem when this ipod dies though
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Old 09-22-07, 11:40 AM
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I ripped a few in Apple lossless now I think I have decided on 256. Might do a few more Jazz albums in lossless.

Forgot to mention I have a pair of Etymotic Research 6i earbuds. Usually save those for the plane rides. And use a pair of cheap Sony's at the gym with the old iPod.
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Old 09-22-07, 11:41 AM
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Originally Posted by Josh-da-man
If you're going to be making mix CDs, then there's really no need to bother with using lossy compressed formats. With all of the processor speed and drive space currently available, you might as well just use losses .wav files.
I didn't say it was a mix CD. Just one CD with one song - as in the same one song - ripped to various formats and bitrates.

Obviously, uncompressed wavs will be the best choice, but the point is to compare other types against it, e.g. 320 kb MP3 and 256 kb AAC against an uncompressed wav, to see how close the quality is.
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Old 09-24-07, 10:09 AM
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Can anyone tell me the difference between Stereo and Joint? I been using joint setting etc. I am still in the mist of trying different settings. Anyone also use the medium or higher setting for VBR? This is all through Itunes.

Last edited by Rainet; 09-24-07 at 10:11 AM.
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Old 09-24-07, 09:27 PM
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I rip stuff like Tool, Nine Inch Nails, and Pink Floyd at the highest qualities. Most stuff I just do a generic VBR rip
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