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best audio format?

post #1 of 32
Thread Starter 
Ok, this is only SLIGHTLY off topic as I play all my music through my HTPC.

In regards to rips of audio CDs. I recently read that the WMA format is a much better format (than MP3), it is supposedly manages to get similar compression while not losing as much of the audio. I currently do my MP3s at 192 CBR. Will I get better sound out of a WMA. I had even thought of going with WAV format am not entirely sure I want to use that kind of space.

Yes I can hear a difference between an MP3 and an original CD both in my car ($5000 system) and at home ($4000 system). What you guys think?
post #2 of 32
Well...I use MP3 @ 320kbps and it's sweet with my Vista setup.
WMA might not be a bad format though.

post #3 of 32
Quote:
Originally Posted by pat_smith1969 View Post

I currently do my MP3s at 192 CBR. Will I get better sound out of a WMA.

No. WMA only has a slight advantage at very low (e.g., 32-96 Kbps) bit rates. At 128 and above they are similar, and you lose compatibility with WMA. At 192, stick with MP3.

http://www.mp3-tech.org/tests/wma9/index.html
Quote:
Originally Posted by pat_smith1969 View Post

I had even thought of going with WAV format am not entirely sure I want to use that kind of space.

WAV is pointless, use lossless (e.g., FLAC) if you don't want any lossy compression. But worrying about such nuances in the car is totally silly.
post #4 of 32
Lossless is the best way to store your music, which format is best depends entirely on what programs/devices you want to use. Pick the lossless format that works with your desired software/hardware.
post #5 of 32
Quote:
Originally Posted by stanger89 View Post

Lossless is the best way to store your music, which format is best depends entirely on what programs/devices you want to use. Pick the lossless format that works with your desired software/hardware.

MP3 and WMA are both well supported so maybe he just wants somebody to pick the best format for him.
I'd say MP3....it's the most open standard.
post #6 of 32
Thread Starter 
If you open the settings in MICROSOFT media player, there is a neat little link that leads you to a site on MICROSOFT that exthols the virtue of the MICROSOFT WMA format.

http://www.microsoft.com/windows/win...userlocale=409


What I am doing is riping all my CDs to my hard drive, well most are already ripped but I am thinking of new CDs I buy. I own the CDs so if I want to go back and re-do it again at a better settings I can, but I hope to never HAVE to do this (lotta work). What brought this up is now that I have better speakers at home (B&W FMP5) I am convinced I can hear the difference between a MP3 and it's original and want to get the best out of both my car speakers and my home speakers. I have never considered WMA before (I mistrust any MS related media format-since the advent of DRM).

As far as Car goes, I most definately CAN tell the difference between a MP3 and an original. Now, granted, at 85mph that difference is lost in "road noise" but at red lights I am happy.
post #7 of 32
foobar2000 + abx then tell us if you can hear any differences

as others said:

FLAC for long time storage and plenty of space

MP3 for portables and limited space
post #8 of 32
Oops, just realized you also want to play them in your car. Then I would go with MP3.

If you use Microsoft's Media Player for ripping and play back (or MCE for playback). Then WMA Lossless is the easiest/best. Just rember to go into Tools/Options/Rip Music and select the "Windows Media Audio Lossless" format.
post #9 of 32
Thread Starter 
"foobar2000 + abx"

???
post #10 of 32
foobar2000 + ABX comparator plugin lets you select 2 tracks and switch between them while playing and see if you can pick which one is the mp3/lossy compression and which one is the WAV/lossless compression.
http://www.foobar2000.org/
post #11 of 32
Quote:
Originally Posted by Elemental1 View Post

MP3 and WMA are both well supported so maybe he just wants somebody to pick the best format for him.
I'd say MP3....it's the most open standard.

But MP3 isn't lossless, and that's a big deal IMO (read my next response for why), and as for which lossless codec, there is no best, there's only "best supported" and the one(s) that work with your player(s).

Quote:
Originally Posted by pat_smith1969 View Post

If you open the settings in MICROSOFT media player, there is a neat little link that leads you to a site on MICROSOFT that exthols the virtue of the MICROSOFT WMA format.

http://www.microsoft.com/windows/win...userlocale=409

As far as lossy codecs go, WMA and AAC are more advanced than MP3 and probably better sounding at similar bitrates. I'm sure hydrogenaudio or somebody has listenning tests which compare codecs, eg here:
http://www.rjamorim.com/test/index.html

Quote:


What I am doing is riping all my CDs to my hard drive, well most are already ripped but I am thinking of new CDs I buy. I own the CDs so if I want to go back and re-do it again at a better settings I can, but I hope to never HAVE to do this (lotta work).

This right here is necessary and sufficient reason to rip to a lossless codec IMO. Once you rip to a lossless codec you can easily convert to any other codec at any time. You can convert between lossless codecs without loss. Some programs will batch convert your whole library. And for portables, many programs will transcode to a "portable friendly size/format" on the fly. Lossless codecs are simply the most logical choice for a music library period. IMO

Quote:


What brought this up is now that I have better speakers at home (B&W FMP5) I am convinced I can hear the difference between a MP3 and it's original and want to get the best out of both my car speakers and my home speakers. I have never considered WMA before (I mistrust any MS related media format-since the advent of DRM).

WMA Lossless, while it does support DRM, does not require it. It's a perfectly valid format. Like I said above, lossless is definitely the way to go, but which format is best is determined solely by which format your players support.

Quote:


As far as Car goes, I most definately CAN tell the difference between a MP3 and an original. Now, granted, at 85mph that difference is lost in "road noise" but at red lights I am happy.

Unfortunately I've found a pathetic lack of real good audio solutions for the car. What I want is something like a squeezebox, but everything seems to be iPod based.

If I accept that, currently I'm leaning toward a 160GB iPod Classic and highly integrated iPod compatible deck for my car, and just "install" the iPod permanently. I'll just convert my library to Apple Lossless and have my whole library with me in the car.
post #12 of 32
Quote:
Originally Posted by stanger89 View Post

But MP3 isn't lossless, and that's a big deal IMO (read my next response for why), and as for which lossless codec, there is no best, there's only "best supported" and the one(s) that work with your player(s).

Yes...the OP didn't require lossless however, that was your suggestion..albeit a good one.
WMA lossless is a very good option with MC ripping but @ >5x the storage of 320kbps MP3's, is it really worth it?
post #13 of 32
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by stanger89 View Post

Unfortunately I've found a pathetic lack of real good audio solutions for the car. What I want is something like a squeezebox, but everything seems to be iPod based.


I hear what you are saying...
I used to have a McIntosh (MX400 or something like that) head unint in my car and it sounded the best I have ever heard of any car head unit. I just got bored with no features and ebayed it (sad). I not have an Eclipse AVN5510 which sound pretty darned good (though not quite the Mac).

I looked at Denon head units as well but they are similar to the Macintoshes where they have no features.

My amps are Old PPI (before they went to the new crappy design). And my speakers are Diamond Audio Hex comps.

All in all it is a good system, one in which you can hear lots of detail from your source, but not at speed.
post #14 of 32
Quote:
Originally Posted by Elemental1 View Post

Yes...the OP didn't require lossless however, that was your suggestion..albeit a good one.
WMA lossless is a very good option with MC ripping but @ >5x the storage of 320kbps MP3's, is it really worth it?

At $100 for 500GB, absolutely.

Quote:
Originally Posted by pat_smith1969 View Post

I hear what you are saying...
I used to have a McIntosh (MX400 or something like that) head unint in my car and it sounded the best I have ever heard of any car head unit. I just got bored with no features and ebayed it (sad). I not have an Eclipse AVN5510 which sound pretty darned good (though not quite the Mac).

I was looking at the Eclipse decks, but most recently, the Alpine decks with Imprint are looking very nice. Though the voice-commanded Pioneer decks announced at CES sound interesting as well.

Quote:


I looked at Denon head units as well but they are similar to the Macintoshes where they have no features.

My amps are Old PPI (before they went to the new crappy design). And my speakers are Diamond Audio Hex comps.

I've got the "old" PPIs as well

Quote:


All in all it is a good system, one in which you can hear lots of detail from your source, but not at speed.

Not much you can do about that
post #15 of 32
Quote:
Originally Posted by stanger89 View Post

At $100 for 500GB, absolutely.

What about portable storage on your MP3 player?
post #16 of 32
Use J River Media Center or iTunes or something to load your mp3 player by automatically transcoding on the fly to a lossy codec. Why would you limit your archive by the specs of your current portable player?
post #17 of 32
Quote:
Originally Posted by stanger89 View Post

Use J River Media Center or iTunes or something to load your mp3 player by automatically transcoding on the fly to a lossy codec. Why would you limit your archive by the specs of your current portable player?

No thanks to that crap software and always having to transcode, thank you very much.
But really...how much difference between a WMA lossless and 320kbps MP3 anyway?
Is it really as big a limit as you imply? I really haven't checked it out myself.
post #18 of 32
It is a notable difference on a good sound system, but the two can be indistinguishable on crappy a one.
post #19 of 32
kylebisme, where you live, i'll come over RIGHT NOW and do a blind A-B test with you. I'll bring some snacks too!
post #20 of 32
Quote:
Originally Posted by Elemental1 View Post

No thanks to that crap software and always having to transcode, thank you very much.

Why? And I definitely wouldn't call JRMC "crap software".

Quote:


But really...how much difference between a WMA lossless and 320kbps MP3 anyway?
Is it really as big a limit as you imply? I really haven't checked it out myself.

If you get a new player that doesn't support mp3, or doesn't support 320kbps mp3? If you ever have to change your codec, yes, it's as big a limit as I imply because if you rip to mp3 you have to rip all over again, else deal with generational losses.

If you keep your library in a lossless format, and get a new portable player, you just have to change the transcode settings. If you get a new player that doesn't support your lossless codec, you can just batch convert the whole library.
post #21 of 32
First of all... encode in VBR. No point going 192 CBR. Use LAME encoder and the presets.
post #22 of 32
Quote:
Originally Posted by kylebisme View Post

It is a notable difference on a good sound system, but the two can be indistinguishable on crappy a one.

Try a controlled, blind A/B test before you make such statements.
post #23 of 32
Quote:
Originally Posted by bulls View Post

kylebisme, where you live, i'll come over RIGHT NOW and do a blind A-B test with you. I'll bring some snacks too!

Lawrence, KS. I've got a bit of whisky and will prepare a few tracks.
post #24 of 32
ok... thats only 1300miles... maybe we'll let the whiskey age a little...
post #25 of 32
Heh, whisky doesn't really age after it leaves the cask.

But anyway, does anyone know of any properly conducted and published double blind tests on the matter?
post #26 of 32
Quote:
Originally Posted by kylebisme View Post

Lawrence, KS. I've got a bit of whisky and will prepare a few tracks.

Lawrence, eh? You must shop at Kief's

and I agree, on a medium-high end system, you can tell a difference. I always thought 192kbps MP3 was the highest needed... until I got a nice system. Now lossless is the only way to go.
post #27 of 32
vynil all the way. digital ain't got nothin' on it.
post #28 of 32
Technic 1200's mounted to the rear dash board...been there done it...hehe
post #29 of 32
I started ripping my CDs to MP3s a while ago, and regret doing so. Now I rip to WMA lossless. I agree that for storage on your computer, there really isn't a good reason to use anything other than a lossless format.
post #30 of 32
Quote:
Originally Posted by kylebisme View Post

Heh, whisky doesn't really age after it leaves the cask.

But anyway, does anyone know of any properly conducted and published double blind tests on the matter?

Quote:


In plain language, this means that our musically trained test listeners could reliably distinguish the poorer quality MP3s at 128 kbps quite accurately from either of the other higher-quality samples. But when deciding between 256 kbps encoded MP3s and the original CD, no difference could be determined, on average, for all the pieces. The testers took the 256 kbps samples for the CD just as often as they took the original CD samples themselves

http://www.geocities.com/altbinaries...l/mp3test.html

The test is a bit old though, I suspect codecs has improved since then.

Equipment:
Quote:


Our top class audio components were a pair of B&W Nautilus 803 speakers, connected to a Marantz CD-Player CD14 and a PM14 amplifier. With the Straightwire-Pro cables and accessories, this combination cost approximately 30,000 DM
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