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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Can anyone here honestly tell me that they can hear the difference between 192kbit MP3 encoded with LAME, and CD? I have a huge collection of trance MP3s, and getting all of them on CD would be... unthinkable. I would have to sell my car and spend the next decade browsing through piles of CDs in music stores. But for argument's sake, am i really missing out here?


Equipment:


Denon AVR-3802

Paradigm Monitor 7 v2

SVS 16-46 CS
 

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I did some listening tests, and 192kb was where I stopped being able to hear a difference, at least on the system in my family room. I _could_ hear a difference at 128kb.
 

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Why don't you burn a CD with a few different data rates on a few different tracks and listen for yourself.


I have heard differences. Clearly, on some recordings the differences would not be noticeable, while on other, more critical cuts, they would.


Brian



PS. My method was 96, wav, 128, wav, 192, wav, 256, wav, 320, wav. You could probably mix the order up or randomize it if you liked. At the time I also used VBR on and off at a few rates--don't remember which ones. As I recall, you can also try 160 or 224 and LAME is automatically VBR dependent on frequency?


Music was primarily off a Chesky sampler CD.
 

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I honestly cant hear a difference at 192, even at 128 I somtimes find it hard if it was encoded properly, and I rarely use my CDs anymore unless its in my portable CD player. This is a question that has asked many times before all over the place. It basicly comes down to, what do you like? its a personal preference and dont let anyone fool by saying "oh yah there is HUGE difference" it's up to you.


I think your on the right track though, use Lame and 192kb.
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
Brian, I don't really own any CDs - all i listen to is trance, and i already outlined the situation with it. ;) I can hear the difference between 128 and 192 as well, but not between 256/320 and 192.
 

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For me, it depends on the source and listening environment. If the music has lots of symbols, I can usually hear a little warble (sp?) on a 192 encoded MP3s (using LAME) while wearing my Grados. However, my speakers at home aren't so "bright", so it's a little harder to tell the difference. A poorly encoded 192 mp3 is night/day difference...
 

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I don't think it's a question of who can hear it (as in whose ears are capable) - I think that, given the right level of equipment, almost anyone could. I do not have a tens of thousands of dollars invested in my system, but my components have been carefully selected, and my speakers, especially are extremely revealing. I can definitely differentiate between 192KB and CD/.APE (which is what I use).


The real question is, at what point does a 192KB MP3 become the weak link in the chain? You can best answer that by following Brian B's advice - burn some CDs and spin 'em.
 

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I would say you are missing out if:


a. You have a quality system. On many systems, I can't really tell any difference between higher bitrates and cd's. On my main system, its pretty obvious.


b. You could find those songs on studio CD's as opposed to vinyl sourced mix/DJ cd's which obviously are going to have there own quality issues.


c. Since the majority of trance tracks are released on vinyl only, if you can find those tracks on vinyl and have a good turntable setup.


In b or c, as you know, you are going to spend some serious $$$. 12" singles are $15 to $20 and more for the better stuff. In all reality, the only way you are going to be able to get most of those tracks is on mixed cd's as many of the best tracks are pretty rare. There is a difference in quality between mix cd's and mp3 but the quality of most mix cd's are not such that I would feel inclined to replace a large mp3 collection. I feel somewhat qualified to say that as I have hundreds (300+) of mixed trance, dnb, and house cd's. I download some tracks, and those at 192 are pretty decent (I find tranceaddict particlarly good).
 

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You really have to listen for yourself. I do have tens of thousands of dollars invested in my system, and I can't hear the difference between MP3 and CD. I don't use 192kbps, but I use highest quality VBR, which is a bit better, I think, and I think gives you smaller files. I think other people could hear the diff, my ears just aren't good enough.
 

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My dad is an audiophile from way back, and has been involved in radio/TV about the same as I've been involved in computers in my life. I remember when I first heard about MP3, and told him about how you could take a CD and cut it to 1/10th its original size.


I believe his response was something along the lines of "there's no way you can do that and not be able to tell the difference. You just can't compress audio that way and get away with it!".


Well, he was partly right... I can't get a 10:1 ratio, but I can certainly get something along the lines of 7:1 or 8:1. And I put him to the test - he got the .mp3 (Lame/192) about 50% of the time compared to the CD. Of course, this was listening to his music (organ/classical and jazz). The organ music was much easier to pick off vs. the classical, and the classical was easier to pick off vs. the jazz. But it was still pretty much a wash as far as I was concerned.


Now, I don't think I'll find him running out and encoding all his CD's, mostly because he doesn't have the desire to put a PC into his media setup. But if he did want a HTPC or something of the like, I've convinced him it's definately a wonderful alternative.


I couldn't convince him, however, that *my* music was any good :)
 

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this is like the whole thing about weather or not cider can make you drunk. i have seen people get high from orageno and tea.. i have also seen people get drunk off of pure juice.. if i made a cd from mp3's encoded in 128 and a cd from the store and told you to choose which was real it would be very very very few people who could pick which was real and which was not even at the 128 rate. it takes years for those people who can in training and even theymake mistakes at the 192 rate most of the time..


the only time you can really tell is those who listen to the music through very high quiality headphones such as those costing several thousand.. since most people has a very narrow bandwidth of sound meaning most people cannot hear above 10k very clearly and below 100 if the mp3 is encoded properly theres almost no way to hear the difference.. this would be like someone being able to tell the differnce between 10k and 11k freq's..
 

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normally the only way I can tell the difference is in songs that have very prominent bass tracks... on my home system as well as my car.. (more in my car as it's quite high end) hell, my home system is quite high end too heh.. but for me it's mainly the bass that I can "feel" that I notice a difference in..


perhaps I just have a more acute sense of the low end of the sound spectrum..


I do however use the mp3 format all the time, don't mind it one bit. hahha
 

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Quote:
Originally posted by pen25
i have seen people get high from orageno and tea.. i have also seen people get drunk off of pure juice..
What else do they do in Ok? ;)


192 is the breaking point for me, but there are certain tracks where I can't help but hear tonal differences between the mp3 and original WAV. Single voice + piano tracks for example are very telling if it's an mp3 or not.
 

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Based on the tests I have done, I believe there are a number of factors:


Type of music, if it has frequency extremes or large transients then the difference is more apparent compared to "mid-range" music. (e.g. clasical versus pop - no intention to start a flame, this is not about taste in music etc.) E.g. LAME VBR vs APE, I could not detect a difference with Massive Attack Protection but I could with James Horner Titanic Suite.


System sound quality and resolution (includes soundcard)


Encoder quality as well as encoding parameters and bit-rates


How fussy you are about what you hear, or, how sensitive you are to changes in sound.


My conclusions, using well recorded CD as source (with my system, see profile):

SOUND QUALITY (QUALITATIVE)

- LAME is good at a high VBR setting

- APE is better than LAME (WinAmp 2.80 for playback)

- APE is same as CD on HTPC (WinAmp 2.80 for playback)

- CD on CD-player is better than CD-ROM on HTPC

Are the differences significant? No, I would struggle to spot the differences if I was not doing A/B comparisions.


CONVENIENCE

- CDs are least convenient

- ripped music is more portable and easier to access
 

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Quote:
Originally posted by Duplicator
Well, he was partly right... I can't get a 10:1 ratio, but I can certainly get something along the lines of 7:1 or 8:1. And I put him to the test - he got the .mp3 (Lame/192) about 50% of the time compared to the CD.
Given 2 choices, 50% accuracy is exactly what you would expect from guessing. I would bet that your dad couldn't tell as much as he thinks he could. ;)



Kevin
 

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Quote:
Originally posted by pen25
...if i made a cd from mp3's encoded in 128 and a cd from the store and told you to choose which was real it would be very very very few people who could pick which was real and which was not even at the 128 rate.
You have NO IDEA what you're talking about. Sure, that's probably true if you have a Kenwood rack system, but on my system, I'd be surprised if ANYONE couldn't hear the difference.
Quote:
Originally posted by pen25
it takes years for those people who can in training and even theymake mistakes at the 192 rate most of the time.
Again, total BS - you don't need "training" - you merely need a system of sufficient fidelity so that a 192k .MP3 file is the weak link. It helps, too, if (1) you're listening to acoustic instruments (which have a known sonic "signature") or, better still, a trained vocalist (the human voice is by far the most complex "instrument", and the single most difficult thing to reproduce with absolute fidelity), (2) the music is fairly dynamic (because this is where lossy compression is at its worst), and (3) you have a good reference point (you attend enough live music performances to know what it's *supposed* to sound like.)
Quote:
posted by pen25
since most people has a very narrow bandwidth of sound meaning most people cannot hear above 10k very clearly and below 100
I suppose that for some people who have been blowing their eardrums out with Metallica for the last 10 years, this may be true, but to state that this applies to "most" people is ABSOLUTELY ABSURD.
Quote:
posted by pen25
if the mp3 is encoded properly theres almost no way to hear the difference..
Just because YOU can't hear it doesn't mean others can't. If I heard someone claiming they could hear the difference between .APE files and a CD, then I would certainly be skeptical - APE files are LOSSLESS, but MP3 IS A LOSSY FORMAT, and that means that information is REMOVED during the encoding process. You TRULY have NO IDEA what you are talking about! What makes you such an expert on what people can and cannot hear? I suppose if you were color blind, the rest of the world wouldn't be able to distinguish red from green from blue???
Quote:
Originally posted by pen25
this would be like someone being able to tell the differnce between 10k and 11k freq's..
You have GOT to be kidding me. Try it some time - you might be surprised at how easy it is to distinguish between two tones that are a tenth of an octave apart.


pen25- Mark Twain once said (something to the effect of), "It's better to keep your mouth shut and let people think you're ignorant than to open your mouth and prove it to them." You could learn a lot from Mr. Twain.

With all due apologies to others reading this thread... ordinarily I'm reasonably well-behaved. This is the first time I've ever felt absolutely COMPELLED to flame someone. I know I should have just bit my tongue and ignored it, as the rest of you did, but posts as ignorant as this one insult the intelligence of everyone here.
 

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Quote:
Originally posted by lucpes
Download PCABX from www.pcabx.com (it's for doing double blind tests on the computer)
I disagree, but I'm not going to "go there" AGAIN. It has been thoroughly discussed here if you'd like to understand the counterpoint.


At any rate, if you feel you must, go ahead and do the double/triple blind tests and see what kind of results you get. THEN...

For those who aren't sure, but would like to know whether they can hear the difference, here's a really good test...


1. Get a reference disc.

Diana Krall's "Love Scenes" is really tough to beat as a reference for this sort of test; if you don't own it, either go pick up a copy or try to find someone from whom you can borrow it. (It's a fabulous reference disc in general - I strongly recommend purchasing it if you don't own it.) It's nothing but piano, string bass, and the absolutely sublime voice of Diana Krall.


2. Create the MP3s for the comparison.

Rip the entire CD to your HDD using whatever bit rate you'd like to test. If you want to test more than 1 bit rate, then do this multiple times, but rip THE ENTIRE CD.


3. Create your audio CD(s).

Again, use the entire CD, in the same sequence as the original, from the MP3s.


4. Allow yourself to become intimately familiar with your listening environment in its ambient state. (This may seem ridiculous at first if you've never tried it, but once you do, you'll understand its importance.)

Go to your listening room, turn off all the lights, and have a seat in the blackness. Even with the lights off, there will probably still be a certain amount of ambient light present. Your eyes will "adjust", and they (and your brain) will be working overtime trying to make out youre surroundings in the low-light conditions - this is instinctual. Close your eyes and allow your auditory system to adjust and compensate for the temporary loss of vision; this can take a little while... Listen intently- the goal is to hear nothing, but for most of us that's not very likely. (TIP: unless you live in a very quiet area, you can usually come a lot closer to "the sound of silence" late at night.)


5. "Cleanse" your listening environment.

Once your auditory system adjusts, you will probably begin to notice the ambient noise in your environment. Try to pick out the source of each sound... it may be the ticking of a clock or the blower of your heater. As you identify each, make a mental note of it, then try to ignore it and see what else you can detect. Once you've identified each of these intrusions on your otherwise pristine listening environment, silence each of them (to whatever extent that's possible/practical) - remove the battery in that ticking clock... put on a sweater or a coat and turn the thermostat down, etc., etc.


6. LISTEN to the reference disc.

Once you've "cleansed" your listening environment, put on the original CD. Listen to it - with the lights out and your eyes closed - at least a couple of times all the way through. Don't listen FOR anything in particular - just enjoy the music. If you're completely unfamiliar with this album, you may want to repeat this for a few nights in a row. (Don't be impatient - if you really want meaningful results from this test, take the time to do it right.)


7. Put on the MP3 disc and repeat the previous step. Again don't listen FOR any differences - just (attempt to) enjoy the music.


I dare say that most of you (I'd be surprised if the results were less than 75% of you) will find that the music is less engaging, less enjoyable - even at bit rates in excess of 192k. If so, then you can come back to this thread and say, "I can hear the difference." If not, it may be time for some equipment upgrades. ;)


If you ever have a chance to see Ms. Krall perform live, rush home immediately afterward and put on the (original/uncompressed) CD. You will then know the true measure of your audio system (and like me, you will probably begin to obsess over and pursue "absolute fidelity".)


Another really interesting thing to try if you ever have the opportunity is to experience near-absolute silence. For most of us, true silence is a very foreign sound. I had the opportunity to experience it a couple of months ago while traveling through the desert in Nevada. I was on a small 2-lane highway, literally in the middle of NOWHERE. I pulled off to the side of the road, turned the car off, got out, and just stood there and listened. There was almost no wind, and the silence was DEAFENING. Talk about a REFERENCE... amazing!


Hope this helps... Enjoy!
 

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wow elvis what company did you start?? as far as what i said i think you missed most of what i was saying.. i said most or very very very few people would be able to hear a difference.. or if someone pointed it out to them.. and you dont need to be an ass about how much of a pro you are.. you have no idea of my back ground.


I rad yourother post about a-b-x tests and you come off as an ass there also.. all of these things are subjective. i could test you and you would fail about as offten as most people with a decent setup.. now if you had a fully high end setup of course you could hear a difference.. and BTW what do you mean people dont need training?? you telling me that you havent trained your ears to hear the subtle things you claim to be able to tell?? anyway Elvis take a step back and stop being a troll
 
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