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Mp3 versus FLAC - What equipment do you use to listen to music?

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In reply to an earlier post on 4 Jan 2014 18:38:52 GMT
Last edited by the author on 4 Jan 2014 18:40:18 GMT
High end hi fi systems are capable of 'holographic' imaging. You really have to hear it for yourself tbh, it's quite magical once you experience it and its then difficult to go back to lesser equipment. However if you are just using pc speakers I don't see how you can't tell a difference between that and decent separates. The minimum acceptable system imo starts around £200 amp + £200 cd player + £150 dac (if using your computer to stream) and £150 speakers on proper stands (£50). I've yet to hear anything less that doesn't sound like mud imo. For pc monitoring id say spend £400 on studio monitors and get a decent dac/preamp for them, all pc speakers i've ever heard are terrible.

In reply to an earlier post on 4 Jan 2014 17:03:20 GMT
Peter Lanky says:
Pete, I completely agree, but as long as people who don't care what their music sounds like are prepared to pay exactly the same money as people who do care, then there is no incentive for Amazon to provide a better service. Hopefully, with vastly increased bandwidth and far higher storage capacity, the MP3 will become obselete and the retailers will concentrate on FLAC instead.

My entire music collection only takes up 165GB ripped from CD to flac, so even if my entire collection was in 24 bit it would still easily fit on a 1TB hard drive. When solid state drives in portable players routinely reach this size, then there will be little purpose in the MP3 any more.

Posted on 4 Jan 2014 12:11:02 GMT
Last edited by the author on 4 Jan 2014 12:16:26 GMT
semanteme says:
I am sceptical about the value of super expensive audio systems generally. I have a friend who keeps urging me to spend £1000s on new speakers and systems etc. but he can't even play in tune.... So I think there are a range of responses that are dictated by other factors (nice label, 'reassuringly expensive', even ££/kudos and other such pretensions.) I do not however dismiss the fact that with a very well-produced album, good amp, and very decent speakers etc. it is possible to achieve an enhanced sound. But most of the time just basic speakers (even those plugged into the PC) and a mid-range/second hand amp and system it's enough for me. I don't want my CDs to expire through CD rot and I don't want to lose ownership of my iTune/mp3 purchases or inadvertently contravene copyright etc.
I am also a musician and I like to hear a decent sound, but frankly very often I cannot tell the difference between mp3 and FLAC/and other more faithful reproduction formats. I am however sometimes reminded that vinyl does actually sound crisper.

PS - I actually do find that 2nd hand CDs are almost ALWAYS cheaper than mp3 downloads if one shops around and waits. It is for me the PRIMARY means of buying decent music. Then you also have the sleeve notes.

In reply to an earlier post on 31 Dec 2013 18:45:48 GMT
I suppose if the vast majority of downloads are kept at a certain predictable small size and people who consume mp3 files regularly haven't heard other formats on thier mobile devices to compare quality(or even got equipment that could point out any differences) then it may be a business decision in order to squeeze more products on amazon servers with a higher profit margin considering the space used?
I don't doubt that now people are using better equipment including portable DACS and sensitive full frequency high bandwith headphones that sooner or later a better quality format will have to become a consumers option to purchase and I'm sure Amazon will need to take this into account especially as Internet speeds have also shot up with FTTC/P and 4G LTE about to eventually be the new "norm". Hopefully device manufacturers will start to offer more storage as standard for people who want to hear that little bit of extra detail that can make a very big difference when it can be reproduced at customer level en masse.

Posted on 31 Dec 2013 18:29:19 GMT
Pete says:
Much better FLAC than mp3. Why does Amazon insist on catering only for people that don't care what their music sounds like?

In reply to an earlier post on 7 Dec 2013 23:47:01 GMT
narfybob says:
True true. I was just saying that FLAC, WAV, AIFF, or ALAC are all lossless digital formats, and you can rip a CD in those same formats.

The Red Book standard for CD, 16-bit 44.1 kHz, represents the capacity of human hearing. 24-bit provides more bit depth, but it's not needed for the end-user per se. Sampling rates higher than 44.1 are also not needed when using digital filters nowadays.

In reply to an earlier post on 7 Dec 2013 16:09:04 GMT
Very very close! The Cambridge seems to be a little more relaxed in its music presentation and slightly more open. I'd say the Cambridge would probably be more suited to classical music. Linn CD player Ikemi, Kolektor preamp, two active lk 140's driving a pair of Linn Ninkas.

In reply to an earlier post on 7 Dec 2013 12:46:44 GMT
Last edited by the author on 7 Dec 2013 13:01:08 GMT
Mr. J. Lord says:
Yes probably fact but if you rip them to wav or flac & compare back to CD see how good it sounds. This is due to the fact that any dac individual or in a cd player has to do a lot of work to play the cd where as if you rip it to said format the work is done thus leaving the dac to shine in its glory. Also it matters what you rip it with, windows is crap even their so called loss-less its not explainable why because I haven't found out why I can just here it. but I use EAC (Exact audio rip) one because its a free ware & two because it does what it say's on the tin accurately rip. Any one can improve there sound just by that alone especially classical. But as said the cd is possibly not the best but its the only transportable format available when buying but you would have to spend thousands of dollars to prove that & what for if you cant here it. Linn are selling studio masters so perhaps soon it will spread & be more common & drive the price down to reasonable for all....

In reply to an earlier post on 7 Dec 2013 11:14:02 GMT
Ian says:
I'd be interested to hear how you think the Streammagic compares to your Linn CD player.

I use a Linn Numerik DAC (rather elderly now, but it still has a great sound) to play FLAC and WAV files through my Linn amps and speakers; I love it for both convenience and sound quality.

In reply to an earlier post on 7 Dec 2013 11:10:22 GMT
Ian says:
SO a CD is a lossless copy of a CD? So is a FLAC or WAV file on a hard-drive.

But as Mr Bird points out, music is recorded onto master tapes (do they really still use tapes, or is it just another file on a hard drive?) at a much higher sampling rate than CD. So CDs are, by definition lossy copies of the original recording.

I'm not a fan of MP3 for home listening so rarely buy downloaded music (buying it at CD quality of higher seems to be ridiculously expensive) but I don't get the obsession with CD being held up as the gold standard for file quality; it isn't.

In reply to an earlier post on 7 Dec 2013 09:20:43 GMT
Laz Baz says:
Yes, if anyone would like to hear the quality, 2L do High Def discs (also downloads) that are revealing.


In reply to an earlier post on 7 Dec 2013 07:23:08 GMT
There is a track on Niall Connolly's album "Sound", interestingly placed after a song called "Come back to the table" - a challenge to people who sit at the table texting people who aren't there!

Posted on 7 Dec 2013 06:46:15 GMT
Last edited by the author on 17 Dec 2013 16:20:34 GMT
A commercial Cd is recorded in pulse code modulation usually at 16 bit, 44.1 or 48khz .It was once able to show up the limitations of the source tapes used to record the master where they were all analogue. The only Pop CD I remember being available at the launch of CD players in the UK that was recorded digitally at source "DDD" was by dire straights- I couldn't hear any tape hiss on that of course, but you really needed good headphones or speakers to handle the dynamic range,and many were not ready for that kind of assault on the coils/components.
We were still at that time in awe of dolby c noise reduction,3 head tape recording with bias adjustment along with metal tapes - and not even the improved hx pro dolby c type which was a lot better
There were a lot of amplifiers blowing their output stages at around CD launch time which was very good for the repair/replacement business.
I remember listening to a Cd when they first came out of Madonna with the song "borderline" as one of the tracks. It had amazing fidelity but you could actually hear the tape hiss throughout,especially at the beginning where there's a quiet intro.
I think when the CD format launched studios simply transferred things exactly as they were from master tape to Cd without re-equalising for any tape hiss or other anomalies to appear less prominent. In some ways this was almost like listening to the engineers/artists work directly for the first time.
Super audio Cd which sadly hasn't been widely adopted is 24 bit and would be up there there with the commercial masters of today providing nothing were re-compressed and re-equalised to sound "punchy". There's an even higher standard of audio possible on a "bluray" disc (when used purely for audio) which has not been mass marketed but is out there if you look hard. That kind of audio quality level is pretty much a perfect match to the master.I think what is probably most important is a high bitrate to keep track of that sine wave at every turn of the curve,and of course factor in what the human ear can actually hear at its best.

Sorry for going off topic,my answer to the thread title is for stereo music in the home I feed the output of a pretty good I7 Tower PC into a Fiio E17 DAC (on an E9 for line out) into a Technics SUV85A Amp (I've repaired it at least 6 or 7 times,I haven't the heart to bin it yet)
I usually use the S/PDIF into the E17 from the PC.
Most of my music is a mix of *.wav files and some is the unmentionable mp3 where there was no alternative.
This old Japanese amp still drives my Monitor BX5 speakers well with very low distortion.
For home cinema we have a basic Sony MHC S7AV system (repaired once) with stock speakers which is enough for the family(until I'm told otherwise)

In reply to an earlier post on 7 Dec 2013 04:15:16 GMT
narfybob says:
A CD is a form of lossless, unless you burned the CD with MP3 files.

In reply to an earlier post on 7 Dec 2013 00:26:02 GMT
Ian says:
Lossless compared to what?

In reply to an earlier post on 6 Dec 2013 23:28:08 GMT
narfybob says:
But CDs are lossless...

Posted on 6 Dec 2013 20:24:47 GMT
Use Linn equipment solely for listening to CD's, now listening more and more to WAV and FLAC downloads in light of a recent purchase of a Cambridge Streammagic 6 DAC. Long live WAV and FLAC and goodbye to CD's and MP3's!!!

In reply to an earlier post on 6 Dec 2013 20:05:52 GMT
Well said J. Lord, well said!

In reply to an earlier post on 6 Dec 2013 18:49:51 GMT
Last edited by the author on 6 Dec 2013 19:08:34 GMT
Mr. J. Lord says:
I listen to music avidly & its quality seriously so I rarely listen on anything else but my main stereo which is Flac or Wav via PC dedicated to music using JPlay & Foobar usb Odac (with an independent power supply for the dac far superior sound & nothing under £1200 comes near it) into naim pre amp-monobloc powers into Linn Izobarik speakers
so buying is serious for the quality wav & Flac it can be either well Happy. mp3 just does not cut it its hard & harsh with bungled base & a harsh flat top end (if you can call it that) that gives me a head ache if I listen to it for long. With the spacious open sound of my system it stands out a mile if an mp3 comes on in my playlist yes I do have mp3's to remind my visitors who listen to my system what crap sounds like & because one or two tracks I have are old & not been able to get a better copy of them otherwise I would not have it.

Posted on 6 Dec 2013 05:05:18 GMT
Last edited by the author on 6 Dec 2013 05:07:02 GMT
MP3 sounds fine on junk equipment. Used them in my car for years, but new car w/good stereo, so I''ll be switching to FLAC which I always use at home. So happy more sites are selling FLAC, especially since shipping has increased on Amazon's used cds. I never download mp3

Posted on 19 Sep 2013 10:12:54 BDT
Laz Baz says:
RE: D/A and A/D | Digital Show and Tell (Monty Montgomery @
The video may be of interest to many.

In reply to an earlier post on 8 Sep 2013 15:02:11 BDT
Ian says:
I agree - I have (almost) only ever downloaded music in MP3 format where there is no alternative available.

I'm happy to download FLAC as long as it's (at least slightly) cheaper than the CD - I have a few FLAC files from Bandcamp and HDTracks, but for the most part they're more expensive than the CD so I can't see the point.

The only exception; I bought The Lunineers as MP3 from Amazon. I paid £1.99 - at the time the CD was £10. That was enough of a price difference to persuade me - but only just!

Posted on 8 Sep 2013 13:46:24 BDT
theshiresuk says:
Quite simply I won't buy music digitally as MP3 if I can buy it on CD.
That would change if it was sold as FLAC rather than MP3.

In reply to an earlier post on 8 Apr 2013 18:57:39 BDT
[Deleted by the author on 8 Apr 2013 18:58:30 BDT]

In reply to an earlier post on 8 Apr 2013 18:56:22 BDT
Unison Research make great gear.....
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