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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 18 Dec 2010 23:50:03 GMT
I so remember the sp25! At that age I had an old valve Rogers Cadet and my speakers were corner cabinets built by an enthusiast with Celestion drivers, filled with bits of old carpets to dampen. For the young, digital is the thing but for us old timers, we can indulge ourselves.lol
I am sure the music industry itself is interested only in making money.

In reply to an earlier post on 19 Dec 2010 03:42:48 GMT
Iceboy says:
I always buy a CD so I have a "master quality" lossless version for my library. For PC listening and iPod usage, I rip using LAME on the Extreme VBR setting, which is pretty good - best quality sound, not too big a file. 320k is a waste for some kinds of music (mono, older recordings, etc).

In reply to an earlier post on 19 Dec 2010 13:25:43 GMT
patashnik says:
I use a desktop with PC 5.1 speakers most of the time, and often in bed or out and about with a Creative Zen X-fi2. Soon I'll have a tallboy system hooked up to the 50" plasma, so in the home, I'll be outing music there. (I have the PC's gfx card HDMI'd to the TV. Full screen visualizers!)

I used to have my collection in FLAC, but I just could not notice a difference after months of leaving behind MP3. However, I still prefer having CDs as hard copies and ripping my own 320 kB/s copies, but for particularly rare tracks I settle for things in the 192-256 range. I honestly have never heard a difference between anything above 192, to 320. It's when you're down to 128 that you miss out on things.

So I'm a fence-sitter, if you will. I believe an good audio fan should be honest and not elitist about quality. Master copies - either in the form of a CD or WAV/FLAC backups - are essential, I'd say. For general listening, MP3 @ 320 is fine unless you have a particularly fine system that can make use of lossless quality.

Posted on 19 Dec 2010 13:49:37 GMT
iMatter says:
I use 192 - 320kbits MP3 on my cell phone for portability, otherwise it's CD, WAV (16/44.1), FLAC or DVD-A all the way.
I HATE Sony, so I would never use SACD (or BD).

But Dookie is right, since the entrance of mp3s, music sound quality has declined, if you take in consideration that we
now can have 16-64mb of flash memory on a little hand-held device.

In reply to an earlier post on 19 Dec 2010 19:08:47 GMT
C. Spark says:
I got a edifier 2.1 systems which is pretty forgiving with 192 mp3 and lower ive also got a cowon j3 with triple.fi's which sound good with 320 cbr or 256 vbr ive also tried ogg at 500 which sounds nice got some cd encoded in flac and i cant tell from a high bitrate lossy compression to be honest, i use winamp and a directx 10 graphics card for visualisations mainly milkdrop v2 trippy as the dogs fuzzy bits in a dayglo kinda sense.

Posted on 29 Dec 2010 19:09:32 GMT
I only buy MP3's, as they tend to be cheaper (if you get them on Amazon anyway, iTunes is much too expensive) and they download straight onto my iPod Touch. But, I do worry that I will lose my music, so I'm starting to back them all up onto CD.

I have to admit, MP3's have much better sound quality than CD's but there is nothing like walking into a music shop and holding the music in your hands as you purchase it, then hurrying back home to listen to it.

I have an iPod Speaker, which is a dinky little thing from Tesco, but I recently bought an iPod compatible TV for £40. I use that to play CD's and listen to music on my iTouch.

In reply to an earlier post on 29 Dec 2010 20:07:26 GMT
[Deleted by the author on 24 Jan 2011 15:28:32 GMT]

In reply to an earlier post on 29 Dec 2010 21:32:03 GMT
Hello Mr Williams,
Many thousands of years ago, when I was young, and working for Comet Radiovision Services, I had a married couple come into my sound-proofed audio booth.

He was looking to spend his redundancy payment on a top of the range hi-fi system.

She was not happy!

I asked him to sit down, and listen to a record of his choice, but with 4 pick-up arms. Each arm had a different quality cartridge fitted. He pushed the button to select which cartridge was played through a common amplifier and speakers.

His original choice was determined by reviews published in the Hi-Fi magazines of the day, and equalled lots and lots of pennies. I also suspect that reviewer's choices were determined by what electronic instruments told them, and not what their ears told them!

His listening review determined that he actually prefered the sound made by a much cheaper setup.

My point is that audio quality is subjective, and bears no relationship to what instruments, and therefor audio critics, tell us.

The end of the story was that this chap purchased a cheaper audio system, one that he was happy with, and there was enough left over for his wife to buy herself a new coat, so all ended happily.

We suffer from a falling of of the higher frequencies as we get older, and some of us, me included, suffer from tinnitus, all of which means that electronic instruments can hear better than we can

Posted on 30 Dec 2010 10:57:47 GMT
>>"I have to admit, MP3's have much better sound quality than CD"

No, they do not.

In reply to an earlier post on 30 Dec 2010 18:39:34 GMT
Are you kidding? MP3s better than CDs! No, it the other way round. MP3s are compressed files whereas CDs are not. I do fine the quality of the itunes MP3s not too bad at all. My daughter has tried the Amazon ones but says there are nothing like as good sounding as the itunes ones. I've always used itunes. You perhaps ought to get a reasonable sounding pair of headphones and then perhaps you will realise that CDs sound much better than MP3s

Posted on 30 Dec 2010 18:48:09 GMT
I think because I use a Mac and itunes comes as standard within it, I don't have some of the problems PC users have. I have found that if changing computers, itunes will transfer everything over if you press a few buttons. Also, they upgraded all my previous tracks when they changed to itunes plus with the higher bitrate at a very reasonable cost. All the tracks now can be used as you like. I've put lots of them on the memory card on my bog standard Nokia phone so I can pick and choose lots of fun ringtones without have to pay again for them.

Posted on 30 Dec 2010 19:34:04 GMT
Last edited by the author on 30 Dec 2010 19:51:51 GMT
It is true that CD audio is not compressed but the source to create the final product can be. For example the CD soundtrack for the film "G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra" is strongly believed to be constructed from mp3 files. When you rip such a CD you are actually compressing an already compressed source, which makes artefacts far more likely to be audible. You'd end up with 128k mp3 files that may sound a whole lot worse than 128k mp3 files coming from a proper lossless source. I sure hope that such engineering methods can only happen as a result of error.

And by the way, I hate automation that I do not design, and I hate bloat even more. I like to do everything by hand or write scripts myself that do the work for me. For example I constructed the folder and file structure of my music library with good old Windows Explorer and manually imported them into my preferred music player (XMPlay). I even care about where the player stores playlist files and album art. I am an organizing freak, basically. I avoid big, bloated programs like iTunes or Adobe Reader and go for much smaller and resource easier alternatives that get the same work done. Bonus points if the software is open source and proprietary free, phrases that are banned in Apple's vocabulary.

In reply to an earlier post on 30 Dec 2010 19:59:28 GMT
C. Spark says:
I kinda agree with you, cd's are not compressed their raw digital films with soundtracks often use compressed audio. as for scripting u should try korn or bourne shell along with linux or any unix.

Posted on 31 Dec 2010 09:59:53 GMT
I have an iPod gen 5 with all tracks (9000+) diverted to mp4. I listen through ultimate ears Fi10 and a custom built headphone amp with high quality dock cable between iPod and amp. I use a TEAC reference 500 amp with b+w 300 series speakers in lounge.

In reply to an earlier post on 31 Dec 2010 12:52:41 GMT
that may well be the case with individual soundtracks but as a rule with music, CD is better than MP3 obviously. I make all my own individual playlists in itunes and simply find it an excellent programme. Everything is proprietry free now with itunes plus as far as I know. I don't pretend to be knowledgable about computers but I know you can do whatever you want with itunes downloads. Again, I don't understand what a bloated programme means but itunes is highly adaptable as far as I can see. You can rip uncompressed, or various compressions including Apple lossless and MP3. Its included free with all Macs and does everything I want so it suits me just fine.

Posted on 31 Dec 2010 12:54:15 GMT
I convert all CD's to Flac for the main hifi and for streaming around the house. I then convert them back to MP3 for Iphone use in the gym etc.

I'd welcome an opportunity to download FLAC and would pay more for studio master quality FLAC

Andy

In reply to an earlier post on 31 Dec 2010 13:02:05 GMT
I think there are quite a few of us who would like to have the chance to download as FLACs rather than MP3s in this country. Why doesn't one of the music download sites let use do this, albeit at a slightly higher price? Some of us wouldn't mind paying a bit more. There are times when I really don't want the whole album, just the odd individual track. Thats when I download rather than buy the CD.

Posted on 31 Dec 2010 16:56:39 GMT
I've never used a modern type mobile music getter, but as my hearing deteriorates I have decided to try a Sony Walkman to pick up dwnloads, listen & store my type of music, & listen to DAB ( if it allows) radio. However my order with Amazon is still in the post somewhere after 13 days of waiting!. So no knowledge yet. I usually listen to my music on a Bose hi fi system, or DAB radio. nothing special, Pure Evoke. Hope I can soon write about in the ear type reception!.

Posted on 1 Jan 2011 11:26:28 GMT
'Why doesn't one of the music download sites let use do this, albeit at a slightly higher price?'

At the risk of repeating myself, I think the answer is that the sellers of rock/pop downloads don't think it is worthwhile providing flacs. They can make enough money selling mp3s.

In reply to an earlier post on 1 Jan 2011 18:27:47 GMT
You're probably right. Its like trying to buy rock and pop on SACD. There's not much but theres loads of classical.

Posted on 3 Jan 2011 09:56:00 GMT
helendb says:
I listen to all my mp3 tracks through a laptop computer / ipod with a set of Bowers and Wilkins P5 headphones, which cost more than than the ipod and almost as much as the laptop. I have downloaded CDs onto itunes and compared the CD with the itunes download in mp3 format; I can't tell the difference but that may be attributable to my age and hearing deterioration.

Posted on 3 Jan 2011 20:32:37 GMT
Last edited by the author on 3 Jan 2011 20:38:44 GMT
That and the mp3 is simply a bloody good and mature codec, tweaked to hell and back for over a decade to sound transparent at as low bit rates as possible. The LAME mp3 is the most widely used tweak project to my knowledge and rightfully so. I don't understand why some/many people feel defeated or embarrassed when they fail to tell the difference between a <192k mp3 and the lossless source, they should rather feel impressed by the science and programming genius that makes it possible. My brain would explode if I dared to read passages of the source code of an audio codec. Brrrr.

In reply to an earlier post on 3 Jan 2011 22:53:41 GMT
Unfortunately, 320kps is not standard, Amazon and Play use 256kps (vbr)on some files, and it is very noticeable, also not all players 'like' vbr. To me, 320 is barely acceptable.

In reply to an earlier post on 3 Jan 2011 23:07:11 GMT
You can download SMQ flac files from Chandos - a link takes you to another site. The quality is stunning, the files are huge. If you buy the best quality file,there are 4, you get all of them. It's all classical. 'HDtracks' is a USA site but you cannot download outside of USA at the moment. You can find Paul McCartney on a flac download in the UK, but I don't like the site.

In reply to an earlier post on 3 Jan 2011 23:36:31 GMT
Apart from 24/96 studio master quality files, all music is compressed to some degree, always has been. I worked as an audio engineer years ago, an audio source has to be squeezed to fit the format. 7.5" reel to reel, Vinyl, cassette, and CD all have some type of compression. 45's were heavily compressed because it made the music 'louder', especially on cheap record players. A cassette could sound very good (Nakamichi) , even commercial releases, but in comparison to the copymaster, 3rd generation tape, it sounded dull and lifeless, transferred at least 16 times real speed. Compression is not a bad thing, it's where it happens in the chain that matters. Alway rip a cd in wav or cda format, and then encode from there with a decent encoder. Us older folk remember 78's and mono scratchy records, mp3's can sound ok next to those , but I still don't like the format.
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