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


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Initial post: 9 Jul 2010 11:08:18 BDT
Last edited by the author on 9 Jul 2010 16:37:54 BDT
MC Zaptone says:
After witnessing the various points of view on the 'Audiophile quality downloads please' thread, I would like to carry out a straw poll.
It has been suggested a few times that only a tiny proportion of music lovers here on Amazon use decent hi-fi equipment and so Mp3 is good enough for the majority of listeners.
I am not so sure, I think many people will have i-pods but still have a dedicated music set-up at home, let's see......

I would like this to be a genuine poll of Amazon users listening habits and be open to everybody.
Do you listen through: computer/i-pod/mp3 dock/mid-priced stereo /highend hi-fi or just an old Matsui micro-system?

This is NOT just a thread to show off or strut your audio stuff but a place to respect your fellow Amazonites listening habits and to try and ascertain: Is Mp3 really good enough for us all.

Many thanks (in advance).

In reply to an earlier post on 9 Jul 2010 11:54:49 BDT
Last edited by the author on 9 Jul 2010 11:55:09 BDT
Brass Neck says:
Hi-fi (cd) most of the time
Portable cd boombox in the bedroom rarely
CD player in car
Ipod (my cds uploaded mostly rather than purchased MP3s) out on the bike, doing gardening or away from home.

But then I'm of the generation that likes shiny things and booklets to hold, store and possess. My son only listens to his iPod or iTunes on his computer and sees no value in physical cds except on the rare occasion they're cheaper than a download.

In reply to an earlier post on 9 Jul 2010 12:36:50 BDT
Kay says:
iPod, always...

I got my first iPod back when they came out in 2004, I bought 2 CD's since and that's only because I couldn't buy them digitally from the UK so it had to be an import.

MP3's are good enough for me.

Posted on 9 Jul 2010 12:48:13 BDT
Mostly using an old Nad 3155 with Tannoy F1 speakers connected to a Squeezebox 3 via external DAC.
Mp3s sound fine to me, but at 34 my hearing limit is around 15/16kHz.

Posted on 9 Jul 2010 13:58:28 BDT
I mainly listen to CDs on a mid-price stereo system; I also occasionally listen to LPs and recently bought a modestly priced record deck to replace the one that originally came with the stereo system. I buy mp3 downloads and burn them to CDs. When I used to travel a lot and work away from home I used a variety of portable devices starting with a Walkman; I still have an expensive Walkman hardly used. I had a number of portable CD players but found carrying one, along with the discs quite bulky. I then bought a mini-disc player (and a separate recorder); I have a fair number of mini-discs, all recorded from my CD collection. Mini-discs were rapidly superceded by iPods and I stopped working away from home and had less need of portable music. When necessary I still use the MD player and haven't bothered to buy an iPod. My palm-top PC plays mp3s but I never use it for that.

Posted on 9 Jul 2010 15:18:42 BDT
C. Rigby says:
$1,500 CAD worth of hifi separates from NAD, Rotel and others, a Sensa plus Flac compatible solid state music player and yes a minidisc recorder used with stenhesier headphones cos as a classical music lover I do value how stuff sounds. For MD/hifi usage I transfer audio files to cd-r/rw to listen.

In reply to an earlier post on 9 Jul 2010 23:25:49 BDT
Last edited by the author on 5 Aug 2010 20:42:45 BDT
zargb5 says:
mp3 sounds fine on a computer. If i'm working at the PC i get by. But am considering some wireless headphones - i have some sennheiser RF phones but they are a bit too hissy for me especially near the computer!!

If i want to do some serious listening i use my hi fi system in my living room: Musical Fidelity A5 cd and amp - the cd player has valve outputs: toten arro speakers, van den hul first cable, kimber 8tc speaker cables all through an Isotek G2 mains conditioner. Some decent isolation feet and its as good as its gonna get for me nowadays.

Really not keen on mp3 at all, but if your on the move or listening thro pc or low fi equipment its OK and if your working and just want background music. Often its the only available download option for albums that you can't get on cd anymore.

I definitely agree that albums ''remastered sound wars'' by conformist cloth eared engineers should have a health warning ''this cd will sound 5hit if played on anything'' anything less than 320 kbps does not hack it. 320 has become an industry standard due to economic factors - it just isn't good enough.

Posted on 10 Jul 2010 10:58:22 BDT
I have a pair of wireless Sennheiser headphones I can no longer use because the stupid little ariel (for WLAN which I don't use) on my broadband box interferes with them.

In reply to an earlier post on 12 Jul 2010 18:45:39 BDT
Marian says:
Normally you can configure broadband routers to disable the WLAN - have you investigated this?

In reply to an earlier post on 13 Jul 2010 17:14:53 BDT
Thanks, I will look again but when I set it up I remember not enabling the WLAN and it always shows a red light. Ever since the broadband box was installed I have had interfence on the head phones to the point where I gave up using them. I assumed it was the WLAN even though it is not enbaled.

In reply to an earlier post on 14 Jul 2010 19:07:52 BDT
Last edited by the author on 14 Jul 2010 19:09:18 BDT
M. Adams says:
I use an mp3 player through a posh(ish) hifi. I like music rather than electronics, so I find that by using a good sound system to play -allegedly- rubbishy source material I get a sound quite good enough for my ears. It's not as good as CD's played through the same equipment, but good enough, and so much more convenient. I generally only listen to CD's on the rare occasion that my kids, job and life generally allow me the time to sit down for a proper listening session -about three times a year!

Posted on 14 Jul 2010 20:39:33 BDT
Last edited by the author on 14 Jul 2010 20:44:26 BDT
Carl says:
Pc Running winamp, flac files if possible, DacMagic dac, Arcam A28 and some cheapish eltax speakers. I'd say I can hear the difference between flac and the current vbr mp3 files Amazon make available, though need to sit down and listen to notice it. As background music the current format is ok, but then that's not why I buy music. Would love it if Amazon sold downloads in flac format

In reply to an earlier post on 17 Jul 2010 12:54:47 BDT
i have a stereo system in my living room and a record player upstairs for my vinyl. mp3 is not for everyone [although i do own one]. but i prefer to listen to my stereo or record player. my stereo is a philips midi hi-fi and has a very good sound. my record player isa steepletone 3 speed mono player and the old rock 'n' roll 45's and 78's sound good on it. i hope i have helped you in your poll. regards mike

Posted on 17 Jul 2010 14:58:32 BDT
MC Zaptone says:
Thanks to everyone who has revealed their systems so far, come on the rest of you!!!!!!!!!!!

It is looking like most people do use cd's and vinyl with mp3 as a travel option so far.

Posted on 17 Jul 2010 15:14:28 BDT
Since I moved to DVD-Audio & SA-CD a few years ago, I tend not to play CDs at all.
I use an i-pod for gardening, diy etc., background noise essentially, but for actually listening to music rather than just hearing it, I use my car!

In reply to an earlier post on 17 Jul 2010 23:09:04 BDT
J Malpass says:
I prefer to purchase CDs so that I can transfer to MP3 at a decent bit rate (at least 320kbits). At Amazon CDs tend to be the same price as MP3s, so why limit your listening pleasure? Some MP3 sites are only 128 kbits or 256 kbits (e.g. Amazon). At least 7digital is 320kb. I can certainly tell the difference between CD and 128kb MP3 and so rip to 320kb at least. If I had the hard disk space I'd rip to FLAC but with over 200GB of MP3 music already (between 128 and 320kbits), I'd need some serious TBs. BTW, LPs were so much richer but not very convenient at all. I'm in the process of purchasing CDs to replace many LPs and stuff I only had on compact cassette (!).

Listen to MP3s on home PC (via 5.1 surround sound - Creative Audigy, iTunes etc) for convenience since all the CDs are stored downstairs. Prefer to listen to CDs in living room via Teac Hi-Fi, KEF speakers. Have MP3 (SD slot) and CD autochanger in the car and recently tried MP3 and CD side-by-side and CD is so much better. MP3 was tinny and unexciting but CD really thumps out the bass and is far clearer. On the move - train/walking - fave device is iPhone.

Posted on 17 Jul 2010 23:09:52 BDT
MR P FITTON says:
Mid price Denon hi-fi for CDs and DAB radio (which keeps cutting out, grrrr). Otherwise, PC for MP3s and a not particularly good Car stereo. I like to burn MP3s to CD, although the gap in quality between a burned MP3 and an original CD recording is fairly obvious. Don't have an ipod or any other MP3 player as I'm usually either in the house or the car, so why bother? Also the Denon can play MP3 discs anyway, which is pretty cool.

Anyone know of an easy way to burn flac files to audio CD? Cheers

In reply to an earlier post on 18 Jul 2010 09:54:16 BDT
Last edited by the author on 18 Jul 2010 09:54:40 BDT
Mr PF: I have been experimenting with this (see Audiophile thread). On the recommendation of another poster I tried Nero which is excellent but unfortunately only seems to come as part of a suite of software for which I have no use. To use Windows Media Player you need to convert FLAC to wav. I have been using a freebie version Switch Sound Converter. It is fine if you do it a track at a time but when you do a batch of tracks it sometimes fails to transfer all the information (track number, timing) and this upsets WMP. Along with the other problem I mention this has made me to stick to selectively buying mp3s and burning them to CD using WMP.

Posted on 18 Jul 2010 11:45:47 BDT
Mostly I listen through a hi fi in the living room (Cyrus CD player and amp, Spendor speakers, Sennheiser 'phones). I also use this for listening to MP3s and internet radio via a Squeezebox. I have a fairly elderly iRiver MP3 player - I bought this and used it at a time when I travelled a lot. I rarely use it any more.

Increasingly, I buy music as downloads rather than CDs, partly because I am running out of storage space and partly because of a growing interest in historical recordings, which are often only available as downloads. I prefer to buy elsewhere than Amazon because of the availability of FLAC/higher quality MP3. The exception is where a download is ludicrously cheap on Amazon. Also, of course, with a lot of historical recordings, the bitrate is the least of your worries from the sound quality point of view.

In reply to an earlier post on 19 Jul 2010 01:00:47 BDT
zargb5 says:
the freebie version of winamp can play flac and convert it to various other bitrates wav, aac, etc. i think it can burn flac straight to cdr but the freebie version only burns at x2 or x4 so i tend to convert files to wav and burn em in nero.

In reply to an earlier post on 19 Jul 2010 17:47:26 BDT
Ag Mooney says:
I use high end hi-fi gear. i use my Ipod less and less..............Anthony

Posted on 20 Jul 2010 13:41:56 BDT
crocus wood says:
top of the range hifi in the sitting room with cd player and another top of range one in the bedroom. i have an mp3 i use to mostly put new works on and listen through the hifi - if i like the work i always buy on a cd.
i sometimes plug it into my car cd player and very occasionaly if i go on a train journey or cant sleep at night

id go for cd every time - i too like the info and package and good sound

Posted on 20 Jul 2010 14:11:05 BDT
Surely the point of any such discussion on music downloads is "What are you paying for?". Why should it matter where or how you listen to music, when the point is, if you are buying something it should be the highest possible quality. If you bought a CD that had inferior audio on it, would that be justified by a label saying, "Only for use on your cheap portable stereo"?

It's bad enough that we now have a generation that don't know the tinny crunch of over-compressed hi-hats on 128kbps audio is not supposed to sound that way, without it being justified by people saying it's ok because of the place you listen to it most of the time.

In reply to an earlier post on 20 Jul 2010 14:23:27 BDT
Brass Neck says:
Dookie (isn't that american slang for a turd a la Green Day?) - we ARE buying CDs with inferior audio quality as many of the recent remasters & new releases are victims of the loudness wars whereby compression and clipping rob the music of its dynamic range. If only such cds did carry a health warning.

In reply to an earlier post on 20 Jul 2010 17:09:33 BDT
It matters if you are buying expensive downloads (FLACs) and listening to them on 50 ipod and a pair of earphones while sitting in a train or car or walking down a noisy street.
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