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135 posts

Master Geek


# 157687 9-Dec-2014 20:41
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Hi,

I downloaded a flac file last night then converted it to alac to play on my iPod.
I have the same album in mp3 320 KBS and listened to both.
There was a slight difference but not as big as I thought it would be.
I was listening on Sony MDR 1Rs which I thought would showcase the difference's quite well as they aren't cheapie ear buds.
I haven't listened on my HT yet though so maybe that'll be different.
Anyone else had that happen?


Thanks

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41 posts

Geek


  # 1192388 9-Dec-2014 20:47
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Did exactly the same,

Got a pair of Phillips A5 Pro's and did the same test:
Spotify 320kbps vs FLAC vs ALAC

I found the difference extremely noticeable!!  much nicer feel in the music.  Definite difference in the immersiveness of the music.
Loved it! 
Actually paid for Music (as a standalone album) for the first time in ages for a FLAC download, rather than spotify

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  # 1192393 9-Dec-2014 20:55
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Listen to it again and again and you will start to appreciate the artifacts in the lossy file. You might have become used to them now.

Some stuff has been processed in ways that sounds lossy regardless, even on the source there is the metallic sounds to things.




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  # 1192395 9-Dec-2014 20:59
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Is there anywhere NZers can source lossless downloads of mainstream music legally without fudging IP addresses, etc?

I am currently using 256kbps files from iTunes and I'm pretty sure I could do better.

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  # 1192396 9-Dec-2014 20:59
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Do a blind test: here.



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Master Geek


  # 1192397 9-Dec-2014 21:01
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Maybe I have bung ear's?
I'll get some more albums and see if they sound better.
I was expecting mind blowing stuff from all I had seen on the net.


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  # 1192398 9-Dec-2014 21:02
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I buy all my music on CD and rip to FLAC, have done for a very long time now.

I honestly don't know how much of a difference that makes, as I've never done an active comparison, but I suspect without very carefully listening I would find little difference. The differences would mostly be heard in the treble registers where lossy compression has the most deleterious effects on sounds (cymbals being a prime example). The fact is that many people are unable to reliably differentiate between FLAC and modern mp3 encoding at 320kbps in a rigorous blind test. Of course with some effort to learn the tells and with resolving enough equipment (in other words training), many of those unable to discern a difference initially would do better on subsequent testing.

On the topic of resolution, worth pointing out that those neither those Sony's or the iPod are the final word in resolution (nor anywhere close to the final word even). Also worth pointing out that the differences will be more apparent on some recordings than others too.

For me I am satisfied with lossless, I feel reassured enough that I am not losing fidelity when listening on my ~$9K desktop headphones rig at home (and when you're that invested little differences are sufficiently valuable to you to be worth it).




Twitter: @nztechfreak
Blogs: HeadphoNZ.org


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  # 1192399 9-Dec-2014 21:03
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Compressed audio has come a long way from the first gen MP3 codecs that many people still think is all there is for lossy. Also IME its often the crappier systems that expose the artifacts from compression more because of the lousy frequancy response. Also anything that does stereo widening, fake surround etc will affect the artifacts more than the music often.




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  # 1192400 9-Dec-2014 21:05
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Played on good-quality equipment, 16-bit FLAC (lossless) always sounds better than MP3 (lossy).
MP3 files are of variable quality - the more compression / data loss, the worse they sound.
The best quality MP3 (320 kbit/sec) files are almost as large as FLAC files - so I always use FLAC.




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Master Geek


  # 1192403 9-Dec-2014 21:13
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What's good equipment?
I know there is some mentally expensive gear around but for most people it's not an option.
If I had the money I'd change my stuff but I'm happy enough with it.
Just thought I'd try the flacs out.

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  # 1192405 9-Dec-2014 21:13
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I have good equipment : good DAC, headphone amp, $1000 headphones. I'm pretty sure I can't tell the difference between FLAC and a 256kbps mp3.

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  # 1192406 9-Dec-2014 21:17
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Gambit: What's good equipment?
I know there is some mentally expensive gear around but for most people it's not an option.
If I had the money I'd change my stuff but I'm happy enough with it.
Just thought I'd try the flacs out.


If you're happy don't ever listen to better gear. Seriously.




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Blogs: HeadphoNZ.org


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  # 1192407 9-Dec-2014 21:17
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"once you go flac you never go back..."

usually there's not too much noticeable difference between 320k and flac - like other comparisons it depends on what you're listening to it through.

crappy headphones from a mobile device would barely notice a difference between 128k and flac, but the difference from 128 to flac will be night and day on a decent amp + speaker combo or decent device/soundcard + headphone combo.

I started using spotify for a while at home and found the 320k good, but it was still audibly short of flac versions on the same systems. 320k spotify was perfect for my phone/tablet though when away from home or on the move.

the real argument starts when you get into 96/24 or SACD vs redbook flac, it gets crazy then...

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  # 1192408 9-Dec-2014 21:32
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i have struggled with this concept before. 128k vs flac yes i can tell a difference ... any higher and I start to have doubts. I believe that i can tell a difference between 320k and flac when there are lots of complex treble (cymbals mainly) but only certain tracks. then there are tracks supposedly top of the pops that are mastered horribly - either imbalanced or some even clip! so then garbage in garbage out (someone get amy winehouse back to black - it's horrible!)

but without complex treble i definitely can't tell 320k vs flac

one more problem. all my travel equipment cannot play flac. so it's useless and i need to re-encode




Involuntary autocorrect in operation on mobile device. Apologies in advance.


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Ultimate Geek


  # 1192410 9-Dec-2014 21:34
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I don't think there's an audible difference between high bit-rate lossy encodes and lossless encodes from the same source.





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  # 1192412 9-Dec-2014 21:35
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scottr: ... the real argument starts when you get into 96/24 or SACD vs redbook flac, it gets crazy then...


With good headphones (Stax Omegas with a hybrid headphone amp) I can tell the difference between 16-bit FLAC and 24-bit FLAC more often than not, but I can't tell the difference between 24/48, 24/96, or 24/192.

On the same headphones, MP3's sound "dead" by comparison.




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