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iTunes AAC@256 vs 320 LAME: Different Experience?
Antigen
post Jun 13 2012, 19:32
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Hi to all,

actually I'm converting my CD to MP3@320 with the last version of LAME.

I have read that AAC from Apple @256 is a better solution for quality respect the LAME@320.

But it's real that AAC@256 can be better to 320 MP3?

I know, the only solution is ABX test, but in the real world, MP3 320 is worse respect to a 256 AAC?

Post here your experience, comparison and test if you have done.

Thanks for your collaboration

This post has been edited by Antigen: Jun 13 2012, 19:36
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Nessuno
post Jun 13 2012, 20:00
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QUOTE (Antigen @ Jun 13 2012, 20:32) *
I know, the only solution is ABX test, but in the real world, MP3 320 is worse respect to a 256 AAC?

Yes, only you can say the last word, performing a proper ABX test.
Anyway, the great majority of other people's experiences (mine included) makes reasonable to say that, unless you have ear sensibility much above average, both formats will result transparent to you against lossless at that bitrates and so perceptually indistinguishable between each other. At this point, the one which requires more space is the worse!

Nevertheless, there could be other reasons to choose one or the other, say better compatibility with your hardware, or with the hardware you are supposed to use in a future... and this latter reason should makes you reconsider the whole idea of storing CD rips in a lossy format: buy two larger disks (one for backup), use lossless in the first place and then transcode to lossy... and feel free to change your mind about the codec of choice wherever you want! wink.gif

By the way: just for the record, to "normal" ears, mp3 starts to become transparent at far lower bitrates than 320.


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Antigen
post Jun 13 2012, 20:06
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Actually i'm converting with XLD to FLAC and when I need, for portable use, I use LAME@320.

I think that is the better solution.

I had asked because I want to know if this solution is a good choice, I think that is good.


P.S: actually I buy a lot of CD on Amazon amd convert them to FLAC + MP3 320
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Ouroboros
post Jun 13 2012, 20:17
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It's not a good choice, IMHO. Ripping to FLAC is a good and sensible choice, but unless you have an old hardware player that doesn't play VBR then you should go for a VBR format for portable playing. CBR just wastes bits.

This is discussed regularly, but if you can't be bothered to do even a basic listening test then start with LAME VBR V2, or XLD AAC True VBR with quality set to 80.

This post has been edited by Ouroboros: Jun 13 2012, 20:18
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greynol
post Jun 13 2012, 20:53
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QUOTE (Ouroboros @ Jun 13 2012, 12:17) *
if you can't be bothered to do even a basic listening test

This is a recurring problem with some of our members.


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Porcus
post Jun 13 2012, 21:34
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I think it is OK to ask rather than going through (1) testing a few, (2) converting to 'wrong' lossy quality, (3) finding out about the previous point after everything was done, (4) da capo al fine. It's been years since I ripped my collection, and I haven't even heard all albums yet. Didn't want to spend a year testing for a sweetspot bitrate before ripping, eh? My solution was of course to stay lossless. Not because I think I can distinguish AAC @ 256 from MP3 @ 320, but at least I am pretty sure I didn't screw up settings / transcoding / gaplessness / encoding. I automated the procedure, I wouldn't even want to rip without encode-and-verify.


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greynol
post Jun 13 2012, 21:50
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There are countless discussions as well as listening tests that indicate that either of the two candidates are overkill except for the tiny minority of people who are able to identify artifacts. I see no reason to think the author of this particular topic is one of them. If he was then he wouldn't be asking the question, especially not in the way that he did.

In the "real world" and especially in the "real world" the only acceptable means to determine whether one is better is through ABX and must be taken on a sample-by-sample basis. If differences can be detected and unless one is transparent then which is "better" becomes a matter of personal opinion, though since it is a matter of opinion maybe the non-transparent one is deemed "better."

As it is a personal opinion and because the bitrates are so high, I see little benefit in what others think unless there is broad consensus. Even still, how does that matter if the person doing the listening isn't able to distinguish a difference?

This post has been edited by greynol: Jun 13 2012, 22:39


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greynol
post Jun 13 2012, 21:55
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QUOTE (Ouroboros @ Jun 13 2012, 12:17) *
This is discussed regularly, but if you can't be bothered to do even a basic listening test then start with LAME VBR V2

I'd start with V4 using music in my collection with lots of transients and other types of sounds known to give lossy codecs trouble.


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eahm
post Jun 13 2012, 22:54
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Keep lossless but always ABX test for portable use. I transcoded all my music one more time few days ago.

I have a new processor and it only takes about 20 mins to convert ~2000 songs, I went from LAME MP3 CBR320 -> LAME MP3 VBR V0 -> Nero AAC CBR 320 -> Nero AAC CBR 256 -> Nero AAC VBR 256 -> qaac AAC TVBR 100 -> qaac TVBR 82 and it's really amazing how much more you can store without hearing any difference.

Again, ABX test AAC, you will be amazed.

This post has been edited by eahm: Jun 13 2012, 22:56


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db1989
post Jun 13 2012, 23:01
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You said in another thread that you buy from iTunes. Well, since it uses 256 kbps AAC, why not rip your own CDs to the same setting? (I have a feeling I said this already in the past, but maybe Iím wrong!)

Any differences between the two are going to be purely academic.
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Kohlrabi
post Jun 13 2012, 23:52
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A common interpretation is that MP3@320kbps is the most "safe" settings, since you use the maximum (common) MP3 bitrate. This is a misconception, since this setting is only the one least likely to have artifacts. But it doesn't protect from artifacts, and is by no means "safe". The only way to ensure fidelity for all your music rips is lossless encoding. With lossy codecs you only have diminishing probability of noticing artifacts with increasing bitrates. For most people and music sources the probability to notice artifacts is likely very close to its minimum at around ~160-192kbps VBR (~V4), and does only very slightly decrease much further, if at all.

In short, what I mean to say is that those insanely high bitrates, and especially CBR encoding, defeat the point of lossy encoding, which is to reach the smallest possible file size while maintaining transparency.

This post has been edited by Kohlrabi: Jun 13 2012, 23:56


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onkl
post Jun 14 2012, 20:48
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Since you store a lossless copy anyway and only transcode to lossy for portable use, you shouldn't be concerned about transparency at all. Going with 128kbps or less is just fine. If you start to hear annoying artifacts, simply encode to a higher quality.

Listening tests have indicated that modern codecs produce very good results around 128kbps and in a noisy environment on the go you probably won't listen carefully enough.

This post has been edited by onkl: Jun 14 2012, 20:50
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xdesirex22
post Jun 21 2012, 03:41
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i undersand that most ears cannot tell the difference between these two. but despite that, which one is higher quality?
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greynol
post Jun 21 2012, 04:06
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If you cannot tell the difference between the two then they are the same quality.

We're talking about lossy compression here and since it is lossy compression there is no other means to determine quality; none, nada, nothing, zero, zip.


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xdesirex22
post Jun 21 2012, 04:10
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QUOTE (greynol @ Jun 20 2012, 20:06) *
If you cannot tell the difference between the two then they are the same quality.

We're talking about lossy compression here and since it is lossy compression there is no other means to determine quality; none, nada, nothing, zero, zip.

Oh, i see. this is news to me. what about examining waveforms?

also, Is there one that is generally regarded by the community to be better? or are they generally seen as being interchangeable
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greynol
post Jun 21 2012, 04:27
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QUOTE (xdesirex22 @ Jun 20 2012, 20:10) *
what about examining waveforms?

Completely and utterly useless (here).

QUOTE (xdesirex22 @ Jun 20 2012, 20:10) *
also, Is there one that is generally regarded by the community to be better? or are they generally seen as being interchangeable

If they sound identical then they are interchangeable. If they don't then they are not. The only way to know for sure that they are not is to pass a double-blind test.

EDIT (again): After re-reading the discussion I see that I'm just repeating myself. Let me repeat once more: sound quality of perceptual encoding must be judged by the ears and nothing more. The answer does not change simply because someone else asks the question in a slightly different way.

This post has been edited by greynol: Jun 21 2012, 04:57
Reason for edit: added links, fixed typos, completed/refined my thoughts (as per usual).


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Brand
post Jun 21 2012, 08:50
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QUOTE (xdesirex22 @ Jun 21 2012, 05:10) *
also, Is there one that is generally regarded by the community to be better? or are they generally seen as being interchangeable

In addition to what greynol posted, let me give you a slightly more "practical" answer:

When we're talking about low bitrates (~120kbps), I think AAC is generally regarded to be better (that is: more transparent).

But at higher bitrates (over 200kbps), both MP3 and AAC are generally regarded as transparent, so at that point it's hard to talk about which is better.
Maybe you would think that transparency scales linearly with higher bitrates.. but lossy encoding doesn't always work like that. Some codecs can be better optimized for certain bitrates, so in theory MP3 could be better than AAC at 250kbps, even if it's worse at 120kbps.
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xdesirex22
post Jun 21 2012, 14:00
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thanks for the answers, i have a much better grasping of this now.
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FeelThhis
post Mar 28 2014, 03:10
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sorry for the necro-bumping. but i just want to say: what a delightful time I had by reading this thread. you guys not only know the technical stuff, but you are also very clever people.


i think those who are not specialist in the area (like me) can benefit too by reading this post... so the bumping is not that bad in this case smile.gif
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dndell
post Apr 26 2014, 23:37
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On this same topic, I am a dj, who is always looking for new music (including often older music I am just discovering). Though I prefer to get CDs when I can and rip losslessly, often older EPs were never released on CD, and are not available currently on sites like Beatport. So as a last resort, I am sometimes forced to choose to buy tracks from the lower bitrate providers like Itunes, Amazon, or Google Play - or just give up on the track..

My point is that for me it's not a choice between lossless and lossy, but which lossy will sound best to the most people on a huge soundsystem - which is hard to A/B at home. Both highs and low end are critical. I know I definitely prefer the highs of 256 AAC over 256 MP3 but the choice between Google Play's 320 MP3 and Itunes 256 AAC is harder. I've been opting for 320 MP3, but love some experienced djs thoughts.

BTW, I publich my recorded sets using Dolby's 320Kb AAC algorithm, which sounds really good to me.
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DVDdoug
post Apr 28 2014, 22:31
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QUOTE
My point is that for me it's not a choice between lossless and lossy, but which lossy will sound best to the most people on a huge soundsystem - which is hard to A/B at home.
A reasonable pair of headphones is all you need. The most important factors are your ability to hear/identify compression artifacts and the program material. Some people find it easier to hear compression artifacts on a lower-quality system.

A/B listening is fine in some cases. But modern compression can be very good, it's hard to hear the difference, and it's easy to fool yourself. A proper scientific, level matched, blind ABX test is the only reliable way to do it, and such a test is required per TOS #8 before making audio quality claims here at HydrogenAudio.

QUOTE
Both highs and low end are critical. I know I definitely prefer the highs of 256 AAC over 256 MP3 but the choice between Google Play's 320 MP3 and Itunes 256 AAC is harder.

Compression artifacts have very little to do with "highs & lows", especially at these higher bitrates.
Typically, 256 and 320kbps MP3 both sound identical to the uncompressed original. You may find some songs where you can hear artifacts at 256 that you can't hear at 320, but that would be rare... If you can hear artifacts at 256kbps, you can probably hear them at 320.

The proper way to do an ABX test would be to compare the CD (or lossless file) to the AAC, and also compare the CD to MP3. If you can't reliably hear a difference in either case, all 3 are equal in audio quality. If you can hear compression artifacts with both, it's up to you decide which you prefer, or which is "better".

QUOTE
I've been opting for 320 MP3, but love some experienced djs thoughts.
Any good recording at 256kbps in just about any format is going to sound GREAT on a killer sound system! Most dance halls & clubs have very "live" acoustics (plenty of natural reverb) and there tends to be quite a bit of background noise. This will make compression artifacts hard to hear, even if you can hear them when listening carefully on headphones. ...And of course, there is no possibility of listeners doing a careful A/B or ABX test when a DJ is playing the music. wink.gif

This post has been edited by DVDdoug: Apr 28 2014, 22:34
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