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Should i start using AAC? Can you notice a better quality?
Bahamut2
post Jan 2 2012, 06:19
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I have read everywhere that it is better than MP3, but will i be able to notice the difference?
I encode all my files to VBR -V0 and i don't know anything about AAC, what would be the equivalent encoding settings for AAC?

Can you people really notice that theyre is a reall difference in quality? I want to test it by myself (encoding always it max quality off course) but first i want to ask here.
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Ron Jones
post Jan 2 2012, 07:04
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Can I tell the difference between ~256kbps MP3 and ~256kbps AAC? No. Can you? Maybe. If you wish to know, you must (properly) test with your ears on your equipment.
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Bahamut2
post Jan 2 2012, 07:42
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Im going to make my first ABX test soon, but i wanted to know a general opinion about AAC behing better than MP3.

I read everywhere that "AAC is better than MP3" so that is why i ask this. I know this applies at low bitrates but at high bitrates too?
Nero AAC at q.65. behing the same as LAME MP3 V0, in terms of filez size... does it means that AAC will sound better because of the highter bitrate it produces at the same file size? (at least technically)
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hlloyge
post Jan 2 2012, 07:52
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AAC is, technicaly, a bit more advanced codec than mp3.

As for the sound, in the testing of low bitrate samples, it came out as slightly better than mp3 - I think it was something around 96 kbit test. At high bit rates (160 kbit and omore), it is near impossible to differentiate the two, except on problem killer samples.
So, if you are using over 200 kbit encodings, it would have no advantage whatsoever. But, that depends on your hearing - do ABX tests, see what is the lowest bitrate where you can't tell the difference between original CD audio and mp3 (or aac) compressed audio. For me it's rather low, between 128 and 160 kbit - so I'm using around 192 kbit encoding, to be on safe side.
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mjb2006
post Jan 2 2012, 08:45
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If you do hear a difference in a certain piece of music at these high bitrates, it might be worth posting ABX logs and short clips demonstrating the problem, because it likely means there's room for improvement in whatever encoder you used, rather than a shortcoming of one of the formats in general.
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Bahamut2
post Jan 2 2012, 14:09
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I did a quick test with foobar and im surprised i can not even hear any difference between q.35 AAC and a FLAC file! And .35 means about 100kbps, with MP3 im sure i would have heard a difference... i guess.
Anyway im pretty sure it deppends on the kind of music, i was just listening pop.
What is the best music genere to test music? Maybe clasical music?

I will test more when my new senheisser hearphones arrive, i read somewhere that with hearphones you ear more "sound bugs".

This post has been edited by Bahamut2: Jan 2 2012, 14:10
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markanini
post Jan 2 2012, 14:21
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QUOTE (Bahamut2 @ Jan 2 2012, 14:09) *
Anyway im pretty sure it deppends on the kind of music, i was just listening pop.
What is the best music genere to test music? Maybe clasical music?

Densely produced metal and electronica.
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lvqcl
post Jan 2 2012, 14:29
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An example of a problem sample (specific for Nero AAC): mmasq.wav

And BTW, according to the July 2011 AAC listening test, Apple AAC and FhG AAC perform better than Nero.
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apodtele
post Jan 2 2012, 15:53
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This is yet another "discussion" initiated solely to promote AAC not so subtly...

This type of posts usually start of sounding clueless but quickly reach definitive "conclusion" that 128kbp AAC (aka iTunes) is just like CD.
Never do they mention LAME, never do they mention VBR V2. No ABX logs, no technical details whatsoever, just pure admiration for AAC and Apple.

This is unscientific CRAP. Please try to ignore this.


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db1989
post Jan 2 2012, 16:03
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QUOTE (apodtele @ Jan 2 2012, 14:53) *
This is yet another "discussion" initiated solely to promote AAC not so subtly...
Where did you get that idea? I think Bahamut2 would be justified if s/he were offended by that accusation.

QUOTE
This type of posts usually start of sounding clueless but quickly reach definitive "conclusion" that 128kbp AAC (aka iTunes) is just like CD.

Where has this been said? No one said it here, and I bet it has not been said anywhere else and you are just conjuring it up for the purpose of your trolltastic anti-AAC agenda.

Since you don’t seem to know, the iTunes store no longer sells any 128 kbps AAC files; everything has been 256 kbps for a couple of years. And ABX tests are generally not taken as “definitive” proof of anything (especially not positive assertions), never mind that 128 kbps AAC files sound just like CD audio; the best that could be said about that is that some might, to some people, which might equally apply to MP3—and again, no one has said that here anyway.

QUOTE
Never do they mention LAME, never do they mention VBR V2. No ABX logs, no technical details whatsoever, just pure admiration for AAC and Apple.
LAME is mentioned here. VBR settings are mentioned here. ABX tests are mentioned here, and tests of AAC vs. MP3 are plentiful if you would care to look rather than ignoring them for the purposes of your rant (not that any of us use them to claim that MP3 is rubbish and that everyone should switch to AAC, as you appear to be implying). As for Apple, it is not the only purveyor of AAC, in case anyone is in any doubt, and the Apple-branded encoder is mentioned here because it is one of the main encoders and not because of any inherent bias or superiority (it is noted as being effectively equivalent to that of FhG in the latest test).

Again, where are these mythical posts that you appear to be referring to? I see no AACist crusade here. The only person who appears to be on a crusade is you, and I don’t know why you have such a personal animosity towards AAC.

QUOTE
This is unscientific CRAP. Please try to ignore this.
Your posts about AAC seem to be of similar quality. I advise others to ignore them. I advise you to stop making unsubstantiated assertions.

This post has been edited by db1989: Jan 2 2012, 22:30
Reason for edit: additions
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subinbar
post Jan 10 2012, 15:12
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I think for most people to be able to tell the difference between AAC and MP3 you'd have to compare low bitrate samples, in the range of 96-128kbps.
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Porcus
post Jan 10 2012, 17:24
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QUOTE (Bahamut2 @ Jan 2 2012, 06:19) *
I encode all my files to VBR -V0 and i don't know anything about AAC, what would be the equivalent encoding settings for AAC?


Just in case you have not heard this before:

For the mp3 files you already have, you should keep them the way they are. Transcoding from a lossy format is an almost-universal no-no.


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JunkieXL
post Jan 10 2012, 20:22
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I used to use LAME v1 for all of the files I would put on my iPod. When they released the iTunes Plus preset a while back, I started to test that out and found that I couldn't tell the two apart and that I was getting better battery life on my iPod when using AAC files.

LAME v1 is in the 200 to 250 kbs VBR range IIRC and iTunes Plus is in the 256 kbs VBR. (That reminds me that they need to update the bitrate listing in iTunes when looking at a files info. It says 256 on all files no matter how simple or complex the track is.)

I haven't tested at lower settings as I have enough space on my iPod for the larger file sizes.
CK

This post has been edited by JunkieXL: Jan 10 2012, 20:24
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Nessuno
post Jan 10 2012, 20:26
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QUOTE (markanini @ Jan 2 2012, 14:21) *
QUOTE (Bahamut2 @ Jan 2 2012, 14:09) *

What is the best music genere to test music? Maybe clasical music?

Densely produced metal and electronica.


As a matter of fact classical, of which I'm a big fan, seems to be not particularly troublesome for modern encoders. I found the most revealing instrument to be harpsichord, especially on solo quieter passages. I successfully ABXed it at LAME -v2 (some very specific killer tracks, of course), nevertheless failed at 256Kbps on both codecs.


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Stillbruch
post Jan 12 2012, 11:00
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Hi everyone,

This is my first post in this forum, and I "accidentally" found this thread on Google. However, I find your discussion quite interesting, that's why I'd like to join in.

First, I have a small recording studio for mostly private recordings. I do not use expensive equipment, but still I think that the setup is pretty decent (Yamaha HS80M, DYNAUDIO BM5A MKII, AKG K 601 and AKG K 701). So much for my equipment - I'd like to place emphasis on the reason why there are Lossy Audio Compression Codecs at all. Well, nomen est nomen, they make your audio tracks smaller. I know a lot of people with decent or expensive equipment who compress their audio with a Lossy Compression Codec using a very high to highest quality setting (e.g. LAME MP3 -V0 or Nero AAC -q > 0.8). In my honest opinion, this doesn't make any sense.
Let me explain: Every Lossy Compression Codec makes use psychoacoustic models to omit parts of a sample, which are irrelevant to the human ear (I do not explain this any further, as most of you should know that). The downside is: There are so called "problem samples" (as already mentioned in another post above) - and I'm talking about samples and not necessarely entire tracks - which cause the compression algorithm to fail. Failing in compressing a problem sample is, most importantly, less a matter of the bitrate or the quality you are using, but more a matter of the algorithm itself. So, for example, if a LAME MP3 -V2 compression fails to return a clean sample of such a "problem sample", it is most likely that it will also fail at -V0. Same applies to other Lossy Compression Codecs.
The question is: Does your audio track contain such problem samples? I can't know, but in a well produced and mastered mainstream audio track, problem samples occur very rarely. I encourage you to give LAME MP -V3 or even -V4 (or equivalent "medium" settings with other codecs) a try at ABX (but please, do it correctly). The reason behind those kinds of compression is, as I've already mentioned, to significantly reduce the size of your audio tracks. If you encoded a track with a lot of problem samples at -V0 (or equivalent in other codecs), you'd be busted and could have used a lossless compression instead, since the difference in size wouldn't be that big anymore.

Back to the topic itself: The Nero AAC or simply AAC codecs are very powerful on lower bitrates compared to MP3. Any 96 kbps MP3 almost always sound horrible, while AAC-files with a similar size does very well. If you've got plenty of space (and battery on portable devices), it doesn't make any significant differences whether you use LAME or any kind of AAC, as long as the settings are decent.

Have a nice day! biggrin.gif
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mjb2006
post Jan 12 2012, 11:47
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QUOTE (Stillbruch @ Jan 12 2012, 03:00) *
Any 96 kbps MP3 almost always sound horrible

I feel more info would be needed to support that claim. In my experience, as long as the input is sufficiently lowpassed, 96 kbps MP3 as produced by FhG or LAME sounds great. No high end, of course, but rarely (if ever?) any artifacts. So...careful with generalizations smile.gif
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Porcus
post Jan 12 2012, 12:05
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QUOTE (Nessuno @ Jan 10 2012, 20:26) *
I found the most revealing instrument to be harpsichord


That appears to be a rather common observation.


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probedb
post Jan 12 2012, 12:15
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QUOTE (Stillbruch @ Jan 12 2012, 10:00) *
Any 96 kbps MP3 almost always sound horrible


Sources and test results for this claim?
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Stillbruch
post Jan 12 2012, 15:23
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I apologise for that claim. Since English is not my native language, I poorly expressed that sentence. What I wanted to say is: If a 96 kbps MP3 sounded badly, a similar encoded AAC-sample might do a lot better. I will correct the original sentence above - it is wrong. And no, I do not have any proof.

Supplement
Great, I can't edit former replies.

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Nessuno
post Jan 12 2012, 15:42
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QUOTE (probedb @ Jan 12 2012, 12:15) *
QUOTE (Stillbruch @ Jan 12 2012, 10:00) *
Any 96 kbps MP3 almost always sound horrible


Sources and test results for this claim?


First of all he should give an operative definition of "horrible", one to test against. wink.gif


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Nessuno
post Jan 12 2012, 16:44
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QUOTE (Porcus @ Jan 12 2012, 12:05) *
QUOTE (Nessuno @ Jan 10 2012, 20:26) *
I found the most revealing instrument to be harpsichord


That appears to be a rather common observation.


I think it's because of the rather "metallic" sound and sharp transients of this instrument, which is difficult to setup and record, in the first place.

Let me tell you an anecdote: I was listening to the Trevor Pinnock recoding of Bach Partitas (a GREAT and well recorded performance, which I own since its first release on LP) at 256K AAC, on headphones and quite loud, looking for artifacts. On a quiet passage I heard a very feeble, strange ringing sound, quite high in pitch, which surely didn't belong to the original harpsichord notes: here we go! I thought, and went for the lossless version, to possibly arrange an ABX set. But... what a surprise: the "alien" sound was there too! Turned it up a little more and... guess what? There was actually a bird, singing in the far distant background! biggrin.gif

If someone has this recording and wants to try, they are more evident in the Sarabande from the fourth Partita: once you know he is there you can't miss him!


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Porcus
post Jan 12 2012, 19:50
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QUOTE (Nessuno @ Jan 12 2012, 16:44) *
I was listening to the Trevor Pinnock recoding of Bach Partitas (a GREAT and well recorded performance, which I own since its first release on LP) at 256K AAC, on headphones and quite loud, looking for artifacts. On a quiet passage I heard a very feeble, strange ringing sound, quite high in pitch, which surely didn't belong to the original harpsichord notes: here we go! I thought, and went for the lossless version, to possibly arrange an ABX set. But... what a surprise: the "alien" sound was there too! Turned it up a little more and... guess what? There was actually a bird, singing in the far distant background! biggrin.gif


Haha. I've heard similar at low volumes too, only that they become much clearer when I turn off.


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Defsac
post Jan 23 2012, 09:40
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QUOTE (JunkieXL @ Jan 11 2012, 06:22) *
LAME v1 is in the 200 to 250 kbs VBR range IIRC and iTunes Plus is in the 256 kbs VBR. (That reminds me that they need to update the bitrate listing in iTunes when looking at a files info. It says 256 on all files no matter how simple or complex the track is.)


iTunes 'VBR' used to be constrained VBR at least in the older versions, even though the QuickTime engine is capable of encoding true VBR. That is probably why all your files are reading 256kbps. I have not used the iTunes frontend in a while so I'm not sure if this is still the case. XLD for OS X uses the Quicktime encoder and can be set to produce true VBR, I'm not sure whether there are programs for Windows capable of the same thing using Quicktime.

I have heard people speculate Apple chose CVBR for iTunes because they were worried about users being confused about songs resulting in different bit rates even though the quality settings were the same, but I don't know how accurate that is. iTunes (on OS X at least) also used to have issues with calculating bit rates on true VBR AAC files but this may have been fixed since.

Edit: Just did a quick test with the latest iTunes using 256kbps VBR, the resulting file reads as 256kbps in iTunes and 269kbps in OS X Finder. XLD using constrained VBR produced a file that reads as 269kbps in both Finder and iTunes. I suspect iTunes is deliberately displaying the bit rate as 256kbps when the files are produced through iTunes conversion.

Edit 2: Someone posted this in another thread for Windows.

This post has been edited by Defsac: Jan 23 2012, 10:15
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Nessuno
post Jan 23 2012, 18:22
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Anyway, if one uses XLD or any other QuickTime frontend, to produce AAC from his own lossless material, it's better to target for quality (range 0 ~ 127) instead of bitrate. Target quality of 110 roughly corresponds to 255Kbps VBR, but the real average bitrate of a track, which is the value both Finder and iTunes show, actually depends on source complexity.

This post has been edited by Nessuno: Jan 23 2012, 18:42


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HTS
post Jan 29 2012, 03:11
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Quick question.

Wikipedia says:

QUOTE
The MPEG-2 audio tests showed that AAC meets the requirements referred to as "transparent" for the ITU at 128 kbit/s for stereo, and 320 kbit/s for 5.1 audio.


Who and when were these tests conducted by/at? How did MP3 score at 128kbps?
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