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MP3 320 kbs vs Redbook ripped to WAV, Positive ABX test result with foobar on classical material (Ravel)
pdq
post Sep 17 2013, 14:18
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FWIW, I think the thinly-veiled accusation was out of line. The vast majority here are willing to take your results at face value until there is reason to think otherwise.
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UltimateMusicSno...
post Sep 17 2013, 14:47
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QUOTE (greynol @ Sep 17 2013, 01:09) *
Lastly, MP3 has limitations which hinder its ability to deliver transparent results for those who are trained to listen for them or who are particularly sensitive to them.

This is a difference I'm interested in. On other forums, discussions of whether the much greater space required by Redbook quality digital files is "worth it" have produced occasional claims that "no one can hear the difference between Redbook and high-quality MP3 anyway", while I would have said "most people", or "casual listeners", or "listeners in noisy ambient environments", etc.

I am not trained to listen specifically for the limitations of MP3, but I am trained to listen to classical music at excruciating levels of detail (B.M., M.M., D.M.A., Music Composition). I suspect that drives both my interest, and potentially to the possibility of results as well.
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dhromed
post Sep 17 2013, 15:01
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Ultimate, could you please upload the wav in the Uploads forum? This zippyshare website is b0rken and should probably be nuked from orbit anyway.

Oh, you already have. Okay then.

QUOTE
Since you are new in here i have some doubts about your intention and motivation, sorry.

That's why we ask people to provide samples. Peer review and all that.

This post has been edited by dhromed: Sep 17 2013, 15:12
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UltimateMusicSno...
post Sep 17 2013, 15:18
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QUOTE (dhromed @ Sep 17 2013, 09:01) *
Ultimate, could you please upload the wav in the Uploads forum? This zippyshare website is b0rken and should probably be nuked from orbit anyway.

Oh, you already have. Okay then.

QUOTE
Since you are new in here i have some doubts about your intention and motivation, sorry.

That's why we ask people to provide samples. Peer review and all that.

I'd love to see replication. One outlier, unless replicated, will always just be one outlier, without significance in the larger scientific understanding of the phenomena in question.
As far as I can tell, the MP3 encoding algorithms are in great shape. You gotta be kind of obsessed, just to figure out how to listen for any potential limitations of the lossy versions, let alone detect them reliably. I'm definitely obsessed.
Definitely agree on zippyshare--I was just defaulting to a practice employed elsewhere, on forums which did not provide Upload capacity. Sorry about that, the practice here is far superior, kudos to the owners/designers.
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dhromed
post Sep 17 2013, 15:30
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I can't even begin to discern a difference, even after I removed the sample padding from the mp3 and boosted both by 20dB (!).

Maybe you can tell us what you heard differently?
It's nothing to do with high frquencies, since there's no HF to speak of.
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Cubist Castle
post Sep 17 2013, 16:24
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QUOTE (Wombat @ Sep 17 2013, 10:10) *
QUOTE (UltimateMusicSnob @ Sep 17 2013, 05:36) *
...
File A: C:\Users\KiarkAudio\Documents\Ravel_Test_File_2.wav
File B: C:\Users\KiarkAudio\Documents\Ravel_Test_File_3.mp3
...
I'd like to get around the "killer sample" limitation...

Why is it your mp3 has a different name as the wav?
Since you are new in here i have some doubts about your intention and motivation, sorry.
You may have only abx'd some hamster fart against the zar bomb.

If you have any specific doubts, it might be helpful to raise them.

If not, and you just have a "bad feeling", then you're bringing no more to the discussion is the kind of unscientific, biased thinking that ABX tests were designed to circumvent.

This post has been edited by Cubist Castle: Sep 17 2013, 16:25
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UltimateMusicSno...
post Sep 17 2013, 16:30
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QUOTE (dhromed @ Sep 17 2013, 09:30) *
I can't even begin to discern a difference, even after I removed the sample padding from the mp3 and boosted both by 20dB (!).

Maybe you can tell us what you heard differently?
It's nothing to do with high frquencies, since there's no HF to speak of.

After the fact I went to SPAN Voxengo plug-in in Sound Forge, and as you say there's no HF to speak of. In that respect it's a poor sample--I was thinking orchestration and musical texture when I picked this one, not frequency spectra per se.
If I were setting up a guitar tone, I would call the MP3 version more 'scooped' - a little more bass, and little more high (of what little there is), and the WAV version more balanced. It's subtle, but once I locked onto that as a characteristic, I went through pretty quickly. The incidental sounds of the concert hall in the very very beginning pop a little more in the MP3 version, seems to me.
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Hex144
post Sep 17 2013, 21:44
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You may want to try 3.100 alpha 2, or 3100l (which is a modification of the former).
There was a recent case of a member who could ABX 3.99.5 @ 320 kbps, but couldn't ABX 3.100 alpha 2, AAC 320 and AAC vbr 200.
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UltimateMusicSno...
post Sep 17 2013, 23:22
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QUOTE (Hex144 @ Sep 17 2013, 15:44) *
You may want to try 3.100 alpha 2, or 3100l (which is a modification of the former).
There was a recent case of a member who could ABX 3.99.5 @ 320 kbps, but couldn't ABX 3.100 alpha 2, AAC 320 and AAC vbr 200.

Thanks for the tips, I will try those. I have been reading about the quality of AAC going back at least to the early 2000's, I think.
Anyone here remember LiquidAudio???

This post has been edited by UltimateMusicSnob: Sep 17 2013, 23:31
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greynol
post Sep 17 2013, 23:59
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I was able to successfully ABX the Lame 3.99.5 sample what was prepared by UltimateMusicSnob as well as one encoded using my preferred mp3 profile of Lame 3.98.4 -V3. Lame 3.98.4 -b320 gave me trouble, but I might have a better idea what to listen for after spending a lot of time with the sample encoded with 3.99.5.

Results for 3.99.5 -h -b320:
CODE
foo_abx 1.3.4 report
foobar2000 v1.2.9
2013/09/17 15:35:57

File A: C:\Ravel_Test_File_2_short.flac
File B: C:\Ravel_Test_File_3_short.mp3

15:35:57 : Test started.
15:43:51 : 01/01 50.0%
15:50:17 : 02/02 25.0%
15:50:47 : 03/03 12.5%
15:51:02 : 04/04 6.3%
15:51:27 : 05/05 3.1%
15:51:46 : 06/06 1.6%
15:52:23 : 06/07 6.3%
15:52:53 : 07/08 3.5%
15:53:04 : 08/09 2.0%
15:53:31 : 08/10 5.5%
15:53:57 : 09/11 3.3%
15:54:14 : 10/12 1.9%
15:54:24 : Test finished.

----------
Total: 10/12 (1.9%)


This post has been edited by greynol: Sep 18 2013, 00:00


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UltimateMusicSno...
post Sep 18 2013, 01:03
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QUOTE (greynol @ Sep 17 2013, 17:59) *
I was able to successfully ABX the Lame 3.99.5 sample what was prepared by UltimateMusicSnob as well as one encoded using my preferred mp3 profile of Lame 3.98.4 -V3. Lame 3.98.4 -b320 gave me trouble, but I might have a better idea what to listen for after spending a lot of time with the sample encoded with 3.99.5.

Results for 3.99.5 -h -b320:
CODE
foo_abx 1.3.4 report
foobar2000 v1.2.9
2013/09/17 15:35:57

File A: C:\Ravel_Test_File_2_short.flac
File B: C:\Ravel_Test_File_3_short.mp3

15:35:57 : Test started.
15:43:51 : 01/01 50.0%
15:50:17 : 02/02 25.0%
15:50:47 : 03/03 12.5%
15:51:02 : 04/04 6.3%
15:51:27 : 05/05 3.1%
15:51:46 : 06/06 1.6%
15:52:23 : 06/07 6.3%
15:52:53 : 07/08 3.5%
15:53:04 : 08/09 2.0%
15:53:31 : 08/10 5.5%
15:53:57 : 09/11 3.3%
15:54:14 : 10/12 1.9%
15:54:24 : Test finished.

----------
Total: 10/12 (1.9%)

Replication! Do you think the low signal levels in this clip contributed to the ability to get a positive result? WAY back in the late 90's, I MP3-ed some live classical recordings which required quite low signals for some passages, and they broke up entirely under the algorithm I had back then (whatever SoundForge 4 had back then.
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Wombat
post Sep 18 2013, 01:16
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QUOTE (UltimateMusicSnob @ Sep 18 2013, 02:03) *
Replication! Do you think the low signal levels in this clip contributed to the ability to get a positive result? WAY back in the late 90's, I MP3-ed some live classical recordings which required quite low signals for some passages, and they broke up entirely under the algorithm I had back then (whatever SoundForge 4 had back then.

Pretty sure it does. When on my PC i listen this i had to put the level on maximum to hear it at somewhow normal level. I still don't know what to listen for crying.gif
I remember for vbr tuning there once had a compromise to be found. Wasting much bits on silent parts made no sense to some and when the bitrate increased to satisfy reproducing these silent parts there were loud complaints about bloating bitrate.
For high bitrate cbr i can guess there never went to much tuning into these situations because there are more other obvious problems to solve.

Edit': for info, i use an X-Fi driving HD-590 at the PC, it works pretty nicely but has its limitations.

This post has been edited by Wombat: Sep 18 2013, 01:20
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UltimateMusicSno...
post Sep 18 2013, 03:57
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QUOTE (Makaki @ Sep 17 2013, 00:13) *
I don't have the ears (or the equipment?) to ABX that high smile.gif
Can you also try the VBR 0 (eg: -V 0), just a curiosity.

EDIT:
I'm under the impression that the internals are different enough to merit different results.

Okay, here's the foobar result for the same source clip encoded in LAME 3.99.5 using the VBR switch set at -V0. Planned set of 12.

foo_abx 1.3.4 report
foobar2000 v1.2.8
2013/09/17 21:33:35

File A: C:\Users\KiarkAudio\Documents\Ravel Listening Tests\Ravel_Test_File_2_short.wav
File B: C:\Users\KiarkAudio\Documents\Ravel Listening Tests\Ravel_Test_File_4.mp3

21:33:35 : Test started.
21:34:23 : 01/01 50.0%
21:36:14 : 02/02 25.0%
21:36:31 : 03/03 12.5%
21:37:10 : 04/04 6.3%
21:37:39 : 05/05 3.1%
21:38:24 : 06/06 1.6%
21:39:48 : 06/07 6.3%
21:40:48 : 07/08 3.5%
21:41:57 : 08/09 2.0%
21:43:02 : 09/10 1.1%
21:44:01 : 10/11 0.6%
21:46:34 : 10/12 1.9%
21:46:46 : Test finished.

----------
Total: 10/12 (1.9%)

Did not behave precisely the same as the -b 320 using CBR. Seemed better behaved on the high frequencies, still had the difference in bass that I described above as contributing to "slightly scooped". Another difference here is that I went to the middle-latter portion of the track for a stronger signal, while the previous tests were done from the beginning. VERY subtle differences of course.

This post has been edited by UltimateMusicSnob: Sep 18 2013, 03:58
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Mach-X
post Sep 18 2013, 05:02
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I noticed when messing with the 'lead voice' sample that I was able to abx it simply because the mp3 version was subtly louder than the source. Is this a common thing for LAME to do or is it just the peculiarity of that sample?

Also I noticed the OP is using Beyerdynamic headphones, which are known to be rather bright and highly detailed to the point of being described as fatiguing. I've been able to abx high bit rate mp3 by making adjustments to the upper mid/treble eq bands while using much more mundane iems.

Of course I am NOT questioning the OP's position, merely pointing out to any doubters that it's not impossible to abx high bitrate mp3s, regardless of 50 year old ears. I hear better at 35 than 15 because of learning/training. Age has nothing to do with it.

@greynol: And you claimed to not have 'golden ears'... smile.gif

This post has been edited by Mach-X: Sep 18 2013, 05:04
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UltimateMusicSno...
post Sep 18 2013, 05:53
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QUOTE (Mach-X @ Sep 17 2013, 23:02) *
I noticed when messing with the 'lead voice' sample that I was able to abx it simply because the mp3 version was subtly louder than the source. Is this a common thing for LAME to do or is it just the peculiarity of that sample?

Also I noticed the OP is using Beyerdynamic headphones, which are known to be rather bright and highly detailed to the point of being described as fatiguing. I've been able to abx high bit rate mp3 by making adjustments to the upper mid/treble eq bands while using much more mundane iems.

Of course I am NOT questioning the OP's position, merely pointing out to any doubters that it's not impossible to abx high bitrate mp3s, regardless of 50 year old ears. I hear better at 35 than 15 because of learning/training. Age has nothing to do with it.

@greynol: And you claimed to not have 'golden ears'... smile.gif
Thanks for the thoughtful comments. Apologies for not knowing the terminology, what is the "lead voice" sample? I did check levels on the very first pair and saw differences in the 4 or 5 hundredths of a decibel range, which I figured was not detectable.
I'm surprised that Beyerdynamics are considered bright--my DT 770 Pro's strike me as darker than everything else I've ever listened on. My old (REALLY old) DT 48's, yeah, those are bright.
Of course I didn't EQ anything, but it makes sense to test that way, since minimally knowledgeable users will apply EQ in their listening for enjoyment, even if all they have is Bass and Treble controls.
Very glad to hear independent confirms that MP3 is not perfectly transparent (contra folks in a couple of other audio forums, not here).
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Mach-X
post Sep 18 2013, 06:14
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Lead voice is one of the 'killer samples' that have been known to give encoders fits even at high bitrates, it's been used to fine tune LAME in attempts at transparency. You can get it here http://www.hydrogenaudio.org/forums/index....showtopic=50056

I could be mistaken about your particular model of headphones, I don't have any experience other than reviews about Beyerdynamics in general being 'bright', but on second look some agree with your dark assertion. Grain of salt I guess.
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halb27
post Sep 18 2013, 07:17
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QUOTE (UltimateMusicSnob @ Sep 18 2013, 02:03) *
... Do you think the low signal levels in this clip contributed to the ability to get a positive result?...

If this is the case lame3100l --bCVBR 316 may well improve the situation.


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pdq
post Sep 18 2013, 13:28
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As a rule of thumb, if you are going to apply eq then apply it before encoding. The encoder naturally assumes that no eq will be subsequently applied and will make decisions based on that assumption.
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2Bdecided
post Sep 18 2013, 16:40
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QUOTE (pdq @ Sep 18 2013, 13:28) *
As a rule of thumb, if you are going to apply eq then apply it before encoding. The encoder naturally assumes that no eq will be subsequently applied and will make decisions based on that assumption.
I know that makes sense from a purely psychoacoustic point of view, but few people do this. You'd have to re-encode everything each time you wanted to change the EQ!

Always-on EQ is typically used to compensate for specific speaker or headphones, or match personal taste. I'm not about to re-encode my entire collection every time I change my headphones, and I don't listen to my collection on just one set of headphones / speakers anyway.

Stating the obvious here wink.gif Just don't want the OP to think that everyone here encodes mp3s with EQ baked in. I'm 100% sure they don't.

Cheers,
David.
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greynol
post Sep 18 2013, 17:01
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QUOTE (2Bdecided @ Sep 18 2013, 08:40) *
compensate for specific speaker or headphones

If done properly, this will not break masking.


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2Bdecided
post Sep 18 2013, 17:06
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QUOTE (greynol @ Sep 18 2013, 17:01) *
QUOTE (2Bdecided @ Sep 18 2013, 08:40) *
compensate for specific speaker or headphones

If done properly, this will not break masking.
True. With poor speakers+headphones, not using EQ "could" break masking.

Cheers,
David.
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greynol
post Sep 18 2013, 17:11
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Right. I suspect that uneven headphones are responsible for good number of positive ABX results.


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stv014
post Sep 18 2013, 18:47
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QUOTE (Mach-X @ Sep 18 2013, 07:14) *
I could be mistaken about your particular model of headphones, I don't have any experience other than reviews about Beyerdynamics in general being 'bright', but on second look some agree with your dark assertion. Grain of salt I guess.


It is bright in terms of having peaky treble in the 5-10 kHz octave, but it also has a notch in the upper midrange at about 3-4 kHz (this frequency response graph does not match exactly what I hear, but it does show those issues). So, masking in that range could indeed be affected.
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UltimateMusicSno...
post Sep 18 2013, 18:47
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QUOTE (greynol @ Sep 18 2013, 11:11) *
Right. I suspect that uneven headphones are responsible for good number of positive ABX results.

Does it rise to the level of becoming something that has to (or at least, potentially could) be addressed in the MP3 algorithms themselves?

What I'm thinking of is the millions of listeners who *do* use MP3's nearly all the time, on cheap earbuds, cheap earphones, cheap desktop speakers. That's really the target market for MP3 files: portable, small, non-audiophile playback chains.

Mix and mastering engineers of course are already well aware that their products will be played back on sub-optimal systems, and have dedicated techniques and 'bad' reference monitors just for that purpose, to see how robust the mix is in different contexts (nothing is robust to cheap OR expensive earbuds, IMO, but oh well...).
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greynol
post Sep 18 2013, 19:00
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QUOTE (stv014 @ Sep 18 2013, 10:47) *
It is bright in terms of having peaky treble in the 5-10 kHz octave, but it also has a notch in the upper midrange at about 3-4 kHz (this frequency response graph does not match exactly what I hear, but it does show those issues). So, masking in that range could indeed be affected.

So that we're clear, this will not turn into a discussion about headphones.


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