Is Hydrogenaudio losing it's direction?, Going from Hi-Fi -> Mid-Fi
Is Hydrogenaudio losing it's direction?, Going from Hi-Fi -> Mid-Fi
Dec 12 2003, 15:02
Joined: 18-January 03
Member No.: 4621
First, please bear with me for this long post.
Second, My apology to Roberto for bringing this issue from a different perspective. I really respect you for previous listening tests, taking initiative and creating momentum in the HA community for these kind of actions.
But, recent thread about Roberto's intention to conduct couple of more 128kbps listening test provoked some thought in my mind. I am not really sure what are the goals of these tests all at 128kbps? (elmar3rd raised very good and similar question http://www.hydrogenaudio.org/forums/index....dpost&p=161909).
The first and foremost agenda behind creating Hydrogenaudio was to create a community who looks for the best quality audio without any compromise. Otherwise we could very well stayed within r3mix community. Where Roel thought his presets are "good enough" for majority of the audiences, and denied to move forward.
Honestly, I am not sure, from those tests whatever format wins, what is that going to prove other than knowing this particular format at this particular bitrate with this particular settings are better than other codec at this bitrate with these settings. Say that AAC won the test. We can only say that, yeah AAC has been improved and does better at this bitrate. But then what? Will AAC at 128kbps be recommended by Hydrogenaudio for the mass? If not, then why does it matter which format performs better at this bitrate? Don't you think that the average users are going to misinterpret this test and think that it is a recommended bitrate/encoder/setting.
If these tests are for non-audiophile users then we are doing a disservice by not making them aware that they shouldn't use any of these format at this bitrate, as they are not transparent. Again if it is targeted at the developers, I don't think this is the kind of test that they need.
Hydrogenaudio is famous for it's uncompromising stand on scientifically proven quality audio. If we keep on conducting listening tests again and again at 128kbps then average users are going to get a false message that it is now good to use newer codecs at this bitrate (otherwise why HA is giving that much importance on this bitrate?).
I don't think that just because some big companies like Apple are trying to push low quality DRM infected music to clueless people, it justifies giving any attention by an elite group like HA. Apple is actually harming the audio community by polluting average people's music collection with inferior quality music. This might in future help them getting more revenue by selling another round of same music at higher bitrate (this time with transparent quality). But from a consumer's point of view, why should we fall prey to their scam? I really hate it when Apple introduce HDD based player with as big as 10/20/30/40GB drives and try to shove down inferior quality music at 128kbps. What was their problem? Storage size wasn't an issue, newer format (AAC) is even more efficient. Why not give transparent music?
Heck, people at Hydrogenaudio were running after nothing less than transparent quality music at the age when storage size was really an issue (650-700MB CD-R based or usually 64-128MB flash player). Why then, at this age, HA community should give any hoot about 128kbps non-transparent music?
If we, as a consumer, don't demand higher quality then no industry is gonna give that. One example is that there are growing number of paid music sites are offering LAME -aps encoded files, just because of people's awareness and demand. I'm quite sure, Hydrogenaudio is, at a large, responsible for that awareness. The downside of giving much importance at Mid-bitrate (128kbps) is using this bitrate we are not achieving any goal. Neither transparency nor ability to stream at this bitrate.
It might be more useful to conduct some test at low bitrate (~64kbps) at which sound might not be transparent but will be vary useful for streaming media, or maybe even lower bitrate for voice communication.
If we really want some tests, It would be more useful to conduct a test at a bitrate where every codec reach transparency level. That will give a sense to the average user that how efficient one codec is against other and at what bitrate they become transparent. Granted, that type of test is not going to be very easy to conduct, but if done properly it will give very useful information.
Otherwise we are moving backward by giving more importance on the holy grail of 128kbps bitrate that big industry players are trying to shove down to our throat making us believe that this is the de facto standard of "quality audio".
Any comments or flames are welcome.
Edit: some spellings.
This post has been edited by Floydian Slip: Dec 12 2003, 15:08
-- Floydian Slip
Dec 12 2003, 15:21
Joined: 5-November 01
From: Yorkshire, UK
Member No.: 409
The test will show how many listeners find each encoder transparent on each clip, and how big any "problems" are perceived to be.
The Hydrogenaudio "transparent encoding" recommendations will almost certainly remain unchanged. The 128kbps mp3 recommendations may change, and rightly so if this test reveals they're wrong or out-of-date.
This is useful information, and drives codec development. If no one was interested, no one would take part!
If you're inclined to launch a listening test of lame --alt-preset standard vs insane vs musepack -q5 vs -q8, go right ahead!
FWIW I find the tests fascinating - HA attracts people who are interested in audio coding, and though most are interested in transparent coding, just see the "state of the art" at any bitrate is very interesting.
I find it amazing just how close to transparent the best codecs at 128kbps are. This might not be the case in the mp3 test, but it certainly has been in multi-format tests.
HA has always concentrated on both ends of the scale:
a) what is the best sound that can be achieved at a given bitrate (even if that's a relatively low bitrate)
b) what is needed to give "transparent" encoding in each format, and
c) what samples cannot be transparently coded in each/any format.
Besides, HA is the sum of all its members, and it will go where ever the members take it. We've discussed everything from wax cylinders to DVD, 48kbps to 700kbps+. If there's something you're missing, just ask!
P.S. short answer: I don't think there's any danger of HA ever going entirely "low quality". For example, other currently open listening tests/challenges include DVD-A quality audio.
This post has been edited by 2Bdecided: Dec 12 2003, 15:24
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