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MP3 decoders test : MAD isn't so good! (for me...), MAD vs LAME vs Winamp 5 vs foobar2000
guruboolez
post Jan 18 2004, 13:58
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I tried to compare different mp3 decoders, in order to evaluate the benefits of dithering (MAD and foobar2000) and noise shaping (foobar2000 only), against simplier decoders, as LAME or Fraunhofer (Winamp 5.0). I didn't hope anything first. But I've finally succeed with one sample, and decided then to resume the test with others samples.
I've wrote a complete review in french, but I can't translate it properly. In few words:


• For this test, I didn't reproduced real listening conditions. Difference are so subtle that I have to increase the level of my amp in order to maximise the audible difference.
• In order to make it possible without being completely deaf in few seconds, I've selected very quiet samples. With classical music, it's not really hard to find such samples (even full tracks are sometimes totally quiet). I didn't evaluate any decoders on pre-instrumental silence, but only when music was playing


Four decoders were tested:

• MAD, basically in order to evaluate the real performance of this mythic decoder, and technically in order to rate the benefits of dithering WITHOUT noise shaping.
• LAME, to mesure the difference between MAD and a simplier decoder.
• Fraunhofer: in order to evaluate possible difference with LAME (both encoders are really similar, so difference may not be audible or existent)
• foobar2000: to see if noise shaping could make a difference with MAD dithering.

Eight samples were introduced:

I've mixed different musical genre: lyrical, orchestral, piano, chamber, electronic. I've tried to mixed dithered and undithered mastered CD too.


CONCLUSIONS:

MAD isn't impressive. On four samples, result was worse than simplest decoders: increase in noise, without audible benefit on other points of the signal (aliasing, higher definition, etc...). But on some other samples, real improvements were noticed (less aliasing, less naturel and less synthetic sound)

LAME and Fraunhofer (WA5) are close, but not totally identical. Both are noisy, but less than MAD (good point). With some samples, sound was irregular, unatural... MAD partailly correct this feeling, and foobar2000 was perfect in comparison. Something like aliasing or moiré was introduced by the decoding stage. Slight difference between LAME and Fraunhofer (hard to ABX : up to 30...50 trials), in favour of Fraunhofer, less synthetic and maybe slightly more noisy

foobar2000 : each time winner. The less noisy of all challengers on all samples. The only additionnal noise audible was a very high-pitched band, very typical, and audible on extreme conditions (near silence sound, and with my amp pump to the maximum). All aliasing, irregularities... were gone: instruments are smooth, naturel. Nothing synthetic at all. With one sample (the #7), the sound was clearly better than the reference file (CD!). The lack of dithering on mastering seem to be prejudicial on very low volume part, and foobar2000 decoding correct the aliasing present on the CD. Simply amazing conclusion....




All results are here :
www.foobar2000.net/mp3decoder
http://www.foobar2000.net/mp3decoder/conclusion.htm
(I've translated in english the summary of my comments).


Comments are welcome.


P.S. It's not a MAD CHALLENGE. I repeat again that the listening conditions of the test are not reproductible on daily music listening. I've just put the decoder behind a magnifying glass, by using low volume samples.

This post has been edited by guruboolez: Jan 18 2004, 14:02
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JohnV
post Jan 19 2004, 00:26
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One "problem" with Guru's interesting results are that those are presented on www.foobar2000.net. Not very unbiased sounding place despite of all the blind ratings and ABX -results.. wink.gif


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Posts in this topic
- guruboolez   MP3 decoders test : MAD isn't so good! (for me...)   Jan 18 2004, 13:58
- - JohnV   I suppose you tested with ABC/HR blind rating alth...   Jan 18 2004, 14:09
- - guruboolez   ABC/HR, yes (the log files are available on the si...   Jan 18 2004, 14:14
- - dev0   Impressive. Thanks for your effort. Several people...   Jan 18 2004, 14:48
- - Gabriel   See also this thread: http://www.hydrogenaudio.org...   Jan 18 2004, 15:01
- - JohnV   One "problem" with Guru's interestin...   Jan 19 2004, 00:26
- - guruboolez   I agree   Jan 19 2004, 00:37
- - 2Bdecided   I'm amazed (but very glad) that you've man...   Jan 19 2004, 00:44
- - guruboolez   QUOTE (2Bdecided @ Jan 19 2004, 12:44 AM)Anyw...   Jan 19 2004, 00:58
- - Althalus   Good thorough test Thanks for taking the time to...   Jan 19 2004, 01:20
- - AtaqueEG   QUOTE (guruboolez @ Jan 18 2004, 05:58 PM)Gol...   Jan 19 2004, 01:49
- - amano   hmm. maybe it should be added that foobar is not t...   Jan 19 2004, 03:06
- - guruboolez   Yes, and no. I didn't test mpg123 alone, becau...   Jan 19 2004, 03:20
- - amano   But are you sure that these improvements in sound ...   Jan 19 2004, 03:41
- - 2Bdecided   Don't other players just do the obvious, simpl...   Jan 19 2004, 04:33
- - amano   huh? I cannot really follow your post. I don...   Jan 19 2004, 04:41
- - Rash   Oh damn! I've always thought dithering was...   Jan 19 2004, 04:54
- - 2Bdecided   QUOTE (amano @ Jan 19 2004, 03:41 AM)huh? I c...   Jan 19 2004, 05:05
- - xmixahlx   they adopted and improved hipp's mpglib and in...   Jan 19 2004, 05:32
- - amano   oops, then the fault was on my side. Good to know,...   Jan 19 2004, 05:52
- - outscape   QUOTE (Rash @ Jan 18 2004, 10:54 PM)Oh damn...   Jan 19 2004, 06:45
- - Gabriel   QUOTE the side effect of re-dithering is more nois...   Jan 19 2004, 08:17
- - AtaqueEG   QUOTE (amano @ Jan 18 2004, 10:52 PM)oops, th...   Jan 19 2004, 08:18
- - tigre   I've done a similar test (~ 1 year ago I guess...   Jan 19 2004, 10:22
- - Garf   QUOTE (guruboolez @ Jan 19 2004, 04:20 AM)I w...   Jan 19 2004, 12:10
- - Garf   The foobar decoder may have been based on mpglib, ...   Jan 19 2004, 12:14
- - guruboolez   QUOTE (Garf @ Jan 19 2004, 12:10 PM)QUOTE (gu...   Jan 19 2004, 12:32
- - GeSomeone   QUOTE (guruboolez @ Jan 18 2004, 01:58 PM)MAD...   Jan 19 2004, 14:04
- - guruboolez   Sorry, I did a mistake. MAD is sometimes MORE natu...   Jan 19 2004, 14:12
- - Rash   QUOTE (outscape @ Jan 19 2004, 03:45 AM)oh no...   Jan 19 2004, 15:44
- - guruboolez   I've quickly tested MAD 24 bits (dithered I su...   Jan 19 2004, 16:23
- - detokaal   So what is the point of application in plain terms...   Jan 19 2004, 16:30
- - dev0   Did you even try to read the discussion? Did you e...   Jan 19 2004, 17:06
- - detokaal   Yup but I don't get it - clearly you are much ...   Jan 19 2004, 17:38
- - dev0   Since you challenged me, I'll try to do so: De...   Jan 19 2004, 17:53
- - tigre   QUOTE (detokaal @ Jan 19 2004, 05:30 PM)So wh...   Jan 19 2004, 17:54
- - Garf   I think the 'real world' conclusion is: 1...   Jan 19 2004, 17:54
- - sld   Would conclusions 2 and 3 be based only on Guru...   Jan 19 2004, 18:21
- - detokaal   Thank you. I understand. Great article on dither...   Jan 19 2004, 18:25
- - Garf   QUOTE (sld @ Jan 19 2004, 07:21 PM)Would conc...   Jan 19 2004, 18:34
- - sld   QUOTE (Garf @ Jan 20 2004, 01:34 AM)Not only,...   Jan 19 2004, 18:52
- - Toe   QUOTE (Garf @ Jan 19 2004, 08:54 AM)3) Taking...   Jan 19 2004, 19:24
- - KikeG   QUOTE (guruboolez @ Jan 19 2004, 12:58 AM)QUO...   Jan 20 2004, 09:35
- - p0wder   I'm not sure I understand all of this, but I h...   Jan 20 2004, 10:32
- - Xenion   does foobar also use the noise shaping (when enabl...   Jan 20 2004, 10:40
- - Moneo   QUOTE (p0wder @ Jan 20 2004, 10:32 AM)All of ...   Jan 20 2004, 11:33
- - QuantumKnot   Interesting discussion about dithering. Just a sm...   Jan 20 2004, 13:08
- - Rash   @Quantum: I don't know if I fully understand y...   Jan 20 2004, 16:06
- - 2Bdecided   QUOTE (p0wder @ Jan 20 2004, 09:32 AM)I'm...   Jan 20 2004, 18:28
- - QuantumKnot   QUOTE (Rash @ Jan 21 2004, 01:06 AM)@Quantum:...   Jan 21 2004, 01:35
- - Rash   I think that if Vorbis decoder decodes do 16-bit, ...   Jan 21 2004, 03:04
- - amano   What happens if I process my music in Winamp/mpg12...   Jan 21 2004, 17:05
- - dryhte   QUOTE (Rash @ Jan 20 2004, 06:04 PM)... fed t...   Feb 4 2004, 11:28
- - Mr_Rabid_Teddybear   Try: ftp://x-sound.com:x-music@www.x-sound.net...t...   Feb 5 2004, 07:33
- - Mr_Rabid_Teddybear   This is another interesting site for winamp 2.x pl...   Feb 5 2004, 07:40
- - Mr_Rabid_Teddybear   This is really a great site: http://www.x-sound.co...   Feb 5 2004, 07:52
- - dryhte   helpful, thanks! d.   Feb 5 2004, 09:40
- - sld   QUOTE (dryhte @ Feb 4 2004, 06:28 PM)I search...   Feb 5 2004, 10:22
- - ckjnigel   Most of above was over my head, but this might be ...   Feb 10 2004, 08:39
- - spoon   QUOTE (guruboolez @ Jan 18 2004, 12:58 PM)• F...   Dec 19 2005, 12:41
|- - Garf   QUOTE (spoon @ Dec 19 2005, 01:41 PM)A dither...   Dec 19 2005, 13:07
|- - guruboolez   QUOTE (spoon @ Dec 19 2005, 12:41 PM)On to bu...   Dec 22 2005, 14:37
- - spoon   >apparently misunderstand why dither is used at...   Dec 19 2005, 13:36
|- - Garf   QUOTE (spoon @ Dec 19 2005, 02:36 PM)>appa...   Dec 19 2005, 18:27
|- - Garf   QUOTE (Garf @ Dec 19 2005, 07:27 PM)QUOTE (I...   Dec 19 2005, 18:37
- - spoon   Thanks for the links, will research.   Dec 20 2005, 20:03
- - CosmoKramer   QUOTE (guruboolez @ Jan 18 2004, 01:58 PM)......   Dec 23 2005, 02:02
|- - guruboolez   QUOTE (CosmoKramer @ Dec 23 2005, 02:02 AM)QU...   Dec 24 2005, 13:15
|- - CosmoKramer   QUOTE (guruboolez @ Dec 24 2005, 01:15 PM)The...   Dec 25 2005, 01:28
- - guruboolez   By aliasing I meant a weird form of "geometri...   Dec 25 2005, 01:39
|- - CosmoKramer   QUOTE (guruboolez @ Dec 25 2005, 01:39 AM)By ...   Dec 25 2005, 01:46
|- - CosmoKramer   Btw, it appears that your testing procedure for di...   Jan 9 2006, 17:13
|- - guruboolez   Sorry for delay. QUOTE (CosmoKramer @ Jan 9 ...   Jan 12 2006, 08:57
- - spoon   ...so I am not alone in my thinking. It it like th...   Jan 9 2006, 21:25
- - Garf   Well, if I read the quote, they used low volume mu...   Jan 10 2006, 10:28
|- - CosmoKramer   Garf, answer to your question: QUOTE (Garf ...   Jan 10 2006, 18:54
|- - Garf   QUOTE (CosmoKramer @ Jan 10 2006, 07:54 PM)Ga...   Jan 10 2006, 19:00
- - Synthetic Soul   I'm getting a 403 Forbidden response from http...   Jan 10 2006, 14:13
|- - CosmoKramer   Garf: Nope Mr Lavry doesn't suggest listening ...   Jan 10 2006, 18:16
|- - rutra80   QUOTE (Synthetic Soul @ Jan 10 2006, 03:13 PM...   Jan 10 2006, 22:15
- - Garf   QUOTE Garf: Nope Mr Lavry doesn't suggest list...   Jan 10 2006, 18:18
- - CosmoKramer   Well I don't know what you are arguing then. I...   Jan 10 2006, 20:13
|- - Garf   QUOTE (CosmoKramer @ Jan 10 2006, 09:13 PM)We...   Jan 11 2006, 12:55
|- - CosmoKramer   QUOTE (Garf @ Jan 11 2006, 12:55 PM)The trade...   Jan 11 2006, 13:44
- - Synthetic Soul   Thanks for the confirm. I thought it was just me ...   Jan 10 2006, 22:46
- - KikeG   Amplification of low-level dithered and requantize...   Jan 11 2006, 14:45


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