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Multiformat @ 128kbps - test discussion
rjamorim
post Apr 1 2004, 00:44
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Hello.

I was going to start this test discussion tomorrow, but considering HA will be, as per tradition, flooded with April 1st pranks, I decided to start today.

The test is planned to start on April 14th and end on April 25th. But the test start can be postponed if necessary.

The codecs that are planned to be tested are:

-Musepack - latest beta version - quality 4
-iTunes/QuickTime AAC - latest release - 128kbps (winner of the latest AAC test)
-Ogg Vorbis - whatever version the vorbis enthusiasts decide - quality that comes closer to 128kbps average (probably 4)
-Lame - latest stable version - --alt-preset 128 (winner of the MP3 test)
-Windows Media Audio 9 standard - whatever VBR setting comes close to 128kbps.

There is still room for a 6th competitor (and ONLY a 6th competitor). IMO, it could either be Atrac3 (not Plus) or an anchor. You guys decide.

Schnofler's ABC/HR Java comparator will be used, with encryption.

Also, I would like to invite everyone interested to subscribe to the listening test newsletter, to keep informed about tests starting and results being published. The traffic is very low.

Regards;

Roberto.


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smz
post Apr 1 2004, 00:54
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Roberto,

Just out of curiosity as I'm reluctant to partecipate to the test due to my 49er's ears, but in case it will be ATRAC3, how can we listen to ATRAC3 material on our PCs? Are you going to provide flac or whatever rips of that?

Cheers

Sergio


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sls1776
post Apr 1 2004, 00:56
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QUOTE
There is still room for a 6th competitor (and ONLY a 6th competitor). IMO, it could either be Atrac3 (not Plus) or an anchor. You guys decide.


I would be interested to see how the Sony Atrac3 format compares to the others. I have a Sony portable, and I find that I can fill a single CD with almost twice as many songs (340) as I can with MP3 @ 128 kbps.

Unfortunately, the Sony Atrac3 software is very plodding and slow to work with. You can't even save your encoded files to your hard drive!


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rjamorim
post Apr 1 2004, 01:08
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QUOTE (smz @ Mar 31 2004, 08:54 PM)
Are you going to provide flac or whatever rips of that?

Considering I manage to deal with SonicStage 2, I will provide FLAC files of the decoded streams. Same thing for WMA.


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Sofronis
post Apr 1 2004, 06:17
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Greetings to everybody,

Sorry if this has already been discussed, but I couldn't seem to find the answer in the previous listening test discussions. Why will the WMA9 standard codec be included in the test, instead of the better performing WMA9 pro. The previous multiformat listening test showed that it has great performance, so I think it would a pity not to include a worthy component and include instead the inferior standard version.

I suspect, that this is done because of the very limited user base (compared to WMA 9 Standard) and the poor (if any) hardware support for the pro codec, but chances are, that this situation will improve sooner or later (on the other hand, sadly, I don't see that happening any time soon for MPC).

Thanks for your replies

Regards

-George


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rjamorim
post Apr 1 2004, 06:49
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The main reason I'm not planning to include WMA Pro is that it has not changed since the 128kbps test. We already have an idea of how it compares to Vorbis, AAC, etc. and therefore, this test won't bring in any novelty.

Second, I never tested WMA Std at this bitrate, and there is still a huge interest for this codec. Even though WMA Pro is much superior to Std, Microsoft is still heavily marketing Std - E.G, using WMP9 you can only rip CDs to WMA Std, not WMA Pro.

The fact that WMA pro has very little hardware, software and multiplatform support adds to the lack of interest in the format.

Last but not least, I'm really curious to see how WMA Std. performs at 128kbps. Microsoft's claim about WMA std outputting same quality as MP3 at half bitrate has already been proven to be false. I wonder if it can output same quality at even same bitrate using 128kbps.

Regards;

Roberto.

This post has been edited by rjamorim: Apr 1 2004, 06:52


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ScorLibran
post Apr 1 2004, 06:54
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QUOTE (rjamorim @ Apr 1 2004, 12:49 AM)
Last but not least, I'm really curious to see how WMA Std. performs at 128kbps. Microsoft's claim about WMA std outputting same quality as MP3 at half bitrate has already been proven to be false. I wonder if it can output same quality at even same bitrate using 128kbps.

I'd like to know this as well.

It's hard to explain to people in the other forums I'm on about WMA9-S sound quality when I don't have an independant, recent test result to refer to.

I'm really looking forward to this test, and a big reason (oddly) is to finally test WMA9 Standard against the more "proven" competition.
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magic75
post Apr 1 2004, 08:34
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QUOTE (ScorLibran @ Mar 31 2004, 09:54 PM)
It's hard to explain to people in the other forums I'm on about WMA9-S sound quality when I don't have an independant, recent test result to refer to.

I feel exactly the same!

Anyway, just wanted to say something about what lame version to be used. From the results of the 3.90.3 vs 3.96b1 testing everything seems to indicate that 3.90.3 may still be better. Personally, I would want to see the best version compete, but I can understand the point of supporting (and motivating) further development by using the latest stable version. Any other opinions on this?
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kl33per
post Apr 1 2004, 08:35
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QUOTE
...or an anchor.

That would be fantastic.


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Latexxx
post Apr 1 2004, 08:41
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Lets give those minidisc.org fundamentalists something to beef about and lets include atrac3. biggrin.gif Thay even have some papers claiming that atrac3 sounds better than mp3 on theory basis (no listening test; only some theory). blink.gif
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Gabriel
post Apr 1 2004, 08:47
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QUOTE
There is still room for a 6th competitor (and ONLY a 6th competitor). IMO, it could either be Atrac3 (not Plus) or an anchor.


I'd like an anchor, and I think that Blade (once again) would be interesting.
A lowpass could also be used as an anchor, but an "encoder anchor" has the advantage to demonstrate encoding artifacts, and that could help some listeners. I know that artifacts are/could be different between encoders, but I think that this would be more usefull than a plain lowpass.

QUOTE
Anyway, just wanted to say something about what lame version to be used. From the results of the 3.90.3 vs 3.96b1 testing everything seems to indicate that 3.90.3 may still be better. Personally, I would want to see the best version compete, but I can understand the point of supporting (and motivating) further development by using the latest stable version. Any other opinions on this?


1 - I think that the 3.90.x branch is unlikely to be develloped further. New developement will be based on 3.96.
2 - 3.96 is more likely to be used outside HA, mainly due to the increased speed. You can not really argue that the test is targeted to HA users, as most of them are probably not encoding at 128kbps.

Because of those 2 points, I think that it would be better to use the latest available release (3.95.1 or perhaps 3.96)
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harashin
post Apr 1 2004, 09:01
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I'd like to see ATRAC3 in the test, since that format became pretty popular here. I'm really interested in how Sony's format performs against other commercial formats.


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bond
post Apr 1 2004, 09:18
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QUOTE (rjamorim @ Apr 1 2004, 12:44 AM)
IMO, it could either be Atrac3 (not Plus)

great to see that you finally think about using atrac3 too smile.gif

so to say i also vote for atrac3

cause than this test can also be seen as a comparison of formats as they are used in music stores (aac in itunes, wma9 std in whatever crappy music store, and atrac3 in sony)


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Garf
post Apr 1 2004, 09:25
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Here's another vote to include atrac. Minidisk is quite widely used and I am interested in knowing how good it is.

This post has been edited by Garf: Apr 1 2004, 09:25
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Todesengel
post Apr 1 2004, 09:25
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Why don't you try VQF-128 as a 6th competitor?
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kwanbis
post Apr 1 2004, 14:00
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QUOTE (Gabriel @ Apr 1 2004, 07:47 AM)
I think that it would be better to use the latest available release (3.95.1 or perhaps 3.96)

i second the opinion of including 3.96, and Atrac3 ... and i would participate this time! smile.gif


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Atlantis
post Apr 1 2004, 14:20
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QUOTE (rjamorim @ Apr 1 2004, 01:44 AM)
There is still room for a 6th competitor (and ONLY a 6th competitor). IMO, it could either be Atrac3 (not Plus) or an anchor. You guys decide.

Atrac3 seems interesting... but I'm more interested in an anchor like l3enc ( rolleyes.gif ): how fares the grandfather versus the newborns?


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tigre
post Apr 1 2004, 14:30
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QUOTE (Todesengel @ Apr 1 2004, 10:25 AM)
Why don't you try VQF-128 as a 6th competitor?

Maybe because so far noone has provided a good reason for doing this? wink.gif

-------------------------------------

I'd like to see ATRAC included too

-------------------------------------

about lame: Use the winner from the test at ~ 128kbps:
QUOTE
3.96 -V 5 vs. 3.96 --preset 128 vs. 3.90.3 --alt-preset 128

I hope a few more of the 264 people who've voted for performing this test here will contribute results quickly... dry.gif at least at this bitrate it should be possible for almost everyone to find samples where (s)he can hear a difference.

I would consider spending time on testing an inferiour encoder, that I wouldn't recommend to ppl later anyway, as a waste. BTW - Who knows, maybe 3.96 (or 3.97 final) will be the last version of lame 3.9x branch and remaining lame 3.9x developers will move to 4.x branch or start developing some AAC encoder... so the fact that 3.90.x won't be developed further isn't really an argument IMO.


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ff123
post Apr 1 2004, 16:22
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I suspect this will be a popular test. Can we consider increasing the number of samples to test?

ff123
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kl33per
post Apr 1 2004, 16:51
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QUOTE (ff123 @ Apr 2 2004, 01:22 AM)
I suspect this will be a popular test.  Can we consider increasing the number of samples to test?

ff123

Roberto will never agree to that. It takes to much effort on the testers part to do more then 6 samples.


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ff123
post Apr 1 2004, 17:22
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QUOTE (kl33per @ Apr 1 2004, 07:51 AM)
QUOTE (ff123 @ Apr 2 2004, 01:22 AM)
I suspect this will be a popular test.  Can we consider increasing the number of samples to test?

ff123

Roberto will never agree to that. It takes to much effort on the testers part to do more then 6 samples.

Nobody will be expected to do all the samples. If a lot of people participate on a partial basis, though, the test could accomodate more samples. For example, if 24 people on average participate in a 12-sample test, then without increasing the volume of individual effort, it could accomodate 16 people on average on an 18-sample test.

ff123

Edit: Oops, now I understand the response. I wasn't talking about increasing the number of codecs. I was talking about increasing the number of music samples to test up from 12.

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rjamorim
post Apr 1 2004, 17:57
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QUOTE (Todesengel @ Apr 1 2004, 05:25 AM)
Why don't you try VQF-128 as a 6th competitor?

Well, if would be fun, everybody would point at VQF and say "look at how badly it performs!". But what would be the point? Does anybody use VQF at all these days, let alone the Nero-exclusive 128kbps version? All big supporting sites are gone, and Yamaha themselves gave up supporting the format. So, I think the final VQF results won't make a difference to anyone.

QUOTE
I suspect this will be a popular test. Can we consider increasing the number of samples to test?


Can be done. How many samples would you consider appropriate?

And kl33per is right, the amount of codecs featured definitely won't be higher than 6.

Thanks for all your suggestions and ideas so far.

Regards;

Roberto.


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ff123
post Apr 1 2004, 18:27
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How about increasing from 12 samples to 18?

ff123
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AtaqueEG
post Apr 1 2004, 18:57
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I think Lame 3.96 should definitely go instead of 3.90.3.
We can --sorta-- predict how the well-tested, HA-recommended version will do.
I think it would be more useful to use the new contender, which seems to be doing quite alright on it's "competition vs. 3.90.3" thread.

ATRAC should definitely go in, as it is still widely used.
It would make the test more relevant and interesting.


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rjamorim
post Apr 1 2004, 19:12
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QUOTE (ff123 @ Apr 1 2004, 02:27 PM)
How about increasing from 12 samples to 18?

That is surely doable. I will do a call for samples in the next few days. I won't do it today, because people would believe it's an April 1st prank >_<


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