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Autumn 2006 Listening Test, MP3 @ 128 kbps vs. Multiformat @ 80 kbps
jmartis
post Aug 16 2006, 16:10
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okay, I decided to do a little test:
Encoder: EasyMP3 (uses Fastenc)
CBR: 128kbps
VBR: VBR quality 4

Sample: airscape1 VBR bitrate: 128kbps ABX: 7/7 (VBR has more pre-echo)
Sample: airscape VBR bitrate: 123kbps ABX: 6/7 (sounds quite similar)
Sample: latenight VBR bitrate: 114kbps ABX: 7/7 (VBR has more pre-echo and smearing)
Sample: scooter2 VBR bitrate: 133kbps can't ABX
Sample: scooter_fixed VBR bitrate: 116kbps ABX 7/7 (VBR has some additional noise and pre-echo)
Sample: time VBR bitrate: 120kbps ABX: 7/7 (noise and distortions in VBR)

edit- of course this test was CBR against VBR...

edit2- it's worth mentioning that the difference was sometimes obvious

This post has been edited by jmartis: Aug 16 2006, 16:15
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SirGrey
post Aug 16 2006, 16:21
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guruboolez
QUOTE
With both HELIX and FHG finely tunable VBR mode, I believe that we should be able to start a VBR-only listening test with very limited bitrate discrepencies between all competitors (if people agree with this idea).

You have my vote.

Egor
QUOTE
I believe that FhG "CBR Joint Stereo" would perform better than FHG "VBR Stereo" in the planned bitrate range.

Egor, I strongly recommend to use your "believing system" locally, but not on this board, because you simply violating TOS.
Please, stop trolling in this thread.
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Alex B
post Aug 16 2006, 16:25
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QUOTE (Egor @ Aug 16 2006, 18:00) *
But requiring to verify if JS@128 is superior to Stereo@128 is senseless and simply absurd.

Is it? We are not speaking about LAME.

Also, it was JS 128 CBR vs. stereo 128 VBR

Actually, depending on the used program the possible main choices are:

- JS CBR
- stereo CBR
- JS VBR
- stereo VBR

+ some additional options like the "general quality" and lowpass settings (if these happen to work properly).

If I recall correctly, also intensity stereo is possible with some programs that use FhG encoder.


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Egor
post Aug 16 2006, 16:33
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QUOTE (SirGrey @ Aug 16 2006, 22:21) *
Egor, I strongly recommend to use your "believing system" locally, but not on this board, because you simply violating TOS.

I believe you've misinterpreted me. biggrin.gif
QUOTE
believe (verb)
...
2. judge or regard; look upon; judge; "I think he is very smart"; "I believe her to be very smart"; "I think that he is her boyfriend"; "The racist conceives such people to be inferior"
Syn.: think, consider, conceive
...


Edit.
QUOTE (Alex B @ Aug 16 2006, 22:25) *
Actually, depending on the used program the possible main choices are:

...
- JS VBR

OK, what software does support this?

This post has been edited by Egor: Aug 16 2006, 16:45
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fpi
post Aug 16 2006, 17:06
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QUOTE (SirGrey @ Aug 16 2006, 09:21) *
guruboolez
QUOTE
With both HELIX and FHG finely tunable VBR mode, I believe that we should be able to start a VBR-only listening test with very limited bitrate discrepencies between all competitors (if people agree with this idea).

You have my vote.


I also agree smile.gif
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Sebastian Mares
post Aug 16 2006, 19:11
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Nero is CT, right? Sorry if this is a dumb question, but is CT's MP3 encoder based on FhG, or did they build one from scratch?

BTW, I am asking because Nero's medium VBR settings produces files with ca. 132 kbps and also supports JS. I have to check if all frames are SS, though.

Edit: Forget it, while JS is used, all frames are SS.

This post has been edited by Sebastian Mares: Aug 16 2006, 19:15


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SirGrey
post Aug 16 2006, 20:54
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>>Sorry if this is a dumb question, but is CT's MP3 encoder based on FhG, or did they build one from scratch?
Write PM or mail to Ivan or Menno, they should know for sure.
Sebastian, as I understand, you generally dislike an idea to test vbr modes of all encoders, am I right ? tongue.gif
EDIT (offtopic)
>>I believe you've misinterpreted me.
Confirmed. sad.gif But anyway, TOS should not be violated.

This post has been edited by SirGrey: Aug 16 2006, 20:58
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Sebastian Mares
post Aug 16 2006, 21:25
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No, I don't dislike it in general, but I thought it would be good to test the best settings and considered that iTunes' VBR implementation is sub-optimal because of its design in first place. I see that iTunes VBR at 128 kbps produces an average bitrate of 134 kbps which is still acceptable, so I am going to use it in order to avoid any additional confrontation with people and stress my nerves. It's my personal opinion that not the bitrate selection (112 kbps) is to be blamed for iTunes' bad results in Roberto's test. 6 kbps shouldn't have such a big impact on quality and a true VBR encoder should be smart enough to allocate enough bits if it feels the need of it. The way I see it, iTunes developers focused on AAC and added MP3 for compatibility reasons. Since most users who utilize iTunes don't care about VBR, I also think Apple focused on CBR. I cannot say this for sure - I understand this is a problem (and it really is).

Edit: BTW, Ivan said he thinks CT is based on FhG.

As for FhG, this is a bit more complex since FhG is used in several products which might or might not have special tunings made by the companies which develop the various products. Also, some products have some features disabled (Microsoft disabled VBR encoding in WMP).

This post has been edited by Sebastian Mares: Aug 16 2006, 21:47


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kwanbis
post Aug 16 2006, 21:55
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I don't know if somebody with golden years (maybe guru?) has the time/will to do a quick tests between CBR/VBR. I don't see any problem on using itunes in CBR, if it's better prepared with it.

Garf offered to ask the question to the right apple people.


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Sebastian Mares
post Aug 16 2006, 21:58
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It was Gabriel IIRC (too lazy to go back and see). I am looking forward to hearing from him soon.


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HbG
post Aug 16 2006, 21:59
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Perhaps MS were the only ones who tested it and found CBR was better, dropped VBR for simplification and to make sure users wouldn't make poor encodes.

Simply because WMP is so common and commonly used for encoding mp3's by the general public, i'd say it's not a bad idea to take it and test it at 128 cbr. It'll make the test relevant to a broader audience.

Or they just wanted to give WMA an advantage...

This post has been edited by HbG: Aug 16 2006, 21:59


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Sebastian Mares
post Aug 16 2006, 22:02
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The problem here is that we all speculate. I do regarding iTunes, you do regarding MS and MP3... Nothing is certain unless we do some tests that show this. Unfortunately, we don't have the time and resources to conduct such pre-tests.


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Egor
post Aug 16 2006, 22:18
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Just quickly tested the mp3surround encoder in stereo mode and it turned out, that it offers even better quality than 3.4.0.0 FhG ACM encoder - it requires more careful listening to ABX/distinguish a pop song @128k from the original.
Mp3sEncoder.exe allows to encode only in CBR mode too, but it surely comes from FhG:
QUOTE
Fraunhofer IIS MP3 Surround Commandline Encoder V1.0

Encoder-Library V04.00.03 (build 2005-09-14)

1996 - 2005 Fraunhofer IIS
2004 Fraunhofer IIS and Agere Systems Inc.


This post has been edited by Egor: Aug 16 2006, 22:21
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kwanbis
post Aug 16 2006, 22:19
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One important thing is to determine what is the test for:

1) to see how the usual population encoding habits perform against each other.
2) to test the best encoder option for each encoder.


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Sebastian Mares
post Aug 16 2006, 22:28
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What is that supposed to mean? I understand your post, but I don't see what you want to point out. There are several FhG implementations and you cannot say "we use program A because it's better than B" because you don't know if it really is better (related to problem WMP vs. MMJB vs. Adobe Audition vs. Nero MP3 vs. whatever). Therefore, you have to choose another criterion otherwise you cannot test FhG at all. Therefore, popularity is second criterion.

As for iTunes, the problem with best option is that we don't know what the best option is.

This post has been edited by Sebastian Mares: Aug 16 2006, 22:29


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HbG
post Aug 16 2006, 23:03
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QUOTE (Sebastian Mares @ Aug 16 2006, 13:02) *
The problem here is that we all speculate. I do regarding iTunes, you do regarding MS and MP3... Nothing is certain unless we do some tests that show this. Unfortunately, we don't have the time and resources to conduct such pre-tests.


There's nothing wrong with speculating if the situation leaves you little choice. As long as you apply some logic consistently, there'll be less of a basis for criticism after the test. I mean serious, founded criticism, not the usual crap. smile.gif

My proposal for test method would be:
Test the most common software encoders feature in, if they offer VBR and don't recommend against it in the manual, test VBR because it should be better, else CBR.

By this logic you test Helix, Lame, iTunes in VBR, wmp's fhg in CBR.

edit: just curious, but what's mmjb's market share and what is it's default setting?

This post has been edited by HbG: Aug 16 2006, 23:04


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greynol
post Aug 16 2006, 23:24
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QUOTE (HbG @ Aug 16 2006, 15:03) *
Test the most common software encoders feature in, if they offer VBR and don't recommend against it in the manual, test VBR because it should be better, else CBR.

Unless js is used in CBR but not in VBR, then it isn't as simple as that.


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Steve999
post Aug 17 2006, 00:11
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I wouldn't mess with recent MMJB. I used to like it very much for 160 -- 220 kbps ripping, but recent versions (9 and 10) are so awful in design that they are unusable for me, and from what I read, many other people. Yahoo bought it, I think, and has really dropped the ball and done some bad things, including deceptive upgrade offers and making old keys expire without prior notice. I had a hard time getting it to do anything in MP3 other than 128 CBR, for inexplicable and unfathomable reasons. I would imagine their market share has plummeted.

QUOTE (HbG @ Aug 16 2006, 14:03) *
edit: just curious, but what's mmjb's market share and what is it's default setting?
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kwanbis
post Aug 17 2006, 02:20
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QUOTE (Sebastian Mares @ Aug 16 2006, 21:28) *
What is that supposed to mean?


If we want to (1) to see how the usual population encoding habits perform against each other.
We would probably end up with a mixture of CBR against VBR. And it would probably not be the best settings, but the most used.

If we want to (2) to test the best encoder option for each encoder.
we would have to test to see at each encoder, what setting is the best.


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Sebastian Mares
post Aug 17 2006, 09:18
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kwanbis, did you read my whole post? 2 is simply not possible, so we have to mix 1 and 2.

This post has been edited by Sebastian Mares: Aug 17 2006, 09:37


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Alex B
post Aug 17 2006, 09:57
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QUOTE (Egor @ Aug 16 2006, 18:33) *
QUOTE (Alex B @ Aug 16 2006, 22:25) *
Actually, depending on the used program the possible main choices are:
...
- JS VBR

OK, what software does support this?

At least Musicmatch Jukebox supports joint stereo. However, it seems that MMJB chooses the used mode automatically (there's not option for selecting JS).

I encoded my test file set with MMJB 8.10.169. (Yes, it is old, I know. It is the last version I have wanted to keep as a sort of reference. I tried MMJB 10 when it was new and at least the visible MP3 encoding options were unchanged.)

I used the VBR 55% setting. Processing Level was set to "Normal", Maximum Bandwidth to "Let encoder choose".

22 of the 25 test tracks seem to be Joint Stereo. Here is how EncSpot Pro sees the files:




The average bitrate is nicely 135.2 kbps (about the same as LAME -V5 --vbr-new produces). EncSpot's "complete scan" is needed for checking this because it cannot use the VBRI header info. Also, most other programs show wrong bitrates with FhG VBR files.

I have only one other program that can encode FhG VBR. It's WaveLab. It has only five predefined VBR quality levels from "lowest" to "highest". It has also an option for joint stereo (allow mid/side coding), but that option does not seem to stick. If the options window is opened again "allow mid/side coding" is always resetted to disabled. Also it seems that WaveLab does not write VBRI headers. The resulting files do not contain VBR headers at all.

In general, I think that FhG VBR is a can of worms that probably should not be opened. A lot more reliable information would be needed for making the correct front program and encoder settings choices.


Edit: a couple of typos
Edit 2: image link fixed

This post has been edited by Alex B: Sep 7 2007, 12:08


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kwanbis
post Aug 17 2006, 14:30
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QUOTE (Sebastian Mares @ Aug 17 2006, 08:18) *
kwanbis, did you read my whole post? 2 is simply not possible, so we have to mix 1 and 2.

If 2 is not an option, *i* think we should try 1, not a mix.


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Sebastian Mares
post Aug 17 2006, 14:42
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Well, this would mean using 128 kbps CBR for everything.


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kwanbis
post Aug 17 2006, 17:11
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no, i think people use LAME with vbr, for example, and iTunes is ABR(?)?


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Sebastian Mares
post Aug 17 2006, 17:11
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iTunes seems to be ABR, but if you are going with popularity only, most people use iTunes in CBR mode I guess.

This post has been edited by Sebastian Mares: Aug 17 2006, 17:12


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