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Wavpack Lossy Quality, As good as OGG, MPC or AAC?
rjamorim
post Apr 22 2003, 16:15
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QUOTE (den @ Apr 22 2003 - 12:06 PM)
Very convenient, and very easy to switch between lossy to lossless by copying or removing the .wc file.  B)

Actually, you can switch on/off using the correction file in the Winamp plugin's settings. No need to delete/rename it.

I don't know if that option is available in Foobar.


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den
post Apr 23 2003, 02:05
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@ rjamorim

1. As far as I can tell, you can't turn it off or on in foobar.

2. I followed your previous comment and revised my signature. B)

@ others
Have completed some other follow up tests with a wide range of ambient and punchy pop/rock, focusing only on mpc beyond braindead, LAME insane and Ogg Vorbis q10. Found artifacts in all cases to varying degrees if I listen hard enough when they are transcoded into ATRAC3 (Minidisc). LAME and Ogg Vorbis were considerable worse than MPC in terms of introduced artifacts with transcoding, but all three were not too bad.

I'm not getting any extra individual noises or changes in the music with Wavpack lossy @320 when transcoding, apart from the slight increase in background hiss at very high listening volumes in a quiet room, so now its Wavpack lossy for me. Thanks budgie for making me aware of this possibility, and thanks to bryant for making this kick-arse lossy/lossless combination available.

@bryant
If you are ever looking for someone to test new versions, feel free to drop me a line. Also, has anyone ever compiled a Linux version from your source code? I'm currently considering setting up a Linux box for audio encoding, storage and serving purposes.

Den.


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rjamorim
post Apr 23 2003, 02:16
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QUOTE (den @ Apr 22 2003 - 10:05 PM)
2. I followed your previous comment and revised my signature.  B)

Great. smile.gif

QUOTE
Have completed some other follow up tests with a wide range of ambient and punchy pop/rock, focusing only on mpc beyond braindead, LAME insane and Ogg Vorbis q10. Found artifacts in all cases to varying degrees if I listen hard enough when they are transcoded into ATRAC3 (Minidisc). LAME and Ogg Vorbis were considerable worse than MPC in terms of introduced artifacts with transcoding, but all three were not too bad.


Excellent. That's a proof of the theory that subband codecs (MPC, MP2) behave better than transform codecs (MP3, AAC, Vorbis) when being transcoded.

Dunno about others' opinions, but I find these findings extremely significative. Before, people only said "theoretically, transform is worse than subband for transcoding". Now, we can be almost completely sure that theory applies to practice. smile.gif

QUOTE
has anyone ever compiled a Linux version from your source code? I'm currently considering setting up a Linux box for audio encoding, storage and serving purposes.


Actually, would you know anything about C programming, by any chance?

David is looking for someone to port WavPack to Linux. Should be really easy, because the code is 100% ANSI C. Still, some coding will be needed.

Hopefully, some linux code will be available soon.

Regards;

Roberto.

This post has been edited by rjamorim: Apr 23 2003, 02:19


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den
post Apr 23 2003, 04:37
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I do know a few things about C programming actually, but I haven't touched it recently.

I may look into this some more in the future, if someone else doesn't do it in the mean time, but I just don't have enough time at the moment to have a decent look at it within the next couple of months.

Den.


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KikeG
post Apr 23 2003, 08:04
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Den, I suggest that if you do further testing, you could make the tests blind more easily.

Once you have the wavs decoded, randomize them blindly, by someone else disordering them and changing their names, but taking note of which one was which. Then convert them to MD format, and listen then as usually. Write down your results, and then check which file was which.

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den
post Apr 23 2003, 08:38
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Thanks KikeG.

Apart from the tests I've posted, I've since tried a few more combinations, and blinded these using a method not unlike what you describe. The randomise function in Foobar does a good job of this...I ended up placing the A B tracks at the beginning of the MD, and then randomised the rest (or rather my wife did) and it worked quite well. That way I could also go back and check the A and B selections myself, then try each X track. A reasonable approximation of trusty WinABX on my MD.

I can easily separate the original wav/wavpack lossy everytime from those transcoded from ogg/mp3 and those from mpc. Each type introduces a unique set of artifacts, as briefly discussed above. I can't always separate the vorbis from the mp3, or the wavpack lossy from the original wav, or the mpc q5 from the mpc q10, but I can always separate the vorbis/mp3 from the mpc from the wav/wavpack, whether I can see the songs being played, or not. Did a few tests with my wife's assistance, and got 15/15 everytime in terms of the above groupings.

Den.


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Lev
post Apr 23 2003, 21:41
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Just Failed to ABX WavPack @ 320 with flying colours.

CODE
21:21:08    0/1  p=100.0%
21:21:20    1/2  p=75.0%
21:22:30    1/3  p=87.5%
21:23:45    2/4  p=68.8%
21:24:14    2/5  p=81.2%
21:25:09    2/6  p=89.1%
21:26:10    3/7  p=77.3%
21:27:12    3/8  p=85.5%
21:28:12    3/9  p=91.0%
21:29:13   3/10  p=94.5%
21:30:14   4/11  p=88.7%
21:31:15   4/12  p=92.7%
21:32:15   4/13  p=95.4%
21:33:16   5/14  p=91.0%
21:34:17   6/15  p=84.9%
21:35:17   7/16  p=77.3%
21:35:29  test finished


(More scary that I took almost exactly a minute to do each one)

I had absolutely no idea what I was looking for whatsoever. And this particular track, Crash Test Dummies / Afternoons and Coffeespoons, I can ABX easy with 320kbps Lame.

Couple of other points to note:
::Lame (with Razorlame) took 3:10 to encode @ api, Wavpack took 0:43. Musepac takes 1:44
::160kbps with Lame is 4,615KB vs 7,657KB with WavPack blink.gif
::320kbps with Lame is 9,229KB vs 9,230KB with WavPack
::Being as I cant ABX Musepac at all, no test was done for MPC vs WV wink.gif

Will try problem samples sometime soon...


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den
post Apr 24 2003, 01:51
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QUOTE
I had absolutely no idea what I was looking for whatsoever. And this particular track, Crash Test Dummies / Afternoons and Coffeespoons, I can ABX easy with 320kbps Lame.

Couple of other points to note:
::Lame (with Razorlame) took 3:10 to encode @ api, Wavpack took 0:43. Musepac takes 1:44
::160kbps with Lame is 4,615KB vs 7,657KB with WavPack 
::320kbps with Lame is 9,229KB vs 9,230KB with WavPack


I can ABX wavpack @ 320 kbit everytime with all the music I have tested, 15/15. What I hearing is a very, very subtle increase in background noise (hiss). It is more obvious with music that has some "space" in it, such as a basic percussive introduction, so you can hear silence between the notes. To hear it, I need to have the volume up very high, and be in a very quiet room (apart from my noisy PC) with decent head phones. I'm not hearing any other artifacts though, and I imagine that with certain audio hardware set ups, the hiss might be undetectable. At 352 kbits, or whatever budgie advocates, I can not always hear it, depending on the music I test with.

The reason for the different file size at 160 kbit, is that while Wavpack lossy will accept bit rate settings as low as 32 IIRC, the lowest number it can actually achieve is ~260 kbit. One track I tested got down to 230 kbit. If you set numbers below this, it will just go as low as it can.

Den.


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den
post Apr 25 2003, 01:22
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I couldn't resist trying wavpack with some of these infamous samples everyone keeps talking about, so I downloaded castanets.wav and fatboy.wav, and thought I'd give them a try. First I encoded them both with LAME 3.90.2 alt preset insane, and Wavpack lossy @ 320 kbits with the high quality switch.

Before proceeding, I checked them out individually, and I can see why they are used to stress encoders.

I started ABXing fatboy.wav, and never got to ABXing castanets, because the difference with fatboy caught me by surprise.

I immediately hit 15/15 with the original fatboy.wav vs LAME 3.90.2 insane. LAME has a good crack at it, but I can clearly hear some extra "warbles" in the middle of the sample, that stand out every single time.

Then I tried fatboy.wav vs Wavpack lossy @ 320 kbits, at the same volume as the above test, which was a comfortable listening volume. Hit 8/15, with WinABX. ohmy.gif

I then increased the volume right up, and focused on the beginning of the sample. Hit 15/15 this time. Again, a very slight, but perceptible increase in background hiss gave the wavpack 320 kbit sample away. The fatboy sound itself sounds essentially identical with my ears.

Finally, I created a new wavpack lossy file @ 448 kbits, aka as wavpack --preset budgie laugh.gif and I found the very slight hiss was reduced, and I only got 10/15 with Win ABX. Tried again, and got into the "zone" and hit 14/15.

Please note that these were encodes, not transcodes like my previous posts. I'm thinking that if someone is considering LAME insane as an option, but they don't need mp3 compatibility they should also consider wavpack lossy @ 320 kbit, because it may handle the problem samples better, although this needs more testing. The barely perceptible hiss is the only thing that is allowing me to ABX Wavpack at these bitrates, and I can only sense it at high listening volumes.

Den.


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guruboolez
post Apr 25 2003, 02:56
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Tried with castanet2.wav file :

255 kbps (mesured), high quality
CODE
---------------------------------------
1L File: G:\Temp\casta2\castanets2.wv.wav
1L Rating: 3.4
1L Comment:
---------------------------------------
ABX Results:
Original vs G:\Temp\casta2\castanets2.wv.wav
   14 out of 16, pval = 0.002


321 kbps (mesured), high quality - focused on beginning of the track
CODE
---------------------------------------
1R File: G:\Temp\casta2\castanets2_355.wv.wav
1R Rating: 4.2
1R Comment:
---------------------------------------
ABX Results:
Original vs G:\Temp\casta2\castanets2_355.wv.wav
   8 out of 16, pval = 0.598


THE SAME, 321 kbps (mesured), high quality - focused on the middle of the sample [intermediate attacks]
CODE
---------------------------------------
1R File: G:\Temp\casta2\castanets2_355.wv.wav
1R Rating: 4.2
1R Comment:
---------------------------------------
ABX Results:
Original vs G:\Temp\casta2\castanets2_355.wv.wav
   21 out of 30, pval = 0.021
(10/16 on the middle of the test, but I put up to 30, because of a really bad beginning)


First test was easy : pre-echo on the first and strong attack.
Second was more problematic : I'm not sure of what I heard. Sometimes pre-echo, sometimes different tonality (or is it added noise ?).
In the two cases, result is really good. Artifacts with wavepack lossy seems to be in general completely different from others perceptual codecs : noise, and on very rare cases, pre-echo. I can't perceive anything else wrong. At least, for the moment...
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den
post Apr 25 2003, 03:16
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Thanks for your post guruboolez.

It's good to see some other tests come through from yourself and Lev help reinforce my own findings so far about the potential for Wavpack lossy. It certainly behaves differently from the other codecs.

Den.


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Delirium
post Apr 25 2003, 04:15
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Thanks for the results; they're very interesting.

Am I correct in my understanding that a large part of WavPack's compression is basically reducing dynamic level quantization (that's what I gathered from the comparisons to how lossless codecs compress quiet sounds well)? If so, that'd explain the slight hiss, as what it's basically doing is raising the noise floor (or lowering the S/N ratio, if you prefer to think of it that way).

Theoretically this should be worse than psychoacoustic codecs, since it's dumping all the bitrate savings into degrading the S/N ratio, while psychoacoustic codecs should get some "free" bitrate savings by dumping inaudibly masked sounds. But if the psychoacoustic model has significant flaws (as nearly all do, in one way or another), WavPack's method might actually get you more consistent results; i.e. it won't be as good on samples where the psychoacoustic codec does well, but it won't ever fail as badly either. This would also explain the better transcoding performance, as most bad transcoding artifacts are psychoacoustic artifacts, not S/N ratio problems.

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budgie
post Apr 25 2003, 12:39
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I think it's really good that I could contribute a little to awake an interest in WavPack HQ lossy mode. WavPack is great tool to archive music and really deserves a bit more care than it has had so far. Especially those, who play with thoughts for later transcoding, should focus on WavPack HQ lossy mode... I think later they will appreciate it.

Den seems to be just amongst the few here at HA, who use their own brain and don't just repeat everything like parrots (like transcoding is evil and another stupidities)... And besides, he loves MiniDisc, just as I do, although I know it's not the best quality available; but it's small and convenient... and its quality is not such horrible as some here would say, especially when you not compare it with original source of sound. laugh.gif

For my part it's needed to say I did a lot of exhaustive and thorough test with WavPack and many other formats as for transcoding, but I somehow feel my presence and my opinions are not welcome (just wonder why... rolleyes.gif ) I did a lot of ABXing, but as I am not trustworthy person for some people (just wonder why, again... rolleyes.gif ), I didn't bother with posting the results. Although I bet with everyone my hearing is excellent and although not trained for hearing artifacts, it's trained damn good to listen to subtleties and spot even the delicate differences between original and copy.

Sorry, den, you could spare a lot of work or you could make maybe something more useful... but at least you made your own experience and know far better now, I hope so.

That's approx. all... for now wink.gif
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2Bdecided
post Apr 25 2003, 14:11
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This is a very interesting thread. One interesting thing: when you've been "in to" psychoacoustic coding for a long time, the slightest audible artefacts become really annoying - whereas plain uncorrelated background noise or hiss can be quite acceptable. Of course, I'd rather have perfection, but given the choice between artefacts (which are usually correlated with the signal) or background hiss, I'd rather have hiss any time!


This reminded me of a comparison I made a few years ago: I compared wavepack lossy (but not HQ - I didn't know about this switch) with the "very BETA I'm not supporting this you can't get it anymore" lossy monkey's audio. I found lossy monkey to be better i.e. I could hear the hiss in wavepack lossy, but not in monkey's audio lossy. Unfortunately, I can't remember what bitrate I used for wavepack lossy, but it was probably 256kbps. As such, this comparison was probably useless, but I think I'll go back and try it again - if I can find lossy monkey.

Cheers,
David.

P.S. lossy monkey was an idea that the monkey's audio author had, but quickly rejected. It produced VBR files which held all the information used to reproduce the "predictable" parts of the original file, but not any of the residual "noise-like" parts which had to be stored "as is" to make conventional monkey's audio files lossless.
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Garf
post Apr 25 2003, 14:39
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Just for the record, shorten has a lossy mode too.
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HansHeijden
post Apr 25 2003, 15:02
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Here is that tread again David, with posts about lossy ape and wavpack almost 2 years ago:
http://www.audiofora.com/yabbse/index.php?...d=1687;start=15
Fun to read again!

I can put that 'lossy ape' package online in a few hours, for those who like to experiment with it. It has no level switches and gives bitrates averaging a bit below 400 kbps IIRC.
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Garf
post Apr 25 2003, 15:29
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QUOTE (den @ Apr 25 2003 - 02:22 AM)
I'm thinking that if someone is considering LAME insane as an option, but they don't need mp3 compatibility they should also consider wavpack lossy @ 320 kbit, because it may handle the problem samples better, although this needs more testing.

One thing to take into account are that the problem samples are specifically geared towards classical lossy codecs. They don't necessarily are problem cases for WavPack (more or less confirmed by your testing), which might have another class of problem samples.

From what I've seen so far, I'd think classical music with wide dynamics might be a problem for WavPack, compared to classical codecs. Maybe I'll do some tests smile.gif

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Garf
post Apr 25 2003, 15:36
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QUOTE (budgie @ Apr 25 2003 - 01:39 PM)
, but I somehow feel my presence and my opinions are not welcome (just wonder why...  rolleyes.gif

...because you make wild statements you do not back up with any data or testing.

den did the opposite, he posted his testing data and allowed us to make a conclusion, offering his own in the passing.

It's a major difference, and the reason why I take him seriously and you not.
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2Bdecided
post Apr 25 2003, 15:47
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QUOTE (HansHeijden @ Apr 25 2003 - 02:02 PM)
Here is that tread again David, with posts about lossy ape and wavpack almost 2 years ago:
http://www.audiofora.com/yabbse/index.php?...d=1687;start=15
Fun to read again!

Yes - it's amazing how useful some of the information is at the old r3mix forum - and it's not even properly linked from r3mix.net anymore. I hope it's archived properly somewhere. Thanks for finding that!

QUOTE
I can put that 'lossy ape' package online in a few hours, for those who like to experiment with it. It has no level switches and gives bitrates averaging a bit below 400 kbps IIRC.


It would be great if you could - I can't find my copy and I've searched several CD-Rs which should contain it. I don't know what Matt would have to say though.

The HA community would be a great place to figure out if it really is as transparent as I thought at the time - I didn't have a quiet listening environment, so I would have missed low-level hiss. But it had measurably less hiss than Wavpack at the time, so maybe...

Cheers,
David.

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budgie
post Apr 25 2003, 15:53
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QUOTE (Garf @ Apr 25 2003 - 06:36 AM)
It's a major difference, and the reason why I take him seriously and you not.

You're young, Garf (AFAIK), and so I forgive you... When you get into post-mid-age and be a bit more experienced man, then you will understand a lot more of things you don't understand today. Maybe... rolleyes.gif
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HansHeijden
post Apr 25 2003, 19:07
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Hmm, it seems the lossy ape dll (from may 2001, version 3.89) can't work any more under monkey's audio 3.97. But fortunately MAC 3.92b2 is still online: http://www.monkeysaudio.com/files/MAC_392b2_F.exe

Well, the fact that you'll need to uninstall, install again etc. will ensure only the very motivated here want to go through this! So here is the lossy macdll.dll and winamp plugin: http://web.inter.nl.net/users/hvdh/MAC_Test_01.zip
Check the readme.txt first. At startup you'll read "Invalid DLL Version" but then just click OK and continue.
Remember it's slow and forever unsupported. Please don't bug Matt about this! Personally, I'm just curious if wavpack has actually improved in the meantime.

Hans

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JohnV
post Apr 25 2003, 19:19
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QUOTE (budgie @ Apr 25 2003 - 02:39 PM)
For my part it's needed to say I did a lot of exhaustive and thorough test with WavPack and many other formats as for transcoding, but I somehow feel my presence and my opinions are not welcome (just wonder why...  rolleyes.gif ) I did a lot of ABXing, but as I am not trustworthy person for some people (just wonder why, again...  rolleyes.gif ), I didn't bother with posting the results.

The rules are the same for everybody. Den did blind testing and presented results. This doesn't work so that we start believing some people without any blind testing results and some other people only with blind testing results. Everybody is in equal position in that sense, and it's also the only fair way to handle testing.

The critique which you may have encountered is exactly because you have not presented blind testing results. That's pretty pathetic excuse that suddenly you did lots of ABX, but you "didn't bother posting", although all the critique has been due to lack of any clearly documented blind testing results by you. rolleyes.gif


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bryant
post Apr 25 2003, 20:14
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First of all, I'd like to thank everyone who has taken the time to test WavPack and report the results here. And, of course, thanks to Budgie for his flagrant disregard for rule #8! wink.gif

There have been several comments about the "torture" samples and what is being said is essentially correct. The samples that are very hard for the other codecs might be easy for WavPack, and the other way around. Unlike conventional codecs, WavPack lossy does well with very complex music with lots of frequencies because the added quantization noise is more easily masked. Also, it does better with transients because it cannot have any pre-echo or smearing in the time domain (I'm not sure what you were hearing Guruboolez) because there is no digital filtering.

However, it does not do as well with simple music with limited frequencies because the noise gets added in parts of the spectrum that might not have enough masking signal. I think this is what Den is talking about when he mentions hearing the noise in the "space". Advanced codecs have the advantage here because they can shuffle bits around to concentrate on specific parts of the spectrum. The worst case I have found is that in electronic music there is sometimes significant energy at very high frequencies that can can raise the noise floor significantly. This short sample from the Fast and the Furious soundtrack is an example:

www.wavpack.com/Furious.wv

The second "bleep" in the sample has an enormous amount of complex high frequency information. The default WavPack 320 lossy mode fails miserably on this. Using "high" mode (-h) and joint stereo (-j1) help considerably, but it's still not transparent. I suspect that other codecs would probably do better because all the added noise would be up high, although I have not tried any of them.

2Bdecided:

David, I believe you are correct about the relatively benign effects of uncorrelated background noise. Unfortunately, the noise added by WavPack lossy is slightly more complicated because, while it is ruler flat in frequency, it is modulated in level by the audio. In some sense this is better because it can be much more easily masked in quiet parts of the music, but it has the disadvantage that its changing level can draw one's attention to it (like in the old dBX noise reduction system).

BTW, there have been significant improvements to WavPack's lossy mode since you tested it in comparison to lossy monkey, including the addition of the hybrid mode and more refined predictors. I just ran a quick comparison and the latest version achieves about 10 to 12 dB less noise (at the same bitrate) than the version from that era.

Garf:

I recall that RKAU has a lossy mode too, although I have never tested either entensively. WavPack has had some sort of lossy mode almost since the beginning, but it really wasn't until the hybrid mode was introduced (which was based on Matt's original idea) that there was any appreciable interest.

Thanks again, guys!
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guruboolez
post Apr 25 2003, 20:45
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QUOTE (bryant @ Apr 25 2003 - 08:14 PM)
Also, it does better with transients because it cannot have any pre-echo or smearing in the time domain (I'm not sure what you were hearing Guruboolez) because there is no digital filtering.

Are you sure ? Try with the exceptionnal and unatural killer sample called short_block_test2.wav
I tried to ABX it with wavepak lossy HQ@250 kbps (mesured at 178 kbps), and succeed. Didn't try with lossy HQ 400 (198 kbps mesured), but did some capture with CoolEdit :

http://membres.lycos.fr/guruboolez/images/...ck/original.png
http://membres.lycos.fr/guruboolez/images/...wvlossy_250.png
http://membres.lycos.fr/guruboolez/images/...wvlossy_400.png

The time smearing I heard on ABX test appears on the second screenshot.

However, overall performances are extraordinary for this bitrate. Musepack --standard reach the 1000 kbps ! (but is transparent, at least for my ears). Ogg GT3b1 -q 5 is near 500 kbps... Don't try with --alt-preset standard, but I suppose it to be close to 320 kbps ceiling (and with heavy pre-echo).
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HansHeijden
post Apr 25 2003, 20:55
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Bryant, I made a lossy ape of your sample, and made a wv with settings -b400 -h. Filesizes are nearly equal. Still I find the wv add hashness that the ape doesn't. Please try if you agree, you just need replace the in_ape of winamp temporarily with the one of my link above (eh, you DO have in_ape already, don't you? wink.gif ).

If you read the 2-year old post, you'll see already then I hoped Matt would pass his methods to you!

Have you also thought about filtering the audio with some 'inversed' ATH curve, to put more weight to extremely high- or low-frequency content before calculating the energy and trowing away bits accordingly? (I hope I make this thought clear!)

Hans

Edit: Removed stupid question related to enabled crossfeed plugin messing with me once again!

This post has been edited by HansHeijden: Apr 25 2003, 22:15
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