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ABX'ed AAC 128 VBR (log posted). Angry :(
Carsi
post Nov 26 2012, 16:04
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Hi everyone.

I've been following these forums for quite a while, but today I decided to register and post my experience.

After reading on forums I decided that AAC 128 VBR would give me transparent results, so I re-ripped everything.

But today I ABX'ed Rammstein - Sonne and got 20/20. I'm so mad, I need to re-rip everything again sad.gif

And I'm only using Sennheiser HD439, cheap headphones, plugged into my cheap Acer laptop. This is insane. The cymbals are what give it away every time, and there's this "swoosh" sound in general, especially in the chorus.

QUOTE
foo_abx 1.3.4 report
foobar2000 v1.1.18
2012/11/26 15:44:29

File A: C:\Users\Carsi\Downloads\Rammstein FLAC\Mutter\Sonne.flac
File B: C:\Users\Carsi\Music\iTunes\iTunes Media\Music\Rammstein\Mutter\Sonne 1.m4a

15:44:29 : Test started.
15:46:29 : 01/01 50.0%
15:46:49 : 02/02 25.0%
15:47:13 : 03/03 12.5%
15:48:08 : 04/04 6.3%
15:48:40 : 05/05 3.1%
15:49:30 : 06/06 1.6%
15:50:35 : 07/07 0.8%
15:52:02 : 08/08 0.4%
15:52:21 : 09/09 0.2%
15:52:50 : 10/10 0.1%
15:53:13 : 11/11 0.0%
15:53:41 : 12/12 0.0%
15:53:53 : 13/13 0.0%
15:54:15 : 14/14 0.0%
15:54:41 : 15/15 0.0%
15:55:24 : 16/16 0.0%
15:55:39 : 17/17 0.0%
15:56:16 : 18/18 0.0%
15:56:36 : 19/19 0.0%
15:56:52 : 20/20 0.0%
15:57:11 : Test finished.

----------
Total: 20/20 (0.0%)
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eahm
post Nov 29 2012, 00:21
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C.R.Helmrich, did iTunes upgrade to 256kbps just because people were whining? Not sarcasm, I'd just like to understand how crazy marketing is.

This post has been edited by eahm: Nov 29 2012, 00:21
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C.R.Helmrich
post Nov 29 2012, 11:31
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QUOTE (eahm @ Nov 29 2012, 01:21) *
C.R.Helmrich, did iTunes upgrade to 256kbps just because people were whining? Not sarcasm, I'd just like to understand how crazy marketing is.

I don't work for Apple, but I know they did listening tests just like Carsi did and found they needed to go to ~256 kbps stereo to be transparent even on the most difficult material they could find. Which was a great move in my opinion. It's plain obvious that 128 kbps AAC isn't transparent on several items. Neither is Opus, nor WMA, nor Vorbis, nor any future codec. The more relevant question is how close to transparency can you get at that bitrate on non-transparent items.

QUOTE (jensend)
at some point between 12 and 20 years from now AAC will likely look as outdated as MP2 does today. etc.

Talking about meaningless baloney here... MP2 was designed in the mid 80s. Doesn't even use an MDCT yet. MP3 was designed around 1990 and clearly beat it. AAC was designed around the mid 90s and beat MP3, but less clearly. xHE-AAC and Opus at high bitrates are marginally better than AAC (if at all, thanks for helping out, Igor) and designed almost 15 years after AAC. Do you really think codec improvements are linear? In what way can a new codec improve? Quality? Most unlikely, marginally at most. Speed/efficiency? Most unlikely, marginally at most. For the record, I'm working on the next generation of perceptual coding 50 hours a week. So don't tell me what I write is meaningless baloney.

Chris

This post has been edited by C.R.Helmrich: Nov 29 2012, 11:36


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jensend
post Nov 29 2012, 17:48
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QUOTE (C.R.Helmrich @ Nov 29 2012, 03:31) *
For the record, I'm working on the next generation of perceptual coding 50 hours a week. So don't tell me what I write is meaningless baloney.
I'm quite completely aware of the historical facts, of your job, your ideological commitments, and your self-important bull. Trying to pull authority and telling people off just because "I'm with FhG, I'm soooo important" doesn't win you any points.

When you say "(xHE-)AAC and Opus are so close to the theoretical maximum in compression" that single statement is demonstrably meaningless baloney, and that's the only thing you said that I singled out as being simply baloney. No theory gives anything near objective convincing support to the claim that no future codec can achieve a markedly superior bitrate-quality curve on normal audio. Adding the qualifier "with reasonable encoding and decoding speed" doesn't help, since new algorithms, along with Moore's law, quickly bring many "unreasonable" methods and optimization problems into the realm of realistic possibility.

Again, back when MP2 was being put together, people made claims that perceptual entropy limits meant that nothing could ever do much better than MP2. Also, the kind of calculations done by a modern AAC encoder would have seemed well outside the limits of reasonable encoding speed in the late 80s.

No, I don't think codec improvements are linear. Nothing I said suggests that. Of course there's diminishing returns to effort. Nor am I saying that Opus or any other codec currently under development is going to be what obsoletes AAC. Anything which could possibly deliver that kind of an improvement will be substantially different from existing codecs and would be at best in extremely early experimental stages at this point, like Monty's chirp tracking Ghost work. (Heaven only knows whether that particular effort will lead, a decade or so down the road, to both a format which allows substantial bitrate/quality improvements and algorithms that can do the required encoder-side work with the required precision and speed, or whether it will prove to be a dead end. But it does seem to exemplify the kind of conceptual departure and exploration that may be required.)

This post has been edited by jensend: Nov 29 2012, 17:52
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Canar
post Nov 29 2012, 18:37
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QUOTE (jensend @ Nov 29 2012, 08:48) *
I'm quite completely aware of the historical facts, of your job, your ideological commitments, and your self-important bull. Trying to pull authority and telling people off just because "I'm with FhG, I'm soooo important" doesn't win you any points.
While philosophically speaking, arguments from authority are fallacious, Mr. Helmrich is simply backing up his assertions with his area of expertise. If you would kindly grace us with a reason we should trust your opinion over that of a legitimate professional involved in reserarch, that would be much appreciated.

As a moderator, I'd also appreciate it if the tone of this discussion became less abusive.

While we don't know where the next improvements in lossy audio are going to come from, the fact is that despite many different implementations, we seem to be unable to really push the boundaries much further than where they are today. Even the people pushing the boundaries are trying to tell you that. This doesn't preclude the possibility of a huge breakthrough, but I think such a huge breakthrough is unlikely any time soon.


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You cannot ABX the rustling of jimmies.
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jensend
post Nov 29 2012, 20:43
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QUOTE (Canar @ Nov 29 2012, 10:37) *
If you would kindly grace us with a reason we should trust your opinion over that of a legitimate professional involved in reserarch, that would be much appreciated.
The reason is that this "legitimate professional" has made extraordinarily sweeping universal claims without any evidence to back them up.

In my first post in this thread I made two remarks that should be entirely uncontroversial: someday there will be superior formats, and devices most likely won't play AAC forever. His arrogant dismissive "Both wrong." means that he's claiming both that there never will be any format superior to AAC and that all future devices will play AAC until the heat death of the universe. There is absolutely no good reason to believe anyone who says those kinds of things, no matter how many hours per week they're being paid to do exactly what they are saying is impossible.

We can bicker about our predictions about the magnitude of improvement future encoders will show a given number of years from now, or about how widespread backward compatibility with AAC will be a given number of years from now. I continue to think the claim that it'll be longer than 20 years before there's either a) any substantial improvements over today's AAC encoders or b) any devices which are no longer compatible with AAC is entirely incongruous with both history and theory, and as far as his "authority" goes, I'll remind you of Clarke's first law. But bickering about particular predictions is beside the point.

All that's required for my argument that using AAC for archival is non-optimal is that someday someone might want to re-encode their audio with another lossy encoder because of either an improvement in the bitrate-quality curve or because they own a new device which no longer supports AAC. The claim that these are impossibilities is unreasonable, no matter who it's coming from.
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C.R.Helmrich
post Nov 30 2012, 13:57
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QUOTE (jensend @ Nov 29 2012, 21:43) *
His arrogant dismissive "Both wrong."

I agree, "wrong" was inappropriate. Sorry about that, jensend. Please re-interpret it as "highly unlikely".

Regarding your statement that there's no theory to support my claim "theoretical maximum in compression": there's Shannon's rate-distortion theory, where the maximum allowed distortion D is given by the theory of threshold of audibility, which in turn can be derived from the psychoacoustic theories of hearing threshold and of auditory masking (both temporally and spectrally). In my experience, encodings that clearly aren't transparent clearly violate - i.e. introduce D which is above - the threshold of audibility at some point in time, and I also think the psychoacoustic theories have become quite solid. Your opinion may differ, of course.

yourlord, sorry, yes, back to topic. To me it looks like Carsi uploaded the original. Spectrum goes to 22 kHz and looks "original".

Chris

This post has been edited by C.R.Helmrich: Nov 30 2012, 13:59


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jensend
post Dec 1 2012, 04:01
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Listening to that sample, I find it interesting that without the hint about the cymbals I probably wouldn't have noticed the difference even at considerably lower bitrates.
QUOTE (C.R.Helmrich @ Nov 30 2012, 05:57) *
I agree, "wrong" was inappropriate. Sorry about that, jensend. Please re-interpret it as "highly unlikely".

Regarding your statement that there's no theory to support my claim "theoretical maximum in compression": there's Shannon's rate-distortion theory... I also think the psychoacoustic theories have become quite solid. Your opinion may differ, of course.
Well, if you'd said "highly unlikely to happen in the next 20 years" I might disagree but I wouldn't have felt the need to argue the point. And I'm sorry that I got overly worked up about this.

I agree that distortion models now seem to be reasonably accurate. And that does give you a lower bound on what compression you can get for your source model. But to say that this is the absolute lower bound for real-world music is to make an extraordinarily strong and entirely unjustified claim about your source model. In other words, it's baloney.

Are you really willing to claim that your source model contains all the prior information available when we know that a signal is, say, the PCM from someone's CD collection rather than a stream of entirely random bits? Are you also claiming that you have objectively convincing evidence of this? You might as well be saying "the asymptotic optimality of LZ for Markov sources means that the GZIP'd size of the Library of Congress is so close to its Kolmogorov complexity that no compression algorithm will do significantly better." In both cases our source models are nice and useful but certainly wrong.
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saratoga
post Dec 2 2012, 03:42
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QUOTE (jensend @ Nov 30 2012, 23:01) *
Are you really willing to claim that your source model contains all the prior information available when we know that a signal is, say, the PCM from someone's CD collection rather than a stream of entirely random bits? Are you also claiming that you have objectively convincing evidence of this? You might as well be saying "the asymptotic optimality of LZ for Markov sources means that the GZIP'd size of the Library of Congress is so close to its Kolmogorov complexity that no compression algorithm will do significantly better." In both cases our source models are nice and useful but certainly wrong.


The need for audio formats to be vaguely streamable, to require relatively limited amounts of memory for decode, and to decode using some reasonable level of power is a much more relevant limit on compression. You can of course come up with very clever formats that squeeze all kinds of redundancy out of bitstreams, but realistically people aren't going to be interested in using them.
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The Sheep of DEA...
post Dec 2 2012, 03:50
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QUOTE (saratoga @ Dec 1 2012, 21:42) *
QUOTE (jensend @ Nov 30 2012, 23:01) *
Are you really willing to claim that your source model contains all the prior information available when we know that a signal is, say, the PCM from someone's CD collection rather than a stream of entirely random bits? Are you also claiming that you have objectively convincing evidence of this? You might as well be saying "the asymptotic optimality of LZ for Markov sources means that the GZIP'd size of the Library of Congress is so close to its Kolmogorov complexity that no compression algorithm will do significantly better." In both cases our source models are nice and useful but certainly wrong.


The need for audio formats to be vaguely streamable, to require relatively limited amounts of memory for decode, and to decode using some reasonable level of power is a much more relevant limit on compression. You can of course come up with very clever formats that squeeze all kinds of redundancy out of bitstreams, but realistically people aren't going to be interested in using them.


That's an excellent point. Vaguely streamable or extremely so in low-delay Opus' case. Some (CM-based?) wide-window redundancy models are certainly off-limits for this reason. Most songs are at their core extremely formulaic -- it is often through a distinctive spread of beat, repeating instruments, and somewhat "context-predictable" aspects that a song is born. Methods to take advantage of these longer-term redundancies would most likely kill streaming potential (solid archive anyone?) or lack speed and/or fidelity at today's computing power requirements.


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Posts in this topic
- Carsi   ABX'ed AAC 128 VBR (log posted). Angry :(   Nov 26 2012, 16:04
- - eahm   Please be more specific? How did you encode to AAC...   Nov 26 2012, 16:07
|- - Carsi   QUOTE (eahm @ Nov 26 2012, 16:07) Please ...   Nov 26 2012, 16:07
|- - kritip   QUOTE (Carsi @ Nov 26 2012, 16:07) FLAC t...   Nov 27 2012, 14:04
- - skamp   If you still have the FLACs or ALACs, you don...   Nov 26 2012, 16:14
- - eahm   Perfect thank you. Do you have time to test more a...   Nov 26 2012, 16:14
- - DonP   QUOTE (Carsi @ Nov 26 2012, 11:04) But to...   Nov 26 2012, 16:29
- - pdq   Note that you may be able to hear artifacts on che...   Nov 26 2012, 19:52
- - Kohlrabi   Why don't you just convert the one problem son...   Nov 26 2012, 19:54
- - Gainless   I would re-rip/transcode the albums with VBR mode ...   Nov 26 2012, 22:09
|- - C.R.Helmrich   QUOTE (Gainless @ Nov 26 2012, 23:09) I w...   Nov 27 2012, 10:24
- - Carsi   I don't have the FLACs anymore, yes I'm st...   Nov 27 2012, 01:30
|- - BFG   QUOTE (Carsi @ Nov 26 2012, 18:30) I don...   Nov 27 2012, 05:36
|- - Nessuno   QUOTE (Carsi @ Nov 27 2012, 01:30) What c...   Nov 27 2012, 10:16
|- - Nessuno   By the way: how old are you? Maybe instead of re-r...   Nov 27 2012, 10:27
- - Porcus   Hm. If I am allowed to post an ad I have no econom...   Nov 27 2012, 18:26
- - Axon   QUOTE (Carsi @ Nov 26 2012, 09:04) But to...   Nov 27 2012, 20:11
|- - Carsi   QUOTE (Axon @ Nov 27 2012, 20:11) QUOTE (...   Nov 29 2012, 14:30
|- - pdq   QUOTE (Carsi @ Nov 29 2012, 08:30) QUOTE ...   Nov 29 2012, 14:42
- - jensend   If you absolutely must have perfect transparency o...   Nov 28 2012, 00:22
|- - BFG   QUOTE (jensend @ Nov 27 2012, 17:22) stuf...   Nov 28 2012, 00:41
|- - C.R.Helmrich   QUOTE (jensend @ Nov 28 2012, 01:22) Some...   Nov 28 2012, 23:46
|- - jensend   QUOTE (C.R.Helmrich @ Nov 28 2012, 15:46)...   Nov 29 2012, 00:20
|- - IgorC   QUOTE (jensend @ Nov 28 2012, 20:20) But ...   Nov 29 2012, 01:28
|- - BFG   QUOTE (IgorC @ Nov 28 2012, 18:28) There ...   Nov 29 2012, 05:19
- - saratoga   The future is probably moving towards more general...   Nov 29 2012, 00:06
- - eahm   C.R.Helmrich, did iTunes upgrade to 256kbps just b...   Nov 29 2012, 00:21
|- - C.R.Helmrich   QUOTE (eahm @ Nov 29 2012, 01:21) C.R.Hel...   Nov 29 2012, 11:31
|- - jensend   QUOTE (C.R.Helmrich @ Nov 29 2012, 03:31)...   Nov 29 2012, 17:48
|- - Canar   QUOTE (jensend @ Nov 29 2012, 08:48) I...   Nov 29 2012, 18:37
|- - jensend   QUOTE (Canar @ Nov 29 2012, 10:37) If you...   Nov 29 2012, 20:43
|- - C.R.Helmrich   QUOTE (jensend @ Nov 29 2012, 21:43) His ...   Nov 30 2012, 13:57
|- - jensend   Listening to that sample, I find it interesting th...   Dec 1 2012, 04:01
|- - saratoga   QUOTE (jensend @ Nov 30 2012, 23:01) Are ...   Dec 2 2012, 03:42
|- - The Sheep of DEATH   QUOTE (saratoga @ Dec 1 2012, 21:42) QUOT...   Dec 2 2012, 03:50
- - Porcus   As to the format discussion, which is slightly off...   Nov 29 2012, 09:23
- - Carsi   Ok so I uploaded the sample in the uploads section...   Nov 29 2012, 15:10
- - BFG   The banter between jensend and C.R. has me curious...   Nov 29 2012, 18:36
|- - skamp   QUOTE (BFG @ Nov 29 2012, 18:36) And yes,...   Nov 29 2012, 18:54
|- - Nessuno   QUOTE (BFG @ Nov 29 2012, 18:36) And yes,...   Nov 30 2012, 10:25
- - yourlord   I hate to interrupt the argument by going back on ...   Nov 29 2012, 22:05
|- - Porcus   QUOTE (BFG @ Nov 29 2012, 18:36) I wonder...   Nov 30 2012, 11:34
- - Carsi   Let's get back to topic I uploaded the origin...   Nov 30 2012, 14:00
|- - C.R.Helmrich   Not yet, but you can save us some time by uploadin...   Nov 30 2012, 14:04
|- - Gainless   QUOTE (Carsi @ Nov 30 2012, 14:00) Let...   Nov 30 2012, 14:19
- - yourlord   I tested it with Vorbis down to 96kbps yesterday o...   Nov 30 2012, 17:01
|- - Nessuno   @OP: exactly which parameter you passed to AAC enc...   Nov 30 2012, 18:28
- - Alexxander   I haven't installed iTunes, but I use qaac. En...   Nov 30 2012, 18:37
- - smok3   i can not abx sample converted with afconvert -v ...   Nov 30 2012, 19:02
- - eahm   The iTunes 128kbps (High Quality) qaac setting is ...   Nov 30 2012, 19:57
- - smok3   a. obviously i dont need qaac on mac, i dont use i...   Nov 30 2012, 20:00
- - eahm   smok3, I was talking to the people who test, didn...   Nov 30 2012, 20:07
- - The Sheep of DEATH   Hate to drag out the OT aspect of the discussion, ...   Dec 2 2012, 03:32


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