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High Bitrate ~320kbps MP3 vs. Lossless audio, Spoiler: mp3s were TRANSCODED from Lame free-format.
Archimago
post Jan 15 2013, 21:11
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Happy New Year and greetings everyone! I know the folks here at Hydrogen audio have been around and back with regards to these tests... Nonetheless, I've been collecting data from around the audio forums since early Dec 2012.

Since early December 2012, I've opened up a survey to see if music lovers & "audiophiles" around the world can tell the difference between high bitrate ~320kbps MP3 against the original un-lossy-compressed CD audio. I'm only planning to collect data until the end of January 2013.

So far, I have >70 responses from around the world with 5 continents represented. Folks have been using everything from inexpensive (but good) headphones to megabuck separates >$50K for this. There's 2 weeks left so if you've ever been curious about participating in a blind test or just want to add to the dataset, here's your chance :-).

The "test" is relatively simple and consists of 3 musical passages encoded as "Set A" vs. the same songs "Set B"; one of which was MP3 encoded.

Come to my blog to download the music and fill out the survey:
Archimago's Musings

Thanks and have a wonderful 2013!

OOps - the title should have read 'ends Jan 31'... [fixed]

This post has been edited by db1989: Jan 15 2013, 21:16
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Archimago
post Feb 3 2013, 07:57
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Hang on guys, you're perhaps misinterpreting the test and jumping to conclusions...

This was TRUE LOSSLESS vs. DOUBLE MP3 (free-form LAME) encoding so I could retain the full spectrum and have the MP3 set NOT look like the standard "easy to identify" MP3 spectrum.

Of course people could look at the spectrum while testing, there's no way I can control that EXCEPT by masking it with turning off the lowpass filter, but I could not do that and have the spectrum "look right" unless I went slightly above 320kbps - hence the double pass so I could get the "error" within the 320kbps level.

Even with the double LAME compression passes, people still thought the MP3 sounded better than lossless! As the report shows, those using >$6000 gear got it even more wrong than those using <$500.

Is it because those owning >$6000 gear were older and had bad hearing? Who knows, but the point was that I wondered if MP3 was really that atrocious compared to lossless as many claim (I know you guys here generally do not believe this). Clearly even running the music through 2 psychoacoustic passes with all the horrors of smearing, and hindering the algorithm further with turning off the lowpass filter, it was undetectable and in fact more respondents PREFERRED it.

An ABX methodology with a test like this would not be practical on a large scale IMO and doomed for multiple reasons.

No, I did not register just to solicit subjects... Been reading here for years in fact, so wanted to have some input from some of the folks here whom I honestly highly respect. If you haven't seen the results I suggest having a gander.

This post has been edited by Archimago: Feb 3 2013, 08:42
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Kohlrabi
post Feb 3 2013, 16:56
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QUOTE (Archimago @ Feb 3 2013, 07:57) *
This was TRUE LOSSLESS vs. DOUBLE MP3 (free-form LAME) encoding so I could retain the full spectrum and have the MP3 set NOT look like the standard "easy to identify" MP3 spectrum.

Of course people could look at the spectrum while testing, there's no way I can control that EXCEPT by masking it with turning off the lowpass filter, but I could not do that and have the spectrum "look right" unless I went slightly above 320kbps - hence the double pass so I could get the "error" within the 320kbps level.
I will be glad the day when everybody accepts that MP3 encoding is more than just a lowpass. By obsessing over the lowpass of LAME you destroyed everything else that makes LAME a good lossy encoder, like the psychoacoustic model.

QUOTE (Archimago @ Feb 3 2013, 07:57) *
Even with the double LAME compression passes, people still thought the MP3 sounded better than lossless! As the report shows, those using >$6000 gear got it even more wrong than those using <$500.
I always assumed those overpaying audiofools had bad hearing, thanks for showing at least that. biggrin.gif

QUOTE (Archimago @ Feb 3 2013, 07:57) *
Is it because those owning >$6000 gear [...] had bad hearing?
Well, this might be the only real outcome of this test, if any.

This post has been edited by Kohlrabi: Feb 3 2013, 16:56


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Posts in this topic
- Archimago   High Bitrate ~320kbps MP3 vs. Lossless audio   Jan 15 2013, 21:11
- - pdq   Just out of curiosity, which forums have you been ...   Jan 15 2013, 21:31
|- - krabapple   QUOTE (pdq @ Jan 15 2013, 15:31) Just out...   Jan 16 2013, 09:02
- - Destroid   QUOTE I've opened up a survey to see if music ...   Jan 16 2013, 12:02
|- - db1989   QUOTE (Destroid @ Jan 16 2013, 11:02) 1. ...   Jan 16 2013, 13:00
- - Destroid   Ok, thanks for catching my rash assumption. So, I...   Jan 16 2013, 13:34
|- - DonP   QUOTE (Destroid @ Jan 16 2013, 07:34) My ...   Jan 16 2013, 14:50
- - Kohlrabi   Reading the test description one flaw seems to be ...   Jan 16 2013, 13:57
|- - DonP   QUOTE (Kohlrabi @ Jan 16 2013, 07:57) Som...   Jan 16 2013, 16:39
||- - Archimago   QUOTE (DonP @ Jan 16 2013, 07:39) QUOTE (...   Jan 20 2013, 01:08
|- - Archimago   QUOTE (Kohlrabi @ Jan 16 2013, 04:57) Rea...   Jan 20 2013, 01:11
- - pdq   There is a further problem. Suppose that a listene...   Jan 16 2013, 14:40
- - 2Bdecided   I'm sure there are examples of 320kbps mp3s be...   Jan 16 2013, 16:00
- - testyou   I'm going to decline your invitation Archimago...   Jan 17 2013, 04:28
|- - Archimago   QUOTE (testyou @ Jan 16 2013, 19:28) I...   Jan 20 2013, 00:57
- - Archimago   FINAL CALL! Closes next week. So far 124 resp...   Jan 25 2013, 21:10
- - Archimago   Study complete! Total respondents - 151. Fol...   Feb 1 2013, 22:39
- - C.R.Helmrich   From your blog: QUOTE This utilizes LAME's ...   Feb 2 2013, 18:07
- - greynol   Wow, I can't believe I once had this topic in ...   Feb 2 2013, 18:14
- - Kohlrabi   I (and others) did question the approach before th...   Feb 2 2013, 20:07
- - greynol   It's pretty obvious the OP registered here onl...   Feb 2 2013, 20:16
- - Archimago   Hang on guys, you're perhaps misinterpreting t...   Feb 3 2013, 07:57
|- - Canar   QUOTE (Archimago @ Feb 2 2013, 22:57) An ...   Feb 3 2013, 08:40
||- - Archimago   QUOTE (Canar @ Feb 2 2013, 23:40) QUOTE (...   Feb 3 2013, 08:54
||- - C.R.Helmrich   Fair enough, given that you apparently didn't ...   Feb 3 2013, 16:01
||- - Archimago   QUOTE (C.R.Helmrich @ Feb 3 2013, 07:01) ...   Feb 3 2013, 17:32
||- - C.R.Helmrich   QUOTE (Archimago @ Feb 3 2013, 17:32) The...   Feb 3 2013, 20:48
||- - Archimago   QUOTE (C.R.Helmrich @ Feb 3 2013, 11:48) ...   Feb 3 2013, 23:56
|- - Kohlrabi   QUOTE (Archimago @ Feb 3 2013, 07:57) Thi...   Feb 3 2013, 16:56
|- - Archimago   QUOTE (Kohlrabi @ Feb 3 2013, 07:56) QUOT...   Feb 3 2013, 17:37
- - db1989   I question whether some factor related to the spec...   Feb 3 2013, 19:05
- - Dynamic   It's always going to be tough to let people lo...   Feb 4 2013, 11:48
- - Archimago   Thanks for the eloquent response Dynamic. Would y...   Feb 5 2013, 01:38


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