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Can -q2 really be "almost" transparent?
post Mar 18 2010, 15:57
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I'm sitting here listening to some -q2 encoded Vorbis (using aoTuv Beta 5.7; nominal bitrate 96 kbps) and, after thinking for years and years that nothing below 128 kbps could possibly sound decent on any codec (based on listening to MP3, WMA and AAC) I amazingly find that I can't reliably ABX it from the original FLACs. I can ABX some samples, but the artifacts are really, really minute things that I would never pick up in more casual listening and there are plenty of samples that I can't ABX at -q2 that I can ABX at substantially higher bitrates with other codecs. Therefore, I call -q2 "almost" transparent.

Have others had this experience or does my hearing or equipment just suck? Also, has anyone ever seen any other codec besides aoTuv that gets even remotely close to transparency in the ~96 kbps area? I'm not aware of any, which is why I'm so shocked by these results.
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post Mar 18 2010, 16:07
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Depends a lot on the person, more than the equipment. Maybe your hearing sucks. But aoTuv 5.7 is pretty good, too.
To judge the "best" codec overall, you need listening tests with a large sample of listeners. The codec that performs the best overall probably will not sound the best to all listeners.
Different codecs produce somewhat different artifacts, and people aren't all sensitive to the same artifact.

So, since we're talking about you and your hearing here, I'd be interested how well you can ABX aac files at a similar bitrate. Or even mp3...

God kills a kitten every time you encode with CBR 320
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