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Lossless vs 320kbps vs 256kbps, Moderation: no actual ABX results to see here.
post Nov 17 2011, 12:22
Post #1

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Joined: 17-November 11
Member No.: 95228

Hello everyone and thanks for making this forum what it is, I think the best audio forum in the world.

This is my first post here and I'm a little bit concerned about my ABX blind test results. I currently have over 6 TB of music, mostly FLAC and mp3 at 320kbps, but I also have some rips at 192 or below.

Now I want to standardize my whole collection and see if I can save a lot of Hard disk space or if I need to get better rips for part of my collection, etc. So, after some very interesting reading here, I decided to perform my own set of ABX blind tests, downloading foobar2000 and the ABX plugin.

Of course for some simple songs I can't tell any difference even between FLAC and 128 kbps, but I want a standard for my whole collection, including a lot of classical and progressive rock, so I need to find a bitrate that ensures me that I will ALWAYS have the best quality I can hear.

I tried the test first with Camarillo Brillo (by Frank Zappa), which I think it's a very good song for this test, because at the very beginning, after only 4 seconds, there is a kind of rattlesnake (sorry, I don't know the name of the instrument), which sounds definitely different at every bitrate. I encourage everybody to use this song for testing, as it makes it very quick.

Now, my results:
FLAC vs 256: I can always tell the difference, 10 out ot 10 times.
but here's the strange thing:
FLAC vs 320: Not clear
320 vs 256: Not clear.

¿Does this make any sense to you?
And if so, ¿Which is the bitrate I should stick to for my whole collection?

Thank you in advance for any help.

Regards from Spain,
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post Nov 18 2011, 01:34
Post #2

Group: Members
Posts: 7
Joined: 17-November 11
Member No.: 95228

Thank you all for your answers.
The thread is becoming increasingly more and more interesting for me!
Now I find my first original question makes less sense, at least at this time, and instead there's some new questions that arise before I can proceed any further.

I ripped my collection of original CDs ages ago, encoded them to FLAC and never worried about them any more. I don't like the Optical Disc-Laser Lens system for playing back anything, since I got a lot of them scratched, and also my room full with thousands of CDs and DVDs, so at some point I decided to rip them all and keep them stored in hard disks, both movies (as mkv) and audio (as FLAC).

I think I used foobar at that time, but here is my first new question: If all lossless formats are what they claim, i.e., lossless, ¿What is the difference if you use one ripper or the other, or one output format or the other (wav, ape or flac), aren't they all exactly the same?

Also some hundreds of FLACS I've downloaded directly from the internet, I only checked that they were really lossless and error free, then added them to my collection, in the belief that they were indistinguishable from my original CD rips. ¿Aren't they? After all, I'm supposed to be able to rebuild the original CD from any of these sources, so ¿What's the difference between them?

Not to mix things, I mean always at the same 16 bit, 44.1 kHz, or whatever, same as in the original source. I have also downloaded some 24 bit 192 kHz rips, but I never could tell any difference (though I know, that's just me).

2.- TRANSCODING (From FLAC to mp3)
I need to transcode part of my collection from FLAC to mp3. Maybe a 1TB hard disk that I can play inside the car or anywhere else where a FLAC player is not available. I know that even 192 kbps or a decent VBR would be acceptable while driving, but anyway I would like learn how do the transcoding right, just in case.

From my first blind tests, I was surprised that I could tell a 256 kpbs mp3 from the FLACs, at all times (even with Bob Dylan or Janis Ian!). I know my hearing is way below the average, but all songs sounded so different. However, I could never tell the difference between the FLAC and the 320 kps mp3. Also a lowpass filter as low as 15 kHz seems to make no difference to my ears!

So here is my second new question: ¿Why is it a good or a bad idea to enable/disable the highpass and lowpass filters in Lame? ¿Something to do with harmonics and resonance? I couldn't tell any difference up till now, ever, but I would just like to learn and know more. TIA.
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Posts in this topic
- agatha1   Lossless vs 320kbps vs 256kbps   Nov 17 2011, 12:22
- - db1989   1. Moved to Listening Tests 2. Post test logs, ple...   Nov 17 2011, 12:29
|- - agatha1   Hi db1989, 1.- Thank you for moving my post to t...   Nov 17 2011, 12:53
- - Jillian   I think the answer is very clear, if you're ha...   Nov 17 2011, 14:57
- - shadowking   IMO stay around 224k and not more as there is extr...   Nov 17 2011, 14:58
- - mixminus1   @OP: What MP3 encoder, and what settings were used...   Nov 17 2011, 15:10
|- - agatha1   QUOTE (mixminus1 @ Nov 17 2011, 15:10) @O...   Nov 17 2011, 15:43
- - Northpack   You should compare 320kbps MP3 with variable bitra...   Nov 17 2011, 15:11
|- - db1989   QUOTE (Northpack @ Nov 17 2011, 14:11) Yo...   Nov 18 2011, 11:38
- - pdq   Yes, you should never disable highpass as quality ...   Nov 17 2011, 16:51
|- - agatha1   QUOTE (pdq @ Nov 17 2011, 16:51) Yes, you...   Nov 17 2011, 20:13
|- - kwanbis   QUOTE (agatha1 @ Nov 17 2011, 19:13) Can ...   Nov 17 2011, 22:10
|- - Soap   Let's fix the terminology here. I think it is...   Nov 17 2011, 22:28
- - pdq   Converting from one compressed format to another i...   Nov 17 2011, 20:30
- - astroidmist   Hard drive space is always getting cheaper (except...   Nov 18 2011, 00:34
- - agatha1   Thank you all for your answers. The thread is bec...   Nov 18 2011, 01:34
|- - kwanbis   If all lossless formats are what they claim, i.e.,...   Nov 18 2011, 04:00
- - pdq   All lossless formats are identical in quality. Whe...   Nov 18 2011, 04:07
- - Glenn Gundlach   I don't know what hard drives go for in Spain ...   Nov 18 2011, 05:35
- - agatha1   * For Glenn Guldlach and astroidmist: I agree wit...   Nov 18 2011, 11:40
|- - kwanbis   QUOTE (agatha1 @ Nov 18 2011, 10:40) Howe...   Nov 18 2011, 17:22
|- - greynol   QUOTE (agatha1 @ Nov 18 2011, 02:40) I...   Nov 18 2011, 19:02
|- - kotekzot   QUOTE (agatha1 @ Nov 18 2011, 14:40) I ag...   Dec 26 2011, 20:12
- - pdq   Indeed it is possible for a defect in hearing to m...   Nov 18 2011, 12:54
|- - Remedial Sound   QUOTE (pdq @ Nov 18 2011, 06:54) Indeed i...   Nov 18 2011, 17:50
- - db1989   And it would still be helpful to post the logs of ...   Nov 18 2011, 13:01
- - agatha1   Hello everyone again. I've been quite busy set...   Dec 1 2011, 06:09
- - halb27   Encoding with 256 kbps is so good that chance is c...   Dec 1 2011, 09:19

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