Bit-rates and encodes - What is transparent for you?

Discussion in 'Books, Music, TV & Movies' started by xist, Mar 28, 2012.

Mar 28, 2012
  1. xist
    OP

    Member xist ΚΑΤΑ ΤΟΝ ΔΑΙΜΟΝΑ ΕΑΥΤΟΥ

    Joined:
    Jul 14, 2008
    Messages:
    5,861
    Country:
    United Kingdom
    Playing around with LAME and my CD's, plus looking across some Bandcamp stuff i've downloaded in a quality i've chosen, i started wondering about which level of encoding is generally what people opt for (be it downloaded or converted from disc). I know many people opt for 320CBR for everything, and others V2 but have you actually done an ABX comparison? (blind listening test) Do you actually know that you can tell the difference between 320 and V0 for example? Or 320CBR and 224CBR? Given 192kbps is supposedly transparent (debatable but i've found it can be true), and that digital radio is often put out at 128kbps are you sure you can tell the difference? I invested silly money (in my terms) in a decent set of headphones (£150 or $expensive) and i'm positive that i can spot any artefacts that crop up in encodes but quality is something that's less clear. For me anything under 192 i can definitely spot as not transparent, and at 192kbps and up it depends on the genre of music itself and how "busy" it is. But then again there's that unknown psycho-somatic element involved....which is why the blind testing is so crucial.

    I'd thought about sticking a poll here with the various encoding qualities, but i'd rather know what you opt for and why than just the quality on it's own. Picking 320 because it's there, or V2 because it's Scene isn't really what i'm after unless you just can't be bothered looking for a specific rate and are happy with the first encode you find. Ideally i'd like to find some way to stick up a few samples for people to rank but my connection won't allow for that at the moment.....

    What bit-rate? Why? Can you definitely tell the difference and how have you tested and what is the quality difference?
     
  2. gifi4

    Member gifi4 How am I a 'New Member'?

    Joined:
    Apr 21, 2010
    Messages:
    2,352
    Location:
    Melbourne
    Country:
    Australia
    I don't mind the quality so long as it sounds good. I mean, what's the point of listening to one of your favourite songs if the version you have sounds like total crap?
     
  3. xist
    OP

    Member xist ΚΑΤΑ ΤΟΝ ΔΑΙΜΟΝΑ ΕΑΥΤΟΥ

    Joined:
    Jul 14, 2008
    Messages:
    5,861
    Country:
    United Kingdom
    Yes but what's your threshold? Do you just randomly find music and then just try the first thing you find? Do you ever encode your own CD's?
     
  4. Magsor

    Member Magsor I am watching you

    Joined:
    Dec 1, 2010
    Messages:
    959
    Location:
    Amos
    Country:
    Canada
    Mp3 is inefficient codec to today standards. I use 192 AAC to rip and reencode to 128 to my portable devices. MP3 was awesome when it came out (almost 20 years ago! ) but now its meh.
     
  5. CrimzonEyed

    Member CrimzonEyed GBAtemp's Assassin

    Joined:
    Sep 3, 2007
    Messages:
    2,486
    Location:
    The Shadows
    Country:
    Japan
    I always go with Flac *dodge incoming shit storm*
     
  6. xist
    OP

    Member xist ΚΑΤΑ ΤΟΝ ΔΑΙΜΟΝΑ ΕΑΥΤΟΥ

    Joined:
    Jul 14, 2008
    Messages:
    5,861
    Country:
    United Kingdom
    Whilst that's certainly true at lower bitrates, for the quality levels most people would opt for i'm guessing there's little to no difference in transparency. Also it depends entirely on the encoders you use - FAAC will produce worse samples than LAME 3.98.4.


    I'd guess that since most people go for 192 encodes the AAC vs MP3 point is moot and merely a company/hardware support issue.


    Yeah, i think that's overkill.....and that you really need to ABX some V0's or V2's (or even OGG).
     
  7. CrimzonEyed

    Member CrimzonEyed GBAtemp's Assassin

    Joined:
    Sep 3, 2007
    Messages:
    2,486
    Location:
    The Shadows
    Country:
    Japan
    It's only overkill if you have little harddrive space.
     
  8. xist
    OP

    Member xist ΚΑΤΑ ΤΟΝ ΔΑΙΜΟΝΑ ΕΑΥΤΟΥ

    Joined:
    Jul 14, 2008
    Messages:
    5,861
    Country:
    United Kingdom
    It's overkill if you can't tell the difference between a file that's a quarter of the size. Can you tell the difference? Doesn't your portable music player fill up immensely quickly if you're only using Lossless?
     
  9. CrimzonEyed

    Member CrimzonEyed GBAtemp's Assassin

    Joined:
    Sep 3, 2007
    Messages:
    2,486
    Location:
    The Shadows
    Country:
    Japan
    I do hear a slight difference, but mostly only with music that's busy, like rock music and other music with a lot of stuff going on.

    On my my phone, I only have 4 gigs of space, So I have to do with 320Kps mp3's/acc but still have pretty good sounds thanks to my music player (PowerAmp).

    Remember that hardware also matters, so if you use a old computer or a 10$ mp3 player the sound wont sound good no matter how high quality it is :P
     
  10. luke_c

    Member luke_c Big Boss

    Joined:
    Jun 16, 2008
    Messages:
    3,587
    Location:
    Land of England
    Country:
    United Kingdom
    I can tell the difference between FLAC and 180/320kbps but not between 180 and 320kbps, however I don't think the extra audio clarity warrants the increase in file size. I just use 320kbps normally because that's what most albums tend to be in now.
     
  11. xist
    OP

    Member xist ΚΑΤΑ ΤΟΝ ΔΑΙΜΟΝΑ ΕΑΥΤΟΥ

    Joined:
    Jul 14, 2008
    Messages:
    5,861
    Country:
    United Kingdom
    I've just done some ABX tests on this, and found that i (think) i can differentiate between Lossless and MP3 (i.e Lossless vs 320 and anything below...not tried V0 but i'll assume 320 covers it). Staggeringly i agree with luke that differentiating MP3 qualities becomes really tough at 192 and above, except on some exceptions (most tracks are the same).

    However, the difference between Lossless and even 192 for most things is if anything spatial for most of my tracks. Lossless feels bigger, more expansive, whilst MP3's feel more compressed. Occasional tinniness too but obviously that's more difficult to hear in really aggressive music.

    So what's this taught me? 192 is FAR better than i actually thought.

    Honestly, i really suggest everyone does their own ABX testing.
     
  12. zygie

    Member zygie GBAtemp Regular

    Joined:
    Apr 16, 2009
    Messages:
    180
    Country:
    Philippines
    I agree and I have 192 as my threshold, but it also gets pretty pointless pushing mp3s above 192. What you'll hear has mostly diminished returns and unless you have really accurate headphones (uncolored, flat frequency response studio monitors) won't be all that noticeable. You're still using mp3s, which essentially removes the outer edges of critical bands we hear closer together to save space. You'll always lose some of those frequencies in between even if you go for a higher bit rate.

    I always just use mp3s as a portable format... there's just too much ambient noise around outside and you'll have to be paying attention to your surroundings, which actually defeat the purpose of active listening to lossless music.
     
  13. MFDC12

    Member MFDC12 GBAtemp Advanced Fan

    Joined:
    Oct 12, 2007
    Messages:
    761
    Country:
    United States
    Not true/necessarily, I read an article a few years ago describing what's lost with compression in mp3, and some of the first things to go is bass. If you are listening to a bass heavy song you can definitely hear the difference between 192 vs 320 vs flac
    I can hear a huge different in flac vs 320 and 192, even on some cheap headphones, and on my laptop that produces a static noise in the headphones slot.
    I mean, it also depends on how the music is a) recorded b) mastered c) how it is encoded in the first place d) the source (vinyl vs cd). If it is something like standup comedy you aren't even going to notice much between a 192 kbps mp3 and a flac encode, maybe the voice seems kind of crisper. If you listen to something heavy in bass or something (let's take flobot's handlebars or pg. 99's by the fireplace in white) you will probably hear a difference
    A vinyl rip will probably sound lacking if not v0/320/flac
    And of course, it all depends on your hearing (everyone hears things differently) and/or equipment. also not very many portable devices support lossless anyways (at least FLAC), so I generally just make some 320 mp3s to upload.
     
  14. zygie

    Member zygie GBAtemp Regular

    Joined:
    Apr 16, 2009
    Messages:
    180
    Country:
    Philippines
    Yeah it's pretty much subjective when it comes down to it. I've had an instructor who never records above 24bit/48KHz because he can't hear the damn difference anyway. And as for myself, I'm not much of a bass head. And I agree with the bass/lows, and I'll append highs to that, just because our ears are tailored to hear 1~4KHz the most (range for speech) and we have less response for the lower and upper ends, so more bit rate/less compression definitely helps in hearing more out of those. Even if the stuff that goes are equal across the frequency ranges, we just hear less of those ranges.
     
  15. TehSkull

    Member TehSkull Living the life

    Joined:
    Nov 29, 2009
    Messages:
    2,700
    Location:
    Louisiana
    Country:
    United States
    With music I know well, I can tell a great deal of difference between low bitrates and high bitrates. However, to cut my library down, I rip everything in V0. Saves hard drive space while maintaining identical quality.

    For some select albums though, I stick to FLAC.
     
  16. yuyuyup

    Member yuyuyup GBAtemp Psycho!

    Joined:
    Apr 30, 2006
    Messages:
    3,300
    Location:
    USA MTN timezone
    Country:
    United States
    I may be a phile, but I aint no audiophile
     
  17. blainy

    Member blainy GBAtemp Fan

    Joined:
    Nov 1, 2008
    Messages:
    381
    Location:
    australia
    Country:
    Australia
    but that is above cd quality anyways...a cd is 16bit/44.1khz, bus that is beside the point in this argument..sampling rate is not equal to bit rate for playback, though it is somewhat related..

    "The sampling rate, sample rate, or sampling frequency (f_s) defines the number of samples per unit of time (usually seconds) taken from a continuous signal to make a discrete signal. "
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sampling_rate

    "n telecommunications and computing, bit rate (sometimes written bitrate, data rate or as a variable R[1]) is the number of bits that are conveyed or processed per unit of time.

    The bit rate is quantified using the bits per second (bit/s or bps) unit, often in conjunction with an SI prefix such as kilo- (kbit/s or kbps), mega- (Mbit/s or Mbps), giga- (Gbit/s or Gbps) or tera- (Tbit/s or Tbps). Note that, unlike many other computer-related units, 1 kbit/s is traditionally defined as 1,000-bit/s, not 1,024-bit/s, etc., also before 1999 when SI prefixes were introduced for units of information in the standard IEC 60027-2. Uppercase K as in Kbit/s or Kbps should never be used."
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bit_rate

     
  18. zygie

    Member zygie GBAtemp Regular

    Joined:
    Apr 16, 2009
    Messages:
    180
    Country:
    Philippines
    Yes, and while A/D is just one part of it, overall if you're trying to listen to something that never existed in the first place, then going higher for playback doesn't really make sense. In reference to the 24/48 thing, professionals may oversample the recordings so that when they downsample for printing to media, it has improved resolution than just sampling at the end rate to begin with.

    I may be wrong at some points so corrections are appreciated, but we digress.
     
  19. Wizerzak

    Member Wizerzak Because I'm a potato!

    Joined:
    May 30, 2010
    Messages:
    2,784
    Location:
    United Kingdom
    Country:
    United Kingdom
    I don't really care, but I can definitely tell the difference between 192 and 320, and I obviously much prefer listening to 320 (as a result, this is what my music collection consists mainly of).
     

Share This Page