MP3 encoding bitrates....how good are your ears? What's your standard choice?

xist

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Lots of people make decisions about the quality of MP3's they're happy with (in terms of bitrate) based upon an irrational sense of more is always better. And whilst more bits can be better, if you can't hear it (through it being out of your hearing range or you just "not" hearing it) then it's totally pointless to always opt for encodes beyond your best quality tolerance. Now people can ABX test for themselves but most of the time we don't bother and just trust a gut sense of our bitrate tolerance.

Now, we can't embed MP3's into the forum and streaming sites will generally give you a file size, so i've had to work out a method to create a test to cover 5 different bitrates that's accessible to everyone (which knowing my luck people will ignore and this will fail to serve any purpose...)

I've created a two and a half minute track of 5 samples encoded at different rates (ripped from CD to lossless PCM with EAC and then converted to MP3 with SoX). Listen to the clip (going back if necessary....each one starts after 29 seconds so if you just use 30 second jumps to skip between them you can compare your choices) and decide on an order of best to worst.

Ignore the wrapping...the tags are borked to preserve the different encodes.

Obviously listening hardware will determine how accurate you are so try to use your best headphones/speakers too. And it's two and a half minutes...just be aware that it'd be great if you didn't just stick in random answers. And please don't try to cheat...it's not a test of your "mad listening skills".

Grab the track here (it's not anything awful...)

http://www.mediafire.com/?h0bozv5ts2ajvuz

Listen, (Don't Cheat it's pointless...) then post your conclusions. Best at the top down to worst...e.g

Third clip (Best)
Fifth
First
Fourth
Second(Worst)

IF THAT'S TOO HARD JUST TELL US WHICH ONES YOU WOULD ACCEPT AND WHICH YOU'D REJECT!


Also stick in what bitrate you generally opt for in your MP3's!

When interest dies (please be later rather than sooner) i'll let you know exactly what bitrates were used.

Edit - Also i'll repeat myself.....please don't try to cheat...it serves no purpose and if anything you're cheating yourself.....
 

xist

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It's saying permission denied. That was fast.

Holy crap...29 seconds of a song...i really thought that was ok given that every youtube video we post has more music in it...i'll just have to think of something else...


Edit- i'm querying the takedown....falls under part 2 of http://www.royaltyfreemusic.com/public-domain/basic-rules-fair-use.html

I'm also not reuploading because if it turns out that this isn't fair use for "research" it's an honest mistake and i don't want to contravene any laws
 
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I generally like my music uncompressed (FLAC) and for my portably player I use mp3 320, would really like to try this
 

LinkFan16

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I always go with 320 kbps. I got so used to that over time that if I hear anything with a lower bitrate, I immediately recognize that something is missing.
 

xist

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you could post it on youtube , make it hidden , then share the link here

Youtube would compress the audio making the whole point moot.

What i'll do is wait for a reply from MF, and if they actually explain things i'll grab a free, non licensed song from Bandcamp and start over...
 

Tokiopop

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I've not done this particular test, but I've done some 'blind' testing myself between 320kbps mp3 audio and FLAC and I could tell the difference for 9 out of the 10 tracks. Without comparison I don't think I would notice though.

When it starts getting to 180kbps stuff I can almost always tell immediately without comparison to a higher bit-rate version of the same track.
 

xist

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When it starts getting to 180kbps stuff I can almost always tell immediately without comparison to a higher bit-rate version of the same track.

Mediafire have just replied saying they'll look into it so hopefully you'll get the chance to test your mettle. ;)
 

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Lots of people make decisions about the quality of MP3's they're happy with (in terms of bitrate) based upon an irrational sense of more is always better. And whilst more bits can be better, if you can't hear it (through it being out of your hearing range or you just "not" hearing it) then it's totally pointless to always opt for encodes beyond your best quality tolerance.

Whether or not you can tell a difference involves a lot of factors. Take for example, are you using quality speakers or headphone? Are you using quality sound card or external DAC? How is your source? How is your audio encoder? What settings did you use? etc...

It is true that higher bitrate means less data being discarded (better in a sense that it is close to original source). But if you have say cheap Logitech speaker using motherboard sound chip, chances are you won't be able to tell a difference.
 
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Gotta' love targeted ads.

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xist

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Mediafire haven't replied but it seems like they've decided i'm clear for what i've used. Listen to the 5 clips and be bored stimulated!
 

air2004

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1 sounds like its missing someting , kind of hollow
2 sounds like it has more bass
3 sounds like I hear more intruments
4 sounds like the right ballance between bass , and all instruments
5 sounds like 4
 

xist

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1 sounds like its missing someting , kind of hollow
2 sounds like it has more bass
3 sounds like I hear more intruments
4 sounds like the right ballance between bass , and all instruments
5 sounds like 4


That's great and everything but which are you happy with the encode quality and which would you reject as not good enough?


Whether or not you can tell a difference involves a lot of factors. Take for example, are you using quality speakers or headphone? Are you using quality sound card or external DAC? How is your source? How is your audio encoder? What settings did you use? etc...

It is true that higher bitrate means less data being discarded (better in a sense that it is close to original source). But if you have say cheap Logitech speaker using motherboard sound chip, chances are you won't be able to tell a difference.

I do mention that it's hardware related in the first post when i suggest that your best (or just your regular) listening set-up is used. It seemed redundant mentioning every different element as i can count the number of people i know with an external DAC on one hand (excluding myself!) As for the encoder, for this test we're assessing MP3, the most common format and that being the case i've opted for the most recent LAME binary (which has no history of regressions and should be ideal). The encoder choice you have to view as optimal so it's primarily about if you're ripping your own music then what bitrate would you be happy with?
 

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Okay, so here's mine. I usually use 320 kbit/s (but nothing beats a good vinyl!)
best: fourth
third
fifth
first
worst: second

And I'd accept everyone of these to be honest... But if I were to choose, I'd reject the bottom two.
 
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