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Kids increasingly prefer MP3 to superior formats

Kids increasingly prefer MP3 to superior formats

Dougherty likens kids who prefer MP3s to those who prefer vinyl to CD, saying that it might not be so much about quality as familiarity.

Although many hi-fi aficionados see the ubiquity of lossy music compression as a backwards step in the progress of audio technology, it looks as though the younger generations are not only embracing its convenience, but also stating a preference for the sound of compressed music.

O’Reilly blogger Dale Dougherty recently attended the Information Technology and the Public Good event at the American Academy of Arts & Sciences, where one of the speakers was Stanford University’s professor of music, Jonathan Berger.

According to Dougherty, Berger described a test he performs each year with his new students. In the test, the students have to listen to a variety of recordings that span several compression formats from MP3 upwards, and then state which one they preferred.

According to Berger, the preference for MP3 files rises every year, explaining that the next generation prefers the “sizzle sounds” of MP3s because they’re familiar with them. Dougherty likens this to the preference for vinyl records among some people who grew up with the archaic discs, saying that it’s not necessarily down to a perception of higher quality as much as the fact that they’re used to that particular sound.

Audiophiles like the “sound artifacts of vinyl records – the crackles of that format,” says Dougherty, adding that it’s “familiar and comfortable to them, and maybe those affects became a fetish. Is it now becoming the same with iPod lovers?”

Are you a pure vinyl lover or are you happy enough with an MP3 jukebox? What’s your music compression format of choice? Share your audio preferences in the forums.

Via Engadget

63 Comments

Discuss in the forums Reply
Krikkit 9th March 2009, 14:10 Quote
I must fall into a fairly unique part of the audio lover then - as lossless and as pure as is practically possible, whatever the medium.
p3n 9th March 2009, 14:11 Quote
I rip my CDs to mp3 @ 320 kbps, I can't tell the difference between that and the CD itself - then again im pretty much always doing something whilst listening to music, just the music = sleep for me :p
steveo_mcg 9th March 2009, 14:11 Quote
I like many put up with mp3 for its convenience but i shudder to think of people who prefer it... Would have Mister_Tad turning in his grave (were he dead)
Jamie 9th March 2009, 14:22 Quote
Lossy MP3 is only popular because net connections are slow, portable media players have limited storage capacity and MP3 is the best supported file format.

I would quite happily use more FLAC if iTunes/iPod could play it out of the box and there was somewhere to buy albums in that format.
_DTM2000_ 9th March 2009, 14:24 Quote
One of the many reasons children should be seen and not heard.
This does bring up some interesting ideas. While most of my childhood music and video enjoyment was spent with cassette tapes, VHS and to a lesser extent vinyl, I much prefer the sound or picture quality of CD's and DVD's as that's what most of my now favourite music and video were purchased on once I was old enough to start buying things for my self. Looking to the future, it seems that only picture quality is being catered for with Blu-Ray etc. New high def music formats like DVD-A and SACD have been largely ignored by the public. I think the reason for this is that CD's are good enough for most people. That doesn't bother me so much but it does bother me that music quality is now swiftly moving backwards. I now seriously worry that in a few years no new music will be available in high quality uncompressed formats. On the bright side, things like this seem to work in cycles and in the same way that valves have experienced a renaissance in recent years, I can only hope that some time in the near future the same will happen with uncompressed high quality recordings.
naokaji 9th March 2009, 14:25 Quote
Quote:
increasingly
?

Have they ever used something else?
Vash-HT 9th March 2009, 14:25 Quote
I use FLAC for everything nowadays, MP3's are fine for headphones but if you have a decent stereo at home I think its worth the extra space to rip CD's as a lossless format.
RTT 9th March 2009, 14:28 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by the article
Audiophiles like the “sound artifacts of vinyl records – the crackles of that format,” says Dougherty, adding that it’s “familiar and comfortable to them, and maybe those affects became a fetish. Is it now becoming the same with iPod lovers?”

Effects :)
chrisb2e9 9th March 2009, 14:38 Quote
I play mp3's through my car speakers and the quality is fine with me. why would I switch to something else if there just isn't a need? I'm even still using my old old old soundblaster audigy.
Bauul 9th March 2009, 14:41 Quote
320Kbps MP3 is fine for 99% of times I've ever listened to music, and it's universal compatability and total transparency trump any tiny increase in sound quality in my opinion. I'm no audiophile, but neither are 99% of people. And as such, realistically, good quality MP3 will no doubt be the preference of 99% of people eventually.
Jenny_Y8S 9th March 2009, 14:47 Quote
I can hear the difference and I still rip to MP3, it's easier and will 'always' be compatible.

And it's 'good enough'

I have my CDs and I have my rips. Do I ever listen to the CDs to get better quality? Nope.

It's funny, I was selling hi-fis when the first compressed music hardware came mainstream (minidisc + ATRAC) and there was all this talk about how inferior it was when really you couldn't tell. And it's MP3s that became mainstream and the quality can be terrible.

It's got so bad then sometimes you can hear bad MP3 rips when listening to FM radio, tracks recorded at what must be 64kbps

And I still rip to MP3, 256 variable is good enough for me.
Veles 9th March 2009, 15:08 Quote
I think he missed the nail and hit his thumb with this one.

Kids prefer mp3s for the same reason they prefer iPods, they're popular and that's all they really know of. And to be honest, with the shitty speakers and headphones most people have (myself included), it's incredibly difficult to tell the difference between formats unless you have a really good ear.

Plus isn't vinyl actually supposed to be superior to CDs (when they're nice and fresh that is).
steveo_mcg 9th March 2009, 15:14 Quote
I find vinyl has a much richer sound but i'm not so sure on "superiour" suppose its the same with cd's versus hq mp3.

For the record i'm no audiophile and only have fairly cheap hifi but ever with that there is a noticeable difference between mp3 and CD though some of my mp3 are quite old and sound really bad.
arcticstoat 9th March 2009, 15:24 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by RTT
Quote:
Originally Posted by the article
Audiophiles like the “sound artifacts of vinyl records – the crackles of that format,” says Dougherty, adding that it’s “familiar and comfortable to them, and maybe those affects became a fetish. Is it now becoming the same with iPod lovers?”

Effects :)

Yep, that's his word, not ours!
Fod 9th March 2009, 15:25 Quote
uh oh. did someone just suggest that vinyl is inferior to CD?
*waits for crazy dom*
i for one, like CDs, and FLAC.
Quote:
Originally Posted by Jenny_Y8S
I can hear the difference and I still rip to MP3, it's easier and will 'always' be compatible.

And it's 'good enough'

I have my CDs and I have my rips. Do I ever listen to the CDs to get better quality? Nope.
do what i do and rip simultaneously to FLAC and MP3. dbpoweramp allows for simultaneous file format ripping - it's just a case of setting it up and after that it's no different to a normal rip process. this lets me use FLAC for my squeezebox network and mp3 for my portable players and car. best of both worlds. space overheads aren't much more than having a FLAC collection, and space is ubdercheap for music nowadays, so why not?

this way if mp3 ever DOES get obsolete, i can just bulk convert the FLAC files, without having to go through the epic effort of re-ripping my CDs.
wafflesomd 9th March 2009, 15:27 Quote
I personally hate vinyl. It's a horrible medium.

Size, sound quality, production. They're all pretty bad compared to other standards today. I'll occasionally get an offer to provide sound for raves. Stupid DJ's bring in vinyls. Yuck.
Goty 9th March 2009, 15:29 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by Jamie
Lossy MP3 is only popular because net connections are slow, portable media players have limited storage capacity and MP3 is the best supported file format.

I would quite happily use more FLAC if iTunes/iPod could play it out of the box and there was somewhere to buy albums in that format.

You should check out ALAC (Apple's version of FLAC). It's nearly identical in quality, but it's supported on Apple hardware.
Skiddywinks 9th March 2009, 15:31 Quote
I only ever use MP3, and as mentioned, the main reason is ease. They take up less space, are compatible with everything under the sun, and the sound quality, though not amazing, is far from bad.

If FLAC saw more widespread use and ran out of the box with everything, then I can see it also becoming much more popular.
arcticstoat 9th March 2009, 15:33 Quote
I'll give my two cents here - most of my music is on vinyl, not because I think it sounds better, but because I prefer the sound. I actually find the crackles and pops annoying, but the sound of my records through my Cambridge Audio 640P pre-amp just sounds so gorgeously full and rich, plus you get nice big sleeves and cover art with vinyl, and you can guarantee that it will never have any DRM.

I also went to the trouble of recording all my vinyl and creating a lossless archive on my media PC, which is hooked up to the stereo and is great for convenience and random play, but I still play the original records if I want to play an album. I've also created a 256Kb/sec archive of all of my records and CDs that I use for my MP3 player and my PC upstairs - they don't sound bad, and you can't tell the difference when you're on the train anyway. Basically, I have a mix of everything for different situations.
cpemma 9th March 2009, 15:36 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by steveo_mcg
I like many put up with mp3 for its convenience but i shudder to think of people who prefer it...
So many people lump all MP3 in the same boat, whatever the bitrate, usually with a snobby comment added ("i shudder to think").

There's a world of difference between iTunes' 112kbps and a home-ripped 192VBR or higher. For me, the biggest difference in sound is headphones v speakers, not MP3 v CD.
steveo_mcg 9th March 2009, 15:47 Quote
I think your missing the prefer, mp3 is fine but not better even to my luddite ears. Yes even high bit rate is still inferior though the difference becomes less noticeable.
perplekks45 9th March 2009, 16:00 Quote
I think my lowest quality MP3 is 192 kbps. And I don't really hear a difference when I compare them to my FLAC or SACD stuff. Maybe it's bad hardware, maybe my ears, maybe ignorance. I don't care. I'd go for FLAC only because I KNOW it's better [though I can't hear it] but without support [from Apple that is... my Touch just won't play it] and the possibility to convert from FLAC to ALAC easily on a PC I'll stick to my MP3s. Although I might give Foobar a try...
zimbloggy 9th March 2009, 16:50 Quote
I prefer .mp3 because it is universal. After 160 kbps, I can't really tell a difference.
Nicb 9th March 2009, 16:55 Quote
I have an Ipod for the car, so I have to use Mp3s to play music on it. I use Magic Video Converter to convert CD or Wav. files to MP3. It does video and music despite the name. It has different option quality's I choose "Studio Quality" my Mp3s are the size of 7mb or larger but sound much better. I defiantly can hear the difference and at least try to obtain the highest quality Mp3 if it must be in that format.
[USRF]Obiwan 9th March 2009, 17:04 Quote
Kids like mp3 because they can fit a few thousand songs on a few gig stick. Besides most kids are partly deaf anyway so they do not hear any 'subtle' differences in quality anyway. And audiogoofs with 40.000 euro speakers and a 20.000 euro sacd player are stupid people who are thinking they hear the difference but in the end they are just as def as the rest of us by the time they reach 40 because our hearing degrades over time, and this effect is speed up if you listen to music, watch tv, driving your car, sounds at work and all other things that make sound louder the whispering. There goes their 70.000 euro subtile hearing aid audio system...
Rocket_Knight64 9th March 2009, 17:06 Quote
When ripping from CD's i always use FLAC. Its not as if storage is much of an issue nowdays. On my setup you can notice a difference between then two (but less so with high rate mp3).

But it is a pain that no PMP's that i know of support it and converting is a hassle. If apple were to support it on the ipod rather then thier own fomat (again) i could see it taking of. Again, it would be more for the sake of conveniance then the quality as would you care sitting on a train?
Shuriken 9th March 2009, 17:12 Quote
I do find audiophiles rather amusing, especially when I refer them to this classic: read the last couple of paragraphs

I listen to 320kbps MP3s through my E-MU 1616m audio interface (which has pro-tools D/A converters) and Samson resolv65a studio monitors (near flat frequency response), and balanced cabling throughout. Can I hear a difference between the MP3's and CD's? Hell no, and I have pretty good ears, even if I do say so myself.

Granted, 96kbps MP3s will have some noticeable artefacts, but most of the difference is in peoples heads.

I also think it has a lot to do with the over-production of today's music, while I'm writing this I'm listening to Muse's Exo-Politics from CD (simply cause I haven't got round to ripping it yet) and I can hear the bass drum is clipping from over compression. When the original CD's have artefacts its no wonder people notice them on the MP3s.
GFC 9th March 2009, 17:16 Quote
I like my MP3's in well.. .mp3, why? - because i like listening to my music or podcasts (ehm.. why bit-tech doesn't have one? i'd like to listen to it) on my mp3 player (yes, not ipod, i know i'm weird), also it's a lot smaller, if you have a big collection of your music in mp3, i can just imagine how big it would be on flac.
lp1988 9th March 2009, 18:08 Quote
Ind the en many of these kids run araund using some crap speakers anyway, that is where they should focus at first, you can use the bedst formats, but if you are using some 5£ speakers. I used to use my labtop until I got a logitech 230 2,1 and since then I have asked myself why I let my beloved music be played on a labtop.
Trefarm 9th March 2009, 18:57 Quote
... I'd say that another point some people are missing is what kind of music do you listen too? what's it's freq range?
Music that is heavily produced/layered would sound nasty at 192... but a simple Pop song would be fine.
Slyr7.62 9th March 2009, 19:33 Quote
I don't prefer MP3 over other formats, but I prefer a song to be @ least 128kb/s. Also, sometimes I need to burn CD's in WMA, because certain older stereos won't play MP3's.
ZERO <ibis> 9th March 2009, 19:53 Quote
I never really thought there was a big difference until I got some DT-990s now I am trying to get everything I can in FLAC or the highest bitrate possible.

An issue with asking people about what sounds better is also how the changes effect the particular song. When I played a song for my sister she loved the crap version on the 30 eyar old $2 headphones over the flac version on the DT-990s with an upgraded little dot micro MK1. When I pressed to find out how this could be so it was actually the fact that it did sound better on the HI-FI setup as why she did not like it. In the high end setup the trumpets were much more crisp and noticeable, my sister did not like that and preferred the low quality one where it was harder to hear the sounds she did not like.

If you asked a class every year what the best game ever made was do you think they would provide a realistic view of gaming. NO, they would all say halo and you would cry yourself to sleep that night...
perplekks45 9th March 2009, 19:59 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by ZERO <ibis>
If you asked a class every year what the best game ever made was do you think they would provide a realistic view of gaming. NO, they would all say halo and you would cry yourself to sleep that night...
QFT!
knutjb 9th March 2009, 20:21 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by Shuriken
I do find audiophiles rather amusing, especially when I refer them to this classic: read the last couple of paragraphs

I listen to 320kbps MP3s through my E-MU 1616m audio interface (which has pro-tools D/A converters) and Samson resolv65a studio monitors (near flat frequency response), and balanced cabling throughout. Can I hear a difference between the MP3's and CD's? Hell no, and I have pretty good ears, even if I do say so myself.

Granted, 96kbps MP3s will have some noticeable artefacts, but most of the difference is in peoples heads.

I also think it has a lot to do with the over-production of today's music, while I'm writing this I'm listening to Muse's Exo-Politics from CD (simply cause I haven't got round to ripping it yet) and I can hear the bass drum is clipping from over compression. When the original CD's have artefacts its no wonder people notice them on the MP3s.


I read the article and that ABX method is terribly flawed. A group hearing unfamiliar music on an unfamiliar system has no memory base line to compare good and bad. Listening is a skill learned through comparing familiar sounds stored in our memory and like athletes some are better at it than others. The same can be said for kids. MP3s flaws and lossy/heavily compressed audio in general, regardless of format, is through omission of detail. This is hard to pin down because if you haven’t heard the original how do you know what’s missing. Vinyl’s biggest flaw is additive noise. Most, not all, pop music is over processed and mixed to sound best on radio and is lacking detail to begin with. I have been working with my kids on how to listen. Sounds weird but you learn to read, write, etc… you must learn how to listen effectively too. I can hear the difference between cd’s and mp3’s on modestly priced equipment because I know what’s missing, I have a base line to work from. Another problem with kids is many have be using ear buds at excessive volume which has fried their ears. Unfortunately hearing loss is permanent and hearing aids are not like glasses they only amplify frequencies in which the wearer is deficient in. When the whole body is in a loud noise area for a while it fatigues quickly with or with hearing protection, headphones do their damage fairly quick and don’t impact the rest of the body so dramatically. At least where I have lived neighbors tend to keep loudspeaker volumes down but won’t hear overly loud headphones unless sitting next to them.
Spiny 9th March 2009, 20:49 Quote
Anyone who says mp3 isn't worth using is talking crock. Now, you may have to use a higher bit rate for the same quality as some of the newer fancy pants codecs, but there's nothing intrinsically wrong with it.

MP3 has one thing none of the other formats have. Portability. It'll play just about anywhere. PC, DVD player, all consoles, iPods, car stereos etc. Something which can't be said of FLAC, AAC, Apple lossless etc.
Vash-HT 9th March 2009, 21:01 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by Rocket_Knight64
When ripping from CD's i always use FLAC. Its not as if storage is much of an issue nowdays. On my setup you can notice a difference between then two (but less so with high rate mp3).

But it is a pain that no PMP's that i know of support it and converting is a hassle. If apple were to support it on the ipod rather then thier own fomat (again) i could see it taking of. Again, it would be more for the sake of conveniance then the quality as would you care sitting on a train?

Cowon players support FLAC, I have a Cowon D2, really sweet little player that supports a ton of formats. I think their newer PMP O2 or something supports it too.
Shuriken 9th March 2009, 21:17 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by knutjb
I read the article and that ABX method is terribly flawed. A group hearing unfamiliar music on an unfamiliar system has no memory base line to compare good and bad.

It's not flawed, that's the entire point of the experiment, the listeners hear the piece of music through different wires (or coat hangers) having never previously heard it and they say which they think sounded better, how is that flawed?

The point I was trying to make is ears cannot be as good as audiophiles like to think, like human ears cannot differentiate between tones that are different by less than 5 cents.

You said it yourself, you know what's missing, isn't possible you're noticing these differences simply because you expect them to be there.

I know that mathematically there is a difference between a 320kbps MP3 and CD, but that doesn't mean human ears can actually hear the difference.

Have you ever listened to music at 24bit 96khz uncompressed? Nine Inch Nails released The Slip in this format as well as the standard 16bit 44.1khz, and again, I really couldn't tell the difference between the two using all my pro studio equipment.
The_Beast 9th March 2009, 21:36 Quote
I think it's good enough for the stock speakers in my car/office so I'll settle for MP3
Rocket_Knight64 9th March 2009, 21:40 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by Vash-HT
Cowon players support FLAC, I have a Cowon D2, really sweet little player that supports a ton of formats. I think their newer PMP O2 or something supports it too.

Whoo! I'll be on the hunt for one of them then. Thanks!
itazura 10th March 2009, 00:22 Quote
i've never gotten this. as long as it's a decent quality rip (192 or over) i'm not too fussed, as i really can't tell the difference.
notatoad 10th March 2009, 01:17 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by GFC
also it's a lot smaller, if you have a big collection of your music in mp3, i can just imagine how big it would be on flac.

a 500GB drive costs the same as a couple of CDs, if your collection gets too big just buy another hard drive. it's worth it to have proper backups of something that comes in a format as easily destroyable as a CD.

i rip (and download) in flac wherever possible, but that is more about having a lossless copy than it is about sound quality. i can't hear a difference between ogg Q8 or mp3 V0 or flac, but i can hear the pain in lossy->lossy transcodes. if i have a flac copy, i can transcode to whatever format i need it to be in without screwing up the sound.

also, i like that flac is an open format. i don't like to keep data in closed formats.
Elton 10th March 2009, 01:41 Quote
The lowest I could have is 192, granted some of it's 128 only because I lack the Original Source.

I think It's Absurd that people even accept anything below 192, I mean I like having a lot of music but if there's a huge compromise in quality forget it.
ZERO <ibis> 10th March 2009, 02:09 Quote
Actually the human ear is as good as they think, it is the human mind that is the issue. A sometimes simplistic device that is easily fooled and distracted, it also has the flaw of poor memory. The mind learns only though repetitions and has problems remembering things in detail, even things that just took place. Ever play that child game where you try to tell a story from one person to the next, what a joke our simplistic minds are! If the mind can not remember what just occurred it is an unreliable base for comparing raw data, because of this flaw the human mind can only competently compare things of which it has extraordinary familiarity with.

That is what is wrong with the method, the human brain...
Neogumbercules 10th March 2009, 02:12 Quote
I use MP3's mainly as a matter of convenience. Lossless audio formats are great if you're crazy about having the utmost quality and spent large amounts of money on your gear, but like bauul said, 99% of the people out there aren't gonna notice or care about the difference between MP3 and FLAC.

MP3 is compatible with my toaster, can be found anywhere, have a moderate file size (I prefer high quality MP3 when I can find them), easily recognized and transferred from anything to anything and works on my Zune.

FLAC or other lossless formats are obviously superior in terms of quality but they won't work on my Zune and my shitty car speakers won't do them justice anyway.

This is like comparing a Ferrari to a Honda.
leexgx 10th March 2009, 03:03 Quote
every one knows that mp3s just work on any thing, FLAC does not

192 bit rate should be good for any one but expert audio setup (not an music buff or have many songs my self)
ZERO <ibis> 10th March 2009, 03:19 Quote
Yes except that in this case the Ferrari costs the same to a bit more instead of 10-100 times as much money....

25% of people think that the gov has its own money.... so yes in reality it is pretty easy to say that most will never know or care what is going onto there ears.
notatoad 10th March 2009, 04:22 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by leexgx
every one knows that mp3s just work on any thing, FLAC does not

my flac files play on ubuntu, my mp3s do not (until i download the ugly codecs).
Aragon Speed 10th March 2009, 04:39 Quote
I'm going to buck the trend here, I use neither FLAC or MP3, I use WMA.

I use the WMA Pro codec, and transcoding from CD I use 44.1 KHz, 24-bit (A little pointless from a 16-bit source I know, but there isn't a 16-bit option with the pro codec), at a bit rate of 440kbs. Using the pro codec I can also use a 2 pass encode.

At these settings I can't hear a difference between the transcode and the original source, where with certain pieces of music (not all, and usually classical is the most noticeable here) I can at 320kbs in MP3.

I like the idea of FLAC, but the file size is just a little to much for my tastes, so by encoding using WMA Pro I get a good balance of both sound quality and file size.

The down side of this for many people is the fact that WMA Pro is relatively unsupported outside of the PC world, but as I only listen to music on the PC (Using an Audigy2 ZS and a set of Sennheiser HD 515 headphones plugged straight in the back) this isn't a problem for me personally.
IanW 10th March 2009, 05:54 Quote
Personally, I believe the kiddies like MP3 due to its lack of support for DRM crippling.
ie. If I buy a track online, I want to be able to play it on ALL the PC's in my house AND my MP3 player AND in my car!
Pookeyhead 10th March 2009, 08:01 Quote
I've never had a problem with MP3. It's all down to how it's been encoded.

I've always used CDEX to rip CDs, which uses the LAME encoder. Set correctly it's absolutely fine.

Set as below, I can't tell the difference in blind tests.... however, the file size it produces is quite large... but who cares about that? It's still smaller than most lossless formats.

http://i16.photobucket.com/albums/b26/pookeyhead/cdexsettings.jpg
knutjb 10th March 2009, 09:11 Quote
It's not flawed, that's the entire point of the experiment, the listeners hear the piece of music through different wires (or coat hangers) having never previously heard it and they say which they think sounded better, how is that flawed?

The point I was trying to make is ears cannot be as good as audiophiles like to think, like human ears cannot differentiate between tones that are different by less than 5 cents.

You said it yourself, you know what's missing, isn't possible you're noticing these differences simply because you expect them to be there.

I know that mathematically there is a difference between a 320kbps MP3 and CD, but that doesn't mean human ears can actually hear the difference.

Have you ever listened to music at 24bit 96khz uncompressed? Nine Inch Nails released The Slip in this format as well as the standard 16bit 44.1khz, and again, I really couldn't tell the difference between the two using all my pro studio equipment.[/QUOTE]


You missed my point the ears are just like the eyes, they are transducers it's the brain that sees and listens so it can be trained. MP3s are a practical compression tool but when you start cutting out bits you remove detail. If you know what instruments are in a song on a cd and it's not there on your MP3. I expect them to be there because I know they are there on the original recording.
I have listened to 24/96 and I was blown away. I thought I had a string quartet playing in front of me and I could tell where each instrument was placed. What happens when you compress the music you remove data to shrink it. You also remove the spatial cues which the brain uses to compare with what and where it knows to be there. Try using a well recorded acoustic piece and listen to it for a week and then compress it. You should notice the difference. If you use your computer to listen, typically not the best source for careful listening, turn the digital volume all the way up since most crudely truncate the data stream to lower volume.

What you listen for on compressed music is what is missing, not what is there. Usually the music goes flat and lifeless. My kid noticed it when playing a zune and the original cd on the stereo. It matters to me but...

In the end what is important is that you are ejoying the music be it a silly money system or a boom box. What makes you happy...
mclean007 10th March 2009, 09:45 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by Goty
You should check out ALAC (Apple's version of FLAC). It's nearly identical in quality, but it's supported on Apple hardware.
Um.... it *IS* identical in quality - by definition both FLAC and Apple Lossless (and WMA lossless and APE etc. for that matter) compress the original audio file into a format that decompresses into an output stream that is mathematically identical to the original. Only differences are (a) compression efficiency, and (b) hardware / software player support.

The one caveat to this is that it relies on you having an accurate rip of the CD in the first place. iTunes and WMP are NOT good at this - they rip very quickly, but often erroneously. To guarantee perfect rips you need to use something like Exact Audio Copy (which double reads every sector and does some clever error detection), combined with the AccurateRip plugin that creates a checksum of your ripped file and cross-checks it against the checksums created by other users ripping the same track.
mclean007 10th March 2009, 09:57 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by Pookeyhead
I've never had a problem with MP3. It's all down to how it's been encoded.

I've always used CDEX to rip CDs, which uses the LAME encoder. Set correctly it's absolutely fine.

Set as below, I can't tell the difference in blind tests.... however, the file size it produces is quite large... but who cares about that? It's still smaller than most lossless formats.

http://i16.photobucket.com/albums/b26/pookeyhead/cdexsettings.jpg
Absolutely. 99.999% of "audiophiles" genuinely would be unable to tell a well compressed MP3 from the original CD or a lossless encode using top quality hi-fi kit, but they see "lossy" and automatically assume it must mean audible quality degradation, which simply isn't true, though they may very well "hear" it by placebo effect if they know they are listening to a lossy encode.

Don't get me wrong, for archival or for listening in the home, storage is now so cheap that you may as well rip new CDs to FLAC or another lossless codec, but there is really no case for taking the time to re-rip old CDs that are already on your PC as high quality VBR MP3s (i.e. LAME --alt-preset standard or --v2 or higher, or OGG Vorbis -q 6 or higher, or the equivalent in another respectable codec), and even with the ever increasing storage capacity of portable media players, you're still going to be better off with a larger collection of high quality lossy music than a smaller collection of lossless, as even using high quality cans there is not a dog in hell's chance you're going to hear the difference.
devdevil85 10th March 2009, 15:49 Quote
I rip 128Kbps Windows Pro v10 48Khz WMA's with 2-pass encoding. I have a decent Sony 5.1 surround sound system and I can't tell the difference between 320Kbps MP3's. Of course I do this because I wouldn't be able to fit all of my favorites onto my 40GB Zen Touch. I've been saving my MP3's lately just in case I want to play them on a nicer stereo (where I may be able to tell a difference) later down the road.

IMO, most kids download music in MP3 format and don't care what they do with it afterward. They don't understand or want to understand what other formats are out there.
Shuriken 10th March 2009, 16:02 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by knutjb
I have listened to 24/96 and I was blown away. I thought I had a string quartet playing in front of me and I could tell where each instrument was placed.

Now that IS flawed, the positioning in the stereo field is determined by having separate audio tracks for left and right channels, so no matter weather its a 64kbps MP3, CD or 24/96, everything is still gonna be separated in the stereo field (although the 64kbps MP3 will still sound shite)

Something no one has mentioned yet is dithering algorithms, and that does make a difference, just compare a 2 colour gif with and without dithering, you'll see how important it is, it's the reason a sound can be compressed with out a noticeable loss of quality.
Quote:
The mind learns only though repetitions and has problems remembering things in detail, even things that just took place.

Again, this isn't the point, they weren't trying to remember the exact piece of music each time, just the over all impression the music gave through the different wires. And those impressions can be remembered and compared.
DbD 10th March 2009, 17:42 Quote
I did a few tests - variable 128-320 lame encoded MP3 vs the original .WAV using my fairly good hifi setup. The mp3 sounded slightly more airy as sounds died away, other then that I couldn't really tell. It certainly didn't sound worse.

As for the future - it's MP3 downloads - that's all I buy now.

Interestingly that's not all bad for audiophiles who hate MP3. If the companies want to introduce some *higher* audio format then they just need to provide a download alternative to MP3 - this is much simpler for them to do then trying to introduce a whole new CD format such as SACD. They just re-rip everything to the new format and the majority of their target audience can probably already play it (e.g. anyone using a PC, or some sort of music server will just need an update to decode the new format).
knutjb 10th March 2009, 18:58 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by Shuriken
Quote:
Originally Posted by knutjb
I have listened to 24/96 and I was blown away. I thought I had a string quartet playing in front of me and I could tell where each instrument was placed.

Now that IS flawed, the positioning in the stereo field is determined by having separate audio tracks for left and right channels, so no matter weather its a 64kbps MP3, CD or 24/96, everything is still gonna be separated in the stereo field (although the 64kbps MP3 will still sound shite)

Something no one has mentioned yet is dithering algorithms, and that does make a difference, just compare a 2 colour gif with and without dithering, you'll see how important it is, it's the reason a sound can be compressed with out a noticeable loss of quality.
Quote:
The mind learns only though repetitions and has problems remembering things in detail, even things that just took place.

Again, this isn't the point, they weren't trying to remember the exact piece of music each time, just the over all impression the music gave through the different wires. And those impressions can be remembered and compared.

The stereo field i.e. spatial location is because the brain calculates positions through triangulation and it uses subtle details to do that. The stereo field is recreated from subtle clues reflecting off surfaces around the instruments be it a small room or large hall. Yes the brain can be fooled but not all the time. When you compress music no matter how good your algorithm YOU WILL LOSE DATA the more you compress the more you lose, i.e. spatial information since it is low in level takes the biggest hit. Algorithms, regardless of dithering, removes data then attempts to recalculate what it thinks was there when it un-compresses to regain dynamic range. Lossless systems and high bit rate compression work because they don’t remove too much and the brain can be fooled a bit. Dolby and DTS have produced higher bit-rate compression systems because the lower bit-rate systems don’t sound as good be it stereo, 5.1, 6.1, or 7.1 systems.

As for not trying to remember the exact piece of music just the overall impressions how can you compare the differences if you’re not trying to remember all of it? That is ludicrous you must remember what you are listening to in order to compare, kind of goes with the definition of “compare”. Your conclusion is a faulty syllogism. The difference is in the details, music is far more complex than a 2 colour gif, similar process, not the same. Figuring out what is missing is hard to do for most people because it’s a learned skill and learning takes time. Yes there are audioholics who hallucinate improvements purely from hype, more money than sense. Not all improvements are hype and good sound doesn’t have to be expensive, though you usually get what you pay for.
knutjb 10th March 2009, 19:10 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by DbD
I did a few tests - variable 128-320 lame encoded MP3 vs the original .WAV using my fairly good hifi setup. The mp3 sounded slightly more airy as sounds died away, other then that I couldn't really tell. It certainly didn't sound worse.

As for the future - it's MP3 downloads - that's all I buy now.

Interestingly that's not all bad for audiophiles who hate MP3. If the companies want to introduce some *higher* audio format then they just need to provide a download alternative to MP3 - this is much simpler for them to do then trying to introduce a whole new CD format such as SACD. They just re-rip everything to the new format and the majority of their target audience can probably already play it (e.g. anyone using a PC, or some sort of music server will just need an update to decode the new format).

For Pop music that can work because it is so heavily processed however acoustic music suffers. A pro recording magazine, I forget the name, took original recordings heavily processed pop, lightly processed rock, acoustic jazz and small and large classical pieces. They started with a cd and used the analog out to a DAT recorder then DAT to DAT through analog connections. The more heavily processed pieces tended to sound better on the 5th generation copy and the acoustic pieces sounded worse on all copies getting progressively worse with each generation. The listeners were able to take as much time as they needed to grade each generation.

So it all depends on what you listen to.
MiNiMaL_FuSS 10th March 2009, 21:51 Quote
most illegeal torrents come in mp3 rather than something better, so there's not alot of choice...i mean er. rather what i ment ot say is.....who said torrents...*runs*
ZERO <ibis> 10th March 2009, 23:40 Quote
A good example of how quality can change how you view the environment is when I got higher quality rips of all my Billy Joel albums. I was amazed in a few songs when it seamed as though I was actually in the consort hall! I immediately asked myself, why does it sound like this? Is my mind just making things up!? When I listed carefully I could clearly hear a slight echo that was unaudiable in the low quality file. This echo gave depth to the environment and made me feel as though I was right there!
Lazarus Dark 11th March 2009, 01:25 Quote
MP3 was fine in my stock car speakers. Then I got 4 new Pioneers for about $500. MP3 , even 320k, sounds like crap compared to the original cd. I'm working on a car pc so I can get lossless in my car. I couldn't tell the difference between MP3 and lossless with my fiance's white ipod speakers either. I tossed them out and got both of us a pair of good Sennheisers (sp?). Now she complains that her ipod sounds like crap. Good speakers need quality, lossless source. Crappy speakers sound the same no matter what.

Then again, I listen to lots of death metal. Lossy compression absolutely kills good double-bass.

In my opinion, lossy compression is perfectly suited to manufactured, shallow pop and hip hop. If you listen to anything with depth though, whether it be metal, classical, jazz, classic rock, you need lossless.
Aragon Speed 11th March 2009, 07:29 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by Lazarus Dark
Lossy compression absolutely kills good double-bass.
That's the reason I stopped using MP3's, I always found you lost depth in the lower sound ranges.
Helldiver18 13th March 2009, 17:34 Quote
I love great quality of sounds but when it comes to rip a CD a go for MP3 just for a question of space.
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