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LogicprObe

For those who think MP3 is great.

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Initially I ripped my CDs just as 'standard' mp3s, because it was the kids who were listening to the rips, not me. Then we started using iPods as the input device for a number of stereos around the house. Pumping mp3s through a half reasonable stereo and you soon realise something is missing. Since then we re-ripped in Apple Lossless and the difference is marked. I'm currently playing with WMA Lossless and EAC to get the best rips.

 

The search for the perfect format is never ending :)

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Initially I ripped my CDs just as 'standard' mp3s, because it was the kids who were listening to the rips, not me. Then we started using iPods as the input device for a number of stereos around the house. Pumping mp3s through a half reasonable stereo and you soon realise something is missing. Since then we re-ripped in Apple Lossless and the difference is marked. I'm currently playing with WMA Lossless and EAC to get the best rips.

 

The search for the perfect format is never ending :)

Here's a great way to set up EAC: http://blowfish.be/eac/

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Initially I ripped my CDs just as 'standard' mp3s, because it was the kids who were listening to the rips, not me. Then we started using iPods as the input device for a number of stereos around the house. Pumping mp3s through a half reasonable stereo and you soon realise something is missing. Since then we re-ripped in Apple Lossless and the difference is marked. I'm currently playing with WMA Lossless and EAC to get the best rips.

 

The search for the perfect format is never ending :)

Here's a great way to set up EAC: http://blowfish.be/eac/

 

Thanks cmos, I'll have a look. I did have a few problems that I seem to have worked out, but I'm new to EAC so expert advice is always welcome :)

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No setup guide for the perfect .wav rips though!

 

I make all settings for the highest quality and set the Normalize to 99% and to normalize anything under 97%..........otherwise the volume differences between CDs will drive you nuts!

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I think George Massenburg is going a bit far saying that we should be using 24/48... most commercial music will not benefit from 24 bit recordings, and not all 24 bit converters are better than all 16 bit converters.

why is it going too far? we already use 16/44.1 for releases. its not *that* much of a data increase!

No its not a huge increase in data, but it would require too big a change across the board to upgrade all the equipment. A lot of gear is 16 bit, and replacing it to make full 24 bit paths would cost a lot, and the difference would not be very big. It would also mean that commercial music would need to be released in 16 bit and 24 bit formats, increasing the costs of production without much increase in sales, if any.

 

'upgrading the equipment'? i am struggling to imagine what gear you are talking about. almost all professional recording is performed at 24-bit (and later up-sampled, as Logic mentioned). if something is destined for CD, and only CD, it might be recorded at 44.1 kHz meaning no "messy" sample rate conversion will be necessary during mastering. otherwise, 96 kHz is de rigeur, partly due to a more elegant A/D stage and partly because it nicely matches (or divides evenly into) the sampling rates of DVD releases, but at the cost of file size. 48 is a happy medium between file size, resolution, and maximum suitability to all release formats. (it is far better to downsample from 48 to 44.1 for CD and up from 48 to 96 for some DVDs, than to upsample from 44.1 to 96).

 

 

any increase to production costs would be trivial to non-existent. the marketing and distribution might be significant in the short term, but ultimately viable if only average Joes could be made to give a shit. my assumption is we would be talking about distribution via the internet, rather than DVD-A or other physical formats. forget about the technological backwater we live in for a minute. given the status quo of global internet speeds, there is no reason why 24/48 files couldnt be made available on a large scale.

 

 

whether most commercial music will benefit greatly, or if most people notice the difference, isnt the point. or, it shouldnt be. we should have the option to escape the limitations of outmoded physical format standards. just give us teh hi-res digital files yo!

I disagree. I think an appreciable difference in sound quality is the only point. As I said, I haven't met a single person who could tell the difference between 44.1 and 48 KHz. Only very dynamic music will benefit from 24 bit recordings, and the way things are, most recordings are heavily compressed. What makes you think 16/44, the industry standard, is outmoded? The issue, as far as I could tell from what I saw in the video, is not the shortcomings of 16/44, but low quality mp3s.

 

the sampling rate is a non issue. see above. same for bit depth.

 

at the recording end, just about EVERYTHING benefits from the extremely low noise floor of 24-bit compared to 16-bit. sure, very dynamic music of the right kind might ultimately reveal starker differences, but every single source is cleaner with 24 no matter what the genre. in fact, you will recall, heavy compression only raises the noise floor of a recording -- which is significantly higher when everything starts off at 16-bit. recordings typically dont drop below 24 bit until the very last stage of mastering, where filthy artifacts are unavoidably added for the demands of CD. damned straight CD is outmoded! if it werent for mp3 it would still be the albatross about the neck of the mastering end of the recording industry. but yes, poor quality mp3s are something far more sinister.

 

 

as for the converters, could you elaborate? obviously there are good and bad D/A converters. but ive personally never compared a good 16bit D/A with a bad 24bit D/A and wonder why you appear to be assuming such a divide would likely exist in consumer level equipment post 2009.

I only mentioned this because the average consumer assumes that 24 bits is better than 16 bits, but its not as clear cut as that. And I dont assume that there would be much of a divide in consumer level equipment... most is pretty average to my ear, and I think the consumer audio market is little more than a numbers game, with the dollar as the main figure. Compare a very good piece of professional audio gear at 16 bit to your average 24 bit converter available in whatever dvd player or consumer level soundcard, using a well recorded source with a high dynamic range, and hear the difference for yourself... that would be better than any explanation I could give you.

 

?

 

as i said, ive never compared good 16-bit D/A with a bad 24-bit D/A. what i meant was, for the most part (although i have never done formal testing) ALL of the 24-bit music ive heard — whether from a PC or an average DVD player has outshone its CD counterpart. ive never had reason to suspect the circuitry at the 24-bit D/A stage that has been rolling out in entry level DVDs and modest sound cards for many years has been a weak link — or at least a weak enough link — to be pertinent to this discussion. but, by all means, enlighten me to specific examples if you have any.

Edited by @~thehung

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Nice post Mr hung.

 

When a mate and I started recording some stuff, we were just mucking around, so we used 16 bit, because his digital desk is only 20 bit.

 

After we decided it was sounding OK, we upped the anti to 24 bit on the soundcard and the recorder and there IS a difference.

 

It wasn't that much because of the 20 bit desk in an all digital chain but it did sound different...........not sure about better though in that circumstance.

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I think saying things like MP3 is bad is a pretty stupid position to try and maintain because MP3 served a purpose, it made it easy to download and carry on portable devices when bandwidth was limited and mobile storage was limited. I agree recording in MP3 is stupid but as a distribution medium still very valid, believe it or not some people still use dial up or very slow broadband in Australia there are many many far less developed countries then our situation.

 

His comments about shitty music is pretty lame because there are many great artists around if you look for them.

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'upgrading the equipment'? i am struggling to imagine what gear you are talking about. almost all professional recording is performed at 24-bit (and later up-sampled, as Logic mentioned).

Yes, almost all professional recording is performed at 24. I think this is necessary. But we are not talking about recording. We are talking about playback, and lifting the bar from 128kbps mp3s sold on iTunes. 24 bit for playback is nowhere near as beneficial as it is for recording.

 

What gear am I talking about? Consumer equipment for playback. A lot of it does not have a full 24 bit path. Internal oversampling is common, but this is not the same thing as a full high res path.

 

if something is destined for CD, and only CD, it might be recorded at 44.1 kHz meaning no "messy" sample rate conversion will be necessary during mastering. otherwise, 96 kHz is de rigeur, partly due to a more elegant A/D stage and partly because it nicely matches (or divides evenly into) the sampling rates of DVD releases, but at the cost of file size.

96 KHz is not de rigeur. Not everyone records at 44.1 just because the output medium is going to be 44.1 and they want to avoid a sample rate change. Some people are working with larger projects, or slower systems, that would get bogged down with the processing of higher res files. More importantly for this argument though, a lot of people dont believe you can hear the difference between 44.1 and 96 KHz, so they use 44.1.

 

The difference is subjective. When anyone says they can hear the difference, I am skeptical. It could be that there is a difference and only some can hear it. It could mean that the ADC performs better at the higher sample rate, which does not necessarily mean that 96 KHz is better. It could mean that the ADC performs worse at the higher sample rate but the listener thinks the worse sound as better. I have recorded a lot of classical music at 24/96 and when I downsample to 44.1, I cannot hear the difference, and neither could anyone else I have played it to, mostly the performers, and sometimes other engineers I worked with, which is quite a few people. My recording and playback chain is not lacking.

 

any increase to production costs would be trivial to non-existent. the marketing and distribution might be significant in the short term, but ultimately viable if only average Joes could be made to give a shit.

Two formats, two products.... the costs would be be reflected all the way down the chain from studio to sale. I don't think it would be twice as much, but it cant be trivial.

 

I think Average Joe has already been convinced about the benefits of high res audio, to a large extent. Ask anyone if 24/96 is better than 16/44 and they will probably say yes. Observe the sweeping change that hasn't taken place.

 

at the recording end, just about EVERYTHING benefits from the extremely low noise floor of 24-bit compared to 16-bit. sure, very dynamic music of the right kind might ultimately reveal starker differences, but every single source is cleaner with 24 no matter what the genre. in fact, you will recall, heavy compression only raises the noise floor of a recording -- which is significantly higher when everything starts off at 16-bit.

Low noise floor is not the main benefit of 24 bit audio. Compression can raise the analogue noise floor.... but whats your point? Nothing here supports your argument for hi res playback.

 

as i said, ive never compared good 16-bit D/A with a bad 24-bit D/A. what i meant was, for the most part (although i have never done formal testing) ALL of the 24-bit music ive heard — whether from a PC or an average DVD player has outshone its CD counterpart. ive never had reason to suspect the circuitry at the 24-bit D/A stage that has been rolling out in entry level DVDs and modest sound cards for many years has been a weak link — or at least a weak enough link — to be pertinent to this discussion. but, by all means, enlighten me to specific examples if you have any.

If you've never compared a great 16 bit converter to a poor 24 bit converter, then of course you would never suspect. For the record, my comparison (which is admittedly subjective, but based on real world application) comes from using professional soundcards costing up to and around $2000. That seems to be where the price settles before it begins to skyrocket. I have only only heard two that stood out from the bunch, RME Fireface, and Metric Halo ULN2. Everything else is more or less the same. The last few years have seen a few good interfaces come out for less, Apogee for example. Most consumer gear is just not in the same race.

Edited by komuso

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I think saying things like MP3 is bad is a pretty stupid position to try and maintain because MP3 served a purpose, it made it easy to download and carry on portable devices when bandwidth was limited and mobile storage was limited. I agree recording in MP3 is stupid but as a distribution medium still very valid, believe it or not some people still use dial up or very slow broadband in Australia there are many many far less developed countries then our situation.

 

His comments about shitty music is pretty lame because there are many great artists around if you look for them.

This. Although in saying that OGG is generally better and it never took over. And now FLAC is a serious option and its still struggling to get a solid foot in the door.

 

I defend and use MP3 purely for convenience and so I can use flash memory in my car and what not for huge ranges of music. I sing along to everything I listen to, so my voice drowns out artifacts or 'quality loss' anyway. As long as its above 256kbps (320 preferable) im still OK with mp3, but yes, FLAC is better. 5X better (5MB vs 25MB?) I dont think so, which is why I still think MP3 has its place. or, shoudl I say OGG has its place. MP3 shoulda been replaced long ago, but, its become standard and there comes a point where something is just SO STRONG its more effort to fight it than to put up with it and enjoy what it DOES offer.

 

and thats tons of compatible music, at near CD quality, for very little space.

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very true. ig my nokia supported flac, and I could use a 64gb SD card in it, then i'd be all over that.

 

But as such i am limited to 8GB and it can only do MP3 without mods, so it'll have to do!

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What gear am I talking about? Consumer equipment for playback. A lot of it does not have a full 24 bit path. Internal oversampling is common, but this is not the same thing as a full high res path.

when and why would it drop before it reaches the converter? in which equipment?

 

 

96 KHz is not de rigeur. Not everyone records at 44.1 just because the output medium is going to be 44.1 and they want to avoid a sample rate change. Some people are working with larger projects, or slower systems, that would get bogged down with the processing of higher res files. More importantly for this argument though, a lot of people dont believe you can hear the difference between 44.1 and 96 KHz, so they use 44.1.

hence, why i pointed out that 48 is a happy medium.

 

you inexplicably keep focussing on the difference between sampling rates. that isnt the point. in a lot of cases conversion from 48 is more economical and less prone to noise, whether or not the difference can be heard X% of the time. noise is bad. avoiding noise is good.

 

 

The difference is subjective. When anyone says they can hear the difference, I am skeptical. It could be that there is a difference and only some can hear it. It could mean that the ADC performs better at the higher sample rate, which does not necessarily mean that 96 KHz is better. It could mean that the ADC performs worse at the higher sample rate but the listener thinks the worse sound as better. I have recorded a lot of classical music at 24/96 and when I downsample to 44.1, I cannot hear the difference, and neither could anyone else I have played it to, mostly the performers, and sometimes other engineers I worked with, which is quite a few people. My recording and playback chain is not lacking.

yes, 44.1 kHz is plenty for capturing complex waveforms (and playing them back). it is, however, too low for efficient anti-aliasing filter design. it is MUCH easier to design an AA filter for 96kHz that rolls off smoothly and does not attenuate or fuck with the phase of the highest audible frequencies. AA filters for 44.1 need to be unfeasibly steep and this is reflected in the reality of their implementation. but i thought you didnt want to talk about the ADC side of things?

 

for playback then;

 

48 kHz is practical, and but a small increase in size.

 

24-bit is a significant increase, but more than made up for by increased dynamic range and less noise.

 

any increase to production costs would be trivial to non-existent. the marketing and distribution might be significant in the short term, but ultimately viable if only average Joes could be made to give a shit.

Two formats, two products.... the costs would be be reflected all the way down the chain from studio to sale. I don't think it would be twice as much, but it cant be trivial.

 

production, is not marketing, is not distribution. if you werent breaking things down thusly, it should have been clear from my reply that i was. they would need to tell people the files are available, raise some demand for them, and then make sure they have the network infrastructure to serve them. hardly requires a revolution.

 

at the end of mastering it would be a piece of piss to make files available in their original states (before downsampling/dithering/noise shaping), or close to it. a slight time and labour commitment, for sure. but nothing revolutionary.

 

 

I think Average Joe has already been convinced about the benefits of high res audio, to a large extent. Ask anyone if 24/96 is better than 16/44 and they will probably say yes. Observe the sweeping change that hasn't taken place.

tosh.

 

people dont know what they are missing. ask "anyone" if 24/96 is better than 16/44 and they will probably explain that they arent an audio nerd and have NFI what you are talking about. then they will say they are perfectly happy with their shitty mp3s on their shitty shitepods.

 

 

Low noise floor is not the main benefit of 24 bit audio. Compression can raise the analogue noise floor.... but whats your point? Nothing here supports your argument for hi res playback.

i dont want to get into a pointless argument about what is the "main benefit". yes, low noise is a big deal. *most* music by far does not even require all of 16-bit's dynamic range. the most commonly utilised benefit of the dynamic range of 24-bit is the headroom it provides at the pre-amp due to its cleaner conversion of low-level signals. the two go hand in hand.

 

i only started talking about the recording end in the first place because i didnt know how to interpret some of your comments.

 

 

If you've never compared a great 16 bit converter to a poor 24 bit converter, then of course you would never suspect. For the record, my comparison (which is admittedly subjective, but based on real world application) comes from using professional soundcards costing up to and around $2000. That seems to be where the price settles before it begins to skyrocket. I have only only heard two that stood out from the bunch, RME Fireface, and Metric Halo ULN2. Everything else is more or less the same. The last few years have seen a few good interfaces come out for less, Apogee for example. Most consumer gear is just not in the same race.

"everything else is more or less the same"

 

so youre saying that, all things being equal, you would never expect to hear nicer sound from a 24-bit source versus a 16-bit coming from the converters in your average home?

 

because if some of the market can and does, then thats enough for demand. thats the point.

 

screw iTunes and their 1$ for a 128kbps mp3! (i understand they can do better now but its not like i am keeping track). give me the OPTION of higher resolution uncompressed files and i will happily pay a lot more. and i am not alone.

Edited by @~thehung

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Hung, its going to grow into a long argument. The only reason I went into sample rates was to try and argue that George Massenburg's idea of using 24/48 is not sound because if people cant always hear the difference between 96 and 44.1, then what is the point of switching to 48KHz. To upgrade equipment to be able to play back 24/48 KHz would cost money, its a fact. The may or may not be any difference. You want to assume that music will only be delivered by internet, well, stop assuming... people still buy cds, and will continue to for some time yet. I stand by my initial statement that to step up mp3s to a higher bit rate would be a totally minimal change that would yield immediate results at minimal cost, and everyone continues to use the same equipment.

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"To upgrade equipment to be able to play back 24/48 KHz would cost money". do people even buy dedicated CD players anymore?

 

i am not assuming music will only be delivered by internet. i am just conjecturing that a market for high resolution files exists, partly made up of existing audiophiles, and partly made up of potential converts who can conceivably be shown what they are missing, and a viable way to deliver these files, is over the internet.

 

the burden of extra cost is not on the record companies but on those with walkmans and grammaphones etc who want to hear hi-res music. given the falling costs of storage and bandwidth it cant be all that much of an outlay to serve hi-res files for people listening on DVD players, computers, and mp3 players (i cant speak for shitepods, but my mp3 player plays 24/48 just fine). are you ruling out the possibility that a profitable price point could be found, given a trickle of demand?

 

80 minutes of music on CD is 700 MB

80 minutes of 24/48 is about 1143 MB

80 minutes of 24/48 in FLAC format is about 628 MB -- which on my measly 1.5M connection can be downloaded in under 70 minutes.

 

unfortunately,

80 minutes of 128kbps mp3 is only 75 MB -- which divides into the FLAC example more than 8 times!

 

i am no business guy, but to my mind, it does not automatically follow that the supplier needs to charge over 8 times more per MB of stored and served FLAC in order to compensate for 'what they could have earned' for every MB of stored and served mp3 that could have taken its place. its not that simple when we are talking about slightly different markets. it could very well mean the profit margin on the hi-res music has to be a lot smaller, but by no means necessarily a relative loss.

 

i really dont know. but where i differ to you is that i am daring to dream! :)

 

 

edit: 'net loss' was the wrong term.

Edited by @~thehung

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Its not that I'm not daring to dream, but when I hear amazing recordings like the mp3 I linked earlier, which is a 192kbps file, I hear the music and not the format. Its not perfect, but its not total crap either.

 

I'm not ruling out that there is a market. People want it, high res music is available, you have some yourself. Its already a reality.

 

I just checked out hdtracks.com and there is a note about some of the preview files being 16/48, but they are working to change all the previews to 16/44 because users are having problems. They are not offering both resolutions for previews, nor are they asking people to upgrade their equipment, which suggests that it is easier to stick with 44.1 rather than switch to 48KHz. A high res audio website for people looking for high res music, changing to 16/44 previews because their users are having problems because their soundcards dont support the higher res... how odd is that. The problem is not limited to CD players.

 

It will change eventually...

Edited by komuso

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and even 256kbps is only 150mb.

 

and considering 256 is well above where MOST people stop hearing, (that being 192kbps) its still used.

 

I stand by my VBR 256-320 MP3s, im never in a quet enough environment to notice more, my equipment while good, is only about $1k worth, so isnt picking up the difference anyway, and its compatible with everything.

 

I CAN hear some thing 'different' mp3 vs FLAC, but is it better? hard to say. and i think this is the boat most people are in.

 

different? for sure. Better? possibly. 5X better(file size)? Nope.

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Aren't we using V0 VBR MP3s now anyway? >:)

 

Also, FTR, ITMS stopped using DRM in April 2009.

 

Their original format was 128kbit/s AAC, which offers roughly equivalent quality to a 160kbit/s MP3. They improved that around the same time they stopped using DRM, to some unspecified amount 256kbit/s AAC.

Edited by SquallStrife

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Something I find very interesting, is that here we are on a tech site devoted to squeezing every bit of performance out of our computers....yet very few want to get more than very little from there audio :P

 

Thank goodness we have dedicated audio sites elsewhere...

 

;)

Edited by datafast69

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