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Important Please Read: MP3 music - it's better than it sounds

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Old Quad Guy

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Can you decode matrixed quad from decent bitrate MP3s?
Others can chime in better, but many members have told us they do with both SQ and QS.

There are certain ways to do the settings that escapes me, but "Joint Stereo," if I'm not mistaken, should not be checked and use bit rates above 192 for best results.
 

neil wilkes

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..on a (related) tangent, a few years ago on a TV show here (The Gadget Show) they did some listening tests, to see if their audience could tell the difference between an mp3, a CD and an LP.

During the tests they used excerpts from "Dark Side of the Moon".

They failed to mention if they used the SACD layer for the tests, although the CDP was a Denon SACD capable unit -- which angered me no end at the time!

The end result, however, was rather interesting..

http://www.sa-cd.net/showthread/35716/35765
I saw that test, and it was so flawed it's not funny and here's why.
1 - they did not use MP3, they used AAC so different codec.
2 - The whole thing was pointless because there is now an entire generation - those people included - who think MP3 is how music should sound, so they are simply unused to real dynamic range and no distortions caused by the crappy codec.

Try flipping a decoded MP3 stream to Mid/Side, mute the Mid component and pan the side across both channels....then tell me it still sounds acceptable.
Also please go to http://www.tcelectronic.com/rome.asp and play the film from Thomas Lund - The Loiudness wars, part 1.....it is a true eye opener.

MP3 blows, and it is bad for your brain too. There was research done (I will try to find the links) where 24/96, CD & MP3 were played simultaneously on a console through the same setup, but with nobody knowing what was what.
It turned out that whilst the brain can rebuild the missing fundamental frequencies & associated harmonics, it does not like to do this & triggers a chemical in the brain very, very similar to the anger response.......just say "no" to MP3.

ALso, I keep reading about how CD is dead but it still does not go away. There is nothing wrong with CD, it is the lousy mastering that ruins it.
It certainly beats vinyl...
 

zfox

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2 - The whole thing was pointless because there is now an entire generation - those people included - who think MP3 is how music should sound, so they are simply unused to real dynamic range and no distortions caused by the crappy codec.
MP3 is completely unrelated to dynamic range compression. Buggy codecs that distort the signal have ceased to exist long time ago. BTW, removing inaudible data, can be called distortion? Not for me.

Try flipping a decoded MP3 stream to Mid/Side, mute the Mid component and pan the side across both channels....then tell me it still sounds acceptable.
Any link that elaborates on this method? Should be an interesting read.

MP3 blows, and it is bad for your brain too. There was research done (I will try to find the links) where 24/96, CD & MP3 were played simultaneously on a console through the same setup, but with nobody knowing what was what.
It turned out that whilst the brain can rebuild the missing fundamental frequencies & associated harmonics, it does not like to do this & triggers a chemical in the brain very, very similar to the anger response.......just say "no" to MP3.
A link about the related research paper would be helpful. BTW, MP3 (and other lossy codecs too) should only remove inaudible data.

ALso, I keep reading about how CD is dead but it still does not go away. There is nothing wrong with CD, it is the lousy mastering that ruins it.
It certainly beats vinyl...
We agree 100% on that.


BTW, some credible ABX tests can be accessed here. According to the results, an MP3 encoded file that utilizes 160Kbps or higher should be transparent compared with its lossless source.
 

DKA

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I can't imagine that decoding would be ruined by the compression to mp3, but that's just me.

mp3 serves a purpose. It allows for you to keep more music on a portable device on which you're not looking for an audiophile experience. Other than that, there's just very little purpose to it. It is a valid purpose, though.
 

ar surround

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Has anyone compared the sound of an iTunes downloaded song (AAC file at 256 kbps) to the identical song as an MP3? Is the iTunes download much better than the MP3? I've downloaded a few early-1960's pop oldies which were likely "mastered" to sound good on AM radios. The iTunes file sizes are 5 to 6 MB for a 2 to 3 minute song compared to 25 to 30 MB for that on a CD. It can't hear much difference between the iTunes download and the same song on a CD, and in some cases, the download sounds better...perhaps because it doesn't capture all the high frequency noise, nasty harmonics and other garbage present on the source tape?
 

DKA

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Has anyone compared the sound of an iTunes downloaded song (AAC file at 256 kbps) to the identical song as an MP3? Is the iTunes download much better than the MP3? I've downloaded a few early-1960's pop oldies which were likely "mastered" to sound good on AM radios. The iTunes file sizes are 5 to 6 MB for a 2 to 3 minute song compared to 25 to 30 MB for that on a CD. It can't hear much difference between the iTunes download and the same song on a CD, and in some cases, the download sounds better...perhaps because it doesn't capture all the high frequency noise, nasty harmonics and other garbage present on the source tape?

I wouldn't count on a huge difference, certainly not one that's going to matter on a portable device. Honestly, what matters more (to me, at least) here is the quality of the mastering. In other words, my mp3s derived from hi-rez stereo sound better on my IPod than something that's been limited to hell.
 

fredblue

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I wouldn't count on a huge difference, certainly not one that's going to matter on a portable device. Honestly, what matters more (to me, at least) here is the quality of the mastering. In other words, my mp3s derived from hi-rez stereo sound better on my IPod than something that's been limited to hell.
totally agree with you. as I said on here the other day, "garbage in = garbage out".

I've a fair few redbook CDs that wipe the floor with their stereo SACD counterparts - and it's not always brickwalling that's the culprit, though it is nearly always the worst offender with modern recordings and remasters.

as much as the mastering though, the tape source is crucial too.

take the Deep Purple CD reissue series for example. the remixed tracks taken from the multi's sound wonderful compared to the remastered transfers of the stereo masters.

superior sound is one of the great benefits of going back to the multitrack master tapes to do 5.1, as evidenced by every classic album SW has remixed into surround so far, not only do you get great surround sound but in lovely sound quality too.
 

The Bright Side

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I must say, I understand that technically, there's a difference between MP3 and CD (as the article suggests), and obviously the hi-res formats. But at the risk of being a heretic, I just don't hear the difference between a high-bitrate MP3 (or OGG, which I started using when I switched to Ubuntu in 2009) and CD. I simply don't, and believe me, I tried. I have my entire CD collection (over 800 titles) on my hard disk as VBR MP3 and OGG, and that's how I listen to them most of the time. Mostly because 610 of my titles are in Germany and I only have the other ~200 here in Canada. I still spin the CDs when I'm in the living room, but that's it.

That said, I agree with you guys about garbage in = garbage out. If music is mastered badly, it'll sound bad on CD and MP3. Like Gary Moore's 80s albums. What a shame, such good music.
 

Q8

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I find 160 mp3's sound just about like CD's on most music. By the time you hit 192 or 360, I would challenge any of you to tell the diff between CD's. In fact, tht should be. Test for you. Have someone blind play sever songs from CD and the MP3 counterpart and see. If you can tell the diff. Now low bitrate MP3s are justterrible. They make my teeth chatter.

But I really feel like analog really gives you a lot that digital doesn't
 

Fourplay

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We live in a very strange time. Just as HDTV was being introduced to the consumer market there was a popularity explosion by the name of YouTube. But both of these have thrived because they do different things. Such is the case with mp3 vs SACD (et al). Theatrical films were not killed by VHS, as was once feared. Everything is a tool, and one need only ask what one is trying to accomplish with the tools being employed.

Yes, there is a risk that an un-educated population will lose interest in audiophile sound in a way that will discourage the production of such product. On the other hand, it is harder (tho not impossible) to file share the hi-rez formats, and I suspect that the per-capita buying of physical or at least billable product to be greater amongst audiophile enthusiasts than amongst those feeding on fast-fidelity. In a time of rapidly diminishing public interest in paying for anything digital, I should think the music industry to be very short sighted to ignore the last bastion of premium price paying customers. Just sayin'

Ken
 

fredblue

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I must say, I understand that technically, there's a difference between MP3 and CD (as the article suggests), and obviously the hi-res formats. But at the risk of being a heretic, I just don't hear the difference between a high-bitrate MP3 (or OGG, which I started using when I switched to Ubuntu in 2009) and CD. I simply don't, and believe me, I tried. I have my entire CD collection (over 800 titles) on my hard disk as VBR MP3 and OGG, and that's how I listen to them most of the time. Mostly because 610 of my titles are in Germany and I only have the other ~200 here in Canada. I still spin the CDs when I'm in the living room, but that's it.

That said, I agree with you guys about garbage in = garbage out. If music is mastered badly, it'll sound bad on CD and MP3. Like Gary Moore's 80s albums. What a shame, such good music.
have you got the DVD-A/DualDisc of Gary Moore's "Back To The Blues"..?

it's mastered so LOUD it'll make your ears shrivel up and die if you try to play it at anywhere near normal listening levels!

the 5.1 mix is typical "Silverline" rubbish, too.
 

The Bright Side

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have you got the DVD-A/DualDisc of Gary Moore's "Back To The Blues"..?

it's mastered so LOUD it'll make your ears shrivel up and die if you try to play it at anywhere near normal listening levels!

the 5.1 mix is typical "Silverline" rubbish, too.
I know, I heard! Kept my hands off it for that very reason. Lots of bad-sounding Gary Moore stuff out there :-(
 

fredblue

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I know, I heard! Kept my hands off it for that very reason. Lots of bad-sounding Gary Moore stuff out there :-(
I was mortified when I first bought it! I love Gary (God rest him) and the album itself is nice (if a bit "one-note") but dear lordy lord the surround and sound quality.. bleurgh! Maybe I was fatigued more by the sound than by the slightly repetitive/uninspired content!?

it's a bit like the Rory Gallagher situation. the one golden opportunity they had to showcase a stunning guitarist, just as with Gary Moore, was Rory's Big Guns SACD set.. and oh did they screw up!

though there are one or two ok sounding albums of Rory's on CD at least, so maybe shouldn't really grumble. ultimately though Rory was a stronger live performer than studio artist, imho, so perhaps I was expecting too much from his "Hits" SACD!?
 

CPR

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My nephew made me an MP3 of Jerry Garcia's solo work; 89 songs, on ONE CD!
Sound quality is phenomenal; not 5.1, but DAMN good!
 

barfle

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I've done a bit of experimentation digitizing some of my vinyl to MP3s, as well as packing the heck out of podcasts that I was only going to listen to in the car on my way to and from work. The podcasts needed to be both dynamic-range compressed (the noise floor in the car was about 75db with the windows up, but I like them down if the weather's good), and to fit on a 2GB player. But I treated the music much more gently, and, at least to my aging ears, sound about the same as the 45s they came from.

MP3s can sound quite nice. And they can sound like crap. The format isn't the culprit as much as its users.
 

ar surround

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I ripped a pop song (The Grass Roots Midnight Confessions) from a CD onto a hard drive using ACC (320 kbps), ALAC (Apple Lossless) and AIFF. With this type of material I could not tell the difference among the three codecs even on a relatively sophisticated audio system. All three of them revealed the good and the ugly of this particular recording. What I don't understand is why Dolby Digital has that "grizzle" sound virtually all of the time.
 

Perpendicular

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I recently switched from Tidalā€™s CD quality to iTunes and cannot tell the difference between Redbook quality I was getting and Appleā€™s AAC format. If I listen to an mp3, it has to be a minimum of 320, but itā€™s only passable.
 
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