Forums > Personal > What is the Aural difference between mp3 and flac???

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Lookin' Divine In Good Ol' '89 user not visiting Queenzone.com
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Posted: 16 Aug 09, 21:42 Edit this post Reply to this post Reply with Quote

I hear people bitch all the time about how flac is so much better than mp3. I dont doubt them. Its just that i am not as tech-savy as others, prefer my shows on the go, and I dont know what the sound difference is between them? You'll probably call me a fucking dumbass, but It would be simply lovely to know the real reason flac is best. You may enlighten a new person to the abilities of lossless if you intelligently reply. Plz dont get sarcastic, this is a serious question.

Yara user not visiting Queenzone.com

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Posted: 16 Aug 09, 22:07 Edit this post Reply to this post Reply with Quote

May I give you an advice? Do the following: download two very good quality Queen bootlegs. Take Hammersmith 79, which has a wonderful quality and is one of their best performances. Download an mp3 version and the flac version shared here by Pittrek - it's in the best of the best thread for the year 1979.

Transfer both concerts to your Ipod or whatever. Label the songs as to make one version follow the other: 1) We Will Rock You Flac; 2) We Will Rock You Mp3, and so on.

Listen to it carefully. You'll enjoy it anyway, cause it's a brilliant concert.

Trust your ear and then say what's better.

More: if you have the chance of burning cds with these files and playing it, as I do, in a sound system or home theater, try doing it. And organize the files in such a way as to make the flac version of a certain song follow the mp3 version, or vice-versa, as you prefer.

Either case, you'll have to decompress the flac files to wav.

-----

I'm not being sarcastic. Before getting into the technical discussion, do give your ears a chance and judge for yourself. 

You tell us what you found out - I feel the mp3 sounds like this and the flac like that, and so on. You may like the mp3 better, who knows?

Point is: if you don't see any difference at all, none at all, period, then get into the more technical discussion and I'd even recommend you ordering a basic book on sound engineering, a very basic one. It can be a helpful read and many of them cover these topics - there are a lot of things about it throughout the net too and I can point it out to you if needed be. 

But first and foremost, do the test yourself, like those chemistry classes you might have had in the past - it all made much more sense when I did the experiments. It still does, in fact.

That'd be my suggestion. I'm not trying to be sarcastic nor implying anything. 

It's just an advice. I'm not saying it's a 100% test, but it's a fair one - I recommended to some friends and it worked, though it was an artist whose works not even his own mother must have listened to. But I did, and loved it, what can I do? 

Give it a try. 

---

Regards,
Yara


Yara
Lookin' Divine In Good Ol' '89 user not visiting Queenzone.com
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Posted: 16 Aug 09, 22:25 Edit this post Reply to this post Reply with Quote

I listened to them both and didnt really hear all THAT much difference. But then again, I am a guitarist and half the time I cant tell I am out of tune until it is too far gone! Ha!

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Posted: 16 Aug 09, 22:27 Edit this post Reply to this post Reply with Quote

Sorry, Yara, I alos meant to thank you for being kind and giving me a non-sarcastic response and for posting the differences, etc.

The Real Wizard user is on Queenzone.com
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Posted: 17 Aug 09, 00:41 Edit this post Reply to this post Reply with Quote

FLAC: Free LOSSLESS audio codec.  Lossless meaning no quality has been lost.

Mp3: all sound beyond 16khz has been irreplaceably removed, and digital artifacts remain which can be audible, depending on the bitrate and how many times the file has been encoded.  Mp3 is basically a smaller digital representation of what something used to sound like.  This is what the average quality song on your ipod sounds like.  If you are listening with good headphones or on a good stereo with enough interest, you'll notice the difference.




"The more generous you are with your music, the more it comes back to you." -- Dan Lampinski



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thomasquinn 32989 user not visiting Queenzone.com
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Posted: 17 Aug 09, 06:27 Edit this post Reply to this post Reply with Quote

I think Sir GH touches upon a vital aspect: the quality of your play-back equipment. If I play an MP3 and a lossless version of the same track on, say, the cheap ghetto-blaster that is standing around here somewhere, there is no audible difference. If I do the same on my computer through my Sennheiser extra sensitive headphones, there is a) a significant drop in the highs in the MP3 as opposed to the lossless track b) depending on the encoding method used, more hiss in the MP3 c) usually more glitches on the MP3.

Far more vital still is the problem of re-enconding. For instance: I record a track at 48kHz, 32 bit. To put it on cd, I have to resample to 44.1kHz, 16 bit. The resulting track will sound a little bit more "flat" than the original (mostly due to the 32-bit to 16-bit conversion, the sonic difference between 44.1 and 48kHz is far less easily heard). Then, someone converts to MP3. The result is more like 32kHz, and even the 16-bits are becoming questionable. That same person uses the MP3 to create a regular audio cd. The MP3 is converted, but the resulting uncompressed track does not miraculously regain lost frequency response and bitrate. Then, someone takes the (now lossy) cd, and re-encodes it to MP3. Now glitches and other digital noise start to enter view: the recording, which was compressed and then expanded is now compressed again. Like a piece of sturdy plastic or metal, the result of repeated expansion and compression is that the whole is structurally weakened. Eventually, after many re-encodings, noise (clicks, glitches, artefacting and hiss) will become so prominent that the music itself is forced onto the background.

Thus, to summarize, the largest problem by far is the irreversible degeneration of audio through continuous re-encoding.



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bobo the chimp user not visiting Queenzone.com
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Posted: 17 Aug 09, 08:52 Edit this post Reply to this post Reply with Quote

Just listen to any hi-hat playing!  Even a cursory listen ought to show some pretty hideous deformation of the sound.

People usually say it's no big deal because the human ear isn't supposed to hear beyond a certain frequency but that's not entirely true.  When we hear transients (is that the right term? Meh) at the very start of a sound (say a big piano chord or a cymbal hit) we're actually hearing much higher frequencies than we're capable of detecting over long periods of time.

Subconsciously, you notice the absence of those frequencies even on a high quality recording.  Suffice to say, the best Mp3 still stinks compared to something that's never been compressed.


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Posted: 17 Aug 09, 13:56 Edit this post Reply to this post Reply with Quote

The drums on Led Zep stuff usually shows up the differences of mp3 and flac.


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Posted: 17 Aug 09, 15:28 Edit this post Reply to this post Reply with Quote

I can actually tell the difference, probably due to the fact my hearing range is pretty good Hz-wise it seems (I can hear the reallllllllly high-pitched squeals that come out of old CRT television sets.....drives me NUTS!!). Noticed it at first around 2000/2001.

And yeah, hi-hats & some cymbal crashes (depending on the cymbal type and brand) will really show off the difference. Even some different MP3 encodes of a same song will show off artifacts more worse, the more compression you use.

Studio headphones (like my Sony MDR-V6's....highly recommended btw!) will definitely show off the difference more pronouncedly, whereas very low-end cheap crap like the iPod earbuds will not.

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Posted: 17 Aug 09, 16:54 Edit this post Reply to this post Reply with Quote

On the topic of ear buds, with Sennheiser cx300 ear buds, all I can hear is digital noise on standard quality m4a files... it is unlistenable to me.



"The more generous you are with your music, the more it comes back to you." -- Dan Lampinski



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bobo the chimp user not visiting Queenzone.com
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Posted: 18 Aug 09, 04:56 Edit this post Reply to this post Reply with Quote

I know the feeling with the CRT tellies.  I can instantly tell if one is on in the house.  And those dog stunners - I can't tell if there's a sustained burst but if someone fires one in short bursts I can hear this really annoying ... well actually I used to describe it as a CRT television turning on, so there you go.


"Your not funny, your not a good musician, theres a difference between being funny and being an idiot, you obviously being the latter" - Dave R Fuller
thomasquinn 32989 user not visiting Queenzone.com
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Posted: 18 Aug 09, 10:48 Edit this post Reply to this post Reply with Quote

CRT televisions are a major pain in the ass, but have you ever had the displeasure of hearing a large array of neon-light? Now *that* has a range of harmonics going way up from the discomfort area into the simple pain area, if you ask me.



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bobo the chimp user not visiting Queenzone.com
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Posted: 18 Aug 09, 11:09 Edit this post Reply to this post Reply with Quote

Ha!  That would be something like the sound Mariah Carey makes in bed would it?


"Your not funny, your not a good musician, theres a difference between being funny and being an idiot, you obviously being the latter" - Dave R Fuller
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Posted: 19 Aug 09, 06:50 Edit this post Reply to this post Reply with Quote



Zebonka12 wrote:

Ha!  That would be something like the sound Mariah Carey makes in bed would it?

I wouldn't know, I very rarely sleep with Mariah Carey. If it is like the sound she produces, that would be a good reason not to start now.



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bobo the chimp user not visiting Queenzone.com
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Posted: 19 Aug 09, 15:34 Edit this post Reply to this post Reply with Quote

I think they call it a whistle moan.


"Your not funny, your not a good musician, theres a difference between being funny and being an idiot, you obviously being the latter" - Dave R Fuller