mp3 v's FLAC

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Thurston Garden
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mp3 v's FLAC

Post: #85499 Thurston Garden
Thu Feb 21, 2008 8:25 pm

I am bit of an anorak when it comes to my music. I currently have about 45 days worth of tunes ripped onto an external hard drive which I listen to on my Squeezebox which is on my wireless network.

After weeks helping a neighbour re-tile his house last year, with my pocket money I rewarded myself with a pair of lovely Grado headphones (extravagant I know but they were a snip on Fleabay!)

Now all my misuc has been ripped as mp3's courtesy of iTunes, but I have always wondered about FLAC files. mp3 compresses the file saving on file size, but reducing the quality whereas FLAC is uncompressed.

Well! I listened to Jethro Tull's Thick as a Brick last night FLAC style and was tryly blown away with the increase in sound. The vocals has more depth, there was no background hiss (albeit it is almost unnoticeable on my mp3's). I heard tones that I have never heard before, and believe me the album has been played many many times. Truly outstanding.

I am ripping Enigma's MCMXC Limited Edition CD now and plan to get stretched out on the sofa interfrastically with my cans on. If an 1972 FLAC rip can be sooooooo good, how good will a fully digital original recording be?

:shock:
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Post: #85516 Annpan
Thu Feb 21, 2008 9:36 pm

You really are an anorak huh :lol:

The thing that I find with quality of files is that, usually the headphones are really only capable of prodcing a certain quality anyway so it is usually a bit pointless up-grading to better recording quality... This was the main problem with minidisk apparently - as much as the quality was better, peoples speakers/ headphones weren't so it was academic.

But if you have fantastic headphones then :cheers:

If you happen to have 'Pablo Honey' by Radiohead in there, give it a lie back, lights out, eyes closed listen for me ... it's been a long time since I just listened to any music... *looks lovingly at LPs and dusty record player... sigh*

But... does this mean that you have to rip all that music again?... 45 days worth... I feel for your OH :lol:
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Post: #85520 Thurston Garden
Thu Feb 21, 2008 10:02 pm

I have just emerged from the dark. Flabbergasted. And yes, I am an anorak - most of my mp3's are ripped at 160kbps but that Enigma was done at 903kbps oh what a difference. I really have been doing my Grado's an injustice listening to my mp3s, but I still thought the sound was fab!

It never ceases to amaze me how many times I think my sound cannot get any better. Surely not! That's incredible! I say... but then something simple like bi-wiring my speakers blew me away. FLAC certainly has too.

I get a real knot in my stomach thinking back to listening to Madness and Baggy Trousers on my wee red Dansette record player. How sh*te the sound must have been,but I loved it! I still remember the night I hear stereo for the first time. I used to lie on my bedroom floor with the stereo speakers one at each side of my head like they were headphones :lol:

Now, of the 61 Radiohead tracks, Pablo Honey ain't one of them, but if I had it I would certainly have gone back into the dark!

I think some Vivaldi for my next FLAC rip! And I need to re-borrow a great Michael Marra album from a friend when babysitting for her on Saturday - now that I am looking forward to (MM, not the sitting!)
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Post: #85522 Annpan
Thu Feb 21, 2008 10:16 pm

Pablo Honey is the Album... I don't talk in tracks... I like the album as a piece of work in it's entirety... 'Anyone can play guitar' and 'Thinking about you' are some of the track names but as I say it is more of a whole piece thingy...

Vivaldi... nice...

I also did the speakers on either side of my head thing :lol:

But sitting cross-legged right in front of my Record player listening to my Albums is what I really miss... Yeah the quality is not as good, but it is the experience, reading the album sleeve, looking at the artwork, trying to play guitar along to the tracks... oh I feel very nostalgic...

Toddler and renovation work don't really mix with record listening and guitar playing :(
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Post: #85524 Martin
Thu Feb 21, 2008 10:20 pm

I must confess "sounds" are my weakness too - if there's a time when my eco conscience gets a bit overlooked is when winding up the stereo amp into afterburners and reheat territory! :mrgreen:
However good things sound on headphones, there's nothing to beat the sheer physical presence of a good system when it's "getting up and out" of the speakers :roll:
I look at a bookcase full of cds and groan at the thought of ripping even part of them..................I've experimented a bit with a cheap mp3 player, and have tried ogg/vorbis which are audibly better than mp3s, but reckon I'll stick with cds for critical listening (or go mad and revive my record deck! :dave: )
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Post: #85545 Thurston Garden
Fri Feb 22, 2008 9:05 am

Martin wrote:I must confess "sounds" are my weakness too
I think today's yoof call them "choons" :oops:

When I was wee, my parents encouraged me to save up and buy the best I could afford. It paid off, despite being tempted to buy a cheaper version earlier. I bought my speakers about 8 years ago and paid £860 then :oops: I replaced my amp when I was a consumerist suit about 7 years ago and shelled out £650. My Grado cans were 'cheap' off eBay.

There is no way on this earth that I could either justify nor even consider spending that amount of money on anything, let alone a luxury, but I could then and I am soooo glad I did. It reallt was money well spent.

I tent to spend about 5 nights a week flat out on the sofa with my headphones on. Sometimes it's BBC radio (listen again through my gorgeous squeezebox) or immersing myself in my 'choons'

Music has always formed a large part of my life. As a young loon I played the flute reasonably well, dabbled in the peeana, geetar, mandolin, mouth organ, melodion, and the obligatory drums. I still have a flute and to play from time to time but not often enough. OH has a geetar (I was never much good at stringed instruments being left handed) and it laughs at me from its corner in the living room. One winter I am going to get the better of it!

It is my one regret really - not keeping up with playing. I think it is such a fantastic thing for children to learn - playing music is something you can do anywhere and it is almost always appreciated.

I fill the gap by listening, but perhaps one day I will get back into playing again regularly. :cheers:
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Post: #85547 Annpan
Fri Feb 22, 2008 9:18 am

Oh, you should, you really should...

I hope to be able to get a piano sometime in the next few years, and I would love it if I could play the clarinet again - learned at school on a hire clarinet, but when I rebeled against the teacher by teaching myself Glen Miller tunes, instead of Snug as a Bug in a Rug... I had to give back the instrument as I 'wasn't taking it seriously' :(

JohnM isn't musical at all, I find it really odd that his parents don't listen to any music... weird

But I am luck in that my Bruvver is in a band, so I hope that he will help me encourage the musician in E... she is too young now but I hope she will pick up something to express herself with - she is keen on her little glokenspiel :mrgreen:

I gave away my 3 electric guitars last year, but I still have my beautiful accoustic... I love her dearly... she has seen me through some tough times.
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Post: #85593 wulf
Fri Feb 22, 2008 12:38 pm

The main problem with FLAC is that the files are much bigger. As a musician, I spend what is probably a shamefully small amount of time listening in detail to other's music (although I frequently have stuff playing, particularly at work) and so MP3 (or OGG Vorbis) are good enough for me and much more practical.

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Post: #85658 mrsflibble
Fri Feb 22, 2008 4:33 pm

Annpan wrote:this was the main problem with minidisk apparently - as much as the quality was better, peoples speakers/ headphones weren't so it was academic.



that's why we have an amp and decent speakers in both livingroom and car. we therefore benefit from our MDs. my hubby is a musicnerd too.
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Post: #88544 Super.Niki
Mon Mar 10, 2008 3:58 pm

This is something I know a fair bit about! Bear with me... i'll try not to be too technical... because it's SO confusing!!

Mp3s only compresses files within the normal range of human hearing (20-20,000 Hz) so there's not usually any audible difference but, seeing as we are all products of nature rather than cloning, obviously some people will hear over or under, higher or lower frequencies.... so it is all dependent on the person....

The normal audio file (before being converted to mp3) is usually a wav file, these are HUGE (I did a piece of audio work and it was something like 5GB just for one "tune"... insane!) but they are the best quality!

The quality of your audio depends on the sample rate and sample size. Sample rate is usually between 8kHz ad 44.1kHz with a CD quality usually being 44kHz. Meaning that the sound is sampled 44,000 times a second. The higher the sample rate the better the quality so you can hear the higher frequencies etc.
Sample size is usually 8 or 16 bit, CDs use 16 bit sample size.

192 kbit/s is the "standard" bitrate for mp3s
224–320 kbit/s is CD quality (audio files are smaller than WAV but bigger than mp3, a nice medium!)
500 kbit/s–1 Mbit/s is the bitrate for FLAC and WAV files

the higher the bitrate, the better the quality of the audio....

HOWEVER.... all depends on your speakers/headphones.... When we're mixing in the studio at uni we have two sets of monitors, one set are the ultra-mega-stupidly-expensive ones at something silly like £1000 a speaker or higher and the other set are the "high quality, every day" set, probably the highest quality that someone in their house would have. Also with headphones I have my LOVELY Beyerdynamic beautiful yummy expensive ones that are just lovely but also encouraged to listen to our work on something like i-pod headphones because it's mass-market.
The difference is AMAZING!! We're always encouraged to mix and work with the highest quality equipment possible but make sure it still sounds pass-able in the every day headphones/speakers.

So.... I hope that helped.... it's a case of space vs quality and if you've found a happy medium there, it ends up being the quality of your kit and, unfortunately, it is usually the higher the price of kit, the better the quality....
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Post: #88551 Thurston Garden
Mon Mar 10, 2008 4:21 pm

So I am not the only anorak then :lol:
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Post: #88661 Shirley
Mon Mar 10, 2008 9:05 pm

I found that to be very interesting... thanks Niki!
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Post: #88662 Super.Niki
Mon Mar 10, 2008 9:07 pm

well.... they go into loads of detail in lectures but I kinda switch off sometimes... so I hope it helped!!!
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