16bit/44kz wave vs 256kbps/44kz mp3

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ControllerC
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16bit/44kz wave vs 256kbps/44kz mp3

Post by ControllerC »

Is there a big difference between the two? I cant really tell just listening on my laptop-

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Re: 16bit/44kz wave vs 256kbps/44kz mp3

Post by Split »

ControllerC wrote:Is there a big difference between the two? I cant really tell just listening on my laptop-
Well a laptop is hardly critical listening!

But 256Kbps is going to yield good results, it's all to do with file size really.
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Re: 16bit/44kz wave vs 256kbps/44kz mp3

Post by foolomon »

It also depends on the intended usage.

If you're going to burn to CD stick with WAV. If it'll stay on your iPod, either is fine.
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Re: 16bit/44kz wave vs 256kbps/44kz mp3

Post by MarkOne »

MP3 encoders use several masking techniques described as perceptual coding to throw away data that the theories say the human ear won't be able to hear. (Hense 'lossy coding')

But nonetheless it is throwing away sonic information that is present in the wav file.

For the most part 256kb/s MP3s are pretty good and for many listening applications more than adequate. But in a critical listening environment you can tell the difference if you know what you are listening for. (although the difference isn't as great as some would have you believe)

Things like reverb tails can be noticeably different, it is also somewhat genre specific - RAWK is pretty MP3 friendly, some complex orchestral stuff not so.

There are some telltales like a brick-wall filter at around 17KHz - Hey I'm 52, 17KHz went some years ago!!! And some artefacts you could probably train yourself to recognise.

Here's a fun little experiment... If you take a snippet of the WAV and a snippet of the MP3, make sure the amplitudes are equal and time align the transients, then flip the phase of one of them, Cubase will sum the two tracks, and then you can hear the difference.
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Re: 16bit/44kz wave vs 256kbps/44kz mp3

Post by Early21 »

MarkOne wrote:MP3 encoders use several masking techniques described as perceptual coding to throw away data that the theories say the human ear won't be able to hear. (Hense 'lossy coding')

But nonetheless it is throwing away sonic information that is present in the wav file.

For the most part 256kb/s MP3s are pretty good and for many listening applications more than adequate. But in a critical listening environment you can tell the difference if you know what you are listening for. (although the difference isn't as great as some would have you believe)

Things like reverb tails can be noticeably different, it is also somewhat genre specific - RAWK is pretty MP3 friendly, some complex orchestral stuff not so.

There are some telltales like a brick-wall filter at around 17KHz - Hey I'm 52, 17KHz went some years ago!!! And some artefacts you could probably train yourself to recognise.

Here's a fun little experiment... If you take a snippet of the WAV and a snippet of the MP3, make sure the amplitudes are equal and time align the transients, then flip the phase of one of them, Cubase will sum the two tracks, and then you can hear the difference.
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Re: 16bit/44kz wave vs 256kbps/44kz mp3

Post by twilightsong »

I can't tell any difference, but then I'm not what you'd call a critical listener.

Check this out:

"Audiophiles are people more in love with equipment and algorithms than music. They prefer listening for artifacts over enjoying music. They, like most people, hear things based on what they expect to hear. Tell them something was data-reduced and it really will sound worse to them, even if you play them an uncompressed selection!" -- Ken Rockwell
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Re: 16bit/44kz wave vs 256kbps/44kz mp3

Post by NorthWood MediaWorks »

twilightsong wrote:I can't tell any difference, but then I'm not what you'd call a critical listener.

Check this out:

"Audiophiles are people more in love with equipment and algorithms than music. They prefer listening for artifacts over enjoying music. They, like most people, hear things based on what they expect to hear. Tell them something was data-reduced and it really will sound worse to them, even if you play them an uncompressed selection!" -- Ken Rockwell
Sounds like a blind test would be in order... just have to find some muso subjects to try it on!

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Re: 16bit/44kz wave vs 256kbps/44kz mp3

Post by Sherz »

twilightsong wrote:I can't tell any difference, but then I'm not what you'd call a critical listener.

Check this out:

"Audiophiles are people more in love with equipment and algorithms than music. They prefer listening for artifacts over enjoying music. They, like most people, hear things based on what they expect to hear. Tell them something was data-reduced and it really will sound worse to them, even if you play them an uncompressed selection!" -- Ken Rockwell
Indeed...

To be honest for 'normal' listening anything from 192Khz MP3 up sounds fine to me. I'm sure if you're really into exploring the thresholds of human hearing you'd probably spot some microscopic compression artifacts but I'm just not that obsessive :D
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Re: 16bit/44kz wave vs 256kbps/44kz mp3

Post by OnkelGrusom »

For me a wav sounds calmer and in a way more controlled and full than an mp3.
I agree that a 256 mp3 sounds pretty good, but it is not the same on good speakers and amp.
I am not even talking expensive stuff here. Buy an entry level say Yamaha small compact thingy costing something like 300 to 400 usd...

I am 39 and getting "old" and I can't believe that my hearing is that much better... Maybe you do not know what to listen for, maybe you do not really care ;)

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Re: 16bit/44kz wave vs 256kbps/44kz mp3

Post by twilightsong »

OnkelGrusom wrote:
I am 39 and getting "old" and I can't believe that my hearing is that much better... Maybe you do not know what to listen for, maybe you do not really care ;)
I don't think those are the only possibilities here. For example, one other possibility is that you're just full of sh1t -- just sayin'.
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Re: 16bit/44kz wave vs 256kbps/44kz mp3

Post by Woodcrest Studio »

ControllerC wrote:Is there a big difference between the two? I cant really tell just listening on my laptop-

http://www.lincomatic.com/mp3/mp3quality.html

http://byronscullin.posterous.com/georg ... bad-mp3-is
The major difference is file size and mp3 distortion levels that change with different compression algos and bitrates.

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Re: 16bit/44kz wave vs 256kbps/44kz mp3

Post by JohnOnKeyz »

If you have wav files that you want to convert to mp3, I've found a pretty good converter. It really does seem to give you the best of what you can hope for in the conversion process as far as output quality.

http://www.nch.com.au/switch/mp3.html

I totally agree that most of the stuff you hear on internet radio, or can download into playlists aren't worth the 1$ you're spending. To me they are like low quality demos. For most references I'll convert to 192 because it's decent and not too big to send over email. mp3's on a cd I would greatly prefer to be 256 though.

I listen to a lot of internet radio when I'm working, and I can hear the phasey scrapy cymal hits and background noise where it sounds like someone is trying to use steel wool to clean a cheese grater from the other side of the room. Not pleasant, but the ever growing internet business has limited our options. I personally wouldn't care if an mp3 takes a few extra seconds to cache on my local computer, if it is better quality than the cr*p I'm hearing daily.

Nothing beats burning a nice solid uncompressed wav format though.
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Re: 16bit/44kz wave vs 256kbps/44kz mp3

Post by Dave S »

TBH I can't tell the difference between a 320bit mp3 and 16bit wav but then I don't have a high end setup. I also don't have a problem with128kbps files for casual listening. Just like the old days with vinyl at home and cassette in the car.

I did the experiment posted above of exporting and phase flipping. I exported a 16bit wav and mp3's at 128, 192, 256 and 320kbps. When nulling the 128kbps mp3 against the wav there was a lot of garbled mush/rubbish left over. The 192kbps file was noticeably better. Noise was less and sounded less nasty. The 256kbps file was better again but the difference was not so great. There was hardly any difference between nulling the 320kbps file against the wav compared to the 256kbps file. I had to turn my volume up very high to hear it.

I didn't null the mp3's against each other. If I had then maybe I could've detected a difference. So my conclusion would be to use 256kbps where possible and at very least 192kbps. Bear in mind that these tests were done only by exporting directly from inside Cubase 6. Other conversion applications may give different results.

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Re: 16bit/44kz wave vs 256kbps/44kz mp3

Post by OnkelGrusom »

twilightsong wrote:
OnkelGrusom wrote:
I am 39 and getting "old" and I can't believe that my hearing is that much better... Maybe you do not know what to listen for, maybe you do not really care ;)
I don't think those are the only possibilities here. For example, one other possibility is that you're just full of sh1t -- just sayin'.
Yeah maybe Doug, but then again maybe I mean it when I when I say a wav sounds better than "even" a 256 kbs mp3? :?:

Kim ;)
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Re: 16bit/44kz wave vs 256kbps/44kz mp3

Post by Early21 »

I think the inverting test is a distraction. Of course there's a difference between the two files. The real question is whether you can hear a difference between the two formats with your actual ears on a good playback system. MP3 is using tricks to mask the artifacts created by encoding. We don't have to understand how it does it, but if you do want to understand, there are resources on the internets. I would also like to point out that there are several encoding algorithms in popular use that can produce different results.

Now most of the MP3's I have on my devices are 128kbps, but for the ones I have created from my own material using Fraunhofer at 256kbps, I can admit that I would not be able to reliably distinguish the MP3 from the source material in a blind test.
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Re: 16bit/44kz wave vs 256kbps/44kz mp3

Post by twilightsong »

Woodcrest Studio wrote:
ControllerC wrote:Is there a big difference between the two? I cant really tell just listening on my laptop-

http://www.lincomatic.com/mp3/mp3quality.html

http://byronscullin.posterous.com/georg ... bad-mp3-is
The major difference is file size and mp3 distortion levels that change with different compression algos and bitrates.


First -- I think I was at that symposium, if it's the one I attended at Sweetwater in Fort Wayne a few years ago.

Second, although GM is a GIANT in the audio industry, he's held some widely disproved opinions in the past. First, he was a proponent of "bit-hogging" in the 16-bit days. But more telling, at one times he insisted that we needed sample rates of at least 384khz in order to capture/replicate transients accurately, an assertion NOBODY buys into anymore.

But, to address THIS video, what he's calling "distortion" is really just the difference left behind after nulling the wav file with the mp3. It's not "distortion" at all. And it's not that much signal in any case.

I am no expert on this issue, but I have done a fair amount of reading about the theory that underlies lossy encoding, and the experiments/testing that has been done and is still being done with regards to perception of lossy files. I'm pretty convinced that at higher kps, not even audiophiles can reliably and consistently distinguish a lossy file and a wav
Last edited by twilightsong on Thu May 26, 2011 9:18 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: 16bit/44kz wave vs 256kbps/44kz mp3

Post by twilightsong »

Also: I do not mean to assault GM's integrity, but his livelihood is based on selling high-end boutique gear, like his $8000 analog EQ, so he has something of an interest in stressing audio quality, even if it is an indirect one
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Re: 16bit/44kz wave vs 256kbps/44kz mp3

Post by Woodcrest Studio »

twilightsong wrote:Also: I do not mean to assault GM's integrity, but his livelihood is based on selling high-end boutique gear, like his $8000 analog EQ, so he has something of an interest in stressing audio quality, even if it is an indirect one

He does have a nice list of discography too :) . But yeah, his personality can be a little over the top. I was in at a session of his and he opened up for questions. When someone asked a question, he responded " The real question you mean to ask is xxxxxxx" and he would create his own question and answer it! :lol:

Anyway.. lossy vs lossless... It all boils down to if the playback system will reveal the difference. To me, if it can, that matters. Whether or not a listener can consciously hear the difference, to me, doesn't really matter because their ears are still hearing the difference unconsciously. It they draw more pleasure hearing one from the other, that matters.

In the analysis I did a few years ago, mp3s lost dynamic range, spectral content (visible in the song's spectrogram with the telltale being a much thinner color veil) and a big loss of high frequency content.

I have Mp3s and wav files loaded on my media player and I hear the difference. Its that warbley hifreq that is a mp3's dead giveaway. I look at it this way too: My ears are an organ and I don't like feeding them mp3 codec distortion. It is distortion, artificial from an algorithm; bottom line. I would rather feed them damn good music. After all, that is the stuff I model my mixes toward.

My dogs don't listen to mp3s either :mrgreen:

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Re: 16bit/44kz wave vs 256kbps/44kz mp3

Post by Sherz »

Woodcrest Studio wrote: Its that warbley hifreq that is a mp3's dead giveaway.
Can you hear that on a 256k MP3? I sure can't. :?
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Re: 16bit/44kz wave vs 256kbps/44kz mp3

Post by twilightsong »

Woodcrest Studio wrote: He does have a nice list of discography too :) .:
I wasn't aware he had produced/engineered anything in years
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Re: 16bit/44kz wave vs 256kbps/44kz mp3

Post by JohnOnKeyz »

What GM said about, "there is no reason why all music can't go to 48/24"... I personally agree with him. We have enough storage, we have enough bandwidth and technology to make downloads, even streaming work. Local buffer sizes can be increased, and if someone is listening to an album or radio station with a playlist, the next song in order is already queued. So the download of that song into the buffer can be taking place while the previous song is still being played.

Don't get me wrong, I would not agree with removing mp3's altogether, but they should be resigned to an option for low speed or dial up connections.

We are a fast food world. Fast food and music. There are those who do not know the difference, because they have not been introduced to the difference. ...and that's what really needs to happen. A 128k mp3 is basically music in a cheap styrofoam container.

I guess we're lucky that mp3's weren't available when music was assembled to be sent to deep space. :D
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Re: 16bit/44kz wave vs 256kbps/44kz mp3

Post by twilightsong »

JohnOnKeyz wrote:What GM said about, "there is no reason why all music can't go to 48/24"... I personally agree with him. We have enough storage, we have enough bandwidth and technology to make downloads, even streaming work. Local buffer sizes can be increased, and if someone is listening to an album or radio station with a playlist, the next song in order is already queued. So the download of that song into the buffer can be taking place while the previous song is still being played.

Don't get me wrong, I would not agree with removing mp3's altogether, but they should be resigned to an option for low speed or dial up connections.

We are a fast food world. Fast food and music. There are those who do not know the difference, because they have not been introduced to the difference. ...and that's what really needs to happen. A 128k mp3 is basically music in a cheap styrofoam container.

I guess we're lucky that mp3's weren't available when music was assembled to be sent to deep space. :D
I'm no expert, but I've been told the problem isn't speed, or even bandwidth, but it's aggregate bandwidth. Most infrastructure can handle large music files in a timely manner, but if the system in the aggregate switched to larger music files, the sudden increase in the overall amount of data would choke the system, and bring it to its knees

That is, if I understand the issue correctly. I think it was Tones who explained it to me
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Re: 16bit/44kz wave vs 256kbps/44kz mp3

Post by Dave S »

As far as I can tell the average consumer listening in a normal domestic room with a consumer level system isn't going to be able to tell the difference between a 128kbps mp3 or a wav file. Even less so if listening on a computer generic with a generic sound card.

I don't doubt that someone listening on a system with a high end monitoring system with high end converters in a quiet room may well hear the difference between a 320kbps file and a wav but I can't on my setup. I can hear the difference between 128kbps and 256kbps files though.

I will say this though, I can enjoy good music in any format. It's not that long ago that, well a few years perhaps, that I was listening to music on an am radio or my parents ancient hmv record player. For mix review and sales I do agree that the file should be of the highest quality if possible.
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Re: 16bit/44kz wave vs 256kbps/44kz mp3

Post by Split »

lets all go back to Cassettes and all the problems they had, I seem to remember still enjoying music playing back on them though :P
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Re: 16bit/44kz wave vs 256kbps/44kz mp3

Post by Dave S »

I've been thinking about that phase inversion test. I now think that I had it the wrong way around. It wasn't the mp3 conversion adding stuff. The noise I could hear is probably the information lost in the conversion. Some of it did sound like that phasey poor sound quality that sometimes afflicts online streaming though.
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