320 or FLAC?

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peppergomez
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320 or FLAC?

Post by peppergomez »

I recently re-ripped my CD collection, upgrading it from 160 to 320 (back when I ripped them, storage was expensive. Now, it's dirt cheap).

I am wondering if I made a mistake going with 320, and instead should have gone with FLAC. (By the way, I didn't see FLAC as an option in Media Monkey...it must be though, right?)

I have some pretty decent/good audio gear (Logitech 5.1 speakers, B&W Zepplin Speaker dock- probably the best sounding gear I own, Shure SE-535V earbuds- also amazingly nice, Honda Accord stereo, Cowon X7 player, and an 80G ipod that keeps on truckin- I use this for my car).

So, I am wondering what folks' opinions are re: the sound quality/size difference between 320 (which Media Monkey characterizes as "insane quality" lol) and FLAC? Maybe I should have gone FLAC?

I have lots of music, about 150,000+ mp3s, so that ends up being a fair amount of size.

Thanks.
Lowlander
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Re: 320 or FLAC?

Post by Lowlander »

I've personally gone with FLAC (better tagging support than WAV), but studies have shown that most people hear no difference in anything above 192Kbps MP3.
Lowlander (MediaMonkey user since 2003)
Teknojnky
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Re: 320 or FLAC?

Post by Teknojnky »

mediamonkey does support flac

'insane' is a lame preset type, its not from mediamonkey but from the lame mp3 encoder itself.

I suggest you start @ http://wiki.hydrogenaudio.org/index.php ... rmat_guide and read through the various other articles there regarding flac/lossless and mp3/lossy then decide for yourself.

Personally I've been using FLAC for years, not because I can hear the difference, but for archiving purposes and ensuring I have a duplicate of the source.
peppergomez
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Re: 320 or FLAC?

Post by peppergomez »

AFter posting, I read the MM help guide (maybe I should have done that first,lol) and read that MM does support FLAC. I've never seen FLAC as an option though, so maybe you are correct. I wonder which it is.

Below are the relevant contents from the help section:


What follows is a brief description of some of the various formats supported natively by MediaMonkey to help you choose the ideal format for your digital music collection:

Format Compression Type Compression Efficiency Application Compatibility MediaMonkey Support Portable Device Compatibility DVD Compatibility Comments
MP3 lossy good all playback, tagging, encoding all many -
WMA lossy better many playback, tagging, encoding some (but not iPods) many Microsoft format
OGG lossy best many playback, tagging, encoding some (but not iPods) few Open Standard (no patents)
AAC (M4A/M4P) lossy best many playback, tagging,
encoding (via plugin) iPods and some phones none Popularized by iTunes
MPC lossy best (at higher bitrates) few playback, tagging none none -
CD Audio (CDA) none - all playback, burning none many -
WAV none - many playback, tagging, encoding some many Tagging implementations vary
Monkey's Audio (APE) lossless ~55% few playback, tagging none none -
FLAC lossless ~58% some playback, tagging, encoding few none Open standard
Lowlander
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Re: 320 or FLAC?

Post by Lowlander »

In the rip dialog you can change to FLAC.
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Re: 320 or FLAC?

Post by theta_wave »

FLAC for Rare stuff and V0 (extreme) for easily replaceable items. There's no need to rip at a constant bitrate of 320kbps.
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wonea
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Re: 320 or FLAC?

Post by wonea »

It depends on your music whether you'll hear the difference. I found playing an (LAME encoder) MP3 of Barry White music through my stereo (£500+ stereo) that I could hear the bass wasn't being represented properly. Putting on the CD or flac and the music regained it's bass punch.

If you listen to a lot of over produced pop or dance music you might not hear the difference. Here's what to listen for;

Rock music (Progressive rock, with multiple guitars, piano, and drums) - listen to the rhythm guitar. An MP3 will try and represent what is the loudest sound, and increase the masking over other sounds in order save space. The rhythm guitar should be crystal clear, just like the lead guitar. On some records it can sound slightly muddy.

Classical music - listen to clarity, the sound of the bows being twinged, players moving around. It should sound natural not a slimmed down aural representation of a melody.

MP3 will perform well when a single instrument is being played, but will deteriorate with complex music. This all depends on what you want from music, if your happy to listen to melodies and not pay great attention to production values then MP3 is fine. However for me, much like image juddering on some LCD/Plasma panels, if you start listening to the MP3 artifacts you'll become annoyed, and eventually just use a lossless standard, as essentially your devaluing the investment made in CD by reducing them to a lower quality.
dannyno
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Re: 320 or FLAC?

Post by dannyno »

I suppose some experienced or trained listeners might be able to hear a difference, but most people can't.

Anyone who thinks they can hear a difference should try a blind test, where you don't know the source of what you're hearing. Get someone to play you FLAC and MP3 versions of the same music and score you on whether you guess the source right. Use the same settings, speakers etc. Do it lots of times for statistical validity. And I bet most people won't be able to guess accurately better than chance.

Even more scientific would be to run the test when you don't have an assistant who might unwittingly react or otherwise give the game away. Set up a random playlist of MP3 and FLACs, set it running, guess the source, and then compare that with the played list.
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Re: 320 or FLAC?

Post by MMuser2011 »

As long as I still can read my original CDs or DVDs, I rip the tracks with 320kbs mp3 ("insane"-Option). If I see the point, where I can't use the original media anymore, I will use some lossless format like FLAC or whatever it will be to archive them.

And I agree with the others: I for myself can't hear a difference. Neither with my ears nor with my actual audio equipment. :wink:
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Re: 320 or FLAC?

Post by Tommee Maxx »

I hate to say it but I would never rip anything from a CD source (1411) at/directly to 320. Compression is compression is compression. Use FLAC (since it's lossless compression) and save your master files on an outbard HD. If you want to have files at 320 or lower then convert those FLAC's to that compression level. Once you have scrambled the egg you cannot unscramble it (in other words converting a 160 file to 320 is a waste of time), always keep the highest level possible and if you need space make a lower level copy of the original (on separate HD's).

Yes studies have shown that once you get to 320 you can't tell the difference between 320 and WAV (1411). What is unsaid is how you are listening to the files. Your PC, even with decent speakers/system, or earbuds cannot stand up to a high quality system. If you have multiple versions of songs in different formats even on an average system you can hear it (or let me rephrase that,,,I can hear it and I can't stand what lossy compression does to the music).

I use FLAC for downloads from Wolfgang's Vault or HD Tracks then convert those files to WAV and keep my original FLAC downloads on another HD. With HD's so ridculously inexpensive there is no reason to compromise on the quality of your master files. That being said if everything you have is already compressed just leave it, unless you still have the original CDs and want to re-do them. Try using FLAC for rip a few songs, then rip the same songs at 320 (or less) and compare.
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brohandy
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Re: 320 or FLAC?

Post by brohandy »

I think FLAC ends up being bigger, although you're right that storage is a lot cheaper these days. All of my music is 192 because it's enough to sound good anyway. I mean I don't need the big file to play well.
Solitaire001
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Re: 320 or FLAC?

Post by Solitaire001 »

I've started re-ripping my library to FLAC. That way I don't have to re-rip and re-tag them again if I decide to go from, as an example, a LAME MP3 encoded at 320kpbs CBR to one encoded at V0 VBR. From there, I make duplicates that are converted as needed for loading on my player (at this time it's a Sony Walkman NWZ-E465).
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Re: 320 or FLAC?

Post by Guest »

At your suggestion I did the same thing too. It's better to be able to reduce the quality if it's required, than being stuck with lower kpbs.
Solitaire001 wrote:I've started re-ripping my library to FLAC. That way I don't have to re-rip and re-tag them again if I decide to go from, as an example, a LAME MP3 encoded at 320kpbs CBR to one encoded at V0 VBR. From there, I make duplicates that are converted as needed for loading on my player (at this time it's a Sony Walkman NWZ-E465).
Solitaire001
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Re: 320 or FLAC?

Post by Solitaire001 »

Guest wrote:At your suggestion I did the same thing too. It's better to be able to reduce the quality if it's required, than being stuck with lower kpbs.
Solitaire001 wrote:I've started re-ripping my library to FLAC. That way I don't have to re-rip and re-tag them again if I decide to go from, as an example, a LAME MP3 encoded at 320kpbs CBR to one encoded at V0 VBR. From there, I make duplicates that are converted as needed for loading on my player (at this time it's a Sony Walkman NWZ-E465).
The main reason I'm re-ripping to FLAC is so that I can convert as needed, and at right quality level. After I finish re-ripping to FLAC, I'm going to do several series of ABX tests to determine which bitrate/quality level will give me files where I consistently can't tell the difference between the lossless and lossy versions of the same songs.

In the past I've done a brief test that seemed to confirm that a quality level of V0 in LAME met this requirement, but I want to do a series of thorough tests to more-strongly confirm this. As an example, I recently checked a previously ripped MP3 encoded at 192kbps CBR against the FLAC version and I had little trouble telling the difference between the two. For me, the sound quality is more important that a smaller file size so I have no problem if takes a LAME encoded at 320kbps to meet the requirement, but I want to confirm for myself through testing if that's actually needed.
Felionso
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Re: 320 or FLAC?

Post by Felionso »

I really can't tell the difference between 320 and FLAC, 320 MP3 is smaller in filesize though, and more widely supported on portable players, so it's generally the format I prefer.
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