Author Topic: MP3 vs. FLAC  (Read 8893 times)

Julio Di Benedetto

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Re: MP3 vs. FLAC
« Reply #20 on: January 21, 2012, 06:26:52 AM »
I think there is a difference....but its important to define what the "difference " is, and the difference is not necessarily better or worst.

To my ears its more like comparing analog recordings and digital recordings, analog being out of the box, no computers, recording and mixing to tape which has almost gone the same way as the dinosaurs, today.  Digital recordings are in the box, computer based Daw's.

IF you compared music recorded in the analog domain ie. music before computers and contemporary music there is a difference.  Words like "warmth" are are often used to describe analog tape based recordings and "brittle" or "harsh" is often levied against digital recordings.

Im using this to illustrate what I hear......Flac for me is like listen to analog, Mp3 is digital.

I imagine the difference is "lost" listening to and iPod on a speaker dock, but in a good listen environment I can hear the difference.

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Re: MP3 vs. FLAC
« Reply #21 on: January 21, 2012, 08:51:17 AM »
Julio, when you have compared listening to FLAC and WAV/CD audio, have you controlled for all other variables?

Have you tried re-converting a FLAC recording to WAV or CD and determining whether you still hear the analog-like warmth you believe you hear from FLAC?

There's no reason I can imagine that should make a FLAC recording sound any different than the CD/WAV source it came from, unless it's in codec or software or different hardware.
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Julio Di Benedetto

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Re: MP3 vs. FLAC
« Reply #22 on: January 21, 2012, 07:33:19 PM »
Hi Mike....I think my last post was a bit misleading.

I was trying to suggest that Flac is like old school analog recording and the quality of the sound and mp3 is like modern digital in the box recordings.....a confusing mix of idea Im using to express myself.

A Flac recording does sound or should sound identical to the source cd or wave.....what Im say is to my ears in my studio there is a difference. An mp3 has a harshness to the sound quality compared to a Flac recording.  It is a subjective thing.  The maths explains why I could hear what Im hearing...beyond that its not easy to point to.  If your fortunate to have listened to music through really good & honest equipment.....the two dont always go together, then you will hear it, the difference that is. 

Personally the idea of listening/purchasing music that has had parts of its content removed to fit into a format for mobile listening and easy digital distribution does not do anything for me....thats like buying a sofa and cutting part of it off to fit through the front door. 

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Re: MP3 vs. FLAC
« Reply #23 on: January 22, 2012, 01:45:55 PM »

Personally the idea of listening/purchasing music that has had parts of its content removed to fit into a format for mobile listening and easy digital distribution does not do anything for me....thats like buying a sofa and cutting part of it off to fit through the front door.

I concur...as almost everyone here knows.  At least I have the opportunity of hearing the entire original recording in .flac (although my sense of hearing & equipment may also be limiting factors.)

Seren

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Re: MP3 vs. FLAC
« Reply #24 on: January 23, 2012, 05:35:03 AM »
Personally the idea of listening/purchasing music that has had parts of its content removed to fit into a format for mobile listening and easy digital distribution does not do anything for me....thats like buying a sofa and cutting part of it off to fit through the front door.

Nice image...

...or trying a three seater in the shop and having a 2 seater delivered...

...or the sofa arriving with the bits of it the makers don't think you actually need removed to make it cheaper....

Julio Di Benedetto

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Re: MP3 vs. FLAC
« Reply #25 on: January 23, 2012, 06:03:39 AM »
Personally the idea of listening/purchasing music that has had parts of its content removed to fit into a format for mobile listening and easy digital distribution does not do anything for me....thats like buying a sofa and cutting part of it off to fit through the front door.

Nice image...

...or trying a three seater in the shop and having a 2 seater delivered...

...or the sofa arriving with the bits of it the makers don't think you actually need removed to make it cheaper....


Even better put Seren......very Pythonesque

ffcal

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Re: MP3 vs. FLAC
« Reply #26 on: January 23, 2012, 11:27:44 AM »
I'm a little wary of the idea that I won't miss certain data if it is from the original sound.  I think, if anything, I hear more distinctions in the quality of compressed sound than I did 10 years ago.  Also, I can't see embracing an idea (compression) that seems to dumb down our ears by gradation.  The artifacts in a 192 or even a 256 kbps file are much more pronounced to me than they used to be, even at a variable bit rate.

Forrest

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Re: MP3 vs. FLAC
« Reply #27 on: January 23, 2012, 11:49:49 AM »
I wonder if that increase you perceive, Forrest, is caused by people using the fastest possible speed to compress. So it may be 192kbs, but it is not as good quality as a 192kbs compression created slowly. I bet this is especially true for sites that offer various compression options for music you want to buy ... they no doubt work as fast as they can, so you do not get the best mp3 result.

I'm reminded of people burning disks at the fastest setting they can. Which has its own problems with accuracy.
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jkn

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Re: MP3 vs. FLAC
« Reply #28 on: January 23, 2012, 02:50:09 PM »
Or is it a chance in the songs themselves?  With so many artists pushing their songs as close to 0 db as possible... compressing the living hell out of the tracks.

Heard some track on the radio that the radio's added compression totally cracked the track in spots.  At least I'm assuming that's what happened.

Anyway.  Just musing and meandering.
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drone on

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Re: MP3 vs. FLAC
« Reply #29 on: January 23, 2012, 04:32:21 PM »
If a superwave fries all the world's computers, I will still have my CD's.   ;D

APK

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Re: MP3 vs. FLAC
« Reply #30 on: January 23, 2012, 04:36:23 PM »
Or ...  if your house burns down (probably more likely), you still have the world's computers. ;)
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APK

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Re: MP3 vs. FLAC
« Reply #31 on: January 23, 2012, 04:39:29 PM »
Actually, anything superwaveish that would fry computers has probably already fried everything else anyway !
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jdh

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Re: MP3 vs. FLAC
« Reply #32 on: January 23, 2012, 09:25:36 PM »
I think the type of software used for compression is very important.I am not an engineer so I do not understand the algorithms but listening to tracks at 256 from iTunes,Emusic and Beatport for instance,Beatport to me is the clear winner. Same goes for Flac.In theory,it should sound the same as a CD or Wav file but depending on the software used,by Pure Music or Amarra or flac to....file conversation systems,they do sound different.You will hear it only on a high end system but it is there.As an example,I bought 2 Robert Rich Archive titles,one from iTunes at 256 and one from Musiczeit in Flac,Flac  sounded way better and looking at how long it took to download each,the Flac being three times longer,you know there is information being cut out.Of course,I did not have the original file.

ffcal

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Re: MP3 vs. FLAC
« Reply #33 on: January 23, 2012, 09:31:08 PM »
I wonder if that increase you perceive, Forrest, is caused by people using the fastest possible speed to compress. So it may be 192kbs, but it is not as good quality as a 192kbs compression created slowly.

Hi Anthony,

Well, that's a whole other issue, but I'm referring to hearing the same compressed files several years later.  I think I'm detecting more problematic frequencies in those files than I did before.  Now I wish I had encoded them at 256 kbps or higher instead of 192.  I do quite a bit of headphones listening the old school way (through a nice hi-fi system) and still record and mix largely through headphones, so maybe that somehow pays off in the end.  Robert Rich has great ears, of course, so I think I've probably picked up some things up from him, too.

Forrest

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Re: MP3 vs. FLAC
« Reply #34 on: June 08, 2012, 10:01:03 AM »
I'm very late to the party here, as I've only just joined the forums. But the Hydrogen Audio forums have many discussions on this subject: http://www.hydrogenaudio.org/forums/

Ekstasis

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Re: MP3 vs. FLAC
« Reply #35 on: December 02, 2013, 04:58:51 PM »
There is a difference of course, especially what you know what to listen for, the difference is mostly in the transients, mp3 have problems with music with a lot of transients they tend to soften them out. If you use a transient designer and max all transients in the mix you will hear the difference more clearly.

Many albums is offered in 24 bit flac compared to 16 bit mp3...
The difference will be bigger.

What does have a bigger impact on the sound is what volume level you use in your mp3/media player, you should always have 100% volume, the lower volume you have the lest bit depth you will have, in the DAW to come around this problem with digital volume control the daw is using a 64 bit floating point engine to give more headroom.. but media players do not do this not your ipod either...

If you use 50% volume with 16 bit audio if you have 50% volume the bit depth will become 8 bit.  Depending on the music you are listening to and genre and equipment the difference will be more or less obvious.

Volume should always when possible be changed the analogue way, and preferable relay based volume adjustment is considered to be the best system.

EDIT: one thing more to add is that the CODEC of mp3s is important Lame is the best codec..the codec is more important then bitrate when you compare bitrates..so it can be good to know that codecs are being used...I wonder which bandcamp use for instance..I would feel fooled if it was not Lame.
« Last Edit: December 02, 2013, 05:11:02 PM by Immersion »

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Re: MP3 vs. FLAC
« Reply #36 on: December 02, 2013, 09:32:05 PM »
EDIT: one thing more to add is that the CODEC of mp3s is important Lame is the best codec..the codec is more important then bitrate when you compare bitrates..so it can be good to know that codecs are being used...I wonder which bandcamp use for instance..I would feel fooled if it was not Lame.

The metadata for something I bought last night from Bandcamp lists LAME3.99

Seren

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Re: MP3 vs. FLAC
« Reply #37 on: December 03, 2013, 01:34:04 AM »
I've never been much into MP3 - only using it for listening to works in progress or for listening to my own music on a portable device when away from home.

Having just started up on Bandcamp I tried converting wav - flac - wav, and found the end file size was the same as the original.

I am led to believe the restored version is an 'exact copy' and therefore should sound the same as the original wav......

mgriffin

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Re: MP3 vs. FLAC
« Reply #38 on: December 03, 2013, 07:22:46 AM »
I am led to believe the restored version is an 'exact copy' and therefore should sound the same as the original wav......


Yes, because FLAC is lossless compression, you could do this conversion many times and not lose any quality. It's like Zip compression - you can zip and unzip a TIF file and it won't change the quality of the source.
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Re: MP3 vs. FLAC
« Reply #39 on: December 03, 2013, 07:25:06 AM »
FLAC is the way to go.