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Old November 26th, 2008, 10:36 AM   #1
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Audiophile's MP3

Any classical music & opera lovers around?

I have decided to go mobile with my CD collection - recently bought a smart phone with iPod type capabilities. For listening in ear buds won't matter all that much, but my goal is to fully preserve the quality of my CDs, as I will also be connecting the phone to my car stereo and possibly higher end home audio system later.

I know, the claim that 128kbps MP3 equals to full CD quality is greatly exaggerated, at least with symphonic orchestra and opera type vocal music... might be true for rock which I don't care much about. But should I go all the way up to 320kbps (this is the highest quality Adobe Audition 1.5 is giving me)? File size is not important (by the time I fill up the phone's flash card, a larger one will be available for purchase); quality is.

MP3 or MP3PRO? CBR or VBR? Keep the sample rate at 44100KHz? Anything else to change from the defaults in Audition?

Any audiophile help is appreciated.
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Old November 26th, 2008, 11:29 AM   #2
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There is no such thing as an Audiophile MP3.

I can't listen to MP3 at all - personally I would put the full uncompressed 16/44.1 wav on.

Or use one of the lossless formats.

People like Linn Records have even got 24/96 downloads for the true Audiophile.
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Old November 27th, 2008, 01:17 AM   #3
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In reality the least compressed MP3 formats are difficult if not impossible to tell apart from original CD quality. But, when hard disk space is so cheap, why use any lossy format at all, if not only for the peace of mind?

Use FLAC if you want to make files smaller (lossless compression), or just pain old WAV, the original CD format. That way you are not going to loose anything and no need for FLAC converters and players. It would pe stupid to convert to anything less than 16/44, and pointless to upconvert, because the quality can not get any better.

Linn recordings are originally DSD aka SACD, 24/96 conversions have no musical content above 22 kHz, only stationary noise shaping noise... In that way they are a hoax.
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Old November 27th, 2008, 04:42 PM   #4
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I usually use best quality VBR rather than 320 CBR.

I've ripped some CD's this way, and then later re-constituted them when we wanted to go and listen to some stereo gear. We were actually looking for tube-based amps so went to a high end place to listen - by high end I mean that they were selling $30k (each) speakers and $25k turntables as well as more reasonably priced stuff.

They all said that the CD we brought was one of the nicest CD's they had heard in a long time and didn't want to believe that it had been reconstituded from MP3 files.

We're 100% into classical. My wife was at one time a performing classical pianist and I've been an amateur musician for decades. Neither of us has ever had any complaint whatsoever with best quality VBR MP3. Or at least any complaint that wasn't also true of the original CD itself.

Can't remember where, but at one time there were some serious studies and double blind tests done on MP3 and the conclusion seemed to be that nobody could reliably distingush MP3 from CD at 256 KB
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Old November 27th, 2008, 05:28 PM   #5
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About the earbuds - get some Sensaphonics ProPhonic 2X-S IEMs and it will matter very much! :)
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Old November 27th, 2008, 06:10 PM   #6
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an mp3 is a compressed file. data is lost in the compression. the amount of acceptable loss is up to the individual, and the quality of the equipment. an mp3 tends to lose bottom end, and sound a little brighter do to the lost lows. some listeners like the extra mid and highs, and prefer mp3. some people do not have an ear for it. With most music I can tell a quality difference between 128kbps and 192kbps. 50s music sounds normal at 96kbps to my ear.I rip my music at 320kbps.
These are my opinions, and I am sticking to them. until I change my mind.
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Old November 28th, 2008, 06:19 AM   #7
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Originally Posted by Allen Plowman View Post
an mp3 is a compressed file. data is lost in the compression. the amount of acceptable loss is up to the individual, and the quality of the equipment. an mp3 tends to lose bottom end, and sound a little brighter do to the lost lows. some listeners like the extra mid and highs, and prefer mp3. some people do not have an ear for it. With most music I can tell a quality difference between 128kbps and 192kbps. 50s music sounds normal at 96kbps to my ear.I rip my music at 320kbps.
These are my opinions, and I am sticking to them. until I change my mind.
The other thing that MP3 loses is the "room" - especially on simple mic'ed classical music.
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Old November 28th, 2008, 06:41 AM   #8
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The other thing that MP3 loses is the "room" - especially on simple mic'ed classical music.
Possible. When comparing different MP3 compressions to each other and CD, the only difference between 2 best MP3:s was a slight loss of stereo imaging, extremely subtle. I could not hear even that between the best MP3 and CD, though.

But, like I said, with HDD prices being what they are, why do lossy compressions at all?
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Old November 28th, 2008, 09:00 AM   #9
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.....They all said that the CD we brought was one of the nicest CD's they had heard in a long time and didn't want to believe that it had been reconstituded from MP3 files......
Jim: Call me cynical - they're trying to sell you some expensive gear! Of course they'll say the stuff you bring in is nice!
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Old November 28th, 2008, 11:30 AM   #10
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Jim: Call me cynical - they're trying to sell you some expensive gear! Of course they'll say the stuff you bring in is nice!
salespeople are rarely audiophiles. They are employees hired to convince people to buy things. The only opinion they have that can be trusted is to steer you to the highest commission you can get. Only your ear can determine what sounds good to you.

Ervin, It is very possible that the phone and earbud quality is so low that the bitrate will not matter. rip the same song in several bit rates, 96, 128, 192, 320 and listen to them one after another without adjusting anything. make sure they are ripped from the same source, not different songs with different bitrates. chances are the limitations of your smart phone will not be able to play anything higher quality that 128kbps. (I mean to say it will play higher bitrates, with no increase in sound quality) this can happen due to the knowledge that earbuds can not produce a full depth of sound, so the amplifiers in the miniature devices such as ipods simply do not have the ability to reproduce them.If the smart phone and earbuds do not sound better to you with a bitrate of anything higher than 128kbps, why rip at double the bitrate, and fit half as many songs on your portable device?
I do work in sound reinforcement. my sound system can and has played for crowds of up to 4000 people. I can plug an iphone to my system and play the same mp3 as another source, and there is an extremely noticeable loss of headroom and low end. inversely, I can plug those earbuds into a nice tube amp, and the amp would sound marginally better. You can not get audiophile high quality music from earbuds, in my opinion.
keep the original cds in your living room, rip at 128kbps or 192kbps for the mobile device.

once again, strictly my opinions, based on my tin ear
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Old November 29th, 2008, 12:23 AM   #11
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These guys were more gearheads than salesmen. They had no compunction about telling me that I knew nothing about audio when I asked an innocent sort of question. I don't think they were the type to try to make people feel good.

I think the re-constituted CD really did sound exceptionally good
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Old December 1st, 2008, 11:48 AM   #12
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There is no such thing as an Audiophile MP3.
John, I'd love to live in the Royal Albert Hall or better yet, in the Opera House... until then I have to make the best of what's practical and what I can afford. Also, if I could choose, I would prefer to listen to tape or vinyl LP on a tube amp using 60 cubic feet boxes in a dedicated room... it would sound so much better than CDs on my home system in the living room.

But in the meantime let's just get our feet back on the ground. Digital audio compression has a very specific purpose, and that's to offer small file sizes sacrificing some detail. How much detail is acceptable, that's highly subjective, just as it is with digital video. There always will be some individuals capable of seeing/hearing the difference, but as blind tests show, even videophiles/audiophiles argue on how much is really lost.

Until I can get a 10TB iPod (to hold my entire collection at least in 16/44.1K, better yet, make it 100TB to load my movies too)... I have to live with the limitations offered by MP3... it will sound just fine on headphones/earbuds and my Bose car stereo system.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Allen Plowman View Post
Ervin, It is very possible that the phone and earbud quality is so low that the bitrate will not matter.
Allen, as I mentioned to start with, I will be listening on other devices as well, not strictly earbuds.

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Use FLAC if you want to make files smaller (lossless compression), or just pain old WAV, the original CD format. That way you are not going to loose anything and no need for FLAC converters and players.
Petri, and how do you suggest I will carry around my smartphone... with a two kilogram external hard drive?

Practical question: since VBR offers significantly smaller file sizes (depending on content), would you guys say that VBR at the highest setting equals to CBR at 320kbps?

Thanks,
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Old December 1st, 2008, 12:20 PM   #13
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I've been really happy with the rsults of best quality VBR. Haven't made many side by side comparions with CBR 320, but I'm happy enough with it that I've never felt the need to compare after the initial experimenting I did several years ago.

I think getting the original recording right is vastly more important than whether you listen to it from WAV vs MP3 CBR320 vs MP3 VBR Best.
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Old December 1st, 2008, 04:30 PM   #14
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But in the meantime let's just get our feet back on the ground.
You *did* start this thread with the word "Audiophile" and an MP3 cannot be Audiophile, however acceptable it may be to you in the real world.

That's all.........
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Old December 1st, 2008, 05:52 PM   #15
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Well, I guess it depends on your definition of "Audiophile".

I think "Audiophilia" is sort of like "Autism" in that it isn't a description of a single disorder, but rather a broad spectrum of disorders.

The roots of the word "Audiophile" literally mean "one who loves sound" and this is totally different than one who loves music.

The extreme form of Audiophilia is one in which the afflicted individuals rhapsodize about the merits of platinum vs spent uranium as a material for turntable construction, and debate for hours whether the alignment of the 2 gauge power cord relative to the earth's magnetic field renders the upper harmonics of the bells in the tower of the Vienna cathedral more or less on pitch.

The less extreme form of this affliction just makes people want to optimize the sound of their systems within the parameters of their budget and available space and other real world constraints. Persons suffering with this less severe degree of affliction often DO pay attention to the music.

They also can often be found listening to MP3's, whereas the more severe forms of audiophilia render the sufferer unable to listen to anything other than a full scale symphony orchestra in their living rooms, or in slightly less severe cases, to recordings made at 73 gigaherz with a bit depth of 16184.
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