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Old 15th June 2012, 07:44 AM   #11
aphocus is offline aphocus  New Zealand
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Quote:
Originally Posted by benb View Post
It annoys me at an intellectual level that mp3's are usually cut off below 15k
Mp3 encoders are far better than they use to be, and I don't think it's the norm for the good quality ones to use a cut off anywhere near 15k

but when they do it is because the quality would be far worse with the sounds above, this usually applies to low bitrates, like 128kbps and below

I did a quick test the LAME encoder, at 320kbps they use a 20323 Hz - 20903 Hz transition band.

256kbps: 19548 Hz - 20129 Hz

192kbps: 18774 Hz - 19355 Hz

128kbps: 16452 Hz - 17032 Hz

112kbps: 15115 Hz - 15648 Hz

MP3 gets a lot of flak it doesn't deserve probably because of the old days when you could identify each encoder by the audible artefacts it created, now using variable bitrates, psycho acoustic modelling, blind listening tests and loads of CPU, you can get as low as 180kbps with no audible difference to the source file.
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Old 21st July 2012, 11:48 PM   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by aphocus View Post
Mp3 encoders are far better than they use to be
They are a lot better, LAME has improved significantly over the last 5 years although there hasn't been much improvement in the quality of constant bitrate MP3's. I've never really liked any kind of psychoacoustic audio compression scheme because they always seem to introduce knocking sounds as well as watery and metallic sounds into the final output. I've noticed significant differences in quality between codecs such as MP3 Musepack and WMA at bitrates at bitrates as high as 256kb/s. The treble cut-off doesn't necessarily mean the codec will have better quality than a codec with a lower one, sometimes it can be a negative thing at medium bitrates as the extra information required to encode the high end will result in a loss of temporal resolution (especially in MP3) resulting in smeared transients (Xing used to suffer particularly badly from this problem).

Remember, it's not only the high frequencies that are lost in the compression process. Just look at a spectrogram and you'll see the dropouts.
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Old 5th September 2012, 07:33 AM   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by monty78pig View Post
They are a lot better, ...Just look at a spectrogram and you'll see the dropouts.
Well, they may have improved ever so slightly, but I can still pick out an mp3 any day of the week. No matter what bitrate. The noise floor in general and stillness in transitions and gaps are filled with a smeared droning of sorts. Even though you may not have 20-20k hearing you can still easily pick out the high and low cutoffs as well, because it affects the sound in the entire audio band indirectly. The sounds you normally would not notice have been smoothed away and replaced with tiny smooth shortcuts so to speak, causing a sort of smooth noise that is not present on lossless formats.

Good quality .ogg Vorbis on the other hand, I have difficulties telling apart from CD quality wav sometimes. But it was always a far superior algorithm in my eyes.

Regarding the issues mentioned about different sound engineers having different sound:

Great sound engineers will not apply compression, or use compression in such a way you cannot detect it by listening to the finished product. They listen to the tracks on a multitude of different systems in different circumstances and settings, and adjust the mastering accordingly.

Good sound engineers always listen to the tracks on several different setups and headphones, when they use a peak limiter to take care of the short peaks and the compression set slow and easy, so the drums will not fade out flutes or strings for example, and transitions will appear to be dynamic even though they are not for the trained ear.

I know about several allegedly pro sound engineers who rely on aggressive compression settings and just 1 (one) setup for listening, because they delude themselves that it's the best one, and often even apply EQ to the system they listen to, to "smooth it out". Studio monitors are not always better and more neutral than commercial hi-fi equipment, everything you can buy for money in this world is made to perform a specific task according to the design ideals/subjectivity and compromises of their creator. Studio equipment NOT an exception. Professional self deluding amateurs!


There is also a big difference on lossless formats, not between the formats, but how they are ripped from the medium. A poorly ripped flac is not much better than a 320kbps mp3.

Last edited by KaffiMann; 5th September 2012 at 07:38 AM.
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Old 5th September 2012, 09:24 AM   #14
aphocus is offline aphocus  New Zealand
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Quote:
Originally Posted by KaffiMann View Post
Well, they may have improved ever so slightly, but I can still pick out an mp3 any day of the week. No matter what bitrate.
What encoder did you use?
And what were your results in the ABX blind test? if you didn't ABX-Blind why should I trust your results?
What was your sample?

Why does Hydrogen Audio, who critique Vorbis and LAME constantly, recommend using LAME with the V0 (Variable bitrate averaging 245kbps) setting and claim it to be transparent (except in rare occasions), yet you claim to be able to 'easily' hear the differences between the original and 320kbps, Vorbis on the other hand can go up to 500kbps can you hear anything different at these bitrates?
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Old 5th September 2012, 02:59 PM   #15
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I admit I have mostly constant bitrate mp3's, if this really matters at 256 and 320kbps. I have no idea which encoder was used, but last I tried the lameenc.exe or whatever it's called on foobar I could still pick out mp3's.

I have a lot of the same tunes as Flac, .ogg Vorbis and mp3, they have different playlists on foobar (tabbed ofcourse), sometimes I get the wrong playlist, most of the time I have no problem spotting the mp3 playlist, but it's hard to notice the ogg. Sometimes my wife will put on something while on my own computer, and after a while I'll ask why the sound sucks. Even my wife notices it on occassion. Some of the flac files I have from friends are also completely useless, guess I should just delete them, but it would make gaps in my 18500 song collection (flac only).

Like i said, an mp3 I am fairly confident I'll spot in blind tests, a bad rip is also easy to spot whatever the file format, be it .ogg, flac, ape, aac whatever.
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Old 5th September 2012, 04:17 PM   #16
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Sorry about the bump.

The difference between a good quality mp3 and a cd quality flac is about as obvious as the difference between the integrated dac and analog out from my tv compared to the soundcard on my pc. I will notice it every single time, but it may take a few minutes if I am not listening for it, which translates to a perfect blind test in my opinion. The best blind test is when you're not aware you're being tested!

I still state that mp3's have their own sound/noise because of the algorithm used, you do not listen for the high and low cutoff, but the sound replacing the upper and lower frequencies. You do not listen for the details when the music is going full tilt, but when it should be quiet and calm and there is a constant noise that do not belong.

Edit:
I see no point in 500kbps ogg, most cd ripped flac of sensible quality is between 650-980kbps. Mp3's for my car, .ogg for our phones, flac to use at home.

Last edited by KaffiMann; 5th September 2012 at 04:20 PM.
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Old 5th September 2012, 04:58 PM   #17
Pano is offline Pano  United States
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I took a look at a lot of recordings that have a pleasant (to me) tonal balance and those that don't. Many of the pleasant ones were old, the unpleasant fairly recent.

What I found was a lot of energy in the upper-mids to high end in the unpleasant recordings. They sounded harsh, bright and fatiguing. Now wonder, with all that energy up at 5K-8K. Ouch. I don't know how that got there, if it was mixing, mastering, bad gear. But it sounds bad. More agreeable recordings have a more natural roll-off at the top.
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Old 5th September 2012, 05:22 PM   #18
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Quote:
Originally Posted by aphocus View Post
Mp3 encoders are far better than they use to be, and I don't think it's the norm for the good quality ones to use a cut off anywhere near 15k

[snip] ...

MP3 gets a lot of flak it doesn't deserve probably because of the old days when you could identify each encoder by the audible artefacts it created, now using variable bitrates, psycho acoustic modelling, blind listening tests and loads of CPU, you can get as low as 180kbps with no audible difference to the source file.
The cutoff frequency is determined by the codec ... There is nothing an encoder can do about it. If the codec and bitrate call for 15k it will be no more than 15k (for example).

Maybe a nitpick but for clarity it seems you use "mp3" where "codec" should be. An mp3 is an mp3 ... Its a patent-protected codec that has not changed since the 90's when it was introduced; devepment goes back earlier. Psycho-acoustic modeling and blind listening were instrumental in its formulation ... Its not new.

If modern desktop software does a better job of encoding mp3 its mostly due to licensing and refinement of consumer hardware and software ... the (expensive) tools were available to professionals a long time ago and are used commercially for mp3 from the onset. VBR had to wait for the players' chipsets to support playback but its part of the mp3 spec ... you could have used it a decade ago on the desktop but no portable or car stero mp3 player could play it then.

Newer codecs however do the things you mention and use the same development strategies pioneered by Freuhoff. A compressed file might be an mp3 but it also might be another format. Most of the improvements you mention are found in the more modern codecs ... an mp3 is an mp3.

Look at Satellite radio ... Sounds OK to most people ... Bitrate is well under 128kbps for music; its been a while since I studied the spec but I seem to recall 80 and 64kbps ... talk channels are lower still. Different codec than mp3 but still lossy low-bitrate compression developed with psycho-acoustics, blind listening, etc..

A well-encoded mp3 doesnt sound any better or any worse today to my ears than one from a decade ago, but there are lots of poorly encoded mp3s out there. Other lossy formats developed since do sound better though.
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Last edited by Johnny2Bad; 5th September 2012 at 05:41 PM.
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Old 5th September 2012, 07:02 PM   #19
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Originally Posted by Johnny2Bad View Post
... you could have used it a decade ago on the desktop but no portable or car stero mp3 player could play it then.
Indeed. I was fiddling with VBR MP3 about 12 years ago. Most software players then would play it OK, but the counter never worked right - like it couldn't understand the length of the song. There were no off the shelf car players at the time. I don't remember about portables.

OGG, WMV and others are nice, but once you get up to about 240KBs, they all sound similar. The phasey sounds of MP3 are gone by that time.

While some with good ears can tell the difference in comparison tests, most have no idea it's MP3 if you don't tell them. Tell them, and they hate it.
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Old 5th September 2012, 08:04 PM   #20
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There are people who claim "LP's sound better" who can't say exactly why they feel that way, but I'm pretty much convinced it's because they they're hearing the dynamics on older LP's that don't exist in recently produced or recently remastered recordings.
Few years ago, I converted some LPs to CDA. (CD). cause the parts for turntable were running out from the market here.

They did sound good ( although not very same). but later in couple of years the owner company published the re-mastered CDs. I was expecting lot from them. when bought and heard, they had know presence and was flat with no details sure it was not about treble bass or mid ( missing the dynamics). and felt as they were not worth buying. so probably what you said is true.
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