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Old 24th December 2009, 07:14 PM   #1
pjanda1 is offline pjanda1  United States
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Default MP3's: Problem #1.

As I mentioned in my last thread, I'm out at the farm. We're listening to holiday music on the decrepit stereo out here (an old Sony CDP, a slightly disfucntional Pioneer receiver and my first speakers, a pair of Infinity bookshelves). Things sounded fine. Then, I noticed immediately that a new disc sounded awful. Tizzy indistinct highs, nasty mids, floppy non-existant bass. I was across the house baking cookies. I knew immediately that it was an MP3. Sure enough, it was a mix CD that appears to have been a gift from friends of my parents.

I was exchanging emails with a musician friend a few days ago. He was just listening to his mentor/teachers new system (big Cayin amp, neat looking two way bookshelves and a new DAC). He (friend) was pretty amazed, and is thinking about upgrading his own stuff.

I like to sell speakers. But, if you are listening to a bunch of MP3's ripped to a hard drive (as I believe my friend is), I honestly think the first thing you should do is buy a big hard drive and rip them all again as uncompressed WAVs or maybe Apple Lossless. For goodness sake, don't blow a bunch of dough on a fancy DAC until you have decent files!

Sure, new speakers (especially mine!) can increase your enjoyment of you MP3's. You may well like the sound, and everybody is entiteled to listen to whatever they like. But, if you are new to this hobby, please think about jettisoning those compressed files. Heck, if you want to be cool and get great sound, buy a turntable!

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Old 24th December 2009, 08:34 PM   #2
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Agreed entirely. Just wanted to point out that Apple Lossless is only useful if you're in the iPod/iTunes camp - for the rest of the world, the best supported lossless codec is FLAC, the Free Lossless Audio Codec.
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Old 24th December 2009, 09:09 PM   #3
mattmcl is offline mattmcl  United States
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Agreed as well. I have 320 bit mp3's that I use in the car, but I use FLAC on the home system. Someone, somewhere, will make a portable music player that does FLAC and I'll be the first in line.
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Old 24th December 2009, 09:45 PM   #4
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Mattmcl : Every Cowon MP3 player can handle flac, as can some of the iRivers, the Creative Zen X-Fi 2, most Samsungs and most of the SanDisk lineup, as well as any player to which the Rockbox operating system has been ported.

I particularly suggest the Cowon iAudio S9 and the Samsung P3, two quite remarkable players. The Sansa Clip+ is worth an honourable mention, too, although it's in quite a different class - its killer feature, aside from the price, is the microSD expandability.
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Old 24th December 2009, 10:00 PM   #5
kevinkr is offline kevinkr  United States
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Pjanda1 I could not have put it better myself. MP3 at any bit rate have no place on any system with any pretensions of high fidelity.. I use FLAC on the media server, and Apple Lossless on my iPod..

I would also say IME that an iPod (Classic 160GB) in an Apple docking station does not make a particularly good sounding source either even when playing Apple Lossless files. (Something like the Wadia dock might be ok, but I have not tried it.) IMHO I think this comment would apply to most if not all MP3 players as well.
"To argue with a person who has renounced the use of reason is like administering medicine to the dead." - Thomas Paine

Last edited by kevinkr; 24th December 2009 at 10:02 PM.
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Old 24th December 2009, 10:17 PM   #6
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I do much of my listening with MP3. It's because I stole 600+ tracks using filesharing years ago. I think the fidelity is top notch; except for some high frequency noise that my sound card is picking up from something. When I pop a CD into my modded Music Hall CD 25.2 I find almost no difference save the absence of computer noise that my soundcard has.
I must confess my favorite music is that made by the Rolls Royce Merlin.
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Old 24th December 2009, 11:22 PM   #7
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MP3 is pretty rubbish, but beyond 320 kbits/sec it's fine on 99% of the music in my library. AAC I can get away with 256kbits/sec (for more demanding tracks) or even 192kbits/sec (for recent overproduced pop/rock).

I certainly wouldn't say that MP3 is even tolerable below 160kbits/sec, treble sounds terribly artificial ("crispy" is the word I often use to describe it to people who can't hear it) and detail is muddied.
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Old 25th December 2009, 12:58 AM   #8
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The main thing I can tell about the MP3's is that the cymbals sound swishy... But lately I find that the bass sound much richer with more impact with uncompressed files too... With online music shops now selling FLAC and apple lossless, there is now no longer a reason to use lossy compression at all,
Originally Posted by mattmcl View Post
Agreed as well. I have 320 bit mp3's that I use in the car, but I use FLAC on the home system. Someone, somewhere, will make a portable music player that does FLAC and I'll be the first in line.
I use an old IRiver with Rockbox, it's an awesome player. 40Gb, FLAC playback, and toslink out if you want to use a DAC. What more could you ask for? I think it's getting on for 10 years old too...
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Old 25th December 2009, 01:43 AM   #9
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The iRiver H320 and H120 are legendary for their versatility under rockbox - those are about 5 or 6 years old now. I'm not aware of any others which do digital out, which is a shame.
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Old 25th December 2009, 01:52 AM   #10
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You people are missing something here - bitrate.

320 CBR and V0 .mp3's are almost indistinguishable from lossless (Classical excluded) and I have proved this publicly

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