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  1. #1

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    Default MP3...sound just as good as anything else?

    Watch this video, especially starting around the 4:00 minute mark where Katz uses a difference engine to let you "hear" the trash added. Pay special attention arround the 5:00 min mark where he takes the difference between the original recording and the MP3:

    Last edited by steveinaz; 03-09-2012 at 03:57 PM.

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  2. #2

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    MP3 for background music, a patio/garage/pool rig...sure, why not. On the main hi-fi? I realize over the last 25 years that music quality standards have dropped significantly---but those things that I can control...like using a lossless codec...I'll definitely take advantage of that.

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    Thanks Steve, very educational for a Noob like me
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    I'm sure BeefJerky will disagree, he knows it all.

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    "Appreciation of audio is a completely subjective human experience. Measurements can provide a measure of insight, but are no substitute for human judgment. Why are we looking to reduce a subjective experience to objective criteria anyway? The subtleties of music and audio reproduction are for those who appreciate it. Differentiation by numbers is for those who do not".--Nelson Pass

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  5. #5

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    Quote Originally Posted by steveinaz View Post
    MP3 for background music, a patio/garage/pool rig...sure, why not.
    If you want a digital system then I would stick with lossless and completely forget about mp3's. Rip the music to a lossless format and place on a NAS for streaming out to the patio/garage/pool/whatever including the hi-fi. Most portable players will handle some sort of lossless format these days. Streaming media players are cheap, or directly connect the portable player to your other systems.

  6. #6

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    Agree, especially with the HUGE hd's available today.

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  7. #7

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    Quote Originally Posted by steveinaz View Post
    Watch this video, especially starting around the 4:00 minute mark where Katz uses a difference engine to let you "hear" the trash added. Pay special attention arround the 5:00 min mark where he takes the difference between the original recording and the MP3
    Okay, I watched the video. First off, it was more of an effort to expose the problems with excessive clipping due to the "loudness war," as well as poor mastering in general. As he mentioned, the MP3 can emphasize those particular artifacts. However, the test still isn't particularly relevant since he chose to only use a 96kbps encoding. I never claimed that a 96kbps MP3 would sound similar to a lossless file, or even decent. To really make it a valid test, he also needs to compare with higher bitrates! Higher bitrate encodings (with a good encoder) will be much closer to the original lossless file, and therefore show less noise in the subtraction.

    In addition, I suppose I'm going to have rehash what I said in the other thread. Doing a subtraction to show the noise isn't actually applicable to the real world. I could do the same kind of procedure to compare the original 96KHz/24bit masters to a redbook CD version to emphasize the differences. However, that doesn't mean that it will be audible. Sure, it's interesting from a scientific point of view, but not really relevant.

    To put it a different way: do you listen to subtractions of your music? If not, then the subtractions mean very little.

    Quote Originally Posted by heiney9 View Post
    I'm sure BeefJerky will disagree, he knows it all.

    H9
    As if you should talk. You're one of the most outspoken, opinionated know-it-alls on this board. However, I think we may have a lot more in common in that regard than you would care to admit.

    And, I'll say it again: you are greatly exaggerating your claims of the audible differences between lossless and MP3 (or other lossy formats).
    Last edited by BeefJerky; 03-10-2012 at 04:46 PM.

  8. #8

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    I am not exaggerating anything. Have you listened on my rig with my ears? MP3's are a compromise and have no business in an audiophile system, period!

    H9
    "Appreciation of audio is a completely subjective human experience. Measurements can provide a measure of insight, but are no substitute for human judgment. Why are we looking to reduce a subjective experience to objective criteria anyway? The subtleties of music and audio reproduction are for those who appreciate it. Differentiation by numbers is for those who do not".--Nelson Pass

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  9. #9

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    +1, couldn't agree more... and as steveinaz already mentioned, with large HD's available these days (even with the flooding) there's no point in compromising since lossless files are not comparatively large anyway. I can ALMOST understand if you have an older and smaller iPod, but spend a little more and get a larger version for lossless files.

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    Quote Originally Posted by heiney9 View Post
    I am not exaggerating anything.
    Sure you have. Did you even read any of what you typed in the other thread? There's even a difference between what you said here:
    "MP3's are a compromise and have no business in an audiophile system, period!"

    and the following quotes from you in the other thread:
    a) "MP3's stink for source material and if you think otherwise, you're just kidding yourself."
    b) "MP3's suck no matter how good the associated gear, no matter what encoder you use, no matter what bit rate."

    Not to mention, quote b is also full of misinformation. At least your comment here is slightly less obnoxious and over-exaggerated; however, it still reeks of your know-it-all vibe. It would help if you at least got your facts straight regarding differences between encoders and bitrates; your pretending they don't matter doesn't quite coincide with actual facts. Heck, we could even get into the exact definition of "audiophile," which can vary from one person to another.

    Have you listened on my rig with my ears?
    Nope. However, unless you are not of human origin, I can say with certainty that your ears have limitations in terms of resolution just like any other human; and, this is exactly what lossy codecs are based on. Due to this, I still doubt your ability to hear the difference between a lossless source and "any MP3" regardless of source, encoder or bitrate. However, if you are of alien origin, please let me know and I will stand corrected.

  11. #11

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    For what it's worth, I had two Polk members listen to my system about a year and a half ago - in the CD changer was a store-bought CD and the same exact songs on MP3 (legal download); when switching discs neither of them noticed a difference. It was only after they left (weeks later actually) that I revealed I was switching between an MP3 disc and the original CD in the changer.

    That being said, on high-end audio systems I am pretty sure that the difference becomes more apparent and that MP3's sound much worse compared to a CD or SACD. However, I'm man enough to admit that I have low-end gear (see sig) and that on my gear, it didn't make much of a difference.

    If you are running high-end speakers, have a quality line stage, tubes, quality DAC, I am sure you will hear a significant difference. And I am always looking to improve my system and move up to high-end gear. I always said that I wasn't hearing much of a difference when swapping cables, but I think that when I finish my tube preamp build (DIY) and pick up some nice amplification (Parasound A21 or JC1) and find a dedicated source (that is, not a PC or game console or $250 CDP) then I will report back on the difference.

    Not a doubter, just relaying my own experience...
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  12. #12

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    Physical media is great because it's a great backup. DL'ed music is typically is encumbered in DRM and uncertainty in the quality of the encoding. Therefore if you like most of a CD, then it's a good practice to simply buy the CD and then encode in a lossless format youself. My comments above say why it makes no sense to use mp3's in this circumstance.

    Even for DL's I try to grab the lossless format instead. If you only play music through a lower end system I guess there is a reason for mp3's, but even Apple's iPod has some good quality sound coming from it. Why limit yourself? Someday you may get a better system or want to listen to a track on a better system. Why not make sure you have the best possible version instead of having to buy a lossy format first and then buy lossless in the future?

  13. #13

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    What's an MP3?

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    "Life is one grand, sweet song, so start the music." ~ Ronald Reagan

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  14. #14

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    Default Don't hate on me for my take on the "loudness wars" phenomenon......

    I have thought a lot about why this is an issue in the past 2 decades, but have refused to post about this, as whining about it doesn't solve any issues, it just divides us as forum members, but my take on this issue is that..........Cell phones in cars are the biggest reason for the perceived need for a loudness war by the recording studios. When you get a call, you turn down the radio, and forget to turn it back up until a song is loud enough to catch your attention. We all do it, out of habit. If they didn't have to compete with this "turn down" they wouldn't have invented this method of grabbing your attention. This "turn down" habit didn't exist for the single commuter before cell phones, you didn't get an interruption from a phone call. You only changed the station when Neil Diamond came on. The only other time it happened was on the weekend trips, when the wife/GF felt the need to speak and turned down the radio during a song that she hates to get in her 2500 words for the day. Other than these instances, you just let the tunes fly, at extreme volumes and then wondered..... "Who in the hell got in my parked car and turned my radio up so damn loud!"

    Flame suit on: I personally want some dynamic compression/expansion when I'm in a car so I don't have to constantly ride the volume control during low passages. This doesn't mean I want loudness/noise added to get that effect. I actually liked the old Delco radios in the Corvettes I rode in that adjusted for road noise and wind when I ran with the T-tops off, and turned the volume down when at stop lights. I drove over 1 million miles in 25 years with a "road job" and when the CD was released, it actually ruined over the road listening for me due to the extreme dynamics offered in early CD releases. I was constantly tweaking the volume knob to compensate for what was a new phenomenon that didn't exist with 8 tracks and cassettes.

    I think that audiophile type dynamic levels are great on home systems that have a 20-30 dB noise floor, so that you can hear extreme passages of both music and quiet. In a car environment, that same type of recording doesn't cut it for me. The low passages get lost in the 70dB noise floor of the average auto. I think that mp3 had its place when portable devices were limited by storage space, but I want great dynamics when I am in listening mode in my man cave.

    I simply think that the recording studios missed the boat 10-15 years ago by not offering an "engineered for the road" CD along with the audiophile (I hate that word) version for your home system that offer the superb dynamics of SACD. We get that today in BR/DVD/Digital Copy packaging of our movies.

    Today, our music exists in most peoples lives as a passing thought in the background and recordings are mixed to reflect this and dynamics are actually a bad thing for that type of music. Active listening for enjoyment, requires that dynamics/quality are lifelike and pure to stir our souls.

    The two need to be exclusive of each other.............

  15. #15

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    Quote Originally Posted by Dennis Gardner View Post
    I actually liked the old Delco radios in the Corvettes I rode in that adjusted for road noise and wind when I ran with the T-tops off, and turned the volume down when at stop lights.
    The current Corvettes still do this. It's called Auto Volume or AudioPilot, which adjusts for road noise via a microphone or something like that built into the audio system. Works great for its intended purpose, IMO.

    I personally want some dynamic compression/expansion when I'm in a car so I don't have to constantly ride the volume control during low passages.
    Agreed, dynamic range compression when used properly makes a recording listenable in the car. Ever wondered why classical music is so difficult to listen to in the car? At home, you want the exact opposite - more dynamic range.

    Today, our music exists in most peoples lives as a passing thought in the background and recordings are mixed to reflect this and dynamics are actually a bad thing for that type of music. Active listening for enjoyment, requires that dynamics/quality are lifelike and pure to stir our souls.
    You don't have to be a "critical listener" to be a "music lover." Just look at the number of patio speakers, in-walls, and even marine speakers that Polk makes.
    Last edited by Serendipity; 03-11-2012 at 06:54 AM.

  16. #16

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    Well, having others listen to a system that they are not familiar with--is hardly a fair way to judge. Think about it, everything is likely different from what the listeners are used to hearing; and how resolute is the system? How good is the source, the DAC...etc etc? WAY too many variables. When I'm listening to someone elses system, they could be using coat hangers for wire, for all I know, and the whole time I'm thinking "man those speakers sound like ****."

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  17. #17

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    True. Was just an observation, 99% of the time when I am not sure if something sounds right, I'll have a neighbor or friend listen to the system after having dinner here and get a second (or third) opinion. Most of the time, I'll say the sound is too fatiguing but my gamer friends all tell me it's well-defined and clear. So I agree that it depends on the listener and many other variables.

    I have only a few purchased MP3's, most of the time I listen to SACD or CD or DVD-Audio.

    I have not taken the time to rip my discs to the PC.

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