128kbps vs 320kbps, can you tell the difference?

Discussion in 'PC Audio' started by Frontl1ne, Sep 19, 2012.

  1. Snufkin

    Snufkin Member

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    Right now there's absolutely no reason to encode lower than 320. In the future hopefully everything will be lossless because storage space is becoming less and less of an issue.

    From here the issues of production quality will matter more - there's no point having a lossless recording of a really poorly recorded and produced song or album. The "loudness war", along with a dozen other things, has more of an effect on the quality of music than 320 vs lossless.

    Next on the "why are you bothering" debate - 24/192!
     
  2. jebusv20

    jebusv20 Member

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    Im going to be completely honest here:

    I have a ASUS XONAR DX Sound card
    powering my AHG Q701 headphones

    I'll admit I only got the headphones today.

    I CAN NOT TELL THE DIFFERENCE.

    maybe I just have horrible ears, but... personally... I got nothing :(

    I can however very easily hear the difference between my current phones and my G35's
     
  3. Comma

    Comma Member

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    In a double blind. I doubt I could get a constant success rate.

    In a confirmation biased test on songs I know on equipment I'm used to.

    Probably hit a decent success rate.

    Even then, when you know what you're looking for, it kind of defeats the purpose of listening to music. Seeing how that cymbal wash artifacts on low bit-rate isn't a fun thing to do. I guess when it's glaringly obvious that somethings up, I'd just change the song and not have a wank about "OH IT'S SO LOW QUALITY"
     
  4. Linkin

    Linkin Member

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    That article is full of FAIL, they're using substandard gear. Some of the comments there are pretty ridiculous as well.

    A few points:

    1) A/B/X testing is flawed because it doesn't take into consideration past listening of said tracks. Someone who's never heard them before might not be able to tell any difference. Someone who says it's their favourite song might know every detail. That and it also doesn't take the listeners experience into account.

    Why test with music that doesn't interest you? Why test with unfamiliar music? You need to know the music before you can accurately test the format it's encoded in.

    2) Everyone I've seen that says "Do an A/B/X test and you won't be able to tell a difference" won't let the listener test music they listen to or make the rips themselves (but not listen to them) and hand them over.

    3) There is not a consistent and scientific method for doing a bit rate test properly. ABX tests work for some things, audio bit rates is not really one of them.

    Storage is cheap, processing power is not a problem, we have good soundcards, why settle for anything less than something you can use as an archive copy? Hell even my 3G supports flac withh a $10 program. Use a good set of in-ears and bob's your uncle. Mobile Audiophile :)
     
  5. Drubbing

    Drubbing Member

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    I'm sure they have poor taste in music too.

    Doesn't really matter as much as you think - if the differences were obvious, people would pick them.

    If the differences are so subtle they require expensive gear to have a chance of hearing them, they're probably not worth hearing.
     
    Last edited: Sep 20, 2012
  6. vincenz

    vincenz New Member

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    Volume makes a difference as well.
    At low levels 256kb or even 192kb can (depending on the track) sound as good as CD, but at higher levels, I can tell a tiny difference in clarity between 320kb and CD on many different types of tunes.

    I am talking about jack shit difference however, and this is only after immediate back to back testing on quality hi-fi setups.
    On cheap audio setups or out on the road, especially at low volumes, it's often difficult to tell the difference between 128 or CD. There probably are a heap of cheap mp3 players that do a bad job of playing back mp3 files, making them sound much worse than what they really are, and/or have harsh tweeters pointing at their ears, exaggerating the harshness of 128kb, or they use an fm modulator, etc.

    I don't bother with flac just because mp3 is definitely good enough and will play on just about anything.
     
  7. cyclonite

    cyclonite Member

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    Really difficult on this pathetic onboard sound card on my work pc. It really is a slap to the face of my heaphones, poor buggers are yearning for a better source.
     
  8. bigheadache

    bigheadache Member

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    i listen to alot of live and acoustic music, and for me its usually the hi hat which is the giveaway. Often, at 128/192 the hi hat isn't even there, or it doesn't reverberate as much as it should, or its not distinct.
     
  9. bennyg

    bennyg Member

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    So to answer OP (should have been a vote) there's no doubt you can notice that 320 is better than 128 when the quality of the system and hearing ;p allows it to be heard.

    I think tests between 320 and FLAC is moot because
    a) who here has systems worth $xx,xxx
    b) whose hearing isn't already half dead and wants to further kill it
    c) noise laws probably prohibit the volume required

    It's not whether compressed always < lossless it's whether the difference is observable. E.g. manual is perhaps worse than crappy autobox to soccer mum driving for errands but it certainly is to anyone who drives their car for the sake of driving.


    Unless you bought the povvo 8Gb/16Gb SKU of your (i)phone and it doesnt come with a microsd slot and you like to store a wide variety, and you think the sound sounds tops because apple is the best at everything
     
    Last edited: Sep 20, 2012
  10. Snufkin

    Snufkin Member

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    Is there a particular dollar value that the equipment has to be before a difference is noticeable?

    If there's such a big difference you should be able to hear it with a range of music, not just "that song where at 2:05 the cymbal sounds different".


    You should test with familiar AND unfamiliar music, for a fair test :)

    Time to setup your own A/B/X test then :)


    So is there a noticeable difference or not, or just sometimes? Or all the time? Or is it only with good equipment?


    So you're suggesting we should be able to tell the difference between 320 and flac with some in-ears and an iPhone?

    I'm not sure my test setup is up to scratch now... I figure surely if the difference is that big a $2000 pair of headphones hooked up to a $2000 DAC should make telling them apart super easily!

    The fun part with volume is that people tend to interpret increases in volume (even small ones) as increases in sound quality, even unconsciously.


    Moral of the story: there may be no audible difference between a good 320 rip and lossless, but with storage being as cheap as it is a lossless format should be the standard. I use 320 for my portable player because it takes up much less space :)

    Maybe we should talk about things that make a real difference - like the horrible war on dynamic range (aka the loudness war) ;)
     
    Last edited: Sep 20, 2012
  11. Comma

    Comma Member

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    Protip: don't alternately put up and down the sliders on a graphic equaliser because it looks cool.
     
  12. Snufkin

    Snufkin Member

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    Just slide them all to the top, more is always better!
     
  13. Comma

    Comma Member

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    I actually do that on my keyboard amplifier when I rehearse in the same room as our guitarist (2*300W 1960A), our drummer (6'2" brick shithouse) and bassist (800W 12*4), as my amp is only 40W :(
     
  14. theSeekerr

    theSeekerr Member

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    On good gear, the difference between 128k and 320 is very obvious. Even on relatively mediocre headphones it's not particularly difficult.

    Portable use changes it up a bit, though - the headphone amplifiers in most phones are rubbish. In practice, I still find 128k MP3 completely unlistenable, but move to AAC and bump the bitrate a little and the results are good enough for the commute.

    I've settled on 160k-average VBR AAC's as my personal happy medium, but only for near-lossless sources - anything <= 256k gets left as is, another round of compression won't do it any favours.
     
  15. dakiller

    dakiller (Oscillating & Impeding)

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    I just find this comment funny. You're saying that to the guy who has access to more high end audio equipment than you could personally name.

    320 to lossless is very subtle and I challenge anyone to really test the difference.
     
  16. m3k

    m3k Member

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    5 tests, 100% .. np
     
  17. Comma

    Comma Member

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    We really should make a who's-who of OCAU Audio.
     
  18. mtma

    mtma Member

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    Depends on how your playback software/device handles the peaks (and the presence of the in the original file of course)

    That's probably the only real difference that I've found in my listening.
     
  19. Snufkin

    Snufkin Member

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    If you can't tell a difference there's something wrong with you, if you can hear a difference between 320 and lossless you are a superior being to those that cannot!
     
  20. dainese

    dainese Member

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    I think it would depend on equipment though... But yeah. Generally speaking, if you're mucking around at those bit rates I'd say you should have enthusiastic equipment
     

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