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> How much does bitrate really affect sound quality? 
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Offlinerevolution27
post 18. Aug 2008, 05:53
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I've been wondering how much bitrate really affects sound quality and what other factors can affect the sound quality of an audio file.. I noticed this when I downloaded listening to the Burial song Ghost Hardware... After downloading a 320kbps mp3 version of the file from TT, I noticed that I seemed to sound worse than the 256kbps AAC version I had previously downloaded from iTunes. I wondered if this was because the mp3 was somehow softer then the AAC but after lowering the volume of the AAC and raising that of the mp3 I still found the AAC sounded more crisp.

Does this mean that AAC has better compression than Mp3? What other factors could affect the sound quality of an audio file? Or are my shitty ears just lying to me?
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Offlineavatar_karma
post 18. Aug 2008, 07:26
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maybe the .mp3 was a transcode? maybe it was a bad encoder? maybe your ears were lieing to u?
maybe your smoking crack? someone will correct me if im wrong, but i think AAC is meant to be a more advanced encoder, but in practice mp3 matches it in quality.
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OfflineDubTings
post 18. Aug 2008, 08:49
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I;m not completely clued up about this however I think you might find this interesting:
http://www.fliptech.net/bitrate.shtml
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OfflineRoll
post 18. Aug 2008, 09:17
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AAC is supposed to be the codec with a more efficient bitrate to file size ratio. So a 256kbps AAC file should be roughly equivalent to a 320kbps MP3 file. At those bitrates, you really shouldn't be hearing any loss/difference in either track.. so I'm guessing the 320kbps you downloaded was actually a lower bitrate copied/ripped into a bigger file.
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OfflineGlitchwerks
post 18. Aug 2008, 21:55
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Because the Ghost Hardware EP released here was probably sourced from vinyl and the iTunes download is not, obviously. Even the best vinyl rips will never sound as good as music that's had a purely digital life. The exceptions being that you can rip vinyl at 24 bit 96 khz FLAC and then it would sound a bit better than plain old 16 bit 44 khz, but the imperfections of vinyl are obvious the second you hear that old familiar crackle. Of course, owning the actual vinyl is still superior to all formats out there in terms of warmth and vibrancy. The surface noise is inconsequential to those benefits.

Good vinyl rips will usually tell you the "lineage" of the files, stating the turntable model and tone arm used, the input card, the software used to record, etc. Scene groups typically don't do that, only the audiophiles out there who specialize in that sort of thing.
This post has been edited by Glitchwerks: 18. Aug 2008, 22:07
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*Phloam_*
post 19. Aug 2008, 01:19
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The aim of the game is not to "sound better" - but to be indistinguishable from the uncompressed source file. Both MP3 and AAC at high enough bitrates are capable of this. Quality of decoders (and DAC etc etc) can be just as important as quality of encoder & codec.

If a 320 kbps mp3 sounds bad, there's something dodgy going on somewhere, assuming it was encoded sensibly (bitrate isnt everything).

Best thing to do is conduct your own tests, pick a track you know well & have the original CD of, then get it ripped into MP3 and AAC at a few different bitrates and see what the differences are.
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Offlineavatar_karma
post 19. Aug 2008, 14:45
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QUOTE (Phloam_ @ 19. Aug 2008, 10:19) *
Best thing to do is conduct your own tests, pick a track you know well & have the original CD of, then get it ripped into MP3 and AAC at a few different bitrates and see what the differences are.


what he said smile.gif
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Offlinerevolution27
post 19. Aug 2008, 17:47
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QUOTE (Glitchwerks @ 18. Aug 2008, 22:55) *
Because the Ghost Hardware EP released here was probably sourced from vinyl and the iTunes download is not, obviously. Even the best vinyl rips will never sound as good as music that's had a purely digital life. The exceptions being that you can rip vinyl at 24 bit 96 khz FLAC and then it would sound a bit better than plain old 16 bit 44 khz, but the imperfections of vinyl are obvious the second you hear that old familiar crackle. Of course, owning the actual vinyl is still superior to all formats out there in terms of warmth and vibrancy. The surface noise is inconsequential to those benefits.

Good vinyl rips will usually tell you the "lineage" of the files, stating the turntable model and tone arm used, the input card, the software used to record, etc. Scene groups typically don't do that, only the audiophiles out there who specialize in that sort of thing.


Oh right.. I didn't think about that. Makes sense to me though.
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*electronix*
post 20. Aug 2008, 12:38
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The best way to know is to use software like Adobe Audition to make a spectral analysis of a track.

The higher the frequencies on the spectral the better the quality.

When I have enough time I'll make a little guide on checking the quality of mp3s using spectral analysis and put it on the forums.
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*Phloam_*
post 24. Aug 2008, 10:50
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QUOTE (electronix @ 20. Aug 2008, 12:38) *
The best way to know is to use software like Adobe Audition to make a spectral analysis of a track.

The higher the frequencies on the spectral the better the quality.

When I have enough time I'll make a little guide on checking the quality of mp3s using spectral analysis and put it on the forums.


Absoloute bollocks.
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*electronix*
post 25. Aug 2008, 11:14
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QUOTE (Phloam_ @ 24. Aug 2008, 19:20) *
QUOTE (electronix @ 20. Aug 2008, 12:38) *
The best way to know is to use software like Adobe Audition to make a spectral analysis of a track.

The higher the frequencies on the spectral the better the quality.

When I have enough time I'll make a little guide on checking the quality of mp3s using spectral analysis and put it on the forums.


Absoloute bollocks.


What about spectral analysis is bollocks?

It shows the actual quality of digital media even if the mp3 is transcoded. Its used to check for quality on most good private sites such as waffles.

Obviously if you think its bollocks you have either never used it or dont know aht im talking bout.
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Offlinejah
post 29. Aug 2008, 06:42
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yeah its all about the source,

cant polish a turd you know...
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OfflineDjSoul
post 29. Sep 2008, 01:57
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All good info here. It is true AAC is more advanced codec than mp3 but mp3 has been around longer, hence why it is still used.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Audio_compression_(data)

So many factors come into play. From the source, to the coder, to the format choice. They all affect the outcome. Plus some tracks have been converted back and forth, bach and forth, each time losing more data, and u can never tell if that has happened.

Frankly I'm getting sick of mp3's personally as i've found many 320's that sound like a 96 mp3. So now i try and get FLAC, Wav/Aiff, or Vinyl and convert myself if needed. This has turned out to be a much better way to go for my collection, as I'm some what a audiophile at heart, and If it takes up way more of my HD i don't care, besides HD's are so cheap now a days. If i never have to DL another mp3 i will be stoked.
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OfflineBDY
post 29. Sep 2008, 10:10
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higher frequencies shown by a spectral analyzer doesnt equal quality just means theres high frequencies in the track surely?
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OfflineJurgenW
post 04. Oct 2008, 19:10
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Looking at the spectral frequencies would only help if you had a picture of the spectral frequencies of the master. And even then, a human would not be able to see the difference unless specific frequency bands had been cut out.
But maybe whoever said this knows something I dont.
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