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mp3 bitrate question...

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23 replies to this topic

#1 of 24 OFFLINE   Adam.Heckman


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Posted January 29 2004 - 04:14 AM

Is there a bitrate of mp3s that matches the quality of a CD? Or is there inherent flaws in the mp3 format (range or whatever) that make it, by default, inferior to CDs?

Thanks in advance!!

#2 of 24 OFFLINE   dan fritzen

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Posted January 29 2004 - 04:41 AM

I read once that somewhere between 168 to 256kbits is CD quality, I like everythign 256 or 320 myself, although I have mp3's at 128 that sound more dynamic than others at 256. Not only is the bitrate important, but the encoder used as well. I use the one in DiscJuggler because it is free with the software, otherwise the add in one for Nero is good as well.

I am sure someone will reply with a more up to date test and give us a mroe precise answer.
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#3 of 24 OFFLINE   FeisalK



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Posted January 29 2004 - 05:26 AM

IMO the very fact that MP3 is a compression method makes it inherently inferior to CD which is uncompressed PCM. It's not a flaw or anything its just the way it's made.

However, it also depends on the resolution of the system playing back the MP3. On most portable MP3 playback systems (and probably mid-range as well) 128kb is sufficient. And at 256kbps or more (on an average system) you will most likely not be able to discern the difference between MP3 and uncompressed PCM, so it will sound 'just as good' as CD.
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#4 of 24 OFFLINE   PaulP



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Posted January 29 2004 - 05:28 AM

Lame is considered one of the best encoders. I encode my music at 192 with the latest Lame codec, with Stereo and HQ settings, and it sounds maybe even better than on CD Posted Image

On this note, the new AAC format should be even better than MP3 - Winamp 5 supports it, and has AAC de[n]coding capabilities (maybe only in Pro version). It's supposedly has the same compression ratio as MP3 but sounds much better - supposedly a 128 AAC sounds like a 192 MP3...

#5 of 24 OFFLINE   robertLP


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Posted January 29 2004 - 06:19 AM

Anyone use the iTunes encoder? How does it rate compare to LAME?

#6 of 24 OFFLINE   Angelo.M



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Posted January 29 2004 - 06:44 AM

Is there a bitrate at which mp3 becomes transparent (no audible difference versus redbook CD) to your ears? Only you can answer through trial and error.

It's a compression format, so information is lost. Whether or not that makes an audible difference is up to you.

#7 of 24 OFFLINE   RobBenton


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Posted January 29 2004 - 10:01 AM

Around 256kb it becomes very hard to tell the difference between an mp3 and the original CD. Some people can't tell the difference at 192kb Just try a few different things and see which you like best.

#8 of 24 OFFLINE   ken nomimashita

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Posted January 29 2004 - 10:24 AM

it really depends on the person. mp3's sound different somehow to me. i cant really explain it though. i guess its the software.

#9 of 24 OFFLINE   PhilBoy


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Posted January 30 2004 - 12:45 AM

I only use a 100% Variable Bit Rate...

The song files in size work out to about 1/3, but even with a very good pair of cans it is hard to tell the difference between mp3 and .wav.
simplicity is genius...

#10 of 24 OFFLINE   Thomas Newton

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Posted January 30 2004 - 03:12 AM

You lose quality because MP3 is a lossy compression format. You trade quality for higher compression ratios.

There are lossless compression formats, like .ZIP and .SIT and Meridian Lossless Packing, but they aren't necessarily designed for real-time encoding or playback. At best, you can expect maybe 2:1 lossless compression, where a low-to-medium-quality 128 Kbps MP3 gives you ~10:1 compression.

#11 of 24 OFFLINE   Jonathan Dagmar

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Posted January 30 2004 - 09:33 AM

Usiing Windows media is better than Mp3, and support for Windows Media is pretty goof these days among hardware.

With Windows Media audio 9 you can get the same quality as MP3 at half the bit-rate, so it is a much superior format.

As for what bit-rate MP3 becomes indecipherable from CD? I guess that depends on what kind of system you are listening on. On a portable player Mp3 is a godsens because it can be so small, but when i play mp3 on my home theater i think they sound terrible.

#12 of 24 OFFLINE   BrianMB



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Posted January 30 2004 - 09:40 AM

For lossless compression there are:




They all only compress a music file in half, but hard drives are cheapPosted Image

#13 of 24 OFFLINE   RobBenton


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Posted January 31 2004 - 07:24 AM

I actually prefer mp3 to windows media.. windows media is supposed to be better at a given bitrate but i never like the sound of it... to harsh sometimes. Also to be exact a 128kb mp3 file is 12:1 compression, but is nowhere near the cd quality it claims to be and neither is windows media.

#14 of 24 OFFLINE   Jeremy Scott

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Posted January 31 2004 - 08:10 PM

i download or rip all my music to 128.

i like the sound of 128.

#15 of 24 OFFLINE   Herschel


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Posted February 01 2004 - 03:56 AM

For me, I encode everything with LAME and the standard preset, which tends to give you around a 185 kbps average bitrate. I can't tell the difference between that and the original. But, if I play that back through a surround system using Pro Logic II, it's really bad. PLII always seems to extract nothing but MP3 artifacts for the rear speakers.

#16 of 24 OFFLINE   Wayne Bundrick

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Posted February 01 2004 - 05:26 AM

You get bad things from Dolby Surround (ProLogic and ProLogic II) if the digital compression of the source does anything to disturb the phase relationships of the two matrixed channels. Phase is probably the first thing to suffer in any digital compression which tries to isolate similar sounds in multiple channels and encode them only once. Basically, all the noise artifacts that you're not supposed to hear because of psychoacoustics will become concentrated in the rear after Dolby Surround decoding.

This can be avoided if the encoder does "mid/side" encoding, which works with L+R and L-R instead of L and R. Dolby Digital will do this if it is told that the stereo source audio is a Dolby Surround matrix. MP3 also has a mid/side mode.

MP3 encoding is almost always "joint stereo", which is supposed to automatically determine on a frame by frame basis, based on the audio content, whether it needs to use regular stereo mode or mid/side mode. The LAME encoder is supposed to do a better job at making this determination than the standard calls for.

You can override LAME's joint stereo mode. There are three modes you should try: stereo, mid/side, and dual independent channels. With mid/side and dual independent channels, you may need to increase the bitrate because you are limiting the encoder's abilities.
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#17 of 24 OFFLINE   Jonathan Dagmar

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Posted February 01 2004 - 07:57 PM

i download

stop stealing

#18 of 24 OFFLINE   dan fritzen

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Posted February 02 2004 - 12:19 AM

stop stealing

Didn't you see the pepsi ad yesterday, where accussed music downloaders sued by the RIAA, said they will not sop downloading music for free?
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#19 of 24 OFFLINE   BrianB



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Posted February 02 2004 - 03:40 AM

stop stealing

Believe it or not, not everyone who downloads music from the internet is stealing music.

Personally, I pay to download music from eMusic and rip my (paid for!) CDs at ~192k VBR using CDex & LAME.

/me looks at my bank statement for the ~$90 I spent on CDs last night at BestBuy.

Yeah, I steal all my music.
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#20 of 24 OFFLINE   Richard Travale

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Posted February 02 2004 - 06:10 AM

Yeah, where do you get "I steal" out of "I download"? There are so many pay per download services out there that this type of response is unwarranted.

I usually have my MP3s encoded at 160. Since 90% of my mp3 listening is through headphones at the computer (the other 10% on my discman) anything higher would be a waste of space.

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