MP3 Pro vs. MP3

Discussion in 'Archived Threads 2001-2004' started by Camp, Jun 13, 2002.

  1. Camp

    Camp Cinematographer

    Joined:
    Dec 3, 1999
    Messages:
    2,301
    Likes Received:
    0
    Generally, I prefer WinAmp for MP3 playback. However the new 7.1 version of MusicMatch will encode the more advanced MP3 Pro format.

    Files ripped to the MP3 Pro format are still playable as a regular MP3 (it even retains the .mp3 extension). I was able to open the MP3 Pro files in WinAmp (which is not MP3 Pro compliant) and play it -though with reduced sound quality. So, MP3 Pro files ought to work fine on existing MP3 devices.

    I performed a non-scientific test to see if MP3 Pro is really an improvement over regular MP3.

    I ripped the excellent David Bowie cover of 'Cactus' from the new 'Heathen' CD (originally recorded by one of my favorite bands, the Pixies). I encoded it in several formats/bit rates. Here are the formats compared:

    1. MP3 @ 128 kbps CBR LAME encoder
    2. MP3 @ 160 kbps VBR LAME encoder
    3. MP3 Pro @ 64 kbps CBR
    4. MP3 Pro @ 96 kbps CBR
    5. MP3 Pro @ 100% VBR
    6. Original CD

    I have a Hercules GameTheaterXP soundcard with a digital coax out. That output is connected to my HT (DefTech speakers, Anthem AVM-20, Newcastle AM-9080 amp). Each file was compared to the original CD which was also connected to my Anthem AVM-20 via digital coax. I was able to switch back and forth between the MP3 input and the CD input with a single button press.
    The track was ripped from the original CD to .wav using EAC. The .wav was then converted to each compressed format. Standard MP3 formatted files were encoded with EAC using an external LAME encoder. MP3 Pro files were encoded using MusicMatch.


    1. MP3 @ 128 kbps CBR LAME encoder
    The 128kbps MP3 is probably what comes to mind when most people think about MP3. It's suitable for headphones while working out but not much else, IMO. I could not use this setting for daily listening.
    File size: 2.733 MB

    2. MP3 @ 160 kbps VBR LAME encoder
    This is how I have all of my digital music stored (approx. 4,000 tracks on a dedicated hard drive). This is a variable bit rate setting meaning throughout the track the bit rate can go up or down -depending upon the requirements of the audio information. This setting maximizes sound quality and hard drive space. The 160kbps setting means the encoder will not allow the bit rate drop below 160kbps -yet the bit rate can climb as high as the 320kbps maximum of MP3.
    Prior to the introduction of the Anthem pre/pro into my system I could not hear a difference between this type of MP3 and the original CD. For whatever reason, the addition of a quality pre/pro has made the difference very obvious: bass lacks the life of the original CD, there is a certain 'air' missing in the initial acoustic guitar at the start of the track, there is a definite loss of atmosphere (vague, I know but it's tough to describe without sounding like an ignorant HT magazine reviewer ).
    I could live with this format in most situations other than critical listening.
    File size: 3.903 MB

    3. MP3 Pro @ 64 kbps CBR
    This one didn't quite match up to the VBR MP3. It was tough to tell if it was better or worse than the 128kbps MP3.
    File size: 1.367 MB

    4. MP3 Pro @ 96kbps CBR
    96kbps is the highest bit rate available for MP3 Pro. I tried very hard to hear a difference between this format and the original CD. Alas, I could hear no discernable differences. It rendered everything as the original CD did. Perhaps I need another upgrade before my system can allow me to hear a difference.
    File size: 2.050 MB (amazing!)

    5. MP3 Pro at 100% VBR
    I honestly don't know exactly what this setting does. What "100%" means I have no idea. At any rate I could not distinguish this setting from the original CD or the 96kbps MP3 Pro setting. The fact that this setting yeilded the same audio performance at a larger file size means I won't be using it.
    File size: 2.910 MB

    In case you're interested, the .wav file from the source CD was 30.117 MB in size.

    I will be using the MP3 Pro 96kbps scheme to archive my audio from this point forward. I've been a fan of LAME encoding and I hope the authors of LAME wind up supporting MP3 Pro as well. Not only does MP3 Pro equal the source CD it also takes up less space than a standard 128kbps MP3! A new king has certainly been crowned, IMO.
     
  2. NickSo

    NickSo Producer

    Joined:
    Jul 2, 2000
    Messages:
    4,260
    Likes Received:
    0
    Real Name:
    Nick So
    I encoded some MP3Pro awhile ago on my old P166 at 64kbps playing in winamp with an MP3Pro output plugin (decodes MP3Pro at full MP3Pro bitrate), and it sounded too 'electronic', kinda like a high pitched wavy sound in the background just faintly (is this 'jitter'?)... Didnt like it... Ill try out 96kbps soon...
     
  3. Camp

    Camp Cinematographer

    Joined:
    Dec 3, 1999
    Messages:
    2,301
    Likes Received:
    0
    Nick,

    I've edited my findings above. I mis-read my listening notes when I typed that up.

    Where did you find the MP3 Pro plug-in for WinAmp? I've been looking on-and-off for several months for such a thing.

    I'd be interested in comparing a MusicMatch encoded MP3 Pro to one by WinAmp plug-ins.
     
  4. NickSo

    NickSo Producer

    Joined:
    Jul 2, 2000
    Messages:
    4,260
    Likes Received:
    0
    Real Name:
    Nick So
  5. Camp

    Camp Cinematographer

    Joined:
    Dec 3, 1999
    Messages:
    2,301
    Likes Received:
    0
    Ah...yea, I have found that one before. It takes some work to get it working with WinAmp 3. I think I'll wait for native support in WinAmp3.

    I did some reading at the sites you linked too. It seems my results are not typical. A couple MP3 Pro reviews I found still prefered LAME encoded MP3 to 96kbps MP3Pro. I really couldn't hear a difference. Perhaps I need to experiment with a few different types of music -rather than a single track.
     
  6. Scott L

    Scott L Producer

    Joined:
    Feb 29, 2000
    Messages:
    4,457
    Likes Received:
    1
    Nice writeup Camp. But new king has been crowned? I find it very hard to believe that a 2mb compressed file can equal the sound quality of the 30mb uncompressed original. Guess I'll have to try it myself.
     
  7. Sihan Goi

    Sihan Goi Second Unit

    Joined:
    Nov 2, 2001
    Messages:
    442
    Likes Received:
    0
    If you want extremely good quality mp3 quality, try LAME's 3.92's --alt-preset extreme option.
     
  8. NickSo

    NickSo Producer

    Joined:
    Jul 2, 2000
    Messages:
    4,260
    Likes Received:
    0
    Real Name:
    Nick So
    Camp: why are you using Winamp3? is it better? i downloaded it, and it was very buggy... Sometimes i couldt move windows, no equalizer presets, couldnt open menus, etc.

    Just wondering
     
  9. Camp

    Camp Cinematographer

    Joined:
    Dec 3, 1999
    Messages:
    2,301
    Likes Received:
    0
    Nick,

    Are you using WinXP? The current build has been very stable on my system. I've read it is buggy on other versions of Windows.
    Winamp3 is just cool with the transparancy option in WinXP. I can keep it on top of my work and still see my music and my work.
    I don't believe in equalizers, so I didn't even notice that shortfall.
     
  10. NickSo

    NickSo Producer

    Joined:
    Jul 2, 2000
    Messages:
    4,260
    Likes Received:
    0
    Real Name:
    Nick So
    Yeah, im using WinXP Pro...
    I guess ill just wait for the final [​IMG]
     

Share This Page