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  • Encoding options

    Recently, there has been much talk of FLAC, and the fact that it may well be the new saviour for compressed music. Read more about the project here.

    I decided to do a little testing this afternoon. Using my Living Colour CD - Stain, I ripped tracks 8 & 9 (Nothingness & Postman) four times, to the following formats, using the listed options, which resulted in the shown file sizes:

    Track 8 - Size(Kb) - Quality
    WAV - 36,452
    MP3 - 6,425 - VBR-MTRH, quality=0(best), Lame Encoder
    OGG - 4,226 - Q=0(best) min=80, max=350
    FLAC - 24,140 - Q=8
    FLAC - 25,661 - Q=0

    Track 9 - Size(Kb) - Quality
    WAV - 36,378
    MP3 - 6,960 - VBR-MTRH, quality=0(best), Lame Encoder
    OGG - 4,216 - Q=0(best) min=80, max=350
    FLAC - 27,010 - Q=8
    FLAC - 28,553 - Q=0


    Testing method
    I used CD-ex for all except FLAC; for FLAC I used FLAC 1.1.0 with the windows frontend. For playback testing, I used Winamp 5, with the FLAC plugin added. Testing was performed blind - in other words, I couldn't see from the playlist which version of the track that I was listening to.

    Winamp was configured with the EQ turned off, and to a relatively low volume. Loud subjective testing makes for short subjective testing.

    Discoveries
    Size
    First observation was that the FLAC files were significantly larger than the lossy compression files. Although HDD's are cheaper these days, the FLAC files are approximately 6 times the size of the OGG files. I was surprised at how large the FLAC files were, so I ripped the WAV's again, this time at Q=0. Still a very large file compared to OGG & MP3.

    Volume
    I did my listening using my PC, with crappy 2.1 computer speakers - all tracks were played back through the same system, at the same volume. There was no discernable change in volume from one track to the next; that is - all encoding methods output tracks at the same volume level.

    Sound quality
    It was pretty easy to determine which were the lossy compressed tracks, and which weren't.

    It took me a little while to decide (and numerous repeats) that there was a winner from the lossy compressions - it turned out to be OGG. However I couldn't tell the difference between the FLAC and the WAV file.

    Conclusions
    • My wife is completely over the first verse of each of these tracks
    • OGG was noticably better than MP3
    • FLAC and WAV are virtually indistinguishable

    Now - my objective from this test was to figure out whether FLAC was all it is cracked up to be. It is. Better than OGG and MP3? No doubt.

    I don't know whether I can stomach the file sizes at this stage though. Having said that though, I'll be looking to encode from this point using OGG rather than MP3 - the difference was that noticable. Bonus is that the files for OGG are smaller again than MP3.

    The only trap is that the new sound system in the car may show up some of the deficiencies of compressed music. Time will tell.

    Hope this is useful to someone. Has anyone else done testing of this nature?

    C!
    http://carpc.riposte.net
    I reserve all rights in connection to each post I author, without exception.

  • #2
    There was a post about something similar to this on slashdot a couple of weeks ago pointing to this site:
    http://www.rjamorim.com/test/multifo...8/results.html

    Though this is just a comparison for 128kbits/s recordings, it notes that there's a japanese programmer that's tweaking the settings in vorbis that gives better results than stock vorbis so you might want to try use that instead.

    FLAC is lossless compression, so it should be bit for bit with the original wave file once you decompress it. As you said though, it makes rather large files. If you want a comparison, there's also another codec called Monkey's Audio around which is also lossless and generates slighly smaller files than FLAC (though it takes a bit longer to compress).

    I've noticed many many awful glitches while playing MP3s in my car.. loss of stereo imaging, sharp cutoffs with some instruments due to masking, weird sound instruments in some cases (especially quite guitars).. I've been trying to use Monkey's Audio and FLAC where i can now.

    I guess car audio is something that perpetually costs more and more money You spend money upgrading your speakers, amplifiers, then you put a computer in to play music. After that you realise that your mp3s all suck, so you spend time reripping them all, and buying a larger hard drive for your car computer..

    Then you realise that your cd player at home sucks, so you buy proper amplifiers and proper speakers and spend more money on things like cables and other interconnects.. and it just keeps going and your wallet keeps getting thinner....

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    • #3
      Yep, OGG is usually the winner for lossy. It does sound so much better. I have compared the difference of 128kb OGG vs. 128kb MP3 and OGG wins hands down. MP3 tends to cut out the highs and make the lows 'duller.'(Quieter?) MP3 is an outdated format and should be trashed. OGG is open source and free. You don't have to pay to liscense it. Only problem is, everyone has MP3's... d'oh!

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      • #4
        Acctually .wma is the hands down winner in lossless compression. It's the fact that the files are too damn big when it's done like that though.

        Yes, I am ready to be flamed but try it for yourself and see.
        Aura MR62 (F and R)
        My Current MP3s
        IamDefiler.com

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        • #5
          But ogg and flac are both free..... free is good ^^

          but we all agree that mp3 more-or-less sucks right?

          Comment


          • #6
            So is wma??? Just look in your media player 9 compression options. I'm happy with the size/quality of my 192 lossy mp3 files.
            Aura MR62 (F and R)
            My Current MP3s
            IamDefiler.com

            Comment


            • #7
              Originally posted by starfox
              but we all agree that mp3 more-or-less sucks right?
              No - we don't agree. MP3 as a format made some break throughs and paved the way for the other formats that we have available today.

              It's more about having an eye on the future, with some respect for what has come before.

              C!
              http://carpc.riposte.net
              I reserve all rights in connection to each post I author, without exception.

              Comment


              • #8
                i respect the model t, but id much rather drive my wrx

                should i just google to find more about ogg??

                Comment


                • #9
                  Originally posted by C4M
                  FLAC and WAV are virtually indistinguishable
                  Umm.. You do understand what a lossess format is, don't you?

                  I'd be much more surprised if they were distinguishable in any way.

                  BTW, FLAC 1.1.2 is out.

                  /dropped mp3 for ogg
                  //dropped ogg for flac
                  ///HD space is cheap; quality is what matters

                  EDIT:
                  Originally posted by C4M
                  I ripped tracks 8 & 9 (Nothingness & Postman) four times, to the following formats
                  You'd probably be better served ripping *once* to a wav, then encoding for each different format. But its your time.

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    Originally posted by Defiler
                    Acctually .wma is the hands down winner in lossless compression.
                    In what way? Compression ratio? Decoding speed (since that's what really matters)? The fact that it has "Windows" in its format name?

                    For all things *except file size* I have to go with FLAC; see the next bit about file size, tho.

                    Originally posted by Defiler
                    It's the fact that the files are too damn big when it's done like that though.
                    Disk space is cheap. Quality is what matters. I'm glad I found digital audio and mp3s oh so long ago, but I haven't encoded anything in a lossy format for a while now - just got a DVD burner and bigger HDs.

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      Originally posted by C4M
                      It's more about having an eye on the future, with some respect for what has come before.
                      I'm [dimly] aware of buggy whips, but I have no respect for them.

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        Originally posted by kingnasty
                        should i just google to find more about ogg??
                        FLAC FLAC FLAC FLAC!

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          Originally posted by rubicon
                          In what way? Compression ratio? Decoding speed (since that's what really matters)? The fact that it has "Windows" in its format name?
                          SQ
                          Aura MR62 (F and R)
                          My Current MP3s
                          IamDefiler.com

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            Originally posted by Defiler
                            SQ
                            I assume by "SQ" that you mean "sound quality."

                            When we're talking about lossless compression, sound quality between formats will be identical.

                            How do you figure wma sounds any better than flac?

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                            • #15
                              MP3 and 100%VBR.... the human ear cannot tell the differance.... Like the old memorex comercials.
                              TruckinMP3
                              D201GLY2, DC-DC power, 3.5 inch SATA

                              Yes, you should search... and Yes, It has been covered before!

                              Read the FAQ!

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