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jdmccall

128kb/s better than 320?

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Today I listened to a 128k jazz stream (The Jazz Groove) through the Tune-In internet radio service.  It sounded amazingly good considering the low bit rate.  Then I listened to some of my own ripped 320k files.  They sounded pretty awful.  They weren't jazz recordings but they were ripped from a decent sounding CD (Paul Simon's "Still Crazy After All These Years").   Finally, I listened to that Paul Simon CD.  Yes, it for sure sounded way, way better than my mp3 rip. 

 

So, what's the end of it?  I'm not too surprised the CD sounded better than the 320k rip (LAME); but I am surprised those 128k streamed files sounded so much better than my own 320k rips.  Was it just that jazz recordings usually sound better than pop recordings anyway, or was it something else; some magic processing applied to the streamed files to enhance them?  How can 128 sound better than 320?  What other factors besides bit rate could affect SQ?

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When you made your 320kb mp3 files were the levels maximized? They need to be about -14 LUFS. This will give the encoder room to breathe, i.e., room to encode properly.

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Lots of variables here.  I would suggest a proper 320K MP3 rip from CD using LAME should be very very close to the original CD - it should be very difficult to tell a difference.  I don't know all the ins-and-outs of LAME but maybe check to make sure you setup everything properly to get a good 320K rip.  I'm also guessing the 128K internet jazz stream sounded better than Paul Simon because of mastering and/or music type.  Just a guess.

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I want to share this, though only partly relevant.

Even if you buy digital files, you can have unpleasant surprises. A while ago, I bought Podger's Four Seasons recording as a dsd file from a reputed online provider. In the first track, there was a skip. I couldn't imagine this was normal, so I contacted that company. I got a ticket and they said they would look into it. I never heard from them. I then contacted the Dutch record  label itself and asked if they could help me - I also sent them my invoice, of course. That same day, I got a link where I could download their own digital files. These were absolutely fine. They explained that there are quite some cowbows in the digital market who will upscale or downscale the same file to the format that was ordered. And when you do this with unprofessional gear, you get really bad files sometimes.

The company where I bought the corrupted files is nativedsd.com: https://www.nativedsd.com/catalogue/nativedsd-selections/vivaldi-highlights/40318-le-quattro-stagioni/

The record company that helped me was channel.nl https://channelclassics.com/catalogue/40318-Vivaldi-Le-Quattro-Stagioni-The-Four-Seasons/

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Which files did you download from NativeDSD?  DSD512?

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8 hours ago, Marvel said:

When you made your 320kb mp3 files were the levels maximized? They need to be about -14 LUFS. This will give the encoder room to breathe, i.e., room to encode properly.

I use EZ CD Audio Converter.  Settings were all at their default positions.  I don't know if levels were maximized or not. 

 

I've always thought 320mp3 was pretty much transparent to the original, but apparently not in my case.  Not that my ears are golden...believe me --they're not.  I've thought for awhile that my streamed files didn't sound like they should and this comparison bears that out.  I've tried a few of the on-line comparisons of WAV files vs. varying levels of data compression, and always had to listen very closely to pick which was which, especially with 320kbps.

 

So.......I set about to delete my mp3 files from my Buffalo Link Station.  ARGH!!!  I can't find  a way to do it!!!  I'm about ready to delete them with a hammer.

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On 1/18/2021 at 9:29 PM, jdmccall said:

a decent sounding CD (Paul Simon's "Still Crazy After All These Years"). 

One of my favorites to demo equipment.  Especially "50 Ways to Leave Your Lover" and Steve Gadd's drum intro.

 

On 1/18/2021 at 9:29 PM, jdmccall said:

Finally, I listened to that Paul Simon CD.  Yes, it for sure sounded way, way better than my mp3 rip.

I think I ripped my copy as a FLAC and it sounds identical to the CD.

 

Bill

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I think there must be something wrong with the software you used to rip or something that you did or did not do. I say this because I download MP3 320 files all the time and yes they are not quiet as good as the CD but are not offensive in any way and are acceptable to listen to. 

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With both downloaded and ripped from CD files I have used Audacity which tops out at 192kbs. I got in the habit of converting all my music to this in FLAC for a while. It seemed though that something was missing and at times the original 44kbs sounded better. I backed off to 96kbs where I have stayed since and find no audible, to my ears, improvement in files above this bit rate but do find the 96kbs seems to distort or alter my music files far less. My setup can handle 196KBS but to many weird things went with that level.

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On 1/19/2021 at 3:29 AM, jdmccall said:

Today I listened to a 128k jazz stream (The Jazz Groove) through the Tune-In internet radio service.  It sounded amazingly good considering the low bit rate.  Then I listened to some of my own ripped 320k files.  They sounded pretty awful.  They weren't jazz recordings but they were ripped from a decent sounding CD (Paul Simon's "Still Crazy After All These Years").   Finally, I listened to that Paul Simon CD.  Yes, it for sure sounded way, way better than my mp3 rip. 

 

So, what's the end of it?  I'm not too surprised the CD sounded better than the 320k rip (LAME); but I am surprised those 128k streamed files sounded so much better than my own 320k rips.  Was it just that jazz recordings usually sound better than pop recordings anyway, or was it something else; some magic processing applied to the streamed files to enhance them?  How can 128 sound better than 320?  What other factors besides bit rate could affect SQ?

 

I remember reading about the limitations of Windows when sending audio files over to an external amp. Depending on the type of connection, the version of Windows, and the application on Windows used to send it to the amp, your amp may receive a scaled down data stream, not a 320 file. Can't remember the details, though.

There is more about this here: https://www.audiosciencereview.com/forum/index.php?threads/how-does-windows-handle-audio-device-sample-rate-and-bit-depth.9587/

So perhaps your pc does some nasty things with your 320 k files, while it leaves the 128kb file alone.

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5 minutes ago, MeloManiac said:

 

I remember reading about the limitations of Windows when sending audio files over to an external amp. Depending on the type of connection, the version of Windows, and the application on Windows used to send it to the amp, your amp may receive a scaled down data stream, not a 320 file. Can't remember the details, though.

With my PC's there is a Realtex audio driver for the sound card. Even if you download the hi def version driver you are capped at 192 KBS. Win 10 latest version. Windows Media Player utilizing the Realtex hi def driver.

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11 minutes ago, Dave A said:

With both downloaded and ripped from CD files I have used Audacity which tops out at 192kbs. I got in the habit of converting all my music to this in FLAC for a while. It seemed though that something was missing and at times the original 44kbs sounded better. I backed off to 96kbs where I have stayed since and find no audible, to my ears, improvement in files above this bit rate but do find the 96kbs seems to distort or alter my music files far less. My setup can handle 196KBS but to many weird things went with that level.

The OP is talking about lossy-compression 320Kb/S vs CD-quality.  I think you are talking about sample-rate.

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The more I think of this I have to wonder about sources. It seems to be hit and miss as to the quality of the download or CD and there are some I have never found a good copy of. Others are so darned good I save them aside for when I want to test the latest thing I have tinkered with speaker wise and never have to do more than go 96KBS and be pleased.

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3 minutes ago, pbphoto said:

The OP is talking about lossy-compression 320Kb/S vs CD-quality.  I think you are talking about sample-rate.

OK I thought this was comparing CD quality to FLAC or lossless when converting. I have downloaded both types and maybe that is not what you guys are talking about.

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On 1/18/2021 at 8:29 PM, jdmccall said:

Today I listened to a 128k jazz stream (The Jazz Groove) through the Tune-In internet radio service.  It sounded amazingly good considering the low bit rate.  Then I listened to some of my own ripped 320k files.  They sounded pretty awful.  They weren't jazz recordings but they were ripped from a decent sounding CD (Paul Simon's "Still Crazy After All These Years").   Finally, I listened to that Paul Simon CD.  Yes, it for sure sounded way, way better than my mp3 rip. 

 

So, what's the end of it?  I'm not too surprised the CD sounded better than the 320k rip (LAME); but I am surprised those 128k streamed files sounded so much better than my own 320k rips.  Was it just that jazz recordings usually sound better than pop recordings anyway, or was it something else; some magic processing applied to the streamed files to enhance them?  How can 128 sound better than 320?  What other factors besides bit rate could affect SQ?

I think we've got the "streetlight effect" going here... 😉 Occam's razor applies.

 

In most instances, lossy tracks sounding better than others is due almost entirely to EQ that was also impressed either before or after the lossy encoding, i.e., a difference in SPL response.  The streaming services are just showing you what the potential is for fixing your own music tracks.

 

For CDs, etc. that you used for initial lossy encoding were produced before 1991 (i.e., older music), they will likely have the creative EQ used to make the sound louder and more "brilliant" but extremely lacking in bass. If you were to download Audacity 2.1.0 and open one of the files you ripped, then apply the following EQ curve to the track "Still Crazy After All of These Years", the story might be a lot different on your ripped CD track:

 

841302792_StillCrazyAfterAllTheseYearsEQcurve.GIF.c17a9848da7aba0e976b9b0cdbcf2f95.GIF

 

The streaming services are probably partially correcting for this by re-EQing the tracks in their libraries to sound better. 

 

See https://community.klipsch.com/index.php?/topic/155096-the-missing-octaves-audacity-remastering-to-restore-tracks/

 

Chris

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My style is to throw it all out and start over.  That could be why I have made 3-4 deep attempts to rip my CD collection.  So far, I have to say it's been way more trouble than it's been worth.  And I am ready to throw the baby out along with the bathwater...again. 

 

The only DSP I apply during ripping is loudness normalization.  This could be the culprit, although my understanding is that it merely equalizes loudness differences between tracks so that they all sound nearly the same volume when played back together, as would be the case in "random" mode playback.  In EZ CD there's two normalization options: loudness and peak.  I am using loudness.  All my rips were made like this, so.......🥴

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I have listened to some internet jazz radio stations that I thought sounded great. Play the same track in FLAC and the difference makes itself known.

 

Shakey

 

 

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22 minutes ago, jdmccall said:

My style is to throw it all out and start over.  That could be why I have made 3-4 deep attempts to rip my CD collection.  So far, I have to say it's been way more trouble than it's been worth.  And I am ready to throw the baby out along with the bathwater...again. 

 

Get a subscription to Qobuz - they probably have better masters than your CD's and they stream lossless CD quality (at minimum) right to your door.  Keep your CD's as a backup.  There are other great online streaming services as well.

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7 hours ago, pbphoto said:

Get a subscription to Qobuz - they probably have better masters than your CD's and they stream lossless CD quality (at minimum) right to your door.  Keep your CD's as a backup.  There are other great online streaming services as well.

It is tempting.  Then I think about how many CD's I could buy each month with that subscription money.  But I'm kind of OK with free 128k streaming.  Then seek out the stuff I really like on CD or SACD.  I would like to get some good rips of my existing CD collection, though; mostly to assemble playlists.  Maybe I'll make one more stab at it.  FLAC this time...and maybe just rip the good stuff to speed the process and conserve hdd space.

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One. You can buy ONE cd every month with that subscription money. How many albums a month can you stream? About 730 if you listened for 24 hours a day.

 

You do the rest of the math.

 

BTW

 

Rip your cds using dB poweramp. Then put them on  a 3.5” drive in a NAS. My bet is that they will sound better now than the actual cd.

 

Shakey

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