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Hi

Some of us compress their audio file into MP3. I think some will find this short article interesting to read. I was curious about what I'd lose if I compressed my audio file from WAV to MP3. Honestly, Well worth reading:

Listen to what gets lost when an MP3 is made


Here is an interview with the guy Ryan Maguire who runs the project "The Ghost in the MP3".

Thanks


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When it first became popular, mp3 file compression was more about ISP bandwidth than storage- most of us at the time had slow modem internet connections but we had hard drives with several gigabytes of storage (now terrabytes!) so memory was much less the issue than the time it took to down/upload a file.

So with Napster in its p2p days most files were compressed to mp3s at 128kbit - this was a typical default setting for most encoders giving about 1:8 compression. But mp3s can be encoded at much more generous bitrates. The Lame encoder, for example, can routinely encode at 320kbit (roughly 3:1). I would defy anyone in a live test to tell the difference between wav and mp3 at this setting. Even at 192k (1:6) it's a tough call although it will depend on the source material.

The more serious problem with compression relates to encodings which compress dynamic range where, as a result, we don't hear enough of a difference between pp and ff. That's not connected with compression of data via mp3 which risks compromising fidelity and adding artefacts rather than squashing dynamic range.

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It is an art project, taking the subtractive elements (which everyone agrees does not affect the final output audio if done at reasonable compression levels) and creating a new spooky version of the song. Explained in the radio interview linked through the article.

The vox article tries to rehash the vinyl is better argument yet again frown

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I have to admit I didn't check the video since I thought the author had already missed the point about the rationale for file compression. Also, I've read often about quality loss and I think it's misleading.

Yes, mp3s leave things out and I suppose if those things can be laid bare it's of some academic interest. My understanding is that mp3s leave out the things we don't hear anyway, components of the sound that are hidden behind others. That's probably a gross oversimplification.

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Well, that is nothing new really. I've known this from the 90's.
You do have a choice of MP3 sample rate. I never chose anything below about 160 if I can avoid it.
The best thing is to have the original PLUS an MP3 version.


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Some of us remember beyond the Vinyl . . .like, Bakelite used on 78`s.

They sounded better than vinyl. I had a copy of !Peggy Sue" on both. The large disc was wonderful in it`s detail, I used to listen to it sat up to the speaker.

My sister sat on it . . . frown

Last edited by peterws; 03/12/15 11:40 AM.

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Originally Posted by peterws
Some of us remember beyond the Vinyl . . .like, Bakelite used on 78`s. They sounded better than vinyl.

oh yeah, of course they did. Even better?...the Edison Cylinder! I say bring back the Edison Cylinder....and mono...if possible.

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I prefer to just have the artist come to my house when I want to hear their song. Recordings are for chumps.


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Originally Posted by peterws
Some of us remember beyond the Vinyl . . .like, Bakelite used on 78`s.

They sounded better than vinyl. I had a copy of !Peggy Sue" on both. The large disc was wonderful in it`s detail, I used to listen to it sat up to the speaker.

My sister sat on it . . . frown


Peggy Sue is from the 50's, isn't it? Who was putting out bakelite records in the 50's?


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Originally Posted by EM Deeka
It is an art project, taking the subtractive elements (which everyone agrees does not affect the final output audio if done at reasonable compression levels) and creating a new spooky version of the song. Explained in the radio interview linked through the article.

Not a bad idea. A bit like "I'm sitting in a room" by Alvin Lucier, where the performer speaks a paragraph which is recorded, then played while being recorded again; then the recording of the recording is played while being recorded again... and in the end, the sound you get is something dependent from the room you are recording in.

Originally Posted by EM Deeka
The vox article tries to rehash the vinyl is better argument yet again frown

Myths have a long life. As someone who has heard music played life, and from vinyl, CDs and MP3s, I can say that vinyl records do not sound closer to live music than digital recordings, at least to my ears. And to use the example from the article: I doubt Rihanna would emit scratching sounds while singing, or get stuck at the same place over and over again.


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Originally Posted by patH
I doubt Rihanna would emit scratching sounds while singing, or get stuck at the same place over and over again.


I dunno..... I do the former when singing, and the latter when playing grin


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Originally Posted by patH

Myths have a long life. As someone who has heard music played life, and from vinyl, CDs and MP3s, I can say that vinyl records do not sound closer to live music than digital recordings, at least to my ears. And to use the example from the article: I doubt Rihanna would emit scratching sounds while singing, or get stuck at the same place over and over again.

I don't know who Rihanna is, but the digital format and CDs are almost tailor-made for classical music, which needs a wide dynamic range and silent silences. (Herbert von Karajan, on hearing a CD for the first time, proclaimed "All else is gaslight" - and he insisted that a CD must be able to contain the complete Choral Symphony of Beethoven, which is why CDs have 80-minute capacity - unlike LPs).

Since switching to CD (soon after its inception), I've not listened to any of my hundreds of classical LPs - I just can't tolerate the distortion, the background noises (not just crackle & pop, but also low rumbles), the wow & flutter etc anymore. Similarly, ever since the BBC started broadcasting in digital format, I've not used my (very expensive) FM tuner. My DAB (digital radio) costs a fraction of that tuner, yet has much better sound. And fortunately, the Beeb has wisely chosen to broadcast its classical radio station (Radio 3) in 192 kbps, rather than the much lower bit-rate used by other stations (126 kbps or less). Even so, Radio 3 used to be broadcast in 256 kbps......

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Still not sure if there is an argument in here why my abysmal mp3 recital submissions can be blamed on the recording process. But I am going to run with it for now.


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Originally Posted by Jytte
Originally Posted by patH
I doubt Rihanna would emit scratching sounds while singing, or get stuck at the same place over and over again.


I dunno..... I do the former when singing, and the latter when playing grin


Haha! smile


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I don't know exactly which bit rate was chosen when the song included in the article was converted to MP3. It is not stated in the article. I assume it was probably 128kbps. This compression seems to remove a lot. And having sdaid that, perhaps it removes only elements we cannot hear. That would be ideal but I am not so sure about it. It is called lossy compression for a reason. It's been said and I could hear it as well that some elements like breathing are also removed. It could be an artist way of expression his/her art. As such, it is significant element to lose.

I understand MP3 have pros and cons. I am not saying to stop using it. It's great to share music in internet. I though it's good to be aware what it does. I myself would rather opt to keep original files if I have enough space. You can always make MP3 if you need.

As a side note, it would be great for us to have results from a similar experiment where less compressed files and higher bit rates files are examined, such as 160, 192, 265, and 320 kbps. Also, I personally would like to know how classical music is affected smile

Last edited by ZikO; 03/13/15 10:22 AM.

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To my ears MP3 at 320 kbps sounds pretty good to be honest, comparing to huge wavs of the same material that I've compared a few times when I export anything out of cubase. Less than that and it really begins to tell, at 192 kbps something is definitely lost that can be heard I find, 128 it gets worse again...

Some equipment will be kinder to low quality music and make it a bit less harsh if the are not very detailed to begin with, some may be even use filters of sorts that can help in that case, but at same time will not shine so much with higher quality media in comparison. For example, book shelf speakers like the microlabs 6c are good for this that I recently heard at a friends house, they weren't bad at all considering the cheap 70 GBP price tag, but comparing studio monitors 2 - 3 times the price they don't have the same clarity in detail that shine with good quality media, and show up low quality media, so it will depend what you listen on too, studio monitors speaker/headphones versus cheaper PC or bookshelf speaker setups.

When I come across new stuff on youtube, as long as I like a song I will still listen to it whatever format it is in, as long as it is of any sort of reasonable quality.

Good Music always shines, Justin Bieber or Rihanna at infinite bit rate will never beat Chopin or Jimi Hendrix at 64 kpbs in my book grin



Last edited by Alexander Borro; 03/13/15 11:55 AM.

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