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Thread: Listening Test: Lossy vs Lossless- Can you hear it?

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    Default Listening Test: Lossy vs Lossless- Can you hear it?

    I will soon be conducting a listening test in this thread. If you are interested in participating, post to the thread and I'll see that you get the files. It will take me a few days to set up the test files.

    The samples will be in ALAC Apple Lossless format. They will be playable in iTunes or on iPods. I don't have the ability to create FLAC files right now. If someone would like to volunteer to convert from Apple Lossless to FLAC, we can make the test available in both formats.

    There will be ten samples:

    True CD quality Apple Lossless
    AAC 320
    AAC 256
    AAC 192
    MP3 LAME 320
    MP3 LAME 256
    MP3 LAME 192
    MP3 Frauenhofer 320
    MP3 Frauenhofer 256
    MP3 Frauenhofer 192

    The samples will all be presented in an Apple Lossless file. No way to tell them apart by peeking at the file.

    The purpose of the test is to identify which samples are lossy and which one is lossless. Everyone who participates must submit their choices before I reveal the answers.

    Good luck!

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    Senior Member KenOC's Avatar
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    You can convert to FLAC easily with the free and very nice program Foobar2000. May be PC-only...


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    I'll have a go, but I don't expect to be able to tell the difference above 192.

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    I will listen. I won't try to determine what is what but rather what sounds best to me. Or really if I can tell the difference between any of them.

    @bigshot: Thanks for your time and effort in putting this together.

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    All you really need to do is just try to pick the best one.

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    I'm in .....

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    Senior Member Ravndal's Avatar
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    Im in aswell.
    "That as s."

    - Mark Twain

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    As you may or may not be aware, there is a brand new state of the art lossy audio codec called Opus.

    It is free and open source, has been ratified as an internet standard by the IETF and in ABX testing over at hydrogenaudio it has outperformed all other lossy speech and music codecs over a wide range of bitrates. Intriguingly, it also, unlike MP3 or AAC, has very low latency, which makes it ideal for musicians who wish to play together over the internet.

    Opus files can be played on all major platforms using the excellent free program VLC.
    Firefox web browser also now has support for Opus and there is support for Opus in the soon to be released version 25 of the Google Chrome browser.

    Could I suggest that we include opus samples in the listening test?

    Also, I would suggest we use much lower bitrates. Lossy codecs have improved a lot over recent years. Listening to Opus is humbling actually.
    I have been listening to some stuff in Opus at 96kbps and the quality is frighteningly good.

    Hydrogenaudio did a test at 64kbps a couple of years ago using a prerelease version of Opus which may be of interest. Opus 1.0 is now out. Version 1.1 is under rapid development and promises even better quality. Since Opus is a very new codec there is a lot of room for even more improvement through encoder tunings etc.

    I would be happy to help converting to flac or opus if you wish.

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    Senior Member Hausmusik's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by farmerjohn View Post
    Also, I would suggest we use much lower bitrates. Lossy codecs have improved a lot over recent years.
    What would be the point of doing that, when the point in contention is whether transparency exists in lossy formats at high bitrates? No one is maintaining that low bitrate lossy files sond as good as lossless.
    Last edited by Hausmusik; Jan-26-2013 at 04:16.

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    Opus is great, but it's primarily for low bitrates. Classical music fans probably want "perfect sound", not "good sound considering the tiny file size". This test is to determine if folks who claim to be able to hear the difference between lossy and lossless at high bitrates actually can. My intent is to help them find the line where transparency occurs on the codecs most often used for serious music listening.

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    Quote Originally Posted by farmerjohn View Post
    As you may or may not be aware, there is a brand new state of the art lossy audio codec called Opus.

    It is free and open source, has been ratified as an internet standard by the IETF and in ABX testing over at hydrogenaudio it has outperformed all other lossy speech and music codecs over a wide range of bitrates. Intriguingly, it also, unlike MP3 or AAC, has very low latency, which makes it ideal for musicians who wish to play together over the internet.

    Opus files can be played on all major platforms using the excellent free program VLC.
    Firefox web browser also now has support for Opus and there is support for Opus in the soon to be released version 25 of the Google Chrome browser.

    Could I suggest that we include opus samples in the listening test?

    Also, I would suggest we use much lower bitrates. Lossy codecs have improved a lot over recent years. Listening to Opus is humbling actually.
    I have been listening to some stuff in Opus at 96kbps and the quality is frighteningly good.

    Hydrogenaudio did a test at 64kbps a couple of years ago using a prerelease version of Opus which may be of interest. Opus 1.0 is now out. Version 1.1 is under rapid development and promises even better quality. Since Opus is a very new codec there is a lot of room for even more improvement through encoder tunings etc.

    I would be happy to help converting to flac or opus if you wish.
    Now it's reversing: the original utilitarian function of file-compression, which was brought into existence for the purpose of more efficient data storage, is now being "touted" by "compression connoisseurs" who have actually become so wrapped-up in computer file-listening that they will become the new digital "audiophiles" of the future!

    Now, we need to get them their own magazine. How about "Low Fidelity" or "The Bit-rate Journal," or "File-o-phile"?

    Their motto: "Anything but lossless!"

    I'm on "stand-by."
    Last edited by millionrainbows; Jan-26-2013 at 05:35.

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    Quote Originally Posted by bigshot View Post
    ... This test is to determine if folks who claim to be able to hear the difference between lossy and lossless at high bitrates actually can.
    What makes you thing that such folks are going to sign up to this test and admit that they can't hear any difference? I can't imagine that many, if any at all will, do so. These people are usually adamant that they can tell the difference between lossy and lossless formats, and I really can't see any of them coming on here to admit they've been wrong all along. The idea is very silly when you think about it!

    As for other folk who already accept that lossy formats provide adequate performance for their needs, is it not reasonable to presume that many such people have already carried out this or a similar kind of test and won't find this one useful or instructive in any way? I'm in this position and am perfectly happy with MP3, although I tend to use the VBR options which, for some strange reason, you have decided not to include even though VBR is more efficient than CBR.

    For the purpose of this test, I can't see the point in including a further lossless codec, FLAC. Surely one lossless codec is going to give identical results as any other lossless codec. Nor I can I see why there you have chosen 9 different lossy codecs (taking account of bit rates). Why do you need bit rates at 192 and 256 when you have already included 320?

    I don't see that thii sampling procedure is sufficiently well thought out to make any sense, let alone offer any insights. You're going to get little more than a pile of nonsense in response.
    Last edited by Genoveva; Jan-26-2013 at 22:16.

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    Quote Originally Posted by bigshot View Post
    I will soon be conducting a listening test in this thread. If you are interested in participating, post to the thread and I'll see that you get the files. It will take me a few days to set up the test files....The samples will be in ALAC Apple Lossless format. They will be playable in iTunes or on iPods.
    I want to listen with my Denon CD player over my home-theatre setup in my living room, not on my computer. If I burn a CD from i-tunes, will this transfer affect the files?

    Regarding Genoveva's comment: "...What makes you thing that suck folks are going to sign up to this test and admit that they can't hear any difference? I can't imagine that many if any at all will do so..."

    I plan to do exactly that.
    Last edited by millionrainbows; Jan-26-2013 at 22:12.

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    Quote Originally Posted by millionrainbows View Post
    Now it's reversing: the original utilitarian function of file-compression, which was brought into existence for the purpose of more efficient data storage, is now being "touted" by "compression connoisseurs" who have actually become so wrapped-up in computer file-listening that they will become the new digital "audiophiles" of the future!

    Now, we need to get them their own magazine. How about "Low Fidelity" or "The Bit-rate Journal," or "File-o-phile"?

    Their motto: "Anything but lossless!"

    I'm on "stand-by."
    I think it is called "reverse snobbery"

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    Quote Originally Posted by Genoveva View Post
    As for other folk who already accept that lossy formats provide adequate performance for their needs, is it not reasonable to presume that many such people have already carried out this or a similar kind of test and won't find this one useful or instructive in any way?
    I accept that lossy formats provide adequate performance for my needs, but I have not tried such a test and am rather keen to see how the various formats sound.

    Quote Originally Posted by Genoveva View Post
    Why do you need bit rates at 192 and 256 when you have already included 320?
    I'd love to see at what rate, if any, I and others can tell the difference. If my family and I cannot tell the difference at 192, I'd like to know that.

    Quote Originally Posted by Genoveva View Post
    I don't see that thii sampling procedure is sufficiently well thought out to make any sense, let alone offer any insights. You're going to get little more than a pile of nonsense in response.
    I think it's a nice test to let people here know how they respond to various formats and bitrates. Even if no one who claims to tell the difference takes the test, if enough others do, we can extrapolate those results.

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