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Thread: Lossless v MP3 etc

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    Default Lossless v MP3 etc

    I'm about to take out a subscription with Primephonic. I don't really have much experience of streaming music other than via Apple Music in my car. I'm wondering if, at 65, my ears are good enough to tell the difference between their MP3 offering or their Hi Res subscription. I'd be listening more critically and at home on my home system. Previously on this system I've listened to ripped CDs in lossless and also when i've bought music I've always bought FLAC or ALAC but I've never really listened to classical in MP3 so I don't know if that's a different ball game.

    Apple is a slightly different codec and I believe they tweak their music for that codec. Ideally I'd compare Primephonic's MP3 with their lossless but obviously I can't. Their trials give you full res music as standard.

    Short version of this rambling question is do you listen to classical pieces on MP3 happily or not?
    Last edited by Barnaby; Apr-19-2021 at 10:51.

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    Senior Member jegreenwood's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Barnaby View Post
    I'm about to take out a subscription with Primephonic. I don't really have much experience of streaming music other than via Apple Music in my car. I'm wondering if, at 65, my ears are good enough to tell the difference between their MP3 offering or their Hi Res subscription. I'd be listening more critically and at home on my home system. Previously on this system I've listened to ripped CDs in lossless and also when i've bought music I've always bought FLAC or ALAC but I've never really listened to classical in MP3 so I don't know if that's a different ball game.

    Apple is a slightly different codec and I believe they tweak their music for that codec. Ideally I'd compare Primephonic's MP3 with their lossless but obviously I can't. Their trials give you full res music as standard.

    Short version of this rambling question is do you listen to classical pieces on MP3 happily or not?
    Can I make a suggestion? There are a number of programs that will allow you to convert lossless to mp3 (keeping both). I’m sure some are free or offer a trial period. Take some tracks you know well from your ripped CDs and convert them. Then compare and reach your own conclusion.

    For the record, I use JRiver, which is not free but does have a trial version. (30 days I think.)

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    Quote Originally Posted by jegreenwood View Post
    Can I make a suggestion? There are a number of programs that will allow you to convert lossless to mp3 (keeping both). I’m sure some are free or offer a trial period. Take some tracks you know well from your ripped CDs and convert them. Then compare and reach your own conclusion.

    For the record, I use JRiver, which is not free but does have a trial version. (30 days I think.)
    Foobar2000 is excellent freeware for this purpose. Set the MP3 quality to maximum (320).
    Last edited by Art Rock; Apr-19-2021 at 13:12.

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    Senior Member apricissimus's Avatar
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    The vast majority of people (old and young) cannot tell the difference between reasonable-quality MP3 and lossless.

    Beware of doing A/B comparisons though (lossless vs. MP3). Unless you've set it up in a way where you don't know which version you're listening to, you may be apt to hear differences that aren't really there.

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    When I rip stuff to my phone or the car USB, from flac or any other format, I tend to use MediaHuman (as its great at converting stuff faultlessly). I used to rip everything at 320cbr but after a while I dropped that down to 256k for orchestral and 192k or 256k for chamber music (depending how busy it is). There's absolutely no discernable difference in sound that I can hear and it means smaller files. I used to use Foobar, etc when ripping from cd for the car/phone but now I use Windows media player as its way more stable than it used to be (it improved significantly in Windows 10). Flac snobs and audiopratts will tell you to only use certain programs for creating mp3s. Don't believe them. There's no difference these days.
    Last edited by Merl; Apr-19-2021 at 23:43.

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    Senior Member Oldhoosierdude's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Barnaby View Post
    I'm about to take out a subscription with Primephonic. I don't really have much experience of streaming music other than via Apple Music in my car. I'm wondering if, at 65, my ears are good enough to tell the difference between their MP3 offering or their Hi Res subscription. I'd be listening more critically and at home on my home system. Previously on this system I've listened to ripped CDs in lossless and also when i've bought music I've always bought FLAC or ALAC but I've never really listened to classical in MP3 so I don't know if that's a different ball game.

    Apple is a slightly different codec and I believe they tweak their music for that codec. Ideally I'd compare Primephonic's MP3 with their lossless but obviously I can't. Their trials give you full res music as standard.

    Short version of this rambling question is do you listen to classical pieces on MP3 happily or not?
    Dude, I have done the comparison. I hear zero difference. I stream CM from Amazon, listen to CD'S, and mp3 or flac from the phone or computer. It all sounds the same. It's recording quality that counts. But hey. That's me. You do You.
    I don't live in the past,
    there's no future in it.

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    Thank you everyone for your help. I should have mentioned I'm on a mac so maybe some of the software mentioned isn't available to me.

    However, I did take some of my own recordings of pop or jazz i had ripped to ALAC and compared these to AAC on Apple music. While this isn't a direct comparison I could find little discernible difference. I will try and convert some of my uncompressed files to MP3s and give them a listen as well, but the early indications are that I should go with the MP3 subscription from Primephonic.

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    I found this page here which gives MP3 and FLAC files of the same pieces. I will use these tonight to investigate further. Any flaws in my idea?

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    Good label, varied choices, I'd say go for it.

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    Senior Member jegreenwood's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Barnaby View Post
    I found this page here which gives MP3 and FLAC files of the same pieces. I will use these tonight to investigate further. Any flaws in my idea?
    Not really. The only suggestion I have is that you determine the kbps of the MP3 downloads. As Hyperion is a quality label, I would guess that it’s at least 256, but you wouldn’t want to base your assessment on 128 kbps files.

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    Well I haven't tried the files i downloaded yet because i didn't get them onto my main set up ( long story ) but I have tried Apple Music v Qobuz as I easily located the same tracks; not classical but Dark Side of the Moon.

    I honestly couldn't tell the difference and while i thought from time to time there might be variations, it was so subtle that I wouldn't have noticed if I hadn't heard them both side by side. Also I'm prepared to believe it might have been my imagination.

    I will put these Hyperion files on my listening set up tomorrow and give them a listen but based on my current impressions, I'm going with the MP3 subscription.

    It's been fairly interesting to compare these results though and I'm mildly surprised at how the MP3 has been as good so far.
    Last edited by Barnaby; Apr-20-2021 at 21:12.

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    As lossy codecs go, if one owns a newer player capable of playing AAC+, the results will sound better than MP3. Just like a Blu-Ray disc will look better than an old VHS tape. MP3 is based on the audio layer of MPEG 1, which is roughly VHS quality. AAC was engineered specifically for the MPEG 4 codec used on Blu-Ray discs. Newer technology equals better sound.

    Before anyone says it, no: AAC+ is NOT owned by Apple. Apple just happens to be most closely associated with it due to iTunes. It was actually created by a consortium of 4 companies, one of which is Fraunhofer, who still owns the MP3 codec.

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    Quote Originally Posted by progmatist View Post
    As lossy codecs go, if one owns a newer player capable of playing AAC+, the results will sound better than MP3. Just like a Blu-Ray disc will look better than an old VHS tape. MP3 is based on the audio layer of MPEG 1, which is roughly VHS quality. AAC was engineered specifically for the MPEG 4 codec used on Blu-Ray discs. Newer technology equals better sound.

    Before anyone says it, no: AAC+ is NOT owned by Apple. Apple just happens to be most closely associated with it due to iTunes. It was actually created by a consortium of 4 companies, one of which is Fraunhofer, who still owns the MP3 codec.


    Do any of the services stream AAC+? I haven't heard of it until now. Or is that what Apple uses now and I've always thought of as simply AAC?

    I've spent long periods of the last few days trying to convince myself that MP3 at 320 would be as good as FLAC to save some £s every month but as I can't get my way around Apple's new Music app and I don't know how to use it to convert my lossless files to MP3s ( could do it in iTunes without a problem - I need to read up on the Music app a bit ) it has been hard to do.

    I ended up comparing streamed lossless files from Primephonic to iTunes equivalent tracks. I don't know how valid this is but the differences were subtle though definitely there. I felt some timpani was suffering from compression to AAC and the strings didn't sound as lively or airy. As I say I don't know how valid this is and also it wasn't a blind test so maybe I was convincing myself though I would have preferred not to have found any difference.

    EDIT

    Doh! I just had a quick look at Music. It's pretty much the same as iTunes was. Just goes to show you, you should give it a look. I will import some tracks to Music at different qualities tomorrow and give them a listen but I still can't get 320kbps so maybe my findings are already as good a sample of what I would get lossless v lossy.
    Last edited by Barnaby; Apr-25-2021 at 23:41.

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    I have been listening to 128 kbps MP3s for a decade and am perfectly happy with it. My ears probably can't tell the difference. I did put some piano sonatas at 64 kbps and it sounded bad. Most folks on this site would be running MP3 at 256 kbps or higher, so I think those should satisfy most ears of any age. If I get a download it is usually a higher bit rate, so I will use a program called Soundconverter to reduce it. Works fast. I settled on 128 kbps as I can fit a lot more music on my device and they copy to it a lot quicker.
    “Then he will also say to those on the left, ‘Depart from me, you who are cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels!'" Matthew 25:41 (Christian Standard Bible)

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    Well that was easy! I found Primephonic are doing a 50% discount on subscriptions now here, so I got an annual FLAC one for £75. Worthwhile getting lossless streaming for £6.25 a month!
    Last edited by Barnaby; Apr-26-2021 at 12:03.

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