Curiosity poll - What format do you use & why?

Poll – Smoll.

This isn’t a popularity contest.  Do some testing on your own to determine what format sounds best to you.

@contrapuntal wrote:


@summerlove wrote:

There’s a long running argument about whether or not people can really tell FLAC from a well encoded MP3 on a portable player. 


Those listeners who keep on insisting that they can hear the difference have probably never ABXed it.

I agree.

There are two kinds of files involved here: lossless and lossy. Hence my “two kinds of people.” It’s a binary situation.

Bexicon, I said “To archive music I would use lossless.” I’m not talking about making the only copy you own an mp3.

The OP was talking about ripping CDs. That’s the lossless archive. FLAC is unnecessary unless getting rid of the CDs. 

My point about readouts is that there are people who compare files digitally, see on the screen that there’s some difference between FLAC and 320 kbps mp3 and convince themselves that they can hear it.  No doubt some people can–recording engineers say they can and I believe them. But somehow I don’t think they are listening to their Fuze through its earbuds  on a bus. 

My 16GB card is nearly full. With mp3s.  So I’m glad you’re not running into capacity issues, but that’s not a universal situation. 

There’s a lovely vituperative discussion somewhere on here about ABX testing. Anyone who likes cage wrestling should search for it. 

My old pal fuze_owner-GB has the right idea: try and see. Some people are just delighted with music at 64kbps–lucky them. 

My opinion is that if you can’t hear the difference, save the space.  If you can, or if mathematical purity is important to you, go lossless. 

“`To each his own,’ he said as he kissed the cow.”–James Joyce 

Edit: And by the way, since the OP now has lossless WMAPro files, it might be faster to convert those files to mp3 than to put all the wear on the CD drive to rip them again directly into mp3. Find a free converter like Switch (make sure it doesn’t install all the other NCH programs at the same time) or Media Coder. 

Message Edited by Black-Rectangle on 02-20-2010 10:52 AM

Black-Rectangle wrote:

Edit: And by the way, since the OP now has lossless WMAPro files, it might be faster to convert those files to mp3 than to put all the wear on the CD drive to rip them again directly into mp3. Find a free converter like Switch (make sure it doesn’t install all the other NCH programs at the same time) or Media Coder. 

Message Edited by Black-Rectangle on 02-20-2010 10:52 AM

WMA Pro is not lossless. From Wikipedia…

Windows Media Audio Professional

_ Windows Media Audio Professional (WMA Pro) is a newer and more advanced lossy audio codec. It is based on a new compression algorithm which is not only superior to WMA in terms of quality, efficiency, and features, but also scales well at low bit rates. Its main competitors include AAC, HE-AAC, Vorbis, Dolby Digital, and DTS. It can support audio resolutions of up to 96 kHz and up to eight discrete channels (7.1 channel surround).[21] WMA Pro also supports dynamic range compression, which reduces the volume difference between the loudest and quietest sounds in the audio track. According to Microsoft’s Amir Majidimehr, WMA Pro can technically go beyond 7.1 surround sound and support “an unlimited number of channels.”[22]_

The codec’s bit stream syntax was frozen at the first version, WMA 9 Pro.[23] Later versions of WMA Pro introduced low-bit rate encoding, low-delay audio,[24] frequency interpolation mode,[25] and an expanded range of sampling rate and bit-depth encoding options. A WMA 10 Pro file compressed with frequency interpolation mode comprises a WMA 9 Pro track encoded at half the original sampling rate, which is then restored using a new compression algorithm.[26] In this situation, WMA 9 Pro players which have not been updated to the WMA 10 Pro codec can only decode the lower quality WMA 9 Pro stream. Starting with WMA 10 Pro, eight channel encoding starts at 128 kbit/s, and tracks can be encoded at the native audio CD resolution (44.1 kHz, 16-bit), previously the domain of WMA Standard.

Despite a growing number of supported devices and its superiority over WMA, WMA Pro still has little hardware and software support. Some notable exceptions to this are the Microsoft Zune (limited to stereo),[27]Xbox 360,[28]Windows Mobile-powered devices with Windows Media Player 10 Mobile,[29] and newer Toshiba Gigabeat and Motorola devices.[30][31] In addition, WMA Pro is a requirement for the WMV HD certification program.[32] On the software side, Verizon utilizes WMA 10 Pro for its V CAST Music Service,[33] and Windows Media Player 11 has promoted the codec as an alternative to WMA for copying audio CD tracks.[34] WMA Pro is supported in Silverlight as of version 2 (though only in stereo mode). In the absence of the appropriate audio hardware, WMA Pro can automatically downmix multichannel audio to stereo or mono, and 24-bit resolution to 16-bit during playback.

A notable example of WMA Pro being used instead of WMA Standard is the NBC Olympics website which uses WMA 10 Pro in its low-bitrate mode at 48 kbit/s.

Ah, right you are.

Reading between the lines in the wiki–which seems a bit promotional–it appears that WMA Pro is aimed at multichannel setups like home theater, not so much a little stereo gizmo like the Fuze. (And I really don’t see the point of putting it in a mobile phone unless its low-bitrate sound is nothing short of magical.)

The OP could always save those WMAPro tracks and get a big ol’ Zune. 

Thank you Black-Rectangle, your point was much clearer that time.

This is great!  So many different opinions from so many different points-of-view.  I actually did try doing my own test.  I ripped one song 4 different ways, but to be honest, they all sounded the same to me.  I’m mostly using average headphones at work or in my car with road noise.  I guess having the “best” sound isn’t really top on the list.  Don’t get me wrong.  It is important, but I’m also trying to balance it with space, & now I’ve learned, battery life.  Thanks guys!  :smileyvery-happy:

KellyR wrote:
This is great!  So many different opinions from so many different points-of-view.  I actually did try doing my own test.  I ripped one song 4 different ways, but to be honest, they all sounded the same to me.  I’m mostly using average headphones at work or in my car with road noise.  I guess having the “best” sound isn’t really top on the list.  Don’t get me wrong.  It is important, but I’m also trying to balance it with space, & now I’ve learned, battery life.  Thanks guys!  :smileyvery-happy:

Have you decided which ripping program you are going to stick with?

This is just me, but I still wouldn’t go below 160 kbps.

You might get better headphones someday, or be listening in a quiet place, or just have some music that’s complex enough to need something more than the minimum bitrate. Or you might have a friend who’s more sensitive to nuances,  and  the compression artifacts (sound glitches) that don’t bother you will subtly drive her nuts. 

Capacity keeps growing–might as well use it. 

Any ripping program, whether you use WMP or something else,  will have default settings, most likely 128 kbps, so you’ll have to get into Options or Settings and change them. 

I have some VBR WMA’s that show up in the 150’s for bitrate in Explorer, that sound indistinguishable from LAME V0 mp3 files that hover around 300kbps. Of course, I didn’t get those WMA’s from WMP, either…I converted them from high-quality FLAC rips done with EAC. But to accomplish this, is probably going beyond what the OP is interested in.

I think the OP would probably be happy with WMA VBR done with WMP11, at the 85-145kbps target range…just make sure the copy protection is turned off in WMP.  I think a lot of the WMA “haters” would be surprised at how well that setting works…assuming the CD’s aren’t scratched.

“I think a lot of the WMA “haters” would be surprised at how well that setting works…assuming the CD’s aren’t scratched.”

I don’t hate WMA, but do dislike the shorter battery life when using it. That is why I don’t rip to WMA.

JK98 wrote:

“I think a lot of the WMA “haters” would be surprised at how well that setting works…assuming the CD’s aren’t scratched.”

 

I don’t hate WMA, but do dislike the shorter battery life when using it. That is why I don’t rip to WMA.

I don’t know exactly how much of a difference WMA makes, but it’s not nearly as bad as the FLAC battery life penalty. I did a FLAC test with my old Clip and the battery life went from 14-15 hours with WMA-MP3 to 8.5 hours with FLAC.

No, I haven’t really settled on what program to use yet.  One thought is WMP is already on my computer, easy to use, & tags well, so maybe vbr WMA.  Another thought is, it would be nice to use MP3 for battery life.  I was thinking vbr MP3s, but WMP doesn’t do them.  Maybe cbr MP3s at 192kbps.  Or, I had downloaded MediaMonkey a while back because I wanted to use the ReplayGain feature for shuffle play, but last night when I tried to rip a cd it said the free version won’t rip any more because it’s over 30 days old.  Without using the program more I’m not sure I want to spend money on it.  I don’t know.  It might suck.  It did seem at bit more complicated to use.  I also don’t know if you can still use the ReplayGain feature with the free version.  Yet another thought was that a lot of people mentioned EAC.  That it’s free & does a good job.  I don’t know.  To us non-techies this is getting a bit baffling.  :cry:  Too many choices!  Which reminds me, I might start another thread about ReplayGain.  Thanks again guys!  Keep it coming.  :stuck_out_tongue:

EAC confuses me.  it’s too complicated.  I rip a lot of audiobooks and cds so I need to change bit rates a lot.  I don’t worry too much about tags because I run everything through mp3tag when I’m done.  what I do is rip everything to wav with EAC and then I use LameXP to convert it to whatever bit rate I want.

@tipsypenguin wrote:
EAC confuses me.  it’s too complicated.  I rip a lot of audiobooks and cds so I need to change bit rates a lot.  I don’t worry too much about tags because I run everything through mp3tag when I’m done.  what I do is rip everything to wav with EAC and then I use LameXP to convert it to whatever bit rate I want.

I think EAC is over rated.  It does exactly what it is supposed to do, but it isn’t the be all - end all of ripper encoders out there.  If you have to have secure rips dbpoweramp makes a wonderful program that is much faster than EAC without losing any functionality.  There are plenty others, many free, that do a decent job as well.

Media Monkey will run after 30 days if you substitute the official lame_enc.dll for the timed-out one in Media Monkey.

A good download link and instructions for a similar situation in Audacity are  here.

Just unzip, get lame_enc.dll and replace the one in C:\Program Files\Media Monkey. 

For what it’s worth, you can also rip to .mp3 in Windows Media Player: better tags, worse encoder. You change the settings under Rip. Right-click on the very top line if you don’t see Tools. 

Or if you want, here’s the last freeware dbPoweramp..

Message Edited by Black-Rectangle on 02-21-2010 03:07 PM

I quite like the tags in mediamonkey. User submitted or not, I have better luck with MM.  Maybe it’s because I listen to a fair amount of unreleased albums.

I have been particularly impressed with the quality of OGG. It sounds reasonably good to me (with my portable headphones) at 128kbps. My Fuze is nearly full (mostly 192kbps MP3), so I re-ripped a bunch of CDs to Ogg, particularly the stuff that I plan to leave on the Fuze long-term. Not much really plays this format, so its really just for the Fuze. I re-encoded some purchased MP3 files to Ogg, too. Some people view this as sacrilege to go from one lossy format to another, but I find the compression methods are similar enough that the loss isn’t as noticeable as they claim.

:smiley: Thanks for the info!  I’ll try to get MediaMonkey working when I get home tonight! 

Hey, thanks for the MediaMonkey tip.  It worked!  :smileyvery-happy:  Now I just gotta figure out how to use it.