Soundtrack Central The best of VGM and other great soundtracks

Please sign up or log in for the best forum experience!

GoldfishX Jan 11, 2010

My take on it is, in exchange for a little (okay, a lot! lol) of extra space and general inconvenience (I had to add an external harddrive and switch to a digital audio player that could support FLAC...not really an inconvenience for me, since I had been looking to upgrade from my iPod anyway and my D2+ supports SD cards), it is well worth it for the enhancement to the overall listening experience. Everything sounds livelier than they have in YEARS...sounds like back when I listening to CD's. It's seriously like starting over the whole listening experience from scratch and relegating mp3's to sample-only (unless it's for something like a rip, where a lossless encode is not available)

There's also the point that, if I pay good money for a CD, there's no sense in killing 85-90 percent of the audio data for an inferior listening experience that may negatively affect my overall take on an album (ex: tracks I want to like sounding flat and boring). I find this has been the case with a number of albums I've owned for awhile (Raystorm OST immediately comes to mind) This is what made me seriously consider doing a full-on lossless experiment with about 20-25 of my most listened to albums: I wanted to see if I could tell a difference. While I'm not 100% perfect at audibly telling a difference between FLAC and mp3's, I do know the ones I ripped to FLAC sound fresher than they have in YEARS. More than one evening, I just find myself queueing up maybe 5-10 tracks in winamp and repeating them time and time again, only to find hours have gone by with the same tracks in rotation. Since going to mostly mp3's sometime back in 2004-ish, this has almost never been the case.

So for me, it's worth the added space to bring back the addictiveness of the music, but I'm curious what other people think of going lossless. Worth the effort?

For what I do, I rip a CD to .wav, then I wavgain to 90db, then encode to FLAC. This is practically the same as basic replay gain or mp3gain, but is necessary because I can't get winamp, Burnnnn! or my D2+ to read the Replay Gain on regular FLAC files. This makes all my music the same volume (no matter what format it's in!) and eliminates the loud mastering of most of my albums.

Angela Jan 11, 2010

GoldfishX wrote:

So for me, it's worth the added space to bring back the addictiveness of the music, but I'm curious what other people think of going lossless. Worth the effort?

If you've got the hard drive space, and if your bases are covered in terms of playback compatibility, and if you can audibly tell the difference, then certainly.

For myself, the majority of my collection consists of a a hodgepodge of wave and 320/VBR-encoded mp3s.  Though larger in size, I prefer to deal with waves, since I'm always fiddling around with sound data, and my suite of sound editing programs don't directly support FLAC.  I still use mp3s for on-the-go listening because of its ease of compatibility with my players and their smaller file sizes.

So, waves for the best at-home listening experience, mp3s for when I'm on the move.  Unless I'm hooked into my best pair of headphones and playing via one of my better-graded sound cards,  I find the differences between lossless and a properly encoded 320/VBR mp3 to be little to none at all.

Ramza Jan 11, 2010

I'm rarely able to turn up the music loud enough during "casual listens" to notice the difference between FLAC and *gasp* 192 cbr, which is what most of my backed-up music is in.

If I'm writing a review on a CD, I try to just do a direct playback of the CD so I'm getting max quality. But for storing music, I'd be screwed if I had my collection in FLAC. So I stick to mp3.

But for everyone who likes FLAC, more power to them.

Ramza

Adam Corn Jan 12, 2010

Any of you who like me are finding this topic vaguely familiar might remember Jodo's hijacked "From the days way back" thread. smile

Personally I do all my recent ripping as MP3 LAME -V0 (the highest VBR quality) files, and that provides the optimal quality-convenience combination for me.  I've almost filled my 32gig iPod Touch's capacity as it is and that's only syncing 4 and 5-star tracks along with one of two dozen full albums.  So to be able to fit those files as FLAC in an affordable flash-based player looks to be a couple years down the road.  My home audio setup is pretty average so I doubt I'd really hear the difference in quality until I upgrade my equipment anyway.

The fact that even high-quality MP3s aren't true archive quality, which means that sometime down the road I'll probably wind up re-ripping all those albums, is incentive to make the switch to FLAC, but not enough in comparison to the current inconveniences.

Wanderer Jan 12, 2010

Ramza wrote:

I'm rarely able to turn up the music loud enough during "casual listens" to notice the difference between FLAC and *gasp* 192 cbr, which is what most of my backed-up music is in

Same. I have thousands of CDs (mostly classical) and even at 192 cbr, they just *barely* all fit into my 1.5 TB external hard drive. I honestly don't especially notice the quality difference (although I do at 128 kbps).

GoldfishX Jan 12, 2010

Adam Corn wrote:

Any of you who like me are finding this topic vaguely familiar might remember Jodo's hijacked "From the days way back" thread. smile

Well, that was the idea. I thought it deserved its' own thread and was easily missed in there. I was wondering what people's general tendancies towards lossless music were. Personally, I think it's something that will gain ground as memory becomes cheaper and I think the more people experiment with it.

Believe me, I feel the pain when it comes to portable storage. My D2+ has 16 GB onboard memory (I use it for my staple albums/tracks) and I rotate a pair of 32 GB flashcards which integrate with the memory (currently using one for "new" stuff and the other for older yet-not-quite-staple stuff, although making cuts on both are difficult). On one hand, it's not enough...On the other hand, between charges/album swaps, I'll probably still not have listened to everything on it and it's STILL better than carrying the old CD wallet around. It makes going through albums and destroying unwanted tracks particularly rewarding, considering how much space it frees up.

Pellasos Jan 12, 2010

i'm using FLAC and .ogg for my portable music needs.

CDs at home with my headphone setup for maximum fidelity.

Push It Jan 12, 2010

Well, prior to going lossless, I had purchased an independent CD player, integrated amplifier, and some nice bookshelf speakers. So, the move from lossy audio codecs to lossless audio codecs was a natural move as mp3/aac files sound like crap on a moderately-priced audio system.

For my lossless audio needs, I stick with wav audio files, though my audio collection isn't nearly as large as it used to be.

For portable audio needs, I stick with aac audio files as batteries on digital audio players drain too quickly when using lossless audio files. There's also an issue of space when using lossless audio files, which I suppose you could remedy with SD Cards, but I believe those cards also drain the battery when used.

If I had to go lossless for my portable audio needs, I would stick to wav audio files. The compression of flac audio files requires more juice to play than wav audio files.

Mak Jan 12, 2010 (edited Jan 12, 2010)

If you have the hard drive space on your computer for it, rip in lossless, and encode from the lossless files to a lossy format like MP3 or AAC when you need to and never have to rip again.

I'm currently ripping my collection to FLAC and usually encode MP3 files at VBR 1.

I used to rip MP3s at 128kbs, then I did 160kbs when I noticed a difference in quality. Then I started doing MP3 VBR rips after doing some reading, and going back to the original CDs, I noticed how much sound quality I was missing. Listening to certain CDs with headphones can help me relax because of the sound quality, but lower bitrate MP3 files of the same CD (sometimes even high quality MP3 VBR files) will be missing the richness of the sound.

The lower you go in bitrate, the more the quality seems to decrease with the stereo seperation compared to the original CD, and instruments such as cymbals will trail off quicker and not as nicely as the original.

MP3 isn't perfect either as AAC is better quality than MP3, I've heard its the successor to MP3 and I can hear a difference. MP3 sounds more compact, while AAC sounds like it still has multi layers of sound like the original CD has and sounds almost as sharp.

I own a 8GB iPod and wouldn't use FLAC for portable use, just for storage. If you want high quality sound on the go, try encoding AAC files with iTunes with the "iTunes +" setting, or at least a high bitrate with VBR checked (its supposedly the best AAC encoder). There's a plugin for foobar for encoding FLAC files with iTunes since iTunes doesn't accept FLAC if you use that format.

Winamp doesn't recognize the replay gain stats? I don't use it, but are you sure it's turned on in Winamp's settings under playback?

GoldfishX Jan 12, 2010

I had no luck with replay gain in winamp, even with the FLAC plugin. Moot point, since my D2+ doesn't support replay gain either (nor does Burnnn), so wavgaining eliminates the problem altogether. I used mp3gain enough to know that a lot of CD's are just too damn loud in their recording, so I consider them fairly imperfect anyway. Now I have lossless audio, with perfect and uniform volume, that work in everything I have (although I still wonder if compression is an issue for albums recorded in the 96-101db range....)

In my listening tests with the D2 and FLAC, I get somewhere between 12-15 hours on FLAC-only listening and my earphones. When I used my Grado SR-80's, I think they sucked extra juice from the player and i got somewhere between 6-7 hours (was actually in a single sitting, after a full charge). Bear in mind: lab tests say the D2 can run for 40-50 hours playing mp3's. Yeouch!

Mak, you kinda summed up why I made the switch...Instruments (and vocals) seem to trail off more. Like, I CAN hear everything that is going on, but it fades just before it has any kind of emotional effect. Hard to describe, but the difference is pretty easy to listen for (especially in songs I know backwards and forwards).

Adam Corn Jan 13, 2010

Mak wrote:

MP3 isn't perfect either as AAC is better quality than MP3, I've heard its the successor to MP3 and I can hear a difference....
If you want high quality sound on the go, try encoding AAC files with iTunes with the "iTunes +" setting, or at least a high bitrate with VBR checked (its supposedly the best AAC encoder).

Might be a good time to mention that for MP3, however, iTunes' encoder is said to be pretty bad.  So if that's what you used for your MP3 to AAC comparisons it might contribute to the difference in quality.

Push It Jan 13, 2010

Adam Corn wrote:

Might be a good time to mention that for MP3, however, iTunes' encoder is said to be pretty bad.  So if that's what you used for your MP3 to AAC comparisons it might contribute to the difference in quality.

Would that even matter if Mak is using the iTunes' encoder for creating both mp3 audio files and aac audio files? The aac audio files are supposed to sound slightly better than mp3 audio files; they're mp4 audio files.

Zane Jan 13, 2010

Lossless is so 2009. I rip my music into hyper-dimensional crystal prism files and then encode them into .mp5s on the other side of the space-time continuum using WizPAM Ver.62.

Ashley Winchester Jan 13, 2010 (edited Jan 13, 2010)

Zane wrote:

Lossless is so 2009. I rip my music into hyper-dimensional crystal prism files and then encode them into .mp5s on the other side of the space-time continuum using WizPAM Ver.62.

HAHAHA! Nice!

I record on water myself, like Dethklok in Metalocalypse.

CRAP! I just drank my copy of the SaGa Frontier soundtrack! Tasty, with a bit of a gnarly aftertaste.

TerraEpon Jan 13, 2010

I imagine one day it'll be like Star Trek. "Computer, play me X". And boom, it plays.

Adam Corn Jan 13, 2010

Push It wrote:
Adam Corn wrote:

Might be a good time to mention that for MP3, however, iTunes' encoder is said to be pretty bad.  So if that's what you used for your MP3 to AAC comparisons it might contribute to the difference in quality.

Would that even matter if Mak is using the iTunes' encoder for creating both mp3 audio files and aac audio files? The aac audio files are supposed to sound slightly better than mp3 audio files; they're mp4 audio files.

Yes it matters because they're two different codecs and some encoders do a better job at certain codecs than others.  So if you're going to make a fair comparison to high-quality AAC (encoded by iTunes), better to use high-quality MP3s (encoded by LAME, for example).

Anyway the general consensus among the codec geek crowd from what I've read is that AAC is indeed better at lower bitrates but once you get into higher bitrates there is not much difference (which makes sense).

GoldfishX Jan 13, 2010

I remember I tried going the AAC route, but I tended not to really notice too much of a difference (I think they were ripped around 192...honestly forget). What I hated about them was the replaygain program I used had a real attitude with it and wouldn't do all the files...So I ended up getting blasted quite a few times. One additional bonus of lossless is regardless of the format, there's no more need to question the effect of bitrates on sound quality.

Mak Jan 13, 2010 (edited Jan 13, 2010)

(I'm not an expert on audio formats)

For MP3s I use LAME, usually with the encoder with Winamp Pro, and before going to FLAC I'd rip straight to LAME MP3 with EAC. I still use MP3 VBR just because of the ease of use (my car only accepts MP3 files), but may eventually go AAC for everything on my iPod. I'm ripping to FLAC so I never have to rip again, and can just convert to whatever.

I may have over emphasised AAC over MP3 because it's not as substantial as loseless or CD audio. What I've heard is that AAC (MP4) was created as the successor to MP3 and that the MP3 format has its limits, so by design AAC is suppose to be better. If I had the choice between buying digital music from itunes in AAC (~256kbs VBR), or Amazon in MP3 (~256kbs VBR), I'd go with the high quality AAC audio from iTunes. From going back and forth on a few songs, the AAC files sound richer, although I haven't done serious A/B/X tests, I can tell the AAC encoded songs sound better. After going MP3 VBR, I didn't have any interest in AAC until I tried it and realized "oh, it does sound better". I've heard that MP3 may cut off the peak level of sounds and I'd believe it.

When I was playing with the MP3 VBR quality settings with Cordova Town from Castlevania: Curse of Darkness, I noticed the middle part of the song became more clear the closer I set the quality to V 1 or V 0, it became less distorted. You also get a stronger effect when sounds are going from one speaker to the next when the bitrate is higher. I think the boss theme from the Secret of Mana OST (Seiken Densetsu 2) is a good example of that when the sound moves in a circle from speaker to speaker.

So those are just my thoughts on the different formats from my experience. Of course it also depends on the speaker quality and your hearing ability. The point of the iPod or ripping CDs is to make it easy to listen to music without fumbling with the discs, so use whatever sounds good for you and enjoy the music.

Ashley Winchester Jan 13, 2010

Mak wrote:

The point of the iPod or ripping CDs is to make it easy to listen to music without fumbling with the discs, so use whatever sounds good for you and enjoy the music.

Thank you for saying such things!

the_miker Jan 13, 2010

GoldfishX wrote:

since my D2+ doesn't support replay gain

FYI, you can install the open source Rockbox firmware on your D2+ which does indeed support Replay Gain.  I've used Rockbox before and it's awesome.  Supports every file format known to man and it's super customizable.

I was actually thinking of buying a D2+ because I've heard the audio+build quality is top notch, plus I've had such good experiences with Cowon players in the past.  What are your thoughts on it?

GoldfishX Jan 14, 2010

I looked into Rockbox on the D2+ and it said it hasn't been optimized to work with the touchscreen yet and was still early. If it had, I'd have gone with that, but then I would have to deal with other programs that didn't use it. Wavgaining made the most sense in that respect.

I LOVE my D2+...now that I've gotten used to it. I thought the sound was very cold when I first got it (they call it analytic, I guess...I could definitely hear everything better than on my iPod) It's specialty is the customizable audio settings (EQ, bass boost and stuff) and now that I'm used to the sound and have the set-up that works best, it's amazing (basically, flat EQ, a little BBE effect and the mach3 bass halfway up) and it drives my Grado SR-80's much better than my iPod did. I was also looking at the Creative X-Fi2, because I also had a Zen that I liked the sound of, but the memory card integration thing was the deal sealer (something Creative's players fail horribly at). My only complaint with the build is that the buttons at the top feel a little cheap and I'm always careful not to hit them too hard. Touchscreen is sexy and responsive though.

Chris Jan 14, 2010

I'm pretty clueless about music tech. I do see the difference between lossless and VBR MP3 formats, but it's not enough for me to waste endless time and space ripping and downloading things in LAME format. I appreciate audio quality is a big thing for many other people though.

Grassie Jan 15, 2010 (edited Jan 15, 2010)

Chris wrote:

I'm pretty clueless about music tech. I do see the difference between lossless and VBR MP3 formats, but it's not enough for me to waste endless time and space ripping and downloading things in LAME format. I appreciate audio quality is a big thing for many other people though.

Some music needs FLAC more than other music. The music I listen to for enjoyment benefits from the extra punch in detalis and color that lossless grants. Music to listen to while drunk, while doing homework, dishwashing, just because you feel obligated or any other business just doesn't qualify for the extra work involved in procuring it in lossless. And there's another problem. Most music is simply shitty poor, and I never listen to it, so why do I need it in lossless? Just like the majority of books on my shelf, the majority of music deserves trashing. Hoho!

But, even though the content of my book is poor, I want my book to be in top condition. That's why I use that kind of plastic wrappings you find on library books. I want my digital music to be in a good condition as well, you know? It has something to do with keeping my feeling of bourgeois wellbeing!

That's why I keep all my CDs in FLAC here on my hard drive, even though I never ever listen to any of them. But it's not important for me to listen to music. It's important that I have listened to it. And not to lose the the option to listen to it again later. Because if I say "Yeah, I've listened to Taito Chase H.Q. and it sucked!!!", someone might say "are you sure? i think it ruled. you haven't listened to it properly," then I can say "ok, i'll listen to it again". But of course, that scenario is completely unrealistic, because no one listens to Taito Chase H.Q....

GoldfishX Jan 15, 2010

Yeah, I generally agree that most music sucks (although if you cheat and load up on artists you trust, the ratio is better. ;p). The extra "oomph" doesn't make shitty music sound better (although it makes tracks with some boring parts more fun to listen to, like repeating beats or riffs, or extended solos with notes that are dulled out otherwise), but when you hit something good...the YUM! factor takes over.

As for type, heavy metal hits both ends of the frequency spectrum pretty hard, so I tend to notice more that I was missing before. Frankly, for a genre that features a lot of similar-sounding artists (so you kinda know what to listen for), it's become essential for me. It's almost possible to understand what King Diamond is singing now! But oddly, I feel like chiptunes have gotten an equally large boost. Maybe because they tend to sound similar (based on system) and I'm noticing more? *shrug*

Odd thing...NES/SNES compress to very small sizes (for FLAC), but PC-98 or PC-88 stuff remains huge when compressed.

Latest Updates

Board footer

Forums powered by FluxBB