hearing the difference b/w mp3 and WAV files

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zwolf
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hearing the difference b/w mp3 and WAV files

Post by zwolf » Wed Sep 29, 2004 9:52 am

I've never really had the chance to A/B until now. When I import a cd into itunes and convert a copy of the file into an MP3, and then do a blind listening test, I'm not hearing a difference. I have a fairly well treated room (mini traps) and always imagined that I had a fairly good ear.

Am I missing something? How would the sonic differences be catagorized? I'm not even hearing a difference between a a 24bit AIFF file from on of my projects and it's copy converted to mp3.

Am I deaf?

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Re: hearing the difference b/w mp3 and WAV files

Post by andyg666 » Wed Sep 29, 2004 10:15 am

you may well be deaf. :wink:

it depends on the bitrate you're encoding the mp3s at. at 128kbps, you should definitely hear a difference on the high end. the hi hats will be swishy instead of crispy, the snare will have less of a snap and more of a schnapf kinda thing... stereo imaging will not be as clear. mostly the treble gets really washed out. if you're encoding at 160kpbs and your sample rate is 44.1k, you have to be very good to be able to hear a difference. at 192kbps or 256kbps, you've gotta be mr. golden ears to hear the difference. i would think that a professional and experienced (and good) mastering engineer could tell the difference and would be able to tell you which frequencies are missing, but to the common ear, mp3s encoded at 160kbps and above sound pretty simmilar to the original source material.

so if you're encoding at 128kbps and you can't hear a difference--it's time for a hearing aid!!

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Re: hearing the difference b/w mp3 and WAV files

Post by fuckface » Wed Sep 29, 2004 10:23 am

ya usually i hear it in the hihats

sounds like they're underwater

gross

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Re: hearing the difference b/w mp3 and WAV files

Post by bad_dude_69 » Wed Sep 29, 2004 10:24 am

like andy said, it depends on the bitrate of the mp3 that you converted it to. if you encoded the mp3 at say, 128kbps, that would be what some consider to be pretty close to cd quality and you may not hear a difference if this is your first time listening critically. also, some encoders are better than others - i'm not sure about itunes. it may be possible that you encoded it at a variabe bitrate, which could cover up some of the artifacts.

if you bring it down to 96kbps you'll definitely notice a change in quality, mainly thinness, various jingling sounds, ringing & other artifacts in the high end. i'd recommend bringing the bitrate of the MP3 down and A/B the AIFF & MP3 at a moderately loud level if you want to know what to look for as far as sonic differences.
Last edited by bad_dude_69 on Wed Sep 29, 2004 10:26 am, edited 1 time in total.
medicate? oh, i thought you said "meditate."

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Re: hearing the difference b/w mp3 and WAV files

Post by spankenstein » Wed Sep 29, 2004 10:25 am

I was going to ask what rate you were encoding at. A 128kbps is VERY noticeable. All the highend sounds like it's underwater. I nearly always make a 128kbps - 320kbps VBR mp3 when I make an mp3, this is a good compromise IMO the sound is generally very good (mostly hovers around 256kbps) and the file size is reasonable (around twice the running time in MB i.e. 3 minute song is around 6MB).

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Re: hearing the difference b/w mp3 and WAV files

Post by I'm Painting Again » Wed Sep 29, 2004 10:35 am

sorry to open up a whole new can of worms here but how tight is your monitoring environment ? sounds like it might be very good with real traps and all..but sometimes its something stupid like a cable that can cloud your whole deal..

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Re: hearing the difference b/w mp3 and WAV files

Post by maz » Wed Sep 29, 2004 10:42 am

sometimes it's more of a feel thing... don't listen for specific details if you're not hearing them. But go to the other side of your room and just absorb the whole sound and sometimes you'll feel it (hear it) better then. Loss of clarity and depth.

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Re: hearing the difference b/w mp3 and WAV files

Post by twitchmonitor » Wed Sep 29, 2004 10:47 am

On some of the MP3s I d/l from Limewire (o, am I not allowed to say that?) I can hear a digital crinkling sound in the super high end. Like tape hiss, but it's sounds all matrix-y. I always assumed this was due to poor encoding at low bit rates, but there may be other forces at work.

And yeah, they cymbals is the first place you'll start to hear the difference.

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Re: hearing the difference b/w mp3 and WAV files

Post by object88 » Wed Sep 29, 2004 11:09 am

twitchmonitor wrote:On some of the MP3s I d/l from Limewire (o, am I not allowed to say that?) I can hear a digital crinkling sound in the super high end. Like tape hiss, but it's sounds all matrix-y. I always assumed this was due to poor encoding at low bit rates, but there may be other forces at work.
I don't think that's necessarily the mp3 encoding process, but perhaps something got digitally clipped somewhere... perhaps the CD went through a overloaded D/A/D stages somewhere, or there was some overly strong digital EQ'ing or amplifying, before the track was ripped.

I encode my mp3s at 192kbps fixed using MusicMatch (which isn't reported to be the best, oh well), and I occasionally can tell the difference-- but I think that's more due to the different playback systems. I usually play mp3s on cheapish headphones and the car, and CDs on a proper stereo and DJ equipment.

Poor mp3 encoding sounds to me like, as many others have mentioned, being underwater in the higher frequencies.

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Re: hearing the difference b/w mp3 and WAV files

Post by twitchmonitor » Wed Sep 29, 2004 11:30 am

object88 wrote:
twitchmonitor wrote:On some of the MP3s I d/l from Limewire (o, am I not allowed to say that?) I can hear a digital crinkling sound in the super high end. Like tape hiss, but it's sounds all matrix-y. I always assumed this was due to poor encoding at low bit rates, but there may be other forces at work.
I don't think that's necessarily the mp3 encoding process, but perhaps something got digitally clipped somewhere... perhaps the CD went through a overloaded D/A/D stages somewhere, or there was some overly strong digital EQ'ing or amplifying, before the track was ripped.
No way it's clipping. It's there when the song is starting out and there's no music, and transients have no effect on it (except making it harder to hear the crinkling sound). Am I the only one who gets this?

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Re: hearing the difference b/w mp3 and WAV files

Post by object88 » Wed Sep 29, 2004 11:59 am

twitchmonitor wrote:No way it's clipping. It's there when the song is starting out and there's no music, and transients have no effect on it (except making it harder to hear the crinkling sound). Am I the only one who gets this?
Ohh... I think I understand what you're talking about now. I've heard that on really low bitrate recordings, like 64kbps. I don't recall hearing it on 128kbps and above. But then again, I don't have golden ears. :)

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Re: hearing the difference b/w mp3 and WAV files

Post by zwolf » Wed Sep 29, 2004 12:26 pm

Thanks for the replies.

I'll have to check the bitrate when I get home. Anyone know what the default setting is in itunes? I swear the difference is subtle at best. But I will experiement with different rates and get to the bottom of this.

object88
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Re: hearing the difference b/w mp3 and WAV files

Post by object88 » Wed Sep 29, 2004 12:31 pm

zwolf wrote:I'll have to check the bitrate when I get home. Anyone know what the default setting is in itunes? I swear the difference is subtle at best. But I will experiement with different rates and get to the bottom of this.
Oh, I just realized, you're doing two conversions? You're going from CD to 128kbps AAC to MP3? I don't know for certain what iTunes does when it converts to mp3, but I think the default mp3 setting is 160kbps (which is roughly equivilent to 128kbps AAC, from what I've read-- no personal expirience there).

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Re: hearing the difference b/w mp3 and WAV files

Post by Submersible » Wed Sep 29, 2004 12:33 pm

zwolf wrote:Thanks for the replies.

I'll have to check the bitrate when I get home. Anyone know what the default setting is in itunes? I swear the difference is subtle at best. But I will experiement with different rates and get to the bottom of this.
If you're using iTunes with Sound Check turned on, it will make all media sound uniformly shitty. That could be masking the difference between tracks if you're using iTunes for playback.

zwolf
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Re: hearing the difference b/w mp3 and WAV files

Post by zwolf » Wed Sep 29, 2004 12:46 pm

no, no soundcheck on - that I know for certain. But I do have a feeling that the answer must lie somewhere in my process of importing and converting and general lack of digital experience rather than deafness. There must be something about the comparison that is making it less than empirical.

I sure hope so.

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