320kbps vs FLAC?

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Brillis Wuce

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I've been weighing the option between getting FLAC versions of audio, versus a high bitrate (192-320kbps)

I've done a few searches, and but they haven't really helped.

I know FLAC is lossless, which means it has zero compression.

I guess my question is, is there any notable difference between FLAC and a high-quality MP3/4 when just listening through headphones or a 5.1 system? Is there any scenario where one would be better than the other?
 

gangrel

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Unless you're investing in very good audio gear, AND probably have well-trained ears, you won't note any differences between 320k MP3 and FLAC.

I'm assuming you're talking about downloading some files in those formats. Test it for yourself, with the gear you have. Download the FLAC and convert it to MP3, then listen to both. Heck, try multiple bitrates. With most pop/rock, 320k is probably overkill.
 

InvalidError

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You answered your own question: FLAC is lossless, which makes it technically better. Period.

The question is whether or not you will notice the difference between raw audio or FLAC and 192-320kbps MP3 and the only one who can answer that question is you.

Going from 128kbps to 160kbps and 192kbps are quite noticeable improvements to me. Going further up to 224kbps is becoming far more subtle so when I encode stuff, I do not bother with more than 256kbps - one notch above the point where I can tell the difference.
 

jldevoy

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The difference between 320kbit and flac isn't noticeable to a normal person and would probably require high end headphones/speakers for an audiophile to spot the difference.
 

gangrel

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Unless you're investing in very good audio gear, AND probably have well-trained ears, you won't note any differences between 320k MP3 and FLAC.

I'm assuming you're talking about downloading some files in those formats. Test it for yourself, with the gear you have. Download the FLAC and convert it to MP3, then listen to both. Heck, try multiple bitrates. With most pop/rock, 320k is probably overkill.
 

Brillis Wuce

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@InvalidError-I noticed that as well. A tiny improvement from 192 to 224, then nothing after that, which made 256 and especially 320 seem meaningless. Just wanted to hear someone elses thoughts on it.

@jldevoy - That's actually why I've been getting curious about it. I'm investing in a stupid expensive pair of Shures.
 

Brillis Wuce

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Yeah that's what I'm about to do ;). But you bring up a good point. Mess around with them and see if I can tell...
 

mrmez

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As said, your audio gear AND setup is far more important.
Buy some of those $100,000 speakers and put them in a perfectly sized room and even 64k MP3s will sound amazing.

If you have a decent setup, get an MP3 and FLAC file of a tune you know well and do a blind test.
At the end of the day even if you can't tell the difference but think flac should sound better... then it DOES sound better which adds to the enjoyment of your music. Simple as that.
 

gangrel

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Heck, right after I got out of college, I bought a pair of JBL speakers that set me back about $300...on sale...in 1980 dollars. I'm still using them, so I'd say they were a great investment. To me, 'stupid expensive' would be getting greatly more than you need...because it'd be stupid. :) Like me buying a GTX 970 when HD Graphics 4000 is enough. :)
 

ssddx

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the ultimate answer is: it depends on your ears.

i'm using some fair grade audio equipment, a pair of ath-m50's and a klipsch speaker system.

i've always been able to tell the difference between low and high quality audio, however many higher grade headphones and speakers are less forgiving of low quality sources since you will spot the differences quite easily.

using my old earbuds and x530 or tv speakers even 96kbps was acceptable quality to me. not great, but acceptable. after getting speakers and headphones at bare minimum i need 128kbps (for streaming radio) or i can not listen to it and 256kbps i consider the minimum for anything i own which sounds alright. i prefer either 320kbps or lossless but have alot of 256kbps as well. all of it is good.

if you have the space for it, flac or other lossless formats are great, otherwise i'd stay at least 256kbps or above if you're using high end equipment.
 

Carlos V

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I faced the same problem when I copied all my CD and Audio DVDs to my computer hard drive so I could hear it on my home network, first I used mp3 320 Kbits as it was more compatible, then also used the maximum bitrate possible on AAC format, but then after several hearings of my music, something didn't sound right, the presence and impact of several music tracks were not the same, I thought it was the speakers I used, and tried of my High Definition Speakers, the same, then I got my shelved CDs and ripped to flac, and WOW, it was like a new music, some instruments even were absent from some tracks on mp3 and aac, mostly in low bands, after that I just use FLAC when I can. You need some specific tracks to hear what you have lost remarkably, but makes you wonder what the lossy rips have taken out also from some of not so obvious rips. There's also other considerations to do, check you DLNA Server as audio source, normally its streams audio making compression on the fly, depending on the configurations the DLNA server has, so check it. Also, you should have a reasonable quality speakers and sound equipment. A good one in your living room is enough. Right now I have an old computer used as file server to my all home lan, Lossless FLAC :),
 

Jon_51

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A lot depends on provenence. A lot of people get stuff on torrent sites etc. and sometimes it gets up graded (from 128 to 320 as a simple example). This won't make it better, it's still 128 shit. The point is, if you don't know the provenance of a file then you don't know where it's been, how it was made, what processes it's been through. Plainly speaking, a lot of what is found on Soul search etc. is a lot of crap that even if it says 320kbm is often shite.
The only way to be certain of bit rates and quality is to do it yourself or get from a trusted source. You're never gonna get vinyl or cd quality by downloading shit. In the end just listen. If it sounds shit then it is shit. Simples.
 
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