Windows 8 and 8.1 Forums

FLAC or WAV (Lossless) Audio

  1. #11

    United States
    Posts : 3,093
    Windows 8.1 Pro 64-bit

    Wow! Reading this thread brought back memories of arguments about vinyl, reel-to-reel, cassettes and the debates over sound quality. Not to mention the heated discussions over tube versus transistor amplifiers.

    Oh analog, such a different time.
    Last edited by popeye; 25 Oct 2013 at 23:39.

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  2. #12

    Quote Originally Posted by MilesAhead View Post
    If the source is bad there's no sense saving the audio. Every time I post about wma 192 being better than mp3 320 there's a response about people with bad hearing. If they can't hear the difference fine. But if they can hear and reject without trying then they can't see. It's the same thing when I posted on Linux about defragging ext2 partitions. I got all this theoretical jazz about how ext2 does not get fragmented and how defrag is a waste of time. When I knew from actual experience the contrary was the case. Theory is fine. But concrete is harder.

    edit: btw the comment "bitrate is constant" assumes the 2 lossy formats have equivalent quality at equivalent bitrate. Which begs the question. To me it's obvious that if wma 192 sounds better than mp3 320 it will certainly sound better than mp3 192. Take a Postcard jazz CD and rip it twice. Once to wma 192 and once to mp3 320. Listen to both. That's what I did when selecting my CDs for traveling music. The author of AudioGrabber felt the same way. If I'm crazy at least I'm not alone.
    If the source was bad and it was the only version of that audio available, then perhaps there would be sense in saving it. Not everything was high quality recorded. You pinpoint my statement as theory because I use some supporting evidence against the average audio file, whether it be an mp3 or wma, which is inaccurate. There are cases where you would need lossless, but more often than not in an average environment, it is not the case.

    Any differences in bitrate from conversions are due to the decoding and/or encoding process. Different audio formats do not read the same way as all other audio formats, and this is why with any old receiver, you can't just play any kind of audio format out there. It highly depends on what programs you're using, and you'd better be sure that the conversion is reliable too. I can take a 64kbps audio file, and rewrite it to a file of 320kbps quite easily. But it wouldn't guarantee that I'm getting my expected 320kbps quality audio. If I'm converting audio types, and especially if the original source is not a completely lossless filetype, even if I'm converting to 320kbps, that may be true on the technical details for bitrates, but the quality may not be the same as other similar bitrates even of the same filetype. The encoding/conversion process is critical.

    Just a cleaner version perhaps of the junk that it originally was. Junk data to make up for those extra bits per second would have to be created.

    There is also variable bitrate, and constant bitrate, so bringing that into the equation here, introduces many more difficulties if you were to ever try and compare as well. But the fact remains that unless you have junk data being processed per second, 192kbps is 192kbps for ideal conversions. There's no way that WMA could sound better unless the WMA output was more clean, than the conversion to MP3.

    I could write a pretty lame WMA encoder to show you that a 320kbps audio file sounds worse than a 192kbps audio file if I wanted for that reason. Keep note that it also depends on the complexity of the sounds and frequency range within the audio file itself, so there really is no way of telling what kind of quality you will get, because different encodings, unless completely lossless, will interpret sounds in different ways. The best you'll get from iTunes if you actually pay for your music is 256kbps, but in AAC format.

    Quote Originally Posted by pparks1 View Post
    I listen to audio all day long at work through some nice Grado SR125's, and I listen at home via my Marantz receiver and my Audio Technica ATH-M50's and I'm perfectly happy with the quality of my music using a VBR bitrate MP3 over 192Kbps. I do know audio pretty well, I actually do some audio mixing at our church (which is very large and uses some very nice equipment. (Digico consoles, L-acoustics line arrays and amps, crown amps). Aside from pure travelers who need the noise cancellation, I'm not a fan of most things made by Bose. Most are overpriced and under performing. For my own personal CD's, I have ripped most with AudioGrabber, or EAC. For anything in the last 2 years, I've bought it using Amazon MP3.

    While I do agree that hard drives are huge and file size shouldn't be the #1 issue anymore, but you also probably should also have backups of this stuff and that will also chew up more space and lots more time. I also keep lots of music on my phone and on an SDCard in my car. The road noise from the car negates any advantage in my opinion to any higher quality file format.
    Agreed (in co-ordinance with your Bose statement). The only reason why Bose is regarded as such high quality, and is expensive, is because of their marketing strategies. Aside from that, they aren't a really good speaker. They are okay, perhaps above average, but their enclosures are where their design is nice. They've been able to master the way lower frequencies vibrate inside of their cases, and most people like the power in the bass that their line of speakers give off.

    In my basement I've got speakers that I've put together that have a sensitivity of 105db @ 1W, and an active crossover completes the range of frequencies over the bass mid and high with the tweeter. 3 separate amplifiers of different wattage's, because it doesn't take as much as it does for the other 2 components as it does my tweeter. Those amps and speakers are a few years old, and I still haven't seen anyone with a new Bose system who is able to beat my setup. I've had it fully EQ'd, and my old house used to be sound barrier-ed as well, so I've had them up to 128db in the past.
    Last edited by AceInfinity; 25 Oct 2013 at 19:19.
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  3. #13

    Hafnarfjörđur IS
    Posts : 4,376
    Linux Centos 7, W8.1, W7, W2K3 Server W10

    Quote Originally Posted by popeye View Post
    Wow! Reading this thread brought back memories of arguments about vinyl, reel-to-reel, cassettes and the debates over sound quality. Not to mention the heated discussions over tube versus transistor amplifiers.

    Oh analog, such a different time.
    Hi there.

    Your ears still use ANALOG so all modern digital sound equipment has DAC's (Digital to Analog Converters) in them . What these do is sample chunks of the digital sound and by means of complex transforms (such as Fourier analysis and other highly complex mathematics) and produce complex sine waves that your ear perceives as Sound.

    To get decent sound obviously you need the following pieces of equipment -- in this order.

    1) A good pair of EARS !! without those everything else is pointless.

    2) Good headphones / Speaker system --if this is bad then as with EARS - every thing else is pointless.

    3) A Good Sound source - if this is rubbish then all you can do is remove extraneous bits of noise and hiss but you can't improve the base quality.

    4) Good piece of equipment containing the DAC (or DACS - expensive equipment have several as specific DACS can handle special ranges, types of signal etc).

    Mp3 gear is usually cheaper end so the DAC's aren't top quality either - you will often find that some mp3 sounds actually sound far worse than they should because you are using cheap equipment. - If you have those bud ear phones - especially the white one's where most of the "music" leaks out to irritate fellow passengers on buses / trains etc then highly compressed mp3's probably are fine - even WAV sounds won't appear very different.

    However if you play into high end studio type gear then you most certainly WILL hear the difference -- high end studio gear also handles things like Harmonics which can occur outside the human hearing range but still give the music "Presence" - you have to experience this to understand what I'm saying here - but it very much does make a difference.

    I suppose with all these things it depends on your point of view -- in any case I regard the Audio a bit like "Old fashioned film negatives" -- I might want to re-create the ORIGINAL again at some future date - who knows wht hardware will be available in the future -- and with lossless you can manipulate the file as many times as you want. With Lossy compression you lose more each time you manipulate the file too so it will degrade considerably after a few edits.

    The DAC in most decent smartphones - especially the newer ones - iPhone / Samsung Galaxy etc is reasonable - I can definitely tell the difference in the same piece of music when played in FLAC or MP3 at 192 kbs -- apart from any thing else the FLAC plays gaplessly if you want it to and the mp3 files tend to have odd "artifacts" in them together with the odd click. Whether this is important if you are listening in a noisy public place is up to you but I certainly don't want these types of effects at home.

    I travel a lot so I like the Noise cancelling phones by Bose -- expensive - but do the job decently and aren't HUGE like those "Street Cred DJ BEATS" type which youngsters are finding popular. At home I have a nice set of Mission Studio quality speakers specifically for MUSIC listening -- note nothing to do with TV surround sound --that's a totally different ballgame. I never use my TV surround system for music listening either.

    Finally if you've ever travelled in "Cattle Class" for say 10 hrs on a flight from Manchester UK to LA - worse the other way around as it's night time - with a load of howling babies on board you'll appreciate those Noise cancelling phones !!.

    Incidentally the part about newer hardware is true -- for instance I've scanned some of my original photo negatives and today I can produce a far far better print than I ever could in the "Old fashioned Wet darkroom" and far more cheaply. However I still need the original as copying scanned images for adjustment / alteration will progressively degrade the image each time more and more. Having the original always means I can start from Scratch again.

    The same is true of the Music files.

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  4. #14

    Posts : 2,130
    Windows 8.0 x64

    It seems to me to be a dodge. Either wma can contain more sound information at a lower bit rate than mp3 or not. Just like mp4 can contain more video information than mpg2. In your scenario we could disparage FLAC even though it's lossless provided you coul show that the bottom of the line consumer gear played mp3 better than FLAC. It's apples and oranges.

    There are color blind people so let's just forget about mp4 since mpg2 bw video is good enough for 'em.
    The original question I don't understand either unless the OP just wants to be encouraged in a decision already made.
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  5. #15

    If you're looking for good quality sound devices, most people can hear roughly in the range of 37Hz to 15 or 18Khz, so you'll want something that can handle this range. I've seen speakers that are manufactured to handle ranges from 5Hz to 25Khz. Most professional grade equipment is in and around 95-100 db @1W efficiency for a full blown cabinet. If you are in that category or above, then you're doing quite well.

    The SHURE's SE535, has a sensitivity of 119 dB SPL/mW for instance, and a frequency range of 18Hz – 19kHz. A theoretical 133 dB SPL @1V is pretty darn good... Regardless, playing the devils advocate, you're not going to get the same energy over the full frequency range, high versus mid and low.
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  6. #16

    Quote Originally Posted by popeye View Post
    Wow! Reading this thread brought back memories of arguments about vinyl, reel-to-reel, cassettes and the debates over sound quality. Not to mention the heated discussions over tube versus transistor amplifiers.

    Oh analog, such a different time.
    Same here on the memories!

    Lol! We were surely amplifying a lot of distortion way back with analog. When I heard a digital CD for the first time it was like listening to music all over again. Songs like "Hey Jude" has something like 17 instrumental and voice parts to it. I'm lucky if I heard five or six of them with analog!
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  7. #17

    Posts : 148
    Windows 8.1 Update 1

    Well, back to topic: I'd stick to FLAC. For me it's the perfect format. It's lossless but it also saves space if you compare it to wave. I've also tested it, you can always restore the original wave file out of a FLAC file. I don't see why I should sacrifice more space for storing wave files if there is no quality gain (how should there be as we are talking about lossless audio).
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  8. #18

    Posts : 2
    Windows 8.1 Pro 64 bit with WMC

    My opinion... Stay with .flac takes up less space.
    But you could also try both.. mix and match.. what the heck!
    Maybe over time you'll detect some differences that push you towards one or the other.

    I've grown less picky these days.. an mp3 player at the beach or in the car is fine with me.
    I've grown so used to the compressed Dolby digital being broadcast on the TV.. its even more lossy than mp3.
    Now even MP3's sound good.
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FLAC or WAV (Lossless) Audio
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