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320 kbps MP3 vs Original Audio CDs

Rega

madbullram

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Hi all,
I have most of songs ripped to my iPod with 320 kbps mp3s. My iPod is always used for my Car stereo. I remember long back, in my car is wasnt making any difference between 320 mp3 and CDA. I always believed 320 kbps and CDA makes no difference in Car environment. That time I had a complete Alpine setup.

Last week, I played the mp3 and CDA and I was able to make clear difference between 320 mp3 and CDA, in fact the difference was quite clear when I compared.

Anyone had the same observation? Or is it my MB Quart which is making the difference, I am not sure...

You can see my current setup in signature.
 

thevortex

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Well, personally I find it pretty difficult to differentiate between 320 Kbps MP3 and FLAC/WAV files.

I have a sneaking suspicion that if cPlay were to support MP3's it might be possible to make out some difference. But it may not be worth it.
 

Shuvc

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Last week, I played the mp3 and CDA and I was able to make clear difference between 320 mp3 and CDA, in fact the difference was quite clear when I compared.
In a way I consider myself lucky that I am unable to hear these differences! Makes my life simpler and makes me spend less on 'upgrades' :)

I had tried this comparo both with my home and car setup - but failed to notice any difference. The 320 files were either normal Windows Media Player rips or Eac+Lame vbr rips.

Would you be able to 'describe' the difference you noticed?

Edit: It could also be that with time and better understanding of audio, your ears are now better equipped to note the differences :)
 
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ashishkesarwani

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In my opinion the more transparent a system more easily the difference is distinguished. As you go higher up the ladder in the audio world by spending more and more moolah the system becomes more competent to changes in the source and wiring, etc.
 

madbullram

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Edit: It could also be that with time and better understanding of audio, your ears are now better equipped to note the differences :)

Well, I was hearing this song called Nenje Nenje, where in there is a nice soothing echo of the singer, this was hardly audible in the mp3 but soothing and clear in CDA, also the instruments were more crisp and bass was tight.

I know technically it shouldn't but I cant deny what I am hearing and experiencing right?
 
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skumar

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Last week, I played the mp3 and CDA and I was able to make clear difference between 320 mp3 and CDA, in fact the difference was quite clear when I compared.

Behold... the Audiophile has arrived... :clapping: :clapping:

(On the lighter side, No Offence Meant)
 

Shuvc

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Well, I was hearing this song called Nenje Nenje, where in there is a nice soothing echo of the singer, this was hardly audible in the mp3 but soothing and clear in CDA, also the instruments were more crisp and bass was tight.

I know technically it shouldn't but I cant deny what I am hearing and experiencing right?

Playing the cynics role - could the HU be processing the iPod input and the CD differently?

Since you have a reference point now and know what to 'look' out for, why not keep experimenting with this track on other systems (home and car).
 

arj

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Well, I was hearing this song called Nenje Nenje, where in there is a nice soothing echo of the singer, this was hardly audible in the mp3 but soothing and clear in CDA, also the instruments were more crisp and bass was tight.

I know technically it shouldn't but I cant deny what I am hearing and experiencing right?
madbullram, if you are able to feel the difference that would mean the system is much more resolving now. I would feel it is due to the HU in your car..that is where most Car audio systems fail (Mine including ..). of course the speakers would also matter.

Shuvc. you would be able to feel the difference in resolving system even if you burn the 320kbps files into a cd.
 

biyer

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Difference could be due to the difference in volume levels while encoding to mp3 or while decoding the mp3.
 

madbullram

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Shuv: I thought of that so tried copying the mp3 to a cd and then tried the same . The result was same, CDA was clearly better.

I am begining to think, 320 mp3 = CDA only depending on the system used.

Also, I have a Pioneer HU which I dont consider very good, if in the difference is good, I am wondering what it will be if I switch to an Alpine
 

ranojoy

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Redbook CD played thru Marantz CD5001
MP3 CD played thru CA DVD99
Common AVR (Yam RX-V440) & speakers (Wharf 9.5)

Even with the above setup, difference with CDs is audible, mostly in the top end (less harsh trebles, smoother delivery) and w.r.t.ambience information in the recording (sounds more "airy"). Subtle sounds are "picked up" from the noise floor and brought to the forefront, if you know what I mean.
A 2 channel amp would probably make the quality of the CD more apparent and the flaws in the MP3 more prominent.

Dont have an audio setup in the car, so cant comment on that score.
 

allajunaki

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MP3's are lossy format. They work by eliminating some of the sounds less noticed by Humans. However the drop in quality vs drop in bitrate required is tremendous (i.e Very little drop in audio with a lot less bits). Hence most of us will notice very little drop.

Now, What you observe is a very valid thing, I have personally observed this with some songs. However, such things are very obvious in tamil songs, and english songs with downbeat music, mainly because the music is more down beat and such subtle differences become very obvious.

Ok, so how come you have started noticing it now? Simply because you have a much better audio system.

Have you noticed that DTH looks amazing in your 21inch CRT looks totally screwed in your Plasma (relatively speaking).
The whole point is that, unless you have a your entire delivery system to handle the quality of the source, you will never notice the difference in the "Less than perfect" materials.
 
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madbullram

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Ok, so how come you have started noticing it now? Simply because you have a much better audio system.

.

My audio system is 3 yrs old, I never bothered to play CDA based on previous assumption. I so happened, I forgot my iPod and had the CDA and popped in. Then did A/B test switching between iPod and CDA. The difference was obvious.
 

sachin_k5

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if one is listening to music with the intension of finding faults, he will find it. I personally don't find any difference between a high quality mp3 and a audio cd.

Beyond a decent stereo setup, say within 50k all components included, the benefit of someone buying expensive stuff is only to the high end equipment making company who thrive on a audiophile's fault finding missions.
 

Shuvc

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Shuv: I thought of that so tried copying the mp3 to a cd and then tried the same . The result was same, CDA was clearly better.

Redbook CD played thru Marantz CD5001
MP3 CD played thru CA DVD99

I did not mean this. What I tried to indicate was that the player 'treats'/'processes' mp3 files and cd song files differently/through different circuitry/through different 'processing algo'.

I have no clue if they do - am just raising the possibility that the difference heard could also be a factor of how the source is processed?
 

square_wave

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We had once done this experiment in a very resolving system as well as a hi-end grado/sennheiser based headphone system.

In a resolving system, the differences between 320kpbs mp3 and original wav/flac is very obvious.There is distortion everywhere in the spectrum. It manifests in many ways. Horns in well recorded Jazz starts to screech. Hardness in female vocals, strings, cymbals. The instruments start sounding untrue to the original timbre. Just some examples.

128kpbs = thin, anemic and unlistenable
256kpbs is when they become listenable
320kpbs is quite decent especially with compressed, bright recordings like pop/film/rock etc. with recordings with high dynamic range using natural instruments (classical variety), it is still quite bad.

The differences are not usually about volume/clarity level of individual sounds but mostly about how natural the sound is. Focus, blackness of the background (noise floor), emotional connection with the music gets affected.

At around 320 kpbs all sounds should be pretty clear and present so not sure about your experience.
 
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madbullram

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if one is listening to music with the intension of finding faults, he will find it. I personally don't find any difference between a high quality mp3 and a audio cd.
.

Never did that with that assumption, the moment I heard the song in CDA in my car the reaction was instant. Only then the test part started.
 

Shuvc

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The differences are not usually about volume/clarity level of individual sounds but mostly about how natural the sound is. Focus, blackness of the background (noise floor), emotional connection with the music gets affected.

So your observations are similar to those expressed here.

w.r.t.ambience information in the recording (sounds more "airy").


I did not mean this. What I tried to indicate was that the player 'treats'/'processes' mp3 files and cd song files differently/through different circuitry/through different 'processing algo'.

I have no clue if they do - am just raising the possibility that the difference heard could also be a factor of how the source is processed?
Continuing this thought - Presuming that the 'processing engine' is different for mp3 and wav, would it not be also fair to consider that manufacturers would focus relatively more on accurate sound reproduction from a CD/wav source than a mp3 source, since 'audiophiles' would typically not listen to mp3s?

I am not contesting the observations mentioning that there is a difference. But should the difference be attributed solely to the format and the bit-rate it is ripped? Or does the player have a role to play too?
 
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