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Music News

Can We Really Tell Lossless From MP3? 849

Posted by kdawson
from the single-blind-testing dept.
EddieSpinola writes "Everyone knows that lossless codecs like FLAC produce better sounding music than lossy codecs like MP3. Well that's the theory anyway. The reality is that most of us can't tell the difference between MP3 and FLAC. In this quick and dirty test, a worrying preponderance of subjects rated the MP3 encodes higher than the FLAC files. Very interesting, if slightly disturbing reading!" Visiting with adblock and flashblock is highly recommended, lest you be blinded. The article is spread over 6 pages and there is no print version.
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Can We Really Tell Lossless From MP3?

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  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday November 17, 2009 @10:19PM (#30139074)

    I definitely can tell the difference between MP3 and Lossless.

    When you're an audiophile like myself who has invested in Monster (tm) branded cables, the actual bits are richer and reproduced more faithfully than with the gear the plebs use.

    Protip: Also use Denon Link Cables [audiojunkies.com] with the built-in packet directionality device. Your TCP's wont know which way they are going without it.

  • by gringer (252588) on Tuesday November 17, 2009 @10:28PM (#30139150)

    Sure, MP3s sound better than FLAC, but if you used *both*, you'd get even better sound.

  • by Tynin (634655) on Tuesday November 17, 2009 @10:29PM (#30139160)
    A protip that doesn't suggest a wooden volume knob?! Any audiophile worth his Monster cables knows that micro vibrations created by the volume pots and knobs find their way into the delicate signal path and cause audio degradation. I imagine you knew this, but the fact you omitted it is a disservice to this great community!
  • Well (Score:1, Funny)

    by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday November 17, 2009 @10:29PM (#30139168)

    Buy a nice pair of monitors for $400 and the differences are easy to tell. I sort of wish I hadnt because my lower encoded music 256kbps sounds awful compared to 320/flac

  • by addikt10 (461932) * on Tuesday November 17, 2009 @10:37PM (#30139238)

    For me, it is easy. If I spend hours listening to lossy compressed music, I start to get headaches. It doesn't happen when I'm listening to lossless compression.

    For me, that is end of story.

  • by Shadow of Eternity (795165) on Tuesday November 17, 2009 @10:41PM (#30139274)

    You forgot that they also use special tripolarity magnetic alignment cordage with tru-neg vacuum standoffs to perpendicularly align the electrons and thus properly reproduce the non-hertzian frequences.

  • by Scaba (183684) <joe@@@joefrancia...com> on Tuesday November 17, 2009 @10:56PM (#30139410)

    Other things audiophiles don't take into account:

    1. they can't tell the difference between lossless and lossy at a reasonable compression, either
    2. bragging about buying $5000 speakers makes you look like someone used lossy compression on your brain
    3. the average listener can tell the difference between having a conversation with a real person about music versus listening to an insecure nerd trying to one-up everyone.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday November 17, 2009 @10:57PM (#30139422)

    Hiss? You have hiss? I wish I was hearing a little hiss. I recently made the mistake of playing a CD on a Fedora 11 box with reasonably modern motherboard, dual core CPU, builtin audio card. Oh my god, what a horribly distorted, mid-rangey sound. Come to think of it, I tried this once with Ubuntu on my Macbook. While CD playback sounds good to me under Mac OS X, and iTunes is ok unless I'm really paying attention, sound on the same hardware under Ubuntu is really really bad.

    Is it possible that the Linux audio drivers are optimized for Heavy Metal?

    I think that the choice of playback software or drivers can also affect fidelity of the sound.

  • You have no idea what you're talking about. I suppose you'd like to pay for each and every site you frequent. Guess what, junior? Operating sites costs money.

    The net would be a better place if all the for-profit 'information' sites went offline.

    Your suggested course of action would include the removal of Slashdot from the Internet. Why are you posting here? You obviously don't believe your own drivel.

  • by MindVirus (1424817) on Wednesday November 18, 2009 @12:07AM (#30139908) Homepage

    ...it's best for music with harmonies and tonal trajectories in different registers (base, tenor, trebble) and not music that has all sorts of aliased frequencies randomly jumping around in volume...

    I thought I was an audiophile. You have put me to shame.

  • by michaelhood (667393) on Wednesday November 18, 2009 @12:12AM (#30139946)

    Although I would be the first to agree that there is a lot of snake-oil around in the so-called "audiophile" market, there is a place for everything. Despite the limitations, I do use compressed files on my iPod, simply because I am aware that when used with street earphones in a high ambient noise environment, the defects are much less noticeable.

    Snake oil? Nonsense.

    http://www.usa.denon.com/ProductDetails/3429.asp [denon.com]

    employs high level tin-bearing alloy shielding not typically available in commercial cabling, to eliminate data loss caused by noise.

    I know my cat 5 is losing bits all the time..

    Additionally, signal directional markings are provided for optimum signal transfer.

    Also one time I accidentally plugged it in backwards and all my bits _fell out_.

  • by jrumney (197329) on Wednesday November 18, 2009 @12:22AM (#30140022) Homepage

    When you're an audiophile like myself who has invested in Monster (tm) branded cables, the actual bits are richer

    It's a basic law of commerce, the bits are richer because you are poorer.

  • by joocemann (1273720) on Wednesday November 18, 2009 @12:57AM (#30140264)

    Sorry, but earphones will burn your house down and summon satan. Get some nice monitors for your living room.

  • by plover (150551) * on Wednesday November 18, 2009 @01:03AM (#30140300) Homepage Journal

    Although I would be the first to agree that there is a lot of snake-oil around in the so-called "audiophile" market, there is a place for everything.

    Snake oil? Nonsense.

    Everybody calls stuff they don't understand "snake oil", and it's kind of a mistake in the high end audio market. Snake oil is the preferred suspension media for high-end tweeter frames. It is used to fill the struts that mechanically isolate the speaker from the cabinet, ensuring the only hiss you get is that which was on the original recording.

    And despite what the so-called audiophiles say, you only have to replace it annually, not quarterly. Snake oil doesn't break down as fast as the other common organic oils (cod or shark liver oil is what most manufacturers recommend,) so it retains its useful viscosity for up to several years. It's absolutely a good idea to replace it before it degrades, but since it's only slightly more expensive than fish oils (at $16.00/ounce [oldwestsnakeoil.com]) when you change it annually it's actually a bargain.

    The only problem with snake oil is that since it is an organic oil, it is susceptible to bacterial infection. An infected cylinder doesn't really affect the sound, but the oil tends to give off a foul odor if you let it sit around too long. Some people have tried smearing vaseline around the exposed ends of the inner cylinders to seal the oil so it won't stink, but I think that can affect the sound and I wouldn't recommend it.

    Oh, and be sure to get a good quality measuring syringe to change the oil. Being off by more than a few mL can affect the travel of the struts, and that either leaves a mess on the shelf, or raspy highs.

  • by oatworm (969674) on Wednesday November 18, 2009 @01:13AM (#30140368) Homepage
    It's true! I was sitting there, minding my own business (or so I thought) and listening to some Shostakovich with some earphones while eating some fruit when, lo and behold, a dimensional rift open right up in my living room and a large two-headed octopus summoned itself right in front of me! Then, the octopus introduced itself as "Bill and Steve". One head, so it said, specialized in hellish gates, which were used to keep souls in, while the other specialized in Satanic jobs, which were used to secure the souls. I was scared out of my wits! Not only did I nearly choke on my apple, I was ready to jump out of one of my seven windows! Absolutely terrifying!

    Fortunately, I knew a priest, so I asked him what I should do. He told me to say a Hail Mary every six months, dispose of the earphones, wipe the hard drive to my laptop, install Slackware, then, just to be certain that I cast out the demon, install Qemu and set up a pair of virtual machines, one running Gentoo and the other running Debian Stable. What I didn't realize until it was far too late, though, was that the priest was a prick. Granted, his suggested penance did indeed cast out the two-headed cephalopod from my apartment. However, I now have a serious infestation of daemons!

    Slashdot, I pray to you! Tell me what I must do to cast out this new scourge!
  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday November 18, 2009 @01:15AM (#30140378)
    "et al." is for people and places. "etc." is what you're looking for. Using "et al." incorrectly doesn't make you look more educated or knowledgeable -- just the opposite, in fact. Thought I'd give you some /flak/ about it....
  • by AmigaHeretic (991368) on Wednesday November 18, 2009 @01:20AM (#30140392) Journal
    I always love when a audiophile thread comes up.

    Check out this link to BestBuy. This is a fiber optic cable, meaning it transfers LIGHT not electrical signal.

    Now read the descritpion:

    24K gold-plated connectors help protect the cable's optical lens to ensure consistent signal transfer

    http://www.bestbuy.com/site/Rocketfish%26%23153%3B+-+8'+Digital+Optical+Cable/8315147.p?id=1174694191675&skuId=8315147&st=optical [bestbuy.com]

    HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAH!!!

  • by ProfessionalCookie (673314) on Wednesday November 18, 2009 @03:14AM (#30140948) Journal
    I think you're find they're compressing the hell into music.
  • by RealErmine (621439) <commerce AT wordhole DOT net> on Wednesday November 18, 2009 @11:06AM (#30144650)
    I actually bought an optical cable that has gold plating around the optics on the connectors. I bought it because it was still cheaper than the Monster cable next to it on the shelf.

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