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Will lossy compression ever die? Audio Interfaces
Old 21st December 2010
  #31
Quote:
Originally Posted by buddachile View Post
Really? So 8-track and cassettes are better quality than the vinyl that preceded them? I think not. 8-track failed but cassette was a big hit. Many many albums sold on cassette goes to show how convenience can trump quality in a consumer market.
Cassette was not designed to be a music distribution format, it was intended for dictation machines. It was adopted for music by the auto sound industry because it lacked the serious mechanical problems that plagued the theoretically superior 4 and 8 track formats. And the cartridges were a lot smaller. It was never really an audio decision at all.

After it started taking off in car stereos the hi-fi companies started developing home units and did a lot to improve the initial poor sound of the format; it's actually quite amazing how much they were able to squeeze out of a format that was originally designed only for limited bandwidth voice dictation.

Quote:
Originally Posted by buddachile View Post
False. It's a good comparison.

Walkman of yesterday is the iPod/media player of today. Car stereos of the past are, well car stereos.

Past popular delivery options:
- vinyl (came first)
- 8-track (came next)
- cassette (came later)

Current popular delivery options:
- cd (came first)
- mp3 and other lossy file formats (came next)

Sorry, I don't see how this is an apples to oranges comparison.
Because you don't understand the historical formats.

First came 78 rpm shellac records.

Second came vinyl - 33-1/3 rpm albums and 45 rpm singles

Third came reel to reel tape


The auto sound industry wanted to come up with a means to play personal music in the car instead of relying on radio. In auto formats there were

First 45 rpm record players, which had a skipping problem

Second came 4 track 1/4 inch tape cassettes, adapted from the cart machines that radio stations used for commercials. These had a problem with playing time, so they begat

Third, 8 track 1/4 inch tape carts, which squeezed twice as much playing time on the same length tape, but had alignment problems due to the head being mechanically shifted between tracks

Both these cart formats had other problems due to the tape wearing out because of the endless loop design and the overall bulkiness of the format. Also, commercially made tapes often switched tracks in the middle of a song, which was very annoying. 8 track tape dominated until the end of the '60s, at which point it began to be replaced by

Fourth, cassette tape. Cassettes had been introduced as an office dictaion format by Phillips in the early '60s and mono home machines became available for voice recording shortly after. Auto sound companies developed it and introduced stereo cassette players in the late '60s, which overcame most of the problems of the earlier cart machines. The public adopted them not because they sounded very good - the early ones didn't - but because they didn't mess up nearly as often and didn't interrupt songs to switch tracks.

Remember that at this point the car stereo industry was very primitive - built in radios were mono and usually AM only, so anything better than that was an improvement.

Around 1970 the Advent company introduced the first "hi fidelity" stereo cassette recorder. It didn't sound very good as got a lukewarm reception, mostly from people who wanted to record their record collections to listen to in the car. Shortly after that the Dolby company introduced the first cassette noise reduction system as an add-on for the Advent deck. At this point a lot more people became interested in cassette. Dolby was incorporated in car stereos and many companies started making stereo cassette decks with built-in noise reduction.

A couple years later Sony introduced the first portable stereo cassette recorder, which was about the size of a large, big city telephone directory. This format remained the format for portable personal music outside the car until Sony introduced the Walkman in 1979, which was in fact a modification of a Sony new gathering recorder called the "Pressman", with hifi playback circuits replacing the record circuit and speaker of the ENG unit.

The larger portable recorders, built by Sony/Superscope and Marantz, remained a standard in field recording for years, until the advent of DAT in the 1990s and were carried by many touring FOH engineers to make reference recordings of shows.

So, you see, the cassette recorder was never intended for musical use by its original developer (Phillips/Norelco), but once adopted by the auto sound industry became subject to the same constant evolutionary improvements that all preceding distribution formats had been.
Old 21st December 2010
  #32
Quote:
Originally Posted by Cheebs Goat View Post
Doesn't even have to be high-end. You could put something together for under $1000 and hear it easily.

Whenever I hear somebody say that damage from 320 kbps can't be heard, I have to figure they've never tried to hear it.
Or have hearing damage from cranking the ear buds too much.
Old 21st December 2010
  #33
Lives for gear
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by John Eppstein View Post
This is an audio production forum. People here are interested in quality audio, not lowest common denominator junk.
Can we even call it "lowest common denominator" anymore? The "common" bit is missing these days. You can't play this stuff on good equipment.

I would think "lowest common denominator" would be, as one example, cheesy butt rock from the 80's and 90's that could pump on a bad boom box but still had enough fidelity if you chose to play it though something real.

If the snooty-snoots are 55 and the riff-raff is 44, albums used to have the decency to be an 11. Everybody was like, "yeah, we can divide into this". These days the albums are a 4. The 44's are all like "what, this divides just fine". The 55's are like "WTF do we do with this?"

I'd be happy if the general state of audio could improve back to the lofty standard of "lowest common denominator". Right now it is simply the lowest denominator.
Old 21st December 2010
  #34
Lives for gear
Quote:
Originally Posted by BubbaMc View Post
Back in 1998 mp3 and other lossy formats made sense. Today though, imo there's no excuse to keep using lossy formats.

Will there ever be a time where lossless files are the preferred distribution method?

I hope sites like bandcamp.com make it big, and itunes offers lossless but I'm not sure this will ever happen.

Thoughts?

they make no sense today , audio industry should go to a high def format
mp3 is a JOKE. It's like a model - T
Old 21st December 2010
  #35
Gear Nut
 

Such a simple topic. But complicated in another way.

File sized is based on network speed 'standards'. It's not compression, file size is the problem. Unfortunately lower file size does not complement quality.

Currently most cable companies only offer up-to 1.3 mbps. High speeds available for bigger corps. But this is consumer norm. Some are lucky to get 512k download speeds.

mp3 won based out of consumer convenience. And well, it just frankly took off because the quality to file size ratio was great, -at the time-. Then later marketed by Apple on 'Quantity over quality, i.e. 'your ipod can hold 3000 songs etc. etc. But that's another topic.

mp3 is now the standard, for the most part. So it's going to take some time to move over to any better quality, lossless formats. If ever.

At least we are starting to see 256k on itunes. Come on 320!! You can do it!

So my view is, we will see higher quality MP3/MPEG's before we see a lossless standard.

We wait.
Old 21st December 2010
  #36
Gear Nut
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by buddachile View Post
False. It's a good comparison.

Walkman of yesterday is the iPod/media player of today. Car stereos of the past are, well car stereos.

Past popular delivery options:
- vinyl (came first)
- 8-track (came next)
- cassette (came later)

Current popular delivery options:
- cd (came first)
- mp3 and other lossy file formats (came next)

Sorry, I don't see how this is an apples to oranges comparison.
Apple: Rust
Orange: 01010
Old 21st December 2010
  #37
Lives for gear
 
doug hazelrigg's Avatar
This is an important subject to both industry pro's and hobbyists (people who put out their own recordings). So I'm glad to see it brought up here.

I'm no expert... but doesn't the explosion of mobile devices (flash memory), and the bandwidth and storage issues they present, pretty much insure that lossy files will continue to be the norm for some time? I mean, it wouldn't be cost-effective for the industry to segregate into two overall paradigms -- one consisting of high fidelity files and the other consisting of lossy files... the use of relatively high bit rate lossy files adequately serves both markets -- for the time being.

In any case, there are a few sites now offering sales of 16 and even 24 bit files; the couple I've seen are strictly Classical and Jazz (roughly similar to the way Telarc and EMI were early purveyors of DDD digital for Classical music, many of whose adherents are also audiophiles).

BTW -- somebody mentioned Bandcamp. Are you aware that Bandcamp streams at the UGLY 128 kps? One of my tunes sounded so bad that I posted there, I went back to the premium service at soundclick in order to stream at 320 kps.

Also, I am a BIG purchaser of iTunes. The ACC 256 codec suits me just fine -- especially given that most of the time I'm not so anal-retentive as to go to the trouble of comparing an ACC 256 file with its wav counterpart -- especially since 90% of the time I don't already own the wav counterpart with which to compare it to. What I can't hear won't hurt me.

Also regarding "quality" : to my ears, truly pristine audio quality didn't really become a reality until the late 80's/early 90's... am I saying that everything recorded before this time sounded bad in comparison? Absolutely NOT! They sounded GREAT -- going back MANY decades. What I AM saying is that there's a difference between "pristine" and "good." Does Love's "Forever Changes" sound as "clean" or "pristine" as, say, "Joshua Judges Ruth" -- a recording noted for it's "fidelity?" No... but "Forever Changes" is BEAUTIFULLY sounding album -- IMHO if it were recorded today, it wouldn't possess the same charm, audio-wise
Old 21st December 2010
  #38
Quote:
Originally Posted by robertshaw View Post
they make no sense today , audio industry should go to a high def format
mp3 is a JOKE. It's like a model - T
Naw, man. The Model T was a true classic.

MP3 is an Edsel.
Old 21st December 2010
  #39
Quote:
Originally Posted by clank72 View Post
Such a simple topic. But complicated in another way.

File sized is based on network speed 'standards'. It's not compression, file size is the problem. Unfortunately lower file size does not complement quality.

Currently most cable companies only offer up-to 1.3 mbps. High speeds available for bigger corps. But this is consumer norm. Some are lucky to get 512k download speeds.
Bull.

I get 10 Mbps down on my AT&T DSL.
Old 21st December 2010
  #40
Deleted User
Guest
I find it a pointless statement. The fact of the matter is, people want to fit as much music as they can onto their HD's and iPod's. Having FLAC or WAV files is never going to work, as you would only be able to fit 12 albums on an 8GB iPod, where's the fun in that.

Basically, sound engineers are now the audiophiles. That's probarbly not going to change.

This is why people should keep buying CD's, otherwise the format will go completely.
Old 21st December 2010
  #41
Quote:
Originally Posted by doug hazelrigg View Post
This is an important subject to both industry pro's and hobbyists (people who put out their own recordings). So I'm glad to see it brought up here.

I'm no expert... but doesn't the explosion of mobile devices (flash memory), and the bandwidth and storage issues they present, pretty much insure that lossy files will continue to be the norm for some time?
No. With current hard drive sizes (It's difficult to find much under 1/2 TB for a desktop drive). and current high speed internet standards for DSL and even cable there is absolutely no excuse to use lossy compression. So you can only get 100,000 songs on your iPod instead of a million? Big Schnoz. You're never gonna listen to all those songs anyway.

As far as flash memory is concerned, Apple is offering 1/2TB flash drives in their Mac Pros. High capacity flash memory is here. We should see 1/2 TB flash iPods in the next year or two. If we don't it's simply a case of artificial scarcity.
Old 21st December 2010
  #42
Deleted User
Guest
Plus! The file sizes.

People would no longer be able to e-mail tracks accross to other people. On the contradiction, I did send WAV files to a client via e-mail yesterday, but only because they were a minute long voices he wanted.

Entire formats would have to change, and to be honest, it wouldn't be worth the stress and workload of the companies in their eyes.
Old 21st December 2010
  #43
Quote:
Originally Posted by jampottt View Post
I find it a pointless statement. The fact of the matter is, people want to fit as much music as they can onto their HD's and iPod's. Having FLAC or WAV files is never going to work, as you would only be able to fit 12 albums on an 8GB iPod, where's the fun in that.

Basically, sound engineers are now the audiophiles. That's probarbly not going to change.

This is why people should keep buying CD's, otherwise the format will go completely.
8 GB iPods are obsolete - or toys. You can get iPods that size for 10 bucks at a garage sale these days.
Old 21st December 2010
  #44
Deleted User
Guest
Quote:
Originally Posted by John Eppstein View Post
8 GB iPods are obsolete - or toys. You can get iPods that size for 10 bucks at a garage sale these days.
What, so iPod Touch's are obsolete? Even if you move up to 16, 32, 64GB, you're not getting as much music as you can. We all here have a large record collection I'm sure, wouldn't you rather be able to fit it all on to one iPod at 320kbps for casual listening, and pull up the actual CD on your hi-end stereo whilst at home?
Old 21st December 2010
  #45
Gear Maniac
 
Geissler's Avatar
To those of you claiming to be able to consistently tell apart 320kbps mp3 from lossless, I respectfully ask you to post ABX test results that back up your claims before you continue to perpetuate your absurd audiophile myths.

You are experiencing the placebo effect.
Old 21st December 2010
  #46
Gear Maniac
 
Geissler's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by John Eppstein View Post
As far as flash memory is concerned, Apple is offering 1/2TB flash drives in their Mac Pros. High capacity flash memory is here. We should see 1/2 TB flash iPods in the next year or two. If we don't it's simply a case of artificial scarcity.
You're a funny guy. The cheapest 1TB SSD I can find costs nearly 3 grand, and the form factor is 3.5". Getting it down to ipod size is not even possible at this stage, and when it is the price will probably be double.

Newegg.com - OCZ IBIS OCZ3HSD1IBS1-960G 3.5" 960GB HSDL (High Speed Data Link) MLC Internal Solid State Drive (SSD)
Old 21st December 2010
  #47
Lives for gear
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Geissler View Post
To those of you claiming to be able to consistently tell apart 320kbps mp3 from lossless, I respectfully ask you to post ABX test results that back up your claims before you continue to perpetuate your absurd audiophile myths.

You are experiencing the placebo effect.
Post some clips and I'd be happy to identify them for you.

Take a song, convert a 20 second clip to 320 kbps and then convert it back to wav (so we can't identify by the file extension). Attach it here along with the same 20 second clip in wave form with no pass through MP3 land.
Old 21st December 2010
  #48
Gear Maniac
 
Geissler's Avatar
No problem! All in the name of science

Here are the clips: 35 seconds from Elephant Talk, the opener of King Crimson's fantastic 'Discipline'. It's a 16/44 rip from the first pressing of the japanese vinyl. Chopped in sound forge and encoded with dbpoweramp using lame (320kbps mp3, then back to wav). Vocals, clean and overdriven guitar, wacky drums, a prominent cymbal hit, good production with good dynamic range... I think it's a pretty good test song.

I can't tell the difference, but I'm sure many of you have better ears and equipment than me!
Attached Files

A.wav (6.03 MB, 52 views)

B.wav (6.03 MB, 62 views)

Old 21st December 2010
  #49
Gear Maniac
 
Edwards's Avatar
 

I'll take the plunge. Listening through Audiofire 4 and Yamaha MP5s.

The difference between them is pretty easy to tell. A seems to have more low and low-mids in it and is all around pretty round and balanced, whereas B sounds noticeably more trebly. In my experience, MP3 lossy compression seems to result in more strident highs. They hurt my ears and I can't stand listening to them. Therefore,

B is the MP3.
Old 21st December 2010
  #50
Gear Maniac
 
Geissler's Avatar
Thanks for weighing in. Any other takers? I'll reveal once we've had a few replies.
Old 21st December 2010
  #51
Gear Addict
 
Tuberizer's Avatar
 

I say A is the MP3 for the opposite reason: It lacks highs.

Not sure though, it is hard to tell.
Old 21st December 2010
  #52
Motown legend
 
Bob Olhsson's Avatar
 

I think it's important to understand that portable music is a completely different market than that of music fans.

It's remarkable how many people lump McDonald's together with gourmet food when it comes to music.
Old 21st December 2010
  #53
Lives for gear
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Geissler View Post
No problem! All in the name of science
The highs are cut off on "A". It is the mp3.
Old 21st December 2010
  #54
Gear Maniac
 
Geissler's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by Bob Olhsson View Post
I think it's important to understand that portable music is a completely different market than that of music fans.

It's remarkable how many people lump McDonald's together with gourmet food when it comes to music.
Good analogy, except for the fact that in this case McDonald's and fine cuisine taste identical
Old 21st December 2010
  #55
Gear Maniac
 
Geissler's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by Cheebs Goat View Post
The highs are cut off on "A". It is the mp3.
Spectral analysis is cheating, sir. This is a test of perception, and I posted the samples in good faith that people would use their ears and only their ears.
Old 21st December 2010
  #56
Lives for gear
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Geissler View Post
Spectral analysis is cheating, sir. This is a test of perception, and I posted the samples in good faith that people would use their ears and only their ears.
No spectral analysis. I listened, heard that the highs were missing, and that was that.
Old 21st December 2010
  #57
Gear Maniac
 
Geissler's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by Cheebs Goat View Post
No spectral analysis. I listened, heard that the highs were missing, and that was that.
Good for you. It's certainly rare to have such sensitive hearing at 21KHz.
Old 21st December 2010
  #58
Thanks for the test, that was interesting.

I don't think I could tell them apart in separate listenings, distanced by more than a minute. Or in any average listening environment. But in a blind A/B on my monitors it's pretty easy to tell that A has a beefier bottom end and overall fatter sound. I couldn't hear any difference in the highs but I'm 48 y/o so that's already on it's way out.

Most of my music on my iPod is 320kbps and it's fine. But I have a few select recordings that I do keep in lossless because I tend to listen to them in my studio or headphones, not my car, and I know them well enough to hear the difference.

I don't think 320kbps vs. lossless really matters for 90%+ of what I listen to. And it surely doesn't matter for 100% of almost all listeners but a few audio geeks like us. But it's hard to argue from either side that 1) it's a transparent conversion, or that 2) an average listener could tell the difference even if it's pointed out. I guess that's why both the CD and MP3 have been successful formats.

..ant
Old 21st December 2010
  #59
Gear Maniac
 
Geissler's Avatar
Anyway, A was the mp3 and B was the lossless. For anyone curious, here's the phase inversion of the mixed tracks. What you hear in this file is the information the mp3 threw away to save 5MB of space. The algorithm does quite a good job concealing the changes, even though the high frequencies are definitely the place to listen if you want to detect it. There's also a sharp cutoff at 20KHz, whereas the original lossless file goes up to 21KHz.

I've hijacked this thread long enough. Have a good christmas!
Attached Files

null.wav (6.03 MB, 39 views)

Old 21st December 2010
  #60
Wow, they were definitely different, I guess I perceived the MP3 as having more bottom end, what do you know Maybe it was because some highs were lost that I can't hear very clearly. Anyway, I could never tell them apart in any real-world listening environment.

..ant
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