[oclug] Dumb question about MP3
wisq-oclug at wisq.net
Mon Aug 21 20:40:40 EDT 2006
On Sat, Aug 19, 2006 at 04:24:33PM -0400, farrell wrote:
> CDs are already a "lossy" format, as the resolution is really low
> compared to what we can do now. Something that at 16 bit 44.1 KHz
> looks fine, may be very jaggy at higher resolutions...somewhat like
> aliasing in graphics.
As I understand it (and I could be wrong), operating at 44 kHz means
that CDs can reproduce any sound up to 22 kHz, which is slightly
beyond the normal hearing range of humans. And they can do so with
64k amplitude levels, more than any ear could distinguish, AFAIK.
> Even over the radio (FM), I could tell the difference between music
> played on a CD and a good quality vinyl, when the CBC did some
> testing on air a number of years back.
Naturally, because the vinyl introducing distortions. (And some
people prefer having those distortions versus having none.)
That's not to say that CDs are perfect; a bad CD mastering process
will introduce distortions as well, and much of the early complaints
against CDs were really complaints against sloppy, rushed CD printing
jobs in the early days of the format.
> I have been ripping my CDs to FLAC, but I am not happy with the
> results. I am going to try APE next.
This doesn't really make sense. Both are lossless formats. If you
give them the same WAV inputs, you'll get the exact same WAV outputs,
byte for byte. No loss. Ever. Any difference is a bug in the
encoder or decoder.
(And of course, FLAC is free (speech) software and cross platform,
while Monkey's Audio (.APE) is proprietary, and the only Linux version
is closed source, unsanctioned by the Monkey's Audio author, and may
be illegal due to licensing.)
Basically, if you don't like how either format sounds, then you don't
like how your CDs sound either. And if you don't like how your CDs
sound, then no lossless format is going to make them better.
> Now I don't have any radically new components, the newest piece is a
> refurb H-K reciever that does 5.1, but they are good quality
> components, and I can tell the difference between the CD, and the
> FLAC file.
Then either your ripper isn't getting a clean copy (consider
'cdparanoia'), your FLAC encoder/decoder is buggy (highly unlikely),
your media player is introducing additional audio effects, your PC's
hardware is distorting the sound, or whatever hardware you play the CD
with is distorting it (presumably in a way that sounds better to your
ears, like vinyl distortions to many people).
It can be easily proven (as per Stephen's reply) that FLAC output is
bit-for-bit identical to the input. And if the input and output have
the same bits, then they are identical pieces of digital audio, and
will sound exactly identical when run through the same player with the
I'm not saying digital audio is the solution to all the world's
problems or anything, but the bottom line is, to be called
"lossless", your encode-decode process can't change *anything*.
Any difference you hear between a CD recording and the decoded FLAC
encoding of that CD are either software bugs, hardware distortions, or
the placebo effect.
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