Jan 9, 2018430 views

lossless is useless (for a casual listener 18yo)?

so this is what i feel .
for someone who just loves good quality music and 320mp3 or aac gets the job done better then lossless (imo 320 sounds better) , need arguments otherwise . I just cant tell the difference . and dont understand why normal people go for this format
no i dont have gear worth $$$$$

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Lossless is not so much about sound quality as it is having a perfect copy. It gives the advantage that you can create lossy copies from a lossless source, rather than making lossy copies of lossy copies. Many cannot tell the difference, and many that claim that they can also fail to tell in a blind test.
Well, if you want to understand (at the risk of ruining yourself forever), try to find a high-end / boutique audio shop with a listening room and check out their setup. Bring a few of your favorite tunes to hear how they sound on a high end system, and listen to a few of their tracks to get an idea for the kinds of details their system can play back.

You need good equipment, a quiet listening environment and quality recordings to get the most out of music. When you hear details you've never heard before in your favorite music, then you'll get it.

Recording formats are just one piece of the puzzle. MP3s on my iPod are fine for my commute. CD Quality recordings are good enough for background music while I work. But when I get home to my good system, give me the highest resolution recordings available. Not only can I easily hear the difference with better recordings, it's so good sometimes I can't help but laugh.
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If the difference is so obvious, why is it that people cannot tell a difference between a high res file and a downsampled copy in blind testing? Why is it that when a 44.1kHz ADC DAC loop is put into a high resolution chain, people could not tell until they had turned the volumes to unlistenably high levels? If it was about the resolution, and not other factors like placebo effects or the high res version getting a better master, the differences would not vanish the way that they do in a proper controlled test. Also, please provide some sources. Claiming that the people who maintain FLAC and OGG are wrong without any supporting evidence is not a convincing argument.
EDIT: Source for the inaudibility of a CD quality ADC DAC loop in a high-resolution system [http://www.aes.org/e-lib/browse.cfm?elib=14195]
The_Jniac
It seems like you've already got your mind made up, but I'll try one more time to offer up my perspective.

I can't read the report, so I can't tell you what might be wrong with their test setup. I can tell you a number of ways that a test like that could be poorly executed, leading to the stated result, such as: using non-revealing recordings, not balancing for volume, taking too much time between listening to sources (i.e., no quick swapping A-B), too few samples per listener, etc. Without reading the report I can't take one study to be any more reliable than my unsubstantiated personal experience is to you.

Speaking of which, you asked for a source. If it wasn't clear before, I am the source here, speaking from personal experience about my own process of investigating and discovering high-end audio. I know that means nothing to you. I applaud your skepticism. However, I'd encourage you to extend that skepticism to the possibility that your links and sources deserve scrutiny as well. Go listen for yourself, challenge yourself to hear any differences at all between recording types, then challenge yourself further to decide whether those differences are repeatable.

I could offer all sorts of advice on how to more quickly and reliably discover repeatable differences in A-B listening, but if you've already convinced yourself that I'm deluded by placebo effect or not motivated to seek the truth, well, I'm not very well going to help you change your mind, am I?

If you do want to try experimenting yourself, however, here are a few pieces of advice to help you on your way:

1. Listen to what you know. The more familiar you are with a recording, the more easily you'll be able to pick up on differences between playbacks.

2. Make sure you control for as many variables as possible--you need a quiet listening environment, good equipment, quality recordings and enough time to not be rushed.

3. Practice critical listening. Focus in on one detail, like a single instrument, and try to capture every detail about the sound (texture, clarity, sharpness). Vocals are usually pretty good, because they're always "analog" and we're keyed in to listen to voices. Different recordings may reveal different details on comparative listening.

4. You need a high sample count. Especially if you're not accustomed to critical listening, not familiar with the equipment and its capabilities, and not familiar with recordings, just doing a couple listens of each recording is not the best approach to learning what it repeatably different.

5. Aim for a quick A-B compare rather than, say, listening to a whole song, then replaying the song. Listening memory is quite inaccurate, and it can be difficult to remember what you heard on the last playback well enough to draw conclusions from it. If you can quickly toggle between sources, though, you'll be able to instantly hear tonal shifts, changes in detail, etc.

--

Probably enough for now. So how does that add up to "smack you in the face different?" Well, when you've discovered what to listen for, those differences jump out at you. I liken the whole experience to discovering how to see "stereograms" (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Autostereogram). It can take practice to see the 3D images in the sea of noise, and some people have real trouble with them. But once you discover how to see them, it's easy and repeatable.

One of the most common differences I hear between lossy and lossless recordings is a sense that the lossy recording is smaller and playing back in a cardboard box, whereas the lossless is more open with a more natural expanse / decay to the notes. Again, that's not every recording, nor is it a hard and fast rule, but it's common enough to merit a mention.

--

EDIT: found a paper at the same site you linked that describes some benefits of higher-resolution recordings and the science behind it. This one is free to download: http://www.aes.org/e-lib/browse.cfm?elib=18046
While not a huge, earth-shattering difference, there is a difference in the quality of 320kbps MP3 and FLAC. You will have better dynamics, clarity, and detail with FLAC when listening back to back with MP3. The gear you use will really determine how much of a difference you hear though. If you are just listening straight out of a headphone jack from most phones, tablets, or computers... there is not going to be much of a difference. If you have a decent external DAC and amp, the difference will be more distinguishable. If you have top tier level DAC and amp, will be able to pick apart the weaknesses in MP3 without difficulty, especially when using electrostatic headphones.

I don't have much of an issue with 320mp3, if that's the highest format I can get something in then I am okay - it is what it is. If FLAC is available though it is my absolute preference to go with. Most all of my music is either CD rips to FLAC or FLAC downloads from Bandcamp. I do have a few mp3 albums because of that being their only available format.
The differences to me from 320kbps to 1411kbps (CD quality) is almost the same, CD sounds a bit more full to me. 192 KHz lossless tho is a bigger leap, better separation accuracy and smoothness.
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When I said bigger leap I meant like 2-5 pct better
DenonFanboy
There is no leap. At all. One test put a 44.1kHz ADC DAC loop into a high-resolution playback system and people could not tell. People who take a high-res track and downsample it in Foobar, then use the ABX comparison plugin cannot reliably differentiate the high-res original from the normal resolution copy. Most cannot even differentiate a good lossy source from lossless. Blind testing is vital here, since it strips away the effects of biases and placebo effects, and leaves only what can actually be heard.
What gear do you own? I think to notice the difference (which is albeit very small) you need to: A. train yourself to listen for it. This is the most time consuming bit because you'll have to really familiarize yourself with the specific recordings you're listening to. you also need to: B. Get gear that can effectively show the difference between recordings. This part is dependent on people's opinions of what gear can and cannot do such things. Personally I don't really focus on if I can hear the difference of the recordings, I mostly focus on the music itself or improving my gear. The source is important, but generally if you're at 320 kbps or higher you'll be just fine.
SephHaley
thank you.
I use v0 MP3s on my portable stuff. I don't run good enough gear to really pick apart the differences between it and my good lossless copies and it's significantly smaller. I'm also usually doing something other than actually listening when using those setups, so I'm not too focused on detail loss anyway.

On my home setup, where I'm stationary, and usually listening for the sake of actually listening, I can definitely hear the differences between lossy and lossless formats on my good gear. On cheaper gear, I can tell, but it's much more subtle. 320k is pretty solid if the gear isn't exactly great at pulling out any additional content, but it's existence is mostly for the sake of space saving, not quality. And really, it's not like FLAC is particularly large given modern storage space. FLAC is downright tiny compared to uncompressed WAV. And if you're after space, v0 VBR is pretty much indistinguishable from 320k CBR to my ears, in a smaller package, and unless you're using really old gear, pretty much everything handles VBR just fine.

Lossless is better than lossy formats. Period. The big reason behind this assertion, is that you can resample a lossless file whenever you'd like, between other lossless formats, down to a lossy format, whatever, and the only losses you'd ever see, are those that occur is making it a lossy format. Lossy formats have already thrown out data. There's no getting it back, and any further resampling will throw out even more (lossy to lossy) or just make the file bigger for no reason (lossy to lossless).

The music itself is important though. If you listen to crap masters, you won't be able to tell any difference anyway. Good masters definitely lose a lot the more you compress them. If 320k MP3s sound better than lossless, you're probably too used to compressed music, and you're going to prefer the compression and artifacts of it. You may not like hearing something properly. You're not alone here, and frankly that's annoying, as it allows producers to get lazier in producing lower quality things with the limits of MP3 being their target, or worse, trying to achieve that compressed sound. We have people being raised on low quality MP3s (iTunes is a pitiful 128k) to blame for this, as they're overly used to it. I guess it's good for your wallet though, as you have no reason to pursue better gear to better reproduce something, since sticking with MP3 leaves you with something anything is capable of.
For me it's all about having the best source at the start of the chain and then let the playback gear take its course. A lot of audiophiles say crap in then crap out. If the limiting part of my playback system is my DAC then it can always be replaced down the road. But I rather update my DAC every couple years than continue to purchase the same music over and over again.

Most of my iTunes library is 128 kbs or 256 kbs AAC. When I was in my early 20s I was trying to maximize HD space. Now in my mid-30s I totally regret this and am often re-ripping CDs or purchasing lossless albums of music I already have in my library. Fortunately for me Tidal Hi-Fi has made this blow a little easier.

I'll also say that as I started purchasing better amps, better DACs, better loudspeakers and headphones, I began to notice the downfalls of my lossy files. Using a pair of Apple Earbuds and your computer's built in DAC you might not notice much of a difference, but throw in an Audioquest Dragonfly and a pair of Hifiman's and these will be less forgiving to lossy formats since they're more revealing.

Ultimately though, the music should come first. If you're happy with your listening setup that's great! Just keep enjoying the music.
boMD
256 kbs aac is actually decent . what i am ranting about is this snake oil bullshit about audio formats .
the point of a good dac is that it does the analog waveform guesswork better than a cheap dac .
so it should play 320cbr better than a 100$ dac .
if you are feeding the dac 32 /768 then it has to do very less guesswork as the digital signal is aldredy detailed.
also what i am ranting about is the bubbling up of prices for flacs by tidal .
its the case with most things here and at head fi.
i do plan on getting a schiit stack and a 6xx soon maybe my opinion might change .
If you can't tell the difference, then don't worry about it. If you start to branch out to jazz and classical, where there is a lot of dynamic range, then you might start to hear the difference. Then you'll notice the difference in every other type of music. But until that time, save your money. Don't let anyone ever tell you you can't enjoy music your way.
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Hires discs almost always use the same masters as redbook. Even most vinyl does as well. It's a lot of work to do an entirely different master, and there's no real incentive from the studio's perspective.
shimage
Prate
It's not money as much as it is training. Mp3 artifacts in a particular way, and you can train yourself to hear "through" the masking techniques. The real question, though, is why anyone would do this. Being able to tell 320 cbr Mp3 from flac is not a marketable skill. If you can't tell a difference and you know you can't hear it, just enjoy.
Lossless in terms of sound is always going to be technically better than MP3 but its not necessarily for everyone think storage space difference for example. The difference wont be massive in the sound department if at all, if you don't hear a difference don't worry about it.
This is a result of conditioning, by an industry pushing to far for money, going for the lowest common denominator MP3, for the largest return.

You should listen with some decent gear and have Roberta Flack sing to you, and you only,, before you submit yourself to the sounds of mediocrity for the rest of your life.

It does not take $$$$$; I first did it off of eBay for $.

Hear what the true artists wanted to convey, to give, to share... in one word,, joy.

Do not abase yourself at the feet of an indifferent mass music industry, and go silently into the night...
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sure that amp will sound good and wont clip and so will the hd58x . i am talking about the format that he feeds it . more sampling or bit depth does not equal better audio .
you should do a blind test and try to tell the difference between 24/96 and 320mp3
samhith
You have this totally in reverse, move up from the "Dell Sound" to "Zenith-Lucifer" level, and then you do the blind test. I am blind testing between native DSD 2.8 and up-sampled to 5.6, already been there, done that...

I apologized to my home system, after feeding it my kid's MP3 crap gadget output on request back-then, damn that stuff was cringe-worthy...

Melophobia is real... perhaps you have a form of this manifesting itself as a fear of quality music?

Because this statement of yours, is the most nonsensical thing I have seen here on MD, or anywhere for a while:
"i download 24/96 flacs and rip them to mp3 320 or aac
( only because i want to know it was mastered well)
if i am sure the master is good i just download mp3 320 cbr
all played from my dell"

The only real reason to down-sample, is to be able to make files compatible with hardware that cannot accept higher sample rates/formats. Yes, in movies they do things like make songs sound as they should when played on AM radios, for authenticity, is this what you are going for?

This is right in there with; I take the New York Philharmonic and give them Emmet Otter's Jug Band instruments to make music... to see if they are any good.
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