Which Audio format IS the best ? ? ?

Discussion in 'General Mac Discussion' started by eclipse525, Aug 29, 2003.

  1. eclipse525 macrumors 6502a

    eclipse525

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    #1
    So the majority of the people use '.MP3' format at the moment for audio. I must say that it's good but obviously lacking in sound spectrum area. I've been an DJ for many years and mostly using vinyl (it's the plastic disc with grooves in it). There is a definite difference in sound quality. Although, they say our ears can't pick up certain frequency's, I have totally disagree with that. I feel that we do pick it up those so called unAudioible frequency's. Those frequency's are the most important because those are the ones that make you feel fuzzy inside. That literally make you feel the music. Most likely touch you at a sub-concious level. SO, with that said, I truely don't get that from '.MP3' format but a normal CD comes close. If you get what I'm saying, which one of the following do you think comes close to that full Audio feel.

    1) MP3
    2) WMA
    3) Ogg Vorbis
    4) FLAC

    ...And should Apple incorporate all if any into the next generations of iPods? Also, should we have the options available to us in iTUNES to rip our music in various compression methods? Hmmm.

    If I've missed anyother compression methods. I haven't heard of them for I just forgot. Please mention them. Thanks.

    ~e
     
  2. Eniregnat macrumors 68000

    Eniregnat

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    #2

    I spend all day working (cleaning, editing, etc.) with audio in various formats, I don't wish to enter this fray again. The links above have some great information.

    Each format has it’s pros and cons. Native(ie WAVe), or verbose native (ie AIFf) formats decode instantly, lossless formats (ie. LPAC) decode a little slower, lossy formats (ie MP3) decode at different speeds and loose difference bits of the audio. (Pun not intended.) Some formats create noise and introduce errors. In the end, it’s up your needs. What do you need and what can you accomplish on the equipment that you have. In the end, it’s also up to your ear, and not everybody hears the same or cares for super high fidelity.

    Lastly, coding and decodeing in some formats is costly. People and companies own the copyrights to the codeing and have patents on the algorithms that do the compression.

    I love these threads, because often opinion is stated as fact.
     
  3. Eniregnat macrumors 68000

    Eniregnat

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    #3
    Of the formats you listed the FLAC will produce the largest file size and reproduce the best sound (if FLAC is truly lossless. Also there are variations on FLAC which offer further compressed data envelops.). The MP3 has the potental to create the smalles file size and lose the most audio.

    Oh, Apple's format allows for DRM , which the other file formats do not alow. M$'s site on on DRM is here. The other formats you listed do not have intrinsic DRM imbeded with in the codeing and decoding structures. The non-audio layer FLAC could support DRM, but so far, digital secondary envelopes haven’t been a reliable form to enforce DR. For instance, it's possible to take an MP3 and chop it up so that it is "scrambled". If played with out the key, the file sounds scrambled or won’t play, but with the proper key, all the elements of the file will fall properly into place. This kind or DRM is easily broken, or at least there is a good track record of people doing so. That’s the problem with cipher like DRM instead of the kind of management platforms that allow for true encryption.

    There are many forms of and way to enforce DRM, but implementing it is a pain in the ars! I think that Apple's intent to enforce DRM is what will ultimatly limit the kinds of files that can be played, and will ultimatly alow them to keep a foot hold among other content providers.

    Damn- I hope I didn't kill this thread.
    WinterMute (below)I won't comment on the merits of analogue. I am just glad that I don't have to do alignment on analogue recorders any more!
     
  4. WinterMute Moderator emeritus

    WinterMute

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    #4
    If you mean objectivley, then the .aiff high sample rate/bit rate (24bit/96khz) are currently touted as being the best for music recording, although nothing still sounds like 2" 30ips analog tape running at +15db over reference on a well maintained 3M or Ampex 16-track:D (yes, I'm an audio pro)

    For the codec crowd, AAC is a subjective improvement over MP3, but Ogg Vorbis gets my vote in terms of audio quality at a set rate.

    What Eniregnat says is correct, but so many other factors come into play, anyone want to talk about phase linearity in contemporary speaker systems (here's a hint, there's only one design that is)?

    I run 160AAC on my iPod, 24bit 96Khz on my ProTools systems and 16-track 2" whenever I get the urge to do some real nice recording:D
     
  5. cr2sh macrumors 68030

    cr2sh

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    #5
    I see little reason for an Apple ipod to embrace a WMA (windows media audio?) format... also, I see little reason for them to embrace anything other than what you can buy off iTunes music store...

    Just a bit of practicality. :confused:
     
  6. crazytom macrumors 6502a

    crazytom

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    #6
    I think that Analog tape is THE BEST audio format. :eek: :D
     
  7. legion macrumors 6502a

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    #7
    Uncompressed audio is best, but outside of that for compressed audio Ogg Vorbis is the best. (My personal opinion) Too bad it isn't widely supported yet, but it is picking up speed.

    VBR recording in MP3 is fairly good also for smaller format or 320kbps recording.

    As for Pro use (hey WinterMute :) ), I'm a sucker for the Euphonix R-1 (24bit/96Khz 96 track recording) for home use.
     
  8. skychum macrumors newbie

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    #8
    Be sure to make a distinction between MP3 and Variable Bitrate MP3 formats. VBR MP3 will give you better sound quality and smaller file sizes than MP3, and I'd say the quality is as good as OGG with slightly bigger file sizes.

    OGG wins me over for compression rate/quality, but because MP3 VBR still has much more support, that is my codec of choice. Most any MP3 codec will play VBR, but many players have problems with the length of the track (thinks it's shorter). And hey, look at the iPod specs. VBR MP3 is supported. Awesome.
     
  9. idea_hamster macrumors 65816

    idea_hamster

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    #9
    [tangential]

    I recall an article in Scientific American years ago ('97?) that suggested that some people really do hear more richly, if not more tones, than others by recounting an incident:

    It seems that Tchaikovsky was having a piece premiered and the conductor was playing through it with the orchestra for the first time. In one passage, Tchaikovsky had the first and second violins trade off phrases of their respective passages. According to the article, this trading is something that even the above-average ear has a difficult time identifying.

    To the conductor, however, it was horrible! He stopped the rehersal and ran through the streets of St. Petersburg to ask Tchaikovsky to change the passage. Tchaikovsky refused and ended up having to conduct the debut himself when the conductor quit.

    [/tangential]
     
  10. mac15 macrumors 68040

    mac15

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    #10
    While Ogg maybe great for listening on your computer, its terrible for portable devices. I'm a techie for iRiver and one of the main reasons why they are taking so so long to make an Ogg codec is because it uses so much more CPU and power.

    This is one reason why Apple chose AAC instead of Ogg for audio, the iPod would be left with even lower battery.

    My vote is with AAC for audio champ
     
  11. actionslacks macrumors regular

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    #11
    All the formats you mention suck. Period.

    Stick with this:

    Analog - Tape
    digital - AIFF or SDII (24bit 96khz)

    Compression sucks. Why compress anything when hard drives are so big?

    But if you have to...

    AAC.

    But something better wil come out in a couple months.
     
  12. johnnowak macrumors 6502

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    #12
    Then you should know aiffs can support all sorts of sample rates and bits, including up to 32-bit, 192khz.

    And a Studer kicks the **** out of a 3M anyday.

    Yeah I'm an audio pro... no I'm not. I'm just an 18 year old with half a brain. If you're going to call yourself an audio pro, like its some cool thing, know your basic facts.

    Although please, throw more technical words at the mac audience...
     
  13. zimv20 macrumors 601

    zimv20

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    #13
    vinyl is the only format that doesn't degrade.
     
  14. crazytom macrumors 6502a

    crazytom

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    #14
    How so? Haven't you ever played an album so much you've worn out the grooves? --- that is, unless you have one of those !laser vinyl players
     
  15. zimv20 macrumors 601

    zimv20

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    #15
    it is susceptible to damage, of course. i mean more wrt time. magnetic tape loses its encoding, optical storage degrades. only vinyl, properly stored, lasts "forever."

    anecdotal evidence: vinyl records stored in the Library of Congress are still playable. at least a handful of CDs i bought in the 80s have so many errors now the CD player gives up. (not to mention the weird brown discoloration some have).
     
  16. Rezet macrumors 6502a

    Rezet

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    #16
    Yep, I'm sure analog tape sounds great for the first 10 times you use it.... then...
     
  17. zimv20 macrumors 601

    zimv20

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    #17
    one thing to do is record to tape then xfer it to the digital realm for all the post. a nice compromise.

    unfortunately, my 1/2" 8-track hasn't worked properly in years. got some nice sounds tracking to it, even w/ crappy mics and preamps.
     
  18. mactastic macrumors 68040

    mactastic

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    #18
    This is like asking which is the one true religion. Inevitable disagreement. Use whatever format works best for you.
     
  19. WinterMute Moderator emeritus

    WinterMute

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    #19
    Hmmm, hostility....

    aiff recording in standard pro systems can reach 192, no-one currently uses 32 bit linear converters, but most systems that feature so-called high-resolution digital recording are at 24bit 96K.

    No Studer built and that includes the A820 sounds as good as a 3M M79 with the zero loop tape path, although the Studer sounds good at 15ips.

    Being an audio pro IS cool, I get to play with loads of kit and some excellent musos and get paid for it, tell me Mr. 18 with half a brain, what do you do thats cool?

    legion:

    Yeah, the Euphonix is excellent, the desks are great too, but still a little scarce. I tend to go with ProTools when I need digital cos the editing is excellent and its very versatile, plus you can mix off the screen if you need to.

    Rezet:

    A real problem, although modern tape formulations are much more resistant, especially the new Quantengy stuff, still, bouncing to digi for the tracking then returning to analog for the mix can sound good.

    mactastic:

    Absolutely.:D

    In the end its the music you record that counts, not what you used to record it.
     
  20. billyboy macrumors 65816

    billyboy

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    #20
    I read that there is no difference in quality between wav or aiff, its just one does something at the beginning, the other one does something at the end. Im not an audio pro btw! ;)

    Having transferred my cd collection in mp3 format onto an external hdd, can I expect that to last forever - barring any accidents with magnets and lightening strikes?

    FWIW, since saying goodbye to superior CDs and using iTunes exclusively, I have actually discovered a lot of great songs on crud albums that I never bothered playing before. In that instance, MP3 quality on iTunes is 1000% better than near perfect CD quality.
     
  21. Eniregnat macrumors 68000

    Eniregnat

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    #21
    We still haven’t heard from the thread starter eclipse525.
    I still don’t think that there is any way of answering this question with any intelligence until we learn what eclipse525 needs.

    Mactastic has the best answer, what ever works best- works best.

    billyboy is correct that there is almost nothing different between WAV and AIFF, less the header and footer of the file. The two file formats are easly converted between. To interject here, the header and footer provide the decoding software with information so that it can be decoded properly. A RAW file format, little used, but it does exists is just that, the raw data with no context.

    I hate to respond to the world of magnetic tape but I can, so I will. It sounds great (nice "warm" noise floor), you can over saturate it, but it too degrades. (Rezet is right even, even on the finest machines, there is ware.) Time alone degrades the product. The recording matrix degrades and the mordents degrade with use and time. Drop tape below zero and watch what happens to it. Plus, really, I once had to maintain over 15 multi track recorders. Alignment is a pain the rear. Run the machines 12 hours a day, 6 to 7 days a week and wow, that a lot or work and a lot of cost for relapping heads. Add to that fluctuations in the quality of tape stock and you have a system that I don’t want to deal with again.

    I really can’t say that there is a perfect long term form of storage. Optical and magnet-o-optical masters do seem to hold the best hope. Vinyl is nice, but it does degrade also. The LOC does what it can to preserve their collection of recording, and I much expect it all to be digitally stored and accessible by the end of the decade. I suppose that those that have the laser vinyl player ignore that the information is digitally encoded and decoded by the unit.

    As for compression, there are lots of reason to compress. Compression doesn’t suck, it has it’s purpose. Heck, take a listen to a phone conversation some time.

    Mark15 brings up an interesting point about the coding and decoding of Orgg-V. It takes a lot of processing time. Conversion time very by application, so I don’t want to compare oranges and bananas, but I will look to see if I noted the conversion times in compression table I linked to above.

    The only reason I feel compelled to voice on this matter, it peoples often take a little bit of information and run with it with out knowing the consequences.

    Please pardon the rant. To refocus the thread ( and my self), eclipse525 was interested in digital formats.
     
  22. eclipse525 thread starter macrumors 6502a

    eclipse525

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    #22
    Eniregnat
    Man....i truly enjoyed reading the thread. Everybody has great opinions. My personal needs are not professional in nature but more personal.

    I use to Recorded my mixed dance sets directly from analog(Turntables/Mixer) to my MiniDisc. I would then set my track markers and either use my MiniDisc as is or do a digital transfer to CD. I noticed that I retained the warmth of the Audio recording, even after transfering it to CD. I just don't get that warmth from ripping my MP3's to CD(aif).

    I'm sure all can agree that every day, every week, every month everyone's MP3 collection grows larger and larger. How long will MP3 be the standard? Will the next standard present itself in the next year or two and how long will that one last? Will that new standard be so much better that when we listen back on that older MP3 file, we'll hear how bad it is? Just like when we all switched from VCR to DVD. I don't know about you but I swore that those VCR tapes I bought were crystal clear. Man was I wrong when I saw a movie via DVD.

    ~e
     

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