256 vs. 128 for the average listener

Discussion in 'iPod' started by jplg842, May 9, 2009.

  1. jplg842 macrumors regular

    Jan 11, 2007
    I got my iPod touch with the standard headphones.
    Should i really waste disk space and encode songs i download off the internet to AAC iTunes Plus quality? or should i stick with 128 high quality?

  2. miles01110 macrumors Core


    Jul 24, 2006
    The Ivory Tower (I'm not coming down)
  3. Scarlet Fever macrumors 68040

    Scarlet Fever

    Jul 22, 2005
    Do a blind test for yourself. Rip a song twice, once at 256k and one at 128k, listen to it though the best speakers you'll be listening through, and if you notice a difference, stick with the higher quality encoding.

    Personally, I rip my music at 256. Above that, I can't hear any benefit, but below it, the trebles start to sound sandy.
  4. JCastro macrumors 6502a

    Feb 12, 2008
    I don't think you will be able to tell a difference either. Especially with the standard Apple headphones. Scarlet Fever has a good idea though. Do a test and see which one sounds better to you. One thing to think about though. You can always diminish the quality but you can't make it any better once that happens.
  5. gloss macrumors 601


    May 9, 2006
    Annoyingly, I've recently started listening to music on my home theater system as opposed to just watching movies, and the limitations of compressed music are becoming blindingly obvious to me. And let me tell you, looking at one's entire music collection and wondering how much of it needs to be re-ripped is a daunting proposal.
  6. barkmonster macrumors 68020


    Dec 3, 2001
    If it's primitive music with barely 3 discernibly different instruments + vocals. Or something with absolutely no dynamic range at all because it's got the levels up for maximum commerical radio appeal, I don't think it would make enough difference for people to notice.

    Anything with a lot of tracks, ambient, classical, progressive rock (as in pink floyd, lots of keyboard and string tracks) and you need to be aiming for 192Kbps+

    Apple sell a lot of the classical based stuff at 256Kbps only. I bought a remix of hybrid Finished Symphony and it was upgraded to 256Kbps for free simply because it has live orchestration of the strings and would sound awful at a lower rate.

    A lot of instruments sound warbly unless they're encoded at a higher rate.

    Really piano heavy music as well as stuff with electronic piano sounds such as Fender Rhodes or Hammond Organs and anything with a lot of sub-harmonic content like analogue synths. Also, guitar solo's from people who really know how to use one to start with like Eric Clapton, David Gilmour, Joe Satriani etc... just don't have the fidelity to really shine.

    I base this on listening to music through the 24bit converters of my Mbox with no additional EQ from either iTunes or my Hi-fi. Once I finally decide to invest in decent monitor speakers or headphones (Seinnheiser HD280 Pro's have caught my eye), I'll probably end up having to re-rip half my CD collection again.
  7. skruggie macrumors member

    Dec 11, 2005
    I can't say if it is my imagination or not, but I am converting a library that is a combination of 128, 256 and 320 AAC mostly encoded via itunes into 265VBR mp3 through LAME - although I am not noticing a difference in "loudness", the music definitely sounds better. Deeper and richer.

    I am noticing though that no matter how high I encode, it can only be a good as the source cds. Some of the older cds that were issued in the 80s and early 90s don't sound so great, no matter what bitrate I encode with.
  8. yg17 macrumors G5


    Aug 1, 2004
    St. Louis, MO

    1. I can tell a difference between 128 and 256, maybe it's just me, but there's a huge difference
    2. Where are you downloading these songs from and what format are they in?
    3. Unless you're downloading lossless music, do not convert them to anything. If you encode an already compressed file (AAC or MP3) to another compressed format, or even the same format but different bitrate, you will lose sound quality. Each time you compress a file, data is lost and the more times it's compressed, the worse it will sound. Do not do it, ever. Leave them in whatever format and bitrate you downloaded them in. Music files should only be encoded from their original source, such as a CD, or a lossless format like FLAC.
    4. Even if you ignore my 3rd point and still re-encode, if you have a 128kbps file and re-encode it to 256kbps, it's not going to magically increase in sound quality. When the file was originally encoded to 128, a certain amount of data was removed from the file for compression. A 256kbps file has more data, hence, better quality, but if you encode a 128kbps file to 256kbps, the encoder can't just put data in the file that wasn't there to begin with. So if you take a 128kbps file and re-encode it to 256kbps, it won't sound like a 256kbps file encoded from the lossless source, in fact, it will sound worse than the 128kbps file due to my point above.
  9. Compile 'em all macrumors 601

    Compile 'em all

    Apr 6, 2005
    what do you mean downloaded off the internet? are they lossless?

    I would suggest AAC 192kbps. A good compromise between good quality and file size.
  10. Teej guy macrumors 6502a

    Aug 6, 2007
    If you want quality but you're limited for space, use VBR!
  11. jplg842 thread starter macrumors regular

    Jan 11, 2007
    Thanks guys for your replies.

    Your right.. I mean songs i download from rapidshare and such.. I'll just leave them in there mp3 format..
    but i guess when encoding CDs its different!
  12. Sijmen macrumors 6502a

    Sep 7, 2005
    When something is in low quality you can't make it better. You can't add (sound) information that's not there.

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