256kbps AAC is not so great for Apple Music.

Which sounds better?

  • 256kbps AAC (Apple Music)

    Votes: 21 80.8%
  • 320kbps MP3 (Play Music, Spotify)

    Votes: 2 7.7%
  • 320kbps OGG (Spotify)

    Votes: 3 11.5%

  • Total voters
    26

tonyr6

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Original poster
Oct 13, 2011
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I don't know what people are thinking saying that 256kbps AAC sounds better than 320kbps MP3. Too me it 256kbps AAC sounds tiny, flat and even has a metallic type sound to it. Since I used Apple Music straight for a month then went back to Play Music I could not believe how much more natural and better sounding Play Music sounds. It has more depth and punchy base as AM sounds much flatter and lower.

Now I no auto file by any means and I don't use $500 headphones but I do notice. Since many iPhone users using AM use those horrible cheap white earbuds that come with iDevices is why many can't tell the difference. Now if AM were to offer 320kbps AAC or lossless audio then we can talk.
 

tonyr6

macrumors 65816
Original poster
Oct 13, 2011
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Spotify uses 320 Kbps ogg!
I know but I read somewhere that it is actually a MP3 file in a OGG rapper.

Also who knows if Play Music is using MP3 for streaming anymore as the past few months the SQ improved greatly almost overnight around the same time the annoying popping noise between tracks stopped. I know they use MP3 for music purchases but they don't say what they use for streaming and all the tech articles have old outdated information.
 
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M. Gustave

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Jun 6, 2015
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I don't know what people are thinking saying that 256kbps AAC sounds better than 320kbps MP3. Too me it 256kbps AAC sounds tiny, flat and even has a metallic type sound to it. Since I used Apple Music straight for a month then went back to Play Music I could not believe how much more natural and better sounding Play Music sounds. It has more depth and punchy base as AM sounds much flatter and lower.

Now I no auto file by any means and I don't use $500 headphones but I do notice. Since many iPhone users using AM use those horrible cheap white earbuds that come with iDevices is why many can't tell the difference. Now if AM were to offer 320kbps AAC or lossless audio then we can talk.
Unless you've tested yourself using a blind automated abx tester like foobar2000 on pc, or abxtester on iOS, no valid conclusions can be drawn from your anecdotes.

Hydrogen audio forums, for example, will ban you for suggesting you can hear the difference between fomat x and format y without posting a valid log file as proof.
 
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M. Gustave

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Jun 6, 2015
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Thanks I won't register there if the power-hungry mods ban you for asking a simple question.
It's not for asking a question. It's for perpetuating the golden-ear nonsense that fills the entire internet, and in previous generations it was magazines like Stereophile. Why should people have to read that you can see that roses are really blue, not red? Saying you can hear the difference between 256k mp3 and lossless files, is the same kind of thing.
 
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Tech198

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Mar 21, 2011
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this isn't a competition, but in this day and age, it sure looks like it...

Just because one company has 'better" sounding audio, that automatically sticks Apple in the dog house for not keeping up ? if u ask for 320 people will start also wanting small file size as well equal to AAC...

You can't have your cake, and eat it too

Being on an Apple forum the vote is one sided anyway, since default will always win.... it's not fair anyway. Play equal game.
 
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mic j

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Mar 15, 2012
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Sounds horrible...to you. I think the point being here is that the difference between to 2 are so slight ,any difference detected though just listening is totally subjective and the only way to ever know truth is through blind testing not just switching between the sources and listening. I am sure there is also a population out there that thinks Amazon source is better than the Apple source.

I don't doubt your honesty in your assessment, it's just that that sort of assessment is so confounded with other factors (personal bias, source difference, playback difference, etc.) that it's not worth forum members contributing much to it. Basic rule...go with whatever sounds best to you.
 
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burgman

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Sep 24, 2013
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I said 256k aac vs 320 mp3. 256k mp3 which Amazon uses sounds horrible.
Golden ear threads are so entertaining. Without knowing how one listens to music it is useless to compare. Since most streaming was initially designed to listen on a mobile device are you listening on Sonos, 10K of home stereo equipment, in a car at freeway speed, bluetooth headphones etc.
 
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tonyr6

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Original poster
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I am 39 years old. I grew up on vinyl, cassettes, CD's, FM radio, Internet radio and Satellite radio. Listening on all low end and high end headphones, stereo speakers etc. I can tell the difference. I never uses those cheap white earbuds as they isolate no noise and they keep falling out of my ears.
 
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mic j

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Mar 15, 2012
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I don't think any of us dispute that you think you can hear a difference. There's just no support for it being truth or bias, so as with most of these threads, it will go nowhere.
 
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Julien

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Jun 30, 2007
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I don't think any of us dispute that you think you can hear a difference...
Belief is THE most powerful force in the universe. If you believe something to be true, then it IS true to you no mater what the facts indicate. We all suffer this at times but it is nearly impossible for any of use to see or comprehend it in ourselves, since it is a 'truth' to us.
 
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mic j

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Mar 15, 2012
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Belief is THE most powerful force in the universe. If you believe something to be true, then it IS true to you no mater what the facts indicate. We all suffer this at times but it is nearly impossible for any of use to see or comprehend it in ourselves, since it is a 'truth' to us.
People believed the Earth was flat, was the center of the universe and that the universe was created in 7 days. Not too far fetched that the some think they can hear the difference between 256 AAC and 320 mp3.:D

I think it's time for me to move on. It's been fun.
 
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Julien

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People believed the Earth was flat, was the center of the universe and that the universe was created in 7 days. Not too far fetched that the some think they can hear the difference between 256 AAC and 320 mp3.....
Sorry to correct you but "believed" should be 'believed and some (idiots) still believe' :eek: since some still believe some or all of these nonsensical/unscientific things :D *except one is technically true but in a different scientific sense.

http://www.theflatearthsociety.org/cms/ :eek::rolleyes:

*The earth is the center of the universe as will as every single point in the universe is the center of the universe since the universe originated from a singularity.o_O Weird and almost counterintuitive but true.
 
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tonyr6

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Original poster
Oct 13, 2011
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I like to eat my words. I guess you are right. Searching for songs I heard songs in 320kbps mp3 that either sounded great or like crap. LAME encode mp3's sound great while other encodes sound bad which is why I use to use LAME mp3's for my own music.

Same with lower bit-rate AAC. AAC encodes done in iTunes sound great while others using Nero for example sounds crap. Also my AAC files at 192kbps sound great in iTunes. I think it relies on the original source. Heck I even heard a album on a streaming service that was ripped from vinyl with the pops and cracks in the songs.

One thing I do notice is that when a song sounds bad I do notice it not knowing what encode it uses.
 
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Julien

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Here is what I said in another thread that is applicable.

As for as human perception goes the formats are almost equally matched. The differences will be in source material, mastering, attenuation level, encoding, compression, EQ and..... All of theses factors can very from track to track too. It is extreme hard for a novice to objectivity compare SQ, even under controlled conditions using source/level matched double blind test.

If you want to do a very will implemented and source matched test go to the NPR site and give it a go.

http://www.npr.org/sections/therecord/2015/06/02/411473508/how-well-can-you-hear-audio-quality

Also hearing technical differences requires carful and highly sophisticated listening training. Here is the 'gold standard' for audio listening learning.

http://harmanhowtolisten.blogspot.com/2011/01/welcome-to-how-to-listen.html
 
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tonyr6

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Also Play Music can be louder with some albums/songs. Does loudness make it sound better? Too me it might.
[doublepost=1468020260][/doublepost]Wow Julien thanks for the link.
Jay Z ‘Tom Ford’ I picked the wrong song. Also I hate rap music. Too me 320kbps MP3 sounded the same as uncompressed WAV.

Katy Perry
‘Dark Horse’ No wonder I hate modern pop music. I picked the 128kbps MP3 which sounded crappy like the 320 MP3 and WAV file.

Coldplay
‘Speed of Sound’ For modern music Coldplay are one of those few bands I like some songs. I picked the right on Uncompressed WAV as I heard the difference.

Murray Perahia & the English Chamber Orchestra
Mozart: Piano Concerto No. 17, K. 453 (II. Andante) This was almost night and day it was laughable. I picked the right Uncompressed WAV. The 128kbps sounded bad and the 320kbps did not sound quite right.

Neil Young
‘There’s A World’ This was a tough one but I just guessed and got the right Uncompresed WAV.

Suzanne Vega
‘Tom’s Diner’ Another tough one with just vocals it sounded the same but I picked the right Uncompressed WAV.

Thanks any more sound links would be great for my near middle aged ears.
 
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M. Gustave

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Jun 6, 2015
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If you want to do a very will implemented and source matched test go to the NPR site and give it a go.

http://www.npr.org/sections/therecord/2015/06/02/411473508/how-well-can-you-hear-audio-quality
It's actually not very well implemented. You need a randomized blind run of 10 plays for each song. That pretty much rules out any guessing. As you see, the OP had a 33% chance of getting it "right", and blindly guessed a few times.

And it should be WAV (or Apple Lossless) vs 256kbps. No one uses 128kbps anymore. And the inflection point is actually 192kbps.
 
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Uofmtiger

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Dec 11, 2010
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It depends on the master more than the small differences between 256 & 320. Fortunately for Apple, they often get the Mastered for iTunes version instead of the mastered for loudness wars version.
 
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Julien

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Jun 30, 2007
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It's actually not very well implemented. You need a randomized blind run of 10 plays for each song. That pretty much rules out any guessing. As you see, the OP had a 33% chance of getting it "right", and blindly guessed a few times....
Just using as an easily accessible example and in NO way meant to be a substitute for a properly implemented DBT. The test is just to demonstrate how close SQ is when all other differences like attenuation, dynamic compression, different mix, etc are ruled out. Remember most people don't have the resources, expertise, inclination or time available to do a scientific DBT. Also the test is 'bite sized' since we have a limited attention span and it is just meant as a demonstration. Having multiple chooses and more content would have just caused more people to become bored or perplexed quicker and moved on instead of experiencing the reality. Also 128Kbps was probably used in part to represent how even on the extreme lower end the SQ is all but indistinguishable from the uncompresses version.
 
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Tech198

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Mar 21, 2011
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users with good hearing can tell the difference. Users who don't have... can't. and even though they wanna care just because other companies have higher, it won't matter to THEM.


If everyone ran of a cliff, would u do it to ? or would u think about it first ?

Good for better audio, but i wouldn't be rushing to jump for joy over 320.... Music wise, i don't care on the awesome quality of something, as long as it sounds good 256k is enough to me
 
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