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ZortMcGort11

Best Lossy Audio Format?

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I like the sound of WMA myself :-)

This is what happens when javascript is turned off...

There was supposed to be three options, MP3, OGG, WMA.

Edited by LostInSpace2012

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Best by what measure? Compression, compatibility, CPU utilization, sound quality, etc... On what do you intend to play them? Or do you simply want to store them? Too many factors to consider for a simple answer to that question.

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Whatever "floats your boat"... I'm just curious. Humor me :-)

Best sound/compression ratio....

Best file size/sound ratio....

Least amount of RAM required/best sound ratio...

Which lossy format would you use for listening to songs on your computer? Would you use those same files for burning to CD?

Keeping a collection of WAV or APE files on your hard drive consumes a lot of space, not to mention it takes a large amount of RAM to play them. On my computer it's not feasible to play APE files like I would MP3 for instance.

I realize there are many ways and reasons to store files and whatnot, which is why I'm excluding lossless formats from this "highly scientific" poll of mine :-)

For me, I like WMA because I think it sounds better at 192 bitrate than either MP3 or OGG. I also like WMA because I can burn, rip, and listen using only Windows Media Player. But usually I just burn and rip with it. I listen with Trout. Some songs have to be saved as APE, because no matter the bitrate I notice a degradation.

I know this is subjective, everyone has different ears, but I think WMA has the most "ooomph" and presence, with a full bass sound, and the least amount of high end distortion. Ogg files I can discern a little more tinny noise. MP3's, to me, have always sounded weak in the bass department, and they have a hollow sounding, flat mid range.

I think at 192 bitrate it goes WMA, followed by OGG, then a distant 3rd is mp3.

Edited by LostInSpace2012

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When ripping CDs I use WMA Lossless, and play those on my PC when I'm in the mood. Then I transcode those to mp3 320CBR because mp3 still plays on everything--from my 2001 Audiotron to my Jeep's Alpine CDA-117 (neither of which can do lossless decoding).

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http://www.hydrogenaudio.org/forums/index.php?showtopic=102875

Conclusions & Observations:
The Apple AAC had the best quality among the 4 encoders tested. The Apple AAC was clearly superior than the Microsoft WMA. LAME MP3 was worse than the WMA, and VisualOn vo-aacenc was the worst encoder.

http://wiki.hydrogenaudio.org/index.php?title=Hydrogenaudio_Listening_Tests

Edited by robertcollier4

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For best portability I avoid Microsoft ASF formats (or any of their picture/video/music format). Memory capacity is so great now that we can afford to double the bitrate if it is convenient. None of the portable tools I have on Windows can operate on the WMA format by themselves. For example, foobar2000. It can't play the file by itself, it can't even display metadata tags.

Could not load info (WMA support requires Windows Media runtime libraries installed)

No doubt it's because of M$ licensing restrictions, which allow them to excercise power by "supporting" some plarforms (offering Media Player downloads), and discontining others. Perfectly functional versions of Foobar exist for Windows 98. But they don't support WMA format.

I won't have those Microsoft codecs on my system, and the only way I can play a WMA file is through the not so user-friendly (S)MPlayer. Nothing else will play them. Probably Lav Filters can demux ASF, but this codec pack requires at least XP SP2.

My choice is MP3, and AC-3 for multi-channel. These formats can be opened by most software and devices. Ogg Vorbis is also a fine choice. AAC is meh due to complexity of the MP4 format. Again, some programs will not understand MP4 tags written by other software.

This new Opus is being pushed strongly. Unlike WMA, there is a standalone exe encoder and decoder for it. But support for Opus in existing software is poor. Maybe in 10 years.

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    Strictly speaking of audio formats, the best lossy audio format currently is Opus.  Unlike other lossy formats, Opus is a HiFi codec that gives a full 20-20kHz audio bandwidth at most bitrates, it supports dynamically changeable bitrates from 6 to 510 kb/s, it uses small frame sizes (20 ms by default) making it an excellent choice for low-latency audio, it supports surround sound up to 255 channels, and best of all, it is royalty free.  HiFi mono speech sounds fine at 32 kb/s and is transparent at 48 kb/s.  Opus is transparent with stereo audio/music at 128 kb/s (as in "can't tell that it was compressed without the original file and golden ears").  And unlike all other popular lossy audio formats (AAC, WMA, Vorbis, and MP3) Opus maintains this transparency even with very dynamic audio like classical music and nature sounds (types of audio I frequently listen to).

    Opus is normally stored in the Ogg container, which makes it streaming-friendly.  It is a MTI (mandatory to implement) audio codec for web browsers, with support in Chrome, Firefox, and Opera as of this writing.  As usual, it's been a standard for 3 years and Microsoft is still holding out.  You can test your web browser's audio playback capability here.  I am looking forward to the day Microsoft Edge and Apple Safari finally come to 2012 and support this awesome audio codec too (you can help encourage Microsoft by voting for it here).  Opus can also be put into MKV, MP4, MTS/MT2S, and WebM, but those combinations are less supported.  Windows Media Player can play Opus files after the installation of Shark007 Advanced Codecs (which also enables Windows to play many other formats, including DVDs).

    I personally use Opus exclusively for all my lossy audio codec needs, falling back on MP3 for web support and WMA for older MP3 players.  The easiest way to create Opus audio files is with LameXP, an audio format conversion program.  Programmers may like the command-line encoder version by Xiph called Opus-Tools which can convert FLAC or WAV files, and piped PCM streams.

 

    A year ago, a public listening test was performed at 96 kb/s.  Opus won, followed closely by AAC.  Vorbis had some good and bad moments, but MP3 could have passed for mid-anchor if they didn't bump its bitrate up to 128 kb/s, where it basically tied with Vorbis at 96 kb/s.  For some reason, they did not test WMA.  Probably because WMA has a limited number of bitrate options (hard to normalize bitrates between codecs) and two formats (WMA and WMA Pro).  Personally I would rank the popular lossy codecs this way:

 

Opus

AAC

WMA

Vorbis

MP3

Edited by Techie007

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Since starting this thread I've changed my mind and I don't use any compressed audio formats. I found it too confusing to remember which CD's I burned from MP3 source files and which CD's I didn't. Gradually, if I continued to transfer songs from CD to computer, and vice versa, there will be a loss of quality each time I rip them. It's like once you have MP3 stored on your hard drive, they're stuck there. There's no use in burning them onto CD because the quality will be inferior.

So, in order to spare myself the confusion, I gave up on MP3 and WMA and whatever. Further, I don't really like listening to music on the computer, it detracts from the experience. Music is something I like to enjoy while sitting in bed, or staring out my window and watching the sunrise, sunset, or trees swaying in the wind. Listening on the computer degrades my music listening. Therefore, I have no need for any MP3 clutter.

Nowadays, I listen to CD's only on my battery operated player. I'm very low-tech in that regard. I get 100% enjoyment from my little portable CD player walkman. It's nice because I can take it with me anywhere.

I have gotten rid of most of my MP3's and only store WAV files on my computer.

Edited by ZortMcGort11

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Well, you should also use gold coated cables for your loudspeakers (or coat hangers, whatever you have more handy) when you are not using headsets.

 

jaclaz

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I don't have a stereo system, the closest think I have to that is the two little speakers that came with my computer. I suppose I could plug my Cd player into my guitar amp. But the cable isn't gold plated however :-)

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Since starting this thread I've changed my mind and I don't use any compressed audio formats. I found it too confusing to remember which CD's I burned from MP3 source files and which CD's I didn't. Gradually, if I continued to transfer songs from CD to computer, and vice versa, there will be a loss of quality each time I rip them. It's like once you have MP3 stored on your hard drive, they're stuck there. There's no use in burning them onto CD because the quality will be inferior.

So, in order to spare myself the confusion, I gave up on MP3 and WMA and whatever. Further, I don't really like listening to music on the computer, it detracts from the experience. Music is something I like to enjoy while sitting in bed, or staring out my window and watching the sunrise, sunset, or trees swaying in the wind. Listening on the computer degrades my music listening. Therefore, I have no need for any MP3 clutter.

Nowadays, I listen to CD's only on my battery operated player. I'm very low-tech in that regard. I get 100% enjoyment from my little portable CD player walkman. It's nice because I can take it with me anywhere.

I have gotten rid of most of my MP3's and only store WAV files on my computer.

Why would you be converting MP3 files back into the cd audio format, assuming that is what you were doing? The best way to do it is to burn the MP3 files onto a CD and play them back on an MP3 capable cd player. There should be no confusion of a cd with MP3's and a cd that has audio tracks on it. Also there is no loss (not counting the loss of the MP3 encoding) by doing it this way like there would be if you were converting MP3's to CD audio tracks.

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Not everyone has an MP3-capable player. Therefore, the MP3 must be converted to WAV. Your use of the term "CD audio track" is a misnomer. All formats are Audio but WAV is uncompressed, i.e. an exact Digital of Analog sound. Think of it like this - you play an Audio Cassette  plugged into LineIn and record it to WAV. It's an exact Digital representation of the Analog Tape. Ever hear of ADAT?

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