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MP3 vs. WAV vs FLAC - Sound Quality?

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MP3 vs. WAV vs FLAC - Sound Quality?
Ok, so I understand that MP3 is a compression format that compresses the digital data to varying extents using algorhythms - hence the inferior sound to CD audio.

Is .WAV essentiall equivalent to CD quality audio - or is that oversimplifying things somewhat?

Also, I've noticed more digital music sites are offering FLAC versions of tracks as an alternative option to MP3s - is this formate superior to MP3s and WAVs?

If one was to be using Serato/Final Scratch, in a club setting would they be best served to only play .WAVs (or FLACs?) for the purpose of retaining optimal sound quality?

Thanks!

Quote:

Originally Posted by Lambretta

Oh I'm sick of all this talk about sexual things, it's so disgusting and it's not natural.

Why cant we just watch normal healthy things such as hundreds and hundreds of people being blown to shit for being foreign by some muscular hero?

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[quote=Citizen]Is .WAV essentiall equivalent to CD quality audio - or is that oversimplifying things somewhat?
QUOTE]

I think it is simplifying things, I could take a 128k MP3 and turn it to a WAV...

Don't know much about FLAC, but surely they are many ways of seeing this.

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mp3's from sites at 320kbs are fine. that's all you really need to know. if you want to chew through your internet account then get the wavs, but there's little justification in my mind to do it.

if you're recording from vinyl on the other hand.... that's a different story.
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Quote:

Originally Posted by Citizen

Is .WAV essentiall equivalent to CD quality audio - or is that oversimplifying things somewhat?

To my understanding of course there is. CD quality is 128KB and a WAV is like 1000KB quality

Correct me if i am wrong.

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Quote:

Originally Posted by DSILVR

To my understanding of course there is. CD quality is 128KB and a WAV is like 1000KB quality

Correct me if i am wrong.


My dear DSILVR,

You're so wrong!

44.1k/16bit WAV (PC) = 44.1k/16bit AIFF (Mac) = CD Quality

The only difference is CD Audio lacks the checksums (error correction) of regular digital computer-based files that ensure a digital file has been copied correctly. When copying/duplicating WAVs, the computer "knows" that the file has been cloned precisely as the numbers add up as expected. For CDs, the audio data on the disc appears twice, at opposing sides. If the laser doesn't pick it up accurately in these two scanning opportunities, it gives up, and it's then up to the error correction routines in the CD player's procsessor to "guess" what the waveform "should" be doing at that particular moment. Hardly a precision clone, however, good enough in most instances.

Moral of the story: 44.1k/16bit WAV is CD quality, however, if wishing to transfer audio from one PC to another (or you wish to send your production efforts off to a mastering engineer) , burn it as a data CD (ie. retaining WAV/AIFF file format) rather than as an audio CD. The only downside is an 80 minute WAV takes up more room than an 80min CD can hold (due to the extra space required for the checksums embedded within).

There's also the issue of files working in greater resolution than 44.1kHz/16bit (eg. 96kHz/24bit), where burning to CD audio requires downgrading the files.
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Quote:

Originally Posted by Bracko

mp3's from sites at 320kbs are fine. that's all you really need to know.

Really? A mate of min played a 320 of a tune I have on vinyl on a cracking sound system at a doof, and it definately was lacking something compared to the vinyl. Maybe it lacked a bit of "oopmh" or just a touch of clarity.

Although, other times I've been surprised to find that certain great sounding tunes were played from 320, so...

I guess I just have a hang up about dicarding audio data. Surely a superior format will surpass Mp3, and all of the people who converted purely to Mp3 will cry

Quote:

Originally Posted by Bracko

if you're recording from vinyl on the other hand.... that's a different story.

Quite possibly.

Quote:

Originally Posted by Lambretta

Oh I'm sick of all this talk about sexual things, it's so disgusting and it's not natural.

Why cant we just watch normal healthy things such as hundreds and hundreds of people being blown to shit for being foreign by some muscular hero?

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Quote:

Originally Posted by Citizen

Also, I've noticed more digital music sites are offering FLAC versions of tracks as an alternative option to MP3s - is this formate superior to MP3s and WAVs?

FLAC uses a lossless compression algorithm which basically means no information is lost during conversion. Think of it as the winzip of audio. You can normally cut around 30%-50% off WAV filesize using FLAC. In terms of sound quality FLAC is superior to MP3 and exactly the same was WAV.

Quote:

Originally Posted by Citizen

Really? A mate of min played a 320 of a tune I have on vinyl on a cracking sound system at a doof, and it definately was lacking something compared to the vinyl. Maybe it lacked a bit of "oopmh" or just a touch of clarity.

Vinyl generally has that "warm" sound to it I suppose.

Last edited by silvaside: 02-Sep-07 at 09:47am

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Quote:

Originally Posted by Citizen

Really? A mate of min played a 320 of a tune I have on vinyl on a cracking sound system at a doof, and it definately was lacking something compared to the vinyl. Maybe it lacked a bit of "oopmh" or just a touch of clarity.

Although, other times I've been surprised to find that certain great sounding tunes were played from 320, so...

I guess I just have a hang up about dicarding audio data. Surely a superior format will surpass Mp3, and all of the people who converted purely to Mp3 will cry



Quite possibly.

i thought doofs only played CD's for the last 10+ years?

I agree they sound different.... but i don't think either is worse than the other in practice.
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I only play cassette.

Mixing can be tough at best.
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Quote:

Originally Posted by defected819

I only play cassette.

Mixing can be tough at best.

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Quote:

Originally Posted by Spectrum

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Quote:

Originally Posted by Spectrum

The only downside is an 80 minute WAV takes up more room than an 80min CD can hold (due to the extra space required for the checksums embedded within).


burn it onto a DVD
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Ok in all honesty do people find the value in purchasing WAV over MP3 from dl sites?

I have been buying MP3 as I wasnt sure the extra $ involved (ie cost at site & MB downloaded) was
worth while..

I purchase all MP3 no less than 320, what do others do?
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Quote:

Originally Posted by Citizen

Surely a superior format will surpass Mp3, and all of the people who converted purely to Mp3 will cry

Or perhaps just move on to that format.


Not everyone is a fanboy who just needs to "touch the song".
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is flac even supported by anything useful? (serato or torq etc?)
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Quote:

Originally Posted by entropy1

is flac even supported by anything useful? (serato or torq etc?)

I know it's supported by Traktor.
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Quote:

Originally Posted by silvaside

I know it's supported by Traktor.

i said USEFUL *hides*
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Quote:

Originally Posted by andreas

Ok in all honesty do people find the value in purchasing WAV over MP3 from dl sites?

I have been buying MP3 as I wasnt sure the extra $ involved (ie cost at site & MB downloaded) was
worth while..

I purchase all MP3 no less than 320, what do others do?

I buy everything WAV now if i can if not 320 kbps
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But is the difference worth the price? I would buy WAV if I wanted to try and do my own
edit in Ableton but just for playing out 320K v WAV? Is there really a noticeable difference.
I cant really tell but havent tested the two over a club system..
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Quote:

Originally Posted by andreas

But is the difference worth the price? I would buy WAV if I wanted to try and do my own
edit in Ableton but just for playing out 320K v WAV? Is there really a noticeable difference.
I cant really tell but havent tested the two over a club system..

I think the exact same way, so the point is why wouldn't you buy WAV, when in a year you decide you want to use A\bleton to DJ out with etc, or edit tracks and you are dealing with mp3s
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Is FLAC not supported by FS or Serato?

Quote:

Originally Posted by Lambretta

Oh I'm sick of all this talk about sexual things, it's so disgusting and it's not natural.

Why cant we just watch normal healthy things such as hundreds and hundreds of people being blown to shit for being foreign by some muscular hero?

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Think FLAC is supported by TS
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nah serato doesn't support FLAC
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Ooo, we've kind've gotten off track - but WAV is equivalent in quality to FLAC, yes?

Quote:

Originally Posted by Lambretta

Oh I'm sick of all this talk about sexual things, it's so disgusting and it's not natural.

Why cant we just watch normal healthy things such as hundreds and hundreds of people being blown to shit for being foreign by some muscular hero?

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Quote:

Originally Posted by entropy1

nah serato doesn't support FLAC

I just checked on the box and it appears that Traktor Scratch does.
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Quote:

Originally Posted by Citizen

Ooo, we've kind've gotten off track - but WAV is equivalent in quality to FLAC, yes?

Quote:

Originally Posted by silvaside

FLAC uses a lossless compression algorithm which basically means no information is lost during conversion. Think of it as the winzip of audio. You can normally cut around 30%-50% off WAV filesize using FLAC. In terms of sound quality FLAC is superior to MP3 and exactly the same was WAV.

I've used FLAC just fine in Traktor Scratch.
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Very cool that Traktor supports FLAC (I like) pity the top download sites do not
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Seeing as it stands for FREE lossless audio codec - you can do the conversion yourself. for free!
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Pity you have to though it would take half the time to downlaod
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Still no support for FLAC on Serato?

Quote:

Originally Posted by Lambretta

Oh I'm sick of all this talk about sexual things, it's so disgusting and it's not natural.

Why cant we just watch normal healthy things such as hundreds and hundreds of people being blown to shit for being foreign by some muscular hero?

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For the record you cant turn a 128kbps mp3 into a WAV and call it the same. Once somethings broken the computer cant magically fix it.

Mp3 is shit - how can you compress something to a tenth of the size and expect it to equate to the same thing? Where does all that data go? It gets stripped and you pay for is in the sound quality.

CD quality (commercial CDs) contain a frequency spectrum of 20Hz through 20,000Hz, and replicate the range of human hearing. Mp3's generally only contain 80Hz (therefore losing your sub-bass for that 'thump' that kicks you in the chest) through 13,000Hz (losing all overtones and crispness, shimmer and top end in cymbals, synths, vocals, etc etc). Also, mp3s use 'Auditory masking'- IE: Masking quiet, subtle sounds in louder sounds, so you lose all subtley and beauty in a lot of tracks. Totally lame.

Once you convert something down dont even consider attempting to re-convert it back up, its ruined. The lower bitrate the worse it is.

If given the option, always go WAV - completely worthwhile in the end. If no other option is available settle for nothing less than 320kbps is worth playing out. Of course its fine for ipod listening and the like especially if you listen on bad earphones...

Enjoy
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This thread will go on and on

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Originally Posted by weapon

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as a Dj myself i usually use .WAV.. but the only time a croud will notice the difference between a 320pks mp3 file is if you go from .WAV to .MP3.. 9 out of 10 people still cant tell the difference but when you start playing under 320kps the quality is shite!
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Quote:

Originally Posted by seen006

as a Dj myself i usually use .WAV.. but the only time a croud will notice the difference between a 320pks mp3 file is if you go from .WAV to .MP3.. 9 out of 10 people still cant tell the difference but when you start playing under 320kps the quality is shite!

Really? I tried this the other day. I took a 320kbs MP3 track, converted it to 160kbs and listened to both through my Sennies to see if I could hear the difference. I tested myself and couldn't hear the difference! Really suprised me. I know it's different played on a system, but I thought the difference between 320 and 160 would be easily noticeable. Not so.

So here is my challenge to you. Do the test yourself. Take a wav file, convert it to 320, then 160 and listen to all three and see if you can hear the difference. Let me know if you can honestly hear it.

Quote:

Originally Posted by The Good Doctor

"No, I'm not letting you use my headphones, just cause you've got a USB stick full of MP3's in your pocket".

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usually when a music file is converted to mp3 the only things that are taken out are the super high ptch or low frequency sounds that out ears cant register, so we dont really hear the difference,
thats how ppl kept on getting out of there court cases with file sharing, ir napster an what not
because you cant get done for copy right infringements if what your sharing is less then 10 % of the original product, so what did they do, they converted the songs to mp3 an were left with sumting along the lines of only 9 % of the orriginal track, all the sounds we can hear an none we cant

its only when you turn your music up to " pissing the neighbours off" level where you can really hear the difference with a converted track

my opinion anyway
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I actually spent an entire day this week listening A then B to a large portion of my music in both 320kbps mp3 and then Apple Lossless format.

My findings basically went as follows:

With electronic music, there is very little lost in the conversion. Sometimes you can notice a lack of presence but generally, all in all, there is no discernible difference. (This possibly has a lot to do with the fact that the instruments that create this music are quite blunt so to speak - Often, the very things that electronic music aims to achieve is clean sounds, there is no room for subtleties and nuances in the sound) - generalisation alert!!!!

With acoustic and live music however, wow, there is this whole different level that you miss out on.

Its not obvious, but the more you look for it, the more you notice how much is missing from the mp3's

Examples include the lack definition to reverb and echos - with lossless files, you can actually get some aural image of the recording space, if you close your eyes, you can almost picture the size of the space the music was recorded in.
There is also a hugely noticeable difference in "realism" - the sounds coming from the instruments actually sound live as opposed to processed sounds. (This is something that took me a while to realise, since, for the majority of my listening experience, I do listen to processed sounds and have gotten quite accustomed to their sound. infact, it was only till I pulled out my saxophone and played it, then listened to the recording i was testing, that I had this epiphany)
Drums sound like they are cracking right there, woodwind and brass has this edge to it, it doesnt sound like a recording.

On the other hand, mp3's sound flat after listening in lossless. They lack that edge, and depending on your perspective, its either unfortunate or fortunate that, the more you try to find this realism, the more you find how much is missing.

Mind you, I am using a pair of reference quality earphones (etymotic er-4p) as well as my allesandro MS-1 headphones and Alesis monitors.
Believe me, on any lesser sound system, the difference is far to discrete to notice.

Hope this helps, give it a try one time, get some music you really really like, rip it from CD or better to your computer in both mp3 and lossless, name them the same and try and guess which is the higher quality version. Once you start, you may find something in your music you have missed before.

I personally listened to
Massive Attack - Teardrop
Pink Floyd - Wish you Were Here
Gui Boratto - Beautiful Life
Thelonious Monk - Boo Boo's Birthday

Last edited by wyzest1: 10-Jul-09 at 09:12pm

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^^ Nice observations and summary.
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Here is a link to John Lenard Burnett website http://www.lenardaudio.com/education/18_digital.html this explains it all perfectly....

When I download I stick to WAV and there is a difference but it can be relatively un-noticeable with some tracks and on some sound systems. But I still buy vinyl for sound quality but I can't get everything I want so the WAV is the next best thing!
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flac has a couple of major benefits over wav.
1 smaller files
2 storage of meta information / tagging
3 open source

Everything I rip these days I rip to flac. With quad core processors now commonplace and hard drive space down to under 15 cents per gigabyte, mp3s just don't make sense anymore.

I have a 'legacy' mp3 collection, but I'm gradually re-ripping everything to flac when I can be bothered and everything new I buy gets archived to flac.

*edit oh yeah Ableton Live supports flac now too.

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Last edited by big eddie: 11-Jul-09 at 03:11am

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Quote:

Originally Posted by BBC

Really? I tried this the other day. I took a 320kbs MP3 track, converted it to 160kbs and listened to both through my Sennies to see if I could hear the difference. I tested myself and couldn't hear the difference! Really suprised me. I know it's different played on a system, but I thought the difference between 320 and 160 would be easily noticeable. Not so.

So here is my challenge to you. Do the test yourself. Take a wav file, convert it to 320, then 160 and listen to all three and see if you can hear the difference. Let me know if you can honestly hear it.

That's most likely because as a dj you are deaf. (no offence intended, but a great many are) Got tinnitus by any chance?

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Originally Posted by gotamangina View Post

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One other advantage of buying your tunes as wavs that hasn't been mentioned..

You can make your own edits with a wav file, and suffer no loss in audio quality..

Whereas if you edit an mp3 (by turning it into a wav using your wave editor, and then convert it back to mp3) you are re-compressing something that is already compressed.
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+1 for flac.

They should sell music in flac on beatport imo.
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Man I had the most amazing sounding tracks on FLAC, the quality blew your mind (The masters were ripped into FLAC) sad I don't have them anymore though
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Wow, that is amazing, is that all you have to share?
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Quote:

Originally Posted by seen006

as a Dj myself i usually use .WAV.. but the only time a croud will notice the difference between a 320pks mp3 file is if you go from .WAV to .MP3.. 9 out of 10 people still cant tell the difference but when you start playing under 320kps the quality is shite!

I doubt that even 9 out of 10 people would tell, the 320kbs mp3s from the major sites are very good.....
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rule of thumb: all mp3s sound like shit.


when most people create music @ 24/48, compressing to 44.1/16 is bad enough
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The idea is that as DJ’s we should love the music more than anyone else in the venue, and as music lovers we should want to hear & present the music in the best quality possible.

I just don’t get it at all, I can accept that vinyl is too expensive and/or too heavy for some DJ’s but the WAV vs. MP3 argument is a argument I would expect to hear from kids talking about their iPods not professional DJ’s!!!!

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nah kieren - music lovers and audiophiles are two different things even though they are related.

Quote:

Originally Posted by muse

rule of thumb: all mp3s sound like shit.


when most people create music @ 24/48, compressing to 44.1/16 is bad enough

i'm sure you can tell the difference especially between 16 and 24 bits.
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Quote:

Originally Posted by Spicy

nah kieren - music lovers and audiophiles are two different things even though they are related.

i'm sure you can tell the difference especially between 16 and 24 bits.

are you retarded?
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