MP3 Audio Quality

  Wilham 22:10 21 Nov 2004

When I was building my first proper computer (from a Nascom 2 kit) my older son was a child. He saw little fun in what then looked to him like electronic junk, and he has never had more than a glancing interest in computers.

Today he is in his 30's and I'd describe him as a hi-fi addict, in nicest way of course. In my opinion he is old fashioned in believing that audio reproduction at the highest level is restricted to turntables and valve amplifiers. I pointed out his better vinyl pressings had a digital source. I note he now has a Denham CD player.

I have just bought a Medion navigator/pocket PC from Aldi and I see it can be used as an MP3 player. Wife and I have been over to see him today and I said next visit I'd like to bring MP3 samples on my Medion to play through his hi-fi.

He says it's a waste of time, and that MP3 can only be listened through headphones,... though he admits he's never actually heard MP3 himself.

Well, he may be right, I admit I haven't a musical ear. I would be interested to hear from others on this. Does anyone feed MP3 into hi-fi amps? If answer is 'No', is there a higher quality digital option to store audio in a pocket PC with its 256MB SD card?

I'd like to surprise him. Any thoughts?

  ton 22:43 21 Nov 2004

You can connect your ppc to his hi-fi.
You could rip some music from a CD at the highest quality (320).
If you don't have software to do this, have a look at CDex click here

  ton 22:44 21 Nov 2004

Cdex is free software by the way

  hugh-265156 00:37 22 Nov 2004

i rip my Cd's at 128 onto my computer and use a budget soundblaster 5.1 digital sound card fed via analogue 3mm jack connections to the 6ch analogue inputs of click here

i have replaced front left and right speakers with rather old mission 753 floor standers and the centre speaker with a cheap jpw cc80i, the rears and passive sub remain and to my ears the quality is not bad at all with stereo mp3 music.

i have heard really dedicated high end Linn nakamichi and nad kit play vinyl cd and mp3 of various quality all connected with cables that cost almost as much as my entire system does and all formats through this system sounded fantastic. wish i could afford it :-)

if he a has a good set up the difference between mp3 at higher quality and original cd to my ears is almost non existent on a good system. i think he may be surprised.

  The Spires 00:49 22 Nov 2004

It is as always divided opinion on here, I think anything below 192 bit MP3 is quite noticeable as compressed (unless your ears are just painted on), however it seems that there is also a marked difference in sound with the quality of blank media used. Set up some blind listening tests, it should be fun. However I also feel that some of the most natural sounding recordings were done in the 1950s. :-)

  Iron Maiden 07:10 22 Nov 2004

Free lossless audio compression read notes here

click here

  Wilham 10:52 22 Nov 2004

Absolutely splendid help here. I've 101 jobs on and will dig deeper later today.

These replies are spot on, thanks.

  Wilham 21:19 22 Nov 2004

I now have a spare 256MB SD card for my pocket PC and I shall try the ideas you point to above.

I haven't experimented with audio since the 1950's in the Williamson era when the 1812 Overture cannon sound was a common test. In those days low frequency response was the weakness. We'd mostly grown up with battery wireless and no bass.

Woofers and such now make the cannon sample idea obsolete, so I'd welcome suggestions of any musical short extracts I could download to the SD memory, and use to put audio equipment to the test. Something to show the shortcomings of compression.


  hugh-265156 23:02 22 Nov 2004

not sure but try this site for some small samples of .mp3 192kbps vs .wma pro 192kbps 5.1 audio click here

scroll down a bit and click 'start demo' then in the window that appears right click on the links and select 'save target as' to download.

  Simsy 23:14 22 Nov 2004

that, in absolute terms, (and in fact by definition), an MP3 file is not Hi-Fi, i.e. Hi-Fidelity, (A Highly Truthful reproduction).

The compression in mp3 files is basically achieved by discarding the information that, generally speaking, the average human ear cannot discern. Most peoples hearing skills are not good, and an awful lot of information can be discarded before most people will be able to tell the difference. The nature of the sound in question makes a big, big difference. If the audio in question is just speech, (not music or singing), the difference is barely discernable to the trained ear.

Depending on how good the hearing is of the person concerned they may or may not be happy listeing to mp3s.

It is true to say, generalising in a big way, that headphones are poor reproducers of sound, (compared to speakers). They are not good enough to benefit from the difference in quality that true hi fidelity sound brings, compared to mp3s. This may be the point your son is making when he says; " MP3 can only be listened through headphones"???

A more visible comparison is comparing a high quality photo with a compressed jpeg image. Someone with good "tuned" vision will see the effects of the compression at a smaller zoom that most.

I hope this helps... apologies if it doesn't!!



  Wilham 09:46 23 Nov 2004

huggyg71's link is great, and Simsy makes sense and good reading.

I'm not sure compression automatically loses audio quality. I can see MP3 does, but zipping a data file, for instance, loses no information,- and I noted Iron Maiden's link about this earlier in the thread.

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