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Can YOU tell the difference? 128kbps vs 320kbps

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  • Can YOU tell the difference? 128kbps vs 320kbps

    I hear a lot of talk on the internet about being able to easily hear the difference between 320kbps and FLAC files. Before about a year ago, I didn't care or pay attention because I had never used anything other than actual CD's, or WAV and lossless files on an iPod. But now that I'm using Spotify, and it's maximum 320kbps streaming, I've started to wonder, because honestly, I don't think I can tell the difference.

    So I got on google and started looking for actual tests to check and see. I couldn't find a good test for 320 vs FLAC unless I actually download the software and set it up, but I did find a 128kbps vs 320kbps test here at http://mp3ornot.com/

    As it turns out, it was harder than I though. Yes, I got it right 14 out of 15 tries, but I had to pay attention. It wasn't night and day.

    So what I want to know is this.............how many of us can easily hear the difference between a 128kbps file, which is considered by many to be garbage, and a 320kbps file which is considered to be a decent quality file?

    I know many of you will hit the link and take the test a few times, but how many of you will be willing to actually take it 10 times (or more) in a row, and post your results here with a screen shot, or a cell phone pic?

    http://mp3ornot.com/

    To have any statistical significance, please take the test at least 10 times. More than 10 times is fine, but you must take it at least 10 times.

    REGARDLESS OF THE PERCENTAGE, PLEASE POST A PICTURE OF YOUR RESULTS.

    Last edited by Ray Tremblay; 12-27-2014, 05:43 PM.
    Being defeated is often a temporary condition. Giving up is what makes it permanent.

    Scanspeak Revelator R2904/7000's, Scanspeak Revelator 15M/4531K00's, Scanspeak Revelator 22W/8857T00's, Eminence NSW6021's.
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    Sennheiser HD650's powered by TEAC amplification.

  • #2
    Re: Can YOU tell the difference? 128kbps vs 320kbps

    Here are my results.

    Being defeated is often a temporary condition. Giving up is what makes it permanent.

    Scanspeak Revelator R2904/7000's, Scanspeak Revelator 15M/4531K00's, Scanspeak Revelator 22W/8857T00's, Eminence NSW6021's.
    MiniDSP 4x10HD. ICE Power amplification and an iNuke 3000.

    Sennheiser HD650's powered by TEAC amplification.

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    • #3
      Re: Can YOU tell the difference? 128kbps vs 320kbps

      I actually thought I'd do a bit better. Kudos to you MP3 encoder I guess.
      I stand either humbled at my lack of listening prowess with a pair of Sony MDR-V6 headphones, or in awe at how far MP3 has come as I can not statistically tell a difference between 320kbps audio and 128kbps audio.

      Edit: Source: PC with Asus Xonar DG soundcard and Sony MDR-V6 studio monitor headphones at pretty high volume. Probably a decent playback setup. The one song with the electric guitar seems to have a tell in the vocals for me. I could probably get that one right most of the time, the other two came down to total guesses after a while. I'd be sort of interested in trying it with music that I'm intimately familiar with rather than stuff I've never heard before but I'm guessing the results would be better but still not perfect and I don't really care enough to actually work through making that test, at least not right now.

      Click image for larger version

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      Last edited by evilskillit; 12-27-2014, 04:25 PM.

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      • #4
        Re: Can YOU tell the difference? 128kbps vs 320kbps

        Originally posted by evilskillit View Post
        I actually thought I'd do a bit better. Kudos to you MP3 encoder I guess.
        I stand either humbled at my lack of listening prowess with a pair of Sony MDR-V6 headphones, or in awe at how far MP3 has come as I can not statistically tell a difference between 320kbps audio and 128kbps audio.
        [ATTACH=CONFIG]53044[/ATTACH]
        Thank you for posting, Evilskillit. We'll all be able to learn from this if enough people post their results. Learning is the whole point.
        Being defeated is often a temporary condition. Giving up is what makes it permanent.

        Scanspeak Revelator R2904/7000's, Scanspeak Revelator 15M/4531K00's, Scanspeak Revelator 22W/8857T00's, Eminence NSW6021's.
        MiniDSP 4x10HD. ICE Power amplification and an iNuke 3000.

        Sennheiser HD650's powered by TEAC amplification.

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        • #5
          Re: Can YOU tell the difference? 128kbps vs 320kbps

          C'mon guys. 99 views and only Evilskillit has a big enough pair to post his results?
          Being defeated is often a temporary condition. Giving up is what makes it permanent.

          Scanspeak Revelator R2904/7000's, Scanspeak Revelator 15M/4531K00's, Scanspeak Revelator 22W/8857T00's, Eminence NSW6021's.
          MiniDSP 4x10HD. ICE Power amplification and an iNuke 3000.

          Sennheiser HD650's powered by TEAC amplification.

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          • #6
            Re: Can YOU tell the difference? 128kbps vs 320kbps

            I tried but couldn't get sample X to play. Will try again later...
            | there is no spoon... |

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            • #7
              Re: Can YOU tell the difference? 128kbps vs 320kbps

              I wonder who can tell the difference between 320kbps and cd quality? Because audiophiles are not happy even with cd quality and have wanted higher sample / bit rates.

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              • #8
                Re: Can YOU tell the difference? 128kbps vs 320kbps

                A lot depends on the material.
                I was so much older then, I'm younger than that now.
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                • #9
                  Re: Can YOU tell the difference? 128kbps vs 320kbps

                  I have heard some good 128K MP3 .. but not many. I can usually tell (Ill take the test later with my good speakers and phones).

                  I have done extensive testing between FLAC, 320K MP3, SACD/DSD ... I can't hear a difference.

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                  • #10
                    Re: Can YOU tell the difference? 128kbps vs 320kbps


                    20141227_085036.jpg by JasonP75, on Flickr

                    Full disclosure, this was test two. The first I did about 60% on. Here is what I can say, and its not much different than I expected going in:

                    1) The difference is always in the treble details. MP3 encoding is great at midrange and below, even at 128 kbit.

                    2) The differences are subtle, and you can't test at low volumes because the differences aren't notable unless turned up. This is how I scored 60% on test one. Turned up, no issues.

                    I only stopped at 7 because eventually I knew I'd make a silly mistake, so I'd only rate myself at 95% or so :P That jazz one is tough...
                    Audio: Media PC -> Sabre ESS 9023 DAC -> Behringer EP2500 -> (insert speakers of the moment)
                    Sites: Jupiter Audioworks - Flicker Stream - Proud Member of Midwest Audio Club

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                    • #11
                      Re: Can YOU tell the difference? 128kbps vs 320kbps

                      No, I did not take the test.

                      Whether one can differentiate between various sample rates depends a lot on the the recording chosen. A radio mix will survive a much lower sampling rate that, say, a girl-and -a guitar. (BTW FLAC is a codec, not a sample rate. I presume that when FLAC is mentioned, a bit depth/sample rate of 16/44.1 is implied). My personal experience:

                      I downloaded a piece of music at 24/96 and resampled it at 16/44.1, MP3 VBR320, MP3 VBR 256 AAC CBR 256 and MP3 VRB 128. The music was a single violin and a harpsichord. The tests were run with the ABX feature of foobar2000. I cannot tell the difference between 24/96 and 16/44.1. I can pick between 24/96 and 320 only because I am very familiar with the particular piece of music. the MP3 256 is clearly different at the top, the AAC 256 not so much, but noticeable. The MP3 128 is only suitable for background listening.

                      My music. My ears. YMMV.

                      Bob

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                      • #12
                        Re: Can YOU tell the difference? 128kbps vs 320kbps

                        I struck out, if there was negative scoring I would be in the running.
                        Kenny

                        http://www.diy-ny.com/
                        DIY NY/NJ 2014 https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FGwA...ature=youtu.be
                        Man does not live by measurements alone, a little music helps.

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                        • #13
                          Re: Can YOU tell the difference? 128kbps vs 320kbps

                          Originally posted by Bob Brines View Post
                          No, I did not take the test.

                          Whether one can differentiate between various sample rates depends a lot on the the recording chosen. A radio mix will survive a much lower sampling rate that, say, a girl-and -a guitar. (BTW FLAC is a codec, not a sample rate. I presume that when FLAC is mentioned, a bit depth/sample rate of 16/44.1 is implied). My personal experience:

                          I downloaded a piece of music at 24/96 and resampled it at 16/44.1, MP3 VBR320, MP3 VBR 256 AAC CBR 256 and MP3 VRB 128. The music was a single violin and a harpsichord. The tests were run with the ABX feature of foobar2000. I cannot tell the difference between 24/96 and 16/44.1. I can pick between 24/96 and 320 only because I am very familiar with the particular piece of music. the MP3 256 is clearly different at the top, the AAC 256 not so much, but noticeable. The MP3 128 is only suitable for background listening.

                          My music. My ears. YMMV.

                          Bob
                          this is per Linn's website

                          Studio Master (192) FLAC 24bit 192kHz 4,213.6MB
                          Studio Master (192) ALAC 24bit 192kHz 4,374.2MB
                          Studio Master FLAC 24bit 96kHz 2,323.4MB
                          Studio Master ALAC 24bit 96kHz 2,380.1MB
                          CD Quality FLAC 16bit 44.1kHz 624.1MB
                          CD Quality ALAC 16bit 44.1kHz 633.9MB
                          MP3 MP3 320k 44.1kHz 275.8MB
                          craigk

                          " Voicing is often the term used for band aids to cover for initial design/planning errors " - Pallas

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                          • #14
                            Re: Can YOU tell the difference? 128kbps vs 320kbps

                            More difficult than I would have expected, but as others mentioned, the treble is where the compression is especially evident. I had the most trouble with the hard-edged vocal / electric guitar piece.

                            Click image for larger version

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                            | there is no spoon... |

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                            • #15
                              Re: Can YOU tell the difference? 128kbps vs 320kbps

                              What exactly are you guys running this test on? Your laptop speakers? Headphones connected to your laptop? Your $99 PC speaker system that is connected to the analog line output? All of these things are seriously bandwidth limited so I suggest piping it via a USB sound card into some decent quality speakers and report your findings. I will do the test as well but I'm not going to waste my time doing it on the laptop because I know how bad the sound card is so it'll have to wait until I can try it with some respectable speakers.
                              Paul O

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