192Kbps VBR is the minimumn for transparency for me. i've been moving my whole collection FLAC -> Opus 160Kbps VBR (which is widely regarded as audiophile-transparent).
This is a fun hobby, but it's possible to make it less fun by arguing on the internet with people about it. If it sounds good TO YOU, and it's worth the price TO YOU, then never let someone make you feel bad about it. Some people buy $10k cables (or "worse" imo, cable elevators [e.g. https://forum.audiogon.com/discussions/the-finest-cable-elev... ]. I think that those are ridiculous, but some people swear by them, and that's their choice. I'm the guy with the inner tube under the turntable playing with air pressure, because I love a good hack and have a penchant for DIY. I've built speakers that sound bad, but I've always learned something from every build. If you want TRUE REFERENCE sound, look up exactly what gear your favorite recording studio uses, and buy the same set-up. Otherwise, just have fun :)
As an aside people who swear by 24-bit audio don't even understand what bit rate does in context of audio. It's only useful in the studio context.
Edit: Not sure why I'm getting down voted. I can explain the difference as added sparkle in the transient high end frequencies. My hypothesis is that the presence of frequencies outside of the range of our ears affect the frequencies within our hearing range. It's pretty common to have to re-EQ the whole track after EQing one instrument in a mix so this concept is just being applied outside our hearing frequency spectrum Also I would like to point out that higher bandwidth audio doesn't necessarily sound better to me, just different.
In audio production you can really feel the difference between 16 bit Audio and 24 bit. Just like in photography were RAW only really makes a difference when you start to manipulate the data you really start to hear the difference between 16 and 24 bit once you work with recordings.
24 Bit allows more “shades” of loudness between the loidest signal and absolute silence. This means the above statements depend on the dynamic range of the recording, which is arguably too low in these days.
As an output format 16bit should be enough for most scenarios and except for a few edge cases hearing the difference of a well mastered 16bit recording to the same thing in 24 bit should be nearly impossible.
This however refers all to uncompressed audio. Depending on your audio gear you can definitly can hear a difference between uncompressed/lossless and lossy mp3 compression even at 320kbps. The same is true for 330kbps vs 128kbps mp3.
I must admit that I cannot differenciate between uncompressed and opus 256kbps.
If you do anything that needs audio compression I strongly recommend looking at the Opus Codec
This is something I wonder about, too, but by my limited knowledge of signal processing the low pass effects of the signal transmission path do simply not admit any such frequencies. I wonder whether that counts for all orders of derivation, though.
I wonder if higher frequencies can cause resonance in lower frequencies, undertones instead of overtones so to speak, maybe in exotic geometries like the inner ear. Echo location famously works better in the ultrasonic range and involves higher order derivatives. We don't talk of constant sinusoids, but ultrasonic sweeps and chirps (not sparkle :D). We can't hear ultrasound, but perhaps we can sense it similarly to how we can sense lowest frequencies as rumble.
I really don't know the maths, what is a really low frequency note played for nanoseconds? High frequency Pulse Width Modulation is used to modulate sound in the audible range, which is quite tricky to get right mathematically and in hardware. The common problem is the introduction of ringing, indeed.
By the way, I really like to listen to music under the shower in the next room. I hear, or rather hallucinate, the most wonderful sounds under the noise.
Please forgive me but I'm not going to just accept someone's word on this when the science seems to point in the other direction.
Is there any properly conducted test that backs this up?
In your example if your single tone is out of phase then 1) how do you control this at any bit rate and 2) this is controlled by an acoustically treated room and a skilled engineer during recording. When you listen on headphones you already eliminate this concern on playback and unless you are listening in a professional designed and treated listening studio you will always have some element of phase cancellation. This is the listening character of your room and will occur at any bitrate.
Read this https://www.mojo-audio.com/blog/the-24bit-delusion/
I understand and agree that 24bits is enough for human perception. But something else is happening in MP3 encoding. Some sort of assumptions about human perception of dynamic range that are inaccurate. I am not expert enough to know precisely where. But I generally understand compression and I am an "audiophile".
Nothing in the article stands out as false to me. But I cannot help but believe it might be missing something.
What does this mean?
In rock music this doesn't matter so much. But orchestras may even use the room geometry as an effect.
anyone who claims to hear a difference between 24-bit 192khz and a 320Kbps CBR MP3 is drinking some good kool-aid. there's a great quote by Alan Parsons:
"Audiophiles don't use their equipment to listen to your music. Audiophiles use your music to listen to their equipment."
He had twenty records. Ten of them were test signals.
With some decent headphones and a basic knowledge of compression artifacts, it's not particularly difficult to tell the difference in a blind test. You can diff a FLAC and MP3 recording using phase inversion, which allows you to train your ears to recognise compression artifacts. Modern perceptual encoders are very good, but they're not perfect. It's not a difference I particularly care about, but it is there.
Chances are my soundblaster soundcard does not support either of those.
Similarly, you can't just diff two different recording of two different sample rates without conversion, so the conversion would either introduce artifacts if upsampling (and if it wouldn't, you wouldn't hear a difference) or render any advantage obsolete if downsampling the high sample rate. Obviously depends on the algorithm used, but you should target whatever your soundcard supports.
You can hear the degradation from 16/44.1 bitstream to 320kbps or 192kbps VBR MP3, but you need good gear and good ears. I'm perfectly happy to listen to properly encoded MP3s because the difference is very slight, but I'd still use uncompressed or lossless formats for archival purposes.
It's interesting how much audiophiles focus and are ready to spend on gear when acoustic treatment (including planning and building) of the room brings undeniable and immediate impact, and in it's basic form can be orders of magnitude cheaper than all those insane RCA and power cables, supporters, pyramids and whatnot.
Just buying the same gear without proper acoustics won't bring you the "TRUE REFERENCE".
I don't move my collection from FLAC to Opus though, just encode for playback purposes (Opus takes less space, so good for portable players and etc.). It's always good to preserve the lossless original. What if some new Opus-next will appear which will be even better? Without lossless source, you won't be able to re-encode.
Or you mean why reencode later from lossless again, if a better codec appears? If it will be better, it will offer some benefits (smaller size, faster decoding and so on). So why not?
Any alternatives that work with iOS?
What software do you use to listen to music on your computers?
Is there a good media streaming server with iOS / desktop apps which I could use and then store FLAC on my server and have it transcoded to serve to clients?
The higher bitrates (above 128) aren't so advantageous.
https://wiki.xiph.org/Opus_Recommended_Settings (Dec. 2018)
That’s just because by about 128Kbps Opus is already effectively perfect, where it takes closer to 200Kbps for MP3 to achieve that.
Opus is just all-round better than MP3.
not for compatibility. mp3 is ubiquitous. my 2017 VW can play mp3 and even flac from an sd card. i doubt it even knows what opus is.
i think you'd be hard pressed to tell a difference between a well-encoded (flac source) 192kbps vbr mp3 and 160 kbps opus. the file size of the latter will be 30% smaller.
> What software do you use to listen to music on your computers?
on windows, foobar2000. it's superb, no bs and has tons of optional plugins.
Old school. I was using that back in the early 2000s. Had a lot of fun with it. But, I've been over in Apple-land for years now... and mostly Spotify for music.
Yep, this seems to be a common practice.
Edit: found this which answers a lot of this.
I suppose it's similar to how some people prefer the distortion of "tube sound".
Most of the time I have good speakers and decently encoded sound, I do not have any real quibs.
The Opus "Comparison" cherry-picks the sub-128 kbps bitrates, where the format is evidently strong, but it doesn't include references for high-bitrate music compression.
Actually, even their (partial) diagram hints that there is virtually no difference at over-160 kpbs bitrates.
I'm struggling to find high-bitrate music compression (blind) listening tests lately in general; it seems that the internet crowd enthusiasm in the subject vanished in the last decade.
Lack of enthusiasm in publishing tests can probably be explained by the ease of performing ABX tests by yourself with your own gear and exact listening conditions you're aiming for.