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Formats: 320k aac vs Lossless (Roon related)

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#1
I am in a bit of a quandary. Our only home broadband option is a DSL 3M speed and I want to use Roon + Tidal. If there is no internet activiting I can stream lossless from the Tidal app (or volumio via shd). However, when I signed up for the Roon trial (which I really like), even with no other internet activity, Roon/Tidal won't work well enough.
My only real option would be to downgrade Tidal to premium which streams at 320k AAC if I wanted to stream with Roon.
From reading here, I have seen comments that 256K and up it may be difficult to tell the difference betweek 256K aac and lossless. Has anyone done any DBT using 320k aac / Lossless and could you tell the difference? I would like to do a double blind test of 320k aac and lossless. Can anyone point me to a test anywhere testing these? Or how to set it up on my own pc? My thought is if I can't tell the difference I would just downgrade to the Tidal Premium 320k so I can use Roon.
What I found while using Roon, is it was helpful in discovering new music, so if there isn't an audible difference between 320k aac and lossless, that is the direction I will go.
Appreciate any insights.
 

Soniclife

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#2
You can convert a flac you own to aac and then try them in a blind test tool, e.g. foobar.
Different aac encoders produce different results, ideally you would find out what tidal use and also use that, but that might be tricky to find out.

If tidal use a good aac encoder it will be tricky to impossible to tell from flac.

Honestly if the flac tier isn't stable I'd just downgrade and enjoy the music.
 
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#3
You can convert a flac you own to aac and then try them in a blind test tool, e.g. foobar.
Different aac encoders produce different results, ideally you would find out what tidal use and also use that, but that might be tricky to find out.

If tidal use a good aac encoder it will be tricky to impossible to tell from flac.

Honestly if the flac tier isn't stable I'd just downgrade and enjoy the music.
Appreciate your reply. I think that is what I am going to do. I have not ever used foobar, but I will start to do some research. I might start by ripping a some tracks to aac / flac and see if I can set up a DBT to see if it is audible to me.
 

StevenEleven

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#4
As noted briefly while I was posing this, download Foobar2000, download the Foobar encoder pack, download the Foobar A/B/X comparometer, give yourself an afternoon or two or three to figure out how the heck to set it all up (it works! I swear!), rip a file from a CD you think is pretty awesome sound wise to lossless and then to 256 AAC or really whatever codec and bitrate you want to try, and have your hand at a blind level matched a/b/x test. If you can tell the difference between 256 AAC and lossless please post your results (the comparometer will spit out a nice chart for you) because I will be mightily impressed.

Once you play around with the ABX stuff you will get the big picture. I won’t spoil it for you. ; )

To me the Tidal lossless tier is pointless. It’s nice to figure it out for yourself as above but @Soniclife ‘s suggestion is very sound based on the experience of many people who have done the footwork of a/b/x testing for themselves—just downgrade and enjoy the music.
 
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#5
As noted briefly while I was posing this, download Foobar2000, download the Foobar encoder pack, download the Foobar A/B/X comparometer, give yourself an afternoon or two or three to figure out how the heck to set it all up (it works! I swear!), rip a file from a CD you think is pretty awesome sound wise to lossless and then to 256 AAC or really whatever codec and bitrate you want to try, and have your hand at a blind level matched a/b/x test. If you can tell the difference between 256 AAC and lossless please post your results (the comparometer will spit out a nice chart for you) because I will be mightily impressed.

Once you play around with the ABX stuff you will get the big picture. I won’t spoil it for you. ; )

To me Tidal lossless tier is pointless. It’s nice to figure it out for yourself as above but @Soniclife ‘s suggestion is very sound based on the experience of people who have done the footwork of a/b/x testing for themselves—just downgrade and enjoy the music.
Thank you for further info to get me started. Should be fun and interesting. I was surprised that Tidal offered 320k aac. In the past I have had apple music which does 256k aac and thought it sounded good to me but have not ever compared them to lossless like this before.
 
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#6
Are there any particular styles/genre's of music which are more susceptible to compression?
 

StevenEleven

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#7
Are there any particular styles/genre's of music which are more susceptible to compression?
By compression I assume you mean lossy compression. Often the higher frequencies get attenuated or compressed or lopped off first. So I’m going to say maybe acoustic jazz with a lot of drum work on the high hats, cymbals, etc. Other people might know of killer tracks that are very hard to get right with lossy compression. Orchestral strings might be tricky with all of the subtle harmonics. Hard rock with some recorded high quality drum work might be good. Just thinking out loud. Acoustic piano is an instrument with very complex and subtle sounds.
 

Soniclife

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#8
Are there any particular styles/genre's of music which are more susceptible to compression?
Go for complex wide bandwidth music with a lot going on, I find big studio rock stuff that's packed with things going on, and lots of studio processing etc. I'm not sure if there is any science to guide you, it might just depend on the listener.
 

Soniclife

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#9
I was surprised that Tidal offered 320k aac. In the past I have had apple music which does 256k aac and thought it sounded good to me but have not ever compared them to lossless like this before.
Apple used 256 for iTunes downloads, in a vbr setting that was very good, probably better than 320 fixed, if they are still using that it could be better than tidal at lower rate, but too complicated to guess. I expect the difference is minimal, and would not guess based on simple numbers which is superior.
 

Soniclife

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#10
To me the Tidal lossless tier is pointless.
To me it's worth it for the simple avoidance of doubt, I would drive myself mad with trying to get to the truth, but I'm not advocating this as a sensible approach. I do very happily use Spotify when it's not on tidal, and I've never thought it worse.
 
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#11
Radioparadise.com stream in Flac or AAC 320 . Put this in foobar / add location : http://stream-dc1.radioparadise.com/aac-320
SO, I did listen many times in Flac or AAC 320+asio and franckly , the difference is so minimal that I went back to AAC 320 to save bandwidth.
Everytime that I decide to test again, I can't really hear any real difference. The small difference is in the richness of the sound, but not enough to switch to flac. My home music collection is in AIFF. I can hear a real difference between AIFF and DSD but not Flac 1,400 and AAC 320
 

StevenEleven

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#12
To me it's worth it for the simple avoidance of doubt, I would drive myself mad with trying to get to the truth, but I'm not advocating this as a sensible approach. I do very happily use Spotify when it's not on tidal, and I've never thought it worse.
I totally understand that. We’re all human. For an extra $10 a month if it makes you more relaxed about listening to the music what the heck. I’m sure I spend more than $10 more than I need to every day.
 

flipflop

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#13
Properly encoded 256 kbps and 320 kbps AAC will both sound transparent for all intents and purposes.

If you're still having trouble setting up a DBT, please have a look at this thread: https://www.audiosciencereview.com/forum/index.php?threads/codec-abx-testing.7524/
Everything should be covered by it. Let me know if anything needs to be clarified.

As for the music that's the most revealing of compression artifacts, see this thread: https://www.audiosciencereview.com/...sic-tracks-for-speaker-and-room-eq-testing.6/

Looking forward to seeing your report log :)
 

Tks

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#14
Listening to some modern music, I can't even tell the difference between ~200kbps VBR and FLAC..

I mean I can, but nothing approaching confidence ratings of 95%+

On some days I get 80%'s and some days sub 50%'s, which is essentially statistically insignificant.
 
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#15
This is a pretty enlightening process. Before going to the trouble of setting this up on my own I decided to first find a few online tests. I have just completed the first one at the link below. Looks like they have several tests to choose from 48% on the first test. Pretty familiar with their samples too. Had no idea it was that difficult to do. Like most things I’m sure most have seen the tests at the link below but in case not it was very interesting to me. Quite a few different tests there to do. Without having a great ear for music, or training very challenging!
http://abx.digitalfeed.net/list.html
Edit: Funny thing is after the test I needed to listen to some Daft Punk.
 

StevenEleven

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#17
With my ER4SR, i find Lame mp3 192k vbr fine and surprisingly more robust than AAC/Ogg at the same setting?.
My early encoding (beginning 20-25 years ago?) was in lame mp3 VBR 192k--from my own experimenting that's exactly where I had a very high degree of confidence and it was efficient in terms of space.

For a long time I have just ripped in 256 kbps AAC in Itunes ("Itunes-plus," whatever that is supposed to mean), because it's the default in Itunes and space is so much cheaper now. So I don't even have to think about the encoding anymore. I just pop in the CD and rip it in Itunes and it goes on my computer and gets backed up into the cloud by Apple (I have the Apple Music service).

I think Opus is supposed to be absolute state of the art right now for sound quality but it's not compatible with enough of the modern gear. You can mess around with it with the encoder pack in Foobar.
 
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#18
The issue with AAC/Ogg is that for some dark ambient and noise industrial they can't handle it without sounding like a bad mp3, yet with lame in the 192 - 320k area no issues beyond 4 tracks that can fixed by using opus/musepack on them instead.

Opus is getting better since the Vorbis codec is dead and the lead dev for the 3rd party encoder hasn't updated it at all. There allot of issues that been ignored like just upping the bit rate instead of using other compression tricks that vorbis has.

Just shows how far a fully maxed out encoder can do for flawed codecs like MP3.
 
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#19
I will continue to do some testing with lower bitrates vis dbt tests to see where I have some degree of certainty that I can tell the difference. So far, 320k aac vs lossless, I cannot. It would be good to know what that threshold is. If I were guessing I would say 256k aac or similiar. I do remember ages ago mp3 128k did not sound very good compared to 192-256k. But I never did anything like this testing before.
 

Jim777

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#20
A critical one is stereo applause, if that sounds the same, the time smearing is not an issue. My guess is that you'll be perfectly fine with such bit rates.
 
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