• WANTED: Happy members who like to discuss audio and other topics related to our interest. Desire to learn and share knowledge of science required as is 20 years of participation in forums (not all true). There are daily reviews of audio hardware and expert members to help answer your questions. Click here to have your audio equipment measured for free!

High Bitrate FLAC - Can YOU even hear the difference?

Status
Not open for further replies.

audiofilet

Member
Joined
Sep 9, 2021
Messages
79
Likes
38
I recently entered the audiophile scene with some entry level gear.
I've been listening to a bunch of different high res music from all genres, Berlin Philharmoniker excerpts, audiophile samples, sound stage and frequency tests etc. etc.

This audiophile page with high res samples stuck out to me, and really allowed me to understand.

Track 1.5: Studio Recording - Voice & Jazz by Holly Cole @ 192KHZ/24bit
Track 1.8: Piano - Steinway Piano @ 192KHZ/24bit
Track 1.10: Stradivarius Violin - Concert Hall @ 192KHZ/24bit

I've heard many similar pieces and renditions, but they simply never sounded even remotely like this.

I'm truly mindblown. It's like the world had a big secret that I was finally allowed to learn. Like I've been squeezing oranges with my eye, and finally got a juicer.

Absolutely, unequivocally incredible.

Theren isn't just a difference, it's a different universe.
 

maty

Major Contributor
Joined
Dec 12, 2017
Messages
4,037
Likes
2,723
Location
Tarragona (Spain)
Anyone with a well-tuned stereo should be able to tell the differences (on good recordings, with plenty of headroom) barring deafness. Many spend a fortune and are still unable to.

Just a moment, an experiment with WAV 32/96. The sound is better than FLAC 24/96 with SoX, normal, 98% (foobar2000). And the sound is better with VSTplugin PKHarmonic (JRiver MC v28).

Joan Baez - Diamonds & Rust (1975) foobar2000 SoX.png



 

Attachments

  • Joan Baez - Diamonds & Rust (1975) WAV 32-96 JRMC - DSP -PKHarmonic.png
    Joan Baez - Diamonds & Rust (1975) WAV 32-96 JRMC - DSP -PKHarmonic.png
    90 KB · Views: 40
Last edited:

Killingbeans

Major Contributor
Joined
Oct 23, 2018
Messages
2,286
Likes
3,780
Location
Bjerringbro, Denmark.
Anyone with a well-tuned stereo should be able to tell the differences (on good recordings, with plenty of headroom) barring deafness. Many spend a fortune and are still unable to.

The good old: "Your setup isn't resolving enough"? :facepalm:

I can accept that there might be an ever so minute change. But "different universe"? Seriously? Get real :D
 

Honken

Active Member
Joined
Mar 10, 2020
Messages
278
Likes
434
Location
Scania
Have you attempted to compare these files to what they sound like if you convert them to 44.1kHz 16bit files? Perhaps even running something like the ABX comparator in Foobar?

No one here doubts that different masters and releases can sound different from eachother, but fewer would agree that this is due to the higher sample rate of some of them. Personally, I doubt you'd hear the difference between bit depths with regular music.

I can accept that there might be an ever so minute change
Between uncompressed WAV and the same material in FLAC? I'm not sure if I can.
 

maty

Major Contributor
Joined
Dec 12, 2017
Messages
4,037
Likes
2,723
Location
Tarragona (Spain)
The musical information is the same but the processing is not -> hence the differences. Almost no one has the operating system well optimized to play multimedia.
 

MRC01

Major Contributor
Joined
Feb 5, 2019
Messages
2,433
Likes
2,660
Location
Pacific Northwest
I (and others here) have detected differences in DBT between high sample rates downsampled to 44-16 with some signals, like close-miced jangling keys and square waves.
With music, not so much. MUCH more difficult to do.
My personal view is that 44-16 may not be perceptually transparent, but it is musically transparent for all practical purposes.
This is one reason most of the high-res reissues are remixed or remastered. They want to ensure it really does sound different. That difference is not always an improvement. Not that high-res is worse technically, but the remixing and remastering they do is often worse than the original.
 

DVDdoug

Addicted to Fun and Learning
Joined
May 27, 2021
Messages
867
Likes
1,039
I can't hear the difference between a high-resolution original and a copy downsampled to "CD quality".

Most people can't hear a difference in a proper, scientific, blind ABX test.

Even a good-quality MP3 can often sound identical to the original (depending on the program material and the ability of the listener to hear compression artifacts) or you might have to listen very-carefully to hear the difference. Blind listening tests can be humbling!



High Bitrate FLAC
Don't confuse bitrate with sample rate or bit depth. Bitrate is kilobits per second and it's an indication of file size. There are 8 bits in a byte so you can divide by 8 to get the file size in kilobytes per second. (Except embedded images make the file larger without affecting the bitrate.)

With lossy formats like MP3 it's a rough indication of quality because smaller files (more compression and lower bitrates) require more information to be thrown-away.

FLAC is ALWAYS lossless, no matter the bitrate. When you decompress you always get-back the exact-original bytes. You can get a smaller file (lower bitrate) by using a higher compression level. That just means the compression algorithm "works harder" and takes longer to compress. Mostly, the FLAC bitrate is determined by the original-uncompressed format..... FLAC can only compress so-much so if you start with a larger file (higher sample rate and/or higher bit depth) you get a larger FLAC. It's also affected by the "complexity" of the audio so different 24/96 file will end-up with different bitrates.

You can calculate the bitrate for uncompressed audio but it's mostly used with compressed files -
i.e. CD audio is 16-bits x 44.1kHz x 2 channels = 1411kbps.

 

DanielT

Major Contributor
Joined
Oct 10, 2020
Messages
2,450
Likes
1,840
Location
Sweden - Слава Україні
I recently entered the audiophile scene with some entry level gear.
I've been listening to a bunch of different high res music from all genres, Berlin Philharmoniker excerpts, audiophile samples, sound stage and frequency tests etc. etc.

This audiophile page with high res samples stuck out to me, and really allowed me to understand.

Track 1.5: Studio Recording - Voice & Jazz by Holly Cole @ 192KHZ/24bit
Track 1.8: Piano - Steinway Piano @ 192KHZ/24bit
Track 1.10: Stradivarius Violin - Concert Hall @ 192KHZ/24bit

I've heard many similar pieces and renditions, but they simply never sounded even remotely like this.

I'm truly mindblown. It's like the world had a big secret that I was finally allowed to learn. Like I've been squeezing oranges with my eye, and finally got a juicer.

Absolutely, unequivocally incredible.

Theren isn't just a difference, it's a different universe.
Superb. Good recordings. Thanks for the tip. I like Jazz Club Ambiance (Late Night – Jazz at the Pawnshop

In your link.A good song. Nice Jazz feeling.I will see if I can find it on Spotify and then add it to my Spotify playlist.:)
 
Last edited:

Jim Taylor

Addicted to Fun and Learning
Joined
Oct 22, 2020
Messages
810
Likes
1,572
Your first sentence says, "I recently entered the audiophile scene .... ". The "audiophile scene" is a group-think club, a collective if you will. It's fun, especially for people who are lonely. The discussions and subjects are generally affectatious, and the protocols are not scientific, although some may be pseudo-scientific.

This is not the "audiophile scene". It's a site that uses scientifically-controlled tests and measurements to understand (and compare) the performance of different pieces of audio equipment. People can view the information here and then draw their own conclusions. If they are unsure about something, they can use the forums to ask questions.

But it's nice that you enjoy your music. :) Jim Taylor
 

somebodyelse

Major Contributor
Joined
Dec 5, 2018
Messages
2,664
Likes
2,007
If you want to do ABX tests another source of good test material is http://www.2l.no/hires/ - our host does a comparison of some of their content at different sample rates and bit depths here, including how ultrasonic noise in the high sample rate formats might cause audible problems with some playback hardware. I don't remember whether there was a check to see if there was anything other than sample rate conversion happening between the different formats. If you want to be sure there's nothing else going on then you can do the sample rate conversion yourself. Keep in mind that not all sample rate converters are equal - https://src.infinitewave.ca/ will let you compare at least a subset of what's available, sometimes including different settings for the same software. Some are very good. Others have problems that are probably audible. When using sox with high quality settings (don't remember what they were exactly any more) I failed to ABX with music too. I haven't tried the jangling keys.

When it comes to buying recordings it's another matter entirely. In some cases the CD quality version is just a good sample rate conversion of the high quality version. In others they're completely different mixes, or the 'high quality' version is actually an up-conversion of the CD quality version. Caveat emptor.
 

Martin

Major Contributor
Forum Donor
Joined
Mar 23, 2018
Messages
1,310
Likes
3,257
Location
Cape Coral, FL
I can't tell the difference between 16bit 44.1kHz FLAC and 320kbps MP3 ripped from the same CD. All this talk of night and day differences and my system not being resolving enough to differentiate high res from CDs is pure and utter BS. On Audiocircle there is even someone that says they can hear the difference between a FLAC file being decoded on the fly and one that was converted to a WAV file before it was played. Your mind is effing with you people... Don't believe it - then do it double blind - I dare ya...
 

Killingbeans

Major Contributor
Joined
Oct 23, 2018
Messages
2,286
Likes
3,780
Location
Bjerringbro, Denmark.
Between uncompressed WAV and the same material in FLAC? I'm not sure if I can.

Between dirty peasant 44.1KHz/16bit and glorious master race 192KHz/24bit. If you are a newborn baby or have a shitload of training in detecting distortion products, you'd might be able to hear a teeny-tiny difference. I know I personally wouldn't have a snowball's chance in hell of doing so.

No matter how "resolving" your setup is or how golden your ears are, it will never be a night and day difference.
 

DanielT

Major Contributor
Joined
Oct 10, 2020
Messages
2,450
Likes
1,840
Location
Sweden - Слава Україні
Although there are question of around the source material, levels volume, statistical significance among other things, it is fun to see their facial expressions and how they put into words how they think it sounds.

It is therefore not really possible to draw any conclusions from what appears in the video. It is, as pointed out in the thread, a lot to keep track of, have under control when testing and comparing.

It's called controlled blind test for a reason.

Edit:
Had they heard a difference between the different bit rates if the test had been done according to accepted rules, methods regarding blind tests, with those headphones? You can wonder about that. Probably not.

 
Last edited:

David Harper

Senior Member
Joined
Jul 7, 2019
Messages
359
Likes
415
I recently entered the audiophile scene with some entry level gear.
I've been listening to a bunch of different high res music from all genres, Berlin Philharmoniker excerpts, audiophile samples, sound stage and frequency tests etc. etc.

This audiophile page with high res samples stuck out to me, and really allowed me to understand.

Track 1.5: Studio Recording - Voice & Jazz by Holly Cole @ 192KHZ/24bit
Track 1.8: Piano - Steinway Piano @ 192KHZ/24bit
Track 1.10: Stradivarius Violin - Concert Hall @ 192KHZ/24bit

I've heard many similar pieces and renditions, but they simply never sounded even remotely like this.

I'm truly mindblown. It's like the world had a big secret that I was finally allowed to learn. Like I've been squeezing oranges with my eye, and finally got a juicer.

Absolutely, unequivocally incredible.

Theren isn't just a difference, it's a different universe.
My gear is superior to yours and I don't hear any difference. None at all. Either some other variable is responsible for the difference you think you hear or It's all in your head. I'm guessing it's the latter.
 

alphachannel

Member
Joined
Oct 5, 2021
Messages
14
Likes
3
This audiophile page with high res samples stuck out to me, and really allowed me to understand.

Track 1.5: Studio Recording - Voice & Jazz by Holly Cole @ 192KHZ/24bit
Track 1.8: Piano - Steinway Piano @ 192KHZ/24bit
Track 1.10: Stradivarius Violin - Concert Hall @ 192KHZ/24bit

I've heard many similar pieces and renditions, but they simply never sounded even remotely like this.

I'm truly mindblown. It's like the world had a big secret that I was finally allowed to learn. Like I've been squeezing oranges with my eye, and finally got a juicer.

Absolutely, unequivocally incredible.

Theren isn't just a difference, it's a different universe.
So I downloaded the Holly Cole Jazz 192khz 24bit Recording from that website you linked, Sample 1.5 to be exact, and converted it to mp3/320kbps.

I too have the 770 Pros and that Oratory1990 EQ FIR profile (which you got through my thread here :p lol).

To be reeeeally perfectly honest, without EQ I can't hear much of a difference. The FLAC sounds a tiny bit brighter and I can hear background noises or her lip smacks slightly more prominently, but it's definitely not a world changing difference, and tomorrow I might not notice anything at all.

But with that Oratory FIR filter for optimal Harman correction I must say that the gap between FLAC and mp3 is noticeable.

I switched APO on and off and with EQ I think I could tell those apart if blindfolded.
 
Last edited:

alphachannel

Member
Joined
Oct 5, 2021
Messages
14
Likes
3
Your first sentence says, "I recently entered the audiophile scene .... ". The "audiophile scene" is a group-think club, a collective if you will. It's fun, especially for people who are lonely. The discussions and subjects are generally affectatious, and the protocols are not scientific, although some may be pseudo-scientific.

This is not the "audiophile scene". It's a site that uses scientifically-controlled tests and measurements to understand (and compare) the performance of different pieces of audio equipment. People can view the information here and then draw their own conclusions. If they are unsure about something, they can use the forums to ask questions.

But it's nice that you enjoy your music. :) Jim Taylor
Your first sentence says "clubs are for lonely people".
You must not be invited to join many clubs, I assume, since that would be the statement of a person who gets rejected a lot.

The term Audiophile and especially its meaning, is interchangeable. It can for example mean audio enthusiast, connoisseur or simply one with exceptional hearing. Don't reprimand people, dictating what "this scene" is or isn't, because it's comprised of many different types who all determine that together.

Also, don't blatantly label other member's contributions as pseudo-scientific, simply because you disagree with the core values of their movement. I can see how you are trying to boast your own ego by referring to these discussions as unscientific.

You must be a sad and bitter individual.
 
Status
Not open for further replies.
Top Bottom