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markainsworth
6
May 5, 2019
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Here is my take: Spotify Premium is 320kbps MP3 which is very compressed. CD's and Tidal HiFi ($20/month) are 44.1khz (which translates to about 44,100kbps) so more than 100 times the sampling rate of Spotify Premium. Tidal HiFi are FLAC files. That means they employ data compression similar to ZIP. The difference between this type of compression and the compression employed by the MP3 is that the decompressed version of a FLAC file is an EXACT copy of the CD source. This is FAR from the case with even the best MP3's. There are other lossless formats: ALAC (used by Apple) and WAV (no compression). To get the benefit lossless formats offer you will need a decent Digital Audio Converter. Forget the one in your PC. Unless you have a high end mixing board, you can be certain it is garbage. If you use your PC to stream, you will need to make sure you are sending the pure digital stream to your external DAC. Some phones have decent on board DACs: Top of the line LG and Samsung units for example. Even in these units, you will get a benefit by incorporating an external headphone amp. TIDAL HiFi (which I subscribe to) produces FLAC files of CD quality with some recordings that are 192Mhz at 24/bit (as opposed to 44.1/16 bit for CD) using a technology called MQA which allows them to be played by devices that do not support 192/24 input. Since I use an external streaming device that does not support MQA (Cambridge CXN) I cannot comment on the difference in quality. Clarifying a little to get 192/24 performance from tidal, your DAC must specifically support MQA as well as the 192/24 rate. This is because MQA in effect sends both 44.1/16 and 192/24. Units that do not support MQA will ignore the 192/24 signal. It is also significant to note that at the time of this writing TIdal Masters recordeings are only supported on the TIDAL desktop app and a few select streaming devices. The list includes ROON, and there are a large number of Network Audio players that support ROON. ROON is a subscription service: $199/year or $499/lifetime. Even higher sampling rates are available in other formats (DSD for example). I do not know of any streaming service that includes such files. Generally you purchase downloads of these ($30-$40 for an 'album') and store them on your own media - usually a hard drive or 6. These types of files require high end equipment to decode properly and the files tend to be quite large, so if you want to go that route, prepare your wallet. Another downside of these files is they are generally not playable on portable devices. A word about TIDAL in your car: Android Auto does support TIDAL, but the current state of the Android Auto interface is it sucks, so I would recommend interfacing directly to your phone. Depending on the capabilities of your head unit (radio) you can (in order of preference) (1) send the digital stream to your head unit and use its DAC; (2) send the audio stream to your head unit (via the 3mm jack) In this case you are using your phone's DAC which could be good or bad depending on your phone; (3) Send audio via Bluetooth to your head unit.
May 5, 2019
ElectronicVices
2803
May 8, 2019
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Most of your points are spot on but not your comparison of a bit rate to a sampling rate. A 320kbps CBR .mp3 is 320kbps bit rate (a measure of data relative to timeframe). 44.1kHz is sampling rate/frequency made during the recording or conversion process. This is a measure of the number of recording/data capture cycles per second. Uncompressed 44.1kHz/16 bit has a bit rate of 1411kps just over 4 times the rate of a 320kbps lossy track. Lossless files with variable bit rate compression applied will yield a varying bit rate based on the amount of content inherent to the recording and the encoding level set. I have hi-res FLAC and DSD files that double, triple, quadruple that bit rate.
May 8, 2019
GiMS_Pang
1
Jun 8, 2019
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"44.1khz (which translates to about 44,100kbps)". That's incorrect. Sorry I didn't read the rest.
Jun 8, 2019
markainsworth
6
Jun 9, 2019
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Thanks, electronicvices, for correcting my error.
Jun 9, 2019
ElectronicVices
2803
Jun 10, 2019
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We all make 'em!
Jun 10, 2019
Royaume
20
Jul 11, 2019
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A wav has a bitrate of [bit depth] * [sample rate] * 2 for two channels. For 16/44.1 that's 16*44,100*2 = 1,411,200bps or 1,411kbps. For 16/48 that's 16*48,000*2 = 1,536kbps For 24/96 its 4,608kbps! FLAC and ALAC losslessly compress these with varying degrees of sucess depending on the Tomball complexity of the music encoded. MP3 is to be avoided as it sucks. MP4 is better, though flat and dull. High res is noticeably better on a revealing enough system.
(Edited)
Jul 11, 2019
eatkinola
50
Aug 19, 2020
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44.1khz (which translates to about 44,100kbps) -- no, this is just wrong. Sampling rate and bit rate are not equivalent.
Aug 19, 2020
eatkinola
50
Aug 19, 2020
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"MP3 is to be avoided as it sucks." Well, it will greatly depend on the sampling rate. A 128 kbps mp3 sucks, a 192 kbps mp3 usually does not, 320 kbps even better but probably overkill. Of course may vary with certain types of music, and some people have "golden ears". Whatever, but making blanket statements like mp3 sucks is grossly misleading. If you want to archive your music in a lossless format, don't use mp3. But if you just want to enjoy listening to it, it's a tried and true and still very good format.
Aug 19, 2020
ElectronicVices
2803
Aug 21, 2020
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I just don' t get the reason behind continuing to use lossy codecs for local files in 2020. I have over 500gb of storage between my onboard and sd card for my phone. I get it for the iPhone crowd as they have fixed storage but for most android users and people with DAPs there is just no point. I don't need to carry around 112,000 songs with me at all times, I have hard drives for that. Streaming services allow you to save content offline so mobile data limits shouldn't be a problem for most folks. Lossy codecs were created due to storage and bandwidth concerns over 20 years ago... we don't have those same limitations today.
Aug 21, 2020
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