Audio Codec Quality Shootout

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Back in the s, a new audio format was invented at a research facility in Germany called the Fraunhofer Institut. And time rolled on yet again — until when newer versions of WinAMP became more stable. Finally, the MP3 format would become all the rage. Back inmany people still had puny 3GB hard drives and slow And the fact that the song would typically be only 3 or 4 megabytes in size — in the days before CD burners and GB hard drives — meant that the average person could easily keep a hundred or more songs on his or her PC.

Of course, people with access to high-speed networks and huge amounts of storage on servers and networked hard drives — college students and IT workers — could have entire jukeboxes at their disposal. Of course, times have changed. The average desktop PC can easily have GB of storage space or more.

Pretty much any American in an urban area can get a high-speed Internet connection at home. Unlike those early days, even the most basic computer for sale in America today can encode an MP3 in seconds, store tens of thousands of them on its hard drive and download them from certain sources in seconds. During this time one thing exact audio copy lame options trading not changed though — the MP3 format.

Granted, of all the human senses hearing might just be the most subjective. After all, what sounds fine to me might sound awful to you. I honestly believe the only reason he converted to CD in the first place was that he had a difficult time finding cassettes in stores!

And my sister is extremely sensitive to low-frequency sounds. The point of me telling you about my relatives is to say that MP3s might sound fine to you. Just about every piece of music listened to on a PC is compressed.

Now, although there are hundreds of specific compression schemes out there for shrinking the size of every kind of data, there are really only two major types of compression out there:. Lossy — a compression scheme where data is discarded as a means of compression.

Lossless — a compression scheme where data is not discarded as a means of compression. The file size might shrink from KB to 15KB because most of the original data has been thrown away to save space. If you then take the new, smaller image and blow it up to original size again the picture will look awful — because most of the original data that contained information about the picture has been discarded.

Check out this example using the New York City skyline:. MP3s work in exactly the same way. Luckily, most lossy formats can be tweaked to allow for different compression ratios. A low bitrate — such as 64kbps — produces files that are half the size of a kbps one — with an appreciable loss in sound quality. It will sound much better than the kbps, but exact audio copy lame options trading, because the MP3 format is lossy, it will never sound as good as the original.

Now exact audio copy lame options trading the document and open it. There are several lossless audio formats out there. Because I have chosen to standardize on the FLAC format, this is the lossless compression scheme I will discuss here, although I will mention others at the end of this article.

To understand the difference between exact audio copy lame options trading and lossless compression as it relates to music, it might be helpful to briefly discuss how music gets from your audio CD into any particular format. However, to this day all MP3 programs work in exactly the same way: When played back at the same rate, these snapshots combine to create music in much the same way that each frame of a movie creates the illusion of movement.

Now, none of this is really important to this discussion save the fact that WAV files — Windows native sound format — are also PCM audio. Audio in this format averages 10MB per minute, so a 5 minute song would be around 50MB. Back in the day, this would take 35 floppy disks or half a Zip disk to transport and copying it via Describing how MP3 works is far outside the scope of this article, but in a nutshell the encoder discards information that humans have a tough time hearing. For example, the PCM format allows plenty of space to record sounds at frequencies many humans have trouble hearing.

You will experience the same loss in quality with your sound files that I showed with the New York skyline pictures above. Once a song is converted to MP3 you will never again be able to listen to it at the same fidelity as you could with the original WAV files.

How it works is beyond the scope of this article, but it suffices to say that FLAC works in much the same way as compressing a Word document in WinZip.

This is still quite large compared to MP3 but the benefit is obvious — although compressed, files in the FLAC format can easily be converted back to WAV files and perfect copies can be burnt to audio CD at any time. Find exact audio copy lame options trading quiet time and some headphones to listen to exact audio copy lame options trading two versions of the song.

So — how do you use FLAC? First you need to go to the FLAC website and download the installer. EXE file — or you can point it to the executable yourself. There are hundreds of MP3 software players out there, not to mention thousands of portable players, car decks and DVD players that will play the MP3 format. These apps are notorious for creating sub-par MP3s.

You should encode your MP3s at least kbps if not kbps or higher. Those of you that listen to music with a great dynamic range — classical, jazz, ambient and new age — should seriously consider using kbps for your recordings, if not ditching MP3 altogether exact audio copy lame options trading FLAC.

Keep ripping and listening. Having said that, you will still have uses for things like FLAC. This way you can make as many perfect copies of the exact audio copy lame options trading as you wish. As promised, here are some links to other lossless audio formats. I have not tested ANY of them, so try them at your own risk. Note that the formats are listed below in roughly the order of their popularity:. Now, although there are hundreds of specific compression schemes out there for shrinking the size of every kind of data, there are really only two major types of compression out there: Allow me to give some examples that will illustrate the difference between the two.

Check out this example using the New York City skyline: Original picture click to enlarge Shrunken picture Actual size Shrunken picture, enlarged to original size click to enlarge MP3s work in exactly the same way. Lossless Audio Formats There are several lossless audio formats out there. Other Lossless Audio Formats As promised, here are some links to other lossless audio formats. Note that the formats are listed exact audio copy lame options trading in roughly the order of their popularity: Sorry, your blog cannot share posts by email.

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April 15, Author s: Having a home server can bring obvious benefits, but what if it could do more than just sit there? Pop in a disc, and minutes later it will be available for streaming. As our digital libraries grow exponentially year after year, and we start to only purchase music from our favorite online vendors Zune Marketplace for me, please!

While the format you choose to use is completely up to you, the term MP3 is no longer associated with the way the song is compressed but rather now is simply a slang term used for most songs in digital form. As my education to the technology increased, and my tastes evolved, I have found myself ripping those same CDs two, three and sometimes even four times over the past decade into an ever increasing audio quality.

What started with Musicmatch Jukebox yeah, you remember that one and k quality, has evolved into lossless rips such as FLAC. There are many different programs available that allow you to rip your CDs to MP3. Some are free to download while others will set you back a bit of money. In my experiences over the past few years, a networked house is a beautiful thing, and when you can combine your love of music with your love of technology, exciting things can be done.

In our looks at the Squeezebox3 and more recently, the Logitech Boom , no longer is your digital audio collection forced to be played on your PC or your MP3 player of choice. This ability to completely open up your audio is powerful and has personally changed the way I approach enjoying my music on a daily basis.

We first got excited about the platform over two years ago when it was debuted at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas. The following year was quite a headache for not only Microsoft but anyone who decided to adopt the still-new operating system. Publicly known around October of , it took Microsoft almost nine months to issue a fix for the problem with the release of Power Pack 1. After that, critics have agreed that WHS is by and large a very solid approach to backing up your networked PCs and sharing your media across said network.

After Power Pack 2 was released last month, adding even more streaming capabilities, Microsoft has made another significant push into the living room when paired with a Windows Media Connect supported device like the XBox and the PS3.

Borrowing the styling from the Mac minis and providing a fair amount of storage expandability, the RipNAS box is meant to allow easy ripping of your CDs and then use the power of WHS to send that media across your network to any place you desire. Along the top of the window, you have your basic functions including connected computers and their respective backups, user accounts, shard folders, server storage, overall network health and the RipNAS software icon.

Once on the RipNAS tab, displayed is a list of your previously ripped albums and whether or not each album experienced errors in the ripping process. While settings are sparse compared to the full-blown version of dBpoweramp, you do have the choice of ripping your music quickly, or slowing things down in an effort to silence the process as much as possible. RipNAS will automatically reach out to four different meta data providers with PerfectMeta, download the data for that album including album art and then begin to rip the disc.

While this is completely painless, you are going to want to edit the settings before you do anything. In the upper right corner of the WHS console, there is a settings button. As we mentioned earlier, I am no audiophile and have been ripping my music to MP3 for a long time now, so for the sake continuity and space, I still use the tried and true compressed format. Also available is Wave bit-for-bit lossless and Windows Media Audio You also have the ability to control where your music is placed once ripped.

By default on WHS systems, it will place it into your music share, allowing your music to be available for streaming as soon as a song is ripped. The process is as simple as that. There is really little effort involved. Once you have your settings in place, it literally as easy as putting in your disk and closing the drive. Without working with the RipNAS hardware, I cannot comment on it in any way other than my own personal opinions based solely on what I have read and the pricing of the goods.

For what you get, the pricing of the RipNAS places it squarely in the premium segment of the market. Having only worked with the software, and using WHS installed on my own personal hardware, I can say that unless you are in love with styling or plan on showing off your RipNAS in your entertainment center, I see no reason to spend the money on the hardware when you can build your own WHS for far less. The only real downside, of course, will be the much larger size. Illustrate is a highly respected software provider in the audio community and while not the entire package, the RipNAS WHS integration is truly a great addition to the overall home server experience.

There is a catch, however. There is little more than 5 minutes in between installation of the software and completion of your first album. Have a comment you wish to make on this article?

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