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WMA Lossless Versus MP3 320kbps


foogledricks
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I recently ripped my favorite CDs to MP3 320kbps so that I can play them from my Xbox 360, through my Onkyo 605 receiver, into my new speaker system and enjoy hi-fidelity music for the first time in a decade.

 

Then I did a little research, and apparently WMA lossess is better. And if I'm going to go through the trouble of ripping big files for home consumption, why not do the best.

  • Do you agree?
  • And can I use WMP11 to do the ripping?
  • And can Itunes play WMA lossless.
  • Can my 360 play WMA lossless?
  • Can my PS3 play WMA lossless?
  • Would you recommend using my PS3 or 360 to play these files?
  • Any other suggestions?

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I recently ripped my favorite CDs to MP3 320kbps so that I can play them from my Xbox 360, through my Onkyo 605 receiver, into my new speaker system and enjoy hi-fidelity music for the first time in a decade.

 

Then I did a little research, and apparently WMA lossess is better. And if I'm going to go through the trouble of ripping big files for home consumption, why not do the best.

  • Do you agree?
  • And can I use WMP11 to do the ripping?
  • And can Itunes play WMA lossless.
  • Can my 360 play WMA lossless?
  • Can my PS3 play WMA lossless?
  • Would you recommend using my PS3 or 360 to play these files?
  • Any other suggestions?

 

* Lossless is mathematically better than lossy formats because it is an exact copy of the original music just compressed (like a zip file) as opposed to an mp3 that is a lossy sampled file (i.e. sound is ripped out of your music to make the files smaller). On my headphones I can hear the difference between my 320kbps files and my lossless files (I use apple lossless). When I'm streaming audio to my PS3 or 360 (mp3 320kbps) I can hear the difference between it and the cd version. I primarily notice that high end sounds (symbols etc) sound less natural (tiny and hollow) on mp3s. But it all depends on your speakers, if you're actively listening and if you have any hearing loss whether you'll hear the difference.

 

* iTunes won't play WMA lossless files (they use a competing format called Apple Lossless)

 

* You can play WMA lossless through your 360 but not through your PS3.

 

* I probably wouldn't recommend converting your files to WMA lossless, unless you want to archive your music digitally at the same sound quality that your source has.

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If you're going to go lossless (which I highly recommend) do it right.

 

I the real world it's not necessarily practical for most to go lossless. The file sizes and limited compatibility tend to get traded off for the ubiquity of MP3 and other popular lossy codecs. I've played around with various encoding methods among tons of different lossy codecs. The lossy world should run on MPC as it almost rivals FLAC and other lossless options.

 

However, MPC is not widely used so I fell back to MP3 for my lossy (iPod) needs. I began going the 320kbps route just because it seemed like the best option. That ended when I discovered the newish LAME command line variant of MP3: V0. Introduced with LAME 3.97, the V0 switch gives all the semi-transparent quality of a 320kbps MP3 with the smaller file size of a traditional variable bit rate encoded MP3. In a nutshell, you get all the quality of the 320kbps CBR MP3 at a much smaller file size. My recommendation to anyone who needs to go lossy is to do it with V0:

 

V0 –vbr-new

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FLAC can be played on 360 and PS3 through Tversity. The files get transcoded to WAV. 360 has issues playing a few from time to time but PS3 plays them all with no problems.

 

Ahh...probably using a Directshow filter. That makes sense. In that case, Keith, I'd suggest going FLAC. Make sure you rip with EAC , dbpoweramp, or something that lets you make a proper CUE sheet. Even if you still opt to use WMA lossless you should generate a CUE sheet. That will give you a 100% back-up of the CD as it will allow you to have all the proper gaps between tracks. If you should lose the CD you can always burn a backup.

 

I think I'm going to buy this: http://www.slimdevices.com/pi_duet.html

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Lossless codecs are indeed better in theory than any lossy format.

 

I agree that using FLAC and TVersity is probably a good way to go here.

 

Myself, I always found 128kbps MP3 vs CD audible, but past about 192/256bkbps it sounded fine to me.

 

I stuck with iCamp's solution after doing some reading on the hydrogenaudio forums. 320kbps V0 isn't lossless but I can't tell the difference.

 

I've always meant to sit down and blind test myself to see what I really can detect or not (since it varies from person to person). Never got around to it.

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The only problem with FLAC is that it won't play with iTunes (one of K Fed's requests).

 

 

Dave,

 

There's no room for science in hifi audio. I figured a guy like you would know that.

 

Whoops. I forgot about itunes. I guess I never use any music programs like that, so I forget that they don't support everything. I'm still in a 90s grove using Winamp to play stuff ;)

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  • 3 years later...

Technically, a lossless file is going to be "better" in that it will not lose any integrity of the original source, but practically, unless you're listening to the 320k mp3 in comparison to a lossless file such as a WAV or FLAC file, in a soundproof, acoustically perfect room, with reference monitors, you're not going to notice the difference at all.

Especially in your car, or in your little IPOD speakers, etc.

For the posterity of backing up your physical media to digital, yes, lossless is the way to go, but for practical usage, it's not necessary, and you'll save storage space on whatever you're backing them up to.

I'm a professional musician, and listen to my own bands' stuff in 320kbps mp3's ripped off my own CD.

It's all good.

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