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Can you really tell difference between mp3 and flac ?

Discussion in 'Sound City' started by R3X, Jan 21, 2019.

  1. R3X

    Wise Guy

    Joined: Aug 9, 2013

    Posts: 2,100

    I found this great test and scored pathetically on it with 3/3 (Creative AE5 (direct HP) + AKG K550 mk3s)


    And my ears are apparently pretty decent and sharp, I always heard read there is a pretty big difference between 320kbps mps and flacs but maybe my ears are deceiving me.

    Anyhow try the test and maybe be surprised, just don't throw your £600 headphone amp against the wall:)
  2. EsaT


    Joined: Jun 6, 2008

    Posts: 4,777

    Location: Finland

    Without actual comparison/reference point human hearing is really crappy measuring instrument.
    And any non-blind testing is basically psychologically biased as hell.
    Now guess how all "audiophiles" do tests...
  3. rids57


    Joined: Jul 25, 2012

    Posts: 5,923

    Location: Ankh Morpork

    I've tried 320kbps MP3 vs FLAC of the same recording and can't tell the difference
  4. benjii


    Joined: Apr 26, 2013

    Posts: 3,286

    Location: Plymouth

    Here, a short interesting read with a little quiz at the bottom to test whether you can tell the difference.
  5. Scougar


    Joined: Jan 30, 2007

    Posts: 11,835

    Location: PA, USA

    First two songs I nailed. I was positive in my selections. Last 4 I totally messed up. Good headphones, bad audio quality on this particular phone. Will try again later on my decent audio chip phone (this Nokia 6.1 actually does suck for audio).

    I am the person that coukd hear the electronic static in mp3s when I younger. Drove me nuts. Maybe my ears have aged a bit recently as in picked 128 version twice from the link lol.
    Last edited: Jan 23, 2019
  6. Marsman


    Joined: Oct 18, 2009

    Posts: 10,421

    Does it matter?

    Just another reason for some people to feel smug and superior that they can (or at least think they can ;)) hear a difference in the presence of those who can't. Not saying that applies to all that can hear a difference, but there are people who do.

    For all those that can't, maybe we should just make do with cheap headphones and speakers, or maybe just quit listening to music altogether. :p
  7. hornetstinger


    Joined: Sep 6, 2016

    Posts: 5,469

    Yes MP3 sounds bad
    Vorbis sounds a lot better than MP3 too
  8. neil_g


    Joined: Dec 9, 2007

    Posts: 9,740

    Location: South Hampshire

    Who knows, depends maybe?

    2 things that I normally think of on this topic, first that a bad recording is a bad recording irrelevant to the audio file.

    Secondly I think I just like the fact that I've sourced equipment that should sound good, and putting in higher quality source makes sense to me that it's making the most of the equipment?
  9. JasonM

    Wise Guy

    Joined: Jun 19, 2009

    Posts: 2,189

    High quality mp3 v FLAC you may notice a difference. However things like speakers and speaker position, room acoustics, DAC quality, amp quality, power quality, and cables will potentially make more difference.

    What i'm saying, is you can have your entire library in FLAC format, however unless rest of audio chain is very good, then FLAC argument becomes mainly academic.
    Last edited: Jan 23, 2019
  10. Doogles


    Joined: Mar 22, 2014

    Posts: 3,706

    I can tell the difference when using my speakers otherwise not so much.
  11. d_brennen


    Joined: Jan 30, 2009

    Posts: 14,628

    Location: Aquilonem Londinensi

    When deciding if I should maintain my own music library or just use a streaming service, I concluded my ears couldn't tell the difference via either my stereo or headphones, so went with streaming. Not saying it's impossible to tell, just my enjoyment doesn't suffer so I don't worry about it
  12. Scougar


    Joined: Jan 30, 2007

    Posts: 11,835

    Location: PA, USA

    I dropped to streaming my music many years ago. The convienience level of being able to listen to whatever I want (almost) far outweighs having a more limited library of better quality music. Sure I have favorites, but I'm not an audiophile.

    I actually re-listened to the music with my better phone chip and same headphones.. and could not even tell the difference anymore (I was rushed at the time though).

    I will try on my decent amplifier with my medium Polk speakers tonight if I can.
    Last edited: Jan 24, 2019
  13. ttaskmaster


    Joined: Sep 11, 2013

    Posts: 7,569

    Location: Reading, UK

    I can certainly hear differences when comparing one to the other... but couldn't tell you which was which, or necessarily say which was 'higher quality'. I'll just know which one I like best.

    I also have preferences on how certain tracks sound if I know them well, but most self-certified bona fide audiophiles who own lots of expensive equipment will tell me I know nothing about sound! :)
  14. SexyGreyFox

    Man of Honour

    Joined: Mar 29, 2003

    Posts: 48,144

    I have a decent DAP and £280 in ears, I also have excellent hearing which is equal to someone with normal hearing in their 20s.
    I originally tried FLACs on my DAP and then put MP3 320's on and asked my daughter to switch between the two - I couldn't hear a difference.
    I then ran both files through Spectrum Analyser which confirmed there was no difference.
    However do the same test with lower bit rate MP3's and there is a difference.

    Don't get me started on vinyl v FLAC v MP3 320 - vinyl listeners are in a world of unicorns.
  15. R3X

    Wise Guy

    Joined: Aug 9, 2013

    Posts: 2,100

    esat posted this link on another thread which throws even more spanners to can we really tell the audio quality difference between motherboard onboard sound and 2K Audio hi-fi equipment.


    I have to admit I ain't too sure, I couldn't tell the difference firmly between 320k and flac, but still use flac anyhow.
  16. bledd


    Joined: Oct 21, 2002

    Posts: 45,945

    Location: Parts Unknown

    I can't tell the difference between V0 VBR MP3 and Flac. This is using my HD595.

    I don't pick 320kbs CBR because of the space wasted.
  17. Scooby_WR1

    Wise Guy

    Joined: May 20, 2007

    Posts: 1,004

    Location: Stoke-on-Trent

    I personally can't tell a difference between them, I thought this was quite a good video about it.
  18. james.miller


    Joined: Aug 17, 2003

    Posts: 17,040

    Location: Woburn Sand Dunes

    :D Says the guy who claimed he couldn't hear the distortion that ruined Death Magnetic ;)
  19. SexyGreyFox

    Man of Honour

    Joined: Mar 29, 2003

    Posts: 48,144

    Still sounds excellent to me although I've taken it down to 93db like all my other files.
  20. Disco_P


    Joined: Dec 30, 2013

    Posts: 5,009

    Location: GPS signal not found. (11)

    Well that's another album ruined!