The British Federation of Audio (BFA) – the UK’s specialist AV consumer electronics trade body - has come out saying it’s concerned that consumers are not getting the enjoyment they could from their portable music devices or Hi-Fis, with today's music fans happy to download and listen to low bit-rate music files – which often don't come even close to CD quality.
What do you think is an acceptable bit-rate for compressed audio? Does digital compression bother you or at the end of the day is it the quality of the songs themselves that's most important?
Personally I think 128kbps is fine for portable audio. Sure, if you're playing music through your hi-fi you might wanna go higher but to my untrained ears anything around the 256k mark sounds near enough CD quality to me.
I use 64kbps WMA files on my portable player and the sound quality is more than acceptable to my ears. I tend to only use my portable player in the car or out cycling so the finer details of the sound get lost among road, wind and engine/traffic noise. I always prefer CDs at home, which is why I'd never pay to download music.
I tend to use my MP3 player while commuting or out jogging so I use 128kbs vbr WMA. As Adam says, the finer details get lost in the background noise.
I did actually try a load of comparisons from 64kbs (sounded rough) up to lossless; above 128kbs I found it hard to distinguish the differences.
Actually, going off thread slightly, I noticed when ripping my older cds (1985-ish onwards) that the sound quality was worse then one from 2005. Not sure if its down to production values or quality of the software that created the digital music. So if you're putting all your music on a mp3 jukebox, you might want to keep that in mind as well!
I use a mixture of bit rates, for portable audio i've started to convert files to Sony Atracplus 64kbs or better, which sounds fine in my van BUT at home I rip at 256 or usually 320kbs mp3.
The reason for this is that I own a Squeezebox 3 and have virtually given up playing cd's, all my music is streamed wireless from a server pc. 192,256 or 320 kbs all sound great to me and i'm running Sonus Faber Piano Concertos and a Musical Fidelity A5 amp! I could rip in FLAC and get even better lossless quality but when it currently sounds as good as my £1000 Roksan Caspian CD it's a lot of work for a slight improvement and I've yet to get my head around FLAC.
I would urge everybody out there to go to www.slimdevices.com and take a look at a Squeezebox, it has revolutionised my music listening and IT HAS AUDIOPHILE PERFORMANACE, I would never have thought digital music could sound so good. It is designed by music lovers for music lovers, it's fabulous. My current stats, 753 albums, 10827 songs, 462 artists all available at the touch of a button in great quality. What more could you want?
I find it depends on the quality of the player and the quality of the headphones.
There is little point going to the trouble of downloading a huge file that is of a massive bit rate if only to play it in something like a mp3 player out of a christmas cracker with head phones from an ipod. ;-D
Movies on the other hand, need to be higher, the higher the better, but again, it depends on what you are using to watch it.
you should try the PSP ones! the ones sold over here come with 'Ear Protection' or some crap like that. Problem is, if im on the train to work and there is even a whisper from someone, or the train starts moving, i cant hear a thing!
Surely no matter how high the bit rate on the iPod etc, the quality of the connection to the hi fi amp will be a weak link. No matter what bit rate I use, the sound from ipod using the line out on the apple dock is so much more muted than my CD, comparisons are meaningless.
Not sure whether this is due to the quality of the internal electrics in the pod, the dock or the interconnect. suppose a bit unfair to compare to a £600 Cd though.
cant say I noticed much difference between 192 kbps/320kbps aac and apple lossless though. Maybe tighter bass as you go up.