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Destroy Bad Rips
December 27, 2005 10:29 PM   Subscribe

Won'tcha do us all a favor and start ripping those CDs at a higher quality if you're going to share. Thanks.
posted by panoptican (62 comments total)

 
Is this thread a honeypot for God and SweetJesus?
posted by Meridian at 10:40 PM on December 27, 2005


l.a.m.e.
posted by parallax7d at 10:45 PM on December 27, 2005


Is this thread a honeypot for God and SweetJesus?

what does this mean? sorry?
posted by spunk at 10:47 PM on December 27, 2005


If you're really into music, this is actually a bit outdated... it was, after all, written more than three years ago.

If you're serious about good quality, use lossless. Hard drives are large and cheap; a 250gig hard drive, which you can find for like a hundred bucks these days, will hold 4 to 5 hundred albums, losslessly compressed.

FLAC is a good format choice, because it has good tag support, and you can use it fairly easily from within EAC. There are others. They're all pretty similar in terms of performance, and FLAC will give you the broadest support. If you want to use iTunes, Apple Lossless is fine too.

I use CUE/FLAC files, myself.... a CUE/WAV is an image file (I use EAC to create mine), which I then compress with FLAC. I use this in conjunction with a couple of Squeezeboxes, which are well-built, have great displays, and really excellent sound. They use good DACs, and have a very low-jitter digital transport, if you're one who worries about jitter. (personally, I'm not sure it really matters.) They speak WAV, FLAC, WMA, and MP3 in hardware, and the server can transcode on-the-fly from other formats to one of these.

This gives you easy access to your entire music library using just a remote, so you don't have to be on the computer to start or stop music, unlike iTunes.

Slimserver's biggest drawback is probably that its playlist management isn't that great... it's a bit painful. Functional, but not drag-and-drop... this is iTunes' greatest strength, IMO.

Fortunately, Slimserver has the ability to integrate playlists and playback with iTunes, so you can, if you wish, use iTunes for management, and then use the remote on the Squeezeboxes to play your iTunes library.... as long as it's not DRMed.

Once you've ripped losslessly, you'll never again need to re-rip your library, assuming you keep good backups. if a new format comes out, you can just convert to that instead. You can put your CDs in a box in the attic and forget them.
posted by Malor at 10:52 PM on December 27, 2005


spunk - what does this mean? sorry?

Here you go spunk, check it out.
posted by Meridian at 10:52 PM on December 27, 2005


So, to clear all this up,
EAC is a windows program that rips music off audio CD without compressing it.
FLAC is the best lossless audio codec,
LAME is the best MP3 encoder,
OGG is the highest-quality lossy audio codec,
Alternatively, you can just download iTunes and rip music without having to learn what any of those preceding acronyms mean.
Also, this post sucks.
posted by boaz at 10:56 PM on December 27, 2005


OGG is a joke.
posted by keswick at 11:01 PM on December 27, 2005


I felt a great disturbance in the Front Page, as if millions of posts suddenly cried out in terror and were suddenly silenced.
posted by shmegegge at 11:03 PM on December 27, 2005


I love those chaps who insist that concert recordings probably recorded on a cheap condenser mic onto cassette tape need to be losslessly compressed or they're worthless.

I love people who insist on lossless compression for their music library so they can listen to that glorious, perfect hi-fi sound in bud earphones.

They're nearly as funny as the people who insist that anologue vinyl is the only way to listen to music...music that was probably recorded in a digital studio in the first place.

It's music for christ sakes. Rock and roll. People with this kind of anal retentiveness prove that they've never known the joy of finding a dusty C-90 tape, warped by sun and spilt soda, on the backseat of their car and jamming it in the stereo for serious summer vibes.
posted by Jimbob at 11:08 PM on December 27, 2005


Well put, Jimbob.
posted by weapons-grade pandemonium at 11:14 PM on December 27, 2005


I've found the best file size/loss balance comes from encoding with LAME VBR style: minimum bitrate 256kpbs, and maximum bitrate 320kpbs. if you can tell the difference between that and a lossless codec, then you can probably afford to buy the real CDs.
posted by mcsweetie at 11:20 PM on December 27, 2005


Well, if you're going to keep it, you might as well keep the best quality you can for whatever device you listen to it on down the road, eh?
posted by Firas at 11:20 PM on December 27, 2005


OGG is a joke.

How so?
posted by kenko at 11:20 PM on December 27, 2005


OGG is a joke.

I'm interested also. A joke because mp3 was already on the scene in a big way when this thing was spat out at us, thus rendering it kind of superfluous?

I agree with mcsweetie more or less (he must have better ears than me). LAME set at 192 VBR does the trick for both my home system, which isn't too shabby, and my personal devices.
posted by aqueousdan at 11:32 PM on December 27, 2005


Actually, I'd like lower quality and much smaller files. I'm pretty much satisfied with listening to the radio (though FM is better than AM for quality obviously), and would survive quite well if my mp3s were that good. But I'd love to be able to fit a larger number in my music-alloted spaces.
posted by Kickstart70 at 11:45 PM on December 27, 2005


If you're serious about it, rip to FLAC.

A joke because mp3 was already on the scene in a big way when this thing was spat out at us, thus rendering it kind of superfluous?

Ah, I get it -- different ways of doing things are jokes! Idiot.
posted by clevershark at 12:08 AM on December 28, 2005


It's music for christ sakes. Rock and roll.

Um, What sort of outdated loser listens to rock?
posted by HTuttle at 12:11 AM on December 28, 2005


If you've rocked correctly, your hearing should be too far gone to recognize anything better than 160kbps.
posted by paul_smatatoes at 12:19 AM on December 28, 2005


Kickstart70: this is just anecdotal, but in the low fi range I've noticed that WMA can take quite a beating on file size and still sound decent (i.e., a 200k wma file sounds much better than a 200k mp3 file for 3mins of audio).
posted by Firas at 12:24 AM on December 28, 2005


For mere mortals iTunes is oke anyway - especially if they only use these €9,99 desktop speakers. Even the iPod DAC sound cheesy even with HQ ripps, especially on high volume.

Digital sound is terrible if dynamics are limted to 8 bit anyway, 16 bits are better and a 32 bit encoder would be best.
posted by homodigitalis at 12:53 AM on December 28, 2005


-ape

That is all.
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 1:15 AM on December 28, 2005


OGG is a joke.

When I saw this all I could hear is Flava Flav going, "911 is a joke!"
posted by thecjm at 3:31 AM on December 28, 2005


simply learn to play musical instruments yourselves , not only will it be creatively rewarding but the sound quality will be second to none.
posted by sgt.serenity at 3:49 AM on December 28, 2005


Jimbob loves me!
posted by caddis at 4:00 AM on December 28, 2005


sgt.serenity:

What are you, some kind of Communist?
posted by Mikey-San at 5:02 AM on December 28, 2005


simply learn to play musical instruments yourselves , not only will it be creatively rewarding but the sound quality will be second to none.

Wait--does Steve Jobs even *make* an I-guitar? I don't get it, how does this work, this "instruments" thing? Do they have digital rights management? How does one pay appropriate royalties while playing? Are they streaming hardware or something?
posted by craniac at 5:25 AM on December 28, 2005


I don't care how it sounds, I just want to know who's naming these things. I mean, how embarrassing is it to say your music is all in "Ogg Vorbis" from a "LAME" encoder. You might as well give yourself a wedgie.

And the DRM guitar? That's an idea whose time has come.
posted by fungible at 5:54 AM on December 28, 2005


what an odd historic link..

talking about audio encoding brings the moron out of nearly everybody..
posted by suni at 5:57 AM on December 28, 2005


I love those chaps who insist that concert recordings probably recorded on a cheap condenser mic onto cassette tape need to be losslessly compressed or they're worthless.

When you start out with a bad quality recording the damage done by compression is very noticable. You can lose half of what certain instruments are doing in the process, ie the drummer is suddenly only hitting the downbeat.
posted by aburd at 5:58 AM on December 28, 2005


I spent a lot of time worrying about audio quality, compression, and headphones until recently, when I had the opportunity to compare a friend's Etymotic ER4's to my $10 Sony earbuds. What small difference I could discern I chalked up to the isolating effect of the earphones. At this point, listening to anything encoded at higher than 192k on headphones that cost me more than $30 is a waste of drive space and money.
posted by monju_bosatsu at 6:38 AM on December 28, 2005


monju_bosatsu: do you mean "less than $30"?
posted by rxrfrx at 6:49 AM on December 28, 2005


rxrfx: No. I mean that spending more than $30 on a pair of headphones is, for me, a waste of money.
posted by monju_bosatsu at 6:59 AM on December 28, 2005


monju, if the source isn't that good, then the ER-4s wouldn't show you that much difference. You should first compare the headphones with a lossless source and get comfortable with how they sound. Once you choose the one you prefer, then experiment with the lossy compression.

By way of comparison, I was checking to see what difference a headphone amp would make on my Senns. With 128k MP3, I couldn't hear anything different. Starting with LAME-encoded tracks at --preset-standard or extreme, I could hear a definite difference, and a bit more still with lossless. (I ended up settling on --preset-extreme for travel... it sounds great, and the filesizes are still manageable. )

If the source is crap, it doesn't matter how good your speakers or headphones are. Test first with a good source. Don't use a PC to choose headphones... PC sound, in general, is terrible. A standalone CD player, even a cheapie, will be a much better test. And remember that some models of ER-4 require a headphone amp to sound their best.... this is also true of the best of the Sennheisers. (580s/600s/650s). So you might verify that the headphone is being driven properly before judging it.

You may well find you're perfectly happy with 128K on regular earbuds, but to be really sure, you have to test the variables independently.
posted by Malor at 7:15 AM on December 28, 2005


Malor, I was comparing the two with a lossless source on good stereo equipment. I, however, am a special case. I've had ear surgery 7 times, including a mastoidectomy and a reconstruction of my right ear drum. My ears are simply no longer capable of discerning the difference in quality above a certain point.
posted by monju_bosatsu at 7:19 AM on December 28, 2005


-V2 --vbr-new bitches
posted by darukaru at 7:46 AM on December 28, 2005


Of course for most people over 30 or won't be able to hear the highs anyway.

*sigh*.

When do we get digital straight to the brain? (no DRM, plz)
posted by delmoi at 7:56 AM on December 28, 2005


Your favourite band's encoding sucks.
posted by Nelson at 9:01 AM on December 28, 2005


Sorry, but I don't need to go the high-dollar audiophile route to appreciate Sabbath's War Pigs or the Plasmatics' Maggots.

The bulk of the music I listen to would sound exactly the same played through a B&O master system with Bose speakers, or a Yorx portable in the bottom of a pickle bucket. I'll stick to my 128k mp3's.
posted by davelog at 9:21 AM on December 28, 2005


the sound quality will be second to none

Correction: the fidelity will be 100%. The quality will without a doubt be shite.
posted by scarabic at 10:04 AM on December 28, 2005


Don't even get me started on Bose.
posted by keswick at 10:05 AM on December 28, 2005


Is this thread a honeypot for God and SweetJesus?

If only...

There's nothing I enjoy more than profoundly ignorant arguments with divinely-named members of this site. Why, it just warms my cockles...
posted by SweetJesus at 10:28 AM on December 28, 2005


Basically, this is a guide to being an anal p2p'er
posted by cellphone at 10:54 AM on December 28, 2005


AHHH! You said today's secret word! Bose! AHHHH!

*hides from the Bose trolls (on both sides that is)*
posted by grahamux at 11:25 AM on December 28, 2005


Actually, davelog is correct. Bose speakers do sound like a Yorx portable in the bottom of a pickle bucket.
posted by parallax7d at 11:59 AM on December 28, 2005


I have some Bose noise-cancelling headphones and I really like them. Does that mean I'm an idiot?
posted by betaray at 1:15 PM on December 28, 2005


talking about audio encoding brings the moron out of nearly everybody..

I feel somewhat responsible for this train wreck, since it originated with a stupid question I asked on an-IRC-channel-that-shall-remain-nameless that panoptican responded to.

Anyway, just to fan the flames further, doesn't everybody who owns Bose speakers also own an Oreck vacuum cleaner?
posted by wendell at 1:18 PM on December 28, 2005


Must resist urge to be a Bose troll, must resist urge to be a Bose troll...

I do know the joy of slapping in a bad cassette and cranking it up, saying to hell with hi fidelity. But sometimes hi fidelity is the only way to go.

My home system will pick out the flaws in just about anything that's poorly recorded. So only actual CDs or vinyl get played on that.

I listen to boots, MP3s, and downloads on my computer while I'm working. 192 or 160 doesn't sound bad at all coming over my Sony headphones.
posted by Ber at 1:55 PM on December 28, 2005


What Malor said... I ripped (and am ripping :) all my CDs into FLAC via cdparanoia. The upsides so far are the ability to recreate the CD more or less as was, and also that when I got a nano I was able to easily encode it all at a lower bitrate to fit more into the 4Gb (since the nano is mostly for commuting, where quality isn't so important).

monju, I have a pair of ER-4P's... the difference between these and the earphones that came with the iPod is truly outstanding. It's true that the isolation gives you a huge improvement before you even consider the transducers themselves, but the sound you get... it's just incredible. Orchestral recordings are so much more detailed with these than anything else I've ever heard that the cost (considering how much music I listen to) is well worth it.
posted by ny_scotsman at 1:56 PM on December 28, 2005


I ripped my CD collection (450 CDs) to MP3 @ 224 kbps via Musicmatch Jukebox.

Anyone that says they can hear a difference between my MP3 and the original CD outside of a tuned professional audio recording room is delusional.

People who rip to lossless formats are doing it for style points, not for audio quality.
posted by Argyle at 4:02 PM on December 28, 2005


People who listen to music are wankers.
posted by Soulfather at 5:58 PM on December 28, 2005


I have some Bose noise-cancelling headphones and I really like them. Does that mean I'm an idiot?

Did you pay retail price for them?

It's not that Bose gear is bad per se, it's just that you can do so much better for the price you pay.
posted by darukaru at 6:10 PM on December 28, 2005


Speaking of gear, the Sennheiser earbuds that came with my iRiver H320 (which in and of itself kicks iPod ass) kick an enormous amount of ass. Not that I'm much of an audio-obsessive, but I do enjoy getting the best quality I can at the lowest price. [/shill]
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 8:03 PM on December 28, 2005


Argyle, what if a new MP3 encoder comes out that gives you 10% or 20% better compression with better quality? Or even a different codec (say, if you're an OGG lover)? I agree that high bitrate MP3s are virtually identical to CDs, but transcoding MP3s will put an audible dent in the quality. The usefulness of lossless encoding is it only takes X hours of CPU time and (almost) zero hours of human time to change your mind about how you carry your music around.
posted by ny_scotsman at 9:05 PM on December 28, 2005


256 in --alt-preset extreme is where it's at.

Am I the only one to think that OGG sounds like some sort of caveman speak?
posted by starscream at 10:36 PM on December 28, 2005


Look, if you have a lousy ripped download, all you have to do is burn it to CD-R and play it on your WaveRadio.
posted by dhartung at 11:43 PM on December 28, 2005


If you use compressed music at all, lossless encoding is a good idea. I ripped my CD collection losslessly (EAC to Monkey's Audio) for two reasons: (1) to re-encode it later (without re-ripping) to MP4, MP5, MP6 and so on as standards change and technology improves, and (2) four sons and the tendency of my CDs to migrate away from my bookshelf, so now I can reconstitute the original CD. I don't listen to the losslessly encoded files. I play MP3s on my iPod, CDs on my stereo.

I like the Squeezebox concept, thanks Malor! Can you browse your music collection from one of these? How is the UI? (It's hard to tell from the product info on the site, and the remote control has no display.) This looks like a better execution than Sonos, and just as good eye candy.
posted by JParker at 11:55 PM on December 28, 2005


Potentially lame questions for the audiophiles from a decidedly non-anal (but not totally indiscriminate) music-lover: Anybody have a rule of thumb about when it pays to burn in higher bitrates, and when not to bother?

I'd like to balance decent quality with a reasonable mp3 file size (I normally upload DDD CDs with VBR 192, and am happy with that) but I am wondering: Is it true that if you are ripping from an AAD or ADD source (say, a CD of a 1970's recording) it is okay (or even better) to rip at a lower rate, like 128? If the quality of the mp3 is ultimately dependant on the quality of the original source recording, wouldn't a muddy-sounding jazz CD originally recorded in the 1950's just sound WORSE on a very high bitrate mp3? Are you just magnifying the flaws of the original by making denser files from a flawed original?

Some people in the above thread laud the ease of iTunes to preempt all this techy confusions, and I can see why they'd want to. But to the techies here, how good (or bad) do you really think those iTunes 128 bitrate AAC files are?
posted by applemeat at 5:33 AM on December 29, 2005


If the quality of the mp3 is ultimately dependant on the quality of the original source recording, wouldn't a muddy-sounding jazz CD originally recorded in the 1950's just sound WORSE on a very high bitrate mp3?

Well, that's why you want to use an intelligent VBR algorithm like LAME's--the old crackly jazz recordings will still come out to ~128, but any parts of the track that need it will still retain fidelity. There's no really good reason to use CBR in this day and age, at least for the purposes of a personal music collection.

But you can't "magnify the flaws" by using a too-high bitrate. You can certainly make it sound worse by using one that's too low.
posted by darukaru at 8:55 AM on December 29, 2005


I should elaborate. Think of lossy audio like tracing a picture. You can't produce something that looks better than the original picture, you can just achieve closer and closer approximations to the original.

Using high bitrate CBR exclusively is like making Da Vinci trace Peanuts comics, a huge waste of talent and time.

Using low bitrate CBR exclusively is like asking a 5-year-old to trace the Mona Lisa--there's no chance in hell it's going to work.

Using VBR (as in the LAME presets) lets Da Vinci do his thing and the kid do hers, when it's appropriate.
posted by darukaru at 9:02 AM on December 29, 2005


ny_scotsman, I don't expect to ever need to re-encode my audio. And you shouldn't either.

New codec? Why use it? Maybe for new content I get... But is hard drive space getting more expensive? I've got over 500 CDs ripped to mp3 at 224kbps and it only takes 45GB.

My point is that in 99.999% of the listening cases, all of this futzing around with bitrates is useless. If you aren't listen to music in a quiet audio room with high end audio gear, you CANNOT tell a difference between any of the silly high end formats discussed here.

What's next oxygen-free silver cabling for your headphones? Vacuum tubes in your iPod?
posted by Argyle at 12:08 PM on December 29, 2005


Thanks darukaru... I really appreciate it. And a great analogy, too.
posted by applemeat at 12:40 PM on December 29, 2005


But is hard drive space getting more expensive?

No, but is the drive on your iPod getting any bigger? I fully expect that (1) compression technology is going to improve, allowing for more music files in the same space at any given level of quality, and (2) I'll always be carrying around some size- or weight- or cost-limited storage device(s). Right now that includes an iPod, a cell phone and flash drive on my keychain, and I expect such portable devices with storage to become even more common. And more songs is better, I like choices.

applemeat, to answer the other half of your question, to my ear both AAC and WMA do a better job at bitrates 128 and below, so they are useful for some limited applications like streaming music over the web, but if you use VBR and a reasonably high bitrate, MP3 stomps them. There's just more music there.
posted by JParker at 2:06 PM on December 29, 2005


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