For myself, I'm pretty confident I can pick out 128 kbps MP3 from lossless. But not confident I can pick out 320 kbps MP3. I do think it's funny how rarely this kind of discussion mentions the music. Need better headphones, need better DAC, need better ears, etc. But a lot of it really depends on the quality of the recordings. I don't doubt that there is music that, at 128 kbps, would be hard for me to ever pick out the compression. It may even be the majority of recorded music. But not the stuff I listen to :D


I took a test just now and was able to pick out 128 from lossless almost every time on songs I actually knew. I was at 50% by 192. That’s good for me, honestly. I use Spotify, and if I felt I could tell, I would feel like an upgrade would be necessary. I’d need to start buying CDs and stuff again, but Spotify high quality is plenty good for me, especially if I have a good EQ.


the main difference are the cymbals, in 128 they sound kinda... digitally? artificially crispy? idk how to describe it. 192 depends on song but its fine most of the time, and 320 is nearly identical to lossless unless you got amazing gear+ears


Yeah, it’s always the cymbals for me


Definitely the cymbals; my DT 1990s make it pretty apparent at lower bitrates 😆


Yea, higher frequency stuff suffer with lower quality files. The song actually doesn't have that many high frequency instruments. It's Khoosestan from Mohsen Chavoshi, a Persian music.


Correct me if I’m wrong, but isn’t 50/50 chance *basically* means that you can’t differentiate 192 anymore?


Yes. Last time id did some test like this myself I could differentiate 128 and lower with 320 but 320 vs lossless was just random.


im able to tell 320 mp3 from flac, i find the dynamic range to be really increased and the compression decreased. I cant pick out the difference in detail, but the dynamics and compression of voices and other instruments are definitely easy to tell


Did you encode the mp3 from the flac and ABX them?


didnt abx them, but the mp3 was encoded from the flac. Does this make a difference?


If you don't do AB testing most likely it's placebo, perception is heavily altered by the context. FLAC and mp3 320kbps on modern encoders is basically indistinguishable. Honestly it's ok to work with placebo, but sometimes mp3 is simply more convenient.


When I realised I couldn't reliably differentiate 320kbps mp3 and flac I also realised my portable player could carry hell a lot more music lol


i agree with you, i should probably do some abx testing and then figure it out. The effect is so prominent that it makes it hard to believe it may be all placebo, but encoding in mp3 320 should be near indistinguishable from flac


Realistically the only audible difference is at very high frequency range which most adults can't even hear. That said, my music collection is mainly FLAC. Why? If I'm ripping I don't have to worry about the encoding quality/source, and if I'm purchasing the digital download it costs the same anyhow. Storage is not a concern when hard disks are measured in TB. The lossless vs lossy debate really only matters when you have to pay more for streaming service tiers.


Yeah if you are going to download music you might as well download FLAC, that way you ensure the quality, if you download an MP3 you have no idea where it has been, how it was encoded, or even if it has been reencoded. And if you have the FLACs you might as well just hear the FLACs, they ARE better after all. And you also get the warm feeling of hearing the best possible quality. Now for portable music, is perfectly fine to use something compressed to allow you to use less data and/or carry more music, and you still get perfect or near perfect sound quality.


Meh, it’s like looking at a work of art through a screen.


Bitrate shouldn't affect dynamics. Are you sure you aren't listening to a different master?


Compression does decrease the range though, I thought? And lossy compression like MP3 certainly would decrease the dynamic range as opposed to something like a FLAC, wouldn’t it? I’m fairly new to this so I’m actually not sure


You might be confusing [dynamic range compression](https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dynamic_range_compression) with [audio codec compression,](https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Data_compression#Audio) they are not related. "Compression" when used in the context of mastering specifically refers to dynamic range compression, reducing the difference between the loudest and quietest parts. That's what a "compressor" does. But this isn't related at all to encoding compression.


It's confusing because there's two senses of the word "compressoin" that come up with respect to music. Dynamic range compression is the thing that decreases dynamic range, but that's done at the mixing/mastering stage and is present in all versions of the song regardless of format. That kind of compression has nothing to do with information/data compression, like squeezing uncompressed WAV into a smaller MP3 (lossy compression) or FLAC (lossless compression) edit: what blorg said


nope, i made sure to get the exact mastering for the comparison. Used my friend’s 58x and i could even tell on my sony wireless headphones. The files were also downloaded and not streamed from a service. Even i found ot pretty weird as the flac sounded more lively even with the exact same volume/eq settings compared to the mp3. Maybe my brain is playing tricks on me? I’m unsure


Wireless headphones can't transmit lossless, so something's not adding up here. Whatever difference you're hearing isn't due to data compression. you can test your ears with a proper ABX test here: http://abx.digitalfeed.net/ Modern compression algorithms paired with high bitrates (256 or higher) are VERY fucking good these days.


Yeah I agree, it didn't make sense to me either. I'll do this test with my friend's 58x and see if there actually is a difference


You can’t be sure without a proper abx setup. Try googling Tidal lossless test and do the online abx.


You can’t, just give up


It's hard to explain but listening to 320kbps feels like having a thin veil over the sound whereas lossless especially for well mixed albums like Dark Side of the Moon, it sounds crisp, detailed, and slight more dynamic. All this even though I have a dirt cheap setup of Samson SR850s and an amp.


It is possible you hear the difference, but TBH, in my experience, it's really placebo. I've tricked myself, and then found ways that I couldn't trick myself... and then the differences seem to disappear.


Same here. I used to 'hear' a big difference with my amp/dac upgrade. Until I abx'd. It was entirely placebo and I was crestfallen.


I have some examples: check Home - Native in lossless and mp3 320kbps. In the intro there is some digital clipping from the production process. The lossless one has more defined artifacts and the mp3 ones sound more blocky.


I think music with fast, complicated rhythms struggles the most with compression, because when I’m listening to something like thrash metal through Spotify it sounds horrible but on my CDs, I can clearly hear the seperation


Properly mixed and recorded stuff sound almost equal on mp3 vs flac for me. Some of the toto stuff is god level produced and it shows


The high frequency elements are always the dead giveaway. Even for an untrained listener. Many people will identify cymbals. Which is definitely true. Anyone will hear 'swishing' at 128kbps if directed to it in an A/B vs. uncompressed. Trained listeners can pick it out in much higher bit rates. You'll find that a lot of audio compression comparison tracks demonstrating the inability to recognize a quality difference lack dense and well defined high frequency content. For clarity, any dense high frequency content will be noticeably wonky. My theory is that symbols are the go to because of the musical tastes of the generation who's experienced the greatest spread of source formats so can more easily recognize disparity in performance characteristics.


128 I can definitely notice on anything but the most poor quality recordings. 192 is debatable, 256 up sounds the same for the most part.


Agree. Same with most Bluetooth codecs except sbc, that one sucks


I can't notice 265 to 320 sometimes, and in some tracks can notice MP3 320kbps to flac. And SBC seems just fine to me.


320 is definitely the line where i can’t tell in any song. 256 is totally fine for 99% of listening, but if i’m reaaaallly paying attention, i can identify the compression at that level.


Yea. I cannot tell the difference between Apple aac codec and other higher bitrate files unless listening under scrutiny which is meaningless imo.


>unless listening under scrutiny which is meaningless imo Why meaningless though? Critical listening isn't merely for nitpicking audiophiles, it's how good music should be approached. Personally this is one of the issues with the convenience and pervasiveness of streaming, compared to setting aside the time required for an entire album.


Some people are more interested in the atmosphere/songwriting than in nitpicking fidelity or how clean the audio sounds. I think he meant scrutiny in that sense.


Thank you. You explained very well for me. I definitely did NOT mean it’s meaningless to appreciate the music seriously. What I meant was I don’t think its’s worthy paying entire attention to the subtle difference while ignoring the music itself.


SBC has a historical issue with really old devices implementing it with excessively low bitpools. Most modern devices SBC sounds a lot better, in fact high bitrate SBC is arguably better than AptX. It's certainly not distinctly worse. People who have done actual *blind* tests of modern SBC do not find it to be bad. The main benefit of AptX is that it is consistent, it's a black box from Qualcomm so you are guaranteed on every device it is going to have exactly the same implementation. So you avoid the "badly implemented SBC" problem. But I'm not sure that really is a problem on modern devices, I think you have to go back a long way for this, but its reputation from years ago has stuck with it. Here's an online encoder, you can compare them. It's not blind, but I can't obviously tell SBC with the default 328 kbit/s. Drop the SBC bitpool and it becomes very obvious, at low bitrates SBC is noticeably bad. This isn't blind, if you want to be sure you'd need to do a blind test. Brent Butterworth used have one but he has taken it down. https://btcodecs.valdikss.org.ru/sbc-encoder/ More on this: https://habr.com/en/post/456182/ https://hydrogenaud.io/index.php?topic=120182.0 http://soundexpert.org/encoders-320-kbps


The quality of the codec has also improved. Back in the Napster era 128kbps was worse than analog radio and even 192 would have significant distortion. Still, I'm surprised that one can hear the difference between SBC (versus aptx I assume) and not lower bitrate mp3. Must be really bad Bluetooth implementation in the device


I'm still trying to find a version of Indiana Rose that doesn't sound like it was recorded on a speak and spell


Mp3 320, 256 and flac sounds the same to me


Add 128kbps to that for me. Edit: I'm being downvoted for my hearing ability? Wtf.


If you're listening on an Arya and can't tell the difference between flac and 128, you have chosen a strange hobby to invest so heavily into lol.


I love music but apparently don't have a very refined sense of hearing.


The difference between 128 and 320 kbps mp3 is an order of magnitude greater than any amp/DAC difference, for sure


You shouldn't let others decide your tastes. If it sounds good to you then it sounds good.


Haha, that's fair. You could probably downgrade to some ananda or even sundara and be happy though. If I didn't have good ears, I'd sell my ZMF and get several mid fi options.


Headphones aren’t only about resolution or detail picking, but also about tonality. He may prefer the responde curve and soundstage form the Arya even tho he can’t tell 128 from 320. But yeah, investing on dacs and fancy amps is pretty pointless in that scenario


The differences in bitrates aren't the same as the differences between good headphones and bad headphones. If you're forced to listen to 128 or 192 on an Arya vs FLAC on a pair of Gen 2 Beats it's still way better to listen on the Arya.


Yes, of course, but that wasn't my point. The difference between 128 and lossless is significant enough that if you can't tell the difference, there's a good chance you also won't notice the difference in nuance between the arya and the Ananda or other much more affordable headphone and are likely spending more than you need to for the same level of enjoyment.


But those differences are more or less orthogonal. You're right that most people won't care about the differences between a $700 and $1500 headphone, but that's because we're way into diminishing returns land there. But to the extent a person does notice and care about those differences it's not dependent on them using lossless sources. I also think some people new to this stuff often get the idea that they need to upgrade all their files to FLAC or switch to Tidal for it to even be worth it to pick up a 560s or Beyer 990, which is obvioulsy untrue.


Really well said. Maybe let's propose two scenarios. One - you're directly comparing a 320kbps file vs a 128kbps file in a controlled testing environment. Two - you have a huge list of mp3's, your player cycles through all the songs and at some point it hits a 128kbps file. This is very different, right? I do think a lot of people will catch the 128 kbps file in the first test. In the second situation though? I think even with really great headphones, once you aren't aware of anything to look for, it becomes a lot harder. So as to what /u/calm_incense said, I think when he was thinking about this question he was most likely thinking about it in practical terms rather than theoretical ones.


It’s like buying wagyu when you can’t tell the difference between it and dennys steak


welcome to reddit 😆


128 and 192's are easily noticeable but 320 and flacs are not that easy to hear the difference maybe miniscule. Get 320's and save up your storage.


I feel like we want the quality of codec to matter more than it does. At least to my ear it seems that way.


Adding my two cents — I’m an audio geek of sorts and I love this stuff: At low volumes I don’t notice much of a difference but with a good system / good headphones / etc and some volume, then it becomes pretty clear. If you want to hear the differences they are mainly in the bass and treble especially when you give them some volume , mp3 (by and large) gets the mids right because that’s where the voices are and is the place people listen most intensely plus many systems don’t resolve the extremes that well anyway. It makes sense to take that tradeoff. So to hear the differences between lossless and mp3, IMHO, turn up the music, focus on the bass — the bass of the mp3 isn’t bad it’s just a little less tight, it sort of plods along nicely. Up in the highs the sound gets a bit sizzly and shakey to my ears especially when I crank it up. A good thing to do is to “calibrate” your ears to the differences by starting way low — like 92k mp3, listen to “s”’s they will be slushy and the bass a little sloppy. Sort of like the song is “drunk”. At lossless quality the song is buttoned up, super tight across the highs, mids, lows — the song is “going on a job interview” If you ever listen to some digital radio stations or commercials on CNN or other stations, you can immediately notice the low bandwidth in the sizzling highs (like “s”’s). I’ve done a lot of recording and I’ve noticed that dynamics are about the same with mp3 or lossless so this doesn’t tend to be an area that bitrate compressions mucks with at all, I assume there’s no data savings in dynamic compression. Dynamic compression is a whole other issue (loudness wars) that is actually unrelated to this but gets easily confused with it. Finally, I learned something interesting when, after many years, I located a CD in Japan of a rare song that I loved — I only had it as a 256 mp3. As an audiophile kind of geek I expected to immediately love the CD version (same master) , but I found the tighter bass made the song different than the tune I had loved, it drew my attention over there, lo and behold I prefered the “drunk” version of the tune over the buttoned up version. I tend to think, when we fall in love with a song, maybe we expect to hear it that way forever, even the slightest change can throw us off. Our ears are magical in that way.


MP3 and other compression formats were designed to not be noticed. MP3 specifically was designed with the human ear in mind and how it can't hear all frequencies at once, equally. It only removes parts of the sound that you could not hear to begin with. The other parts of the compression are often to minimal that unless you were told it was compressed and started REALLY listening to it, no you wouldn't notice the difference. I wish people on here would quit pushing the idea that compression is a bunch of shit because it's really not.


The book “How Music Got Free” talks heavily about the creation of the MP3 Codec, definitely worth a read for anyone on this sub!


The only thing that I noticed with Flac vs spotify - flac was louder.


Did you have volume normalisation on or off on Spotify? It's on by default and this drops the volume.


yeah, it's on, didnt even know about that, but i adjusted volume by hand for spotify, didn't notice much difference. i don't own any good headphones or speakers, so who am i to say


I can normally tell between a lossy format and a non by the drums. Most notably cymbals. Once you notice it will ruin any sort of lossy codec or bad digital mastering for you forever.


One time i just plugged my headphones into my computer and noticed it didnt sound any different at all from my dac/amp... so i just have them plugged into the computer now


What pair do you use?


Akg 701’s


I'd love to have an AKG K371 or HD560S, or even DT 990 with EQ but IEMs are just better for my applications. I'm mostly out of home and they're easier to carry around. Found a legit pair of Sony MH755s too, they're gonna be great after I mod them.


If you master the music with low quality, even put it on 24/192, you will still not hear the difference. However, if you have good master, it is very easy to spot the difference for 128kbps. If you go with 320 vs flac, then only with very specific recordings, you will be able to hear it. Most of the pop stuff are synthesised with huge compression, which is design to sound good on cell phone speaker with low bitrate. In this case, you will not benefit with higher resolution format. P.S. From my experience, vocal music is the hardest to tell the difference while live classical music is the easiest. Stuff that have huge dynamic range and sound stage relies on those small sounds that is normally been cut during compression. The quite section of many live recording sound different even in 320kbps mp3.


Made with a quality codec from a good source recording, it can be difficult. Last year, I took a few days and did extensive ABX testing of several of my favorite recordings at 128k, 192k and 256k (all vs. the original lossless files). With concentration, I was just barely able to detect the 128k files 10/10, got about 75% or less on the 192k files, and was unable to hear a difference in the 256k files. Admittedly, my hearing is rolled off above about 14k (I'm old) but even from talking to people with much younger ears, detecting 256k and above seems to be rare even with so-called killer samples.


They've tested people with perfect pitch with mp3 128, flac, wav and they rated most the same. For most people you'll never know any difference. I'd wager most saying they notice a difference don't.




Makes me feel better about failing to differentiate 128/320/wav ABX tests last year.


I'm used to 320kbps, so 128 has a noticeable downgrade for me


Can hardly notice difference between 128kbps all the way to flac, but that’s okay. What matters is that you enjoy the music, regardless of quality of codec.


I recently got a Tidal Subscription with their "2000-9000 KBPS" Master recordings. Literally sounded the exact same as 320 kbps Spotify premium recordings.


So it wasn’t 28x better?


Some of the MQA albums are likely using different masters though as they sound different (not necessarily better) even without a MQA DAC.


It depends a lot on the music. Some MP3s used a better codec and mastering. Some songs are better suited to being encoded as MP3s. A whole lot of modern music these days is mixed and mastered to sound good or OK after being encoded as an MP3 for streaming to phones. People also mix and master so their music sounds OK blasting out of a phone speaker. Put all of this together in varying amounts and you're going to end up not being able to hear the difference between 128k, FLAC or uncompressed versions of the same or similar songs.


When I'm not paying attention and it's in the background i can't tell. But when i focus, there's definitely a difference. I usually use 320kbps or flac so when i am familiar with a song and i hear 128kbps I'll likely be able to tell. 256kbps to me is still quite acceptable but I just want the best I can for my ears so 320 or flac is the way for me.


I've noticed 128kbps, although higher bitrates wouldn't be that noticeable. I probably wouldn't notice if I was distracted and not actively paying attention. (On a newer codec like Opus, I wouldn't be able to tell the difference between 128kbps and lossless even if I was looking for it.) My preference is to store everything as lossless. The file size isn't an issue, and it's best to have lossless for editing/transcoding. For portable devices (where I want to conserve space), I'll convert it to lossy using a good codec (Opus/AAC/Vorbis) at a suitable bitrate.


One time after getting home from work I boot up my favorite audiophile album (incredibly well recorded / mastered) Tales of Weaver \~ Exceed on my Stax SR007 (MK1 housing with MK2 drivers). Something sounded really off. The violin had no life and felt scratchy and dry. The overall body of the music was lacking. I turned off my amp, turned it back on, let it warm up again, switched songs, switched back and it still sounded "bad". I restart my computer, go to navigate to the folder with the songs and realize I had navigated to my 320kbps copies (which I had made for my mobile devices). Booted up the lossless copies and everything sounded great again. This album is the only time I could confidently say I can hear the difference between 320kbps and lossless, most others I hear absolutely nothing. The recording / mastering is just as important as the headphones for this.


I tried this test and several times chose 128kbps over wav. [https://www.npr.org/sections/therecord/2015/06/02/411473508/how-well-can-you-hear-audio-quality?t=1537753880993&t=1537754023995&t=1631913929463](https://www.npr.org/sections/therecord/2015/06/02/411473508/how-well-can-you-hear-audio-quality?t=1537753880993&t=1537754023995&t=1631913929463) I can't even tell the difference between Soundcloud's 64kbps and FLAC files. It's all the same to me. Recording quality/mastering is much more important than bitrate.


You realize they deliberately avoided songs that would reveal the 128kps issues, right? Not a single song on there with loud, prominent cymbal crashes (which would reveal 128kps "underwater" like compression artifacts.)


There used to be this Philips golden ears website which had a very good selection where one could easily distinguish the lower bit rate files. Still, at 128 one wouldn't even need tricky cymbals; low bass would smear into a fuzzy mess


I just tried it with my Sony MDR-Z1R through my RME ADI-2 DAC and got [5 out of 6](https://imgur.com/a/vFeEYsA) with the only one I got wrong was Katy Perry, but I must say it is a very slight difference, and not something I would have an issue with if only the 320kbps mp3 was available. Even the difference between 128 and 320 is not absolutely massive, it just sounds ever so slightly muffled to me, but such a small difference. I tend to do most of my listening through YouTube Music (the streaming service, not youtube the video website) set to highest quality and it is absolutely fine for me. I find the headphones used and the mix/mastering makes a much bigger difference to me than the bitrate of the recording.


i still don't get it, i hear no difference. between dark house in flac versus 128kbps. surely there would be something. i am using he400i. it's shocking just how little it matters honestly. and i'm trying my hardest to hear any difference at all. nothing stands out.


It is very hard to hear the difference, a lot of the time I clicked on what I thought was the highest quality it almost felt like a guess. If you can't hear the difference it's not an issue, the whole point of audio compression is that you aren't meant to be able to hear it when it's used. Above everything is that you enjoy the music.


Same here. I failed that test yesterday with my $3K+ chain.


They deliberately avoided music that reveals the 128kps issues. Notice there's not a single song on there with a lot of cymbal crashes happening... And some of them are downright easy for a converter to handle such as the solo voice song.


"The solo voice song" wasn't chosen randomly and isn't necessarily easy to compress either. That specific track was used by the original developers of MP3 at Fraunhofer to tune it, the first iteration they were working on it sounded terrible and they kept working on it with that track until it sounded right. That obviously isn't the only track they used but it was key to the development of the codec and the one most associated with it. https://www.mentalfloss.com/article/19727/how-toms-diner-tuned-mp3 https://theindustryobserver.thebrag.com/inventing-the-mp3-how-one-song-was-critical-in-its-development/


Thanks for the info. I shouldn't discount that they used that to do a good job of programming the compression, but my point is that song compresses pretty well at 128kps. It's not an example of a song that DOESN'T compress well at 128kps. For their test I would prefer they use examples intentionally which DON'T compress well -- because that's the point. Even if 128kps compression is good enough 90% of the time --- even 95% of the time... Who wants chirpy water sounds in their cymbals that other 5% of the time? My problem with 128kps isn't when it works well... It's when it doesn't. It's clear in the music choice that the author has a point to make. Those examples were chosen to persuade. Again, none of them have a lot of high frequency content, which is where 129kps gets especially nasty. If I had time I could dig up specific examples of 128kps encoded tracks that would make everyone but the deaf go "eww." 128kps vs lossless isn't even a good test, because lossless is such a clear winner. 192kps or 320kps would be better because either is a huge improvement over 128kps in cases where 128kps shows its artifacts.


I could tell the example instantly with Coldplay because the mixing was good and very 'full', also could clearly from the pianos cleanness with the Mozart arrangement, and from how the high synths stayed clear over the strong bass in the Jay Z tune. In the Vega song I picked 128 just because I thought it sounded best because it was 'loudest', I couldnt really tell any difference with just a voice. In the Katy Perry song everything besides the loud bass was kinda flatly presented so I picked randomly. In the Neil Young tune I could tell 128 was 128 but didnt hear a difference between 320 and WAV. You're absolutely right that mixing plays a huge part. I could listen to Epica's Consign to Oblivion album all day and not be able to tell apart shit bitrate beacuse the entire mixing is extremely flat and muddy. I'm totally fine with 320, its close enough to be almost identical almost all the time, and when it's not it's usually a very small difference. I only download FLACs of songs that are *very* busy while also being mixed in a very particular way. Like on [this](https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0kgXEVoZaRA) album the distorted guitars, raw saw synths and growly electronic synthesized vocals all fill the same mid frequency space enough that it blends together into a bit of a mess and really shines when listened to as FLAC to make everything stand on its own more. Distorted and noisy music tends to benefit from lossless format if mixed well. [This](https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_fX4qoruQik) is another good example of a tune that's great as FLAC, despite sounding great in 320 already. The strings and woos sound so pretty and clean while the sharp breaks retain their high frequencies without any kind of unwanted mixing happening between any of that and the low humming bass. Breakcore in general tends to benefit from lossless format. [One more](https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oyuOjCfCsm4) song that works great as FLAC. So many layers of instrumentation and vocals at various volumes and distances, that form a very full and busy mix that sometimes can get a little wall of soundy even without alwyas intending to do so, even at 320. Progressive metal, especially of the extreme variety, tends to benefit from lossless format.


I got 4/6 with Sennheiser HD 449s just plugged straight into my computer. I could definitely tell on Katy Perry, Jay Z and the Mozart one. But on Coldplay and Neil Young, both times I was between two options and chose my first choice which was 128kbps. Both times my second choice was uncompressed. And Susanne Vega was just a guess, which I got right. In fairness, I was listening very closely. If I were just driving around, walking somewhere, etc, I really don't think I'd notice a difference.


Depends on the hardware too


I listen to lossless when possible because I have more than enough storage space to accommodate it. Even if the quality difference is imperceptible, the FLACs have the objectively best quality.


You're getting older.


I'm 20 and can hear up to 18khz.


I can tell the difference between my speaker amp or my headphone amp, between my dac/amp dongle and the apple dongle, but I can't tell the difference between mp3 320 (or acc 256) and flac...


If you don't listen attentively, you won't hear much detail, so there indeed won't be a difference to you. But if you listen closely, you can tell it apart easily from lossless.


I can't.


Then why do you have the gear you have? If you can't tell a difference that obvious, you don't need it.


I certainly don't need the gear I have. I struggle to hear any difference between my $400 Jotunheim and $1,144 Soloist. Still, my gear does sound a bit better than the Sennheiser wireless earbuds I was previously using (Momentum True Wireless 2), whereas I honestly can't hear any difference between my 128kbps lossy files and my lossless files.


Huge respect for your honesty. Such admissions are quite rare in the hobby, so most of the time it's difficult to stay away from hype trains and confirmation bias.


Yeah exactly. Wish more people would admit it. I can’t hear the difference as well and I’m totally fine with it.


What happens if you can hear a difference but dont think the outlay is worth it?


That’s totally fine! Even if I could hear the difference between 320kb/s and FLAC, I don’t really feel like carrying my entire Spotify library over to another service. Yes I know Spotify will add lossless soon, but it’s just an example.


Cause mp3 can still sound freaking amazing on a great system!


Sure, but FLAC will sound even better. I was once listening to some Mike Oldfield on my dad's system, and it sounded great, but then I realized I was playing mp3 files (because Groove is stupid). I played the FLAC versions and there was a noticeable improvement, as if someone lifted a veil off the speakers.


Hey, don't bring speakers here, it is cheating!


What's wrong with speakers? The same principles apply to speakers and headphones.


People have lost their minds. Would you seriously say there's no point getting better gear if you listen to mp3s? like there's only going to be improvement if you use FLAC? That's just hella not true. If a headphone is better, it's better, even with mp3s. Lossless vs lossy isn't the bottleneck


After a certain point, the differences in gear (maybe not headphones, but line components) become smaller than the differences between mp3 and lossless. So upgrading a DAC is going to be pointless if the files are holding you back. If you want to listen to mp3, you can get something like an LCD-X, plug it into your motherboard and be done.


Ill defend him. Just having the potential and quality is worth it to him. Easy. Even if he cant hear the detail, i bet there are aesthetics he cant explain but appreciates. Unless he literally cant tell the difference between his headphones and porta pros. Then im an asshole. Dont bone me OP :)


People can still listen with as much attention they can give and not hear the difference. It’s like chefs adding thyme while searing a steak. Most people will not even know whether or not it was even included in the cooking process, and that’s totally fine. Still a damn find meal. Some people will clearly taste the difference. The sensitivity of people’s senses vary wildly and to most of us the differences here are minute compared to the upgrades with the hardware.


Recently I stepped into shit and didn't notice it. But now I am fine. I hope you're well, too.


Back in the day 128k used to sound horrible. LAME now has come so far that 128k is probably quite acceptable while not transparent.


Disgusting. You must sacrifice yourself.


128kps is a nasty, lossy format. You were probably hearing source material that just happened to obscure the artifacts better than another. For example -- if you have a mostly mono source that has high frequencies rolled off, it's probably going to convert OK. But if you have a source with extreme LCR style panning and a lot of high frequency energy -- it's going to reveal artifacts. The artifact I most commonly hear is a sort of nastiness in the cymbals. It's a chirpy metallic sound. There can also be a width difference if the encoder merges low frequency energy into mono. And if the encoder doesn't do that? Then it has fewer bits to process the rest of the information. Bottom line is -- 128kps is substandard, and given modern bandwidth and storage possibilities it shouldn't be a standard anywhere. (I'm looking at you, Soundcloud.) Even 192kps is enough to reduce most of the problems I just described, and that really should be a minimum standard these days. But yes, some songs reveal "128kps issues" more than others.


Under 256kbps its noticeable when listening properly. 24bits flacs vs 256kbps is hard to tell on some songs in noticed in a blind listening but most made no difference at all


192 and below hurts my ears. Especially if it was not recorded well.


That's not a good test OP. All that says is you were focusing on the music. For a proper test you need to ABX between them on good quality gear. The difference is incredibly subtle. No one disputes that. The question is whether that subtle difference matters to you or not. I'm so sick of the way this issue gets constantly posed like this that there is a truth about lossless v lossy. There is an indisputable difference. Whether you can or can't hear it or whether you care about it or not is an individual thing. I'm confident I can hear a difference having done ABX testing and for me, the hobby is about chasing down those subtle improvements. But I would never judge anyone if they have a different approach.


The thing is, I mostly care about tonal balance of a headphone for several reasons that I wouldn't mention on this sub, simply because it'd be controversial. You can pm me for this of course, but at the end of the day I wouldn't really pay more than 100 bucks for anything tbh.


Then enjoy your music at 128 and save on SD card storage. There's just no need to post it like this as if you made some important discovery that's relevant to anyone but you.


Well, I wanted to see what others think without shoving it down their throat. I like discussions without toxicity and unfortunately some people didn't like it but who am I to judge them. I certainly didn't expect the post to get *this* much attention tho.


Most people cant. Its all relative to your gear, setup & Perception i guess. I work in the audio industry, most audio engineers i know can tell the difference between a good FLAC & 320/196 kbps Mp3. Most of my non-audiophile friends only noticed the difference when i got them to try the LCD-3.


I can pick out an MP3 most of the time because I hear above 20KHz.




[https://www.npr.org/sections/therecord/2015/06/02/411473508/how-well-can-you-hear-audio-quality](https://www.npr.org/sections/therecord/2015/06/02/411473508/how-well-can-you-hear-audio-quality) Why don't you try it for yourself? I personally think it comes down to mixing and production. Modern music consists of many samples, synths...not every element is of the same quality. I watched rick beato on youtube discussing the sound quality. A professional audio engineer with pitch perfect hearing and years of experience was able to get only 50% of them right. Search for the video on youtube. TLDR : Good mix = good sound, codec plays a part but very hard to differentiate


It can really depend on the recording itself - if it's something with a decent amount of silence and high-frequency content vs. a pop wall of sound, how it was recorded/mixed/mastered etc. It's not always obvious and that isn't a huge problem - remember that the engineers who first created the MP3 codec spent many years trying to get 128 kbps mp3 to sound similar to most people, and the codecs have improved since then on top of it.


The people loading their phone with nothing but flac to listen to on their BT headphones is just crazy.


My sister said so too after she tried headphones good enough she thinks she wasted so much time on low-res. And don't talk with iPhone BT users - of course you can not find only AAC. LDAC will make differences clearly.


128 is shit. 320 is fine


Depend on what type of audio you are listening too. If you listen to midi music file then I doubt there is any difference between 128kpbs and flac.


The song was Khouzestan from Mohsen Chavoshi.


Nice song. Musical arrangement is quite complex but the vocal seems heavily mixed to me.. Maybe you can try with more natural sounding vocal


Everyone definitely has a point after there is literally no return, I have found my point to be 256kbps mp3/192kbps aac. So my focus of my collection is just a notch above at 320kbps mp3.


I think most of the difference it's in the higher frequencies


I'm usually listening to Spotify on AptX LL on a little adapter velcroed to my SHPs. Sounds as good as Amazon HD on my JDS Atom or through my MOTU M2. This whole hobby is a farce! jk. but it kinda is.


i mean, at 128 the compression is still good enough to be unnoticable unless youre listening to a sine wave sweep or a quiet piano recording. below that is when sounds starts to shit over itself. myself, i just keep flacs so i can safely convert between various file types with no weird audio artifacts (aside from compression)


How about the effective transcoding when listening to lossy through Bluetooth? Is that a noticeable effect? Is it even real, or does Bluetooth avoid that somehow? Good enough reason to stick with FLAC? I'm not sure what to listen for to hear that kind of transcoding.


This is a normal thing, don't worry about it. Most of the time, people won't notice a major difference as it is mainly in the small details with specific headphones. I was listening to 84kbps MP3 files (out of necessity, there wasn't any better sources) and when I finally found the lossless version, the main difference was in the small details. Most of the song was still there and needless to say, that source was terrible.


I agree with what many have said : Good mastering is the most important factor in a recording's sound quality, The differences require concentration to notice them, not just casual listening, Cymbals and other high frequency sounds with long decay are the most noticeable. With all that said, I see no reason to go below CD-quality FLAC. Storage is a negligible issue now, and FLAC gives you the option of burning back to disc if you want to share some music with an old person (I burned some Jazz albums for my Dad, for instance).


Don't care, still only using FLAC.


I don't know if I could differentiate them, so I use FLAC just to be on the safe side. I do convert them to lossy format for my phone tho.


I have a whole mp3 folder at 128 kbps because it takes less space but honestly? The music is as much quality as I'd want it. I don't hear a difference from lossless.


Our ears are tricking our brain, that's why you can't really judge an headphone by itself, but either by pure objectivism with measurements tools, or by personnal preference by comparing it to another one. For example, if I listen to MP3 128 Kbps for a long period of time, I will not mind the loss of quality. but if I start playing 320kbps mixed with 128 kbps in a playlist, it will be much more revealing. BTW, I also can't notice the difference between 320 kbps and lossless.


To be fair if you're just enjoying music 128 kbps MP3 isn't offensive enough to notice, on most pop tracks anyway. Normally the difference is clear enough vs lossless if you do a back to back listening comparison. But outside of that it's fine really.


I can't tell 160kbps AAC from flac, but I can tell MP3 from flac even at 320kbps depending on what music/sounds I use.


When Deezer crack sound quality went from flac to 320kbp/s I didn't notice for a month till I got told. When it went to 128kbp/s I knew that something was off when listening to the song on the first day of it being patched. Therefor for majority people 320kbp/s is enough imo. For those who can easily discern 320kbps between flac are just doomed for more hassle to get the good flscs.


I need serious relationship


Finally you have reached true audiophile. Realizing, what makes things sound better, is you liking it.


In my experience some music is more forgiving to the codec quility than other. It depends on how busy the song is. Heavy orchestral music or heavy metal tends to require a better codec while something like rock sounds ok with lower quility. Especially in heavy passages with lower quility codecs everything blends into a single muddy mess. Of course this is a vast generalisation. I know there probably is very demanding rock music and vice versa.


Can you tell the difference in a blind test?


Depending on the track, yes.


It comes down to recording quality.


I thought i had the opposite experience today, but after listening to the flac version i realized it was just the noisy signal of an electric guitar.


128kpbs is pretty bad quality dude.


Welp you definitely don't belong in the "audiophile" sub reddit


See nothing wrong here..


128kbps is easy to notice when there are cymbals in the mix


The only time I can tell a difference between a 128kbps/16-bit MP3 and a 320kbps/32-bit FLAC is when I am using my Anandas, and only when I am **specifically** listening for differences.


good. those 4gb mp3 players will be more than enough to fit a whole library