I’ve always had a bit of a bee in my bonnet about people who don’t play music at the highest quality possible. I guess this has only come about since I started audio engineering, and learnt and discovered a lot about sound from listening. You can’t learn anything about music if you don’t listen.
The sound quality debate is however subjective. How you listen to your music, and how you enjoy it is up to you. If you like how something sounds, that is all that matters, and I would ask you to always sit back first and foremost and enjoy the music you listen to.
I just have a personal quest to make sure that music quality improves over all.
I thought I would back up my argument that 320 MP3s are awful horrible things, with facts. I could go to your studio and prove the point that I can hear the difference between a 320 MP3 and a WAV. I can hear this on high end studio monitors. The argument has even been had in our studio, where my studio partner initially didn’t believe me. I took it upon myself to help train his ears, and now, he can also hear the difference and has become just as passionate about the subject as I have. I have to thank him for letting me use that as a primary example. We have gone on to train our ears to hear a lot more things.
In order to hear the differences, you need to know what a MP3 sound is, to distingush between an MP3 and the lossless file formats.
So anyway lets look at the facts about a full uncompressed WAV VS a compressed MP3 320 file.
Fact 2. Storage is so affordable these days, there is no longer an argument for saving a lower quality file.
Fact 3. An MP3 320 is lossy and compressed. A WAV is lossless and uncompressed.
Fact 4. MP3 and other lossy formats exploit general human hearing to reduce file size. That was the only reason for it to be used, thus causing quality loss. Perceptable hearing depends on the user and the amount of compression used.
Fact 5. A WAV file can contain LPCM encoded data, ADPCM encoded data and even MP3 encoded data.
Fact 6. An MP3 will never sound better than a Wav, no matter what kbps it’s at as it is all still lossy.
Fact 7. John Rofrano has quoted that WAVs will always sound better than MP3 so stick to the Wavs.
Fact 8. MP3 quantize differnently. Evidence here.
Fact 9. Using mid side processing on a MP3 is pointless when working with sides because the information in the sides has been degraded to reduce file size, taking out crucial frequencies, which is replaced by digital noise. WAV lossless will benefit from mid sides processing espicially when being mastered.
Fact 10. If a MP3 is played out in a club, the stereo information is brought into the dual mono signal, and the digital noise is still there. If a WAV is played, the stereo information is brought into the mix as lossless quality.
Fact 11. If a DJ set is full of MP3s, and then recorded, and then compressed again for people at home to listen to, you get even worse information loss and degraded music because it’s been compressed numerous times.
Fact 12. If a DJ set is full of WAVs, and then recorded, and then compressed to a MP3 320 format, the audio for the listener is better than fact 11.
Fact 13. MP3s have a higher distortion, with a flat 2 dimensional sound and WAVs have a higher quality coding.
Fact 14. Higher resolution, uncompressed sounds is what you get on a CD. Evidence here. Uncompressed audio is better. Every CD has the full information, so there is no point in putting an MP3 on a CD when you’re playing audio not data. When you buy albums on CD, you are buying the highest quality mastered music.
Fact 16. When you process audio during the recording process, higher quality files sound better. We don’t make music in MP3 so why play it in MP3?
Fact 17. Play a WAV and then play a MP3 when the Master Tempo is applied on a CDJ. MP3s sound utterly awful compared to WAVs under those circumstances. That is a quick, easy test for anyone to hear.
Fact 18. Even though you can’t hear above 20KHz, missing high frequencies perceive how you hear lower frequencies. Evidence here.
Fact 19. When audio is digitally compressed as MP3, some high frequencies become exaggerated giving a false perception of fidelity.
Fact 20. MP3 can not code 5.1 stereo surround sound. Evidence here.