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Topic: If lossless wasn't an option...

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Old 09-15-2013, 12:01 AM
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If lossless wasn't an option...

If lossless audio was not an option and you HAD to choose a lossy file format, bitrate/compression which would you choose and why.

Take into consideration future proofing for any new headphones or stereo equipment you may buy, the quality of the audio but also hdd and space considerations, ipod/iphone memory etc.

What would your perfect balance between quality and file size/space/memory be, without creating duplicate libraries (1 library allowed due to minimal hdd space/efficiency and easy library management) and without transcoding audio with on the fly syncing.
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Old 09-15-2013, 12:02 PM
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I go from my lossless files to mp3's at -V2 (about 192kbs). I cannot tell the difference at all at 160 from blind ABX testing, so I "bumped it up" a bit. For listening in cars or at the gym, anything over 128 is overkill.



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Old 09-15-2013, 01:18 PM
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First off, since hard drives are so cheap (4TB for <200), I would never consider anything but lossless for ripping. That said, I would choose 256K AAC, just for consistency since I do buy quite a few tracks from the iTunes store. I occasionally buy from Amazon, and those are 256K MP3. I think lossless sound better on my home stereo. (Probably my imagination.) I convert all the lossless to 256K AAC on my iPod during syncing.
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Old 09-16-2013, 09:00 AM
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I do agree that ripping to lossless for archiving purposes is nice but the portable market doesn't offer much in terms of storage. Those of us with large libraries could never carry around all of our lossy music especially with the 64GB limitations of the iPod touch and iPhone. The 160GB iPod classic still wouldn't be enough for me to carry around all of my lossy content. I would require at least a 240GB iPod to get most of my lossy material on there, more like 300GB if I wanted a little breathing room.

For years I have relied on 192kbps VBR AAC for my lossy needs but that recently changed whenever I encoded ~20 songs from my library, representing all of the various genres and everything, using the QuickTime AAC encoder at -Q 68. It results in true VBR files that target a specific quality, unlike the VBR_constrained files that iTunes produces which target a specific bitrate. The resulting files are at around 168kbps VBR. So far, that has been the best balance of bitrate/file size/quality that I have come across. A 4 minute song will take up about 5MB of space yet be completely transparent. That setting is already overkill for portable listening (in the car and whatnot) and it is too high for home theater/home stereo listening (unless your home stereo consists of studio monitors and an acoustically tuned room). So I'm pretty happy with it.



64GB iPhone 5 | 64GB iPad mini | AppleTV 2 (2012) | AppleTV 2 (2010) | 4GB 3G iPod shuffle | 2012 15" MacBook Pro, 1TB SSHD, 16GB DDR3 1600 MHz, OS X 10.8.4 Mountain Lion | Apple Lossless | iTunes AAC -Q 68 | iTunes 11.1 | Library size = 1.78TB | Legacy iPods: 3G 40GB, 4G 40GB, 5G 60GB, 160GB iPod classic (2009)
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Old 09-17-2013, 01:02 AM
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So do you store your lossless files in flac or alac? Do you transcode on the fly when syncing to a device or do you already have a lossy library set up ready for dragging files to those devices? Q68 true vbr with qtenc doesnt seem a very easy or convenient way to sync on the fly like through itunes, how have you set that up?

I'm considering just keeping one lossless alac library for easy management in itunes then transcoding on the fly to 128-256 depending on how much music i want on the device or how much of a hurry im in. Syncing on the fly is very time consuming, thats the advantage of having a lossy library already set up i guess, if you have the memory/storage for that too, although very hard to manage (playcounts, editing any changes twice, etc), so thats why im leaning against the dual library idea.

Last edited by GRiP; 09-17-2013 at 01:15 AM.
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Old 09-18-2013, 12:14 PM
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I have all of my lossless files in my iTunes library along with my lossy files. I have two smart playlists setup: one for my ALAC files and the other for all my other lossy files (some are AAC that I encode, others are older mp3's, some are purchased AAC files, etc.). What I do now is rip my CDs using XLD. It will rip them to both ALAC and -Q 68 using QuickTime at the same time. I then add the files to my iTunes library and go from there.

I only playback my lossy files since lossless is overkill for every listening scenario I will ever have. The extra storage space for my lossy library is slim compared to how much space my lossless library takes up. I have an external 4TB hard drive that I use to house my iTunes library along with all of my other non-Apple compliant movies. I have a spare 2TB external hard drive that I use as a backup for my iTunes library but that one only has 500MB free at this point. I'm eventually going to purchase a 4TB thunderbolt drive, daisy chain that to my monitor, and then use my current USB3.0 4TB hard drive as a backup for my iTunes library.

Keeping two libraries is pretty easy. It would literally take my computer overnight just to sync my iPhone 5 with music every single time. For me, encoding on-the-fly was not an option as I am continually cycling music on and off of my iPhone. Even with the process of "juggling" two libraries, having an additional lossy library makes more sense in the long run. Conduct a few blind ABX tests and pick a format, encoder, and bitrate that work for you. There is absolutely no need for you to carry around 256kbps AAC files if you continually fail blind ABX tests at that bitrate (something you have a 99.999999999999% chance of doing anyway). As I have said in other threads, most people fail blind ABX tests using 128kbps and modern encoders (iTunes/QuickTime AAC, Nero AAC, Lame mp3).



64GB iPhone 5 | 64GB iPad mini | AppleTV 2 (2012) | AppleTV 2 (2010) | 4GB 3G iPod shuffle | 2012 15" MacBook Pro, 1TB SSHD, 16GB DDR3 1600 MHz, OS X 10.8.4 Mountain Lion | Apple Lossless | iTunes AAC -Q 68 | iTunes 11.1 | Library size = 1.78TB | Legacy iPods: 3G 40GB, 4G 40GB, 5G 60GB, 160GB iPod classic (2009)
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