Best quality to save to?

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DaveWillow
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Joined: Fri Mar 14, 2014 10:50 am

Best quality to save to?

Post by DaveWillow »

Hi everyone,

can someone please tell me the best quality to save a file in, after recording? I would like to save uncompressed and without any loss. Can anyone suggest how to save the 'raw' recording?

Many thanks,

Dave.

Tristan
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Joined: Mon Jun 01, 2009 8:20 pm
Location: Southeast Michigan

Re: Best quality to save to?

Post by Tristan »

I'm sure other people will chime in here with qualifiers, but the short-and-sweet is there's no point in saving at a higher rez than your recording-level rez. If you record at 24/48, you should save at 24/48 to preserve the quality of the original file.

You won't damage the audio quality by saving at higher rez's, but you will be making any saved file unnecessarily large.
I don't want to read the manual either, but I'm not the one with the problem.

Gord
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Joined: Thu May 21, 2009 4:26 pm
Location: Canada

Re: Best quality to save to?

Post by Gord »

re: compression - You are quite right in thinking that you should save your raw recordings in a "lossless" format, but not all compression schemes are "lossy" (like MP3 is). FLAC is a lossless compression scheme that is often used for archive purposes, and GoldWave supports the FLAC file format.

DougDbug
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Location: Silicon Valley

Re: Best quality to save to?

Post by DougDbug »

The first question is, What format do you need? Where and how are you going to play the file?

Typically you'd save as WAV at the same sample rate (kHz) and bit-depth you recorded at. If you are doing any editing, leave it in WAV 'till you are done.

WAV is a popular format and any computer or portable audio player can play it. But, tagging (artist, title, album, etc.) is not very standardized. And of course, it's not compressed so the files are big. So, you might want to consider an appropriate compressed format compatible with whatever it's going to be played on.

If you need a different format, convert/compress ONCE as the LAST STEP. Note that if you create an MP3, it has to be decompressed before you can open and re-edit in GoldWave (or any "regular" audio editor) and that means a 2nd lossy step compression if you re-save as MP3.

Audio CDs are 44.1kHz, 16--bit, stereo. If you have a WAV with those settings, creating a CD will not change the underlying audio data.

The guys who do blind listening tests have determined that "CD quality" is better than human hearing so if you downsample from higher resolution to 44.1kHz/16-bit, you won't hear any difference (in a proper scientific blind listening test).

MP3 (and AAC) is lossy compression, but a high-quality (high-bitrate) MP3 can also often sound identical to the uncompressed original (depending on the program material and your ability to hear compression artifacts).

Tristan
Posts: 386
Joined: Mon Jun 01, 2009 8:20 pm
Location: Southeast Michigan

Re: Best quality to save to?

Post by Tristan »

You're welcome, Dave.

Edit: 22 May 2014. You see, when you ask the same question on 10 different forums, and get your answer somewhere else, you don't have to come back here to acknowledge the answers you got. The internet's great.
I don't want to read the manual either, but I'm not the one with the problem.

JackA
Posts: 154
Joined: Thu May 24, 2012 5:52 pm

Re: Best quality to save to?

Post by JackA »

Doug wrote:
The guys who do blind listening tests have determined that "CD quality" is better than human hearing so if you downsample from higher resolution to 44.1kHz/16-bit, you won't hear any difference (in a proper scientific blind listening test).
But, what we tell Neil Young with his HQ sound Pono player, only a mere $350!?

I firmly believe you, man's hearing is not that good to hear audio distortion, even with MP3s.

Allow me to tell a short story during the Napster days. I download a handful of MP3s. Back then, even a 128kbps MP3 sounded a little ill. I wanted at least 160kbps. However, then I came across one 96kBPS MP3, and it sounded nicer than most 120-160 kbps MP3s! Was is a superior made MP3 or was it the source that was better?

Anyway, I constructed my web site with a bunch of snippets (I'm a stereoholic) and had to keep the file size down (only 20mb of space), so I used 96kbps MP3. That's what I began to discover, it was the source quality that allowed me to encode at 96kbps, but still maintain decent sound.

With that said, I feel you can use an MP3 as a simple sound quality gauge of source distortion, and encode at a low kbps to hear how the song holds up vs a higher bit-rate.

Jack

DewDude420
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Re: Best quality to save to?

Post by DewDude420 »

DougDbug wrote: The guys who do blind listening tests have determined that "CD quality" is better than human hearing so if you downsample from higher resolution to 44.1kHz/16-bit, you won't hear any difference (in a proper scientific blind listening test).
In a proper scientific blind listening test; where the test engineers have ensured the files are being played back at the proper rate without resampling and proper dithering; you'd be hard pressed.

The problem is the average user has no idea what it takes to properly play a file back at it's highest quality. I've seen arguements for and against hi-rez audio; as well as higher quality dacs. Most of the people are chasing hardware to overcome their stpidity. For example; you play a 44.1khz file back through Windows 7 in 192khz shared mode and you're going to get some IM distortion from resampling.

Of course, then you have to get in to things like whether the card is pure PCM 16-bit playback or pulse-density bit-stream internally. Then there's DSD vs PCM and how both are so entirely different no one understands DSD.
JackA wrote: But, what we tell Neil Young with his HQ sound Pono player, only a mere $350!?

I firmly believe you, man's hearing is not that good to hear audio distortion, even with MP3s.

Allow me to tell a short story during the Napster days. I download a handful of MP3s. Back then, even a 128kbps MP3 sounded a little ill. I wanted at least 160kbps. However, then I came across one 96kBPS MP3, and it sounded nicer than most 120-160 kbps MP3s! Was is a superior made MP3 or was it the source that was better?
First of all, Neil Young isn't together enough in the head to be pushing an HD player. He's basically repeating things he's been told by people he's paying to tell him stuff. Everyone in the HD community hangs on his every word...I'd on the other hand ignore every opinion he's got on the idea. He's a musician; I've got a friend that's played with him...said he's not that great to work with and about deaf.

As far as our hearing; you would be surprised as to how much it's sensitive to. But when it comes to MP3, you've got a LOT of variables that change the quality. The age/quality of the encoder, true stereo vs joint stereo vs intensity stereo, slow encode vs fast encode....there's just wayyyy too many variables. During the Napster days...a lot of people will still using l3enc based encoders. LAME still had a ways to go before it took top spot; meanwhile companies like Xing were "optimizing" the encode speed and making some pretty lousy encodes.

Take iTunes for example. Most people don't realize Apple used a lousy mp3 encoder on purpose. Most any file that's encoded with itunes shows up as "bladeenc"; which is an encoding engine that dates from 15 years ago that was fast and low-quality. 128kbps files encoded with a new copy of LAME sound much cleaner and less distorted than anything encoded with iTunes.

That's not to mention there are things you can do with lossy audio to increase the perceived quality. Lowering your stereo image helps; as most distortion comes from the side matrix channel as it has less bits dedicated to it than the main sum audio (only in files using mid/side joint-stereo encoding).

It really comes down to your system...from how the data is handed to your DAC all the way till it hits your ears, that includes room acoustics. I've noticed over the years as the quality of my gear has gone up; the perceived quality of my old mp3's has gone down. Distortion I couldn't pick up before, now seems enhanced by the additional detail afforded to me by my gear. Speakers espeically...my gosh..I just switched to a pair of Ohm Model L from a pair of DCM KX7s and...wow...the amount of detail in just those speakers was enough 320mp3s that sounded great suddenly have flanging distortion in the stereo image.

But back to the original post; I always save as WAV if I'm moving data for a short period of time. Projects that I archive...or even when I'm done for the day; I save out in FLAC. Less worry about data corruption.

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