[joe-frank-list] Yet another format discussion

BILLMILOSZ at aol.com BILLMILOSZ at aol.com
Mon Jun 9 03:07:53 PDT 2003

In a message dated 6/8/2003 9:51:02 PM Central Daylight Time, 
boojum at charter.net writes:

> A little off-topic, but MP3's are not inherently bad sounding.  It
> depends on the sampling rate and format.  

Some people argue that all MP3's are unacceptable.

MP3's ARE inherently lower-fidelity than non-compressed PCM formats, such as 
the format used on CDs.  MP3 employs lossy compression by definition. No 
matter the bitrate, SOMETHING is lost.  It's certainly true that a 128k rate MP3 
sounds much better than a lower bitrate file, and - for example- it can be 
argued that a 128k MP3 sounds better than FM radio, which is band-limited by FCC 
regulation to 15 kHz on the top end and which in real-life situations seldom 
exceeds 50 dB S/N ratio.  (Many 48k MP3 streams could arguably sound better than 
typical FM- depending on content, IMHO)

The best sounding Joe Frank there is would be the CD's.  This is a lossless 
transfer from digital masters- the only possible problems come from any 
downconversion from the original sample rate. (For example, many digital studio, like 
those using ProTools, often record at 96 KB/s rate and 24-bit depth.  A CD is 
44.1 KB/s and 16-bits deep.  There are some maniacs who record at 192 
KB/s.......) If the recording engineers know their craft, then they'll choose 
parameters for downconversion that will preserve all that is possible so that the 
44.1 KB/s 16 bit CD will be really very close to original digital studio work.  
(It's also possible that the original recordings are made at 44.1 KB/s 16-bit 
but that's unlikely these days, most recording studios work at high bitrates 
which gives them more room to manipulate the sound without degrading it.)

I can certainly hear the difference on my computer speakers between a 44.1 / 
16 uncompressed PCM file and a 128k MP3 made from that source.  The MP3 
encoding process introduces a certain amount of artifact into the sound.  You can 
easily hear it if you know what to listen to.  Still, a 128k MP3 sounds pretty 
good, compared to cassette or most FM.  But next to a CD there really is a 

And who knows maybe Joe Frank will someday be available on SACD or DVD-A.....
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