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Windows 7: Winamp's woes: how the greatest MP3 player undid itself.


20 Jul 2012   #11

Windows 7 Ultimate SP1 (64 bit), Windows XP SP3, Linux Mint 17 MATE (64 bit)
 
 

Quote   Quote: Originally Posted by Gornot View Post
Studio mixing, however, can be done in greater bit depth and a higher frequency.
I would hope so.

My System SpecsSystem Spec
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20 Jul 2012   #12

Windows 7 Home Premium x64
 
 

Well, there are cases. In the recent years many artists chose to fund their albums better in order to, for example, later release a DVD-audio disc, which is much better quality than the regular 16bit/44100Hz

That's what I meant when I said FLAC doesn't look good to me either. With today's cheap but efficient integrated audio cards that don't always support anything better than the standard CDA architecture people just choose what they can get, which sucks.

I guess I should've explained it better xD
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20 Jul 2012   #13

Windows 7 Ultimate SP1 (64 bit), Windows XP SP3, Linux Mint 17 MATE (64 bit)
 
 

I have seen some music downloads offered at 96kHz(?).

I've never tried any, as I'm not sure my players will play it (and my ears aren't that good anymore).
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21 Jul 2012   #14

W7 X-64 RTM,SUSE 11.1, XP PRO SP3 as a VM, VMware ESXi
 
 

Quote   Quote: Originally Posted by Gornot View Post
Well, there are cases. In the recent years many artists chose to fund their albums better in order to, for example, later release a DVD-audio disc, which is much better quality than the regular 16bit/44100Hz

That's what I meant when I said FLAC doesn't look good to me either. With today's cheap but efficient integrated audio cards that don't always support anything better than the standard CDA architecture people just choose what they can get, which sucks.

I guess I should've explained it better xD
Hi there
I think you've mis-understood the whole idea about LOSSLESS COMPRESSION.

What LOSSLESS COMPRESSION does is take the SOURCE file ==> whatever source it is and then COMPRESSES IT LOSSLESSLY to an OUTPUT file ==>your FLAC file.

The issue here isn't whether FLAC is OK or not but on the nature of the compression.

The original CD sound (whatever you think of the quality or otherwise of the CD standard) is compressed LOSSLESSLY into FLAC and can be re-created again from the FLAC file back into the Cda or even WAV format.

Now the algorithm to compress say a 96 kHz download might be different from the standard 16 bit 41Khz CD so the compressed (Lossless) format could be different -- doesn't have to be FLAC -- but if it can be compressed LOSSLESSLY then that's all I'm saying -- LOSSLESS compression algorithms DO NOT LOSE QUALITY -- they faithfully can re-create the exact source sound (or video) files.

Mp3 CANNOT do this -- any mp3 music of lower than 256kbs compression if listened to on anything other than those hideous bud ear phones --especially the "white" one's where the poor people sitting next to those using these wretched things hear MORE music than the actual wearers -- will be hideously contaminated with all sorts of "artifacts" etc -- and each time you open and save an mp3 file the quality will deteriorate too. This doesn't happen with LOSLESSLY compressed files such as FLAC.

You need to understand the difference between the mathemetics / physics of compression -- this is nothing to do whether you "like" FLAC / OGG or whatever and what you hear as the end result which depends largely on the player and headphones / speaker system..

You need to choose the correct or appropriate compression algorithm for the source stream you want to compress-- for the bog standard CD audio standard 16 bit 41 khz standard FLAC is fine -- for the superior DVD / HQ audio at 96 kHz it might be something else -- I don't know as CD quality is fine for me - especially at my age. There are all sorts of encoding algorithms around -- but the point of the post is to say that a LOSSLESS compression algorithm does just that -- Compresses WITHOUT ANY LOSS or degradation of the original file.

Whether your music device can actually PLAY the compressed data stream is also another matter ==> FLAC is quite well supported as a lossless codec.

Finally even if your music device CAN play the codec the actual quality of the output will depend on the quality of the DAC (Digital ==> Analog converter) in the player (Ears can only hear in analog mode -- I'm not going into mathematics like Fourier analysis etc) but the digital bits of the music need to be converted into bits of "Sine waves" and of course the quality of the headphones / speakers you use as well will also influence the sound quality of the final piece of music being listened to.

(A 50 HZ Mains hum for example is a 50 HZ Sine wave which is an analog signal for example. Music is composed of a very great numbers of these individual sine waves at different frequencies --- designing a good DAC is NOT a trivial exercise and you can pay top dollar for really good quality. In today's "on the move" Ipod generation I doubt if a lot of people have ever heard high quality sound via expensive amplifiers or studio quality speakers -- you'd get a real shock if you plugged your Ipod with your 128 kbs mp3 compressed music into a high grade studio amp and speaker set. !!).

Cheers
jimbo
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22 Jul 2012   #15

Windows 7 Home Premium x64
 
 

jimbo, my friend, now I feel bad for being too lazy to explain fully and properly when you go and write such long posts for me. I apologize.

So, yeah, I learned something today. So, FLAC, as any other lossless compression format, does apparently keep the quality of the original CD. The fact is that me not liking FLAC means not liking lossless in general; despite the preservation of quality the filesizes get drastically complicated to manage if I want to move my music to a phone and keep it with me. Add to that the fact that my music collection is HUGE - from jazz and blues artists with my own (old) LP->CD mono transformations, poor MP3s from indie YouTube artists, and tons and tons of other genres from physical CDs, it gets really complicated remembering what files are what (original) quality and where they came from. Keeping as much of it in lossless is nothing short of complicated, especially because a lot of the music I listen to is back from the 30s and 40s and so on...

It is true that , in terms of today's colossal storage devices, external drives etc. it might not be so hard to keep a music library composed of only lossless formats - but I always thought that even lossless compression did have some differences from the original (seeing as how the size of the files can split to half the original) and thought that it wasn't really the thing for me, especially since I like to keep a lot of music on my phone when I'm out and about, so as to not connect it to the PC almost every day to sync and manage it...

But now I'm thinking that I may just re-consider lossless compression, mainly FLAC, to keep on my PC, then perhaps just create an MP3 version to store on mobile devices. It sounds troublesome to keep two versions of the same files organized, though, especially since pretty much all my money is spent almost every day for a new CD or two; I just can't get enough of music xD


Unless, perhaps, I just use MP3 @CBR 320 or VBR @ V0. I heard that the newest build of LAME MP3 is amazing and that it achieves transparency at very low bitrates. I know all too well that it still can't compare to lossless compression, but for the sake of mobility I am very much interested in finding out whether the newest build has been properly tested for compression efficiency.

If it so happens, I would rather store a high quality MP3 and just transfer the files to any device I wish rather than keep two versions of the same files, compressing lossless to MP3 every time I want to change the music I take with me - especially because sometimes I just don't have the time - if I'm urgently called back to work to take an extra shift, or I sleep in, or for any other reason am late wherever I need to go, I like to be able to just jump into something comfortable and get out of the house as soon as possible - waiting for music to convert in case I want to listen to something different isn't really an option.

I also realize that today's PCs are amazingly fast at encoding music, but until that time I have such a PC, and not this decaying dual core, I can only take what I can get.

So perhaps my question is: is there an efficient "middle" between lossless compression (such as the most popular FLAC or APE) and MP3s - like I mentioned, VBR @V0 or CBR @320 - that I can settle on to rip my CD collection and keep just one version of the files to store anywhere I want to go; keeping in mind that I only have a 320GB HDD, a low storage phone (for now), a semi-fast PC for encoding files etc. etc.
Balance is important to me, and I usually much prefer that rather than keeping organization (in this case, of music) complicated but close to "perfection".


EDIT: and let me get back to topic real quick, in case the discussion continues. As far as Winamp goes, yes, it has become a buggy, sluggish bloatware full of crap and unnecessary features... BUT at least one can keep it completely in check during installation. The last time I used Winamp I restricted EVERYTHING to it, and didn't let it do ANYTHING other than playing audio files and reading my meta tags. No encoders, ripping, burning, ShoutCast, video, vis, replay gain, automated library whatever (having experienced a horrible bug in many versions where whenever I edit a tag for a file in Winamp, the file gets deleted... it just disappears "without a trace") - NOTHING other than playback. I don't even allow it access the internet. THEN it works great and uses little RAM and doesn't bug the hell out xD
My System SpecsSystem Spec
22 Jul 2012   #16

Windows 7 Ultimate x64
 
 

I had used Winamp for years but like 2 years ago I got a new sound system (Teufel 5.1) and although my Creative Soundcard has a built-in feature to put stereo signals to 5.1 (especially to the subwoofer), I just could not get Winamp to play through it.

I have since been using AIMP (now in version 3), which is much more lightweight I find and it just natively supported my sound setup. Since then I have never tried Winamp any more, and as long as AIMP still is as nice and easy to use, I won't change.

However, it boggles my mind that in this article they compare Winamp with iTunes. I have never seen a (pardon my french) shittier, performance-gobbling program than iTunes. Even in its 64bit iteration, it runs like a drunk cow on my system (which should have no trouble, especially since iTunes runs off my SSD). I hate to have to use iTunes for my iPhone and iPad....
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22 Jul 2012   #17

Windows 7 Home Premium x64
 
 

iTunes for Windows was designed as it is. Nobody in their right mind would actually put the extra effort into making iTunes better on Windows. Same goes for Safari.

On a Mac, iTunes is pretty basic, functional, and efficient, and is enough for what most people need. iTunes' highlight is the Store, no more no less. If it wasn't for that, it would've died a long time ago, or made into something that's actually usable.

Having said that, for basic stuff such as playback and radio, iTunes is enough for an average user, even on Windows... Despite the RAM leaks and bogged performance.
My System SpecsSystem Spec
22 Jul 2012   #18

Windows 7 Ultimate x64
 
 

Quote   Quote: Originally Posted by Gornot View Post
iTunes for Windows was designed as it is.
[...]
Having said that, for basic stuff such as playback and radio, iTunes is enough for an average user, even on Windows
Yeah well, the same can be said about Winamp, can't it? ;-)

That is not what my point was about...
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22 Jul 2012   #19

Windows 7 Pro x64 (1), Win7 Pro X64 / WinXP Pro x86 on (2)
 
 

Quote   Quote: Originally Posted by Gornot View Post
So, yeah, I learned something today. So, FLAC, as any other lossless compression format, does apparently keep the quality of the original CD. The fact is that me not liking FLAC means not liking lossless in general; despite the preservation of quality the filesizes get drastically complicated to manage if I want to move my music to a phone and keep it with me.
Understood, about the file size consideration being a relevant factor for you.

In my case, I decided to make file size NOT a factor. I wanted FLAC (i.e. lossless equivalent of the original CD quality at about 40-60% the size of the original CD tracks, along with support for metadata "OGG comments" tags so that PC players and portable music players could display information as they do with MP3 and ID3 tags) for my "favorite favorites", and made large capacity storage a prerequisite in my decision as to what portable music player to buy. I also wanted a super high-quality dedicated PMP to listen to music on-the-go (e.g. traveling in an airplane), not a phone.

My decision was to go with a Cowon J3 music player, with 32GB of internal storage and initially 32GB of external storage (on a microSDHC card). This was just sufficient to hold my own 6700 track music collection (produced myself as MP3 and FLAC from my 1100 CD collection) that is about 61GB in size. I've now replaced the 32GB external card with a 64GB card, giving me a 96GB music player. The Cowon J3 has fantastic sound quality (which was my primary purchase criteria), especially when listened to through my Shure SRH-940 headphones or when feeding the AUX input of my car's high-end sound system.

For my "favorite favorites" (about 1200 tracks) I produced FLAC from the CD. For everything else (about 5500 tracks) I produced VBR MP3 using LAME, with encoding parameters of -V0 -MS for absolute best quality MP3 possible.

To allow me to recognize what is FLAC and what is not (i.e. what is MP3), I take the time to use MP3Tag to modify both (a) external file name and (b) internal track "song title" tag field, to add "(FLAC)" to the value. That way no matter whether I can see the .FLAC extension or not, no matter whether I'm browsing on external file names or internal song title tag field values, I will see "(FLAC)" in whatever I'm looking at and recognize it is a FLAC file.

I also used MP3Tag to stuff "FLAC" into the "genre" tag field value, since I never actually browse or play music by true genre on my J3. Instead I almost always just browse for "genre - FLAC" (like a genre-playlist, consisting of all 1200 of my FLAC songs, i.e. my "favorite favorites"), put the player on random/shuffle mode, and then just listen to whatever FLAC songs randomly come up next. Doesn't really matter to me, as these are all my "favorite favorites" and it's like having my own radio station playing just these tracks where I have no idea what will play next.

I do not use any external "music library" product (e.g. MediaMonkey, which is either (a) just as intrusive as, or (b) even more than intrusive than, iTunes) to "manage my music collection on PC and sync my J3 and also be my PC music player". I keep my J3 up-to-date myself, using either Beyond Compare or Free Comnmander on the PC, which are simply 100% standard Windows Explorer equivalent/substitute programs that provide sophisticated folder/file management capability... having nothing to do with music in particular. And I use MP3Tag to maintain tags if I need to, 100% under my own control.

I use Winamp as my "default" PC music player, but I use Jaangle as my PC music collection/player organizer product. Both of these provide their own unique capability and functionality, and along with my J3 both software products provide beautiful "Album Art" window display of the high-quality 500x500 "cover.jpg" album art I've spent much time producing from my own CD cover scans and Photoshop.

And Winamp, Jaangle, and the J3 all provide built-in native playback support for FLAC as well as for my VBR -V0 MP3 files.

I produce my own FLAC and MP3 files using Audiograbber (which I've used for 15 years now), invoking (a) FLAC as an external encoder or (b) LAME as an external encoder. Tags (both ID3 and FLAC) are produced automatically from information retrieved from FreeDB, though I will pre-edit the retrieved information myself before starting the rip/encode/tag process, and/or use MP3Tag after-the-fact to change or correct something.

So my 96GB Cowon J3 essentially provides "infinite capacity" for my currently 61GB music collection. I can have lossless FLAC (i.e. original CD quality) for as much as I want.

And I use Winamp strictly as my PC music player. Have been doing that for 15 years as well.
My System SpecsSystem Spec
22 Jul 2012   #20

Windows 7 Home Premium x64
 
 

I've been exchanging file formats for many years. As a noob I started out with WMA, then Fraunhofer MP3 at CBR @320 only to realize that the files were far too large for my 80GB HDD (that was back in 2004/2005). From there I used OGG, but as the time passed I didn't like the fact that my (then) current Nokia didn't really like OGG, so after some research I switched to the old Coding Technologies' AAC. Storage always being an issue and never an actual satisfying reason for expenses, I used the HE-AAC profile @64 which was very low but at the time with my old PC sound setup and mobile devices it was enough. Eventually I started using iTunes which provided better quality but still used the HE-AAC profile VBR @80 and until only recently I never thought the sound quality was as bad as it actually was. Most music I ripped still sounded great, but as I am a perfectionist (to a point) when it comes to audio formats, organization, tagging etc. I always disliked having tons of random filetypes in my collection.

After so many years, storage is still important to me (because my country has gone to s**t and deeper, the wages are small and expenses, especially anything that has to do with tech, high), but the actual quality became more important as well, and I decided to just give up on trying to find a perfect solution and instead use a carefully measured balance.

I honestly despise MP3, having heard so much bad quality music through the internet over the years, that I cringe every time I think about using it again... Or at least I would if it wasn't for LAME MP3. Since I change my media players like I change my bed sheets (at least once a week) whenever I get bored or frustrated with some features, intrusions and bugs, so I'm not even going into that, but the last piece of software that I purchased and will probably never regret it buying was Poikosoft's Easy CD-DA Extractor which supports LAME MP3 and tons of other formats, is constantly updated and has perfect tagging and file structuring features.

Still, MP3 @ VBR V0 does sound like a great balance between filesize and quality, even though neither are perfect. And considering the fact that I'm not going to go the Apple way anytime soon (if ever) nor trip the hell out and use a(ny) Linux distro (again) on my PC, AND the fact that I have a tendency to use multiple mobile devices and platforms, MP3 seems like a logical choice to avoid worrying about compatibility... EVER!
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 Winamp's woes: how the greatest MP3 player undid itself.




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