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Poll: What is your favorite audio format?

by Lee Koo (ADMIN) CNET staff/forum admin / January 18, 2008 5:54 AM PST

What is your favorite audio format?

-- AAC (Why?)
-- ATRAC (Why?)
-- FLAC (Why?)
-- MP3 (Why?)
-- Ogg (Why?)
-- WAV (Why?)
-- WMA (Why?)
-- Other (What is it and why?)
-- I don't do digital music (Why not?)

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Heres my view
by x.killeddestiny.x / January 18, 2008 11:56 AM PST

MP3 is the best cuz its entirely universal
but ATRAC sounds the best when compressed farther however the little difference between it and WMA is excusable so therefor MP3 is the king of digital music no and ifs or buts

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I don't...
by samusgravity / January 19, 2008 1:39 AM PST
In reply to: Heres my view

Care! Anything works for me. I do have alot of MP3s, because they work on my phone, computer, and iPod.

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by audiofrog / January 19, 2008 4:22 AM PST
In reply to: Heres my view

MP3, AAC-Lossy, ATRAC and other formats that rob you of part of the recorded signal were introduced when download bandwidth and storage were at a premium. They made some sense as a valid compromise when lots of people still used modem or low-bandwidth connections to download and when PCs had 40 MB hard disks and portable players 516 MB of flash storage or 4 MB of HDD storage. Now, PC storage dirt cheap (you can add 500 GB for about $100) and portable players have up to 160 GB, while almost everybody has a broadband Internet connection.

So, at the user`s end, there is no more need for lossy compression: with lossless formats such as FLAC or Apples-Losless, you can stuff some 500 albums on an iPod Classic or 50 albums on a flash-equipped iPod Touch. Who needs more compression

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by Sonoita / March 8, 2008 4:50 PM PST

"...while almost everybody has a broadband Internet connection."

This is a continuing ridiculous myth. In the USA, high-speed internet penetration outside of urban areas remains at (generously) 25%. The USA remains far, far, far behind the rest of the tech-planet in terms of quality, pricing, and **availability** of high-speed internet access (see a March 2007 "Newsweek" article for details).

Until this basic disgrace is resolved, calls for esoteric lossless "standards" are just so much Pecksniffian elitism.


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Totally Agree
by Ivan Thomson / March 27, 2008 11:47 AM PDT

I could not agree more. While in Scotland I received a amazing high speed connection (10+mb) for next to nothing in price. And if I paid up front the price was even less.

Here, back in the USA, my high speed connection is ok at best (and upload speed is total rubbish here) and costs an arm and a leg.

Geesh, for the country that invented the Internet we aren't doing very good.

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by mgloege / January 20, 2008 7:29 AM PST
In reply to: Heres my view

MP#. Same reason most have. Its adequate for the vast majority of users, stable and universal. Question: - MP3 is generally thought of by most in the same way. Lots of other formats in the past (VCR tapes for example) finally settled down on one universal format. As if the others, at some point, read the handwriting on the wall and gracefully threw in the towel. Not in this case. Possibly some technical reasons for this? Or, is there still some vast amounts of money to still be made as purveyors of minority formats? I know one thing for sure. Computers are supposed to make things easier, right? Wading through all these formats just to play or work with my music is a headache I don't need!!

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by audiofrog / January 20, 2008 4:16 PM PST
In reply to: MP3

To me, the question is not "Why not standardize?", but rather "Why not offer music players (PC-based or portable) with all the codecs neede to cover the various formats, with no need to transcode or install plug-ins?". The comparison with the Beta versus VHS bttle is not apt, as the two video formats required entirely different hardare and building a "universal" VCR capable of handling both was not feasible. In the case of digital music, the hardware side of playback is the same regrdless of file format, and it is entirely possible to make a univesal device by adding codecs. So why are most players limited to a few formats? Probably because compnies like Sony, Apple and Microsoft hoped to make customers captive of their respective proprietary formats (ATRAC, AAC,WMA). That did not succeed, except maybe for Apple, but remember that it tooks years before Sony, in a last-ditch effort to save its Minidisc technolgy, agreed to make Minidisce players MP-3 compatible...

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Digital codecs
by fishandgrapes / January 22, 2008 12:39 AM PST
In reply to: Heres my view

WAV only please, and it still does not sound quite so transparent (on my mid-range gear) as analogue tape. Tested with live voice, piano, acoustic guitar and FM orchestral concerts. Whatever science may say, audio does not seem to like being taken to pieces. The last time I heard true hifi at home was via dear old BBC FM radio, in the south east UK, in 1970 before there was any digital deconstruction anywhere. It was on a par with a home recording made on a (borrowed) Nagra: about as good as it gets. As for MP3 - no comment!

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by colonel2 / April 7, 2008 2:56 PM PDT
In reply to: Heres my view

well wav files are obviously better quality than mp3, but only slightly and 10x as big. For size and quality mp3 files are unmatched.

casino bonuses

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by dpayer / January 18, 2008 12:30 PM PST

Even though it is lossless, there is still compression. It is the perfect codec for archiving.


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Whatever your favorite format is...
by pbuchta / January 18, 2008 12:42 PM PST

Make sure that you have a ripping utility or program that has a good codec. Some programs will 'rip' or transcode the CD format better others. I have used a number of PC an Mac programs that I can say, I achieved good results with. When judging formats make sure that you also have at least 2 or 3 different transcoding programs to compare. You may be surprised at quality of the same format using different programs.


Peter B.

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Favorite Music Format
by nomadd74 / January 18, 2008 1:50 PM PST

I don't know if this comment counts, but this week I purchased my first iMac desktop computer, and I am over the moon with it. I realise that in the USA you have many new wonders with music. However, I am not certain if this is available in Australia.
As I type this I am listening to a radio station in New York, playing a beethoven symphony, the sound is wonderful, so clear, just like being in the concert hall. I wasn't expecting such fairly good speakers on this iMac, so I am most satisfied. They are better than my old stereo set that is ten years old.
Although I am reasonably conversant with computers - I never knew about the way radio stations around the world are available for listening to, and with such clarity.
Only discovering this fact this week I have been listening to rap music from Panama, and operas from Chicago, thus I have become an instant fan - music whilst I type.
I do not understand what this style of reception is called and would appreciate any information?

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by LMF5000 / January 19, 2008 7:16 AM PST
In reply to: Favorite Music Format

erm, I believe you're referring to "internet radio"?

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I guess...
by KazuyaDarklight / March 3, 2008 9:37 AM PST
In reply to: Favorite Music Format

I say internet radio or more generically streaming(though this applies to video as well.)

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I use AAC
by climber109 / January 18, 2008 1:56 PM PST

I use AAC because it is far superior to MP3 and is supported on the iPod. I don't use a lossless format because I honestly can't tell the difference between a WAV and a 192kbps AAC. Interestingly enough, AAC is being supported by more and more devices every day.

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Apple Lossless
by robertmro / January 18, 2008 1:57 PM PST

Big files, but the name says it all.

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i agree with you
by tech_junkie14 / March 3, 2008 12:58 PM PST
In reply to: Apple Lossless

I totally agree with you
apple lossless has noticeably higher quality music
I can hear things in a song that would've otherwise been left
out by compressing it. It sounds much better in lossless format.
it may take up more space on my ipod touch but, the sound is phenomenal!!

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by ktreb / January 18, 2008 2:29 PM PST

It's as universal as it gets. Plays on my phone, pda, iPods, and non- iPods. Lossless formats are pointless for me as I have some hearing loss.

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Great Combination EAC & Ogg
by charl114 / January 18, 2008 3:40 PM PST

For sheer musicality in a compressed format I choose Ogg Vorbis at a bit rate of 224 kbps. After extensive testing this sounds so close to WAV or Flac that the differences are acceptable (and I am VERY particular about sound quality) unfortunately most pocket players do not support OGG files but I have a couple of players from Samsung - and the wonderful YP-Z5 gives a great listening experience.

Essential is that you rip your CD's properly, I have a 2000+ collection and the only rip program I trust is Exact Audio Copy (available free for download), this features secure ripping and guarantees to pull ALL of the music off CD's. It is not the fastest program but there is nothing else ou there that gives anything like the definition that EAC does.

I have been using this combination (along with Apollo, Foobar or JetAudio for playback) for quite some time now and am very happy with it. As a second best I sometimes use LAME (MP3 compatible) but Ogg still gives the most musical reproduction; MP3 can sound dry and harsh, WMA a bit muddy, FLAC is great if you have ths disc space (and sounds slightly better than Ogg - but it's lossless, so it should).

A final tip - anything is better that Windows Media Player for listening to music. Apollo is a simple no-frills player with phenomenal sound quality, Foobar can be customised to maximise performance within a system and JetAudio is an excellent all-round player. All available as Freeware.

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Not just purely theoretical or rhetoric....
by peter_b123 / January 18, 2008 3:48 PM PST

But there is no such thing as a "lossless" compression. Compression implies re-represnting data. As such, in order to re-represent (compress) music files, there are elements of the dynamic range (musical elements) that are lost.

It is true that some compression algorithms are better at representing certain types of audio are out there, but none are perfect.

I like the MP3 format because there is no good DRM for it. No verification if I am entitled to play that MP3. That's what I like the best.

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MP3 is not the only DRM-free format
by endaugust / February 1, 2008 1:17 AM PST

ALL formats can be DRM-free, not just MP3. And that includes WMA and AAC (there are options to rip them without protection in both WMP and iTunes).

DRM protected WMA or AAC are the music files bought from iTunes and Microsoft music stores. That has nothing to do with the format but rather having to do with the stores.

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Wrong - there is lossless compression.
by baldwinl / March 10, 2008 1:16 AM PDT

For example, you could just zip the WAV file. That would be lossless compression. You have to differentiate between compressing the file (lossless) and compressing the data (typically lossy). You can see the same thing in image files, where there is lossless JPEG (just file compression) and lossy JPEG (which gives rise to all kinds of loss of detail and artifacts).

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by fliv / January 18, 2008 10:21 PM PST

Free, Lossless.
I resent being part of the upgrade game and shelling out money for Windows and Office every few years. At least I can archive my music for free.

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I second/third for FLAC
by Mindstyle06 / January 18, 2008 10:48 PM PST
In reply to: FLAC

Most of the digital music players today available are for mp3 codec only i.e. mp3 codec is universally supported so I prefer mp3 format for lossy compression. Depending on the type of music I decide the bitrate but least is 192kbps using Exact Audio Copy and lame codec.

If I want to rip lossless then I would go for FLAC, only issue here is very few companies support FLAC so you will have to listen it over the computer, no mobility here except you buy Meizu or similar player.

Taking into falling account cost of media FLAC may become my next format of choice. I am not at all fan of mp3 really.

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by smosner / January 18, 2008 11:45 PM PST

MP3 is the most used out there is the USA, but europe uses different formats, I just change to MP3!!!

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What is your favorite audio format?
by gunnerds / January 19, 2008 2:30 AM PST

Mp3 Because it works on all MP3 players, most DVD players and most any other music type plyer like game players etc.

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MP 3 for this ole redneck
by slimsss2 / January 19, 2008 6:18 AM PST

Santa brought the wife a new Kenwood stereo(installed) for her car with a USB port,,bought a 8GB flash drive,currently have 1360 songs on it with 1+ GB to go.....Santa was so nice to her "Santa" got a new P/U truck with MP3 CD 6 disk changer ....I can get 100 songs/CD.....What a guy that Santa! REAL trucks don't use Spark Plugs

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MP3 is the Best Way to Go
by say592 / January 19, 2008 3:23 AM PST

MP3 has relatively universal support. To me, that is the most important.

I know that if I get rid of my Zune and go back to an iPod, it will work. When I had my iPod, I knew that I could get a new MP3 player, and not have to worry about somethings not transferring over well.

When my brother was living in my basement, and using my computer to manage his iPod, we were able to share a mass music library, because everything was in MP3. It worked with both my Zune, and his iPod.

Now, I know several other formats work with most major MP3 players, but its the principal. MP3 works natively with all of them. They dont have to convert it as its transfered to the player.

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I use only lossless
by Ed Mead Forum moderator / January 19, 2008 3:30 AM PST

Flac, Ape, WavPack along with EAC using correct settings. Anything else is a waste of time with hard drives at such a low cost. If I want something for a portable, mp3 is it, unless Ogg is supported. Ogg is a better lossy format then mp3.

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by wipster / January 19, 2008 3:36 AM PST

I'm in the process of doing the same thing... granted, my "collection" of CD's is about half this size (I also have about 1,500 albums that I will eventually be ripping as well). Because memory is so cheap and getting cheaper (1TB hard disks for under $200!), I'm ripping everything in WAV. Why? Because a) you get the best uncompressed sound, b) any decent portable player or jukebox I would consider will play them, and c) if I choose to, I then still have the capability to rip the source file to whatever compressed format I choose to use for the application.

That's not to say I don't use compressed music; I do, especially for use on my portable and in my car (really hard to tell the difference there) and I rip it consistently to MP3 256K... that's a good compromise for me. I also use Real Rhapsody for listening at home and on the portable probably 75% of the time, and most of that is at 160K WMA. Quite frankly, it's amazing how good it sounds most of the time, even sitting in my sweet spot in front of my Klipsch "mini Wall of Sound." But, you can definely tell in an A/B comparison that it is compressed music you're listening to (Who's Next is a great album to test with... the compression is obvious there... Townsend was way ahead of his time with "Won't Get Fooled Again").

So, the quality of your rip is really a function of how you plan to use the tunage. If you're a sterophile, who sits and listens to music intensely at a high volume (good classical or rock), the less compression the better. If you listen primarily in your auto or just have the music "on" while you're doing other things, even if it's pretty loud, than 192K MP3 will be fine (I definitely would not go as low as 128K, there is a big loss of fidelity at that rate)

Let us know what you pick, I'll be curious.


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