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Best Lossy codec for "Andrea Bocelli - Opera", Lossy Andrea Bocelli!
totalz
post Mar 31 2013, 04:58
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I wish there's a general section under lossy audio compression. Haven't encoded in lossy for ages, the good old days was back in lame 3.97...

Anyway, would like to encode Andrea Bocelli - Opera (2012) in the smallest file size possible that can be handled by blind ABX! I'm open to any lossy encoder that's best for the job. I also wonder what info I have to provide about this CD to get the best conclusion here.

cheers.
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db1989
post Mar 31 2013, 05:05
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QUOTE (totalz @ Mar 31 2013, 03:58) *
I wish there's a general section under lossy audio compression.
This one that I moved it to works as that. tongue.gif

QUOTE
Anyway, would like to encode Andrea Bocelli - Opera (2012) in the smallest file size possible that can be handled by blind ABX! I'm open to any lossy encoder that's best for the job. I also wonder what info I have to provide about this CD to get the best conclusion here.
Do you understand the purpose of ABX testing? Itís totally specific to an individual user, hardware, and sample. How can you expect other people to be able to tell you what you will or will not hear?

The most youíll get, quite likely, are very general statements like these: AAC/MP4 is good, MP3 is good, Vorbis is good, Opus is getting good, and decide for yourself between these based upon their features, your preferences, and the results of tests that you conduct yourself.

I donít mean to dissuade anyone who might have more specific advice, but I donít know what other people can say in response to the request for information on ABXing, which is by definition not something that others can do on your behalf.
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Mach-X
post Mar 31 2013, 05:14
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You will be inundated with replies to "test for yourself" however I am happy to give you my experience from tons of my own testing. Vorbis -q2 has given me that magic 10% compression threshold that i can't abx. Fhg aac I could _barely_ abx at q3 can't do it at q4. I've heard Nero or Apple aac is somewhat better than fhg but I haven't bothered to test. Mp3 and WMA standard need higher filesizes for transparency. The nice thing with vorbis is if you detect anything you can go up in smaller increments, ie, 2.1,2.2 until you reach that point of transparency for you on your equipment. WMA pro is good too but limited in its hardware support. But I've been 100% satisfied with libvorbis -q2.
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Mach-X
post Mar 31 2013, 05:21
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Come on db1989, the guy is just looking for a starting point, is it so wrong for you to say "based on my experience I use x codec with x settings for my equipment? I showed mine, let's see yours XD. With all the codecs out there its a jungle.

This post has been edited by Mach-X: Mar 31 2013, 05:22
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db1989
post Mar 31 2013, 05:33
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Nowadays I very rarely convert or purchase new music in lossy formats and tend to simply settle for MP3 at 192 kbps or higher (VBR if I can get it) without worrying about testing because Iím careless like that. emot-haw.gif How does this personal anecdote help someone who is specifically asking for a ready-made setup that will be transparent to them?

Not that more specific information about tests, if I had done any, would be any more applicable, really. The question cannot be answered in its specific form in a way that is guaranteed to be reliable, and general advice will probably just end up mirroring very broad sets of consensuses arrived at by previous tests and threads, all of which are available by searching. Youíll excuse me if I state this up-front to the OP rather than implying that personal accounts from other users can be relied upon to be applicable to him/her.

And anyway, as I said, other users are free to post their own impressions and habits once these caveats have been made clear. I simply chose not to describe mine for the reasons that I already explained and because my methodology for choosing settings is almost nonexistent and not something that I would recommend Ďofficiallyí. Thereís no need to imply that Iím withholding information out of some Scrooge complex. rolleyes.gif
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Mach-X
post Mar 31 2013, 05:41
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I know but it just seems to be a tendancy around here to hammer new users with "test for yourself". Often times I'm curious myself what codec/settings experienced folks like you or greynol or Arny use even though I've done way too much tinkering and abx testing myself. Sometimes people just like a starting point, ya know?

This post has been edited by Mach-X: Mar 31 2013, 05:41
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LithosZA
post Mar 31 2013, 07:34
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As a good starting point, you could start at 96Kbps with the following codecs:
Opus
LC-AAC: Apple AAC or fdk-aac or Nero AAC
Vorbis
Then just increment the bitrate each time until you don't hear any audible differences on one of the codecs against the source.
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eahm
post Mar 31 2013, 08:03
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LithosZA, remember fdk-aac is the open souce AAC Encoder from Fraunhofer BUT fhgaacenc is a CLI for the official Fraunhofer AAC Encoder. fhgaacenc requires Winamp libraries.

I would start testing from 96 kbps like LithosZA said but I would give priority to the Apple AAC Encoder (qaac or qtaacenc) since it has been proven (in 2011) that it's the best AAC Encoder available. qaac requires Apple libraries from iTunes or QuickTime. qtaacenc requires QuickTime to be installed.

I would maybe test MP3 (LAME of course), starting from 128 kbps and again maybe Vorbis (aoTuV) starting from 96 kbps. Since I switched to ACC I no longer like MP3, I think it's old technology and should disappear (not going to happen). I like Vorbis for its quality and because it's open souce but it's not compatible with the main portable device I use which is an Apple device.

I would skip Nero AAC (good quality but barely developer anymore). I would skip Opus as well since I don't think it's ready yet (many will disagree).

This post has been edited by eahm: Mar 31 2013, 08:37
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Nessuno
post Mar 31 2013, 10:06
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QUOTE (Mach-X @ Mar 31 2013, 05:41) *
I know but it just seems to be a tendancy around here to hammer new users with "test for yourself".

How a very specific question like this from the OP:
QUOTE
would like to encode Andrea Bocelli - Opera (2012) in the smallest file size possible that can be handled by blind ABX!

could possibly be answered differently? We don't even know his age!

In general terms I can answer that I have my whole CD collection, about 900 classical CDs, some of them vocal, encoded with Apple AAC, VBR at quality level 110 and haven't find a single transparency issue till now.
But, as I think most of us, I haven't done extensive ABX tests for each and every track, as I actually like to listen to music, not to test codecs!
That said, it is likely that some programmes like operatic stuff could be encoded at a lower quality level still resulting transparent. A sensible advice could be to start with a mid quality setting for the codec of choice, find some artifacts and then work on them raising the setting by little increments.

And if one wants the lowest possible file size, must do it for every track of that album: he'll end up to hate it! wink.gif

Edit: given the premise, a serious valid advice is to use a modern codec in VBR mode, target for quality, thus forgetting kbps, and let the codec does his job which is to find the lowest bitrate for that desired quality.

By the way: HAPPY EASTER TO EVERYONE, MEMBERS AND LURKERS!!! smile.gif

This post has been edited by Nessuno: Mar 31 2013, 11:00


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totalz
post Mar 31 2013, 11:02
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@Mach-X, thanks for understanding : )

@db1989, thanks for your opinion, I guess I understand the purpose of ABX. But I was actually requested by a friend for the lossy encoding. I just think there's some member here who has the knowledge and 'adequate' hardware and experience could give me a starting point.

Bottom line, too much ABX test will drive me crazy!
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shadowking
post Mar 31 2013, 11:15
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If too much abx drives you crazy, just start for a moderate mp3 setting like V4. That setting actually works really well & better quality than the popular portable setting like V5.


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Porcus
post Mar 31 2013, 11:18
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OK, someone wants a copy in a lossy format, and you do not wish a "sounds crap!" complaint. Use mp3 for max compatibility and LAME at the 0 setting and save yourself time.

But if the person does not have the original to compare to ... ? Heck, send him/her also an AAC at 96 (two-figure numbers are more impressive!) Then (s)he can compare the mp3 to the AAC, and if (s)he uses a visual tool (spectrum analyzer or whatever), (s)he could even pick the wrong one by comparing apples and oranges ;-)


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totalz
post Mar 31 2013, 11:38
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So far, Mach-X has given a great starting point, Vorbis -q2 smile.gif
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dhromed
post Mar 31 2013, 11:49
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As a sanity test, I encoded a Motorpsycho song (long-haired, bearded epic rock) to V5 with lame. This also downsampled it to 32000Hz.

I was unable to instantly ABX that from the original, and didn't feel like trying too hard. I usually give up on ABX if the difference isn't night and day.

That said, it's growly rock, and there wasn't much real content above 16KHz anyway, but still it's interesting to note that depending on the properties of the music, you can go really low with settings and still not mess up a song.

You'll have to try for yourself* to see if that's also true for your opera song. Just pick a ridiculously low quality setting at first and see how you fare.


*) The reason we keep saying this, Mach-X, is because it's true.

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Dynamic
post Mar 31 2013, 11:50
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QUOTE (totalz @ Mar 31 2013, 10:02) *
@Mach-X, thanks for understanding : )

@db1989, thanks for your opinion, I guess I understand the purpose of ABX. But I was actually requested by a friend for the lossy encoding. I just think there's some member here who has the knowledge and 'adequate' hardware and experience could give me a starting point.

Bottom line, too much ABX test will drive me crazy!


As a rule of thumb, most codecs do OK with acoustic instruments but can struggle with artificial sounds, so classical doesn't often require excessive bitrates and doesn't have many killer samples remaining (except things like harpsichord). Often, VBR settings can come out a little lower in bitrate for classical than for pop/rock.

If it's for a friend, sticking with widely supported formats might be best so they can just play it anywhere without new software or codec packs, though if they don't use specific class of software or hardware but get one file per track, gapless playback may be the first casualty (if tracks have any continuous sound between them - as a live concert might). Then again, even in live classical, track transitions are usually within a near-silent moment after applause has died down.

For maximum compatibility even on old portable players and cheaper digital TVs with USB thumb drive music playback, MP3 (e.g. LAME at -V3 or -V2 should be transparent for easy-to-encode stuff like real instruments) - 170 to 200 kbps range. -V5 (about 130 kbps) or -V4 (about 150 kbps) are rarely annoying, albeit that differences might be detectable occasionally under critical headphone listening if you know what lossy artifacts sound like.

For pretty widespread compatibility in 2013, AAC-LC in a .m4a file format is good and the Apple Quicktime/iTunes encoder is probably consistently highest rated (and can be accessed using QAAC), and is probably fractionally more consistent in standard bitrate-choice mode (often called CBR, but it's actually CVBR). 96 kbps often sounds very good, rarely annoying, albeit that differences might be detectable occasionally under critical headphone listening if you know what lossy artifacts sound like. 128 kbps is very close to transparency most of the time and would be a fine choice. A lot of people go a little higher in bitrate.

I'd be tempted to use LAME -V4 (about 160 kbps) or QAAC/iTunes/Quicktime 128 kbps to offer very good quality on the verge of transparency along with modest file size and wide compatibility, though QAAC at 96 kbps is also tempting, as is LAME -V5 (~130kbps), especially if I'm transmitting over the internet with modest upload speed.

Public listening tests from the last 5 years or so can be a fairly good guide once you have an idea of compatibility issues. Wikipedia lists a number of public and personal codec listening tests. The results of 2011's 96 kbps LC-AAC test are quite good over some pretty demanding samples under close scrutiny and Apple and FhG encoders both score well.
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zerowalker
post Mar 31 2013, 12:04
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You can try QAAC with highest setting in True VBR, and see what the size it gives.
Cause it should be Transparent, and give a nice adaptive bitrate.

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eahm
post Mar 31 2013, 17:28
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Dynamic, everything you said is in my post. Did you even bother reading previous posts?

Also, CBR is CBR, and VBR is not often called CVBR but Apple's VBR is CVBR. Apple don't ever use CBR, they stick with ABR, they would actually use CVBR but the choice of ABR is because it gives a closer bitrate to what people want to see.

zerowalker, -V127 is a little too much IMO.

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greynol
post Mar 31 2013, 17:45
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That "proof" about Apple being the best is hardly proof, especially when it shows that Apple is statistically tied with fhg.

This post has been edited by greynol: Mar 31 2013, 19:51


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db1989
post Mar 31 2013, 17:47
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QUOTE (eahm @ Mar 31 2013, 17:28) *
Dynamic, everything you said is in my post. Did you even bother reading previous posts?
Please try to resist the temptation to act offended if people repeat some things that you personally have said, with the implication that theyíre not allowed to phrase some of the same things in a different way or perhaps are doing so deliberately as an insult to you. Without meaning anything negative about your post, Dynamicís post is not a carbon copy of it, and people might appreciate the extra information or better understand repeated things based upon different methods of phrasing (in either post).
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greynol
post Mar 31 2013, 17:54
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QUOTE (Mach-X @ Mar 30 2013, 21:41) *
Often times I'm curious myself what codec/settings experienced folks like you or greynol or Arny use even though I've done way too much tinkering and abx testing myself.

Lame 3.98.4 -V3 with no special switches except the one telling the encoder not to waste any time calculating RG information that barely has any support. Oh wait that isn't true. I use the scale command in an attempt to achieve equal album loudness also.

Does this answer the OP's question as it was asked? No, I'm sure I could get smaller files that give me the same peace of mind about quality using AAC. There is no other lossy format I would consider because of compatibility reasons.

Does pointing him to performing ABX tests for himself the best answer to the original post? Yes, until we found out it was for a friend.

This post has been edited by greynol: Mar 31 2013, 19:07


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Porcus
post Mar 31 2013, 19:35
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QUOTE (dhromed @ Mar 31 2013, 11:49) *
(long-haired, bearded epic rock)


I'd definitely be able to ABX their beards from Bocelli's yes, at least on certain occations.


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eahm
post Mar 31 2013, 19:50
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OT
Bocelli lives 30mins from where I am from in Italy. We went to see him in Vegas (MGM) last year and it was amazing. This year he will be where I live at the moment (Phoenix, AZ) for Christmas.

This post has been edited by eahm: Mar 31 2013, 20:14
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db1989
post Mar 31 2013, 19:55
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Itís not as interesting an anecdote as yours, but you reminded me that my mum went through a total Bocelli phase back in the day. biggrin.gif
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2Bdecided
post Mar 31 2013, 21:41
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The FAQ, wiki entries (see links in the old sticky threads for each codec), and usual advice about codec and bitrate choice are as relevant to opera as they are to anything else.

Mp3 and FLAC are popular here for good reason.

Cheers,
David.

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Gecko
post Apr 1 2013, 10:05
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Does this Andrea Bocelli recording have special properties which would make it specifically suitable/unsuitable for a certain encoder?

In my mind that is kind of a trick question because I think of lame mp3, apple aac et al. as general purpose tools. Considering e.g. harpsichords though, certain encoders might have an edge.
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