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EAC > FLAC > AAC with Foobar, Why does my 224kbps AAC audio sound worse on my iPod?
lladnek
post Jun 24 2006, 18:17
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Greetings, gents. This is my first post.

I am an audiophile in training, so to speak, and follow feedback from all of you in order to get the best possible audio for my PC and my iPod. I'm no expert, but am starting to distinguish good encoding from not so good (or even BAD) encoding.

Which leads me to my current question:

I use EAC to rip my discs to FLAC (for archiving) and then use Foobar to convert my FLAC files to AAC (for my iPod). I'm encoding at 224kbps with -q 0.6 -ignorelength -if - -of %d in Foobar's command line. I'm getting seemingly transparent audio when playing the AAC files through Foobar and Winamp.

But when I listen to them with my Grado SR80s through iTunes and my iPod they don't sound as good: I notice static at the beginning of guitar riffs. One song, in particular, is AC/DC's Snowballed from For Those About to Rock (just one of my many genres of music tastes), which I thought would be a good test. In fact, several other songs from AC/DC are doing the same thing. I've only ripped about 3 discs this way, 2 from AC/DC and one from 311, and the 311 files sounded fine in iTunes and my iPod.

Is there anything I can do to make the audio sound just as good (or at least BETTER) on my iPod? I tried the Sound Enhancer function on iTunes, which seems to help, but that function isn't available on my iPod. mad.gif

I apologize if my terminology above isn't up to speed yet. It's a process, just like my encoding. wink.gif

Many thanks for any feedback!

This post has been edited by lladnek: Jun 24 2006, 18:19
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shadowking
post Jun 24 2006, 18:24
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Clipping ?


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Firon
post Jun 25 2006, 03:32
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It's probably the iPod's DAC at fault. Pre-nano iPods don't have spectacular DACs, and even the 5G still has problems with quiet sections, and such.
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lladnek
post Jun 25 2006, 16:54
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Wonderful. Mine's a 4G, so that does fit into the category of pre-Nano. I even tried encoding through Nero 7 and also tested 192kbps and got the same results.

Does iTunes do anything to the file (DAC) when exporting the songs to the iPod or is it just a horrid audio player in general, because I hear the audio distortion on the songs in iTunes before I even transfer them to my iPod?

Should I lower the kbps, say, to perhaps 160 or should I just scrap AAC for now and go with an mp3 player, instead? I just don't want to continue with my ripping/encoding project of 300+ cds and regret using AAC over mp3 or vice versa.

Thanks again...
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bjackson128
post Jun 25 2006, 17:46
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I would strongly recommend ripping your CD collection to a lossless format. Hard drives are cheap these days, and ripping to lossless will save you a ton of time down the road (I know from experience). That way, you would be able to switch to different bit rates, codecs, whatever, at the drop of a hat.
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saratoga
post Jun 25 2006, 23:01
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QUOTE (Firon @ Jun 24 2006, 19:32) *
It's probably the iPod's DAC at fault. Pre-nano iPods don't have spectacular DACs, and even the 5G still has problems with quiet sections, and such.


His ipod's DAC makes his PC sound bad? Quite a trick.

QUOTE
Wonderful. Mine's a 4G, so that does fit into the category of pre-Nano. I even tried encoding through Nero 7 and also tested 192kbps and got the same results.


This is HA. You're not supposed to believe nonsense posted without evidence.

Check this:

http://72.14.203.104/search?q=cache:uoxL0Y...=1&client=opera

Your portable is fine, even with "quiet sections", unless you consider a noise floor ~ 100dB below peak to be a problem.

What encoder are you using?

Edit: I mean using before you tried Nero?

This post has been edited by Mike Giacomelli: Jun 25 2006, 23:02
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/mnt
post Jun 25 2006, 23:17
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I was trying some AAC encoders a few months ago iTunes, FAAC and Nero AAC and for some wired reason the AAC files that was encoded by Nero AAC and FAAC sounded realley bad as a Blade encoded MP3 on crappy Quicktime 7.1 and they sounded perfect on foobar2000 and Winamp (well Nero AAC did but not FAAC) and the iTunes encoded AAC files sound good on both foobar2000 and Quicktime.


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Firon
post Jun 25 2006, 23:37
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Mike Giacomelli: I didn't notice he said it sounded bad on his PC TOO. I thought he said it sounded fine on the PC, but not on the iPod. And the Nano IS 4th generation...

lladnek: do all the files you heard noise in when played in iTunes sound fine in foobar2000 or Winamp?

This post has been edited by Firon: Jun 25 2006, 23:42
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saratoga
post Jun 26 2006, 08:18
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QUOTE (Firon @ Jun 25 2006, 15:37) *
Mike Giacomelli: I didn't notice he said it sounded bad on his PC TOO. I thought he said it sounded fine on the PC, but not on the iPod. And the Nano IS 4th generation...


The Nano is not a 4G. The 4G is the BW or photo full sized ipod with a touch sensitive click wheel.

See here:

http://ipodlinux.org/Generations
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lladnek
post Jun 26 2006, 15:48
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Hey, guys. Yeah, all the AAC files I have created sound practially identical to their FLAC counterparts when playing on Foobar and Winamp, but they sound somewhat "muffled" when playing through iTunes. I also notice that the subtle details I hear when playing through Foobar and Winamp are mysteriously missing when playing through iTunes.

The AAC encoder I use with Foobar is the free one provided by Nero. Let me ask you: is this the same encoder bundled with Nero 7's latest download or is it a somewhat scaled down version?

I tried experimenting with iTunes' AAC encoder at 192kbps, VBR, 48.000 kHz and was not impressed with the results compared to the quality I get when encoding through Foobar and Nero's free plugin.

Is anyone having a better experience with MP3 songs on their iPod instead of AAC at the same bitrate, in this case 224kbps?
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rosshmusic
post Jun 26 2006, 16:06
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the freely available nero encoder is not scaled down...
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Llorean
post Jun 26 2006, 16:25
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While the Nano isn't exactly the same as the 4G iPod, they do use the same Wolfson codec if I remember correctly, so while his statement wasn't exactly true, the intent of it works out anyway. The main difference in the 4G and the Nano (other than of course size/screen/etc) is the different core processor, but the audio hardware is the same as far as I know.

If the files sound bad on the iPod and in iTunes then it sounds like a decoder issue rather than an encoding issue. I wonder if iTunes and the iPod firmware have AAC decoders based off the same code.
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saratoga
post Jun 26 2006, 17:38
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QUOTE (lladnek @ Jun 26 2006, 07:48) *
Hey, guys. Yeah, all the AAC files I have created sound practially identical to their FLAC counterparts when playing on Foobar and Winamp, but they sound somewhat "muffled" when playing through iTunes. I also notice that the subtle details I hear when playing through Foobar and Winamp are mysteriously missing when playing through iTunes.

The AAC encoder I use with Foobar is the free one provided by Nero. Let me ask you: is this the same encoder bundled with Nero 7's latest download or is it a somewhat scaled down version?

I tried experimenting with iTunes' AAC encoder at 192kbps, VBR, 48.000 kHz and was not impressed with the results compared to the quality I get when encoding through Foobar and Nero's free plugin.

Is anyone having a better experience with MP3 songs on their iPod instead of AAC at the same bitrate, in this case 224kbps?


Really stupid question, but you're absolutely sure thats a standard LC AAC file with none of the extra features itunes and the ipod do not support but that Nero does such as HE, PS, etc? I don't think it will even let you use them at 224, but I want to be sure.

Other then that, I don't know. I have tons of Nero encoded stuff on my Ipod and it sounds the same as foobar.

Also, if when you're using iTunes, you should probably set the sample rate to 44.1KHz, not 48k, unless you're ripping DVDs.
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lladnek
post Jun 26 2006, 20:07
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Hey, Mike. Yes, LC only. No other nonsense as far as options go. When I tried encoding through iTunes it only lets me go up to 192kbps VBR and each song is EXACTLY 192kbps.

I can tell you this, regarding iTunes. I tend to have all my songs set on the 'Acoustic' EQ setting. Any recommndations and do you think this has anything to do with the crackling I'm hearing at high bitrates/volume/decibels (I don't know what the correct term is, but hopefully one of the 3 I just mentioned)?

Is there any sort of ReplayGain-like mechanism I can use for iTunes or my iPod? Does that help eliminate distortion with high notes in music or does it just trim the volume or output?

Sorry for beating a dead horse, I'm just kind of a perfectionist and am hoping I can alleviate the distortion somehow.

I'm starting to think perhaps MP3 LAME instead of AAC might be the way to for now until AAC becomes more widely accepted...

Thanks...

This post has been edited by lladnek: Jun 26 2006, 20:09
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arpeggio
post Jun 26 2006, 21:24
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QUOTE
Is there any sort of ReplayGain-like mechanism I can use for iTunes or my iPod? Does that help eliminate distortion with high notes in music or does it just trim the volume or output?


Download MP3Gain and install it.

Then download AacGain from Rarewares. Rename the <aacgain.exe> to <mp3gain.exe> and overwrite the existing file in the MP3Gain-folder. It has a nice GUI and good help-files.

Now you can add ReplayGain to both MP3 files and AAC files. And it works on iPod too. At least it did in my case.

Cheers!
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singaiya
post Jun 27 2006, 02:05
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If track gain is ok, you can just use the Sound Check feature in itunes. AFAIK the way it works is very similar to replaygain in track mode.
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saratoga
post Jun 27 2006, 02:41
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QUOTE (lladnek @ Jun 26 2006, 12:07) *
Hey, Mike. Yes, LC only. No other nonsense as far as options go. When I tried encoding through iTunes it only lets me go up to 192kbps VBR and each song is EXACTLY 192kbps.

I can tell you this, regarding iTunes. I tend to have all my songs set on the 'Acoustic' EQ setting. Any recommndations and do you think this has anything to do with the crackling I'm hearing at high bitrates/volume/decibels (I don't know what the correct term is, but hopefully one of the 3 I just mentioned)?

Is there any sort of ReplayGain-like mechanism I can use for iTunes or my iPod? Does that help eliminate distortion with high notes in music or does it just trim the volume or output?

Sorry for beating a dead horse, I'm just kind of a perfectionist and am hoping I can alleviate the distortion somehow.

I'm starting to think perhaps MP3 LAME instead of AAC might be the way to for now until AAC becomes more widely accepted...

Thanks...


Theres soundcheck, but I don't know how well it protects against clipping if used with iTunes. If you use it with foobar, it works fine. See the foo_dop thread for more info.

Are you hearing clipping? You didn't mention it so I assumed not, but rereading your post it does sort of sound like that. I've heard the EQ on the Ipod tends to clip very easily, but I have no experience with it because I do not use EQ. iTunes could be the same way.

You mentioned foobar. Replaygain a track that sounds bad now, send it over with foo_dop, turn on sound check in your ipod and see if it works better.
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lladnek
post Jun 27 2006, 03:09
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Hmm, clipping may be the culprit. I'm somewhat unclear of what classifies clipping, to be honest with you. I'm currently using just headphones; would I be able to detect clipping through those instead of regular speakers?

I have a funny feeling it may stem from my EQ settings in iTunes. I've got no presets enabled in Foobar, yet generally use something in iTunes because the volume tends to be a lot lower than Foobar and Winamp. No clipping/distortion in Foobar, yet I'm getting it in iTunes with 'Acoustic.' Interesting: I tried the 'Piano' setting and it seemed to be somewhat better and more vibrant? Could be imagining things, though...

I'll give ReplayGain a whirl and then foo_dop. Ideally I'd like all my songs to ultimately be at a conistent volume (at least per album), so I'll have to conduct some tests and see how they sound on my iPod afterwards.

Anyone else encoding at 224kbps? AAC or MP3? The inevitable question... wink.gif

This post has been edited by lladnek: Jun 27 2006, 03:11
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saratoga
post Jun 27 2006, 06:29
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Clipping is sort of a static or crunchy sound whenever the volume gets very loud. Its very easy to notice, and assuming it is the EQ, turning that off or using Replaygain/Soundcheck should eliminate it.
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lladnek
post Jun 27 2006, 17:42
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Problem solved: I checked 'Sound Check' in iTunes and my beloved songs are sounding good as gold again. Songs that have a volume that's too loud are clipping and the 'Sound Check' regulates this. Thanks for all your comments and suggestions.

One last question: should I stick with the 'Sound Check' option in iTunes or go with something like ReplayGain or MP3Gain/AACGain, depending on which format (AAC or MP3) I decide to go with?

Thanks...
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saratoga
post Jun 27 2006, 19:55
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Sound check has a couple draw backs as implemented in iTunes:

1) It only does track gain, so it makes all your tracks have the same volume when in general you probably want all your albums to have the same volume. This may or may not bother you depending on what type of music you listen to (music that contains quiet tracks for instance tends to work poorly).

2) It doesn't actually look at the peak value AFAIK, so some clipping is still possible.

That said, its quite easy, particularly if you don't use foobar much. I'd say its worth trying and if you're happy, stick with it.
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