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Personal multiformat listening test at ~130 kbps, based on classical (baroque) music only
guruboolez
post Oct 17 2003, 22:44
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The new .dll of Ivan Dimkovic I tested this week gave me the same bitrate than the encoder I used for the initial test. Audio stream is bit-to-bit identical. Explanation: I mixed up Nero5 and Nero6 encoder path. This is annoying, because it implies that I didnít test the latest Nero encoder [2.5.5.8] during first listening test (8-challengers). The encoder used was an old version, from this summer, one of the first including he-aac profile. Exact number is 2.5.1.6Ö
Iím confused, especially for Ivan. Iíve just denied four month of his work. These months are probably more important for Nero AAC than for other encoders, as musepack or vorbis. Nero AAC is actually a young encoder, and progress is probably constant, and fast.

Therefore, before I start a new listening test, comparing old and experimental encoders, I decide to add a third encoder in the arena:
ē 2.5.1.6 Ė old & uninteresting version of aacenc32.dll I tested first with 7 other challengers
ē 2.5.5.8 Ė the latest released version of aacenc32.dll, bundled with Nero 6.0.19
ē 2.5.6.2 Ė the experimental version of aacenc32.dll, named 2.5.6.2, that Ivan kindly sent me.
By testing 2.5.1.6 and 2.5.5.8, I can obtain a precise idea of the progress of the encoder, in order to evaluate 2.5.5.8 progress and to estimate the virtual position of this encoder in the 8-challengers test.
I initially planed to ask Ivan agreement before publishing results of an unofficial encoder. But results are so positive, and because I did a first and deplorable mistake last week, I have decided to bypass its authorization. Results are here:

http://membres.lycos.fr/guruboolez/AUDIO/t...Grille_Nero.htm

Note that notation should not be directly compared with notes I gave few days ago, with others competitors.



Initial comment:
- bitrate of 1.6 & .5.8 encoders are really close. 126 kbps against 128 kbps. More problematic for my purpose, the value I obtained for 2.5.6.2 Ėstreaming: 148-149 kbps. +16%. Of course, itís a less interesting bitrate for my purpose, and a really annoying one for my test (excessive if compared to most challengers). Itís the biggest deviation of the whole test (Iím not considering Q75 suggestion as a serious one: -27%). I honestly donít have any idea of the average bitrate I would obtain with other musical genres. Nevertheless, for my favorite music, and the targeted bitrate area Iím looking for, this new Nero AAC encoder need a downgrade to Ėinternet profile to stay in bitrate competiton.
Quality jump is really impressive, and bitrate inflation couldnít be invoked to explain the whole progress. Some of the worst distortions audible with 2.5.5.8 encoder at Ėstreaming profile (average 128 kbps) are indeed gone with 2.5.6.2 Ėinternet (124 kbps).

Some progress are clearly audible between 2.5.1.6 and 2.5.5.8 release. For exemple, Dorilla sample: destroyed with the old encoder, now noise-free with the newest (though bad distortions). Passacaglia (organ sample) encoded with 2.5.1.6 was clearly the worse one during the 8-challengers test. With 2.5.5.8, itís near transparency, as other formats. But if I except these two samples, the overall progress is really slim: small improvements on some samples, small degradation on others. Finally, the progress between 2.5.1.6 and 2.5.5.8 is real, but itís more like a bug correction, with audible and considerable effect on limited situations. 2.5.5.8 is probably closer to PsyTEL performances than to Faac ones. Thatís a good step, but the major one, for my needs, will be the next aacenc32.dll release.



Bitrate and size are available on the same table as before:
membres.lycos.fr/guruboolez/AUDIO/test_MF_early/Bitrate_Table_complete.htm


Note that I carefully checked the integrity of each PCM and each encoded files. I noticed some corruption and discordance between some encoding sets, and I corrected them.
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JohnV
post Oct 17 2003, 22:58
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QUOTE (guruboolez @ Oct 18 2003, 12:44 AM)
The new .dll of Ivan Dimkovic I tested this week gave me the same bitrate than the encoder I used for the initial test. Audio stream is bit-to-bit identical. Explanation: I mixed up Nero5 and Nero6 encoder path. This is annoying, because it implies that I didnít test the latest Nero encoder [2.5.5.8] during first listening test (8-challengers). The encoder used was an old version, from this summer, one of the first including he-aac profile. Exact number is 2.5.1.6Ö

Ok, well it's very good you found this rather umm fundamental issue..
QUOTE
More problematic for my purpose, the value I obtained for 2.5.6.2 Ėstreaming: 148-149 kbps. +16%. Of course, itís a less interesting bitrate for my purpose, and a really annoying one for my test (excessive if compared to most challengers).
I don't think you should publicly post results about development builds. Send your results to Ivan privately. First of all, like you noticed, the profiles of 2.5.6.2 and further are not yet tweaked to correspond the changes in psychoacoustics.


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guruboolez
post Oct 17 2003, 23:06
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QUOTE (JohnV @ Oct 17 2003, 10:58 PM)
I don't think you should publicly post results about development builds. Send your results to Ivan privately. First of all, like you noticed, the profiles of 2.5.6.2 and further are not yet tweaked to correspond the changes in psychoacoustics.

As I said it, I first had in mind to do it. But I did a big mistake last week, giving to a wrong and outdated version of Nero AAC encoder, a really bad notation. Therfore, I think that these new promising results would be welcome. There are some fan of Ivan works: I had to compensate for my mistake...
There are only results, comparing Nero to Nero. Exciting values, or promising words as yours in first page, are so different?
Nevertheless, if Ivan want it, I can remove the link and correct the html table (or you, JohnV, if Ivan is asking this before I read it).

This post has been edited by guruboolez: Oct 17 2003, 23:07
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JohnV
post Oct 17 2003, 23:13
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QUOTE (guruboolez @ Oct 18 2003, 01:06 AM)
QUOTE (JohnV @ Oct 17 2003, 10:58 PM)
I don't think you should publicly post results about development builds. Send your results to Ivan privately. First of all, like you noticed, the profiles of 2.5.6.2 and further are not yet tweaked to correspond the changes in psychoacoustics.

As I said it, I first had in mind to do it. But I did a big mistake last week, giving to a wrong and outdated version of Nero AAC encoder, a really bad notation. Therfore, I think that these new promising results would be welcome. There are some fan of Ivan works: I had to compensate for my mistake...
There are only results, comparing Nero to Nero. Exciting values, or promising words as yours in first page, are so different?
Nevertheless, if Ivan want it, I can remove the link and correct the html table (or you, JohnV, if Ivan is asking this before I read it).

Well, it's fine by me, as long as people remember that your 2.5.6.2 results are results from a development build which is still evolving before the next stable..


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guruboolez
post Oct 17 2003, 23:21
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QUOTE
Well, it's fine by me, as long as people remember that your 2.5.6.2 results are results from a development build which is still evolving before the next stable..

Should be OK now wink.gif

This post has been edited by guruboolez: Oct 17 2003, 23:23
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JohnV
post Oct 18 2003, 03:12
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Thanks Guru.

What comes to your explanation about the test.. well, it was long. smile.gif
The biggest questional thing still imo was the q90 (the winner), which has "offset" very high, and gives according to you about 140 with these samples. As I said earlier, imo neither q75 or q90 was very good for this test. Imo q90 is fundamentally in different class than others. It's like driving a Ferrari 140 km/h and claiming that it's in the same class with an old Volkswagen which can barely reach 120km/h, because they are going nearly as fast. Considering the q90 overall average bitrate is very high (Ferrari), and vbr bitrate with your samples near 140, and considering that between 120-140 the quality difference of vbr codecs can be relatively much higher than for example between 140-160...

Anyway, this is just my opinion and others can and probably will disagree.
I don't think it does anybody any good to continue chewing this. In any case, your test wasn't flawed in that sense, that there's reason to invalidate it. Imo it could have been a bit better in some ways, but I think that is also a matter of opinion. Well the usage of a quite old Nero codec was quite considerable technical mistake though, but fortunately you noticed it and reacted smile.gif (You might want to correct your original message's Nero codec version number also)

And in any case HA needs blind testings and testers with good hearing like you, so I hope you weren't discouraged (from the length and tone of your explanation, it seems you weren't, which is good. wink.gif )


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guruboolez
post Oct 18 2003, 11:56
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Thank for your positive answer. I spent long hours to wrote my defence, and I expected your comments. I'm not to continue the debate, because I don't want to spend my week-end in an english dictionnary wink.gif

The first message is now corrected, including precisions about the encoder version I unfortunately used.

I'm not discouraged anymore (but I was last week). Afterall, I'm doing tests for my own usage, not only for the others.

Finally, I noticed that WMA9PRO VBR90 is probably flawed: I've saw some low-intensity stereo piano tracks with a bitrate inferior to 60 kbps, and here, distortions are easily noticeable (but I didn't ABX them). If I could confirm this, this will end the debate: ABR128 would be the safest competitor (and the more universal) for this bitrate area.
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LagunaSol
post Oct 19 2003, 00:06
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Quicktime 6.4 (released with iTunes for Windows) claims enhanced AAC encoding. By enhanced I don't know if Apple means speed or quality or both (can I hope?). How 'bout re-running your test using just WMA Pro and AAC using QuickTime 6.4? Enquiring minds want to know...
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bidz
post Oct 19 2003, 03:46
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Kind of off-topic, but still a bit on-topic (as i didnt want to start a single thread for a simple question) :

What would be the best way to use the WMA9 Pro codec in? as there is no 16-bit 44khz 2-channel preset to use, so my question is, is there a negative side on using 24-bit on samples that are 16 bit ?

I also encoded the From Dusk Till Dawn soundtrack with both WMA9 Pro (Q90, VBR, 44 kHz, 2 channel 24 bit) and WMA9 Std (Q90, VBR, 44 kHz, stereo 16 bit), and i noticed that the filesizes was very different, the filesize off the WMA9 Pro encode was actually alot smaller than the one encoded with WMA9 Std - examples:

Track 13, Tito & Tarantula - After Dark:
---------------------------------------------
WMA9 Pro filesize: 5,16 MB (5†415†279 bytes)
WMA9 Pro bitrate: 171 kbps

WMA9 Std filesize: 6,31 MB (6†625†061 bytes)
WMA9 Std bitrate: 224 kbps

Track 2, The Blasters - Dark Night:
----------------------------------------
WMA9 Pro filesize: 4,51 MB (4†735†743 bytes)
WMA9 Pro bitrate: 180 kbps

WMA9 Std filesize: 5,09 MB (5†345†409 bytes)
WMA9 Std bitrate: 205 kbps


To be honest, i think it's strange that a 24bit file is smaller than a 16bit one, and i would also asume that the Pro codec would generate bigger filesizes/bitrates at the same quality level ? Has anyone done a good test off the WMA9 Std. codec and compared it with the Pro codec, at Q90 (VBR, no 2-pass "ABR") ?


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Yodule
post Oct 19 2003, 05:51
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QUOTE (Soren @ Oct 14 2003, 05:47 PM)
While we are in WMA topic, how can we encode wma pro in a easy method ?  Can we use Windows media player, or the only options for wma pro encoding are dbpoweramp and the windows media encoder who give me really hard time to encode something with ?

There comes with wmencoder (or wmencoder sdk, don't remember) a windows script to encode a file (windows media encoding script).

Later, I found on usenet an modified version where you can specify the artist/genre/album/etc tags.

With that script I can now encode WMA9Pro or Std directly from cdex. I can mail a copy of the script if somebody is interessted.

I Just made my own little experiment with WMa9pro 128K vbr 2 pass with the first track of AC/DC album "High voltage". The intro of that track (just a raw guitar) seems to be a killer for nero AAC @ 128 kbits (sounds like a cellular phone), for wma9std 128 vbr 2 pass (sounds like a robot) and for wma9pro 128 vbr 2 pass (you hear cracks, just like a vinyl LP !).

My solution was to encode wma9 Q90. Both Wma9pro or std seems to sound good, but the wma9std file was bigger (I remember it was >5Megs) than the wma9pro one (it is 4.39 Megs). Fast generalisation conclusion : wm9pro q90 seems good quality/compression ratio and safer than wma vbr 2 pass.
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bidz
post Oct 19 2003, 06:22
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QUOTE (Yodule @ Oct 18 2003, 08:51 PM)
With that script I can now encode WMA9Pro or Std directly from cdex. I can mail a copy of the script if somebody is interessted.


Please send it to me by email: borge_i@hotmail.com

QUOTE
My solution was to encode wma9 Q90. Both Wma9pro or std seems to sound good, but the wma9std file was bigger (I remember it was >5Megs) than the wma9pro one (it is 4.39 Megs). Fast generalisation conclusion : wm9pro q90 seems good quality/compression ratio and safer than wma vbr 2 pass.


WMA9 Pro/Std 2-pass isn't actually VBR, its more like ABR. 1-pass is true VBR (atleast it seems this way).

As in my examples a bit up, WMA9 Std filesize is much bigger than WMA9 Pro.. but still people say that WMA9 Pro has much better encoding quality..

dBPowerAmp Music Converter is very good for ripping/encoding to WMA9 Pro i think, but i'd still like to try your script, maybe i could use that with EAC then.

This post has been edited by bidz: Oct 19 2003, 06:23


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tigre
post Oct 19 2003, 09:51
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QUOTE (bidz @ Oct 18 2003, 06:46 PM)
To be honest, i think it's strange that a 24bit file is smaller than a 16bit one, and i would also asume that the Pro codec would generate bigger filesizes/bitrates at the same quality level ? Has anyone done a good test off the WMA9 Std. codec and compared it with the Pro codec, at Q90 (VBR, no 2-pass "ABR") ?

When talking about WMAPro "24bit" just means that it is capable of encoding audio files with 24bit resolution. But since we are talking about lossy mode here: As you probably know, lossy codecs save space by 'throwing away' or adding indaudible information, e.g. low volume signals masked by loud signals. At normal volume information carried by bits # 17 ... 24 is masked anyway. So a lossy compressed file created from a 24bit source won't need more space than one created from a 16 bit source in most cases.

WMA9 Pro is not just an extension of WMA9 Std. It's a different codec. If WMA9 Pro is *better* than Std. it should produce more transparent quality at identical file sizes OR smaller file sizes at identical/comparable quality, shouldn't it? That's exactly what you observed. wink.gif


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