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Old 24 May 2006, 01:03 pm   #5
vinnie97
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Join Date: May 2006
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The reason I and anyone concerned with the actual quality of a codec would say so, is that in the range of 128kbps, no codec comes near being transparent on avarage.
I think that's where you're mistaken, because on average and for the average listener, it would seem that 128 kbps is definitely approaching transparency with Vorbis potentially sounding the best at said bitrate (I will admit, statistically tied). And this "near" (IMO) transparency is what makes 128 kbps so attractive (I'm happy with 80 kbps on my Rockboxed Nano even though transparency is in no way being reached...the artifacts just have very little affect on my tin ears and in a lowfi portable solution) for current DAPs, especially flash players, which currently max out at 6GB. For portability and mobility, the higher-bitrate transparency of which you speak is unneccessary and impractical and most likely not detectable by most listeners, especially when environmental noise, sound chip/amp quality and headphone quality are factored in. In the case of HD DAPs, however, I find your higher bitrate more suitable since space limitations are nil and such devices are more commonly used on HiFis.

Even so, 4.79/5 (Vorbis' score on the public 128 kbps test) certainly can't be far from transparency, can it? I think the answer is very subjective and individual but the fact that the test is public and thus indicative of a cross-section of folks bears consideration for possible extrapolation of just what bitrate is reaching transparency (or near transparency if you prefer) on average in 2006.

Back to MPC (sorry, went off on a tangent :P): Proving the victor of greatest transparency at the higher bitrates you mentioned is rather difficult unless you have spectacular hearing and/or are trained in the ways of artifact detection.

Additionally, I know of one such test conducted last year by golden ears himself, Guruboolz, featuring orchestral music only at ~180 kbps with MPC 1.15v. Statistically, the 2 contenders are locked in a tie with Vorbis showing a slight edge. Granted, I know this isn't general music (pop) and that it says very little in the way of the formats' performance at your sweet spot of 225-245 kbps but it would appear that a trend is emerging (which appears in every properly conducted listening test from 2005 and forward that has included MPC, 180 kbps by the Guru, namely...I won't include that aforementioned public 128 test since MPC was omitted). I would actually like to see a public open test with MPC at 1.1v at 128 (granted, I guess I shouldn't expect superiority at this bitrate at this juncture since MPC is intended for greater bitrates) so that the issue can be more succinctly settled (anything above that wouldn't yield any useful results going on how high all the contenders rated at 128 on the last go). Additionally, I'd like to see a Guru test of pop music around 180 kbps as well to further delineate current quality trends.

I think any perceived anti-MPC zealotry you see is more of a backlash to the oft-repeated lofty claims of MPC superiority over the years and still being spouted in some circles. Now that other contenders are measuring up to (and in some cases surpassing) MPC at ~180 kbps (at least) and perhaps below, those claims are no longer being taken at face value and this leaves everyone with more choices.

I will certainly contend that User's objection to the graph comparison is warranted. The comparison says nothing definitive due to the already mentioned anchor problem and questionable data extrapolation.
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