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Old 10 March 2005, 05:35 am   #1
Lunatique
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Default Is MPC good enough for archiving cassette tapes to remaster?

I have a box of about 90 cassette tapes, and I'm in the process of archiving them, and then later try to remaster them. After much research, it seems I have narrowed down to two choices:

1. Monkey Audio

2. Musepack

Before my research, I was going to just archive them using mp3 LAME at highest VBR setting and 192 bitrate minimum. I still think that's a pretty good setting and should capture cassette tapes just fine--it's in fact probably overkill.

Now, after my research, it seems that Musepack is a better lossy encoder, and I'm considering using it to archive my cassettes. However, I have a simple question:

Others have suggested that I only use lossless compression to archive the cassettes, especially that I'll be remastering them down the line. That's what lead to my other choice, Monkey Audio. HOWEVER, I hate the fact that I'm going to have to burn close to 10 DVDs to archive my cassettes.

So, the question is, if I just use MPC, would it be good enough to still allow me to do remastering work on the resulting files down the line? (Keep in mind that after I do the remastering, I'll be encoding them again in MPC.)
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Old 10 March 2005, 07:30 am   #2
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Hi Lunatique.
Since you intend to remaster the music, the best idea would be to use a lossless codec. There is one reason:

Lossy codecs produce audio data that is extremely different from the original data, yet, this doesn't mean the audio has to sound worse. Musepack uses a very advanced psychoacoustics model that emulates human hearing, which is very selective. This means that the data acts like the human hearing and parts of the audio are transformed in such a way that details are removed, very similarly to how your hearing would remove those same parts.

This is all nice, until you change the data produced by the lossy codec. Unchanged, it can be perfect, but changed, you might understand why it could be less than optimal.

Secondly, reencoding the files would be a bad idea as well, as the encoder would have to face data that is already processed.
Also, the notion that audio from cassette tapes is easier to encode is wrong.
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Old 10 March 2005, 11:03 am   #3
Lunatique
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I suppose you're right. I'll first archive them onto DVDs with lossless compression (either Monkey Audio or FLAC). Then, after remastering, I'll encode with either Musepack or LAME VBR.

I know that Musepack is supposed to be superior to LAME VBR, but is it really audible if you don't have a $20,000 sound system? I mean, when I encode at highest VBR quality, 192 minimum bitrate, I can't hear the difference between that and the original CD, and I try real hard to tell the difference using my Sennheiser HD555. So, if I already can't hear the difference using LAME VBR, how would Musepack make any difference? Also, LAME VBR is so universally supported that I could play it with anything, anywhere, and never run into problems.
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Old 10 March 2005, 11:45 am   #4
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* Not all mp3 decoders support VBR properly, especially ones in some cheap hardware.

* Of course you're not supposed to always be able to tell the difference with LAME, however, there are many more problem cases with LAME and other MP3 encoders than there are with Musepack, Vorbis or AAC, Musepack being on top. Samples like the ones on the High Bitrate Tests thread on Hydrogenaudio.org are easily distinguishable even with alt preset insane, which is constant 320kbps (highest mp3 bitrate), and those are definitely not the only ones.

* I didn't think this thread was about why to use Musepack and not MP3, cons and pros. Regarding support, as you can see, we're constantly working on that. Musepack is already supported by many Windows, Linux/Unix/BSD applications, PocketPC, and portable player support is on the way.
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