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Public AAC Listening Test @ ~96 Kbps [July 2011]. 277

The folks at the Hydrogen Audio Forums have for years been benefiting the world with their patience, technical skills, and hyper-focus on sound quality, by comparing the real-world sound of various codecs and bit-rates for audio encoding. Under the scope for the latest public listening test (slated to run until July 27) are the following AAC encoders: Nero 1.5.4; Apple QuickTime 7.6.9 true VBR; Apple QuickTime 7.6.9 constrained VBR; Fraunhofer (Winamp 5.62); Coding Technologies (Winamp 5.61); and ffmpeg's AAC (low anchor).
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Public AAC Listening Test @ ~96 Kbps [July 2011].

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  • by Cigaes ( 714444 ) on Sunday July 24, 2011 @07:21PM (#36865976) Homepage

    FFmpeg's AAC encoder is not finished (yet?), and flagged as experimental. Including it in such a test is rather a dubious idea: it is likely to give a bad impression of the whole project.

    Having the new vo-aacenc [] as contender for the Free Software community would IMHO have been more relevant.

  • MS shills (Score:0, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Sunday July 24, 2011 @07:24PM (#36865990)

    Can I take the test even if I am not running Microsoft Windows?

    [...]and then call "C:\Program Files\Java\jre1.5.0_15\bin\java.exe -jar abchr.jar"[...]


  • Re:What's the point? (Score:2, Informative)

    by progkeys ( 253222 ) on Sunday July 24, 2011 @07:48PM (#36866144)

    Have you ever done game programming? Here's one example: multimedia iOs apps, like games and enhanced books are severely memory constrained. Every kB saved can make a difference. Even in a large console game, memory becomes an issue. Most AAA games have hours of prerecorded music, sound effects and voiceover. If console developers can squeeze their audio by an extra 5%, without degrading the audio too much, that makes a big difference to the the memory footprint (or the amount of audio). I do audio at a flash development company that works with giant media corporations and 48kbps mp3 audio embedded in flash swfs is more common than you might think, due to the desire to keep loading times down.

    Also, one of the biggest uses of AAC is within mp4 and quicktime movies and video streams. I'm betting that the average 360p youtube video is probably encoded at 96kbps aac. Another use might be high participant video/audio conferencing where one has to download multiple simultaneous streams over the same connection.

    Another example might be streaming to remote locations in developing nations. I'm sure there are countless other applications.

  • by guidryp ( 702488 ) on Sunday July 24, 2011 @07:52PM (#36866170)

    Almost no one can hear a difference between loss-less and any of the codecs at high bit rates (256K+).

    Though many think they can, until actually blind tested.

    If you can reliably tell the difference in proper blind testing, you are likely have better hearing/perception than 99.9999 % of the population.

    I think I have great hearing, but when I did some ABX testing, my ability to distinguish drops off completely by 160 K VBR on MP3s and that is in quiet room with quality headphones straining to ID any difference.

    I am skeptical of any golden eared claims these days pooh-poohing modern codecs.

  • Re:FLAC (Score:5, Informative)

    by maeka ( 518272 ) on Sunday July 24, 2011 @08:03PM (#36866248) Journal

    FLAC sound clearer to me.

    That is not a description of the type of artifact one is likely to find in AAC or MP3. Try again.

    Yes, I have absolute pitch, if that plays any role.

    Nope, that isn't where lossy codecs fail either.

    I do not understand why people get up in arms when somebody says they her the difference: be glad that you do not.

    Up in arms? No. It was an honest inquiry. If you are truly able to distinguish AAC/MP3 from FLAC on a general basis you would be most valuable.

    Ya see, lossy codecs tend to fail in particular ways on specific types of samples. If someone was able to readily distinguish lossless from lossy across a wide (or even moderate) collection of samples they would be damn near unique and quite useful as a tester of dev changes.

    Alas lots of people talk and few actually prove they're swinging the big dick they brag about once subjected to double-blind testing.

  • by GrievousMistake ( 880829 ) on Sunday July 24, 2011 @08:03PM (#36866254)

    The Hydrogen Audio Forums tests have traditionally used a sound methodology, it would probably be worth reading up on it [] before you comment, lest you make a fool out of yourself.

    They will not be trying to measure how 'good' each codec sounds, they are trying to measure how close it is to the source material, with a 'perfect score' being statistically indistinguishable.

  • by ThePhilips ( 752041 ) on Sunday July 24, 2011 @08:19PM (#36866422) Homepage Journal

    Though many think they can, until actually blind tested.

    I listen mostly classics and jazz. MP3@320kbps sounds different from the FLAC. More I can't tell you. Test wasn't scientific and only partially blind: I accidentally picked from my friend's library a copy of my own CD in MP3 and played it. It sounded differently to what used to hear. Upon checking I found that those were not my FLACs, but my friend's MP3s instead.

    But yeah, I will likely fail at a proper blind test: it is simply extremely tiring to listen to all the samples and maintain a concentration for that long. MP3/AAC artifacts they are like cracks and snaps of the vinyl: they do not bother you until you notice them first time. That's why I simply decided to encode in FLACs.

  • Re:Lame (Score:4, Informative)

    by martinX ( 672498 ) on Monday July 25, 2011 @07:45AM (#36869140)

    But is there anything that plays AAC besides the iPod?

    Creative Zen Portable
    Microsoft Zune
    SanDisk Sansa (some models)
    Sony PlayStation Portable (PSP) with firmware 2.0 or greater
    Sony Walkman
    Nintendo DSi
    Any portable player that fully supports the Rockbox third party firmware
    Mobile phones
    For a number of years, many mobile phones from manufacturers such as Nokia, Motorola, Samsung, Sony Ericsson, BenQ-Siemens and Philips have supported AAC playback. The first such phone was the Nokia 5510 released in 2002 which also plays MP3s. However, this phone was a commercial failure and such phones with integrated music players did not gain mainstream popularity until 2005 when the trend of having AAC as well as MP3 support continued. Most new smartphones and music-themed phones support playback of these formats.
    Sony Ericsson phones support various AAC formats in MP4 container. AAC-LC is supported in all phones beginning with K700, phones beginning with W550 have support of HE-AAC. The latest devices such as the P990, K610, W890i and later support HE-AAC v2.
    Nokia XpressMusic and other new generation Nokia multimedia phones like N- and E-Series: also support AAC format in LC, HE, M4A and HEv2 profiles
    BlackBerry: RIM's latest series of Smartphones such as the 8100 ("Pearl"), 9500 ("Storm") and 8800 support AAC.
    Apple's iPhone supports AAC and FairPlay protected AAC files formerly used as the default encoding format in the iTunes store until the removal of DRM restrictions in March 2009.
    The Motorola Droid Family supports AAC along with several other audio codecs.
    The HTC Dream (Also known as the T-Mobile G1) is described as supporting certain subset of the full AAC format. As of 2009-04-13 at least several forms of AAC files played while others did not play.[citation needed]
    WebOS by HP/Palm supports AAC, AAC+, eAAC+, and .m4a containers in its native music player as well as several third-party players. However, it does not support Apple's FairPlay DRM files downloaded from iTunes.[43]
    Windows Phone 7: WP7's Silverlight runtime supports AAC-LC, HE-AAC and HE-AAC v2 decoding.
    Other devices
    Apple's iPad: Supports AAC and FairPlay protected AAC files used as the default encoding format in the iTunes store.
    Palm OS PDAs: Many Palm OS based PDAs and smartphones can play AAC and HE-AAC with the 3rd party software Pocket Tunes. Version 4.0, released in December 2006, added support for native AAC and HE-AAC files. The AAC codec for TCPMP, a popular video player, was withdrawn after version 0.66 due to patent issues, but can still be downloaded from sites other than CorePlayer, the commercial follow-on to TCPMP, includes AAC support. Other PalmOS programs supporting AAC include Kinoma Player and AeroPlayer.
    Microsoft Windows Mobile platforms support AAC either by the native Windows Media Player or by third-party products (TCPMP, CorePlayer)[citation needed]
    Epson supports AAC playback in the P-2000 and P-4000 Multimedia/Photo Storage Viewers. This support is not available with their older models, however.
    The Sony Reader portable eBook plays M4A files containing AAC, and displays metadata created by iTunes. Other Sony products, including the A and E series Network Walkmans, support AAC with firmware updates (released May 2006) while the S series supports it out of the box.
    Nearly every major car stereo manufacturer offers models that will play back .m4a files recorded onto CD in a data format. This includes Pioneer, Sony, Alpine, Kenwood, Clarion, Panasonic, and JVC.[citation needed]
    The Sonos Digital Media Player supports playback of AAC files.
    The Barnes & Noble Nook Color electronic-book reader supports playback of AAC encoded files.
    The Roku SoundBridge network audio player supports playback of AAC encoded files.
    The Squeezebox network audio player (made by Slim Devices, a Logitech company) supports playback of AAC files.

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