Why is it that the two big US high end audio magazines are always trashing audio compression, such as saying that MP3s, WMAs, AACs, computer sound systems and iTunes all spell the death of good sound, and yet both magazines have sister publications dedicated to home theater?
The last time I checked, all DVD soundtracks used some form of heavy duty audio compression, with Dolby Digital being the the worst (most compressed) and DTS being somewhat better (less compressed).
So here's my point. Audio compression in and of itself is not all that bad, if it's done correctly. But just like any other element in the recording and playback chain, if not done correctly, compression will become the weak link. Now please don't get me wrong, an uncompressed signal is far better than a compressed signal and for proof just listen to a 5.1 channel SACD or DVD-Audio disc played back on good home theater system versus a 5.1 Dolby digital version of the same recording, - it's no contest.
So why does the high end audio press give a free pass to the audio compression used on DVDs, so much so, that they recommend home theater setups costing tens of thousands of dollars - all to playback what are in essense high bit rate MP3s!!! And then they have the nerve to turn up their noses at the mere mention of MP3s or WMAs or AACs in their audio publications. Something doesn't sit right with me.
I have an iPod and rip my own MP3s and they sound pretty damn good. I use the latest versions of LAME and Exact Audio Copy and rip using the "--preset extreme" varible bit rate setting. Are the MP3s files as good as the CDs I ripped them from? No. Are they very good copies, useful for listening to on my iPod while on the train? Yes.
But really people let's stop all the b.s. and admit it - you all listen to and enjoy plenty of compressed audio.