What do you think of MP3 as an audio format?

Stereophile's picture
Digital copies of music in the MP3 format are all the rage. Have you heard an MP3 on a good audio system?
What do you think of MP3 as an audio format?
Love it. Here's why:
7% (7 votes)
Like it. Here's why:
17% (17 votes)
Don't care. Let me explain:
30% (31 votes)
Don't like it. Here's why:
25% (26 votes)
Hate it. Here's why:
21% (21 votes)
Total votes: 102
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Comments
MOD's picture

Can select which songs you want instead of bying the whole CD

Bruce W.'s picture

I spend far too much time not listening to my favorite music. When I actually get a chance to sit down away from this damned computer, I want to hear what I enjoy—and that still keeps bringing me all the way back to the good old LP! Some of my CDs are enjoyable, but they just can't compete with the old (or even the new) vinyl. Anyhow, I spend too much time, 12-18 hours a day, at the computer. Just the thought of more digitization is too much for me. I don't want to hear computer music in a serious listening environment. Bad enough that I have to work with it (read Escient and Arrakis). By the way, sorry to hear of Audio mag's folding; they were one of my early inspirations.

Anonymous's picture

conveniant, and in many cases, free.

Christopher Lim's picture

What's in it for me?

Martin Bruczkowski's picture

I hated the sound. It's bad enough on my Aiwa Discman. For years, I've been hoping for an "audiophile" Discman. Give me better quality, not worse.

Steven Morton's picture

poor sound quality

Robert D.'s picture

Great for listening to disc samples, beats tapes for car use (if we can just get a good car reader), while reducing disc shuffling. BUT it is not HI-FI. I will keep listening to real sources on my system when I really want to enjoy music.

Richard DeVries's picture

With the soon-to-be-available SACD or equivalent, why should I want a medium that is "near-CD" quality at all? Besides, I am a die-hard radio fan. I listen mostly to fine FM, but also play around with AM stereo. The AMAX idea is really pretty good—about like MP3!

Mike deCock's picture

Last year I went through the process of taking about a dozen MP3s I had, converting them to .wav files (a non-lossy process), and burning the songs onto a CD-ROM. I did a few comparisons between the original material and the MP3'd material, and there was an enormous difference. The overall sound was very digitized; the frequency range was squashed, and seemed somehow robbed of all emotional content. It also paled in comparison to my Sony JB920 MiniDisc recorder, whose ATRAC 4.0 compression algorithm puts MP3 to shame.

KJ's picture

In my opinion, lossy data-reduction schemes are inherently flawed. As long as my CD player struggles to compete with my LP player in such important areas as resolution, high-frequency detail, dynamics, purity of tone, etc.—in short, the ability to communicate the music's inner soul—I see no point in trying out a format that, by any standard, is less than that (for serious listening that is).

Randy Lert's picture

I have a good friend who is an engineer for Intel who did some serious analysis and experiments with Mp3 decoders. He used several formats and converted a number of music pieces from each format to mp3 and then burned a cd that had the mp3 tracks, the same tracks from the original cd in "red book" format, a set of tracks that alternated seamlessly between the mp3 and cd formats at various time intervals, and then perhaps most interesting, he developed the algorithm to subract the mp3 tracks from the original "red book" tracts so once could hear exactly what each mp3 decoder stripped out. Conclusions: Different mp3 decoders sound quite different and throw out different information sets in their compression algorithms than others - this is easily audible on the difference tracks. The best mp3 stuff was listenable - say roughly the quality of mediocre cassette recordings up to near mini-disc quality. The worst decoders sounded lousy. On the tracks that alternated every 10 seconds it was hard to hear the difference which we concluded was a psycho acoustic phenomenon of the brain not adjusting to rapid changes in the input (ABX tests anyone.) On tracks where he alternated the format every 30 seconds or so it was fairly easy to identify the cd tracks from the mp3 tracks. The best mp3 formats were acceptable for background music or parties. But even the good mp3 resulted in a loss of air and ambient information - i.e., the low level signals just as you would expect. It is clearly not a high-end listening format. The difference tracks were very interesting to listen to. Most had enough information to make out the song and certain features of the music. They compress out very little bass information and lots of very low level high frequency information. This was definitely a lot of work and required a senior engineer who is also an audiophile. The system I heard it on was mine which consists of a Linn Sondek CD12, Ayre Acoustic electronics and Vandersteen 5's. Admittedly a very high resolution system. It was a fascinating evening. I kept a copy of the disc to demonstrate for people overly enamored of all things new in the world of technology.

John Nosewicz's picture

I have a friend who works for a hardware manufacturer in the MP3 market. I told him that MP3 sounds a lot like AM radio (dates me, huh?). When he tried an original-CD-vs.-MP3 comparison on his COMPUTER sound system (read: marginal at best), he couldn't believe it was the same record. I bet his employer wouldn't like to see his name attributed to that comment.

Chris Nicholls, Barbados, WI's picture

I buy mostly classical music from quality labels. You get great artwork, and splendid liner notes with info on composers, conductors, and muscians. I am very proud of my collection and would not want any second-class-looking or -sounding CDs in my collection. Besides, when I think of the cost of the hardware, I begin to think of how many CDs I could purchase instead.

Bob's picture

MP3 is just a novelty, nothing to consider if you have true hi-fi audio equipment. Great to listen to through cheap headphones or your average computer speakers.

Stephen Curling's picture

i think MP3 is a good idea for those on the go—like Walkmans (or similar devices), car stereos, and other noisier environments. But for home use, where peace and tranquility are abundant, then MP3 should not be used.

G Thomas's picture

Sounds significantly worse than the an original CD audio; which in 16 bit already sound pretty evil degraded stereo image, bad high frequency response etc..however excellent for previwing stuff if no precompression has been used...we broadcast on the web in mp3 LIVE

Shalom Noury's picture

The music industry, particularly the lesser-known artists, is in a critical situation. It doesn't pay to play or record classical any more. We'll soon go back to the times when only the church and the aristocracy could afford music. I believe the music-loving public should behave in a more responsible way, and not try to send musicians to the poorhouse. Recording companies are doing a good job without our help.

Sean/Florida's picture

Even with the best bit rates, MP3 still removes too much data to make listening pleasurable, especially at the popular rates used on the Internet. Add to that the poor quality of encoding codecs used by the mass public, and the MP3 files sound absolutely awful on a good system. On my B&W 801s, I'd much rather listen to a fading, distorted shortwave signal than the annoying warbling of MP3s.

Anonymous's picture

I've never heard it on a good system but even now CD still only approximates vinyl quality, it will take many years for MP3 to get to this level

Chris Roberts's picture

Audio quality is inferior, especially on a good system. If MP3 and other compressed formats get too much acceptance, high-quality recordings (DVD-Audio, SACD) may die without ever gaining acceptance. Why have high-end gear with rubbish source material?

lordcoz's picture

its great i can hear all manor of music that would normally never hear or even know about. and so can anyone with a computer, how kool is that! too bad it sounds like shit tho.

Rikard's picture

on a good system you will tell the differences between a good cd. cd rox mp3 not. mp3 is for kiddies when it comes to true listening. however i got several thousands of mp3. they serve me as a hint of what is good and not. RIAA can fuck themselves. I hate that org. fucking retards.

Danny Kaey's picture

All the 3D imaging is gone—very harsh sound, with very few spatial cues, which is what make or break a recording.

Rana N.  Kabir's picture

Are you serious?? Not audiophile quality as you know it. Maybe with better hardware in the future, but not today!

Jean-Luc Olivier's picture

Guess it's OK for listening to the Fruitcakes Navels Gangstas oua!oua! I am going to kill you, bitch, Oua! Oua! I am going to kill your bro, too, Oua! Oua! Then I am going to kill myself, Oua! oua! Screw you all, Oua! oua! A little short on resolution for the Mahler V or Debussy La Mer.

John Wirick's picture

I'm waiting for MP24/96 with integral HDCD, like dual Burr-Brown 1732s.

Audi O'Goodenuf's picture

Convenience factor outweighs sound-quality compromise for things like Christmas background music, etc. Compile selections on hard drive with Winamp software, connect soundcard to audio system amp, enjoy endless decent-quality, no-fuss audio.

john_nemesh@airswitch.net's picture

I play the MP3s back through a Creative SoundBlaster Live! card. The fidelity is NOTICEABLY cleaner than through the standard soundcard in my other system. Through the Live! and my Creative/Cambridge DTT2500 speakers, the music sounds ALMOST CD-quality. Yes, I can hear the difference, and no, I don't think MP3 or any lossy compression is a substitute for a good CD recording, but I have a TON of music that is easily accessible and easily enjoyed. MP3 is here to stay! Keep in mind that not everyone is an audiophile—we make up only a SMALL portion of the audio market. The mass market has embraced the format, and I do not see it being replaced anytime soon, especially if the replacement has digital copy protection. Also, let's keep some perspective. This format sounds WAY better than any analog cassette recording, which was the big threat to the RIAA in the early '80s. Everyone dubbed from CD or radio to tape; now everyone is copying to MP3! Woohoo! DEATH TO THE RIAA!

Anonymous's picture

It simply does not sound good. Especially on dynamic music.

Norm Strong's picture

I like it because all nine of Beethoven's symphonies will fit on a single CD. Quality? I wouldn't know unless someone told me it was MP3.

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