What do you think of MP3 as an audio format?

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

Digital copies of music in the MP3 format are all the rage. Have you heard an MP3 on a good audio system?

deletraz@bluewin.ch's picture

I recently heard MP3 songs at the highest rate at a friend's party. It's okay for that purpose. You plug your laptop PC into the system, and there you go: several hours—or days, depending on your hard disk's capacity—of music without worrying about changing the CD or LP. On the sonic side, however, even though this friend didn't have a killer system, I clearly heard the limitations: flat sound, burred soundstage, slow transients, and so on.

dsadd@aol.com's picture

I get to hear a lot of songs from albums I am not going to buy. Sound quality isn't great, but neither are the songs that I want to listen to a couple of times and get out of my head. "MMMmmm Bop," anyone?

Joe Hartmann's picture

My son has download a few songs to discs to play on our computer the sond of my montiors is BAD. He has also borrowed some copies from members of his band( they are not to careful about sound quality and it is evident. I have not tried to made copies in this format; so I am unsure of the care taken in the few copies I have heard.

Jim Merrill's picture

MP3 is an inferior format that doesn't offer high-end sound. The problem is that music companies' concerns about rampant copying and distribution via MP3 wind up impacting high-end product quality and availability; e.g. audible watermarking and the delay of DVD-Audio.

Zippy Doodah's picture

MP3, R2D2, C3PO, who gives a rat's wazoo? Just another method of sucking hard-earned money from the masses. How about one worldwide standard? One piece of media that will do it all? The more of this techno-crap that's foisted on us, the more I agree with my 80-something neighbor when he asks, "Just how much of this crap do I need?"

Jerry from Brookfield, WI's picture

Gets you about 95% of CD quality, and can sound quite good on a great system. If you really love music, you can get past the audio snobbery and just enjoy.

Chris S.'s picture

I think MP3s belong on computers, not the stereo. I have a rather large library of MP3 files on my computers, but I won't listen to them through the Big Rig in my listening room. I did some tests to check on the sound quality of CD vs. MP3 and was greatly disappointed. I made several MP3 files from my own CDs, then played them on various stereo systems. I made sure that I was recording the CDs at the maximum possible resolution of my software, 96kHz, but on every single system that I used for the test, from my home stereo to the car to a boombox, the CDs sounded vastly superior. MP3s always sounded muted and less dynamic than CDs. For me, CDs (and HDCDs) will be my primary media, at least until the engineers can get the whole DVD-A encryption thing straightened out.

Ben Blish's picture

I can hear artifacts; the only serious compression system I've heard that leaves the music sufficiently intact is the ATRAC compression used with current minidisc recorder/players. MP3 is certainly a step up from Realaudio and other distinctly low-fi network mechanisms, but it is mid-fi at best when given the benefit of the doubt (or a pair of not very well trained ears.) If you listen to the same track via an MP3, from an MD and then off of a CD in that order, you'll hear a distinct improvement when you go to the MD, and then you *may* be able to hear an improvement when you go from MD to CD, but probably not. No one I know has been able to hear it yet in blind tests, but I remain open to the possibility. The thing about MP3 is that it represents a further dilution of quality rather than an improvement. Storage costs are dropping, bandwidth is increasing. Let's hope that MP3 is a very short-lived phenomenom - otherwise it will lower the bar all across the board, I fear.

Dexter M.  Price's picture

I have not heard MP3 on a good audio system. However, from everything I have read, the sound of MP3 is not as good as MiniDisc (which Sony admits is not as good as CD). One can play CDs in homes, cars, offices, airplanes, subways, etc. So why bother? I do not believe the immediate gratification of obtaining music off the www is worth the sonic trade-off.

Alvester Garnett's picture

I'm more concerned about quality than getting some free downloaded music. From what I've heard, the compression of these files is audibly noticeable. Even with that in mind I'm not ready to write the technology off just yet. I'm just waiting for it to improve or for a high er quality music compression scheme.

Trevers Astheimer's picture

It sounds compressed and has no top end.

Art Shapiro's picture

I've never heard MP3 on a BAD audio system, let alone a good one. Isn't it primarily used for proletarian (pop) music?

Dave's picture

The lack of information for the source to Play is an audio nightmare. I heard the base beat almost a full beat behind the music.

HAL, hgunther@euronet.nl's picture

I see MP3 as another threat to the return of real music, which to me is all in the analog domain. The return of vinyl is the only event that will make me a happy customer again.

David Miller's picture

It will be fine for portable and other non-critical listening applications.

Scot Forier's picture

I have never bothered to look for MP3 files. The format does not interest me at all.

Robert McIver, NZ's picture

Where else but the Internet can you gain (almost) immediate access to such a range of music? As for the quality . . . the latest MP3 encoding techniques, such as Variable Bit Rate (VBR), provide a vast improvement in sound quality. And how many people are using analog output from their computer (a horrible source of noise)? Spend the same time tweaking your computer as you would a new CD player, and I think many would consider the quality/convenience trade-off to be less of a problem.

Ken Kirkpatrick's picture

I have found 16/44.1 digital to be lacking compared to analog, therefore I have no desire to listen to an even lesser digital format.

Craig Ellsworth's picture

I listen to CDs and, when they come out, SACDs. Not to mention that I want liner notes and, dare I say it, the musicians need to be paid for their work.

Andrew Hon's picture

It's pretty convenient, especially for songs you haven't bought yet! Sound quality is marginally survivable when output digitally via an SB Live! into an outboard DAC (such as my MSB Link). CDs still rule, though.

Gilad Rom's picture

MP3 is fine for downloading I-like-it-but-I-won't-pay-for-it albums. Sound real nice, but not as nice as CDs.

Ryan's picture

Didn't sound very good. I've heard better cassettes! I'm a musician; I do like to support my family on my earnings.

Ralph A.  Perrini's picture

Having heard MP3 vs. CD on a good system, I'm amazed that this garbage is getting so much attention. I can make a better-sounding cassette from LP or CD! Anyone who discribes MP3 as "CD quality" is a lying fraud. "Barely as good as a pre-recorded cassette" is a more accurate description! MP3 proves people will buy anything if it is perceived as trendy or cool. People are so blinded by the Internet they would download cat shit (and pay for it!) if they could. Come to think of it, with MP3, they are already downloading cat shit!!!

Peter Randell, NZ's picture

Sounds fine using a portable CD player but not using a good system.

Stephen W.  Sweigart's picture

I enjoy my stereo too much! Don't have time for it.

Gary Blevins's picture

Quick choice of music with excellent sound quality!

John Paul, Auckland Noo Zillun's picture

Really hate it listening through the very revealing active Genelec three-piece 1029a + Boomer, as: 1) tonal textures are changed, 2) natural ambience and reverb are absent, and worst, 3) it all gets very ugly and mushy with any complex musical material. It does not offer artistic justice to the true beauty within light or heavy music. So in its current wretchedness it should be used only for voice-grade chat and news reportage. Like AM radio.

Kaleid's picture

MP3s are perfect for finding new interesting music that I would otherwise have trouble finding. In fact, MP3 makes me buy more CDs—I just simply wouldn't have discovered all these alternative artists that I listen to and/or will listen to. Also, MP3 is perfect for getting a good preview of how it will sound in a hi-fi stereo. MP3 is good!

Bubba Bubbalenski's picture

Don't care. I'm not totally convinced that computers, digits, and bites are going to catch on.

KRB's picture

MP3s sounded coarse and harsh on my system. Just when conventional CDs are begining to sound good, why bother going backward? Besides, at an average of about $12/CD, will anyone who has spent thousands on a hi-fi system really mind paying for their music?