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Tech: Best file type?

Gurney 17 Dec 08 - 12:33 AM
Jim Lad 17 Dec 08 - 01:04 AM
Gurney 17 Dec 08 - 01:15 AM
Geoff the Duck 17 Dec 08 - 03:53 AM
Geoff the Duck 17 Dec 08 - 04:04 AM
treewind 17 Dec 08 - 05:15 AM
Newport Boy 17 Dec 08 - 06:52 AM
treewind 17 Dec 08 - 09:58 AM
GUEST,Russ 17 Dec 08 - 09:59 AM
Bill D 17 Dec 08 - 10:26 AM
GUEST,Jonny Sunshine 17 Dec 08 - 11:17 AM
Gurney 17 Dec 08 - 07:46 PM
Gurney 18 Dec 08 - 10:29 PM
olddude 18 Dec 08 - 10:33 PM
Jim Lad 19 Dec 08 - 02:13 PM
treewind 20 Dec 08 - 05:12 AM
Mr Red 20 Dec 08 - 06:20 AM
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Subject: Tech: Best file type?
From: Gurney
Date: 17 Dec 08 - 12:33 AM

I'm getting an enormous harddrive for Christmas, because the inbuilt is getting full, and I still have lots of music to save. I also have a file converter that will change to WMA, WAV, MPC, APC, and OGG. MP3 too, of course, but that doesn't matter.

The music already digitised and saved is in Neroaudio, WMA, and WAV.

So, what is your favourite file type, and least favourite, because I have no idea which is best.
I'm also thinking ahead to Linux, and I don't know what is usable with that distro, BUT also with Windows.

Thanks.   Chris.


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Subject: RE: Tech: Best file type?
From: Jim Lad
Date: 17 Dec 08 - 01:04 AM

Wave and OGG in that order.
Mind you, if you choose a high enough sample rate, MP3 is fine.


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Subject: RE: Tech: Best file type?
From: Gurney
Date: 17 Dec 08 - 01:15 AM

My MP3 sounds fine for voice, but I seem to detect a deterioration in some of the instruments, what sounds like 'real' instruments on the stereo sound like organ voices in MP3 headphones.   However, they are fairly crunched up, and not played on a decent stereo.

Thanks, Jim. That's what I'm looking for.


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Subject: RE: Tech: Best file type?
From: Geoff the Duck
Date: 17 Dec 08 - 03:53 AM

A lot depends on what you want to do with the files long-term. Like photographs, if you process themand then save as a different type of file you are likely to lose data which is then lost forever. That is how Jpeg pictures and MP3 files manage to be smaller.
The small files are easier to store, and with audio, this means that you can fit a lot more tracks on your portable music player. The track will usually sound fine, but the problem comes if you try to re-process the already degraded file. For instance if you convert Real Audio to MP3, each format throws away different bits of information, so when both conversions removed data from your original, you may start to notice the missing sound quality.

Your decision depends on what your original file format is. If you have started with MP3 file downloads, you will not improve the quality by converting to something else, whereas, if you have an original digital recording in Wav format, most processing is likely to permanently reduce the theoretical sound quality, although it may not be noticeable for listening.

What I tend to do where possible is keep an archive copy of the full quality track, saved somewhere sensible. I can then make a copy from this "Master" which may be saved as some other format convenient for listening to. Most portable players limit you to Wav, Wma and MP3, so if you are using one of those, it becomes irrelevant whether Ogg Vorbis is a better quality compressed file format compared with MP3, the player will not play it.

As for the tracks saved on your new hard drive. Decide whether your intention is to have them there for listening, or whether it is as an archive for long term storage and possible later conversion to "listening" tracks. If it is storage, you might want to save in a compressed format which will keep the original data intact. Something such as a "Zip" archive will take up less storage on your disc, but you would have to "extract" files before you can listen to them. For music files, there is a format I think it is "The Monkey's Audio" which is specifically designed to keep all the original data from a Wav file, but compressed into a much smaller file. As far as I am aware, the file doesn't play as music, but when needed, can be converted back to the original uncompressed version.

Quack!
Geoff the Duck.


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Subject: RE: Tech: Best file type?
From: Geoff the Duck
Date: 17 Dec 08 - 04:04 AM

There was a recent thread about obsolete file formats. In that case the topic included pictures and word processed documents. In computing, there is always the possibility that a new format (or new programmes) will become popular, and the files you have saved with an earlier format will not be supported by the new set-up. Microsoft are notorious at trying to cripple anything which is not from their latest most expensive version of Word because they want to force everybody to buy the new one. They seem to have made Vista incompatible with favourite programmes used by numerous mudcatters.
Looked at in this light, any format you choose could, in the long term, turn out to be the wrong one. You may need to stay up to date on the technology and periodically re-convert to the "new" file types.
Quack!
GtD.


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Subject: RE: Tech: Best file type?
From: treewind
Date: 17 Dec 08 - 05:15 AM

"You may need to stay up to date on the technology and periodically re-convert to the "new" file types."

One of the not-so-immediately-obvious benefits of free software. Not that it's just free when you first install it, but you can upgrade to the latest version as often as you like and it's still free each time. Plus of course there isn't commercial pressure to change file formats for its own sake so you tend to get more backwards compatibility.

obtopic: if you're going to use Linux, stay away from WMA. You probably don't want Neroaudio either - that looks like a proprietary format, and I don't know what MPC and APC are.

OGG is the obvious "free software" choice for a compressed format but even I (a die-hard free software enthusiast) put MP3's on the web if I want people to hear them.

But as Geoff says you should really keep your archives uncompressed.
WAV is OK, or if you want to reduce the disk space use FLAC which will approximately halve the file size with lossless compression.
FLAC is free and available on Linux, and though WAV is a Microsoft invention it's simple, universal and well understood by free software.

Anahata


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Subject: RE: Tech: Best file type?
From: Newport Boy
Date: 17 Dec 08 - 06:52 AM

I agree with Anahata, particularly if you're going to move to Linux. Geoff's point about not converting more than once is also important.

Depending on how you obtained them, the WAV files are likely to be full quality and if you don't have, or don't want to use, the original media, you should save these WAV files. If you then want a version in a different format, make it direct from the WAV file. Don't convert between other formats.

Don't dismiss the MP3 on quality grounds. High quality MP3s can be nearly as good as the WAV. I use Exact Audio Copy and the Lame encoder to produce variable bit-rate MP3's. These come at about 1/8 to 1/10 the size of the WAV file, and I can't hear the difference on my Denon amp and PMC speakers. That's true of all types of music.

Phil


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Subject: RE: Tech: Best file type?
From: treewind
Date: 17 Dec 08 - 09:58 AM

Ogg Vorbis and MP3 both sound very good at high bit rates - they will go up to 320k bits/sec which is still 1/4 of the size of the linear PCM (i.w. WAV file). Most people can't hear the difference over 160k.
MP3 with a good encoder (and they aren't all the same) may still do better than Ogg Vorbis at very low bit rates.

Anahata


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Subject: RE: Tech: Best file type?
From: GUEST,Russ
Date: 17 Dec 08 - 09:59 AM

Been working with recordings on computers for years.
I always use WAV files. I want to keep all the data that the recorder captured.
I will sometimes convert to mp3 but I am not comfortable with lossy compression schemes.

Russ (Permanent GUEST)


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Subject: RE: Tech: Best file type?
From: Bill D
Date: 17 Dec 08 - 10:26 AM

Just test a few files.... make a .wav, then make a copy and convert it to MP3--or something else. YOU decide if you can hear the difference. I can't, so I make use of the space. I have players/editors that will deal with any formats, so I have the choice, but many small players play only MP3s, and I have no problems with it.


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Subject: RE: Tech: Best file type?
From: GUEST,Jonny Sunshine
Date: 17 Dec 08 - 11:17 AM

Oops, "gust Ji" was me spelling my name wrong and hitting the return by mistake just now..


Horses for courses...

Anything I've recorded, I'll keep as a WAV file, so I can burn a CD, edit/ remaster in the future should I feel the need. I'll usually keep it on CD as well, which has the advantage of being playable in a CD player, and serves as backup should the hard drive fail (and vice versa, no medium is truly permanent, though stone tablets come close)

I use MP3 for general backing up and portable music- not for sonic reasons, but it works with pretty much any portable device, and a lot of CD players will play MP3 files from a disc. My 4G MP3 player fits around 55 albums' worth. I notice the loss in quality if I plug into my hifi, but most of the time I'm either listening on tiny headphones or in the car. And a lot of my music has been digitised from a old tapes of old LPs which didn't sound that great.

Of course if I really like something I'll have the CD.


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Subject: RE: Tech: Best file type?
From: Gurney
Date: 17 Dec 08 - 07:46 PM

I'll have a 1/2terabyte to record on, so compression won't be needed. I'll be recording vinyl and tape, and CD later on. Currently converting some to CD, but who knows what the future holds? I've seen singles, EPs, LPs, tapes have their day, and now they are saying CDs are on the way out.

I do have a couple of MP3 players, but only because I expected to go into hospital and wanted music there. They are full, and I don't suppose I'll buy more, I prefer the music in the room with me, it sounds more 'live.'

I'm digitising with the freeware 'LP Recorder' which seems to my ear as good as the streaming audio, works on tapes too, of course. .WAV.

I have four more 'ripper' freeware programs, and one more that will do vinyl/tape. Nero and Windows Media too. They all seem to work well.


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Subject: RE: Tech: Best file type?
From: Gurney
Date: 18 Dec 08 - 10:29 PM

OK, .WAV files it is, then. Thank you.


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Subject: RE: Tech: Best file type?
From: olddude
Date: 18 Dec 08 - 10:33 PM

Wav
definitely


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Subject: RE: Tech: Best file type?
From: Jim Lad
Date: 19 Dec 08 - 02:13 PM

I store all of my masters in memory sticks as Wave Files.
I burn audio masters from them either with WMA or Nero and check the discs every so often to see if they need replacing.
However for transferring the files over the Internet, I do find that OGG is less of a problem at the higher bit rates.
I wasn't aware that some are considered "Free" and some not.
Maybe someone could explain that for me please.
I must be missing something.
Cheers!
Jim


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Subject: RE: Tech: Best file type?
From: treewind
Date: 20 Dec 08 - 05:12 AM

You could start here: Mp3 Licensing and vorbis.com

In theory many MP3 encoder vendors should be paying license fees: in practice some do, some don't, it's not widely enforced and there are grey areas. The Debian Linux distribution does not actually include a MP3 encoder (because Debian are very purist about free software), but there is a "free software" encoder based on publicly available reference code from Fraunnhofer labs which is considered legitimate by some. Actually that's history: see
LAME - it seem the whole code base has been rewritten. There might be a potential debate about whether patents are being infringed, though.

WMA stuff comes included with Windows but I don't think the specs for how it's done are freely available for 3rd party software developers.
WAV is also a Microsoft invention but it's simple and well documented and everybody uses it.

Anahata


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Subject: RE: Tech: Best file type?
From: Mr Red
Date: 20 Dec 08 - 06:20 AM

Best MP3 - because it is universal and open.
Worst WMA - because it is larded with DRM.
But at least a lot of players can handle them.
Worse - ACC - because Apple use it to be deliberately different.
Ogg Vorbis has a good reputation but you can't share the files with many people.


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