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[ARSCLIST] Lossy compression losing quality (was Re: [ARSCLIST] Pristine Audio and the Milllennials . . .)
Howard Friedman wrote:
If anyone would care to send me their Email address, i would be glad to send you any number of MP3 files ripped from audio CDs, and then tell me if there's a loss of quality! Take your choice, Chaliapin, Galli-Curci, Ponselle, the list goes on.
In this sort of discussion, I believe we'd do well to keep track of the
different meanings of "quality". There is the abstract sense in which
MP3 and other lossy compressors always lose information, as shown by the
inabiilty to reconstruct the original PCM signal from the compressed
file. In that sense, Don is correct in suggesting staying with lossless
formats if file size is unimportant. For example, if one is ripping
tracks from multiple CDs to make a compilation CD, there is no reason to
spend the time and accept the penalty in quality of using lossy compression.
Then there is the sense in which the loss of quality does not
significantly affect either the content or the esthetics of the
recording. I believe that is the situation to which Howard refers.
Finally, there is the sense in which the loss may be acceptable for the
application. I use low bitrates at my WWW site so that those on dialup
can still have the experience without inordinate effort. For many
reasons, most of my CD-ROMs are also at low bitrate so that the subject
can be covered efficiently. In both cases, the loss of audio quality is
noticeable, but in context well worth tolerating.
Note that I pay the penalty for that low bitrate. I wanted to post
something in recognizing the death of Karlheinz Stockhausen, but it
became apparent on first examining the candidates that 32 Kbps monaural
would be worse than nothing at all and that a reasonable sample at a
tolerable rate (say, 256 Kbps stereo) would exclude many visitors. So I
will leave celebration of the life of that seminal composer to others.