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Is a 'Hi-Fi setup' even worth it for me? - Page 4

post #31 of 70
If we're talking high-end, in the multi thousand dollar ballpark yes you will be crippled by lower than 192kbps mp3. I do find FLAC and 320kbps to be far better and more enjoyable than 192kbps especially on headphones, but you're only severely crippled when you go lower than 192kbps, for example 128kbps sounds just off, female voices, crash cymbals, violin etc. start to get distorted and you'll go "AHH I CAN HEAR THE DRIPPING BITSTREAM!". 192kbps and higher are totally fine IMO, and I'm semi-anal about sound quality IMO.

If you're just asking should you punish yourself and stick with Logitech/Creative/Klipsch Promedia etc. toy speakers just because you're on mp3, I'd say HELL NO. You just notice more detail with higher bitrate and lossless files/CDs, but the sound spectrum is still there craving to be put out from decent speakers even if it was "just" mp3.
Edited by Shiobock - 3/14/11 at 1:35am
    
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post #32 of 70
I would have to say it's all trial and error, personal opinion. Though mastering, lower than 192 vs 320 and flac makes a huge difference, it's really dependent on how you like your music. For example, a worn vinyl record on a hi fi system may still sound great to the listener for the intimate sound plus the sheer enjoyment of music. For many hifi headphone systems, lossy files actually sound fairly good. However comparing analytical hifi headphone systems, the same files may sound terrible. It mainly has to do with the listener and what he/she enjoys. Some people like neutral listen while others enjoy a non accurate representation. In my say so, one shouldn't be asking if a hi fi system is worth it, but rather how much do one enjoy his or her music. Use that as a gauge on how much time, research, and money to spend. For most people, it's just an ipod.

Edit: oh and I do recommend hdtracks.com to improve your sound files too.
Edited by yellowtoblerone - 3/14/11 at 2:44am
    
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post #33 of 70
Quote:
Originally Posted by SHNS0 View Post
A good hi fi setup will make you DESPISE your mp3s. It happened with me. My stereo costed me the double of the original planned money because I went on ebay and mass-buyed a crapload of my favorite cds, simply because they were unhearable with the new setup.
mmm. I like 320's more than FLAC's in some cases.... sometimes FLAC's just don't sound that good.
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post #34 of 70
Quote:
Originally Posted by ZainyAntics View Post
mmm. I like 320's more than FLAC's in some cases.... sometimes FLAC's just don't sound that good.
Have you done a blind ABX test on them? Sighted testing is always biased and not credible. Unless you convert from FLAC to 320kbps yourself and apply some sort of crossfeeds/equalizing I don't see how a compressed file could ever sound better than a lossless one.

And I think that differences between such a high bitrare mp3 and lossless is quite trivial for most mid-fi set-ups and especially mid-fi ears, and to think that someone actually likes mp3 more than FLAC (if he's even able to truly tell a difference) is just asinine.
Edited by Shiobock - 3/14/11 at 3:03am
    
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post #35 of 70
Quote:
Originally Posted by ZainyAntics View Post
mmm. I like 320's more than FLAC's in some cases.... sometimes FLAC's just don't sound that good.
mastering is the reason.

Also you can't use actual statistical testing in music quality differences. We're talking about differences of 5% here. Of course blind testing would make it a wash in most cases of hi fi audio arguments. You could but I wouldn't put much stock in them.
Edited by yellowtoblerone - 3/14/11 at 3:07am
    
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post #36 of 70
Mastering has a a massive effect and you can't compare an unmastered flac vs a mastered mp3.

I m biased but I would tell you to buy the most expensive thing you can afford.

Even with mp3s, a good sound system will add a lot to your enjoyment.
A good budget system would be

http://www.whathifi.com/review/Cambr...udio-DacMagic/

http://www.whathifi.com/review/b%2526w-685

and

http://www.whathifi.com/review/yamaha-a-s500

then throw in this cabling

http://www.whathifi.com/review/qed-x-tc

It seems like a lot but I skipped out the i7 generation and spent everything on some pretty highend stuff. Best upgrade I ve ever made as it will last 10 years.

Also you slowly recreate your entire music collection with flac. It is a long term affair. Over the last 4 years, I got about 5000 flac files and only have another 1000 to go.
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post #37 of 70
Quote:
Originally Posted by yellowtoblerone View Post
Also you can't use actual statistical testing in music quality differences. We're talking about differences of 5% here.
Your reasoning seems invalid to me. If those differences of 5% (where did you pull that up btw?) are so indistinguishable and don't turn up at all in real controlled tests, why would they matter in sighted and biased tests? Is it that you can tell yourself "oh man I enjoy it so much more when I know I'm listening to stuff I like instead of not lying to myself"?

Quote:
Originally Posted by chasefrench View Post
Even with mp3s, a good sound system will add a lot to your enjoyment.
A good budget system would be
Now this I agree on, no matter what files you have just go with the best thing you can get with your budget. Speakers should be a number one priority, sound card/DAC you can improve later (although I can say that a cheap Audigy SE is a huge leap from integrated, can't vouch for over-$200 DACs though because I've never heard them)
Edited by Shiobock - 3/14/11 at 3:35am
    
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post #38 of 70
Well when you go into blind or double testing you're going into statistical testing, and if you're going there your arguments for it must be back with numerical data. 5% is just the normal scientists use to distinguish if something is different, some test uses 2.5, 5, 10 etc, it's basic statistics. As for sounds differing between one and other, a, it has to do with the inherent way we perceive sound and b, how the listener and researcher is actually tested. It has nothing to do with lying to one or another, but rather the data that comes back may or may not mean very much.
    
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post #39 of 70
Quote:
Originally Posted by Shiobock View Post
Now this I agree on, no matter what files you have just go with the best thing you can get with your budget. Speakers should be a number one priority, sound card/DAC you can improve later (although I can say that a cheap Audigy SE is a huge leap from integrated, can't vouch for over-$200 DACs though because I've never heard them)
Absolutely, when using a computer, a DAC with mp3 will be better than flac and no DAC. I can vouch for 1000$ DACs, even 3000$ DACs create massive improvements.

However the Asus Xonar Essence STX is quite an awesome sound card if you are on a budget, and cant afford a separate DAC. It handles my new Spendor A6s very well and they cost 2500$.
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post #40 of 70
Quote:
Originally Posted by chasefrench View Post
Absolutely, when using a computer, a DAC with mp3 will be better than flac and no DAC. I can vouch for 1000$ DACs, even 3000$ DACs create massive improvements.

However the Asus Xonar Essence STX is quite an awesome sound card if you are on a budget, and cant afford a separate DAC. It handles my new Spendor A6s very well and they cost 2500$.
I believe you can get decent DACs for the price of an Asus Xonar Essence STX, but it's debatable whether they're more than a neat improvement (and have less features too). For instance the Maverick D1 Tubemagic is a quite highly regarded $200 DAC in head-fi with both tube and solid state pre-outs and a solid state headphone amplifier that's capable of driving headphones from 15 up to 600 ohms well I hear. Then there's the Nuforce uDAC-2 although it has channel inbalance at low volumes and audible distortion at max (but not nearly max, so just drop it by -1dB to overcome this issue), it's said to be a quite decent product too.

I'm personally sort of debating between these products too, no idea what I'm going to get but just pointing it out there are $200 DACs other than higher-end sound cards.
    
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