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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
I don't think it's actually worth while having a large file for an audience recording or even a soundboard recording. At the end it's the sound that matters. I did some comparaisons and there's not much difference (or none) between a FLAC and a 320kBps mp3 file (downgrade & upgrade). Even if there's a loss of data it's hardly noticeable with audience (especially bad ones) or soundboard recordings simply because of the spectrum of frequencies which is already reduced from the original analog source of the recording. Plus mp3 is more versatile then FLAC either with importing into a library or a listening device.
 

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Good question. I get the difference between FLAC and MP3 and I can understand that you can 'see' the difference if you compare then both in an audio checker. But to be honest, I don't 'hear' the difference between a FLAC file and a good 320kbps MP3 of that same file. Wether I play it on my computer, on my old stereo audio system, or in the car... sounds just the same.
 

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Personally when I'm listening very closely, 192kbps MP3 is where I can't tell the difference. Normally I can listen to 128kbps just fine though. 96kbps or under becomes awful to listen to.

I like a FLAC archive so that I can re-encode the audio into any lossy format I want (to not convert lossy to lossy, but lossless to lossy), and put it on my phone that has less available storage. I can use FLAC to edit audio into videos with the least amount of quality loss possible.
 

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Lossless files are the standard for most trading sites. Why short someone part of the audio spectrum, when it can usually be avoided? Trade the flac, shn, or ape and convert to mp3 for your personal use. It is simple, quick, and easy to convert from those formats to mp3. Never convert from mp3 to flac, shn, or ape.You can't put back in what was taken out.
 

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Anything can be converted to .flac. To maintain a worthwhile recording in flac, relies on the source being of a sufficiently high standard & ideally covering the full audio spectrum.
Based on the cross-section I've heard, I'd break them broadly into 3 categories:

Stuff that simply doesn't need to be in flac format - I've heard ones that wouldn't trouble an mp3 @96 or 128. They're the real space wasters.

Borderline cases, where you may get a barely noticeable improvement (over 320) - the sort of thing where you'd have to listen to back-to-back comparisons, to distinguish. Depends on how important the recording is to you, I guess.

Big, beautiful glorious flacs. Recorded with a capable machine & maintained / restored to a significantly better quality than mp3 can hope to replicate. Flac files seem to capture in the 400 - 800 kbps range.

Personally, I don't distinguish audience from SBD captures, in terms of whether or not I keep them as flac....same 'rules' apply. Not all, but some 'audience' recordings are approaching professional quality.
 

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Another benefit of FLAC is gapless playback, which for me is mandatory when listening to live shows.
Ah, but what about all those shows with the irritating track splits. Stuff where they allow a song to get some way-in, before deciding to split it OR the 'completists' that separate (say instrumental passages in a song) and end up with....something 'reprise'. Whilst it doesn't alter the listening experience, it is very annoying - there are sometimes cases where that is the genuine option, I should add.
Some Rainbow shows are split into 32 tracks, with solo's etc. or 18 seconds of this that or the other. I can get those gigs legit' down to about 12 songs.
I tend to split solos if they're overly long or not an anticipated part of the show, but otherwise just leave 'em be. Particularly if that solo is always gonna be played live, as part of that song.
 

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Over the years, I have come to prefer FLAC (as well as WAV) because that is the track which holds the complete audio spectrum. After having that in the archive, I can do what I will for my own listening convenience. If I want to convert to Mp3 for ease of listening and importing between platforms, I am free to do that. But for sharing with others, the full FLAC (or WAV) is the gold standard.

I can often tell the difference between a 320kbps Mp3 and a FLAC when I'm listening at high volume in the car. The Mp3 sounds harsher and compressed. The FLAC, especially at 24/96, allows for the file not to sound harsh. At lower volumes, it's more difficult to discern the difference between FLAC and Mp3.

But check this, if an audio file has been smashed down below 128Kbps Mp3, it is most definitely noticeable through the presence of audio artifacts. Some people can even detect this when an Mp3 is less than 320Kbps. Once those artifacts are there, its a done deal. I've heard many times, to my frustration, where people have re-inflated/converted a smashed Mp3 back to FLAC. It just doesn't work that way. Once the file is compressed like this, the inaudible factors are imprinted forevermore. Changing it back to FLAC brings those artifacts, too. So it becomes fruitless. And it's beyond annoying.

This is why FLAC is the gold standard for audio trading. Once you have it in your collection, do what you will with it. But please only offer the original FLAC for trade.
 

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Discussion Starter · #11 ·
There's a lot of mention with regards to gapless playback. That all depends on the source. If it's from a regular CD most software do offer a gapless rip.
 

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Personally when I'm listening very closely, 192kbps MP3 is where I can't tell the difference. Normally I can listen to 128kbps just fine though. 96kbps or under becomes awful to listen to.

I like a FLAC archive so that I can re-encode the audio into any lossy format I want (to not convert lossy to lossy, but lossless to lossy), and put it on my phone that has less available storage. I can use FLAC to edit audio into videos with the least amount of quality loss possible.
Listening to MP3s instead of FLACs is the equivalent of watching a DVD (or, worse, a VHS tape) instead of the movie that is available in 4K (the UHD disc, not the streaming version because that is also compressed due to bandwidth). Meaning, a terrible idea. I can tell when I'm listening to MP3s. It's not so obvious in a car or talking to friends with the music playing in the background, but with headphones on (real ones, not those crappy earbuds) or a good stereo my ears fatigue in less than an hour.

10 years ago I could see the argument against FLAC due to storage size, iPods were like 16 gigs and hard drives were expensive. But now? You can buy terabytes of storage for under $200 and media players have a lot more room, especially the newer ones that accept MicroSD cards that go up to 128 or even 256 gigs. I own a couple Fiio media players (they sound fantastic) that accept MicroSD cards, all my music is FLAC. I rip all my CDs (yes, I buy them still, they're perfect "permanent" backups in case I lose my portable music, and no one can restrict my access to them) to FLAC, I occasionally run a track through Audacity to make a ringtone or something else that requires conversion to MP3. But willingly listening to MP3s is a bad idea when lossless FLAC versions are so easily available, paying for MP3s is nuts. MP3s are around a 10th the size of the original WAV file or whatever CD quality is, FLACs are around half the size with no loss. I have all my music (and many other files) on a 4Tb hard drive, it still has over a terabyle available for more.

Download/rip the FLAC file, then convert it to whatever miserable lossy format you desire. Later, when you realize your mistake, or there's a newer lossy format that's a little less lossy than MP3, you can reconvert the lossless FLAC file for the "improvement", but starting with MP3 means you'll never have the whole dynamic range of the original. Or get a decent media player that can deal with bigger MicroSD cards. Most of them have much better music-playing electronics than smartphones do, anyway.
 

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Over the years, I have come to prefer FLAC (as well as WAV) because that is the track which holds the complete audio spectrum. After having that in the archive, I can do what I will for my own listening convenience. If I want to convert to Mp3 for ease of listening and importing between platforms, I am free to do that. But for sharing with others, the full FLAC (or WAV) is the gold standard.

I can often tell the difference between a 320kbps Mp3 and a FLAC when I'm listening at high volume in the car. The Mp3 sounds harsher and compressed. The FLAC, especially at 24/96, allows for the file not to sound harsh. At lower volumes, it's more difficult to discern the difference between FLAC and Mp3.

But check this, if an audio file has been smashed down below 128Kbps Mp3, it is most definitely noticeable through the presence of audio artifacts. Some people can even detect this when an Mp3 is less than 320Kbps. Once those artifacts are there, its a done deal. I've heard many times, to my frustration, where people have re-inflated/converted a smashed Mp3 back to FLAC. It just doesn't work that way. Once the file is compressed like this, the inaudible factors are imprinted forevermore. Changing it back to FLAC brings those artifacts, too. So it becomes fruitless. And it's beyond annoying.

This is why FLAC is the gold standard for audio trading. Once you have it in your collection, do what you will with it. But please only offer the original FLAC for trade.
I agree 100%, and by keeping it FLAC, we can preserve the quality of the original recording. I download in FLAC, and if I only want a song or two for a flash drive or CD (yes I still have a car with a player) I can do MP3.
 

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I've always felt, as collectors of live recordings, we should do our best to make sure versions that circulate stay in the highest quality possible. If you keep them in flac format, it does that. If you convert to mp3, then you've forever lost that little bit of quality and can never get it back. (Or actually a lot of quality, depending on the bitrate). Plus, you get some people who trade who have no idea about this. They could convert from low quality mp3 back to flac, trade that version, then the next person re-converts it to mp3 again. It's better if everything stays in flac.
Plus, with storage capacity and bandwidth generally not a problem these days, and most players supporting .flac - the more relevant question is, why wouldn't anyone use flac?
 

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When I'm listening to a bootleg recorded on a cassette recorder 40 years ago in a tiny club, I'm grateful to be hearing it at all. FLAC, mp3, whatever...
Well, sure. MP3 is still better than nothing and I'm also grateful they exist at all. But if someone is converting that say from the master cassette into a digital format, FLAC is better than MP3.
 

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but starting with MP3 means you'll never have the whole dynamic range of the original.
This isn't true. The MP3 algorithm compresses the data, not the dynamic range. They are two completely different things.
Even lower bitrate mp3 files will still retain almost the exact same dynamic range as a lossless original.
The dynamic range is the difference between the loudest & quietest passages of the music.
 
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