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Joseph
06-25-2004, 03:40 PM
http://www.mp3.com/story/feature_lossless.html



No Loss

Lossless encoding comes of age; but is it right for you? Take our listening challenge.


By Peter Gavin
June 22, 2004


Back in the days of dial-up connections and janky 6GB computers, there was no question that compressed MP3s were the way to go (usually the more compressed the better). Now, as bandwidth improves and hard drives expand, higher quality lossless file formats such as FLAC and Monkeys could become the next standard for encoding, as listeners demand none of the audio loss that normal, or "lossy," compression entails.

For those of you who are just joining us&*8230;encoding software turns original audio files (such as WAV or AIFF) into compressed files (such as MP3 or AAC). Although there are many format brands, the key factor that determines the file's quality and size is actually the bit rate (higher bit rates equal better sound and larger file sizes). Encoders, such as dBpowerAmb, offer a handful of formats in a variety of bit-rate sizes, such as 128, 160, 192 kbps, and so on.

At half the size of a WAV and five times larger than your most common MP3 file (128 kbps), lossless encoding compresses the music file without permanently discarding audio data. On a 40GB portable player you could only fit 200 lossless albums (opposed to1000 MP3 albums), however, you'll get an increase in sound quality. Whether the noticeable difference is large, small, or even nonexistent, is really up to the listener. Audiophiles will argue that lossless sounds way better than 128 kbps, while many others don't notice a difference, and even if they do, it's not enough for them to want to re-encode their music. If you're using a Flash player, which would typically only be able to fit one album, you will want to stick with MP3s. This format is for hard drive players--either your computer or a portable.

Trying to decide if lossless is worth it? There's no better time like the present to find out. Let us help you decide right now which format is suitable for you with o