Questions about music files listening from iPad Pro 10.5

biggles

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1. I have old cd's ripped to mp3 using 192 kbps bitrate. Is it correct that this is "good enough" sound quality for iPad Pro as an output device? When you do internet searches regarding whether 192 kbps mp3 is good enough, most results say it depends on the listening tool (headphones usually require highest bitrate).
2. Recently I started ripping other cd's using iTunes, which defaults to 256 kbps using the AAC format. My understanding is that iTunes can be changed to other file formats, but the default seems best if audio quality balanced with file size are the priorities. So for example, MP3 might be preferable for compatibility with other devices but there is some loss in audio quality vs AAC.
3. For the "average user" (not an audiophile), is it fair to say that "lossless" cd ripping is overkill in regards to audio quality? My understanding of lossless is that files are less compressed vs AAC, mp3, etc but retain all of the audio quality of the original music track.
 

B00nie

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Bitrate alone doesn't tell the whole story. Encoding algorithms have improved along the years a lot. AAC gives a better sound quality if bitrate is equal to mp3. For an average listener the old 192kb mp3 is probably quite acceptable. The lossless stuff is mostly for an enthusiast. I can enjoy lossy compressed music just fine if the rest of the equipment is good enough. If you listen to electronic music, drum&bass and stuff, they're made with low bitrate samples to begin with so you would gain nothing from a lossless or a high bitrate version.
 

UnknownSouljer

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1.) Like all things, it depends. How well it was encoded is more than just bitrate like B00nie noted. Also it will depend on your level of discernment and your level of audio gear. Headphones aren't necessarily the only way to tell the difference, it's just that really nice speakers and studio monitors are generally used less often by consumers - but suffice it to say there are plenty of devices that can reveal badly encoded files.
2.) AAC is a better format in general than mp3. mp3 has long be superseded in every possible way by other formats; other formats can compress audio files better with less loss than mp3 (mp4 as another example was designed to replace mp3 directly). There's more to it than that, that's putting it in the simplest terms. However mp3s are still around because they were first and are ubiquitous (anything and everything can play an mp3). Still, AAC is highly preferable in comparison to mp3 - essentially better quality for no increase in size and oftentimes it will have a decrease in size due to efficiency.
3.) The short answer is yes to both questions. If you can't hear a difference between a CD and a 192 kbps mp3, then lossless is definitely not necessary for you. And yes, lossless is "indistinguishable" from the original CD. It uses lossless compression, hence the lossless name. If you're wondering how it works, it similar to the principles of a zip file. It takes the contents and compresses them down and then allows them to be expanded on the fly.

As for you and what is enough for you, again you'll have to determine that yourself. However if you listen to a lot of streaming audio (Spotify, Pandora, Youtube Music) and you can't tell the difference between that and a CD, then 192 or 256 kbps AAC is likely plenty for you. For 99.999% (99,999 out of 100,000) of people, 256 kbps AAC will be enough. If not then I'd recommend maxing out on 320 kbps AAC. Lossless is really not necessary for virtually anyone (unless you're going to use the audio mixed into something else or otherwise repurpose it). It's a very unpopular thing to say amongst audiophiles even, but I seriously doubt that anyone can tell the difference between lossless and 320kbps AAC (when encoded properly) on all but the absolutely most expensive equipment. And even then I'd want the person to prove it with a double blind A/B test of 20 tracks to make sure it's not just confirmation bias or bias of another sort.
There are differences obviously (compression means data is lost somewhere), things like the ultra highs and ultra lows will be cut and some types of distortion might be present like sibilence might be present. But to hear any of those things, again, would not only require expensive equipment but also a very well trained ear. To have both is expensive and rare.

EDIT: Our ears for the past 20 years have been "trained" to listen to inferior audio. And that's a whole other discussion. But to help you think about it more, every mp3 you've listened to since the late 90s has been compressed. Most film and TV shows people watch these days also feature compressed audio (Netflix, Hulu, Youtube all obviously compress their audio to stream) as well as every audio streaming platform (Spotify, Pandora, Youtube Music, Apple Music, etc). So if everyone of those sources sound "fine" to you, then again, compressed AAC or mp3 will also sound fine for you. Most people never listen to CD quality audio anymore regardless of platform. The last often used bastion of at least decent audio was the Movie Theater, and few have visited one of those for the past 9 months. Although audio from broadcast can also be pretty good.
 
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Joined
Feb 13, 2003
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Audio is subjective. In addition to that, the equipment used for playback can effect how it sounds as well.

Easiest answer. RIP a sound using the available options and test for yourself.

As for me, I RIP all of my music at 320. I have compared my rips to FLAC in the past, I don't hear a noticeable difference in most cases. At least not enough to bother me or justify the additional storage space. Test for yourself. There is no right or wrong answer here and you can't read about what sounds good on YOUR equipment to YOUR ears.
 

B00nie

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I used to buy digital music but now I just subscribe to Tidal. It doesn't have everything I want though.
 
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