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MP3 vs WAV

Posted by on in General Audio Tips
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We all know WAV is better of course (I hope we do!!) - Some people claim they can not hear any difference between a 320kbps mp3, and a full WAV, but as a producer and audiophile, I find it very easy to spot the difference, especially if a DJ is playing mixed mp3's and WAVS. - Regardless of whether you can hear the difference, have you SEEN it?

Below is some screen shots I found, showing the averaged peak frequency analysis of the same piece of audio.


320kbps mp3

As you can see (and hopefully hear if you were listening!) - The mp3 has a artificial boost in amplitude (volume) between 4-6khz, and a sharp cutoff just before 20khz - this is why on a small car system for example, things sound OK, but when on larger more precise systems, you can hear the difference..

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  • Guest
    Brian Williams Saturday, 18 August 2012

    The standard funktion ones peek at 18khz so mp3s should be just fine for them...with headroom :)

    Seriously though I can hear a difference in mp3 320k (well compressed) ... but whilst its noticeable, I doubt it is through a rig at volume....that is unless you start fucking about (i.e. retiming and pitching) then the wav is going to hold together far better.

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  • Sprocket
    Sprocket Saturday, 18 August 2012

    You are correct on the spec of function1, but misleading in your post by saying mp3's will do! - Any respectful DJ/producer that has actively been playing out on larger systems for long enough will tell you they would never play an mp3 now they have heard the difference, its just not good practice. Mp3's were designed for small players, cars, portability etc. - Also frequency response isn't the only thing to consider when playing out. Stereo image is also badly effected, along with perceived volume of the lower end. Also worth noting that even if you think most people wouldn't notice (which they may not in a conscious way), that doesn't change the fact that high quality music makes people move more on the dance floor, or emote more, or relate more (genre specific of course). - Oh, and yes myself, and many others I have questioned can hear it, on small and large rigs. Mp3's will never go away, they have their uses, but the a world of professional audio, faster connections, and larger hard drives. they have very little place in my opinion.

  • Guest
    Brian Williams Saturday, 18 August 2012

    I completely agree there is very little excuse not to play entirely wavs now that all the issues with them has faded into nonexistence and if you want to play the closest representation of what the artist intended than that is pretty much as good as it gets.

  • Guest
    PsyC0de Wednesday, 29 August 2012


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