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Sorry, newbs question re MP3 quality

Discussion in 'TRAKTOR PRO / TRAKTOR SCRATCH PRO' started by TheLowEnd, Jul 18, 2017.

  1. TheLowEnd

    TheLowEnd New Member

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    11
    Hey everyone, sorry for the inexperienced new a question. I have searched for a thread of similar title but no dice. I've also investigoogled it but can't really find an answer.
    I'm going down to my nearest NI stockists on Monday to (hopefully) buy the z2 and an X1 ( maybe 2).
    I've long been an analogue vinyl purist but just can't ignore the benefits of going digital, especially using timecode vinyl.
    So in readiness for my new gear I've been ripping loads of my old cds on to my laptop. The thing is I've read on various forums and social media posts that anything under like 320Kbps will sound awful through a PA even if it sounds ok at home. But when I go to my 'rip sound quality' settings in windows media player, the highest quality it will let me rip cds at is like 192kbps. Does this mean that all these MP3s I now have that have taken me days to rip are gonna sound sketchy af if I play then out through Traktor? Does iTunes rip at a better quality or is there another program I can download to rip at a better quality?
    I don't want to get to my first night using my new gear only to find that my MP3s sound awful, especially compared to the analogue vinyl I also intend to play on the same night.
    Many thanks in advance for your help and advice.
     
  2. olafmol

    olafmol NI Product Owner

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    715
    Ah you've opened a can of worms here LOL. Imho the most important is the entire chain of recording and reproduction. So use a good quality needle/cartridge, clean your vinyl, use a good soundcard with a good AD encoder, and use a high-enough bitrate and algorithm. For safety choose 320kbps CBR (f.e. using LAME algorithm) but from 192kbps you should be ok for human ears ;)
     
  3. TheLowEnd

    TheLowEnd New Member

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    11
    Hey Olafmol, thanks for the reply man, really appreciate it.
    Wow there's a lot there that I have no idea what you're on about!
    Well I'll be using either ortofon pro s or Stanton 890fs carts and styli so shouldn't really be any issues there. Stanton STR8-150 TTs so shouldn't be an issue there either.
    As for the sound card/encoder, well I'm hopefully buying the Traktor z2 so has the sound card ready built in I hear.
    As for the bitrate quality, well that's my concern. That my laptop is only ripping the cds at 192kbps and is the highest setting it will seemingly go to. But you reckon that'll be ok I'd ripped from a cd will be ok? I mean I'm not playing massive clubs with huge systems.. It's for a residency at a small club/bar. With a small-ish active PA system.
     
  4. alec.tron

    alec.tron Well-Known Member

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    796
    Imo, and to get another opinion - I even think 320kbps mp3s do sound bad/metallic/weak on large/good enough systems. Even small ish Funktion Ones do show this...
    IF you get a chance, do the test yourself, ideally as a blind AB test - with you listening, and someone else switching the source thats playing without you knowing what's playing...
    So if you start out re-ripping everything anyway, I would suggest going for a loss-less format... see:
    MP3 is a 'lossy' format for example:
    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lossy_compression
    Whereas Flac is lossless:
    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lossless_compression

    The only argument, apart from ease of use as it has been the synonym for digital music (and has become the 'standard' for the wrong reasons...), for mp3s imo was disk space cost in & around the year 2000... whereas that limitation/argument does not exist anymore...

    As for the tehcnicalities on how to RIP, these 2 are your friends - but it does help to educate yourself on how to switch & configure & set up different codecs & settings.
    For CDs:
    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Exact_Audio_Copy
    For Vinyl you can use Traktor directly to record your vinyl (although there is alot less settings, which can be a good thing...), or you can use something like:
    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Audacity_(audio_editor)

    Good luck with your choices.
    c.
     
    Last edited: Jul 18, 2017
  5. olafmol

    olafmol NI Product Owner

    Messages:
    715
    you can configure iTunes to encode at 320kpbs (go into advanced settings), no problems. 192kbps will sound fine too, also on big PA's. The key is that most vinyl mixes have a more "smiley" curve where the mid's are less pronounced, which sounds much better at high volumes (our ears are highly tuned to mid frequencies as this is where the human voice sits), so if you play digital files over a big PA, make sure you cut the mids (and sometimes highs too) to make a more "masked" soundmix which sounds less fatiguing to human ears. The Z2 soundcard is just fine, so no issues there. To be honest, most snobs complaining about crappy MP3's are just as well red-lining and distorting the mixer LOL In the end the audience wants to have a good time, and your programming is much more important than 192 vs 320kbps MP3s ;) So don't sweat it, make sure you encode 192kbps or higher, don't redline your mixer into distortion, keep enough headroom in your gain-structure, and cut the mids and highs somewhat when the sound becomes louder. A powerful amp also helps, pushing amps into their limits makes a very awfull "stressed" sound where no HQ vinyl or MP3 will help. Good luck!
     
  6. olafmol

    olafmol NI Product Owner

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    715
    ah here we go, A) funktion one's are highly overrated and i wouldn't use them as high-fidelity benchmarks (http://subconsciousmind.ch/index.php/blog/151-what-nobody-tells-you-and-admits-about-funktion-one) B) it's proven time and time again with scientific double blind testing that people CANNOT hear the difference from 192kbps and upwards (http://www.hardwarezone.com.sg/blog-so-you-think-you-have-golden-ears). Believe me, i've mastered for vinyl myself, played vinyl, CD"s, mp3's etc, and have friends that are professional sound-engineers in professional high-end venues and for touring (electronic) artists, as well as producers, and in the end we all had to admit it's simply not discernible. The bottleneck is ALWAYS somewhere else (overdriven mixer channels or crappy encoded MP3's come to mind). Anyway, just my 2 cents, everybody can have their own opinion in this, no hard feelings :)
     
  7. alec.tron

    alec.tron Well-Known Member

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    796
    Indeed a can of worms :D
    I can't be arsed to argue about it though... and everyone should do their own blind AB testing imo to make up their own mind on the matter to choose what makes sense for them - hence the 'good luck' phrase on both of our replies I guess ;)

    I experienced a difference in subjective 'audio quality' perception, on Adam A7x, KS C55 as well as Tannoy Reveal monitors, as well as a few PAs, randomly compiled soundsystems as well as the standard single manufacurer installations like Function Ones and Nexo...
    Also, apart from that, investing time in using an archival method that knowingly alters/removes the digital content ffrom the source that you are trying to preserve does not compute either.

    Me few cents.
    c.
     
    Last edited: Jul 19, 2017
  8. TheLowEnd

    TheLowEnd New Member

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    11
    Hey chaps. Thanks a lot for the info. Looks like I may be spending a bit of time over the next week or so removing all those ripped cds from WMP and re-ripping into iTunes with the setting at 320Kbps just to be on the safe side. Im tempted to leave it as it is just to see how it is at 192kbps but if I get to the night and it's poor quality it's too late. And it won't be a gig I can just rely on analogue vinyl for. I'm also gonna have to spend considerable time 'archiving' my house vinyl to MP3 so I can use all the Traktor features.
    I suppose another question/concern is the quality of tunes ripped from YouTube. I'm not being a complete cheapskate, I've signed up to a paid service on a certain program with a yearly subscrisption which makes me feel better about ripping tunes for free, cos I'm not. I just hope that some of my money actually pays for the music rather than just the program itself. Anyhoo, I've ripped a few tunes but now realise from other various forums that just cos it says the vid is in HD or 720 doesn't necessarily mean the sound wulity will be good. Good god it's a minefield! Any opinions or advice on this? Cheers fellas. Peace. ✌
     
  9. [chris b]

    [chris b] NI Product Owner

    Messages:
    935
    Yep, and this is in a controlled environment, with A-B testing and no noise pollution. A club/bar has a tonne of noise pollution and nobody plays the same track side by side at different bit rates.
     
  10. [chris b]

    [chris b] NI Product Owner

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    935
    Have you signed up to a service that allows you to rip from youtube? Yeah, the artists/labels won't see a penny of that.
     
  11. TheLowEnd

    TheLowEnd New Member

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    11
    One of the many yeah. Aww crap, that blows. In fairness a lot of the vinyl I buy is used off sites such as discogs so I guess I could argue that the artist doesn't see any payment from that either. To be fair it's not that much I'm taking off YouTube or wherever, just the odd track I need for a certain set. And only those that aren't on Spotify, for which I also pay per month for the premium service. ( this program can save Spotify playlists too ) 99% of what I want/need I already have either on wax or cd.
     
  12. man-tk

    man-tk NI Product Owner

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    youtube sucks , forget it
     
  13. TheLowEnd

    TheLowEnd New Member

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    Sucks why? Care to elaborate? Because if quality of the sound?
     
  14. Karlos Santos

    Karlos Santos Rocket Man

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    @TheLowEnd Welcome to the forum... be advised, this forum takes a very dim view of discussions about copyright infringement such as methods to gain music illegally (which ripping from YouTube is). You can buy all the music you like and pay for as many subscriptions as you like but stealing music is stealing music so let's keep the chatter about it off the forum.

    Karlos
     
    • Like Like x 1
  15. man-tk

    man-tk NI Product Owner

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    236
    Not nice sound , not legal . Not for pro djs .
     
  16. TheLowEnd

    TheLowEnd New Member

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    11
    Ok, didn't want to offend anyone, and being new to all this ( it's still a few days before I even get my gear ) I'm still learning the etiquette of this brave new world! I thought ( mistakenly I now realise ) that paying to a subscription service which allowed me to rip and keep was at least me doing my part a little. Where does your opinion stand on using said paid subscription service to enable a dj to keep Spotify tracks? A service which I again pay £10 per month for the use of ( Spotify that is ). Admittedly it's still not the same as buying a brand new 12" or cd and ripping that to MP3. Buy then again, as I mentioned previously, if I buy second hand vinyl off a site such as discogs then the artist isn't seeing any of that money either. ( a lot of what I have or want just isn't available brand new anymore )
    Like I said, not trying to offend anyone, just wanting to get a clearer picture of opinion/practice.
    Thanks all.
     
  17. [chris b]

    [chris b] NI Product Owner

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    935
    Spotify is perfectly legal. You won't be able to use those tracks in Traktor though.
     
  18. alec.tron

    alec.tron Well-Known Member

    Messages:
    796
    That doesn't exist... you are not legally entitled to rip anything from a subscription service. A subscription service is just that, you pay for access (i.e. being able to listen) to music while you are subscribed, but no right to 'store' the media content...
    Also, the only people you support is spotify that way. The artist cut is ridiculously low.

    The best way to support artists directly is bandcamp.com imo and they offer flac downloads as well. And you'd be surprised about the amount of obscure artists and labels you find on there. But yes, you will need to buy each release.

    c.
     
  19. TheLowEnd

    TheLowEnd New Member

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    11
    Fair enough. Cheers all. Without getting into the moral argument, I do beg to disagree about not being able to use Spotify. I know there is no spotify integration with Traktor, however this subscription service I have paid for ( on top of my Spotify subscription ) allows me to rip tunes from Spotify and it saves them in my iTunes. They're all there, present and correct. As for the sound quality, well that remains to be seen. I guess only time will tell if they will actually play on Traktor but they are there in my iTunes.
    I'll check out this bandcamp.com though.
    Thanks.
     
  20. ErikMinekus

    ErikMinekus NI Product Owner

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    966
    The fact that you have to use a third party service to download Spotify tracks should already make it clear that it's not legal, otherwise Spotify would offer that option themselves. So no, you can't use Spotify if you use it as intended.

    I also don't know why you would pay for a service to rip songs from YouTube, as you can do that for free. It's still not legal though.