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  •  The EvO:R-Pedia Musicians Tips Section


    Welcome to the EvO:R Tips Section. We call this section EvO:R-Pedia because it is like a complete reference library for Indie musicians...Just about every tip has been used so you won't find false promises and a series of books to buy after reading each tip. This section was put here by musicians so that people that followed can take this knowledge and use it's power.




    Some notes about Mp3's
    Many people who use MP3s still find aspects of them confusing. One of the most commonly misunderstood aspects of MP3s is bitrate. MP3s, as you know, are compressed audio files and are therefore missing some of the audio data contained in the original. The degree of compression of a file is denoted by its bitrate. So, the ubiquitous 128kbs file contains less data, and thus less actual sound information than, say, a 192kbs file.

    The good news about this is that MP3 files are small and yet still sound reasonable. But for some folks, the bad news is that you lose sound definition and quality. One of the most common misconceptions, one largely propagated by ripping software, is that a 128kbs file is "CD quality". It is not. The only "CD Quality" level file you can have on your computer is a straight .wav copy of a CD track, something that is usually in the area of about 50mb for a three-minute song something that isn't exactly practical.

    That said, however, MP3's still se em to sound ok to most of us and I wanted to test out just how much of a difference different bitrates make. It might seem like a moot point, but so many of you reading this site are independent musicians yourselves. As such, if you're thinking of putting some of your work up on a website, you may be curious as to what difference bitrates make when you present your music to the world.

    As such, I ripped a few CD's of mine at 128kbs and 320kbs for a little side by side comparison. I used Real Jukebox to rip the files and Winamp 2.8 to play them. To test how these files and their original CD counterparts sound on a PC, I tested through my Roland Micro monitor MA-20, a QSC model 1700 with a pair of Yamaha S115IV and with a pair of average computer speakers. And for reference purposes, I tested both the original CDs and the MP3 files ripped onto a CD through a Yamaha RX V430 home theatre system.

    What quickly became apparent is that there is a difference but one that on most equipment, requires some very close listening to distinguish. Esthero's Breath from Another features a lot of keys, reverbed vocals and samples. The 128kbs file sounded a little flatter, with less present vocals than the 320kbs file, which allowed one to hear more echo and detail in the songs. That said, the differences were minor, and on a pair of average computer speakers, you would need to do a very close side-by-side comparison to tell the difference. Yanqui U.X.O., with its more layered, intricate sound, proved slightly more susceptible to different bitrates. In the 128kbs file, the cacophony of Godspeed's songs sounded more tinny and it was more difficult to distinguish each instrument and effect. This was particularly noticeable in how clean the bass sounded, with the 320kbs file sounding sharper and deeper. But it was probably Giant Steps that revealed the starkest difference. Coltrane's saxophone sounds noticeably thinner and more metallic on the 128kbs file, to the point that some notes sounded slightly "off" The 320kbs file clearly sounded warmer, cleaner and more present.

    To push the limits somewhat, I tested Giant Steps on the Yamaha RX V430 home theatre and the QSC with the Yamaha speakers, pitting the original and the 320kbs MP3 CD side by side. On a system like this, especially at higher volumes, the MP3 CD sounded thinner and much less warm than the original. The bass was also less defined, the CD sounding cleaner and more punchy. More importantly though, the bass sounded more like, well, a double-bass, the saxophone like a real saxophone, and it is here that the differences become most noticeable and important the original CD sounds more like the original sounds that comprise it. It is likely, however, that if you are listening to music on a higher-end system, you wouldn't be listening to MP3's anyway.




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