Welcome to EvO:R Entertainment
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
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.