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Audio Quality When DJing?

Posted: Wed May 02, 2012 6:51 pm
by Jose Tello
I was wondering, do any of you notice any difference (when dancing or DJing) between 128kbps and higher kbps songs?

I have a number of songs that are 128/190kbps and I'm not sure if that will affect the quality of the sound when DJing in general. I was considering "re-buying" some of my tunes in a higher kbps, but is it really worth it? Is it all that noticeable to the dancers?

Or would this be just a waste of money? :?

Re: Audio Quality When DJing?

Posted: Wed May 02, 2012 7:51 pm
by SoundInMotionDJ
Jose Tello wrote:I was wondering, do any of you notice any difference (when dancing or DJing) between 128kbps and higher kbps songs?
I think I can least with my music collection, my computer, my sound card, and my PA system. :wink:

The differences are most noticeable on acoustic, classical, or quiet pieces of music. More current pop music is already over compressed and it is harder to pick out a noticeable differences.

Given the general 'quality' issues with old(er) music played for Lindy, the differences between 128 & 192 may be more difficult to detect....or may be noticeable.

The best advice is to pick a handful of songs and attempt a "blind" test. Load up a playlist with a hundred (or so) versions of a single song at 128 & 192 (& maybe even a wav???). Place the songs in blocks of 1-4 of each type. Then "randomly" start in the "middle" of the playlist...and put the screen out of view. See if you are able to tell the source bitrate of the next 10 songs. If you can tell, then you can tell....if you can't tell, then you can't tell.

Posted: Wed May 02, 2012 8:17 pm
by Jose Tello
That's an interesting test. Huh. Might give it a shot!
I was just playing some of my songs on my surround sound system at home and I could honestly not notice the difference... Although I don't know if that's true for other sound systems at venues.

Posted: Wed May 02, 2012 9:46 pm
by trev
I can definitely notice a difference when I'm at home with stereo speakers or headphones. The lower bitrate will sound slightly muddier or "flatter". It might be difficult to pick at a venue though, because of other factors.

In saying that, I recently had an "audio engineer" at a dance take me to task for using MP3s, but I suspect the sub-optimal sound was more to do with the remastering of the track and the acoustics of the hall than any compression I had added.

I've been using Lossless compression more lately. I figure that the music is often already at a disadvantage by the technology it was recorded on; the fact that it's often a generations old copy of a CD/LP/45/78; the often substandard audio equipment at dances; the crap acoustics of big old halls and dance venues, and; the noisiness of a dance crowd, that I might as well make it the best quality it can be, rather than add any extra lossy compression.

Posted: Fri May 04, 2012 12:32 am
by Surreal
I generally can't tell from PA speakers in a dance setting. Room acoustics and general noise murk it all up. I find 128 is fine there barring some really ugly encoding. I generally care more about the quality of the speakers than the quality of the mp3.

On my home setup I have difficulty discerning anything beyond 192. With my headphones I can occasionally pick out lossless, but not consistently.

For a lot of the old stuff transferred from vinyl, there's so much grain in the recording that it's kind of a tossup whether the higher bitrates are worth it. The exception of course being if you plan on attempting to remove the noise from the digital files yourself (the results of which can often result in artifacts that sound like crappy encoding).

Posted: Fri May 04, 2012 2:29 pm
by J-h:n
I seem to notice an ugly shrill sound in badly encoded MP3:s. It's most noticeable in hi-fi recordings, in particular from sizzling ride cymbals, muted trumpets and singers singing the sound "s".

Posted: Sat May 05, 2012 8:57 pm
by Jose Tello
Thanks for all the feedback guys. Yeah 128kpbs isn't that bad at all. I guess it mostly depends on how old the recording is and the quality of the speakers it's being played through.

Posted: Sun May 06, 2012 1:29 am
by lipi
Here's a completely unhelpful view on the question:

I always try to buy things lossless (or re-buy them lossless when I see them), but not because of sound issues when DJing, but because I am worried that ten or fifteen or twenty years from now I'll want to use another digital format rather than MP3, or AAC, or whatever lossy format I have. If I have a lossless file to work with, I can switch to that format without losing anything.

Re-encoding lossy yields lossier. Re-encoding a lossless encoding will introduce no sonic artifacts or lose any quality (it may create a bigger file than an original encoding would, but disk is cheap).

Posted: Tue May 15, 2012 7:10 pm
by kitkat
I rip to lossless when I'm in control (which is annoying when I can't take things on the bus on my MP3 player, but dem's da breaks) for the same reason as Trev--why do more damage?

I suppose I'm less willing to pay money for lossy tracks than lossless ones, but I'm not a purist. I'll play 128 MP3's if that's what I have and the song is good. I haven't taken any time to analyze whether my methods are at all rational.

Posted: Wed May 16, 2012 11:27 am
by Toon Town Dave
I have noticed a difference on many recordings back when I started converting my collection from CD. I eventually settled on VBR encoding using lame with a medium quality setting (3 or 5, I forget which). Some of the scratchy old stuff effectively ends up at 128 or lower. Some of the better sounding stuff spends much of it's time in the 160 or 192 realm, seldom higher than that.

If I were to do a mass re-encoding (I have copies of all my CD or LP music in uncompressed PCM - .wav format) now that storage is huge and cheap I'd probably just go with flac or avoid compression altogether. I've also noticed some download-only albums also come in flac format which I'd choose over mp3.