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MP3: A trader's enemy

 

Why do I hate mp3?

I'm an active roio-trader for a few years now, and mp3 has always been my enemy. Why? - you may ask. Well, without going into too much technical details, mp3 is a lossy compression algorithm, which means that it does reduces the size of sound-files, but at the same time it also takes away a huge amount of information. This means that the result, the .mp3 file will always be of lower sound-quality than the original recording! This is a rule with no exceptions: no matter which software is used for encoding, which settings, which bit-rate etc.: when you hear an mp3 file you can always be sure that there is a better sounding original... And it makes me sad every time I listen to mp3, so I try to avoid mp3 files at all costs!

This is why I created this very simple page. Here you will find out, how to tell if the music that you listen to is sourced from mp3 or not. I believe that there are many good traders out there, who simply doesn't know that the music they spread is sourced from mp3. With these simple steps you will be able to tell an mp3, and to stop further distributing them. On the other hand, when you receive shows in a trade, and you find them to be mp3, you can ask your trading partner for replacement discs... So

How to tell an mp3?

First rule: when you hear tiny little clicks between each tracks (for example, when track 1 segues into track 2), the music is always suspicious to be sourced from mp3. Unfortunately, if you can not hear these clicks, your music can still be sourced from mp3. But there is another, much more objective sign for mp3s:

Frequency analysis: don't be afraid! :) It is very easy to do, and if you are an avid CDR-trader, you already have the best tool to perform frequency analysis: EAC! If you don't have EAC yet, go to http://www.exactaudiocopy.de and download it now! It is absolutely free, it is the only tool which can create 100% error-free wav files from your AudioCDs, and it is the best tool to tell an mp3! :) So here are the 4 easy steps to tell if your music is mp3 or not!

Step 1: you must have .wav files to perform frequency analysis, so if you have an AudioCD, grab one of the tracks to your harddrive with EAC, or if you have shn files, convert one of them to wav. Use a track which is at least 3-4 minutes long, and contains some music.

Step 2: go to EAC's "Tools" menu, then "Process WAV". (You might receive a message that there is not enough free memory; don't worry, there will be no problems, simply hit "Yes", and proceed!)

Step 3: when EAC finished with the processing of your file, go to "Display" \ "Spectral view"

Step 4: you will see something similar to one of the following three pictures:

As you can see, all freqencies are present, nothing is missing, which means that you have a genuine, uncompressed, non-mp3 source! Phew, you can relax! :)

Bad news! :( There is a straight cut in high frequencies (the upper part of the graph is all black), high frequencies are missing. It is the irrecusable sign that the music is sourced from mp3. :(

As you can see, this spectral view is "in between". :) Some high frequencies are missing, cut (there are black territories on the upper part of the picture), but not all high frequencies are missing, there are "bursts of blue" in the darkness! :) This is the view you get with music sourced from MiniDisc. MiniDisc also uses a lossy compression (ATRAC), but it is very different to mp3, and does not produce considerable loss of sound-quality. MD is not an enemy, only mp3 is! :)