Did you know: MP3 is ‘Studio Quality’?

MP3 table¬†Got a chuckle out of this ‘explanation’ of MP3 in the manual of an inexpensive Conia DVD player I’ve been reviewing. Talk about overstating the quality of MP3!

Sure, at 128kb/s MP3 is quite indistinguishable from the CD source for most forms of music, even with good quality equipment. But not all forms. Try, for example, converting some solo harpsichord to MP3 at any bit rate and you’ll hear what I mean: where on a CD the quills pluck the strings forthrightly, producing a bold and crisp attack, and smooth but rapid decay, the harpsichord on MP3 sounds fussy and querulous.

But let us accept that 128kb/s MP3 is, for most music, properly termed ‘near CD quality’, and read this table’s ‘Good CD quality’ as compatible with that. Now what about the other ‘Quality’ ratings in the table? Try encoding some music at just 64kb/s. You do not need to have golden ears to notice how appalling this sounds on all types of music. It is certainly nowhere near ‘FM Radio Quality’, except that at least it doesn’t have its dynamic range compressed like most FM stations.

But the really funny lines are 160kb/s (‘Better than CD Quality’) and up (‘Studio quality’). LOL! Even if MP3 weren’t based on lossy compression, it simply cannot exceed CD quality because it is limited to the same 44.1kHz sampling frequency and 16 bits of resolution as CD’s form of PCM digital.

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