Variable Bit Rates
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  1. #1
    Tech Mentor kidfromkibbly's Avatar
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    Default Variable Bit Rates

    For home DJ'ing, bit rates make little difference, but of any of you who play live, what bit rate do you find noticeable sound degradation occurring at through the bigger club sound systems?
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  2. #2
    Tech Guru Fatlimey's Avatar
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    I set myself a minimum bar of 128kb MP3 at constant bitrate, and 320kb is what I use if I am compressing today. Storage is cheap! I spent years listening to mixes off tape and if the groove gets you, you simply don't notice the noise floor or distortion.

    I am led to believe that there are clubs out there that run their PA as purely mono signals - you get more Wattage out of PA Amps in mono bridge mode. Given the size of the sound sweet spot in many places I've been was in the region of a 20-foot circle in the middle of the dance floor, there's only 100 people in the entire club who could even notice the difference if they were bothered to listen for it. Don't fret yourself about sound quality so much.

    My outlook is that you should engineer your own output quality to a reasonable level and as soon as it enters the club soundsystem, it's someone else's problem. You can influence the result, but you'll never fix it. A special note: as a DJ, do not overdrive the desk. DJs who do that should be taken out and have their ears stuffed with angry wasps, cos that's what they're doing to the crowd.

    Now, bringing your own Soundsystem in from outside is a different matter...

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    Last edited by Fatlimey; 04-04-2008 at 03:15 PM. Reason: Clarity.

  3. #3
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    I've heard about the mono setup too.

    Also, it depends on how the sound system is set up. I went to see Sasha & Digweed last night, and I did not have a very pleasant experience, because the sound system was not calibrated well - it was dangerously loud, and the bass / highs drowned out the mids, so that most of what you hear was "oomph oomph oomph" of the bassline. Watching the videos I took with a soap-box camera, I was surprised to hear that they sounded totally different (because the camera's microphone did not pick up the bass that well but instead got the mids).


    That said, I once played a 128kbps rip of Delerium - Silence (Airscape Mix) at a house party and I could tell that the sound was crap. Nobody else seemed to care, I didn't know if anyone noticed at all. The speakers were regular all-in-one-tape-cd-changer speakers... Club speakers are usually much more forgiving.

    My personal take is that you should not take chances, so I try to go for tunes in 320kbps.

  4. #4

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    VBR sounds fine. If you use LAME to rip and use -V2 or above quality, there's no way you could ever tell the difference. You could give even the most "golden" ears an ABX test and they wouldn't be able to tell the difference either. Really anything above 192, as long as it's not ripped with a bad encoder, is fine. Especially in a club. the music is usually being played so loud anyway that nobody could tell. Even the best vinyl can't match the sound quality of a properly ripped mp3, played through a good audio interface with a high S/N ratio and low harmonic distortion.

  5. #5
    Tech Guru Fatlimey's Avatar
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    Note about VBR - yes, it balances quality and bitrate better than constant bitrates, but loading a VBR track into your DJ software is much slower as it has to decompress the track more thoroughly to allow you to jump into the audio - there's no simple mapping of compressed-location to uncompressed like there is with CBR.

    As PCs get faster and there's more memory this is less of a problem as the DJ software can just uncompress into a buffer on the fly, but it's something to remember. There's a reason Beatport only sells CBR tracks.

  6. #6
    Retired DJTT Moderator DvlsAdvct's Avatar
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    The big thing that has seemed to make a difference for me is the quality of the interface/sound card. I've never played a song below 128k in a club, and all my tracks are CBR. I've never had a problem with quality ever. But I always try to use good interfaces and cables, cause I have no control over the quality of the sound system, so i might as well make all of the components to that system as strong as possible

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  7. #7

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    this is a great question, and thanks for the repsonses i educated myself today!

    i do have a questions regarding sampling rates.... in traktor or is it my motu...i cannot remember but I can change the sampling rate from 44.1 > 88.2 i think> and 96

    which is the best setting and why?

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  8. #8
    Mr. Golden EanGolden's Avatar
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    considering all your music amterial will be at 44.1 you should be playing at 44.1 and in terms of VBR vd CBR:

    Always shoot for 320 kb CBR encoded with LAME if you can.

  9. #9

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    thanks ean!

    DELL XPS M1710 : MOTU Ultralite : VCI-100
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  10. #10
    Tech Wizard Guust-Fi's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by splodinjoe View Post
    VBR sounds fine. If you use LAME to rip and use -V2 or above quality, there's no way you could ever tell the difference. You could give even the most "golden" ears an ABX test and they wouldn't be able to tell the difference either. Really anything above 192, as long as it's not ripped with a bad encoder, is fine. Especially in a club. the music is usually being played so loud anyway that nobody could tell. Even the best vinyl can't match the sound quality of a properly ripped mp3, played through a good audio interface with a high S/N ratio and low harmonic distortion.
    Sorry but that is just simply not true.
    I can personally hear the difference between VBR -V2 and the original WAV/ CD quality through my Sennheiser HD-555's and my Chaintech AV-710 soundcard.
    The latter goes for about 25 but it is supposed to be quite a bang for the buck.
    And yes I really did an ABX test.
    I have to admit that the difference is sooo small that I can only tell from my headphones and not from my computer speakers. To me, the difference is like 3% or so. With a better soundcard the difference might be bigger.
    Btw, I'm talking about music like Norah Jones etc. which has been recorded and mastered properly... not like most electronic music.

    I know that my ears aren't trained and my setup is far from high-end. It might seem bs but there are actually people out there who can tell the difference between different cables.

    In a club environment, even if you might be able to notice a difference, who cares? The speaker setup etc. and correctly applying the EQ is way more important. Like Ean says, lame mp3's encoded with a V2 setting or higher, or simply CBR 320 should be just fine.
    I would say check the following link and test it yourself.
    http://wiki.hydrogenaudio.org/index....2C_small_sizes

    Personally I like to keep things as pure as possible. Storage is pretty cheap and as a Digital DJ I suggest using a lossless compression method such as FLAC when you can. Yes it uses more space on your hard drive, but you only need to rip things once and you never have to worry about having the best quality ever again. Moreover, Traktor supports FLAC!

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