Recording & Publishing - what format do you use or listen to?

I’ve been wondering about how people spend time recording and then publishing, only to have a lot of people listen to their craft as an mp3 file?

I’ve not recorded anything myself, but when ripping CDs etc I always ensure they end up in a lossless format, but have been thinking about how many people - perhaps some of those on this site end up listening to half of the work being thrown away by file formats such as mp3, and they really don’t know what they are missing.

Even worse, they will then listen to the mp3 on bluetooth, which I know can now handle far higher quality files, but it isn’t always the case, and bluetooth can ditch even more information.

Do those of you who record and listen back to your own music do so at the highest quality possible? I assume that as one gets into the recording, the quaility of the files starts to make a difference to the creator and listener, and those who perhaps have known nothing other than mp3 (the iPod generation) are shocked when listening to the difference.

I’m listening to a some music now - I was lazy and hooked up the bluetooth headphones, and made it about a 3rd of the way through Baker Street before I reached for the cable!

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I use the quality as low as possible to do recording just to cover up my imperfection of guitar playing :rofl:


I always ripped CDs to FLAC (a lossless format for those that don’t know) simply because I could then easily transcode it to any other format easily and without degradation.

Well “half” is a gross exaggeration, and it depends on what rate you encode to. If you encode to 128k MP3 then you really are degrading your music badly. If you encode to 384k MP3 then nearly no-one will be able to tell the difference (although there are some claims that in long term listening tests some people have reported increased “fatigue”).

Personally, I wish downloads were more readily available in lossless (but standard ‘Redbook’) format as the reasons for lossy compressed formats (at least as a download format) are beginning to go away.



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I rip CDs to FLAC for listening at my desk, archival, et cetera. However, I also create mp3, aac, or ogg for streaming to my phone over cellular (I run a Plex server from my home network).

I export my own recorded music to dithered 24-bit, 48K WAV/PCM. I usually also export it as 320kbit/s (CBR) MP3. When I post music here I usually provide links to both the lossless WAV and some form of lossy encoded file as well (e.g., my learning log entries).

I grew up listening to Music on AM radio on a 9v transistor radio. Everything since then sounds great.


I usually try to use the lowest loss formats for my master archives and then down rate to mp3 / mp4 for distribution or linking to on my Google drive - I’ve used this system for a while now and found it the most accessible and the low loss files best for master usage.

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It makes a difference when listening to something other than a 4.5kHz bandwidth doesn’t it?!

It is something I have always found amazing - our tech has improved beyond measure, yet in many ways people choose (or don’t know the choice is there) to listen at lower quality. The difference is stunning when listening to anything at high quality. :grinning:

I don’t tend to rip CDs at all now in fact the only CD’s I tend to buy are from those bands/artists I really want to collect. For those I have a nice Denon or Sonos system to listen to them AND they are also connected to streaming services. I think it’s not just the quality of the recording but also the devices on which people are listening on. The days of people listening to most music in their home have gone as has having quality audio equipment. Many young people only listen to music on their phones or their phones connected to some bluetooth device e.g. an Amazon echo or speakers. Now there are some fantastic audio equipment that is connected but most people don’t spend their money there.

The streaming services dominate delivery of music (primarily Spotify and Amazon) and they do offer higher quality if you look for it BUT in general it’s dictated by your bandwidth.

There is a big difference listening to a quality recording. Personally my own recordings I’m not sure it would make a huge difference to the quality for my listeners. I export to a high bitrate mp3 or to another lossless format but that’s just because my DAW tends to be set for that.

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Yeah, and old LP records with pops scratches and such. Which all went away for me when cds came out, so I find the trend back to vinyl fascinating as I don’t miss that old format at all.

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I concur, although I understand it in some ways: there is something about the ritual of putting a vinyl record on, cleaning it, and having that large format album sleeve (often gatefold, with lyrics and additional artwork and info) that used to make listening to music much more of an “event”.

I honestly wonder, sometimes, if music has become too accessible and ubiquitous and, as a result, disposable these days.

It used to be that most of us had a music collection of a few hundred albums or less, maybe totalling a few thousand songs. Now we have millions of songs at our fingertips and none of the hurdles to hearing songs that we used to have which tended to make music more precious.

I also think the ease of which we can access music means many of us tend to listen less mindfully than we used to.

And, whilst the quality of the media has improved to the point where no more audible improvement is needed, that doesn’t mean the quality of the material on it has. I’m not talking here about the music itself, but about the quality of production, mixing and mastering.

The limited capabilities of the vinyl format meant that it required a lot of expertise and experience to master music for that format and make it sound good. And, of course, it also required specialist equipment that was generally only available to large studios who also had the skill and expertise to use the kit.

Since the point where CD was created, which can capture everything audible to humans, and now that anyone with a fairly inexpensive setup can output to digital formats, I think the quality of production and mastering has often suffered.




To me, that’s one the main reasons someone might want to choose vinyl, today. The negative effects of the “loudness war” usually aren’t as present with vinyl because of the limitations of the medium (ironic!). I’m not a big vinyl guy, but I have friends who are, and we’ve compared the digital and vinyl versions of some albums that suffer from loudness war issues. Sometimes there’s a big difference and the LP version sounds better produced. Weird, but it’s there. Of course, it also depends on the production and mastering and whether they remastered specifically for vinyl or not.

This site is interesting to poke around on if you want to see some metrics of dynamic range for recordings released in various formats.


Do you think there is less evidence of this since sites started to apply a loudness threshold and turn things down when above the threshold?

That site is interesting indeed.

I don’t know. (And some more words for the 20 character limit…)

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