MP3 Encoding at 160kb/s


MP3HQ160k.gif (4319 bytes)
160kb/s HQ MP3 Frequency Response

MP3HQ160kS.gif (39925 bytes)
160kb/s HQ MP3 Spectral View

At 160kb/s the MP3 format is a lot better than 128kb/s. The frequency response is faithful to the original up to 16kHz . Above 16kHz the response drops of quite quickly to about 19kHz. This is a lot better than the very sharp drop off in response of the 128kb/s file.

Of more importance to me is that the spectral view reveals nearly all the high frequency content in the 10kHz to 16kHz range is present. It is this filling in of the finer detail that makes 160kb/s MP3 far superior to 128kb/s.

Listening tests do not reveal any obvious artifacts. The valve noise of the trumpet can clearly be heard but it is not quite as sharp as in the original. The harpsichord is much clearer than in the 128kb/s MP3 but not quite as crisp as the reference material. The overall impression is that the music is not quite the same as the original but it takes very critical listening to pick up the differences.

I feel that on the average home audio system you would be hard pressed to hear any difference between a 160kb/s MP3 and the original CD. It takes a top end audio system or a good pair of headphones to be able to pick up differences between the MP3 and the CD.

My opinion is that 160kb/s is the best compromise between compression ratio (at about 10:1) and sound quality. It is the bit rate that I use for encoding most MP3 files for my personal use. The sound quality is good enough to satisfy all but the most discerning audiophiles.

At a CPU usage of about 23% on my system there is no significant increase in resources needed as compared to a 128kb/s MP3 file.

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1999 Peter Miller for MP3'Tech -