Author Topic: FLAC profiles silly questionning  (Read 5955 times)

whismerhill

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Hello,

I wanted to ask the reason for having an "archive" profile
I mean the only difference between the two profiles is that the "portable" profile has a compression level of 8
whereas the archive profile has a compression level of 0

given that a standard song takes about 20s to encode and a few minutes to rip, the encoding of the previous song is generally finished around 30~40% of the ripping of the next at compression level 8

given that FLAC is by essence lossless so whatever compression level only changes the size & the time to encode

given that even if there was no ripping but just encoding, encoding a whole library of 5000 songs would probably take  a single day (5000 x20s = about 28 Hours)

I don't see the reason for any other profile than maximum compression level, + the names are a bit misleading in my humble opinion.
For me, "archive" means something you're gonna store for a long time so a huge compression level would actually makes sense to me
also when talking about zip or rar files & the like those are often called "archived files"
and in winrar no compression is actually called : "Store"

Thoughts ?

Zak

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given that FLAC is by essence lossless so whatever compression level only changes the size & the time to encode
That's not entirely true. Higher compression also requires more processing to decode which can shorten battery life on portable devices. In the real world you'd probably only notice the difference on something like an old, low-powered device running RockBox. I doubt it would make any difference to a quad-core smartphone or tablet.

given that a standard song takes about 20s to encode...

I don't see the reason for any other profile than maximum compression level
There's no compelling reason to use a compression level above 3 or 4.
The difference between levels 3 and 8 is that 8 will take five times as long to encode to create a file only a few hundred kilobytes smaller. I guess it depends on available disk space versus the value of your time, but disk space can be expanded more easily than time.

As for the profile names, I guess it's to keep them consistent with the settings for lossy encoders, where "Archiving" does imply a higher quality file. Having both "Small file size" and "Portable device" seems a bit redundant though.
Bee excellent to each other...

hiccup

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I also found from my first days with MusicBee that using the terms 'archival' and 'portable' for flac was incorrect, but in all these years I don't believe anybody ever asked a question about it, so I never brought it up.

I agree with ZAK that besides relatively small size differences, another argument to possibly change the setting from the usually advised '5' setting, could have to do with energy consumption.
But if I understand correctly (but it's hard to find any proof), the difference in energy consumption only occurs at encoding to flac, not at decoding flac.
So if that's true, it would only be an item if you encode (a lot) to flac on your smartphone or tablet.
It's old, but I see no more-recent info which contradicts the closing conclusions here:
http://www.head-fi.org/t/253135/flac-levels-question/15

But I agree with the OP, that the wordings 'archival' and 'portable' maybe better be changed to simply  'larger file size' and 'smaller file size'. And maybe a pop-up, saying something like: smaller file size can take longer to encode.



hiccup

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PS,

What I personally have a stronger feeling about, is that wordings as 'archiving quality' should not be used at all for the file types where the actual audio-signal is compressed.
I believe you should never use that term for mp3's etc.

Steven

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yes i agree the wording should be changed - feel free to remind me in case i forget during the 3.0 beta cycle

whismerhill

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There's no compelling reason to use a compression level above 3 or 4.
The difference between levels 3 and 8 is that 8 will take five times as long to encode to create a file only a few hundred kilobytes smaller. I guess it depends on available disk space versus the value of your time, but disk space can be expanded more easily than time.

As for the profile names, I guess it's to keep them consistent with the settings for lossy encoders, where "Archiving" does imply a higher quality file. Having both "Small file size" and "Portable device" seems a bit redundant though.

That's where I beg to differ,
musicbee can stay as a background process and the encoding time is no issue on my computer
(although maybe it could be the case with older ones ?)
if you're ripping from a CD to FLAC, musicbee will encode DURING the ripping of the next song so no time lost here
even while just converting FLAC, my computer can run it as background processes and I can do much other things (like gaming or watching a video or browsing)
therefore it's not my time.Therefore since time is not an issue anymore why not gain a few hundred kb that will add up when you have a huge library ? (could save a few clusters)

IF we were talking about say ... x764 encoding things would be different, as it uses ALL of the processing power for a freaking long time (with INSANE profiles) but even then I can just do this kind of tasks when I sleep or when I'm not home, can't I ? ^^

hiccup

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yes i agree the wording should be changed - feel free to remind me in case i forget during the 3.0 beta cycle

Is this something that could be addressed before 3.1 becomes final?

Same topic:
http://getmusicbee.com/forum/index.php?topic=19263.0

Steven

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the wording indicates the encoding parameters intended use, so i dont want to change "portable device". You may or may not agree with the actual default parameters used and that could be discussed separately.

i would be ok with changing the wording for "file archiving" if someone came up with better wording - but the wording needs to be in the context of the intended use for the encoding parameters. Personally i dont think "file archiving" is bad and i recall i originally got the idea from hydrogen audio. "permanent storage" perhaps?

hiccup

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If you want to stick to terms as 'portable' and 'archival', in my opinion all mp3 options would go under the moniker 'portable', and all flac options would go under 'archival'.
So that doesn't put me in a position to make useful suggestions.

vincent kars

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The whole idea:
Small
Portable
High
Archive

is imho about the tradeoff between quality and file size.
The first two are about file size and the rest about “quality”
This works nicely in case of lossy formats.

Personally I would prefer “quality” only as a criterium hence
Low
Medium
High
Best possible

In case of FLAC this doesn’t make sense.
“Portable”: I suggest “Minimum file size”
Archiving : I suggest “Common” and use 5 for compression as this is what in general is recommended.

BTW: there seem to be a hidden flag in flac.
If one uses this, one get uncompressed flac hence WAV but with the tagging capabilities of FLAC!
Due to its simplicity this might be the “archive” format.


Bee-liever

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I have noticed that hydrogenaudio have started using "Maximum quality" for lossy formats instead of 'Archiving' that they continue to use for lossless formats.

Maybe something along the "quality" line, pointing to prefered end use?
Reference quality
Maximum quality
Portable quality
Voice quality
??
MusicBee and my library - Making bee-utiful music together

hiccup

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The whole idea:
Small
Portable
High
Archive

is imho about the tradeoff between quality and file size.

I think you and I have a bit of the same idea about this.
I drew up a quick proposal and thought to wait and post it only if this all got some follow-up (again), and since it does, here it is:

I think we should not underestimate a user.
I would think that almost anybody using MusicBee and going to the converter settings panel will understand that mp3 is by definition lossy, and probably also that flac is by definition lossless.
A user going there will be looking to change the quality/file size, and will understand that usually those to are inverse-related.

Suggesting that there exists something specific as a 'portable' setting is in my opinion incorrect, and dumbs things down.
So I would suggest keeping the wordings as less subjective as possible, without being too technical. That can be quite simple:

for mp3 and all other lossy codecs:

- low quality (smallest)
- standard quality (medium)
- high quality (larger)
- maximum quality (largest)


For flac there are currently two presets available and I think it can stay that way.

I strongly believe there is no sensible defendable argument to deviate from the default -5 setting.
But some users who believe differently and think they know what they are doing should probably be allowed to have a secondary preset. So then we would have these two:

- default (optimal)
- custom

I am personally not very acquinted with (or interested in) Alac, WavPack, Tak etc.
Perhaps other members have some suggestions for those.

hiccup

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I have noticed that hydrogenaudio have started using "Maximum quality" for lossy formats instead of 'Archiving' that they continue to use for lossless formats.

Maybe something along the "quality" line, pointing to prefered end use?
Reference quality
Maximum quality
Portable quality
Voice quality
??

My problem with something like that, is that I have some high quality voice recordings that I want to store in lossles (archival) quality.
And on my portable player I have both lossy mp3's for not-so-demanding content, and flac for very good (often acoustical) registrations.
That's why my brain objects to use wordings such as 'portable' and 'voice' here.

hiccup

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And a slightly off-topic addition to this:

Because of the way how our brain is set up psycho-acoustically, it will probably be much easier to detect deterioration of sound quality when listening to a human voice, then when listening to a purely instrumental track. (especially one containing synthesized instruments)

Another good reason not to use subjective terms such as 'voice', 'portable' etc.

Steven

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i have been holding off in case any else wanted to comment
I like this:
- low quality (smallest)
- standard quality (medium)
- high quality (larger)
- maximum quality (largest)
except for screen spacing reasons i plan to have it as (people should be able to infer the increasing file sizes as the trade off):
- small file size
- standard quality
- high quality
- maximum quality

For flac there are currently two presets available and I think it can stay that way.

I strongly believe there is no sensible defendable argument to deviate from the default -5 setting.
But some users who believe differently and think they know what they are doing should probably be allowed to have a secondary preset. So then we would have these two:

- default (optimal)
- custom

not sure i agree with this and i would think optimal means different things to different people

“Portable”: I suggest “Minimum file size”
Archiving : I suggest “Common” and use 5 for compression as this is what in general is recommended.
I think i prefer this wording