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I own a Creative Zen Vision M unit and I am very happy with it. However, I have songs that are either badly recorded or with a very low bit rate and poor quality. Within the first few days of buying the unit, I dumped a lot of songs in it without thinking too much about the quality of the music. I was just too eager to load up and go!

I have about 16G of music at the moment. I am finding it annoying to find the occassional bad ones when I am listeing. I am willing to start all over again and this time be more picky.

Any ideas ? Specificly, I need ideas on the best choices in bit rates, music formats (MP3 vs others). I have a lot of songs from the old "Napster" days. Are there download sites with a better quality of music - I'm willing to pay.

I am not an Ipod guy either. I have some CD's that I have ripped to my hard drive.

Which format is better - MP3 or WMA or other?
 

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For format i will highly suggest mp3...i find overall better sound quality...bit rate i would say 128kbps...and download sites offering better quality...i'm gonna say not possible (if so someone gladly correct me i'd like ot know myself)...and as far as downloading i'm going to suggest Torrents (if you're into getting whole albums) and FrostWire (ad free spinoff of Limewire)
 

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MP3 is the most common. I use 192kbps when ripping; I think it's the best tradeoff between size and quality. A friend uses 320 which is usually the highest quality for most ripping programs but he only plays them from the computer to the stereo. At 192+ most formats (AAC, MP3, WMA, Ogg-Vorbis) provide the same quality. The newer formats (AAC, WMA) are better at low (<64kbps) bit rates but I don't go that low. There also FLAC, which is a lossless format, but there isn't much compressing going on. You can also use variable bit rate -- like 192vbr -- which is better than 192 in terms of quality.

For comparison, 128kbps is noticably better than FM. I do most of my listening in my truck so even 128 sounds fine but if you're a home audiophile and your stereo speakers are worth more than $1,000 then go with 320kbps.

I've gone to Bit Torrent. It can be a pain to set up -- there's a browser plugin and then you need a client (like uTorrent) to handle the actual downloading. Bit Torrent deals with collections of files so people have grouped all the albums of a band together for one giant download. It can take a day or two to download the whole thing but it's better than downloading songs one at a time.
 

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I'd also suggest 192kbps MP3 for excellent quality, but for true archival quality, Windows Media Lossless is the way I'd go. The file sizes are much bigger, but it's a true lossless format - when uncompressed, the bits are identical to the original recording.

Lossless is generally impractical for playback on anything but a full PC computer, but you can take the lossless file and make anything you want from it (128kbps MP3, for example) without having to re-rip from the original CD.
 

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Unfortuneately the Vision M does not support FLAC (this is the one big fault that has kept me from buying this unit) so high quality MP3 is the way to go.

You don't mention if you have a 30 gig or 60 gig but either way there should be lots of room to put high quality MP3 rips on. I would definitely go for the highest MP3 quality file you can find for each. That along with a good set of upgraded headphones (if that is how you are listening).

I would rather have part of my collection on my player at the best quality and need to swap music on and off once in a while then have everything on my player and not have it sound it's best.

From my experience the best MP3's to find are LAME V0 encoded. Which is a high quality variable bit rate using Lame encoding. The best of these use EAC Exact Audio Copy to convert.

Here is some reading on EAC

http://wiki.hydrogenaudio.org/index.php?title=Exact_Audio_Copy

Here is some reading on LAME

http://wiki.hydrogenaudio.org/index.php?title=LAME

Here is all you need to know about MP3's including bit rates

http://www.mp3-converter.com/bitrates.htm

Sorry for all the assigned reading but it is worth it. EAC takes sometime to set up and it is fairly technical but once done it is easy to rip your CDs.
 

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mp3 at 192kbps... At this rate it becomes almost indistinguishable from the original. Also, mp3s will play on Windows, Macs, Linux, iPods, and so on...
 

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I use DBAmp to convert my songs for Ogg Vorbis. The quality is excellent and I am able to cram more songs on my Iriver MP3 player. Second choice would be WMA.
 

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MP3 is the most common. I use 192kbps when ripping; I think it's the best tradeoff between size and quality.
I agree.

From my experience the best MP3's to find are LAME V0 encoded. Which is a high quality variable bit rate using Lame encoding. The best of these use EAC Exact Audio Copy to convert.
I agree with that as well, except for one thing. I would not use VBR for the encoding process. Alot of CD/mp3 players out there will not show the correct remaiing time due to the way a VBR mp3 is encoded. You may also run into problems trying to FF/RR the song. You are better off using CBR encoding instead.

If you want a good (free) MP3 encoder (for ripping CD's), I would suggest for you to Google "CDex" (spelled exactly that way). It has the LAME encoder built, and it also has a CDDB interface so you can retreive the album/artist/tile info from the web for those cd's that don't have inbeded track info already. Also, the overall DL size of the program is pretty small and it's easy to use.

Btw, if you already have song's that are 128 and lower (and they sound fine), don't bother re-ripping them to a higher bitrate. You will not gain a better overall sound quality. You should find the original track and rip it again at a higher bitrate.

As for saving room on an MP3 player.... if all you intend to do is listen to it via a set of earbud or cheap headphones, you can save some space by ripping the tracks you want on the player at a lower bitrate (ie... 128).
 

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WMA is a very high-quality compression and it has a much smaller footprint-per-bitrate file size as well.
When you say that out loud you'll realize that it makes no sense -- the bitrate describes the size of the compressed data stream and the resulting file. If an encoder (it doesn't matter which) compresses to 128kbps then it'll store 128kbps plus the usual file overhead. What changes (a little) is the quality and artifacts.
 

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That's not really the way it works, Dog Byte. These "lossy" encoders use a technique called "perceptual coding" which analyzes the sound and actually throws away parts that it doesn't think you'd be able to hear anyway, rather than compressing and encoding the entire bitstream.

So, with a superior perceptual coding technique, it is absolutely possible for one scheme to offer higher sound quality than another, while providing smaller file sizes.
 

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I wouldn't use anything but a lossless encoding scheme, such as flac. Files are considerably larger, but then so are disk drives these days. ;) I bought a 500 GB hard drive for music storage. They are currently selling for about CDN$120 on some sites. One drive will hold about 1000 CDs in both flac and another lossy encoding for playback on other devices. The two file formats can be ripped simultaneously using EAC and Mareo.
 

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So, with a superior perceptual coding technique, it is absolutely possible for one scheme to offer higher sound quality than another, while providing smaller file sizes.
I understand how it works. You can say that for a given bitrate one codec "sounds better" than another codec. And you can say for a given "sound quality" one codec compresses to a lower bitrate than another. But 2 codecs with the same bitrate will have files that are the same size.
 

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I'd go with either 192kbps mp3 or varibable bitrate mp3. FLAC is a good option if you're truly serious about keeping your music in a digital format. MP3 is still the most widely support audio format for devices and the quality is just fine.
 

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I just can't understand why anybody would use FLAC loseless compression when you can use WMA lossless? Streaming audio would be one good reason. I have a portable network music player that streams audio from a PC. It works with WMA lossless files, but wouldn't work with FLAC files. That's just one example.

Since it's lossless, why not use the CODEC with the most support and least hassle?
 

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Since it's lossless, why not use the CODEC with the most support and least hassle?
Some people would argue that FLAC is the codec with the most support and least hassle. Just because a few proprietary players don't support FLAC, that doesn't mean it is the WMA is the best format. All it means is that something is going on (MS arm twisting maybe) that is keeping FLAC off those players. I don't trust anything done by MS anymore, especially not media players. (Just look at what they did with their music service.) MS doesn't even supply a DVD codec with WMP. I suspect the reason they developed WMA is because they don't want to pay royalties for MP3 either. (Not that I blame them with all the problems in the MP3 arena.) So MS develops a new compression scheme and all of a sudden it's the best supported because 90% of computers run Windows? Well not for most people it isn't. Open source software has way better support than any MS software. Any proprietary format being sold by a large corporation is subject to the whims of that corporation. Considering that MS is business partners with media companies that want to take away fair use rights for copyrighted material for all consumers, I wouldn't trust them with my music. :rolleyes:
 

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Well, I am hesitate to ever recommend to someone to use a proprietary technology to archive information. WMA lossless is owned and licensed from Microsoft. I'd rather not have my music library locked into this. If someone wants to come up with their own conclusion, it's their choice and as long as they knew the pros and cons, I have no problems.

Secondly, FLAC is supported as much or more than WMA lossless. There are portable players and for home network playing, squeezebox has long supported FLAC and has had to transcode wma lossless due to license fees.

Lossless is lossless. It's the exact audio copy of the music. However, how that is store for future needs is something I would consider when choosing what format to go with.
 

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Absolute FUD!

I can play WMA files in MusicMatch Jukebox (which I use), but I can't play FLAC files. Heck, I can even encode WMA within MusicMatch! Since my portable streaming player uses the MusicMatch server (which in turn relies heavily on Windows Media Connect), FLAC files would be useless to me. Also useless to anybody who wants to use a media player that in turn uses Windows Media Connect.

I'm all for non-proprietary formats - until it's detrimental to me.
 

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I have the music I listen to in .wav on my HD.

I also the same tunes in mp3 100% VBR for convenience. Most songs average 230 - 250 bitrate.

No one I know can tell the difference .wav vs. mp3 at that rate.

At work I have a double layer DVD with over 1000 tunes for background music. I am sure I could get close to 1500 on 1 DL disc at 100% VBR.
 

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JohnnyG, you're storing your music in a Microsoft proprietary format, running Microsoft Windows, a Windows application and Windows tools (connect). Sure, this is a workable setup for you. MS is still #1 in the world because a lot of people are willing to exchange certain rights for ease of use. There's nothing wrong with that per say.

However, as I mentioned, I wouldn't go around telling people to do the same thing. You're basically locking people in and I wouldn't feel right causing that. The day you want to run Linux as your desktop OS, you'll suddenly see why vendor lock-in is idetrimental. However, until something like that comes up, everything seems great.
 
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