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Bitrates

 

Related:

Our Main Article on DAC's

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Bitrates are a common way to notate the resolution of an audio file.You may have seen it on the web, something like 192kbps or 192kbit/s; this indicates how much information is being transfered over a second. An Audio CD has a bitrate of 1,411.2 kbps.

 

kbps (note the small letters) stands for Kilo Bits Per Second, and is frequently used to quote the quality of MP3 files. MP3's use limitations of human hearing and a very complicated set of maths to 'filter out' things that your ears are not good at hearing. This method is called Perceptual encoding, and tries to only keep the things you will hear; it's focus is on frequency content, so other qualities, such as stereo imaging, often suffer quite badly.

 

Common bitrates for files are (starting from highest to lowest quality):

 

320kbps

Often called CD Transparent, and is the highest quality bitrate supported by an MP3 file. A 320kbps mp3 file contains nearly all of the frequency content of a CD, and on many devices it is difficult to hear the difference between an MP3 and an CD. For many people, this format is 'close enough' to a CD to be acceptable.

256kbps

This is the next step down and sometimes called CD Quality. For many people, this is the quality level they find 'comfortable'. It is not full CD quality, but also usually has very few audible artifacts.

192kbps

This is a common one for use on the web; it's a good balance of size and quality, as speech is easily understood. Audible artifacts are apparent; you can usually tell it's not a cd very easily.

128kbps

This is also a common format for use on the web. It's pretty apparent that this is not full quality when listening.

96kbps

This is a low resolution format, and often included for it's small size. Audio books, podcasts, and interviews are often encoded like this because while the format is nowhere near high quality enough for most music, speech is still very easy to understand.

 

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