32000 sample rate FLAC vs. MP3

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Alperton
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32000 sample rate FLAC vs. MP3

Post by Alperton » Sun May 16, 2021 3:55 pm

Hello everybody,

I could not find a direct answer to my questions in the forum and wanted to open this new topic.

I have only one year experience with Ableton and as a small personal amateur project I am working on an album to publish via Distrokid on the usual online streaming platforms. I saw that Distrokid has a maximum song size of 200 MB. Unfortunately, my songs are longer than "usual", between 20-45 minutes.

The problem: When I export using 44100 sample rate and FLAC format, the files are larger than 200 MB. Here are my questions:

- I could export using 32000 sample rate and FLAC format. Is this a better solution than using MP3? Does the sample rate apply also to MP3? When I generate MP3 by selecting different sample rates, the size of the MP3 file remains the same. So, I suppose, sample rate does not affect MP3.
- Some of the files are still larger than 200 MB eventhough I use 32000+FLAC. Would it be really bad, when I lower the sample rate more as compared to using MP3?
- If you have some experience: Is it okay to submit some songs in FLAC format and some songs in MP3 format in an album? (the question is obviously not related to ableton usage but I suppose it is fine for this thread)
- Can you think of any other solutions to my problem?

I would really appreciate any input or ideas from you. Thank you very much in advance!

Tarekith
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Re: 32000 sample rate FLAC vs. MP3

Post by Tarekith » Sun May 16, 2021 4:06 pm

I wouldn't use 32000Hz for any reason if it was me, that's just asking to run into issues and I'd be surprised if Distrokid even accepted it. it's not a smaple rate you see used pretty much anywhere. Ditto MP3, that's not appropriate for something that could potentially be released as uncompressed wav file eventually. You really want to be uploading 16bit/44.1kHz file for the vast majority of aggregators out there.

Usually when my mastering clients run into this, we just split the longer recordings into shorter versions. Call them Long Song Part1.wav, Long Song Part 2.wav, etc. Or you could use an aggregator that allows bigger files like CDBaby.com.
Tarekith
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Alperton
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Re: 32000 sample rate FLAC vs. MP3

Post by Alperton » Mon May 17, 2021 11:45 am

Thank you for the information. Frankly speaking, I was hoping that someone would say something like " you can use mp3 or 32000 Hz. You will lose some quality but it is fine". At the end, as I said before, my project is rather a hobby. From your answer, I understand that such files would cause some technical issues.

As far as I understood, Distrokid would accept any file formats (including MP3) and they do not define a lowest quality in terms of sample rate or bit rate. But I suppose, strange sample rates could be rejected by the streaming platforms.

Your solution with splitting the files sounds very efficient. Thanks for that tip! In that case, I need to name the songs as you mentioned, which would make titles longer, including terms like Part-1, Part-2, etc. I hope that such titles would be acceptable for Spotify, itunes, etc. Since I am a total "no name" person to both Distrokid and streaming companies, I am very skeptical about the acception of this album. So, I am doing my best to at least reduce the number of reasons to reject the album :).

Thanks for your time! This helped a lot.

jlgrimes
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Re: 32000 sample rate FLAC vs. MP3

Post by jlgrimes » Mon May 17, 2021 12:42 pm

Alperton wrote:
Sun May 16, 2021 3:55 pm
Hello everybody,

I could not find a direct answer to my questions in the forum and wanted to open this new topic.

I have only one year experience with Ableton and as a small personal amateur project I am working on an album to publish via Distrokid on the usual online streaming platforms. I saw that Distrokid has a maximum song size of 200 MB. Unfortunately, my songs are longer than "usual", between 20-45 minutes.

The problem: When I export using 44100 sample rate and FLAC format, the files are larger than 200 MB. Here are my questions:

- I could export using 32000 sample rate and FLAC format. Is this a better solution than using MP3? Does the sample rate apply also to MP3? When I generate MP3 by selecting different sample rates, the size of the MP3 file remains the same. So, I suppose, sample rate does not affect MP3.
- Some of the files are still larger than 200 MB eventhough I use 32000+FLAC. Would it be really bad, when I lower the sample rate more as compared to using MP3?
- If you have some experience: Is it okay to submit some songs in FLAC format and some songs in MP3 format in an album? (the question is obviously not related to ableton usage but I suppose it is fine for this thread)
- Can you think of any other solutions to my problem?

I would really appreciate any input or ideas from you. Thank you very much in advance!
My guess would be mp3 would probably be better, but that said it depends. I would guess the mp3 would have a better compression ratio as well if you are trying to reduce file size.


FLAC is lossless compression so 32000 samples/sec flac would be equivalent to a 32000 samples/sec wav file, which basically mean, your frequency response only goes up to 16khz. That said everything else should be intact, so for probably older folks, 32000 might sound fine.

MP3 doesn't really limit your freq response (or at least a hard strict cutoff), but it does eliminate components in the file that "it thinks" a user won't notice to reduce size. Kind of like if a person watches a video of 10 people passing a red ball, paying attention to red ball, they often won't notice a guy in gorilla costume walk accross screen. A 320 kbs mp3 sounds pretty good. That mp3s (mainly at lower resolution) can sound grainy.



That said though most people who use FLAC would try to keep original resolution (e.g. 24 bit 44.1 khz or 48 khz), which shouldn't be different than wave file. In that case the FLAC would be better but its only about 50% of size of wave file, while mp3s are much lower, so are better at reducing size and maintaining good quality, (although the FLAC would be better at having no quality loss but at expense of a much larger file size only about 50%).

Mp3s might only be about 10-20% of original file size which is very considerable and most people cant tell difference. Where a 32000 flac (many people who cant hear above 16k) wouldn't notice, someone who could would most likely notice (assuming they are paying attention to it though).


I'd recommend 320 mp3 if you can. It is also more compatible than FLAC.


That said certain sites that focus on lossless files would most likely allow larger file sizes to accomodate FLAC files but I guess Distro is not one of them.

just_in
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Re: 32000 sample rate FLAC vs. MP3

Post by just_in » Tue May 18, 2021 7:39 am

jlgrimes wrote:
Mon May 17, 2021 12:42 pm
I'd recommend 320 mp3 if you can. It is also more compatible than FLAC.
They're equally compatible in this case, because Distrokid accepts them both:
https://distrokid.zendesk.com/hc/en-us/ ... -I-Upload-


OP, you have two choices:
1. If you want things to work automatically, just use a lossy format that gets you under 200MB (FYI: AAC is better than MP3 — you shouldn't be using MP3 anymore, unless you're dealing with older devices that don't support much else).
2. Ask Distrokid if they would accept larger files or split files.

Reducing the sample rate to 32k almost always results in a bigger quality loss compared to a good lossy (AAC/MP3) encode, so I don't recommend that. Plus you could end up with some incompatibility issues down the road (maybe Distrokid accepts it, but some other store doesn't).

Alperton
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Re: 32000 sample rate FLAC vs. MP3

Post by Alperton » Tue May 18, 2021 1:38 pm

Thanks for the additional inputs! The relation between the sample rate and the highest frequency in the track is really interesting and I read yesterday the whole night about the Nyquist Theorem which states that. Completely new information for me.

AAC file format is again something new for me but according to Distrokid help page, they do not accept that format.

After reading comments, I am between 2 extreme solutions:
- Easy and not ideal solution: Submit MP3s via Distrokid
- Difficult and ideal: Switch to another aggregator like mentioned before to be able to submit FLAC files at 44100Hz. This solution would be also an expensive solution, as I already paid for Distrokid and other aggregators seem to cost more (at least at a first glance).

(For the sake of completeness: Splitting the tracks would not work in my case because then I would exceed the maximum number of songs in an album allowed by Distrokid which is 35.)

I really appreciate your time!

just_in
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Re: 32000 sample rate FLAC vs. MP3

Post by just_in » Tue May 18, 2021 7:23 pm

Alperton wrote:
Tue May 18, 2021 1:38 pm
AAC file format is again something new for me but according to Distrokid help page, they do not accept that format.
They do. They call it M4A, which is usually the file extension for AAC.
Anyway, MP3 is fine too, if you're not into exploring new formats. With a high enough bitrate (200+ kbps) it should sound the same as lossless, except in some very rare cases.

properLofi
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Re: 32000 sample rate FLAC vs. MP3

Post by properLofi » Tue May 18, 2021 7:59 pm

MP3, even at 320kbs demonstrably does not sound the same as lossless audio. Just listen to the what got ripped out of Tom’s Diner while they developed the encoder. https://www.theverge.com/2015/2/19/8068 ... toms-diner

It’s also worth noting that both Spotify and Tidal are capable of significantly better quality than MP3 so if you are wanting to leverage the best of these platforms perhaps Distrokid isn’t the best aggregator.

I have problems with the subscription model anyway but there’s a reason Distrokid is a cheap service and file size is one of them.

just_in
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Re: 32000 sample rate FLAC vs. MP3

Post by just_in » Wed May 19, 2021 8:33 am

properLofi wrote:
Tue May 18, 2021 7:59 pm
MP3, even at 320kbs demonstrably does not sound the same as lossless audio. Just listen to the what got ripped out of Tom’s Diner while they developed the encoder. https://www.theverge.com/2015/2/19/8068 ... toms-diner
Sorry, but that's nonsense. I mean, of course lossy conversion throws away some audio data, that's the whole point. But the only way to know whether you can actually hear the difference between two files is by playing them in a blind listening test.

Anyway, to be clear: I would personally not upload my music to a store in a lossy format, I'm usually very much against that. I would rather change my album to achieve more regular track lengths and track counts. Or just use another way to distribute it.
I was just giving some thoughts within OPs limited context. If OP does decide to do a lossy upload after all, he could still let his customers know and provide a separate FLAC download (with free online storage).

properLofi
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Re: 32000 sample rate FLAC vs. MP3

Post by properLofi » Wed May 19, 2021 12:40 pm

just_in wrote:
Wed May 19, 2021 8:33 am
properLofi wrote:
Tue May 18, 2021 7:59 pm
MP3, even at 320kbs demonstrably does not sound the same as lossless audio. Just listen to the what got ripped out of Tom’s Diner while they developed the encoder. https://www.theverge.com/2015/2/19/8068 ... toms-diner
Sorry, but that's nonsense. I mean, of course lossy conversion throws away some audio data, that's the whole point. But the only way to know whether you can actually hear the difference between two files is by playing them in a blind listening test.
The only way to ever tell if something is missing between two versions is to compare files. I’m not sure what that proves. If you can tell something is missing from an MP3 version in comparison then something is missing. If someone is happy with the missing elements than that’s not a problem but if you’ve spent considerable time, effort and possibly money to record, mix and master a release then its perfectly plausible that someone may not be happy with MP3 being the highest quality version available given that some platforms exceed the audio quality of 320 MP3.

To claim that a 200kbs MP3 is equivalent to a 16bit 44Khz master is demonstrably false. For some people that will be fine for others a major issue. Calling my comment nonsense doesn’t help people make informed decisions. MP3 is, in my experience, garbage and even at 320kbs, playing that through a good PA system will highlight its shortcomings.

Given DJs can mix directly from streaming platforms like Tidal it makes sense to give them the highest quality possible before any further processing happens.

Additionally, each platform will re-encode the submitted file for streaming and if you have already submitted a compressed 200kbs MP3 that re-encoding will create more artefacts creating even greater divergence from the original. Sure, the audience may not be aware that this is the case but it is the case non the less. I’m also aware of the research saying audiences were “happy” with 200kbs MP3s but that does not mean the artist is happy with those same files.

It’s important when giving advice that we provide all the information so people can make informed decisions before committing their music to a demonstrably and widely recognised lossy format.

oratowsky
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Re: 32000 sample rate FLAC vs. MP3

Post by oratowsky » Fri May 21, 2021 6:32 pm

Oh my gosh, there's a lot of confusion in this thread.

You should never submit an MP3 to a distributor for any reason, ever. There are many technical reasons for this.

Confirm that you're exporting 16bit, 44,100khz files. Are they still over 200mb?

If your distributor doesn't accept files more than 200mb, maybe you should find a different distributor, that seems like a low and arbitrary limit.

properLofi
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Re: 32000 sample rate FLAC vs. MP3

Post by properLofi » Fri May 21, 2021 9:21 pm

oratowsky wrote:
Fri May 21, 2021 6:32 pm
Oh my gosh, there's a lot of confusion in this thread.

You should never submit an MP3 to a distributor for any reason, ever. There are many technical reasons for this.

Confirm that you're exporting 16bit, 44,100khz files. Are they still over 200mb?

If your distributor doesn't accept files more than 200mb, maybe you should find a different distributor, that seems like a low and arbitrary limit.
Nice and succinct. Couldn’t agree more.

Alperton
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Re: 32000 sample rate FLAC vs. MP3

Post by Alperton » Sun Jun 20, 2021 11:56 am

Thanks for all the comments. For the sake of completeness, I would like to write here what I have done after reading your replies:
  • I understood that my starting point is not ideal. Both MP3 and 32000 sample rate FLAC are very unusual formats
  • I canceled my subscription for Distrokid and switched to CDBaby. By this way, the file size was not a problem anymore
  • I could submit FLAC files at 44100 Hz sample rate
  • But now, the album file size was a problem (around 10 GB). Therefore, I published 2 albums as Volume 1 and Volume 2
So, the case is closed now :D

Tarekith
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Re: 32000 sample rate FLAC vs. MP3

Post by Tarekith » Sun Jun 20, 2021 2:21 pm

Great, thanks for letting us know!
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properLofi
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Re: 32000 sample rate FLAC vs. MP3

Post by properLofi » Mon Jun 21, 2021 8:09 am

10gb!? How long is your album?

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