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MP3 tracks vs CDs

Discussion in 'Meditation Chatter Box' started by bvp663, Sep 23, 2008.

  1. bvp663

    bvp663 Member

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    Hello everyone! :) I'm new to the forum and have been trying out the LifeFlow demo track over the last 2 days. So far, I'm pretty impressed based on my usage of various different binaurals over the last 4 years (Brainwave generator, Monroe Institute, Dr. Jeffrey Thompson, etc..)

    I've been thinking about taking the plunge and and making a purchase of the LifeFlow program, however I was wondering if there has been any serious discussion on purchasing CDs over the MP3s. I've found a few threads that have mentioned this but there was never much of a consensus or conclusion. You read a lot about how binaural beats supposedly becomes less effective when compressed to mp3. This compression it would seem becomes more of an issue with binaural beats whose effects are based off of actual frequencies that you need to be hearing, whereas with music a few chopped of frequencies won't necessarily diminish your appreciation of the song.

    Any thoughts on this?
    Thanks and I'm excited to be a part of this community!
     
  2. mwjames

    mwjames Member

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    Why joint stereo mode? Why not lossless option?

    I have a thought to add: My understanding is if you do compress content containing binaural beats to a lossy format like MP3, then you should explicitly encode using "stereo" mode rather than the default "joint stereo." Joint stereo merges stereo content in some cases, which would theoretically whack the effectiveness of binaural beat content.

    All LifeFlow tracks I've received so far are encoded using joint stereo, however. Maybe Michael has tested and found that joint-stereo encoding makes no meaningful difference in the case of LifeFlow tracks. But since takes no extra time or effort to encode at full stereo, and the resulting MP3 filesize increase is minimal, I think there's no downside to doing it.

    Better still, I'd instantly be an even more enthusiastic customer if lossless encodings of the LifeFlow tracks (say, FLAC) were made available. Lossless encoding not only provides potentially higher quality sound, it also bypasses the joint stereo issue altogether because it's, well, lossless.

    Can lossless downloads be made a delivery option along with MP3 downloads and physical CDs? Wouldn't that extra option be a useful selling point? :)
     
  3. Edwin

    Edwin Member

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    I have no personal audio experiance, but what you are looking for in these forums are comments made by forum user Raven, who has made some monsterposts on the MP3 topic ( monsterposts are kind of his trademark )

    If you are still worried about the mp3 files, I know that it is also possible to order the CD's with Project Meditation.
    Bonus is that the CD-tracks last for an hour where the mp3 files last 40 minutes.

    Hope it helps :)
     
  4. Bhavya

    Bhavya Member

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    I'm a bit non-technical :eek: but I would love to know the answer cuz I'm using MP3s as well.
     
  5. bvp663

    bvp663 Member

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    I agree that a FLAC option offered for the downloadable Lifeflow tracks would be a fantastic idea! FLAC offers full quality but with more manageable sizes that I believe the server should be able to handle. If not you could always go with some sort of private password-protected torrent option maybe? Anyways, I definitely second this request for a lossless download option.

    My research since my original questions has led me to the same conclusion as mwjames - That stereo mode rather than joint stereo is a better option, although I believer there was some disagreement on this in the hydrogenaudio forums. As far as bitrate, there are differing opinions that I will post below. However it seems that most audiophiles agree that even tones outside of our hearing range shape how we hear music. Perhaps the vibrations effect the other sounds as it travels towards your ear (assuming your speakers/headphones can play back those tones). I'm not sure. Also, CBR (constant bit rate) seems preferred to VBR (variable bit rate). Although I don't see why a high quality vbr encoder (lame3.98) wouldn't do a good job maintaining the integrity of the binaural beat with a high setting (-V0). Especially since VBR would recognize any high/low frequencies and keep them if necessary rather than CBR just chopping straight across the top or bottom. Anyways, "lossyness" seems like it'd be an important issue with something like binaural beats.

    Not a scientific test by any means, but I have tried another binaural track in mp3 format and CD format and the CD one did seem more effective during my meditation. This was a totally subjective non-controlled study and I don't remember at what quality the mp3 was, so this is probably worthless but I thought I'd mention it. Maybe I was just having a good meditation day.

    RESEARCH
    (Below are quick summaries of what other companies/sites have said regarding MP3 compression. I have left out the names of the companies as well as the links to the pages where these summaries were taken from as per the rules of the board regarding other binaural companies. I have saved the links and will make them available to anyone who wants to do more in-depth reading. Just PM me.

    1. MP3 compression works by removing high-frequency components from the sound. Since binaural beats are created in the brain by the differences between 2 audible beats, mp3 compression has no degrading effect on output as long as compression is applied to both left and right channels independently.

    2. A little beat of a leak from one channel into the other doesn't hurt, since 100% stereo-separation isn't necessary.

    3. "After extensive talks and testing with my sound engineer we have discovered that mp3 compression can affect the binaural beats. IF the creator uses too much compression or does not encode the channels independently it will affect the audio."
    "After significant research we know that we can compress the mp3 while encoding the channels seperately and still have the binaural affect but this is only possible due to having the best professional software which allows this."

    Best professional software? Pretty sure all you need is the latest version of LAME mp3 encoder and know how to type in the desired settings.

    4. "We don't recommend converting the audio tracks to MP3 format because the compression process can interfere with the brainwave technology on the CDs, but converting to an uncompressed WAV or AIFF is perfectly fine."

    Because most of the binaural frequencies on the CDs are located in the highest and lowest ends of the spectrum, and because the precise combination of frequencies play such an important role in the effectiveness of the CDs, any clipping that occurs in those ranges can reduce the overall effectiveness. The missing data isn't as noticeable t the listener, but any missing data can cause noticeable differences in the effects.

    5. (Via an e-mail from someone at one of the companies). "Our producer says that constant bit rate is preferred and 192kbps is fine."

    6. It helps to avoid joint stereo.

    7. "You may get an mp3 using this method, but the dose won't be effective. When you create an mp3, the file is compressed and it loses the separate binaural tones... the dose will be useless."

    Hydrogen Audio Forums:
    Audio nerd talk regarding binaurals. Although the references are mixed with binaural recordings (music) and binaural beats (brain entrainment).

    I'm wondering if LifeFlow's addition of the isochronic tones has a role to play in any of this as far as using compression/bit rates.


    So this is all I've dug up from google. Sorry for the long post!
     
  6. pollyanna

    pollyanna Moderator

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    Hi there,
    if it's any use to you I have used LifeFlow with mp3, C.D.'s and ipod. I find all of them work equally well and have and continue to experience amazing results. I am not technically minded so I have copied a piece from Raven who is. Hope this helps you:-

    Having used the whole LifeFlow series and having beneffited in so many ways, I realize it is easy for me to feel this confident, however I have seen so many wonderful success stories from people who have used only the download method. Also, I had invested a great deal of money and time on other programmes in the past which were of little or no help to me. When I was first introduced to Michael and Project Meditation I was hugely impressed with not only LifeFlow but also his free course Discover Meditation. I wish you much happiness and joy on your journey of self discovery :) :) :)
     
    Last edited: Oct 3, 2008
  7. Edwin

    Edwin Member

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    Where is Raven ?

    I miss that audiophile bird.
    Ever since he got bullied by someone he has gone and haven't seen him since :(

    I really hope he comes back, I absolutely positively loved his HUUUGE explenations !
     
  8. Edward G.

    Edward G. Member

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    Loss of quality...

    Dear all,
    Downloading, copying, burning music files will all ways mean loss of quality.
    If you have a good audio system, and you want to play Lifeflow on it, it is better to buy the cd's.
    Burned cd's will sound "Flatt" as a quarter. That is my experience with downloaded, burned cd's. Yak! How awful! With Lifeflow it will not be any different.
    You can all ways copy the cd's on an mp3 player if necessary. Which, again is better than downloading. IMHO
    Welcome and much happiness!
    Gassho Edward
     
  9. bvp663

    bvp663 Member

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    I have been using LifeFlow 10 over the past few days and have found it very effective, moreso than many of my other binaural mp3s. Like Raven I can get anal about these things since I do have experience in recording, although I don't do much in that field anymore. Anyways, for the meantime I am pretty satisfied with the mp3 version of Lifeflow, and you can beat the prices compared to the CDs!
     
  10. Edward G.

    Edward G. Member

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    I had a very hansom discount on the cd's!;) Thanks Michael!
    However, I am discrete and shan't mention the price here....
    And it sounds great over my good old fashion AR10 PI speakers!
    It is all about the base...:D
    Enjoy!
    Gassho Edward
    Ps I prefer vinyl over cd when it comes down to music, Lifeflow on vinyl
    is a bit too much to ask for, though..:)
     
  11. Edwin

    Edwin Member

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    You think ? :p

    I kinda feel like a barbarian not really caring about sound quality...
     
  12. Edward G.

    Edward G. Member

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    Hahahaha, dear Edwin,
    Lifeflow on vinyl, now that will be something....
    A half an our on each side, -is possible-
    turning it over will be an excellent ceremonial meditation practice,
    and a chance to stretch my legs since I listen to Lifelow in Zazen.
    :cool:

    Don't worry about it, it is everyone's choice.
    I happen to be lucky with this stereo system, it was thrown at me more or less,
    and it was almost precise what I all ways had in mind...( "The Secret?" No, my dear brother...)
    Anyway, some people brag about their car.....
    By the way, nobody over here seams to worry about the financial crises in the world...
    Meditation does take away most worries...
    Ohm Shanti
    Edward
     
  13. Edwin

    Edwin Member

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    True, I am not as worried about the financial crisis as I probably should be as an entrepeneur.
    still, my business could do better. If you happen to know a big job for a locksmith from Alkmaar ;)
     
  14. Michael Mackenzie

    Michael Mackenzie Owner

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    Download versus CD

    I would like to explain for people using the download version of LifeFlow why I have chosen to use joint stereo mode.

    When anyone asks questions like "Why joint stereo mode? Why not lossless option?" they may be falling for some common misinformation regarding mp3 formatting that you will find all over the web, namely, that joint stereo always results in Left/Right channel mixing.

    When converting from wav files you can choose full stereo or joint stereo. A common myth is that full stereo is a better sound conversion but when you're converting to a compression format such as mp3 full stereo gives a more distorted playback.

    Beyond that, the term "joint stereo" is something of a misnomer in that it implies there is a mixing of the Left and Right stereo channels.

    Under that heading there are actually two different encoding formats, Intensity Stereo and Mid/Side or "M/S Stereo". Of these two, only intensity stereo mixes the L/R channel information. Intensity stereo was designed to improve the playback quality of tracks 96kbps or less. Encoding a track with a higher bit rate than 96kbps in intensity stereo does give you progressively poorer quality sound reproduction and there is drift between the L/R channels.

    However, with the exception of one older encoder called "Xing", virtually all of the current generation of sound encoders automatically encode in M/S stereo if you select a conversion bitrate higher than 96kbps, and M/S stereo does not result in sound drift or degraded sound reproduction, especially at a bitrate as high as the 192kbps that the LifeFlow tracks have been converted to.

    That's why there is no technical necessity to change the formatting from mp3. I would also add, that the vast majority of people do not have the software to be able to play back files encoded in FLAC or some of these other so called "lossless" file formats.

    Be assured, the LifeFlow downloadable series will bring the same benefits as the physcial CD's do.

    Michael :)
     
  15. mwjames

    mwjames Member

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    Lossless playback is easy

    Actually almost anyone can play back lossless formats. Any iPod except the shuffle can play back Apple Lossless (ALAC). And almost any other kind of [non-iPod] player can play back FLAC, either natively or via Rockbox.

    The actual lossless format provided doesn't much matter since, being lossless, they're easily transformed one to another without, well, loss.

    There's already a LifeFlow CD option but its price is higher. I'm suggesting that a third option between downloadable MP3 and physical CD in terms of sound quality+price would be a welcome addition for, say, the frugal audiophile demographic. :) Meanwhile, I'll address anything further directly to support.
     
    Last edited: Oct 7, 2008
  16. Grey

    Grey Member

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    flac

    i use windows player and it does not play flac files. i have tried to download the plugin for it but it never works right. says it is installed but when i try to play a flac file it says i need to install a plugin. i have no idea what rockbox is but i doubt i have the technical know how to put it to use. i went to the flac homepage and these are the players they say will play flac files:

    abcde, alsaplayer, amarok, aqualung, atunes, beep media player, boss ogg, cynthiune, disorder, flac-tools, giantdisc, jreceiver, media center flac plugins, mpd, mplayer, mpxplay, muine, musik, mythtv, play, ripperx, soepkip tng, symbian oggplay, thomer's music vault, video lan, xine, xmcd, xmms.

    never heard of any of these. their list says many are built for linux, some for palm, some for mac, and a few for windows. some don't say one way or the other. i would not have any idea where to begin.

    i am glad Michael stayed with the simple mp3. i just want to be able to use the entrainment tracks and the current download versions are something i can work with even with my limited knowledge. maybe the solution for more tech savvy people like yourself is to get the cd version and rip tracks to whatever format appeals to you.
     
  17. Jeb

    Jeb Member

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    So what's the real story?

    I feel there is some amount of evidence that we are getting a less than superior product by downloading. Why not just send out a CD every month and charge an extra buck or two? That way, no one will feel like he/she is being cheated in any way. Meditating with downloaded LifeFlow if there is no advantage, what's the point of the monetary outflow? I would certainly rather have the CD.
     
  18. osamipo

    osamipo Member

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    @Grey

    Video lan (one of the players that play flac) is actually pretty common VLC media player.
     

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