Author Topic: Editing MP3s losslessly — Who needs FLAC?  (Read 93 times)

kimhill

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Editing MP3s losslessly — Who needs FLAC?
« on: April 29, 2020, 02:47:34 AM »
Ok, that was a provocative title. The fact is, *I* need FLAC.

But the point is — I've started using a lossless MP3 editor to trim & clean up MP3 tracks, and so far, it's been great.

It sounds impossible to edit MP3s losslessly, considering that MP3 is a lossy format. But it seems that software can manipulate individual MP3 file "frames" such that trims, normalization and fades are accomplished without altering the underlying audio data. An explanation is linked below. I've never used WavePad; they just had the best brief explanation that I easily found. I've been using another Mac app — "Fission," from Apple's App Store. EDIT: Cut, Copy, Paste, Delete, Amplify, and Normalize can be done losslessly. Fades are re-encoded only for duration of the faded segment.

To demonstrate how it works, I uploaded a 10-second MP3 to Uloz.to — also linked below. The file contains two copies of the first 4-seconds from "Gringo" in "Keeping It Loose" (Amphonic Music ‎– AMPS 1012). The original file was a 320 kbps CBR MP3 encoded with LAME 3.98. The first 4-second segment has been fixed with lossless MP3 editing. Next is a brief silence. After the silence, is the original first 4-seconds from "Gringo," complete with ugly ground loop noise. The workflow is all MP3; start to finish.

The main reason I've preferred FLAC in the past has been the ability to fix imperfections without multi-generation encoding loss. Now, I've found that MP3s can usually be fixed as effectively, if the original quality is good. Note I'm not disputing the general advantages of lossless, and I will ALWAYS prefer getting lossless files. But I've found that the listening experience for losslessly fixed MP3s (of good bitrate & quality) is subjectively the same as FLACs listened to on typical consumer (non-audiophile) systems.

Explanation of lossless MP3 editing:
http://help.nchsoftware.com/help/en/wavepad/win/losslessmp3.html

My audio comparison (10-second MP3):
https://ulozto.net/file/qsFog2QwDz2W/gringo-2-mp3
« Last Edit: April 29, 2020, 06:20:03 AM by kimhill »