Reproduce music faithfully and fully appreciate the artist’s work, as it was conceived in the studio… Isn’t that the ultimate goal of Hi-Fi, and finally, of any music lover? To convince you of this, we suggest you compare audio files coming directly from a recording studio professional. It’s not cd rips or conversions done by X or Y, but many files from the original Masters, straight from the studio. This is a MP3 256kbps (one of the highest quality for an MP3 file), and a WAV 16 Bit / 44.1kHz (i.e. the quality of an Audio CD). We also added the youtube version (a priori from AAC 192 kbps), which is of lower quality than MP3 320 kbps.
The selected piece is Monsieur Georges by Jean-Marc Sauvagnargues, who kindly provided us with the original files. We could have chosen a thousand other pieces for this test, but the richness of the acoustic instruments, the voice and the quality of sound recording led us to select this title. In particular, you can find the Favino guitar used by Georges Brassens, but also a bass, a accordion… These acoustic instruments are perfect for understanding theeffect of compression process induced by the MP3 format, and more broadly by any compression. You can download files legally here.
Youtube quality (AAC 192 kbps)
Streaming quality (MP3 256 kbps)
CD quality (WAV 16 Bit/44.1 kHz)
For this test, start by listening to the song offered on YouTube in AAC 192kbps, then compare it with the MP3 file 256 kbps. If the difference is inaudible, your headphones or speakers are of poor quality… Otherwise, you can easily see that voices become clearer, that the nuances of the guitar are more audible, or that the high frequencies are more precise. Globally the sound is more subtle and detailed, with a much cleaner bass. It is also clearly seen that the medium is different, and finally less sweet on YouTube.
By listening to the WAV-file, we go up another notch in terms of sound quality. The voices are gaining momentum, and are less narrow. Once again, we gain clarity, but not only: the acoustic instruments are more natural, especially the accordion and guitars (at 1:30). We will also note the nuances brought to the low register, which drags less, and imposes itself as tighter. The set is overall better cared for: each instrument easily finds its place and the soundstage is wider, while the MP3 file may seem more messy, less consistent (a good example at 2:20).
These differences could have been even more marked with an MP3 file of lower quality (the MP3 in 256 kbps represents the top of the basket in terms of MP3). Can’t hear the difference between this or that file? So it’s high time to change your Headphones or your pair of Speakers! Next time we will offer you the same test, but with a file WAV 16/44.1, and a file Hi-Res 24/192…
The final word goes to Jean-Marc Sauvagnargues : “In my album devoted to songs that speak of love with tenderness and nostalgia, it seemed impossible to me not to evoke my passion for the man with the puff, the poet with the mustache, the Sètois who rocked my childhood and the many years that followed… The song and the images that illustrate it are neither a single nor a clip but just a modest tribute for which I had the great honor of having by my side, Georges’ cousin, Bruno Granier who recorded on Georges’ Favino guitar and the talented members of Les Amis de Brassens: Philippe Lafon (guitar and arrangements), Laurent Clain (double bass) and Mr Jack (strap piano). » You can find the album November 67 by Jean-Marc Sauvagnargues as well as the title Monsieur Georges from December 11 at your favorite record store, and on the best streaming platforms!