I tried to compare one file which was flac with mp3 file that was converted from FLAC. I kept comparing these two files and I really had hard time differencing between these two codecs.

It was normal FLAC file, simple rate of 44100 Hz & 16 bits per sample. Converted to mp3 320 kbps and the quality in my hear stays the same...

Do you guys experience the same? Is it because of bad equipment? Sound card? bits per sample? Your opinion is appreciated...

  • 7
    I am not an "audiophile", but from what I have read, when blind tests are conducted almost no one (audiophiles included) can tell the difference between high-quality mp3's and FLAC.
    – Jim Clay
    Sep 16, 2012 at 2:05
  • 3
    You can't hear a difference because there is no audible difference.
    – endolith
    Sep 16, 2012 at 16:16

2 Answers 2


Your equipment is just fine. The differences between a lossless encoding or the original recording and a 320 kbps MP3 encoding are very subtle and most humans cannot distinguish between them. Lowering the bitrate should make the difference more obvious.

Try converting your FLAC file to MP3 (or any other lossy compression) at several different bitrates, starting with something low such as 96 kbps and moving up towards 320. The differences should be quite obvious at 96 kbps, and become steadily less perceptible as the bitrate rises. At some point you probably will not be able to tell a difference.


I do (rarely) notice a difference between FLAC and 320 or VBR V0 mp3, especially in high frequencies.

Try this: open a FLAC file with Audacity and then click the track name and click on Spectrogram. Now convert the same file to mp3 @ 320kpbs and do the same with audacity.

There must be an imaginary line in the mp3 file in >14Khz frequencies, that's like a "threshold" where the lossy formats can't exceed. But hey, 99.9% of music is in the 30Hz-12KHz frequency range, so there's nothing to worry about.

Cymbals, violin, snare and solo guitars are the instruments where you might notice a different. Of course there's more compression than a simple threshold, you will notice that the mp3 graph is less colored and with less peaks, but that's hard to interpret for a normal human.

This example works better with rich dynamic range songs, modern music is wrong in so many ways.

(You can view the difference in Analyze -> View Spectrum on audacity's menu too.)

Off Topic: I think the lossless formats like FLAC/ALAC/APE were not made for listening purposes but for storage, and WAV was made for music production in the digital era.

  • Agreed- at high bit rates the only things that seem to be audible are combinations of low and high, multi spectrum sounds- most often found in orchestral or heavy metal music:)
    – Rory Alsop
    Sep 19, 2012 at 8:56

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