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I use Adobe Audition to trim out parts of MP3 files.

I then save it as a new file.

I get the following message:

enter image description here

Now, do I really lose any quality from the original file? I mean, the format is unchanged, but maybe Audition had to go through another format to work with the file in the first place?

Do I really have to save the file as FLAC or WAV in order to avoid losing quality? Those formats have pretty large filesizes.

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Yes, you ALWAYS lose quality when open a file created with lossy compression (i.e. virtually all flavors of MP3) It may not be very much, but it is unavoidable. That is why it is called "lossy".

HOWEVER, when you RE-compress the track back through another lossy compression process, you run significantly more risk of loss. Because you are applying the lossy compression TWICE and making it much more likely that you will hear artifacts.

I regularly do this kind of editing to non-critical files (like things I listen to on my music player through earbuds, etc.) However it is NEVER advisable to record sound to a LOSSY COMPRESSED format if you intend to use it in a serious project, and ESPECIALLY if the final edit will be distributed through ANY lossy compressed format.

OTOH, note that there are some applications that claim to be able to edit MP3 without decoding and re-encoding it. Google revealed a rather large selection of apps.

  • Unfortunately, I only have these files in MP3. So, in order to not lose any more quality, I should save them as WAV or FLAC? Is it not possible to trim an MP3 without losing quality? – Revetahw says Reinstate Monica May 3 '16 at 1:57
  • It is not possible to decode MP3, and then re-encode it without losing quality. Now the loss may be so small that it doesn't make much difference. We don't know whether you are talking about serious media production, or just messing around with files for your music player. Yes, any LOSSLESS codec like WAV or FLAC will allow storage without FURTHER loss. But some of the loss already happened when you decoded the MP3. – Richard Crowley May 3 '16 at 2:05
  • I see. Well, it's just spoken word, so not such a big deal. Yes, of course, I know that previously lost quality doesn't come back just because we convert to FLAC. But it's interesting that we can't trim it without decoding and re-encoding. This is the reason I always use PNG for images. It has lossless compression. For audio, what lossless format creates the smallest files? – Revetahw says Reinstate Monica May 3 '16 at 2:11
  • My perception is that FLAC creates slightly smaller files than uncompressed WAV (or AIFF). Note that there are SOME kinds of MPEG which are lossless. But in general I don't bother with lossless compression. Storage space is generally dirt-cheap and it's not worth messing with. I have better things to do with my time. – Richard Crowley May 3 '16 at 2:18
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    @RichardCrowley: Generally FLAC files are about 50-60% of the size of their source WAVs. So it's not inconsiderable. – Linuxios May 3 '16 at 3:58
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If you do not have a 'save as' option in terms of compression, you can briefly save it in both .mp3 and .wav formats (wav is for 16 bit CD audio).
Play them back and see if you actually lost any quality (content), or is that message just automatic because you changed the file. It could be there is no loss but I would check your compression settings first.
It should not force a lossy compression scheme on you. You should have options. Anyways, try saving it to those formats. At least with .wav you can get back your original quality by changing it back to an .mp3 format.

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