Which is the better recording of this song? I can't hear the difference no matter how hard I try, yet I see one. Which one should I archive and why are the spectrograms so different? Thanks.Comparison FLAC

  • If you can't distinguish between the two recordings by ear, what do you mean by "better" in the title of this question? Better for what porpuse? Dec 22, 2017 at 10:08
  • @SteffenRummel I'm asking technically which would you keep on your hard drive? It's not two recordings, it's the same song, just with different encoding characteristics. Thanks.
    – synsynack
    Dec 23, 2017 at 15:43
  • That's why I'm asking what you're planning to do with the file. If you keep it for listening purposes and you don't hear a difference—does it really matter which one you keep? Dec 24, 2017 at 0:05

2 Answers 2


There are two issues here.

  1. Both claim to be 44.1k FLAC files, yet the first graph clearly goes over 22KHz... which is, if not impossible, rather unlikely. Technically, it could all smooth out before it reaches the limit at 22.05, or it could all brick-wall, but we can't see that from the chart.

  2. You cannot judge anything except very basic frequency content from a spectrograph. Most of the information is well above where a simple listening test would differentiate & the top ⅓ would probably only be heard at all by people under 18, on exceptionally good speakers.

  • I think your first bullet is the differentiator. Image 1, if labelled correctly, must do something weird at 22kHz - and that is never a good sign in audio :-)
    – Rory Alsop
    Dec 22, 2017 at 9:56
  • Thanks for the info, I'll be keeping the second recording based on your points and I'll keep it in mind for when I personally can't tell the difference. Getting second opinions on it yesterday from two friends: "The highs on the vocals were cleaner, crisper."
    – synsynack
    Dec 23, 2017 at 15:48

Except for pathological cases, diagnosing song quality from spectrograms makes about as much sense as diagnosing supermodels by blood sample: some basics like "rather anemic", "discolored or bloated face" may be discoverable, but overall it says rather little about overall quality and basically only provides pointers to rather fundamental features. Which is fine when those are what you are looking for but not of much help otherwise.

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