the 128 aac file was a youtube rip.... trying to determine if the 224 vbr is better...I am assuming yes because of the blue above the 16 khz or could those just be artifacts? enter image description here

enter image description here

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    – Mark
    Commented Apr 6, 2022 at 12:29

1 Answer 1


Everybody seems to have this obsession with looking at pictures of sound. You can't tell what something sounds like by looking at a picture of it, the same as looking at a picture of food doesn't tell you how good it tastes, or that you can't tell what colour something is by touch.

We get a lot of questions on here & Music Fans about how to tell whether something is a faithful copy of the original, usually from a picture. FLAC fans are really into this & often fall for the 'bigger numbers must be best' myth.

Some simple detective work would have made this choice much easier, but let's start with why you can't tell from a picture.
There is a possibility that the original song was released at 44.1kHz so could theoretically have audio right up to 20.05kHz [Because Nyquist-Shannon]. There is an equal possibility that because it was to be going out only to streaming services, someone took the time to put a 'lid' on it just under 16kHz so if it was streamed at lower rates it wouldn't ever show up with hard, fizzy highs.

Looking at the pictures you cannot tell which of these is actually what happened.
Either the top one is "better" because it's closer to the original & naturally contains more high end, or the bottom one IS the original & someone screwed up the conversion for the top one, introducing massive artefacting in so doing.

Listening to both would possibly tell you which is which, assuming your ears are good above 16kHz [which would probably make you 3 decades younger than me, at least] & your monitoring is equally good.
This is the point at which I'd tell you that if you can't actually tell which is which from a blind test, keep the smaller one ;)

As I can't hear precisely what you have there sonically, I did a little detective work.
The band's official releases on YouTube and Soundcloud are in 128kb AAC & 128kb MP3 respectively. [Soundcloud auto-re-encodes AAC to MP3, so the original original may have even been the same AAC file, which would make the AAC closer to source than the MP3.]

Looking at the pretty pictures, we can see this…

enter image description here

…which tells us that both official releases were capped at just under 16kHz, which makes your first picture a spurious re-conversion & upsample at actually lower quality than the original release.

Golden rule: - closer to the original is always best.
Caveat: You need to know the source of the original wasn't some dodgy mid-90s cheap CD conversion.

See also:-
Original recording of Traffic's The low spark of high heeled boys — good sound quality?
Is there deliberate marketing that tries to persuade people to prefer vinyl records over CDs?
Can the warm sound of vinyl be recorded onto CD?
and Why are vinyl records now so prestigious?
for some more cynicism on 'quality' of recordings made available to the public.

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