MP3 Quality Comparison Chart - Santana

When you rip MP3s, should you rip them at 160, 128, 96 or 64 for the best sounding file that is still small? Just what are the differences in sounds? Hear for yourself with clips from the Santana song Smooth.

Be sure to understand the Basics of MP3s to understand just what bitrates are and how music file formats vary from each other first!

These sound files were all created with MusicMatch version 7. Remember, the MP3 player you use to play these files will actually affect the quality of what you hear! Try playing them back with 2 or 3 different MP3 jukebox software programs, to hear the differences. MP3 Jukebox Software Listing

NOTE: These clips are 30 seconds long and on the long side. If you want to listen to shorter clips for easier download and comparison, use the MP3 Comparison using Gladiator Soundtrack.

Smooth Original WAV file - 5173kb
This is the original file for our test case. It's over 5mb in size for only 30 seconds of song, so entire songs could take up 30mb easily. Longer songs could take up 100mb. You can see why people don't tend to store music in WAV format! Still, the quality is stellar here.

Smooth 160 MP3 - 589kb
This is a high quality MP3 version of the song. Most people can't hear any difference between this and the original WAV file even though the MP3 version is 10 times smaller as far as disk space used. This is why MP3s are so popular!

Smooth 128 MP3 - 472kb
The file size is even smaller, but the human ear usually can't hear any difference yet. Human Ear Frequency Range. 128 is the rate most people rip MP3s at for this reason.

Smooth 96 MP3 - 355kb
Some of the sound quality is being lost at this point. We're still over FM quality range, but there is a noticeable loss here.

Smooth 64 MP3 - 238kb
The file is a lot smaller here, but the quality has also dropped quite a bit. This is around FM radio quality and it's just not as crisp as the CD quality level.

Smooth 48 MP3 - 179kb
Yes, the file size is tiny. But play this version and then play the 160 MP3 version. There is a big difference in the sound of those two versions! The 48 version sounds muddy, as if you were listening to it through a mattress.

Remember, too, that the quality of your speakers is going to have a huge effect on your music! If you have $5 cheap speakers, then even the WAV version is going to sound tinny and scratchy. With high quality speakers going for only $30, it's really worth it to invest in a pair. Your ears are keenest when you're young - don't waste the best years of your listening lifetime with bad quality speakers. You'll have bad quality ears soon enough!

MP3 Comparison using Gladiator Soundtrack

Music Format Types
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