I am a mobile and wedding DJ and former sound man for my now ex wife :)

Equipment list
1No - Asus ROG i7 6700HQ, 32GB Ram, Nvidea1060 6gb Ram - Win10
1No - Dell Inspiron 7000, i7 7700HQ, 32GB Ram, Nvidea GTX 1050 Ti - Win10
1No - Gorilla DBS Pro Booth with equinox overhead and podiums.
1No - Numark NV 2 Controller
1No - Akai APC Mini
 Mp3 Vs Flac

Fri 14 Apr 17 @ 2:36 pm

Ok, so having read numerous threads on this site and many other sites regarding the difference between Mp3 and Flac codec, I thought I would just write this as my take on it and my opinion. The same would be true though as a comparison between ALAC and AAC which is the apple equivalent, just because apple like to have crap which only works on their platform in order to tie people to it.

So, music quality is important to me, and always has been. I bought my first mini-disc player in 1989 when I was 9 years old purely for the increased quality of sound. I am mainly a mobile DJ and Wedding DJ. My equipment is high end stuff within my budget of course. I run RCF 715 speakers, but if i could afford to I would be running Funktion One. The sound is only ever as good as the weakest link, so I try and keep everything in the signal chain as high end as I can afford. My mixer is a Soundcraft Signature and every cable is a handmade Van Damme Neutrik cable. No point having good gear and connecting it all with crap cables. I Have 6000 Flac tracks which cover all genres and is mostly what I DJ from. I do have around 25,000 MP3's which unfortunately I ripped before I understood the difference. I only use these for requests though and I am gradually replacing them with Flac.

The main challenge you will get from people is the statement that "people can't tell the difference" between a 320kps Mp3 and a Flac file. Now there is some truth in this, but it is not the whole truth. I have many tracks in both formats, and I have synced them and cross faded between them. There is a difference, but audibly it is very subtle I have to admit. Could I guess which one was which. Probably 70% of the time I would think yes. But is anyone in any of the venues I DJ at going to be able to tell? Well, the answer is not quite so straight forward.

The reason is this, when I try and guess which one is which, and if any people at my gigs were trying to guess, they would be doing so consciously. "Of Course" you may scoff. But let me explain. Why do people even like music? When you break it down, what is music? really it is just noise? it might be noise arranged in a certain way, but ultimately, all music is, is noise. Noise can cause many reactions. Some noise makes us feel sick, some noise is annoying, some noise is calming, some is painful. So what about music? Why do we like the noise we call music, but hate the noise of a digger digging up the road? Both are noise, both are merely creating vibrations in the air. Well the reasons are twofold. We like noise that has a rhythm and a melody. And we like the frequencies of the noise we call music. So, why is music different from any other noise? mainly because of the melody and frequencies involved.

As previously said, noise can have a variety or responses, nausea, annoyance, calmness and so on. These are emotional responses. These are sub-conscious responses. Just read that last sentence again. So what responses do we get from music? well what we hope for is happiness, joy, elation, fun, energy, arousal and so on. Of course, if you are playing Sinead O'Connor then you could also get sadness, depression, anxiety and so on. Whilst that might be a bit of a joke, it is nevertheless true. The point here though is again, these are emotional responses. They are sub-conscious responses.

Hopefully now you are starting to piece together why any of this is relevant. Music is all about emotion. It is all sub-conscious. We as DJ's are trying to create an emotion, an atmosphere, and a feeling. All of these things happen sub-consciously by the emotional responses of people to the noises we are playing.

So, how is this relevant. Well, when a music track is compressed to an Mp3, certain frequencies are cut from the track. Frequencies which are considered as not being that important to the sound of the track. In other words, frequencies you wont consciously notice are missing. So, when people say that you cant tell the difference. They are half correct. Because consciously in a blind test, your probably wont no. But they are half wrong too, because sub-consciously you will notice.

The Audio Engineering Society have been conducting audio research since 1953. They have researched this topic extensively and the research paper categorically finds that listening to Mp3's drastically increases the amount of negative emotional responses in the listener whilst at the same time drastically reduces the amount of positive emotional responses. Compared to listening to the same track at full quality.

So, the answer to the question is this: Is there are difference between an Mp3 and a Flac file? Yes! but you probably wont hear it, you will only feel it.