Yep, MP3 quality is inferior to CD, but on the other hand CD is inferior to analogue recordings (at least theoretically).
At the end the question is do you hear the difference or is that all rather theoretical?
Personally I can't hear any quality difference between a CD and a (good) MP3, but then I am not a hardcore audiophile....my speakers cost less than my car and are still a lot better than my hearing
If you use Exact Audio Copy (EAC) in combination with Lame encoder you get very near to CD-quality when using at least 192kbps vbr (better a bit more)
The weaknesses of mp3 are especially in (punchy) highs like hihats but with the above tools and 224kbps vbr i notice no difference any more with a high end audio system and a semi professional soundstudio (if you like classic music i would choose a higher bitrate).
You also have to know that there are more weaknesses to optimal sound like bad digital/analog converters and integrated "on chip" amplifiers, dull speakers etc.
When using a laptop/pc for listening to music you also have to know that the native windows audio mixer codecs are not good because they resample, you better use asio4all in combination with an ASIO enabled Mediaplayer and a good mp3 audio decoder plugin like the MAD .
But I might not be hearing something sometimes in an Mp3. It's the principle of the thing. (hee hee)
Apparently certain sounds/frequencies will be consistently lost if one always uses Mp3. Anyway, it's
unfortunate since there are lossless audio formats, but you need a computer (with some free software)
to play them.
I think Audacity is not ASIO enabled. Personally I use Winamp 2.91 with otachanīs asio output plugin and the mad plugin (you need to delete winampīs own mp3 decoder plugin). After installing asio4all you can choose it as output in the asio-out plugin in winamp. You can then disable resampling in asio4all and tweak the outputs of your soundcards used, latency settings if needed, will work on many computers.
This gives me the perfect audio quality together with an external DAC from Mindprint. You can hear the difference when comparing with other mediaplayers, they sound duller and washed out due to resampling in the windows audiomixer and bad mpeg decoders (even with internal DAC of your soundcard/laptop). There might be more ASIO enabled mediaplayers out there like foobar but i stick to what is working best for me since years.
Just did a quick search and there is an asio enabled Audacity version: http://error420.com/audacity/
Together with www.asio4all.com you should be able to get rid of that windows audio resampling, donīt know about the mpeg decoder quality of Audacity, though. Will try that one out this evening.
Last edited by CFuture; January 29th, 2012 at 09:01 AM.