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I have been interested in audio and improving its quality for a while now and after researching for a while I found out how difficult it can get when you find the answer to a question and then find a contradictory statement to that and it just adds up to more questions.(my main source for testing atm is YouTube, I randomly picked a NCS song and tried working with it) I am fairly new so these questions may seem easy but I am finding it very difficult to understand

  1. Is it true that you should download original audio from a source because converting it to other formats hurts quality? the downloader I use ripped the audio to a .webm format at 128kbps

  2. If I convert this file to a wav (lossless) or mp3 (lossy) or any other format will the overall quality go down even if I increase the bitrate to 512 incase of wav and 320 in case of mp3?

  3. does increasing projection rate have any effect on the audio itself usually i see its 44.1K or 48K, will going beyond that help of will it just diminish the existing quality after editing in case of the mp3. but incase of wav will it help because by my understanding wav is lossless so it wont effect the existing quality but will it improve ?

  4. I also saw 16 24 and 32 bit in wav and flac what do these represent and which one would be better

  5. what would you suggest would be the best way to extract audio without losses or at least minimizing them from such sites and once done is editing the projection rate or bitrate (I use audacity) preferred or should i just search for a file which has a better bitrate to begin with

  6. which audio format in-between flac and mp3 would be better considering that I want to save space, keep the files compatible with most systems and not going down on quality a lot. I was thinking Flac or m4a but advice would be appreciated

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There are too many questions here to be able to answer fully in just one page.
One suggestion I might make is not to trust YouTube for any information reference. There is no bar to entry & anybody with a webcam can spout as much misinformation as they care to.

Briefly, once a file has been downsampled, data has been thrown away. No amount of upsampling will ever get that back.

So, again very briefly…

  1. Yes, highest rate available, even if that is just the official aac/mp3 from iTunes or any official source.
    No unofficial source can be trusted to have not already done what you propose, upsample from a lower quality. (There is almost no way to accurately discern this after the fact, whatever YouTube might try to tell you)

  2. Nope. No amount of upsampling will ever recover the data already lost.

  3. None whatsoever. See 2.
    In professional use, "music" uses 44.1, "video" uses 48. Youtubers might use anything, who knows what or why :P

  4. Flac is lossless compression, maintaining an exact copy of the original WAV in a smaller form.
    The only place to get FLAC is from the record company or trusted distributor. Pretty much anything else has suffered upsampling from people with no clue.

  5. Get it from the original source. It's the only thing you can trust. An AAC file from Apple, for instance, has been through one downsample from the original master file, which would have been at 24bit 44.1kHz WAV. This is the modern standard for master delivery to distributors.
    Though not absolutely perfect, this is the best you can generally access as a consumer.

  6. Depending on your source, MP3 @320k or AAC @256k (AAC gives better quality at lower data sizes).
    FLAC only if it comes from a recognised distributor.
    ALAC, again if you can get it direct. This is going to be rare & as likely from unrecognised sources to have been upsampled from an inferior format.

In short… if it didn't come from a recognised distributor, you have no quality control. if you did, that's the best quality available at consumer level.

One other thing (amongst many)
Ripping from a CD to any format is already downsampled. Masters these days are produced at 24 bit, CD is 16 bit, you you already lost a tiny fraction of the full quality by buying the CD.
I have never tested whether a high bitrate AAC from 24 bit is "better" than a CD at 16 bit WAV. (Life is too short ;)

One last note: "increase the bitrate to 512 incase of wav and 320 incase of mp3" This is more YouTube misinformation. WAV does not have a bitrate like mp3. Bitrate only ever applies to compressed formats.

Late edit
One other thing to consider is that if you only ever listen off your phone, with earbuds, or in the car, from laptop speakers, or some cheap 70 buck 2.1 or 5.1 desktop computer speakers, then it's not going to make the slightest bit of difference to you.
A lot of the fine detail in audio can only be heard if you have the right equipment to play it back from.
For my iPhone I deliberately reduce all audio to 128kpbs AAC, as that's as good as you ever need if you're on the move.
I'm speaking as a sound engineer of over 40 years' experience, btw ;)

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  • thank you this answer was all i needed. i spent yesterday experimenting with formats and increasing bitrates no wonder they had no improvement. Feb 6, 2021 at 17:29
  • i generally get music from apple, but what is all the point of these converters and stuff when they don't really give you any benefit? e.g i buy from apple and the file i get is suppose a 192kbps mp3 file, upscaling that to 320kbps would just ruin it so what is the point of converters and formats Feb 6, 2021 at 17:31
  • The only point is to save space - downsampling. Upsampling is just a theoretical possibility, it doesn't ever mean you gain something, just because the maths can be done. It can be useful if you have a low quality source & need to do more work on it. It means you don't lose any more info as you work. this is really only ever any use at pro audio levels, at consumer levels it just confuses people ;)
    – Tetsujin
    Feb 6, 2021 at 17:33
  • also the downloader i use has the original quality option so the audio i get is the same as the person who uploaded it can this be true or are they just pulling my leg.the original file is in .webm format once the downloader is done with it too so should i convert it to any other format or use that Feb 6, 2021 at 17:35
  • It depends entirely on the integrity of the source. Can't say any more than that.
    – Tetsujin
    Feb 6, 2021 at 17:36

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