Lose the pejorative 'Low Quality' for MP3 and similar

I may be going against the flow here - but for the small amount of MP3 music I own, I rather object to Roon applying its sniffy audiophile snobbery to it. And to be fair the original recording quality is much more important than lossy compression - much as it might be preferable not to have it.

I would suggest ‘compressed audio’ or ‘lossy compressed’ as an alternative.


LOL, one of the reasons I use Roon :wink:


or “lousy compressed” :rofl:

I prefer it as it is now to your suggested alternatives, ’ ‘compressed audio’ or ‘lossy compressed’ '. If it offends you so much why not convert your small number of mp3s to FLAC and it will cease to bother you (apart from wondering why it sounds so terrible…)? :slight_smile:

Good idea…

I think you should visit the Hydrogen Audio forum and tell them that 320 mp3 sounds terrible compared to flac. Take your abx results. If you haven’t got any, I’ll bring a wheelbarrow to collect what’s left of you, after they’ve finished…



My tongue is slightly in my cheek in the wording, but not in intent. I’d like to see ‘low quality’ jettisoned in favour of something less judgemental. It offends me (a strong word for effect), only inasmuch as it is audiophile drivel. Not saying there’s no difference (most of my MP3 music is Amazon auto rip/digital downloads of music I own on vinyl anyway, and some audiobooks).

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Roon calls it low quality, since it’s below CD quality. MP3 is by nature a low quality rendition of the true recording.

I would leave things as is.


Or maybe called sub-CD quality

So would I. MP3 is low quality and should be avoided if possible. The OP calls it audiophile snobbery? Not at all. Fact based knowledge.

Nobody’s trying to debate the rights and wrongs of MP3 here - I’ll leave that to the digital zealots and extremists in other threads and on other forums. A well engineered recording put through a modern MP3 encoder still sounds fantastic - but CD audio (FLAC/ALAC/WAV) as a minimum is of course preferable, and should be the minimum standard for the ‘Lossless’ label and the purple indicator.

A simple change of wording so it’s still clear that you’re using compressed audio, but isn’t a pejorative term or being used in judgement would just make the whole thing a little friendlier in my opinion. Didn’t mean to poke the beast with my suggestion - but if the ‘Low Quality’ epithet makes you all more comfortable with your music buying choices then so be it.


Wouldn’t that simply be reinforcing their current ideas? I don’t know Hydrogen Audio - but in most places (like here) the suggestion that MP3 can be pretty good is the controversial one.

I would agree with the original poster and at one point was bothered by this but now leave it alone.

A properly encoded 320kb mp3 file sounds no different than a FLAC or many other formats to my ear, as 320kb mp3 already exceeds the dynamic range of the original recording anyway. Test after test have shown that people cannot tell the difference between the mp3 and the higher lossless formats anyway.

Yes, there are those in the forum that will want to stone the original poster or myself for even saying such a thing but my listening tests and those of countless others bear this out. I don’t even bother ripping my CDs to anything but mp3 and even my downloads in FLAC get instantly converted for convenience purposes. Just put a bit of black tape on your screen when Roon is open to hide that offending little indicator LOL!!


I still disagree. MP3 at 320 is still lossy. ‘Low Quality’ is not a pejorative, it is an accurate description. A lot of the original content of the file is discarded to achieve the size reduction. Roon is working hard to have the best possible sound quality on playback and introduce ‘nothing’ while playing a file. Little point in that if the files are lossy to begin with.


But it is pejorative and judgemental. “Low quality” is an assessment, a judgement. Changing to something like ‘compressed audio’ - a coldly factual statement and not a quality judgement - I maintain would be accurate and free of unhelpful audiophile connotations.

I could bring up the fact that in test after test listeners are unable to tell MP3 from high-res (when they don’t know in advance what it is they’re listening to, so expectation bias can be ironed out) - but I’m much too discreet to do so. :smiley:


Er, my FLACs are also compressed, but they are still higher quality than my MP3s…

Hence Roon describes them quite correctly as ‘High Quality’ or ‘Lossless’ depending on the audio chain. In this case they are reporting on their transport of the audio. For MP3, Roon is passing judgement on your files.

I don’t think we are going to win any arguments here!! I totally agree with posters who say that mp3 discards information, but, in my mind it’s information that is not audible and is useless to the playback of the actual music anyway. Many believe otherwise and will vehemently argue the alternative, that the discarded information in some way contributes to the sound and feel whether you can hear it or not.

I do not fault those folks for their beliefs it is what it is, they should not fault us for ours. I just choose to go a different direction in that I don’t think there is an audible difference. I have just learned to ignore the “low quality” button and am happy that the Roon designers did not make it a flashing light that says something like “WTF are you thinking” or “how could you?” LOL.

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So ‘High Quality’ is not an assessment while 'Low Quality is? I don’t quite understand. Of course I understand that if you feel Roon is bashing your chosen file format it’s annoying, but I believe Roon would also call and Bluetooth audio ‘Low Quality’ because it is lossy. Convenient and ‘popular’ no doubt, but lossy.

Well here’s the thing @ogs - Roon says ‘High Quality’ not because of your files, but because of the transmission and the equipment. For example, the headphone output of my PC is ‘high quality’ but the USB out to my DAC is ‘lossless’ - this is about the audio transport and is not a comment on your files. Everything from FLAC/ALAC at 16/44.1 right up to silly multiple-DSD and PCM is called Lossless because of the transport. (I think it falls back to ‘High Quality’ when Roon doesn’t have complete control of the chain - such as with AirPlay.) PC output to my Bluetooth headphones is described as ‘High Quality’ (unless the file is MP3 or AAC).

When Roon says ‘Low Quality’ it has nothing to with the transport, which could be lossless/RAAT or AirPlay, SONOS, PC output etc. It is classed as low quality simply because the file is MP3 - lossily compressed. Now, I’m not asking for anyone to admit that MP3 is as good as lossless FLAC, ALAC or uncompressed WAV (although with the best modern encoders it’s pretty close). I’m simply suggesting that it would be helpful to change the wording to the more neutral ‘Lossy compressed’ (or even just ‘Lossy’).

I would say, in many cases, that the term ‘Low Quality’ is not just pejorative and judgemental - it’s patently untrue. You may not like it as much as lossless - but those who suggest that all MP3 sounds awful are (in my opinion) foaming-mouthed audiophile fundamentalists. (Being deliberately provocative there for partly-comic effect.)

Changing the wording (not the amber light) would presumably be a very minor change for a future release, it would not give MP3 parity with the lossless and uncompressed formats and it’s not trying to change anyone’s belief system. It’s simply a little friendlier, a little more pragmatic and plain, simple common sense. I’d be interested to see what someone from Roon thinks of this @RoonFAQ


I think speaking about “quality” is the right message, and calling things “great, greater, greatest, ultimate” to avoid negative feelings is cheesy.

We denote lossy files as “low quality” for two reasons:

  • Because the effects are reliably audible to some people.
  • Because in our product’s opinion, investing in lossy content should be discouraged

A lot of times when people argue about this topic, they cite studies of random populations–which generally determine that people on the street can’t tell the difference. A lot of our customers treat music listening as a hobby or a passion, invest in highly resolving equipment, and work on training their ears. In my experience, the artifacts introduced in today’s lossy compression approaches are reliably audible once you know what you’re listening for.

The second point is a little bit more indirect, but also important. Investing in source material that is not of the highest available quality increases the chance that you will want to re-buy it later to upgrade quality–so Roon is nudging you towards thinking about acquiring better quality source material by labeling the low quality stuff accordingly. The product’s opinion about this reflects something about who our audience is/tends to be.

BTW, for anyone who wants to explore whether lossy compression is audible for you, this is a fun test to try. It pits 320k MP3, 128k MP3, and WAV against each other. Use headphones.