Lose the pejorative 'Low Quality' for MP3 and similar

Yaaaaawn. All-too predictable response, sadly. I kind of hoped for better.

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Your two proposals (“compressed audio”, “lossy compressed”) above don’t work. We have used the “low quality” designation for topics other than source material in the past–so renaming it to either of those is too specific.

“Lossy” is also problematic because most DSP processes are lossy. The important fact about this stuff isn’t that there is information loss, it’s that the quality is degraded.

Anyways, I was just explaining the why behind it.

My mind is open. I’m listening. Convince me otherwise :slight_smile:

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I think the idea these unnamed studies use ‘people off the street’ is irrelevant. I am sure that there are plenty of studies completed with music enthusiasts. My challenge would be to get a bunch of audiophiles in a room and conduct the test. Can they consistently tell lossless from lossy in a scientifically-controlled blind test with files sourced from the same master? I can’t always pin it down clearly on a fairly nice system - and the differences are often more about mastering than the codec used.

However, I wasn’t trying to say that MP3 is indistinguishable from lossless/FLAC or whatever. Roon seems to be a very pragmatic, science-based company with a great product - but with your statements above you’ve derailed yourselves into the worst kind of audiophile nonsense. There’s a lot of it on this forum - but this is the first time I think I’ve seen it from someone at Roon.

I’m interested to learn that you used ‘Low Quality’ in the past for other purposes - however now it seems to only be used for lossy files. I’ve never seen it used for any other reason. Your lossy DSP processes are described as ‘Enhanced’, non-RAAT transmission is classed as ‘High Quality’ and we have ‘lossless’ - all sensible and accurate terminologies.

My position is still that ‘Low Quality’ is often untrue and (unlike your other terms) inaccurate. Unlike all the others you’re using ‘Low Quality’ to make a point. So it is pejorative and judgemental. That is the best reason to think of something more enlightened, in my opinion.


Malcolm just enjoy your music. Personally I do not store mp3 music, but when I’m on the road I listen to my Tidal account on my phone. Indeed the lossy quality, via bluetooth to my Sennheiser Momentum2 Wireless (total overkill). Guess what? I still enjoy the songs!


I’d add - it’s fine to be an audiophile, music enthusiast, hi-fi buff whatever. I am all of these things in the right mood. But let’s focus on stuff that actually makes a difference.

I felt a little uncomfortable about the use of ‘Low Quality’ as, to me, it smacks of the worst kind of audiophile indulgence. The kind that fetishizes megabucks-USB cables, cable risers and the like. So I posted this suggestion. I’m a little disappointed that Roon seem to be indulging this sort of attitude - but I guess looking at this forum they’ve probably judged their audience about right.

I can hear the difference between MP3 320 and redbook cd (flac). Over 50% of my library is MP3 or aac. They still sound decent enough but not as good as lossless. I don’t find ‘low quality’ demeaning as I agree with the statement. I am slowly moving my library over to flac redbook standard. Fwiw I can’t tell the difference between flac redbook and 24/96 or DSD.

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Thinking about it ‘reduced quality’ might be a better term than ‘low quality’… but I really don’t have enough motivation for it to change

I usually can - sometimes I can’t. There’s a hundred different things that influence the sound before you get to the codec being used. And you can’t always guarantee that the MP3/AAC download and the redbook CD use the same master. (Don’t get me started on different mastering for vinyl :wink: )

As I said I am no devotee of MP3 and indeed I believe in CD quality audio (and beyond)!!! - I would just rather see a more rational and factual descriptor.


You’ve made a feature request, and the Roon team will consider it, along with feedback from members posting. As far as I’m concerned, everything is fine as is. My guess is most Roon users are fine with the current layout. If your MP3s sound great, that’s awesome. The low quality label only pops up when you tap the signal path light. You only will see it - if you choose to see it.

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Perhaps, Roon should use “Subpar” instead.

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Thanks for the humanities sarcasm. I needed a good chuckle this AM.

Roon Lite is but another thing to avoid.

Nowt as strange as folk as they say but if this really is an issue I think “lower quality” might solve all the angst.


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We have definitely editorialized when binning stuff into those categories. That is the goal–to encourage people to find a better experience by looking at ways that quality is being compromised in their current situation.

In practice, “High Quality” is usually remedied by upgrading your playback hardware and “Low Quality” is remedied by upgrading your source material. Both are meant to provoke thought about how the user might increase the quality of their situation.

Only “Lossless” is objective. “Enhanced” says nothing about the sound–it just means “Roon is doing something to the sound because you told us to”.

Low/High quality are two degrees of prompting the user to take action. And yes–the product is advancing an opinion that lossy codecs have a larger effect size on audibility than the DSP processes that we label as “high quality”.

But–if you thought that wasn’t true you’d be arguing for a “high quality” label for lossy codecs, and you’re not. You just want the word changed. And I still don’t quite get it.

I think you really want more than new language–maybe you don’t want the product to nudge its users towards making their experience better.

I don’t think of megabucks USB cables and MP3 as being in the same galaxy.

The reason MP3 was invented was to give up a variable amount of quality in order to save space. I don’t think there’s any disagreement on whether the MP3 codec can produce audible degradation at all–we all know what low bitrate MP3 sounds like.

So it’s more a question of how much bitrate is “enough”. THAT feels like a judgement we should not be making–but it seems a lot less offensive to acknowledge that the content was processed via a codec who’s raison’d’etre is literally all about trading off quality for space.

As far as megabucks USB cables go…I wouldn’t take the pepsi challenge on one of those.


Now this I think is stretching things a bit! There is audiophile nonsense, sure. Just as there is nonsense in every discipline, but there was no nonsense in the post you refer to.

Why not “Low Bit Rate”? That would be objective, not pejorative.


Oh obviously needs an asterisk with a disclaimer explaining how not only is audio quality subjective, but that many people have diminished hearing capability due to illness, injury or congenital anomalies or are of a socioeconomic class without ready access to sufficiently resolving playback equipment and may not be able to consistently discern between what have been arbitrarily deemed, in a decidedly narrow context, “Low Quality” and “High Quality” formats. Obviously.

It’s also not accurate.

With the source (CD rip or result from other another source) being the “par”, “Subpar” would be most correct.

@brian correctly pointed out that lossy codecs are designed to throw away quality. Maybe 320k MP3 could be considered “lower quality”, and not “low quality”, but to me, that’s splitting hairs.

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Come again? How is “Low Bit Rate” not accurate but “Low Quality” is? And not just because you say or think so. The answer above is not acceptable. Or should I say the answer above is “Low Quality”?


Apples and oranges. Signal Path is about quality, not data rates. It is objectively about what is happening and a subjective interpretation of what those items are doing qualitywise.

Bitrate for lossy files makes no sense when comparing to other codecs. A higher bitrate does not not mean more quality, it just means less data. For example, 128k “bitrate” can be better quality than 160k “bitrate” (128k aac, 160k mp3) – so which is “lower” ?

Even WAV and FLAC files have a bitrate, and for FLACs, the bitrate has nothing to do with the quality. In fact, it is possible to take a WAV file and make a larger bitrate FLAC out of it (try compressing noise), and it would still be bit perfect to decode.

Bitrate is not a quality metric, it is only a data-size-over-time metric. I know it’s generally safe to use bitrate as quality for lossy codecs, but when comparing them to lossless codecs, bitrate needs to stay about data sizes and not quality.

Chill out. You wouldn’t make that statement to my face about my comment being low quality and not acceptable. You’d just ask me to clarify.


So to take this in another tangent, no matter what file type or bitrate it is, the original quality of the recording says it all. I just got Ringo Starr’s new CD today, which I ripped at 320kb mp3. Of course my Roon playback says “low quality” as has been discussed here.

The dynamic range of this recording is +3. The songs are so loud and compressed I don’t care what format or bitrate they would be in they would be “low quality”. They are practically unlistenable on any of my systems or DACS. Of course, your experience may vary!

For this set of songs the amber light and moniker is well deserved :slight_smile: OK, back on topic now.