Re: OT question about sound cards/chip-sets and high-end music systems
Since you care about the sound quality, I'd recommend encoding with
flac. That's lossless, so there is no sound quality difference between
flac-encoded music and music straight from the CD.Forget about mp3.
It sounds horrible, in my opinion. High pitch sounds like cymbals sound
"swishy". Ogg vorbis is a lot better sounding than mp3, but flac is
still the best. I can here the difference and I'm using my onboard
audio and consumer-grade equipment from the late '90s.
While I agree that FLAC is the way to go if hdd space is available, I'd be careful about claims that mp3 sounds horrible without specifying which codec and bitrates were used; mp3 developers have worked hard in recent years to improve the mp3 codec substantially. In fact, recent blind listening tests here http://www.hydrogenaudio.org/forums/index.php?showtopic=67529 prove the modern mp3 codec(s) is transparent for almost all music at about 128 kbps. Using an old codec is where most people experience poor quality on their lossy encoders, because older codecs did a noticeably worse job at encoding.
People on audio websites get ripped a new one for making claims something sounds better without proving it by ABX tests. http://www.hydrogenaudio.org/forums/index.php?showtopic=16295