Mad about MAD

— 12:19 AM on July 23, 2001

A big shout out to '--k' for posting a link in a thread last week to the MAD plug-in for Winamp. Anybody who has taken the time to listen to Winamp back-to-back with another player, like Sonique or the Windows Media Player/World Domination Instrument, knows Winamp pretty much sounds like an audiophile torture device. I've had a hard time dropping Winamp, however, because I prefer the user interface (the skins and plug-ins are nice, too).

MAD for Winamp is the fix.

MAD itself is a high-quality MPEG audio decoder. The plug-in brings that decoder to Winamp. Why is it better? Like all good things digital, it has more internal precision:

Internally, MAD represents the decoded audio signal with high precision. Combined with a form of dither, this allows output samples to be calculated with less objectionable quantization noise and more audible dynamic range than most decoders produce today. The result is unusually high-quality output that is a more faithful reconstruction of the signal encoded in MPEG audio than you may have realized possible.
The difference is startling. Had I not listened to MP3s on the Aiwa CDC-MP3 in my car, I wouldn't have known how good it could be. Also, K6 and Cyrix owners take note:
Because MAD uses integer computation rather than floating point, it is well suited for architectures without a floating point unit. All calculations are performed with a 32-bit fixed-point integer representation.
Not that those CPUs don't have floating-point units, but, well, you know.

Anyhow, the MAD plug-in for Winamp is highly recommended.

Tip: You can use the A/Z keys to walk threads.
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