When you rip a track off a CD, encode it in say 192 kbps then decode it back into a WAV... will the quality of the WAV be the original WAV quality or will the quality of the WAV be 192?
Of course, the decoded wave will have only the quality of the 192 mp3. If you playback a mp3 file, the mp3 will be decoded first and then sent to the soundcard, too. Soundcards don’t “understand” compressed formats, all of them are decoded using your CPU power (except hardware decoders, of course).
When you encode a music file to MP3 some information will be lost in the process. This information cannot be recovered by any program.
Any conversion will result in a loss of quality.
One great exception is by example “Monkey’s Audio”, available @ www.monkeysaudio.com. It compresses wave files WITHOUT any quality loss to 40-60 % of original size and can restore the file to its last bit.
Thanks for the quick answers!