Considering the OP deals with multi-GB files I'd prefer the slightly uglier assignment to $_ because the kite's tail is not optimized away so all the strings would actually be shoved through the binary negation twice.
I was surprised by the result BTW when I looked at the optree; I'm almost completely clueless about what Perl can and cannot optimize but it even a fairly trivial peephole optimizer as in early C compilers could catch this.
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