mp3 quality...

Discussion in 'Archived Threads 2001-2004' started by WillY, Feb 13, 2003.

  1. WillY

    WillY Stunt Coordinator

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    What bit rate do I need to encode mp3's to get an equivalent sound quality to FM radio? I have read a variety of reports, some saying 96 Kbps and some saying 128 Kbps is the equivalent of FM quality. At home I can definitely tell the difference, but then again I can just listen to CD's and not the mp3's anyway. On the road, I recently got a phone that can play mp3's, and I guess I could do sound tests, but I was wondering what the general thought was...

    The space saved b/w 96 and 128 would be nice. BTW, the Sony Ericsson p800 smartphone might be the coolest gadget ever...
     
  2. Allen Hirsch

    Allen Hirsch Supporting Actor

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    I think it depends very much on what you use to encode and playback those files, and your own ears.

    I would try the same song (preferably with a full range in a genre you'll listen to often) at several different bitrates (96, 128, 160, and 192), and then playback on the device you'll be using on the road.

    Then you can make the best determination with your own equipment and ear, to balance sound quality with file size, and make the tradeoff that works best for you.
     
  3. Camp

    Camp Cinematographer

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    While I totally agree with Allen, generally speaking I think 128kbps is slightly better than FM quality.
     
  4. Matthew Perry

    Matthew Perry Stunt Coordinator

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    Myself I dont use anything lower than 192kbps. Usually always 192.
     
  5. WillY

    WillY Stunt Coordinator

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    Using only 192 would be an easy solution if not limited by the amount of storage. The phone I have uses MMC's for mp3's, and I have a 32 meg card. I would buy a larger card, but technology being what it is, I am getting a new phone that uses Memory Stick Duo's, the largest offered currently being 16 megs (soon to be increased, thank goodness). I was asking to see what the general consensus was on minimum acceptable bit rate.

    So what is the best software for encoding mp3's?
     
  6. Patrick Sun

    Patrick Sun Studio Mogul

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    I use EAC (Exact Audio Copy) to rip my CD tracks to wav files, and then I use Lame and RazorLame (Lame frontend) to do the encoding to MP3. I use VBR (variable bitrate), but it's capable of doing CBR (constant bitrate) as well. There are many ways to skin a cat w/r/t making MP3s.

    You really need to experiment with different bitrates and find the one that is tolerable for YOU, and then use that bitrate.
     
  7. Ted Lee

    Ted Lee Lead Actor

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    i think 96 is probably closer to fm quality. 128 is generally accepted as "close enough" to cd. i keep all my stuff at 160.

    i like cdex a lot - i use it to convert all my tracks to either wav or mp3.
     
  8. Joel Fontenot

    Joel Fontenot Supporting Actor

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  9. Camp

    Camp Cinematographer

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    Ripping with CDex and encoding with LAME is overkill (IMO) in this application. First of all, he's only going to use 96kbps or 128kbps bit rates, second of all I would assume it'll be with headphones. I get the feeling he's looking more for convenience than audiophille quality.

    With that thought process in mind, it doesn't really matter which ripper/encoder you select. Certainly don't pay for one.

    Windows Media Player 9 is phenomenal: http://windowsmedia.com/9series/download/download.asp

    WinAmp: http://www.winamp.com/

    MusicMatch: http://www.musicmatch.com/
     
  10. Angelo.M

    Angelo.M Producer

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    First, I use CDex with built-in, on-the-fly LAME encoding. It's a great combintation.

    Second, I agree, somewhat, with Camp, in that at very low bit-rates like 96kbps, you can use just about any method you like as fidelity is obviously not an issue.

    Third, I disagree w/ Camp about Windows Media Player 9. I've called it, and heard it called, many things, but 'phenomenal' isn't one of them!
     
  11. Joel Fontenot

    Joel Fontenot Supporting Actor

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  12. Angelo.M

    Angelo.M Producer

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    Joel:

    I agree with "livable." I also use it at work (using it right now to listen to Abbey Road), and find that it does the trick very nicely. I used to have several MP3 players on my desktop (MM Jukebox, Winamp, WM Player, RealOne player, you name it), but now I'm down to WM Player for playback. Does the job, and the interface on WMP9 is acceptable.
     
  13. Camp

    Camp Cinematographer

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    I think the fact that Microsoft actually created a media player as good as WMP 9 (after several horrendous attempts) makes my use of the adjective "phenomenal" very fair. [​IMG]

    Seriously though, I find WMP 9 better than the current versions of WinAmp and MusicMatch. Only J.River's Media Center & Media Jukebox are better (and even then only by a bit, IMO).
     
  14. Ted Lee

    Ted Lee Lead Actor

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  15. Camp

    Camp Cinematographer

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    Settings --> Options --> Encoder

    Under Encoder select the LAME option

    I suggest setting "VBR Method" to New and setting the minimum and maximum bitrates to whatever suit your space/quality needs. I use a minimum of 192kbps and a maximum of 320kbps.
     
  16. Ted Lee

    Ted Lee Lead Actor

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    thx camp. i did have the lame option configured, so that's a good thing. i typically encode at 160.

    what is vbr? i'm assuming variable bit rate, but i don't understand what the means or how it affects encoding.

    thx again!
     
  17. Angelo.M

    Angelo.M Producer

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    Camp:

    I agree. WMP9's interface is better than any of the other players I've toyed with; I think I almost lost my eyesight to WinAmp.

    Ted:

    There are many different ways to configure CDex. I use -Alt Present Insane, which is constant bitrate (CBR) at 320kbps. VBR is variable bitrate, wherein the bitrate is adjusted during the encoding process, so that less detailed passages are encoded at at smaller bitrate, allowing for the average bitrate to be lower, and thus the file size smaller.

    I've been happy with my results using CDex. I use the 'paranoid' ripping option and the 'alt preset insane' encoding (everything is constant at 320kbps). This gives me space for about 70-80 songs on an MP3 CD, plenty for the car or for cross-country running.
     
  18. Camp

    Camp Cinematographer

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  19. Ted Lee

    Ted Lee Lead Actor

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    thx angelo - i think i'll have to mess around with cbr vs. vbr. that'll gimme something to do when i'm bored.

    what advantage do you see in using the alt present insane option for quality? (i checked the online help but couldn't find any info on that.) right now my is set to normal q5.
     
  20. Angelo.M

    Angelo.M Producer

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    Ted:

    I would refer you to other sources for more detailed information (check out the HydrogenAudio site, for example), but, in a nutshell, "Alt Preset Insane" will encode your tracks at 320kbps CBR (Constant Bit Rate). This is the highest bit rate available for mp3. Unfortunately, this will also result in the largest final file size. For me, however, this is not an issue, since I don't need (or want) 1000s of tracks on a portable player (I use a CD-based player, not a hard drive-based player). To my ear, 128kbps, although marketed as 'CD-quality' or 'near-CD-quality' is not even close. 192kbps is a noticeable improvement, but 320kbps seems best. Sure, there are a fair amount of psychoacoustics at play here, but I'll stick with 320kbps. Haven't experimented much with VBR, but, in theory, it makes good sense.
     

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