I cannot do objective measurements but I have done some subjective testing nonetheless. I don't know the specifics of the Apple software, but it uses some form of Fraunhofer, and rumour has it evolved from SoundJam (which I've never used). Anyways, the software is sort of like AudioCatalyst, WinAmp, and CD burning software all combined, but with Fraunhofer instead of Xing. Equipment: iBook G3 600 MHz with OS X.1.1 and iTunes 2. Apex AD-600A DVD/MP3 player with coaxial out. Panasonic DVD-RP91 DVD/MP3 player with optical out. Kenwood VR-510 receiver with optical and coaxial in. Stereo mode: Paradigm Reference Studio/60 speakers. Pro Logic II mode: above plus Paradigm Studio/CC and Monitor 7 speakers. Perceived quality, in order of best to worst: 1) CD 2) 256 kbps CBR stereo 3) 256 kbps CBR joint stereo 4) VBR joint stereo with 192 minimum (avg. ~203 kbps) 5) VBR joint stereo with 160 minimum (avg. ~173 kbps) Note that I thought all of them were pretty damn good though. For general use I figure #4 would be the best space/quality compromise. However, I think I'm just going to use #2 and buy a bigger hard drive later. I didn't bother testing 320 VBR or CBR because I figure 256 CBR S is already close enough. By the way, 256 CBR S encodes much faster than 192 VBR JS. It's around 5X on my iBook 600 directly off the CD so I suspect it's like the the PC Fraunhofer codecs when optimized for speed (instead of quality).