Old 20th May 2004, 18:23   #1
Spontz
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MP3 Ripping Quality

I just purchased the full Winamp 5.03, and in the CD ripping preferences I see something new (well, new to me, as my last MP3 player/ripper was Sonic Foundry's Siren Jukebox): ripping quality. I tried to rip a song at Very High quality, and got a 1.2x rip speed. At Normal quality, it's 10.5x or thereabouts.

My question, then, is: is it worth it to take the time to rip CDs at Very High quality, if I'm using a 256kbps bitrate? Or will the difference only be noticeable with lower bitrates?
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Old 20th May 2004, 21:02   #2
drewbar
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Ignore that stuff. From the "Quality" box select one of the --alt-presets. --alt-preset standard (~192kbps) should be the best trade off of quality and size for most people. If you want more quality go with extreme (~246kbps) or insane (320kbps).

Your ears will than you.

If you want to use a constant bitrate of 256kbps select --alt-preset cbr from quality and use 256 as the bitrate.

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Old 20th May 2004, 21:42   #3
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320kbps isn't insane... it's just big file size.
If you want good quality MP3's and low file sizes, go with 192-320 VBR (Highest Quality). I get a average ripping speed of 7.x realtime, but that's because my CD-ROM is only 16x.

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Old 21st May 2004, 01:10   #4
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Best thing for high quality (first priority) AND not so big file size is this:

Mode: VBR new | Joint Stereo
Bitrate min: 32 kbps
Bitrate max: 320 kbps
Quality: Very High | VBR Q: 0
On my P4 2.41 GHz, I'm only getting 1.4-1.5x realtime, but for me, it doesn't sound different from the CD then and I've got an acceptable file size (~207 kbps avg.)

Don't know what's so good about those presets, never used them.

If file size doesn't matter, use FLAC or wma9 Lossless (With wma, I'm even getting 1-5% smaller files, but they eat up to 25% CPU usage at playback).
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Old 21st May 2004, 01:38   #5
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Never use WMA files of any kind. FLAC files have great quality, although neither EAC nor CDex comes with it bundled, but it is fairly easy to set up.

FLAC files are huge- my average filesize is about 30MB. A better choice than MP3 would be OGG Vorbis.

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Old 21st May 2004, 02:33   #6
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Well, mp3 are nice. Alt-preset-standard gives what you want. Dont wanna audio loss, and many HD, use FLAC. This is the best. It has it's own enconder on it's page, and can be used directly with dBPowerAmp Music converter. And that's enough for good music !

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Old 21st May 2004, 07:05   #7
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Hmm...thanks. I'm a bit confused about the VBR formats, though. I understand the principle, that more complex parts of a song get a higher bitrate, but doesn't that mean the less complex parts won't sound as good? Also, can an MP3 encoded with VBR be played on any MP3 player, or only those with the right software for VBR?
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Old 21st May 2004, 12:23   #8
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It does not mean the less complex parts won't sound good. The fact is those less complex parts need a lesser of a bitrate to be transparent. So one part of a song might just need 128kbps or lower to sound transparent and other parts might need 192kbps and higher to sound transparent (equivalent to CD quality to your ears). VBR is basically supported in every MP3 player these days, including the iPod and every media player also supports it as well.

If you are interested, Winamp does offer AAC (Advanced Audio Coding) encoding. AAC is a superior format to MP3 and at 128kbps is transparent to many people including myself. It's what the iTunes Music Store uses. You could try experimenting with this format. Winamp and other media players are now supporting AAC. Portable players will probably soon be getting more AAC support but currently the iPod is the only player that plays AAC. But I have an iPod so that doesn't matter to me, hehe. I use iTunes to rip my AACs.
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Old 21st May 2004, 13:31   #9
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the simplest explanation i find to give for VBR files is thus:

you have a constant bit rate (CBR) file at 192kbit. 1 minute of which is silence. to store that silence, you just wasted 1.4MB.
you have a variable bit rate (VBR) file with minimum bitrate of 32kbit, to store that silence, you use 240KB.

Note, sums are probably wrong.

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Old 21st May 2004, 19:00   #10
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Thanks again!

So Winamp can now play and rip into the format iTunes uses? Well, I *am* behind the times. I'd thought that only an iPod could play that format, thanks for letting me know that isn't true.

About AAC format... I tend to use 256kbps for MP3s because otherwise the far ends of the audio spectrum tend to get chopped off. With 128kbps this is *very* noticeable, and I can even detect some at 192 or (very slightly) 256. Is this not a problem with AAC? Or does it work the same way, so I'll need to do 256kbps AAC encoding to satisfy my ears?
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Old 22nd May 2004, 01:52   #11
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These "far ends" represent frequencies around 24kHz. You won't hear them anyway, because over 90% of the people who are between 15 and 25 don't hear frequencies above 20kHz, those around 60 only up to 10kHz, so it doesn't matter if these high parts are cut. BTW, this is how most lossy formats work: They are able to have such low bitrates (in comparison to .wav files) because only frequencies you can hear are encoded. But: Just create a 96 kbps mp3 for fun. Here, everything above ~10kHz is cut. You'll notice a big quality loss. For me personally, 192kbps don't sound different from wav files, but as suggested above, VBR is the best mp3 encoding method (with "Quality = 0" and "VBR Q = 0"). A 207 kbps VBR file sounds way better then a 256 kbps CBR mp3. The "Joint stereo" mode lowers the bitrate while keeping the same quality by e.g. making only one mp3-frame if the channels are identical at a certain position in the file.
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Old 22nd May 2004, 16:10   #12
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Thanks again! That explains quite a bit. And thanks for putting up with so many newbie-ish questions.
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Old 23rd May 2004, 02:40   #13
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Originally posted by Spontz
Thanks again!

So Winamp can now play and rip into the format iTunes uses? Well, I *am* behind the times. I'd thought that only an iPod could play that format, thanks for letting me know that isn't true.
Almost. iTunes Music Store uses DRM (Digital Rights Management) software to limit how you play the AAC files you buy. You can only use iTunes or an iPod to play the files natively (meaning, without a plug-in). Winamp, however, can play these files using this plug-in BUT you must have iTunes/Quicktime installed and authorized to play these files and visualizations and the equalizer are disabled while playing .m4p (iTunes DRM AAC) files because the plug-in actually uses Quicktime to play the file. Not that any of this information is relavant to the subject at hand...

Do what Teqnilogik said: rip your CD's in .m4a AAC using iTunes at 128kbps. It sounds transparent to me and it has a great file size (approximately 1 mb to 1 minute of music).
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Old 23rd May 2004, 03:24   #14
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[quote]BUT you must have iTunes/Quicktime installed and authorized[quote]

i dont think that is a downside to the plugin though, because you have to have it installed/authorized to buy the music anyway

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Old 23rd May 2004, 04:00   #15
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It's not really a downside, just something for one to remember before installing the plug-in. It would be a waste of time to install the plug-in and then discover afterwards that iTunes/Quicktime was required. Still, it renders the visualizations and equalizer useless during playback, so it's better (for me at least) to burn the songs to CD and re-rip them.
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Old 23rd May 2004, 22:37   #16
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So what do we learn from that? Never use proprietary formats to encode your files. And if iTunes only supports such formats (I don't know because I don't use it), boycott it and go back to KaZaA. OGG kicks AAC/MP4's ass anyway, so there's no reason to encode to it.
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Old 24th May 2004, 04:50   #17
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I use --alt-preset standard for all my .mp3s, with EAC as the ripper. I think it's the best quality:size ratio around, and it's a world above 128 (the default for a lot of encoders) and somewhat better then straight 192.
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Old 25th May 2004, 02:53   #18
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Quote:
Originally posted by gas-attack
So what do we learn from that? Never use proprietary formats to encode your files. And if iTunes only supports such formats (I don't know because I don't use it), boycott it and go back to KaZaA. OGG kicks AAC/MP4's ass anyway, so there's no reason to encode to it.
Have you done any listening tests to backup your statement? Vorbis is free and open-source but it is not the best codec. It recently won HydrogenAudio's listening test at 128kbps but the problem I have with that is the codec that won was not the official Xiph.org encoder. It's an out there encoder that hardly anybody (except the visitors of HA) know about. AAC is an excellent codec and can stand up to Ogg Vorbis. Plus if you have an iPod like me you have to use AAC since Vorbis has no support on the iPod. AAC at 128kbps is my codec of choice and its bound to catch on more and more as it is part of the MPEG-4 standards.

As far as using proprietary codecs, I don't have a problem with that. The average consumer is hardly effected by MP3, AAC, and other formats being licensed. Vorbis is great for developers and open-source enthusiasts but it's "free-ness" is no greater than MP3 or AAC to the average consumer in my opinion. iTunes has a free implementation of AAC and MP3. Also you can get LAME MP3 for free as well.

The only proprietary format I refuse to use is Microsoft's WMA. One because it's crap (it's the 4th worse of 5 codecs tested in HA's 128kbps listening test) and secondly because Microsoft has me hooked on Windows...they do not need to invade my music collection.

Sorry for being so defensive, I just saw an opportunity to rant so I took it
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Old 25th May 2004, 19:02   #19
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Just wanted to say, I would never pay one goddam cent to encode music. And when comparing ogg and mp4, I was thinking of lower bitrates. Of course, there is (almost) no player out there with ogg support. And, sorry for my ignorance, what is so cool about an iPod that everyone must have it? What makes it different from, let's say, a 1GB-USB-mp3-player (this one of Philips even has 15GB)? Can it even play mp3s? I just don't really get it...
And for the standard user, it makes a difference if the format is proprietary. I don't think that the standard user wants to pay $10 or even more just to rip his/her CD to play it on the PC...
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Old 25th May 2004, 22:42   #20
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Heh... no, I don't particularly want to pay to encode my music, either. Not when there's a free alternative. This discussion confirms one of my misgivings about iTunes, too. If you spend money on these special iTunes files, which require a special iTunes player to use (and you can only use them on five PCs!), you've just purchased something that is guaranteed not to last. The format could go out of style, or the site go belly-up, or you could replace your PC(s) more than four times over the course of your life. With CDs, at least you can be sure that you'll be able to find a way to play this music for your great-great-grandchildren, even if they do roll their eyes at the old geezer with the weird flat round music platters.

Rather disappointing, this. It sounds good in theory, but the execution wasn't handled very well. So I guess I'll stick to CDs, and use MP3/MP4 or whatever file format is current for convenient playback.
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Old 26th May 2004, 00:59   #21
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you can only play it on 5 comps at once(note: there are drm removers) but you CAN deauthorize the computer when you get a new one...

plus i doubt apple itunes(especially after how succesful it was) will go down unless the riaa forces it, and if the riaa hates itunes that much, i can only support it...

i agree, cds are better... but still, one day cds will be replaced with something better (records were and so were tapes)

as for "whats so good about the ipod" well besides that it looks nice, it carries my entire collection in the size of a cassette tape at good quality and i love the way it organizes the files.. plus it can easily sync up with winamp

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Old 26th May 2004, 23:34   #22
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The iTunes Music Store DRM is one of the least restrictive DRM protections that I am aware of. It allows you to play songs you buy on iTunes on up to 5 computers...that's 4 more than WMA DRM allows. Also, the RIAA does not hate iTunes. RIAA is getting money from iTunes, therefore, they like it. What they don't like is free peer-to-peer music sharing applications where they do not get any revenue. Digital music stores are just starting and I don't expect them to fade away anytime soon.

Also do not mistake iTunes DRM protected store-purchased songs with regular AAC files. Regular AAC files you rip in iTunes are not protected or restricted in anyway. Only the songs you purchase from the iTunes Music Store are protected with DRM. DRM protection is a must for online music stores to prevent people from sharing the music with the entire Internet.
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Old 27th May 2004, 00:06   #23
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Quote:
Originally posted by Teqnilogik
DRM protection is a must for online music stores to prevent people from sharing the music with the entire Internet.
You have to wonder about that logic, though. It's not like every tune that is in iTune's library isn't already circulating P2P networks. They're not preventing piracy as much as they're limiting their customers' fair use provisions under copyright law.

@ gas-attack
You are incorrect on a few fronts. First of all, most proprietary formats do not work in the manner which you describe. WMA, MP3, and AAC are all proprietary, but you* can encode as much as you want for free. Admittedly, there do exist some pay-to-encode formats (like mp3PRO), but they aren't pay-PER-encode.

* The distributors of these patented encoders must continually pay licensing fees to the patent-holder. You might not be directly affected, but someone does have to pay.

Quote:
Don't know what's so good about those presets, never used them.
Maybe you should try them before you recommend everyone your self-attested "best VBR setting possible." The LAME developers have coded the VBR alt presets to be the real "best VBR setting possible." (Not to say that they're infallible, but having written the software, being knowledgeable about perceptional audio models, and having conducted scientific double-blind listening tests lends them some credence.)

EDIT: corrected "double-bling listening tests"



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Old 27th May 2004, 00:30   #24
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Quote:
Originally posted by Teqnilogik
Vorbis is free and open-source but it is not the best codec. It recently won HydrogenAudio's listening test at 128kbps but the problem I have with that is the codec that won was not the official Xiph.org encoder. It's an out there encoder that hardly anybody (except the visitors of HA) know about.
Only as long as we don't tell anyone about it.
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Old 27th May 2004, 04:52   #25
electricmime
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Quote:
Originally posted by Teqnilogik
The iTunes Music Store DRM is one of the least restrictive DRM protections that I am aware of. It allows you to play songs you buy on iTunes on up to 5 computers...that's 4 more than WMA DRM allows. Also, the RIAA does not hate iTunes. RIAA is getting money from iTunes, therefore, they like it. What they don't like is free peer-to-peer music sharing applications where they do not get any revenue. Digital music stores are just starting and I don't expect them to fade away anytime soon.

Also do not mistake iTunes DRM protected store-purchased songs with regular AAC files. Regular AAC files you rip in iTunes are not protected or restricted in anyway. Only the songs you purchase from the iTunes Music Store are protected with DRM. DRM protection is a must for online music stores to prevent people from sharing the music with the entire Internet.
the riaa hates itms because you can buy one song instead of buying the entire cd for that one song (you would have to pay 15 dollars for 1 or 2 good songs, and now you will have to pay 1 or 2 dollars) thats why they want to raise the price of itms files up to 3 or 4 dollars

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Old 21st June 2004, 02:11   #26
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Quote:
Originally posted by electricmime
the riaa hates itms because you can buy one song instead of buying the entire cd for that one song (you would have to pay 15 dollars for 1 or 2 good songs, and now you will have to pay 1 or 2 dollars) thats why they want to raise the price of itms files up to 3 or 4 dollars
No one ever makes you buy an album. Thats why they make singles.


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Old 21st June 2004, 09:21   #27
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And they sell each individual track for $.99 as a single?

Fyi singles are meant to lose money, they're just a PR-vehicle to get the artist on radio and MTV.
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