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Topic: Should I change from mp3 to another lossy format? (Read 7895 times) previous topic - next topic
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Should I change from mp3 to another lossy format?

Ive asked questions here before and you guys are awesome in your responses.

Its been about 2 years since I've ripped any CD's,  the stack of unripped CD's just keeps getting larger, and it needs to be addressed, which leads me to my first question.

1. Is MP3 still the defacto standard?  Every standalone piece of hardware i have supports AAC, WMA (non-pro) and of coarse, mp3.  I listen to mostly rock and metal, some soft stuff, which standard would be best for me in your experiences. 

2. Mp3 is tried and true, in all likelihood I'm anticipating people saying AAC or WMA may be better (128kbps to 256kbps), but MP3 and lame still gets the job done, and well.  Anyway, I'm out of the know, what do i type in for user specified compressor, is it still --alt-preset-standard?  Please provide me a whole line suggestion, id greatly appreciate just being able to cut and paste a good suggestion right in.

3. If standards other than mp3 prove to be "vastly" superior to mp3, should i re-rip my entire collection?

Thank you in advance for your responses, its greatly appreciated.

[edit]I spent time using the forum search feature, and was completely oblivious of the post right below mine titled "which encoder" that answers almost all of my questions.  Perhaps using search for something that was clearly on the front page was like nuking an ant hill.  My bad!

link: http://www.hydrogenaudio.org/forums/index....showtopic=65597
[/edit]

Should I change from mp3 to another lossy format?

Reply #1
1. Is MP3 still the defacto standard?  Every standalone piece of hardware i have supports AAC, WMA (non-pro) and of coarse, mp3.  I listen to mostly rock and metal, some soft stuff, which standard would be best for me in your experiences. 

2. Mp3 is tried and true, in all likelihood I'm anticipating people saying AAC or WMA may be better (128kbps to 256kbps), but MP3 and lame still gets the job done, and well.  Anyway, I'm out of the know, what do i type in for user specified compressor, is it still --alt-preset-standard?  Please provide me a whole line suggestion, id greatly appreciate just being able to cut and paste a good suggestion right in.

3. If standards other than mp3 prove to be "vastly" superior to mp3, should i re-rip my entire collection?


1. MP3 is definitely the "standard" in the sense that it's (by far) the most accepted and compatible. In terms of audio quality per megabyte with some types of music at least, some of the other lossy codecs such as Vorbis may be slightly better at the level of perceptual transparency and below. However, it's a good idea to encode above the level of perceptual transparency rather than try to squeeze the sizes down to the bleeding edge of quality vs size unless you have a specific reason for doing that. So I would argue that there are essentially no important differences between MP3 and the others at the bitrates that most people choose to encode at... (192kbps and above)

2. LAME MP3 is still the most commonly used and encouraged format according to most people. If you're looking for a "cut and paste" solution as you said.. Checkout the guide at uberstandard.org.  --alt-preset-standard was replaced in the most recent version of LAME (3.98) with -V2, but it does essentially the same thing.

3. Yes. If something is that much better mp3, then a re-rip may be in order.  However, you can rest easy because "vastly superior" is not likely to happen in in the lifetime of anyone currently living.  Even files encoded a decade ago with MP3, if encoded properly in the first place, are still of exceptional quality, and IMHO not worth re-ripping unless you have a LOT of time to kill.[/font]

Should I change from mp3 to another lossy format?

Reply #2
brailmaster already posted a pretty good response but I will add my $0.02 here:
1.  mp3 is still the standard lossy audio format when it comes to hardware and software support.  I think that WMA comes in second and that AAC comes in at a close third.  You can go out to many different car dealerships and you will see that their factory installed decks can play mp3/WMA discs but don't support AAC.  There are a few that support AAC though such as Ford's Fusion which uses Microsoft's sync technology.  Other device manufacturers such as SanDisk have yet to really support AAC.  Their inexpensive players will only support WMA (both DRM and non-DRM) and mp3, they won't support the AAC format.  All of my devices have the ability to play AAC audio files but playback is not perfect.  My Xbox 360 requires that I remain connected to Xbox Live if I want to play AAC files, my PS3 won't read the track tags, my Xbox 360 won't play Nero AAC files, and my Zen will play iTunes AAC files just fine (non-DRM) but won't play Nero AAC files and won't read all of the track tag information (using Apple's standard) in my iTunes AAC files.  However, everything that I have runs the mp3 format smoothly as long as I use ID3v2.3.  I purchased a new Honda Civic Hybrid that has a 6 disc in-dash CD changer and it supports mp3 CDs.  Right now, I have it loaded up with 6 mp3 discs which means that I have access to about 900 tracks right there.  All of my tracks are now encoded with Lame 3.98 at -V 3 and I haven't had any issues.  AAC support is steadily gaining thanks to the popularity of iTunes and iPods but I still feel that playback is buggy on some devices and simply lacking on others.

2.  From my experience, Lame mp3 is better than standard WMA and has been for quite a bit of time.  Microsoft made claims way back in the day (when Windows 2000/ME were new) that a 64kbps WMA file had the same sound quality as a 128kbps Lame mp3 file.  Well, back then, Microsoft used a really old version of Lame and didn't use the recommended version.  I think that both iTunes AAC and Nero AAC are slightly superior to Lame mp3 (both 3.97 and 3.98) at 128kbps VBR.  I have conducted many blind ABX tests at this bitrate setting and come to that conclusion.  However, once I got up to 160kbps VBR and higher, I could not hear a difference between each encoder.  I think that you will be fine if you want to use the -V 2 setting in that you won't hear a difference between a -V 2 Lame mp3 (~190kbps VBR), a 192kbps VBR iTunes AAC file, or a -q0.5/0.55 Nero AAC file.  --alt-preset standard is no longer used with either Lame 3.97 or 3.98.  When using Lame 3.98, you want to use the command of -V 2.  When using Lame 3.97, you want to use the command of -V 2 --vbr-new.  -V 2 is now the preset standard, -V 4 is the preset medium, and -V 0 is the preset extreme.  Just remember that it is always better to conduct your own ABX listening tests.  Many are now saying that Lame 3.98 at -V 3 produces transparent files.  I would have to agree with them.  I have conducted multiple blind ABX tests using various artists including Bleeding Through, Diecast, Rage Against The Machine, Slipknot, Korn, Dimmu Borgir, Dream Theater, Tool, DAATH, and many others.  To me, I could not distinguish between a -V 3 mp3 and the source lossless files.  So I suggest that you conduct your own blind ABX test as you may not need to use -V 2.  You serve no purpose by using a higher bitrate setting when you can't hear the difference.

3.  Well, any lossless encoder will technically provide vastly superior quality to any lossy encoder (including Lame) out there.  The absolute best thing that you can do to your CD collection is rip it to lossless and then encode it to a lossy format for portable listening or listening on your computer.  That way you will never, ever have to rip your CD collection again (hardware problems aside) and you can keep re-encoding your lossless files anytime a new lossy encoder/format comes out.  Right now though, I don't think that there is a lossy format (I have tested WMA standard, WMA pro, Nero AAC, and iTunes AAC) that provides vastly superior results to the Lame mp3 encoder at the 128bkps VBR to 160kbps VBR settings.

 

Should I change from mp3 to another lossy format?

Reply #3
Checkout the guide at uberstandard.org.
Off-topic, but that guide isn't very good when it comes to configuring EAC (EAC Options and Drive Options).

Even files encoded a decade ago with MP3, if encoded properly in the first place, are still of exceptional quality, and IMHO not worth re-ripping unless you have a LOT of time to kill.
Mp3 has progressed a lot in the last ten years.

Should I change from mp3 to another lossy format?

Reply #4
Ive asked questions here before and you guys are awesome in your responses.

Its been about 2 years since I've ripped any CD's,  the stack of unripped CD's just keeps getting larger, and it needs to be addressed, which leads me to my first question.

1. Is MP3 still the defacto standard?  Every standalone piece of hardware i have supports AAC, WMA (non-pro) and of coarse, mp3.  I listen to mostly rock and metal, some soft stuff, which standard would be best for me in your experiences. 

2. Mp3 is tried and true, in all likelihood I'm anticipating people saying AAC or WMA may be better (128kbps to 256kbps), but MP3 and lame still gets the job done, and well.  Anyway, I'm out of the know, what do i type in for user specified compressor, is it still --alt-preset-standard?  Please provide me a whole line suggestion, id greatly appreciate just being able to cut and paste a good suggestion right in.

3. If standards other than mp3 prove to be "vastly" superior to mp3, should i re-rip my entire collection?

Thank you in advance for your responses, its greatly appreciated.

[edit]I spent time using the forum search feature, and was completely oblivious of the post right below mine titled "which encoder" that answers almost all of my questions.  Perhaps using search for something that was clearly on the front page was like nuking an ant hill.  My bad!

link: http://www.hydrogenaudio.org/forums/index....showtopic=65597
[/edit]


IMO disk storage is cheap enough to rip to FLAC and not worry about it. Last week Fry's had a 500 gig USB drive for $90. That drive would hold around 1300 CDs - less than 7 cents a disc - and never rip again, regardless of future formats


Should I change from mp3 to another lossy format?

Reply #5
Quote
IMO disk storage is cheap enough to rip to FLAC and not worry about it. Last week Fry's had a 500 gig USB drive for $90. That drive would hold around 1300 CDs - less than 7 cents a disc - and never rip again, regardless of future formats



i have considered ripping to flac, space is not an issue.  I am sitting on about 4TB's of free space on my fileserver atm.  Ive been ripping bluerays to x264 for about the past year, about 40gigs for the source rip, and 8 to 10 gigs for the final 1080p product (4-5 gigs w/ 720p).  Anyway, on to the point.  Im sitting on about 400 CD's that need immediate ripping, and another 1000 that would need to be re-ripped to flac.  Ontop of that, i would then have to recompress to lossy, which is a ton more time.  This would be hundreds of hours at best.  I know you guys are the premiere audiophiles, so i understand the arguments for using flac for an entire collection; but im just looking for a rip that is transparent with standard run of the mill speakers and headsets.  That is the reason i had used lame since day 1.  If its me ripping directly to lossy, id consider ripping my entire collection again if it is worth it, however; with what has been stated, i dont believe i need to.  My previous rips i believe were done on lame 3.7* with --alt-preset-standard (i think, im not sure on the lame version or the compression mode) so i prob wont re-rip my entire collection.

Thank you guys for responding and giving me amazing and well thought responses.  You answered all of my questions and addressed concerns that i had not stated.  Thank you for the uberstandard.org link aswell, its a huge help.


Should I change from mp3 to another lossy format?

Reply #7
Off-topic, but that guide isn't very good when it comes to configuring EAC (EAC Options and Drive Options).

Mp3 has progressed a lot in the last ten years.


Off-topic hu?  He said: "I'd greatly appreciate just being able to cut and paste a good suggestion right in." 
I gave him a good solution, to cut and paste, right in.  Please explain how that was off-topic. Or maybe you'd like to retract your statement? I'm also curious as to which EAC Options and Drive Options you find offensive there.  They look OK to me.

As for MP3 progressing "a lot" in the last ten years, I guess I'd like to know what "a lot" means to you.  To me, "a lot" better would be something that warrants re-ripping. I personally can't ABX my 224kbps MP3 rips from ten years ago to the original CDs. Since then, encoders have gotten faster and the file sizes of perceptually transparent rips have gotten somewhat smaller.  Improvements have certainly been made, but in my view nothing that justifies re-ripping.  Even a large collection might only net a 200MB reduction, but the re-ripping would cost you days of work.  If you could be working a minimum wage job in that time instead, you'd have enough money to buy a 500GB drive, so your argument there is a little hard to follow. Would you mind elaborating?

Should I change from mp3 to another lossy format?

Reply #8
Please explain how that was off-topic.
My comment about setting up EAC options and drive options was off-topic.

Or maybe you'd like to retract your statement? I'm also curious as to which EAC Options and Drive Options you find offensive there.  They look OK to me.
I'd be happy to have it out with you over that site.  Say the word and I'll split the topic.

Since then, encoders have gotten faster and the file sizes of perceptually transparent rips have gotten somewhat smaller.  Improvements have certainly been made, but in my view nothing that justifies re-ripping.
Have a look at Lame's changelog.  Otherwise you summed it up perfectly: faster encoding and transparency is achievable at lower bitrates.  The development in VBR algorithms over the last 10 years is astounding.

Should I change from mp3 to another lossy format?

Reply #9
My comment about setting up EAC options and drive options was off-topic.


Oh I see..

I'd be happy to have it out with you over that site.  Say the word and I'll split the topic.


Have a look at Lame's changelog.  Otherwise you summed it up perfectly: faster encoding and transparency is achievable at lower bitrates.  The development in VBR algorithms over the last 10 years is astounding.


Yes let's talk about that.  I'm not overwhelmingly interested in "having it out with you" but if you'd like to have a friendly rational disagreement please split into a new topic.  Maybe I am genuinely wrong in which case I look forward to improving my knowledge. Or maybe your objections are unfounded.

Should I change from mp3 to another lossy format?

Reply #10
You guys said pretty much everything that could be said, I just wanted to reinstate two things.

1 - Getting an external HD and ripping your collection to FLAC is an excellent idea
2 - For the lossy files get LAME 3.98 and do an ABX test at several V settings - I personally think V3 is the perfect size/quality ratio - files end up being about 175kbps and indistinguishable from the originals.

Should I change from mp3 to another lossy format?

Reply #11
brailmaster: The uberguide was once the best. Now it is just silly. Ripping a cd with the (uber) recommended software takes at least 5 times as long! For no benefit.

LAME 3.98 is much more versatile than the 3.90.x branch

Should I change from mp3 to another lossy format?

Reply #12
brailmaster: The uberguide was once the best. Now it is just silly. Ripping a cd with the (uber) recommended software takes at least 5 times as long! For no benefit.

LAME 3.98 is much more versatile than the 3.90.x branch


I agree that 3.98 is more versatile, and faster, and produces smaller files while maintaining perceptual transparency.  That's probably why the uber guide recommends using it.

Well, "5 times as long" is more than a slight exaggeration.  It does take longer than, say, enabling C2 and eliminating cool down, but it's not "for no benefit".  The benefit is being sure that the rip is accurate and free of read errors.  You characterize that as being silly; what I think is silly is expecting people to do all kinds of tests on their equipment to custom-tailor their EAC setup for speed, and then being surprised when they either mess it up and make poor rips, or throw their arms up in the air and run to Audiograbber filling the internet with low quality music.

Should I change from mp3 to another lossy format?

Reply #13
I find uberstandard.org to be awesome.  Lets consider why.

1. Consider the target demographic of the web page, its not for people who clearly are after the very best and efficient results possible, its targeted at people like me, or people who simply want great rips without having to learn the ins and outs of this complex program.

2.  I know close to nothing about using/configure EAC or lame, its purpose its a straight forward guide on how to get up and running with EAC.  In that purpose, it overwhelmingly succeeds.

3.  By requesting that i wanted someone to tell me what to paste in EAC, i forfeited all rights to digress or improve, i was after the easy way.  Uberstandard.org provided an easy to follow guide, again, with fantastic results.

So while i understand why some my be completely against the use of uberstandard.org look at it from a marketing approach and who it is being targeted at: me, an individual who is after results with little hassle. 

www.uberstandard.org is fantastic, and linking me to it was a fantastic idea.

Should I change from mp3 to another lossy format?

Reply #14
2.  I know close to nothing about using/configure EAC or lame, its purpose its a straight forward guide on how to get up and running with EAC.  In that purpose, it overwhelmingly succeeds.
This may sound harsh, but considering that you admit knowing close to nothing about the program, I don't see how you're in any position to comment on the quality of advice given in that guide.  If you want to take longer to produce rips with no increase in accuracy that's fine, but there are settings that actually compromise EAC's ability to alert you to there being ripping errors.

Well, "5 times as long" is more than a slight exaggeration.
Actually, it isn't.  At least it isn't telling people to wait for the drive to spin-up before extraction.    Anyhow, I've started this discussion so that we don't go off-topic here.

Should I change from mp3 to another lossy format?

Reply #15
This may sound harsh, but considering that you admit knowing close to nothing about the program, I don't see how you're in any position to comment on the quality of advice given in that guide.  If you want to take longer to produce rips with no increase in accuracy that's fine, but there are settings that actually compromise EAC's ability to alert you to there being ripping errors.


Before you posted the link, i was unable to rip a cd to mp3.  Now i can, and the mp3's sound just fine.  So while it might not be quality to you, it certainly was to me.  Its been mentioned that it was slower, that the drive and program options were wrong. However, no advice as to why it was slower, or what options were wrong was provided at the time.


Should I change from mp3 to another lossy format?

Reply #17
Hi guys, on this note --I didn't see anything on the EAC wiki regarding Macs --
I have recently backed up my collection using Audialhub
The software mentioned still uses 3.97-- 
If I am going to go 192bps LAME, am I fine using 3.97 or should I push hard for 3.98 or am I missing something?  e.g. if I up the v setting
I want to whine to the software developers over there regarding updating the encoder if the difference is notable.      Thanks

Should I change from mp3 to another lossy format?

Reply #18
Hi guys, on this note --I didn't see anything on the EAC wiki regarding Macs --
I have recently backed up my collection using Audialhub
The software mentioned still uses 3.97-- 
If I am going to go 192bps LAME, am I fine using 3.97 or should I push hard for 3.98 or am I missing something?  e.g. if I up the v setting
I want to whine to the software developers over there regarding updating the encoder if the difference is notable.      Thanks

I believe EAC is a windows-only program.
Each new lame version has offered improvements, but I don't think that the difference between 3.97 and 3.98 is much to worry about. Mention it to the software developer but nothing really to whine about.
I would strongly recommend you use the -V settings instead of 192 kbps. You'll get better sound quality for your filesize, no downside. Other than Windows Media Player incorrectly displaying the bitrate since it (bafflingly) calculates wrong for vbr files. But doesn't hurt playback.
God kills a kitten every time you encode with CBR 320

Should I change from mp3 to another lossy format?

Reply #19
I find uberstandard.org to be awesome.  Lets consider why.

1. Consider the target demographic of the web page, its not for people who clearly are after the very best and efficient results possible, its targeted at people like me, or people who simply want great rips without having to learn the ins and outs of this complex program.

2.  I know close to nothing about using/configure EAC or lame, its purpose its a straight forward guide on how to get up and running with EAC.  In that purpose, it overwhelmingly succeeds.

3.  By requesting that i wanted someone to tell me what to paste in EAC, i forfeited all rights to digress or improve, i was after the easy way.  Uberstandard.org provided an easy to follow guide, again, with fantastic results.

So while i understand why some my be completely against the use of uberstandard.org look at it from a marketing approach and who it is being targeted at: me, an individual who is after results with little hassle. 

www.uberstandard.org is fantastic, and linking me to it was a fantastic idea.


Well, think about these things:
1.  The target demographic means nothing in terms of the quality of the website.  I have seen websites for audiophiles that recommend $300 HDMI cables when I know full well that a $2.50 HDMI cable will produce the exact same results.  They (those sites) are giving out false information.  The demographic of a website has nothing to do with the quality of the content.  That and I have read a few other EAC setup guides that explain things in a clearer manner.  One should always learn more knowledge about ripping and encoding instead of just blindly using some guides and hoping for the best.

2.  Covered in #1.  Again, one should always look for more information regarding their audio encoding methods.  Do something full on with at least some amount of knowledge or don't do anything at all.  That and the Uberstandard guide doesn't correctly explain errors in EAC.  More often than not, those errors are inaudible yet they say that a CD needs to be re-ripped if it has one error bar full.  I have ripped CDs before with 2 error bars full and still didn't hear any audible errors or see any audible errors.

3.  The easy way has been explained much better at other places while actually giving you some insight as to what is going on.  I would even say that the hydrogenaudio wiki explains things in an easy manner.

hippocrack, EAC is a Windows only program.  Most people recommend using Max (or maybe it is Maxx) for Mac OS X.  Max offers one the ability to rip to a variety of formats and, from what I have heard, it is the most secure Mac CD ripper out there.

Should I change from mp3 to another lossy format?

Reply #20
With AR support, XLD is looking pretty good at the moment.  Max is supposed to be coming out with AR support soon, as well.