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  • funkyblue
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Smallest File / Mostly Transparent Encoder?
Hello All

I have not been keeping with the latest goings on in the last few years.

Is these a consensus on an audio format vs file size that is mostly transparent?

I have always used V2 with LAME. (I still remember the --r3mix option!)

Currently I encoded a bunch of stuff with -V4 for portable usage and it has been great.

Is there any other file formats or options that give the smallest file size that is mostly transparent?

I know mostly transparent is not a scientific analysis but I am unsure if there is a happy medium now?

Thanks in advance.






  • saratoga
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Smallest File / Mostly Transparent Encoder?
Reply #1
For portable use, probably -V5 in lame would be fine.

You could also look into lower bitrate AAC or Vorbis.  When I still used my ipod, I'd often use 100k VBR on it, and was quite happy with the quality.

  • funkyblue
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Smallest File / Mostly Transparent Encoder?
Reply #2
For portable use, probably -V5 in lame would be fine.

You could also look into lower bitrate AAC or Vorbis.  When I still used my ipod, I'd often use 100k VBR on it, and was quite happy with the quality.


Yeah thanks.  So no testing or threads about?

100k VBR is probably getting a bit low. But I also do not know how much quality at the lower end has improved.

I found some stuff that was encoded with Xing and Blade from 1999 on my computer. My ears are still bleeding!

  • IgorC
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Smallest File / Mostly Transparent Encoder?
Reply #3
There is a search function in the top-right corner. I bet You will find a lot of useful information in this forum.
  • Last Edit: 12 November, 2012, 10:58:11 PM by IgorC

  • BFG
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Smallest File / Mostly Transparent Encoder?
Reply #4
For transparency and portability, it's still tough to beat LAME and MP3.  I find -V4.5 -q0 (~160kbps) to be fine for portable players, though to be on the safer side I usually -V0 everything.
You may also want to check out halb27's LAME variant.  It increases the accuracy requirements for tough-to-encode sections.  Of course that can dramatically raise the bitrate too.
  • Last Edit: 12 November, 2012, 11:08:15 PM by BFG

  • funkyblue
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Smallest File / Mostly Transparent Encoder?
Reply #5
There is a search function in the top-right corner. I bet You will find a lot of useful information in this forum.


Lots of is the key. Nothing specific. Hence the new thread. ")

  • eahm
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Smallest File / Mostly Transparent Encoder?
Reply #6
I can even suggest you AAC True VBR q36 (~95kbps) but you have to ABX to better know what you need.
  • Last Edit: 13 November, 2012, 01:03:14 AM by eahm

  • saratoga
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Smallest File / Mostly Transparent Encoder?
Reply #7
For portable use, probably -V5 in lame would be fine.

You could also look into lower bitrate AAC or Vorbis.  When I still used my ipod, I'd often use 100k VBR on it, and was quite happy with the quality.


Yeah thanks.  So no testing or threads about?

100k VBR is probably getting a bit low. But I also do not know how much quality at the lower end has improved.

I found some stuff that was encoded with Xing and Blade from 1999 on my computer. My ears are still bleeding!


If you just want over 100k and don't care too much about perfect transparency you could probably use virtually any modern codec.

  • Anakunda
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Smallest File / Mostly Transparent Encoder?
Reply #8
Check hardware specs of the target player and if it supports AAC or OGG there's no good reason (except slightly lesser power consumption) to choice mp3. From all modern lossy codecs it has worst quality/bitrate ratio. I use for my phone AAC at ~192k-VBR which is kind of overkill but the advantage is the same files can be shared between portable, PC or interior multimedia player where they still sound transparent enough.

  • Porcus
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Smallest File / Mostly Transparent Encoder?
Reply #9
Is this for keeping your only copy, or is it for transcoding from your lossless archive to get maximum minutes on a portable device with limited storage capacity? In the latter case, you can of course start low and then reencode if you need it.
  • Last Edit: 13 November, 2012, 03:23:40 AM by Porcus

  • Nessuno
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Smallest File / Mostly Transparent Encoder?
Reply #10
Why don't take a different approach to this matter at hand, bitrate vs transparency tradeoff: instead of searching an abstract value of bitrate mostly transparent, let's start from the real storage available and calculate how much music we could expect to put in it.

I explain: I have loaded my DAP with 8Gb of 256kbps VBR AAC, completely transparent to me, reaching a grand total of about 70 CDs, sometimes more sometimes less, so it's about 9 CD per Gb. @160kbps, a bitrate "mostly transparent" but which I successfully ABXed more than once with harpsichord (which is an instrument I happen to like a lot!), I would have gained 30, maybe 40 more CDs, but then I would have been listening in constant fear of compression artifacts: I decided for peace of mind!
 
And is a fact that nowadays DAPs have reached a quality level so that they can be considered a primary source, using good headphones or options like USB, line or digital out, AirPlay etc...
... I live by long distance.

  • funkyblue
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Smallest File / Mostly Transparent Encoder?
Reply #11
Is this for keeping your only copy, or is it for transcoding from your lossless archive to get maximum minutes on a portable device with limited storage capacity? In the latter case, you can of course start low and then reencode if you need it.


Transcoding. I have my FLAC collection.

I get the just of advice is to try. I guess there is no medium any more.

Not really looking for the "I can compress more, so I can fit more" It's more of a case of "this is about transparent for the lowest file size."

  • shadowking
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Smallest File / Mostly Transparent Encoder?
Reply #12
IMO, MP3 takes the crown .  Others may be better towards the 120k side of thing but for a long time now its no big deal at all to go V4 ~ 153 kbit . Quality is almost always very good if not perfect not to mention the compatibility.
wavpack -b4x4s1c

  • skamp
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  • Developer
Smallest File / Mostly Transparent Encoder?
Reply #13
Opus at ~128 kbps is also pretty good (I couldn't ABX it on my usual test track last time I tried). Rockbox dev builds support it, gonemad on Android partially supports it, Poweramp on Android will support it in the next (or so) release.
See my profile for measurements, tools and recommendations.

Smallest File / Mostly Transparent Encoder?
Reply #14
I hope the developer on DeaDBeeF changes his mind about his opus priority. For portable use in noisy or almost noisy environments I could probably go as low as 96kbps using opus.

  • funkyblue
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Smallest File / Mostly Transparent Encoder?
Reply #15
IMO, MP3 takes the crown .  Others may be better towards the 120k side of thing but for a long time now its no big deal at all to go V4 ~ 153 kbit . Quality is almost always very good if not perfect not to mention the compatibility.


Yeah, I am thinking of staying with LAME and -V4.

Test folder of songs.

793 tracks and average bitrate was 151kbps.

I wanted to test QAAC but it is just too difficult to setup. No simple guide on how to get it to work with dBpoweramp or Foobar.

I am currently using a Galaxy Nexus 16gb and due to the Nexus 4's lack of space I'll be stuck with 16gb again, so smallest file size without compromising quality too much.

  • Brand
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Smallest File / Mostly Transparent Encoder?
Reply #16
Based on my own limited testing, I'd say the lowest bitrate transparency for music can be achieved with AAC. More specifically with either the FhG (Winamp) or Apple's encoder at around 130 kbps.
The Winamp's AAC encoder can be used with Foobar as well (there's a command line encoder somewhere).

At higher bitrates (170-180) they all sound pretty much transparent to me, including MP3.

Sure, you can still ABX some even at 200+ with careful listening, but for casual listening outside of ABX, I'd have no problem recommending something like FhG at setting 4 (~130kbps).

  • yourlord
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Smallest File / Mostly Transparent Encoder?
Reply #17
Do some test encodes of OGG Vorbis or AAC targeting around 96kbps and try them.. I'm betting you'll be shocked how good they are..
Once Opus has better player support it would probably get the nod from me, but right now I'd say AAC and Vorbis are the best options for what you want. It seems silly to use mp3 at all unless your player supports nothing else.

  • IgorC
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Smallest File / Mostly Transparent Encoder?
Reply #18
A personal listening test of AAC and MP3. http://d.hatena.ne.jp/kamedo2/20111029/1319840519
I won't be tired to mention kamedo2's  tests again and again. He is a great listener.

So the graph shows that Apple AAC 96-100 kbps is equivalent to LAME MP3 160 kbps.

Hydrogenaudio Listening Tests

There is an easy way to make a portable  version of QAAC encoder without installing Apple Quicktime or iTunes.
Then it's simple to use QAAC as any other command line encoder with foobar converter.
http://www.hydrogenaudio.org/forums/index....st&p=785744
  • Last Edit: 13 November, 2012, 09:11:44 AM by IgorC

  • funkyblue
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Smallest File / Mostly Transparent Encoder?
Reply #19
OK Thanks IgorC  I did take a look at the listening tests and took from it that QAAC was the best.

Just frustrating there is not a simple plugin built for foobar, or insutructions that are clear and easy to find.

I understand the legalities etc though.

I'll give it a shot and see how I go around 96-100kbps.

Thanks.

  • pdq
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Smallest File / Mostly Transparent Encoder?
Reply #20
Just a thought, for less than $40 you can get a DAP that takes 32 GB micro SD cards. I often fill one with FLAC files instead of MP3 because I don't really need several thousand files at a time.

  • funkyblue
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Smallest File / Mostly Transparent Encoder?
Reply #21
Yeah I could get another MP3 player, but I am only interested in using my phone now.
I also do not like to have to change stuff all the time. I want to put a couple of thousand songs.

So is there a guide to QAAC? It is so confusing. So many options and incompleted quides.

Why is there nothing like this for AAC?

http://wiki.hydrogenaudio.org/index.php?ti...ncoder_settings

Just makes it hard trying to get it working with Foobar2000 when there is so clear guide on recommended options etc.

I cannot even find a guide that gives examples of Foobar command lines for QAAC.

  • funkyblue
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Smallest File / Mostly Transparent Encoder?
Reply #22
So I have managed to get this to work:

qaac.exe in Foobar2000.

-V45 -o %d -

Average of 96kbits. Is that the highest quality option for that bitrate?

If so I'll play around that bitrate area.

Thanks everyone

  • Brand
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Smallest File / Mostly Transparent Encoder?
Reply #23
For the FhG AAC encoder see here. The encoder .exe is here and the other files you get from Winamp.
Try --vbr 3 and --vbr 4. The latter should give you very good results.
  • Last Edit: 13 November, 2012, 10:38:36 AM by Brand

Smallest File / Mostly Transparent Encoder?
Reply #24
check QAAC's wiki, https://github.com/nu774/qaac/wiki
it has a page: "Command Line Options".