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Which has a better MP3 encoder, Foobar2000 or Windows Media Player 12?

Hi everyone,

This is my first post here since I couldn't find anything on the internet that could specifically answer my question.

For many years I've used Windows Media Player (Version 12.0.7601.23930) for ripping my CDs into 320kbps MP3s, but recently I downloaded Foobar2000 (Version 1.3.16, that now uses LAME 3.100) and I'm wondering which program is better to rip my CDs for 320kbps MP3?

I looked at the technical information for WMP, and found this information for audio codecs:

Audio Codecs
Type    Name                                                                 Format                  Binary            Version
ACM    Microsoft IMA ADPCM CODEC                            0011                   imaadp32.acm    6.1.7600.16385
ACM    Microsoft CCITT G.711 A-Law and u-Law CODEC    0007                   msg711.acm    6.1.7600.16385
ACM    Microsoft GSM 6.10 Audio CODEC                             0031                   msgsm32.acm    6.1.7600.16385
ACM    Microsoft ADPCM CODEC                                     0002                   msadp32.acm    6.1.7600.16385
ACM    Fraunhofer IIS MPEG Layer-3 Codec (decode only)      0055                   l3codeca.acm    1.9.0.401
ACM    Messenger Audio Codec                                              028E                   sirenacm.dll    15.4.3538.513
ACM    Microsoft PCM Converter                                      0001       
DMO    WMAudio Decoder DMO                                0160, 0161, 0162, 0163    WMADMOD.DLL    6.1.7601.19091
DMO    WMAPro over S/PDIF DMO                                        0162                     WMADMOD.DLL    6.1.7601.19091
DMO    WMSpeech Decoder DMO                                    000A, 000B             WMSPDMOD.DLL    6.1.7601.19091
DMO    MP3 Decoder DMO                                                        0055                   mp3dmod.dll           6.1.7601.19091



I used Spek spectrum analysis and Audacity's spectrum analysis as well, to see which would be better and got these spectrums for the same song at the CBR 320kbps MP3 quality setting.  (I attached screenshots of these spectrums.)  As you can see in the WMP mp3 version, there's an obvious 16kHz shelf, but the frequencies can reach beyond 20.5kHz, even up to 22kHz.  (I also found these frequencies beyond 20.5kHz frequencies in using Audacity's "plot spectrum".)  

In the Foobar2000 mp3 version, there's no obvious 16kHz shelf, but there's a shelf (of sorts) at 19kHz, and very few frequencies beyond 20.5kHz.  (Audacity doesn't show anything beyond 20.5kHz in using their "plot spectrum".)

I'm leaning toward using Foobar2000 as it seems there's more information between 16kHz-19kHz, but I'm curious about why WMP was able to include frequencies beyond 20.5kHz in their converted MP3?  Also, inevitably would it really make a difference if I chose either one for CD ripping in terms of audio quality?  I just don't know how recent WMP has updated their MP3 codec (or even which one they use).  Plus, WMP has a "use error correction" feature in ripping CDs, while foobar2000 has their "Ripping security: Paranoid" feature, which I'm unclear about, and which one is superior to other.  (Keep in mind that some of these CDs are 10-15 years old and have their scratches. lol)

I know there are other audio files (i.e. FLAC), but I prefer MP3s because of their versatility.  If neither one (WMP or Foobar) is very good, and they are just too horrible for CD ripping in terms of audio quality, what CD ripping program would you recommend (besides Exact Audio Copy)?

Thanks in advance for all of your help and responses!

Re: Which has a better MP3 encoder, Foobar2000 or Windows Media Player 12?

Reply #1
A good reason to rip to FLAC is that if your going through the effort to rip all your CDs why would you want to do it all again if you need to change formats? There is also the added bonus of having perfect backups of your CDs in case of physical damage.  iI future you have the freedom to load your FLACs in to Foobar2000 + encoder pack and right click and make them MP3s or AAC or Vorbis or Opus or another lossy or lossless format.

Don't forget there are other rippers out there and ideally you would want a ripper that support acurrip  (which compares your rip to a database of rips which give you a higher confidence that the rip was clean).

Exact Audio Copy
Cuetools Ripper
DBpoweramp ripper

for MP3 encoder I personally would stick with LAME and keep to the standard presets. LAME has been around for ages, its mature and well tested.
http://wiki.hydrogenaud.io/index.php?title=LAME

Who are you and how did you get in here ?
I'm a locksmith, I'm a locksmith.

Re: Which has a better MP3 encoder, Foobar2000 or Windows Media Player 12?

Reply #2
Please don't use spectrum analysis to compare audio quality for lossy codecs such as MP3.
I've used WMP's MP3 encoder a long time ago and I wasn't impressed at all when I was using bitrates close to 128Kbit/s. Could easily hear annoying artefacts, while with LAME at that time I didn't hear any.

Re: Which has a better MP3 encoder, Foobar2000 or Windows Media Player 12?

Reply #3
I second A_Man_Eating_Duck's opinion.

Disk Space is cheap these days. I've regret many times not backing up my CD collection properly. Now, most of my CDs are dead.
You will have more versatility with a lossless backup of your CDs, versus lossy MP3's and possible dead CDs in the future.

Go with a lossless format, FLAC has plenty of support these days. Even Windows 10 supports FLAC out of the box. Then you can do target encoding when you need it. By target encoding, I mean encoding per scenario using the best option for that particular situation.

For example I use lossless on my computer, and encode to AAC for my car stereo.


Re: Which has a better MP3 encoder, Foobar2000 or Windows Media Player 12?

Reply #5
I second A_Man_Eating_Duck's opinion.

Disk Space is cheap these days. I've regret many times not backing up my CD collection properly. Now, most of my CDs are dead.


"Dead"?  How did you kill them?

I have CDs dating back to the first generation of releases on the format, that still play fine.

Of course they're all backed up to FLAC too.

Re: Which has a better MP3 encoder, Foobar2000 or Windows Media Player 12?

Reply #6
Please don't use spectrum analysis to compare audio quality for lossy codecs such as MP3.
I have an idea: let's download Spek, flag it as virus and submit to all AV engines.

Re: Which has a better MP3 encoder, Foobar2000 or Windows Media Player 12?

Reply #7
I've had quite a few discs die, mainly due to poor handling when younger, using them in 10 disc cd stackers in cars (swirling scratches) and disc rot (I think caused by moving to a country with high humidity).

Now my music protected in a 3-2-1 backup ( 3 copies, 2 different media, 1 offsite) so i don't have to go through the pain of re ripping, musicbrains tagging, album arting those CDs again.
Who are you and how did you get in here ?
I'm a locksmith, I'm a locksmith.

Re: Which has a better MP3 encoder, Foobar2000 or Windows Media Player 12?

Reply #8
Just a few random comments -

 - Ripping accuracy is different from encoder sound quality.    If you can correctly read all of the bits from the disc, it doesn't matter what software you're using.     Rippers that support AccurateRip will tell you if you have a perfect rip or not (if the disc is in the database), so it's best to use one that supports AccurateRip.      And, CueTools can actually perfectly-correct some errors  

Sometimes error hiding can work, but it's best to avoid read errors if possible.    I've had a couple of discs that had audible errors but I was able to make a good-sounding digital-to-analog-to-digital recording by taking advantage of the error-hiding built-into the player software.

Sometimes data errors are not audible and sometimes they can sound very bad (ticks, clicks, skips, etc.).   Sometimes I get reported errors, but I don't hear anything wrong.    By now, I've forgotten which CDs were "bad".  

 - Most MP3 encoders are based on LAME, which is probably the best.   EAC and foobar2000 will give identical results if LAME is configured identically (and assuming there are no read errors).    Microsoft and Apple have their own MP3 encoders.   At higher bitrates/quality settings, they will probably all sound the same and they will probably all sound identical to the uncompressed original.   

 - Spectrum analysis can sometimes tell you something about sound quality, but, it's a lousy way to compare lossy compression.    It's easier to get a good looking spectrum than it is to get good sound, and you could tweak the settings to get a better spectrum while making the sound worse.

 - If you want perfection use FLAC, and don't waste time studying spectrums.     MP3 and AAC are lossy (although it can often sound perfect).       FLAC is "better" than WAV because tagging (metadata) is more widely supported and the files are almost half the size of WAV.

Re: Which has a better MP3 encoder, Foobar2000 or Windows Media Player 12?

Reply #9
I second A_Man_Eating_Duck's opinion.

Disk Space is cheap these days. I've regret many times not backing up my CD collection properly. Now, most of my CDs are dead.


"Dead"?  How did you kill them?

I have CDs dating back to the first generation of releases on the format, that still play fine.

Of course they're all backed up to FLAC too.


Mostly CD Rot:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Disc_rot

Re: Which has a better MP3 encoder, Foobar2000 or Windows Media Player 12?

Reply #10
If you had "most of" your CDs rust up, then you must have had a very odd collection?
“It sounded bad to me. Digital. They have digital. What is digital? And it’s very complicated, you have to be Albert Einstein to figure it out.”
- Donald Trump, May 2017

Re: Which has a better MP3 encoder, Foobar2000 or Windows Media Player 12?

Reply #11
lol, thanks audiophiles for all the info.  I'll start looking into FLAC from now on.

...Okay to conclude things, based on what people have said here, I'm guessing WMP is using a Fraunhofer MP3 encoder (from the audio codec information I found and mentioned in my first post), and is probably inferior in comparison to LAME.  Though what puzzles me is how WMP is able to encode frequencies beyond 20.5kHz for a 320kbps MP3.  Well... at least according to these spectrum graphs as useless as they may be now...**shrug**  Plus, is the WMP "error correction" feature also worse than Foobar2000's "ripping security: paranoid" setting also?  

 I just want to know these details, since some of my family members are more accustomed than me to using WMP 12 as it just comes with Windows, so I can explain it to them also why WMP is not a good choice in CD ripping audio quality.  A few even use ITunes' MP3 encoder, from what I casually read online, has even a worse audio quality codec than WMP.

Re: Which has a better MP3 encoder, Foobar2000 or Windows Media Player 12?

Reply #12
Does anyone actually know what WMP error correction does?  Last time I looked, WMP didn't support C2 or have any means to defeat drive caching, so its hard to see how any error correction wouldn't be very reliable.

fb2000 paranoid mode reads every block four times and compares the checksums.  That is pretty paranoid!  Default behaviour is just to re-read once and compare the checksum.

Again in your last post you are confusing the accuracy of the ripping and the audio quality of the mp3 files produced.  These are two entirely separate things: the best CD ripper could produce terrible quality mp3 files and vice versa.

Doesn't iTunes use a Fraunhofer mp3 encoder?  Nothing to stop mp3 encoding frequencies up to 24 kHz (not quite so high from a CD obviously), although high frequencies are usually filtered out a long way below that.  Since very few people can even hear frequencies above 16k (or a lot lower!) and even then can hardly detect whether they are present or not in real music, most encoders make the best use of their previous bits by totally removing high frequencies and concentrating on things that are more important to the perceived quality of the music.  Would you prefer that inaudible high frequencies were retained, but the music sounded poor because there weren't enough bits available to properly represent the main melody and vocals?

Re: Which has a better MP3 encoder, Foobar2000 or Windows Media Player 12?

Reply #13
I've never had a CD rot so far as I can tell.  That's mostly several hundred CDs going back to the 80s, and they've travelled to some pretty humid places.  Maybe I don't have enough crappy newer ones, but probably just a bit of care and they stay intact for a long long time.

Re: Which has a better MP3 encoder, Foobar2000 or Windows Media Player 12?

Reply #14
It happened to one of my CDs from the 90's. It was a dance music sampler, and it looks as if the metallic part is splitting away from the plastic disc. Not sure if this is actually CD rot, or if the glue they used just breaks down, or something.

It's not a CD I really care about, but as far as I can tell, it's the only CD failure I had so far. Would be nice if we could quantify quality in CD manufacture, though. Like glue type used, place of manufacture, etc.

Re: Which has a better MP3 encoder, Foobar2000 or Windows Media Player 12?

Reply #15
I had only one CD go bad on me, which was prince's 'Batman' album. I could hold it up to a lamp and see pinpricks of light. I ripped it, eventually, but it took a while.

Re: Which has a better MP3 encoder, Foobar2000 or Windows Media Player 12?

Reply #16
Again in your last post you are confusing the accuracy of the ripping and the audio quality of the mp3 files produced.  These are two entirely separate things: the best CD ripper could produce terrible quality mp3 files and vice versa.

Doesn't iTunes use a Fraunhofer mp3 encoder?  Nothing to stop mp3 encoding frequencies up to 24 kHz (not quite so high from a CD obviously), although high frequencies are usually filtered out a long way below that.  Since very few people can even hear frequencies above 16k (or a lot lower!) and even then can hardly detect whether they are present or not in real music, most encoders make the best use of their previous bits by totally removing high frequencies and concentrating on things that are more important to the perceived quality of the music.  Would you prefer that inaudible high frequencies were retained, but the music sounded poor because there weren't enough bits available to properly represent the main melody and vocals?
I guess what was confusing me was how the WMP mp3s actually retained that >20.5kHz data, when that typically is not be expected, when both the WMP mp3 and Foobar2000 mp3 have about the same file size.   But as others have said here, it may not be the correct reflection of accuracy or quality.

Okay, thanks.  I guess from all that I read here, I'll tell them to use the LAME mp3 encoder (using Foobar2000) rather than the WMP Fraunhofer mp3 encoder.  Thanks again for your help, I guess was trying find an ultimate final decision in weighing the factors of 1) which CD ripping program was best (Foobar2000 vs WMP 12) with their "error correcting" or "ripping security" features, and 2) their own mp3 encoder (Fraunhofer vs LAME).   I apologize for my confusion.

Re: Which has a better MP3 encoder, Foobar2000 or Windows Media Player 12?

Reply #17
Again in your last post you are confusing the accuracy of the ripping and the audio quality of the mp3 files produced.  These are two entirely separate things: the best CD ripper could produce terrible quality mp3 files and vice versa.

Doesn't iTunes use a Fraunhofer mp3 encoder?  Nothing to stop mp3 encoding frequencies up to 24 kHz (not quite so high from a CD obviously), although high frequencies are usually filtered out a long way below that.  Since very few people can even hear frequencies above 16k (or a lot lower!) and even then can hardly detect whether they are present or not in real music, most encoders make the best use of their previous bits by totally removing high frequencies and concentrating on things that are more important to the perceived quality of the music.  Would you prefer that inaudible high frequencies were retained, but the music sounded poor because there weren't enough bits available to properly represent the main melody and vocals?
I guess what was confusing me was how the WMP mp3s actually retained that >20.5kHz data, when that typically is not be expected, when both the WMP mp3 and Foobar2000 mp3 have about the same file size.   But as others have said here, it may not be the correct reflection of accuracy or quality.

Okay, thanks.  I guess from all that I read here, I'll tell them to use the LAME mp3 encoder (using Foobar2000) rather than the WMP Fraunhofer mp3 encoder.  Thanks again for your help, I guess was trying find an ultimate final decision in weighing the factors of 1) which CD ripping program was best (Foobar2000 vs WMP 12) with their "error correcting" or "ripping security" features, and 2) their own mp3 encoder (Fraunhofer vs LAME).   I apologize for my confusion.

lame.exe -V0 -b 320 song.wav
nothing special, GOGO-no-coda ~256kbps VBR + mp3packer

Re: Which has a better MP3 encoder, Foobar2000 or Windows Media Player 12?

Reply #18
If
I guess was trying find an ultimate final decision in weighing the factors of 1) which CD ripping program was best (Foobar2000 vs WMP 12) with their "error correcting" or "ripping security" features, and 2) their own mp3 encoder (Fraunhofer vs LAME).  

1) I would rather use CUETools or EAC or dBpoweramp.  CUETools can even repair rips, as already pointed out.
(I use foobar2000 as my music player, but not for ripping.)

2) Lossless first (for archive), then you can LAME it to your favourite bitrate for portable use. For in-car use you could find yourself surprised at how good 64 kbit/s actually sounds.
(If your unit supports other formats - try Opus if you have an Android device - you could likely go even lower, http://listening-test.coresv.net/results.htm )
“It sounded bad to me. Digital. They have digital. What is digital? And it’s very complicated, you have to be Albert Einstein to figure it out.”
- Donald Trump, May 2017

Re: Which has a better MP3 encoder, Foobar2000 or Windows Media Player 12?

Reply #19
I know it's old topic but i think maybe this is useful?
I used to use "spec" for a long time for the same reason, but now I'm using "Sonic Visualiser" because it's compatible with win.10,
however, I tried many converters, encoders to convert FLAC, WAV or M4A to a high quality mp3, and none of mp3 converters gives the desired quality until i found "FairStars Audio Converter" the old version "2.10" and not the pro one.
Using these parameters: CBR - 320 kbps , the quality reached 22KHz, and that was perfect for mp3 file.

Re: Which has a better MP3 encoder, Foobar2000 or Windows Media Player 12?

Reply #20
mm... i think ur problem is u r "converting" mp3... And what u should do is to RIP mp3 directly of and ORIGINAL comercial CD. It is not the same... And always set it at 44.1 KHz, not at 48 KHz.

Remember that the LAME Encoder is not good resampling.

Try with these setting: CBR - 320 kpbs - Stereo (-ms) - Very Fast Quality (-q 9) - Sample Rate at 44.1 KHz (u'll listen up to 22.05 KHz audibles) - and if u want, u could enable a Low Pass Filter at 20.5. And try to do not use a High Pass Filter.

The Very Fast Quality would be better than Highest Quality, because the encoders perform a very fast and not elaborate algorithm to compress the mp3. That's why it would sound better.
I hope this help u

Re: Which has a better MP3 encoder, Foobar2000 or Windows Media Player 12?

Reply #21
and none of mp3 converters gives the desired quality
Have you listened?

mm... i think ur problem is u r "converting" mp3... And what u should do is to RIP mp3 directly of and ORIGINAL comercial CD. I
Not sure what you actually write. Based on what you reply to, you mean convert to mp3? If so, everything here is wrong.
“It sounded bad to me. Digital. They have digital. What is digital? And it’s very complicated, you have to be Albert Einstein to figure it out.”
- Donald Trump, May 2017

Re: Which has a better MP3 encoder, Foobar2000 or Windows Media Player 12?

Reply #22
mm... i think ur problem is u r "converting" mp3... And what u should do is to RIP mp3 directly of and ORIGINAL comercial CD. I
Not sure what you actually write. Based on what you reply to, you mean convert to mp3? If so, everything here is wrong.
Correct.

Furthermore, -V0 introduces no forced low-pass filtering, as outlined in the wiki and here: https://hydrogenaud.io/index.php/topic,106868.msg874354.html#msg874354

Also, why are people not using --preset extreme, if unsure? I've yet to find someone who can ABX those files against a lossless file.

Re: Which has a better MP3 encoder, Foobar2000 or Windows Media Player 12?

Reply #23
Also, why are people not using --preset extreme, if unsure? I've yet to find someone who can ABX those files against a lossless file.
"if unsure", lossless is as good as anything: one does not have to deal with un-checksummed file formats, rips can be retro-verified (sometimes even repaired with audible improvements), and storage is not expensive anymore.

Still you are perfectly right about rectifying nonsense about mp3, of course.
“It sounded bad to me. Digital. They have digital. What is digital? And it’s very complicated, you have to be Albert Einstein to figure it out.”
- Donald Trump, May 2017

 

Re: Which has a better MP3 encoder, Foobar2000 or Windows Media Player 12?

Reply #24
"if unsure" [...]
Unsure in terms of when it has to be MP3, using --preset extreme is a good, quick solution.

Of course keeping lossless files is preferred. Pretty sure @nuker will concur, too. Those discussion have been had countless times here, so I'm not gonna warm up that stale cup of coffee...

 
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