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What encoder to use in 2017

Hi, I recently got a phone with better dac and more space. I am going to encode my music library again but I am confused. Earlier I was using mp3 lame but I know there are more efficient and maybe better encoders out there. I was looking at opus but I don't know much about it. So what encoder do you guys suggest aac, mp3, ogg or opus?

Re: What encoder to use in 2017

Reply #1
It your phone plays opus, go will it. Very good quality under 128 kbs
or, aac,  ogg and mp3. Depending on  phone ram GB.
Most likely your won't hear any difference.

Re: What encoder to use in 2017

Reply #2
It really doesn't matter much, with an adequately high enough bitrate. If in doubt and if your can muster up the storage, go for lossless. If not, I'd use Opus, simply because of the good overall performance. But really, if you use MP3 encoded with a recent LAME and with a large enough bitrate, you're not doing much wrong.

Re: What encoder to use in 2017

Reply #3
I go to Opus for lossy now. Great quality at low bitrates and also suits my general preference for "libre" stuff. Since it is portable use you are aiming for, which usually impliess a less than optimal listening environment, you can even squeeze the bitrate down a bit more.
I normally I set the bitrate at 70, but most frequently my encodes turn up higher than what I set, in this case, resulting in arround 75-85 kbps.
Perhaps I have the high bitrate half of that mythical "varied collection" and there's somebody else out there with the low bitrate part and he gets a 55-65 kbps average.

Re: What encoder to use in 2017

Reply #4
Opus looks good but I am streaming and sharing music and also using these files in a car stereo sometimes. Opus is limited in compatibility but I can try to deal with it. Opus is going to run with software decoding in the phone and Isn't it going to affect battery life much or no? Well I am listening in a quiet room with m50x too and I can clearly hear the difference at low bitrates. So, I was using lame mp3 320 cbr and I read that its waste of space and vbr is suggested. What bitrate should I go for and do you suggest any other encoder?

Re: What encoder to use in 2017

Reply #5
Since you said storage space is not an issue and SQ seems to be your only concern, you're bound to be happy with wichever modern lossy format you pick. But in your specific case (portable storage), lossless may end up, proving itself to be a bit of an overkill, later on.

PS:This thread's title made me think it being a case of nechroposting, given that 2017 is barely a week from its end. :D


Listen to the music, not the media.

Re: What encoder to use in 2017

Reply #6
Opus looks good but I am streaming and sharing music and also using these files in a car stereo sometimes. Opus is limited in compatibility but I can try to deal with it. Opus is going to run with software decoding in the phone and Isn't it going to affect battery life much or no? Well I am listening in a quiet room with m50x too and I can clearly hear the difference at low bitrates. So, I was using lame mp3 320 cbr and I read that its waste of space and vbr is suggested. What bitrate should I go for and do you suggest any other encoder?
Android devices can decode Opus without much difficulty, thanks to Google and WebM, where the recent version utilizes VP9 and Opus. If your car Infotainment system is 2013 or younger, then it shouldn't be much of an issue. Same thing for sharing music, really. Opus actually isn't that new anymore. Devices and firmwares five years old are able to decode it in many cases.

If it must be MP3 because of compatability reasons, I suggest a recent LAME, and then encode a sample of your files with with a -V level going from 0 up untill you find a level which is low enough for your quality needs, but high enough, so any encoding artefacts are masked by your hearing and setup.

A similar approach can be employed to find your best level for Opus. When you have specific needs, any of the regular cases won't match, I suppose. Although -V2 is something I've yet to find, where this wouldn't be transparent.

Re: What encoder to use in 2017

Reply #7
Thanks, I tried Opus and I am really impressed by it. Android 5.0+ is supporting Opus and now there are many players supporting it too. For car stereo I could use aux cable. First, I tried 128 VBR Opus 1.2 encoded with Foobar and I was able to notice the difference in highs when compared to Flac. Then I did 192 VBR and it sounded much better (almost as good as Flac). I also tried 160 VBR but again I could tell the difference in some highs of the song. Maybe it was a killer sample but I think I'm gonna go for 192 VBR just for peace of mind and its not hard on storage either. I also tried VBR 256 and 512. Tbh 512 is not worth it because Opus is transparent much below that bitrate. Also, Opus is resampling to 48000 Hz and after reading some posts I think that if there is any loss in quality then it's not probably audible anyways and the resampler used in libopus is of good quality.

Re: What encoder to use in 2017

Reply #8
Huh, Opus is extremely hard to ABX @ 128kbps. Did you ABX?
| TAK pMax | QAAC ~ 192 kbps |

Re: What encoder to use in 2017

Reply #9
Quote
I also tried 160 VBR but again I could tell the difference in some highs of the song.

I very much doubt this. ABX with high confidence that you aren't guessing or it didn't happen, please.

Re: What encoder to use in 2017

Reply #10
Thanks, I tried Opus and I am really impressed by it. Android 5.0+ is supporting Opus and now there are many players supporting it too. For car stereo I could use aux cable. First, I tried 128 VBR Opus 1.2 encoded with Foobar and I was able to notice the difference in highs when compared to Flac. Then I did 192 VBR and it sounded much better (almost as good as Flac). I also tried 160 VBR but again I could tell the difference in some highs of the song. Maybe it was a killer sample but I think I'm gonna go for 192 VBR just for peace of mind and its not hard on storage either. I also tried VBR 256 and 512. Tbh 512 is not worth it because Opus is transparent much below that bitrate. Also, Opus is resampling to 48000 Hz and after reading some posts I think that if there is any loss in quality then it's not probably audible anyways and the resampler used in libopus is of good quality.
You can attach a Bt receiver to the AUX port and stream your music over Bt from your phone, so no need to plug a cable into the phone, etc.

Your bitrate is pretty high for transparency of Opus in a car. Normally, a VBR of around 80kB/s is usually transparent in these cases.
When it comes to resampling: since you're upsampling from a previously bandwidth-limited signal, oversampling with a Nyquist frequency above that, poses no loss of information, or change of that.

Re: What encoder to use in 2017

Reply #11
I didn't ABX them before as I was casually listening to the tracks in my music player in a quiet room and I kept playing again and again trying to compare different Opus bitrates with FLAC. I only noticed the difference in few parts of the song (highs mostly). I did ABX them now but using a different setup and these headphones are inferior to the ones I used before. Here are the results

Opus 128 VBR vs FLAC
Code: [Select]
foo_abx 2.0.4 report
foobar2000 v1.3.17
2017-12-25 23:28:18

File A: HMLAR.flac
SHA1: 0884731b14b5ece375768ccaa23b296ebfe39af5
File B: HMLAR.opus
SHA1: 33516ef3f1fe64efaf4d8766d2f60bf3654344be

Output:
DS : Primary Sound Driver
Crossfading: NO

23:28:18 : Test started.
23:29:03 : 01/01
23:30:02 : 01/02
23:30:17 : 02/03
23:30:30 : 03/04
23:30:37 : 04/05
23:30:45 : 05/06
23:30:56 : 05/07
23:31:04 : 06/08
23:31:11 : 07/09
23:31:26 : 08/10
23:31:26 : Test finished.

 ----------
Total: 8/10
Probability that you were guessing: 5.5%

 -- signature --
f181ed210f2c32fc5859a50fbef2361f5f97a35c

Re: What encoder to use in 2017

Reply #12
Here's me ABXing two identical files, each contianing 5 seconds of silence, with a similar confidence. Ironically I managed to do it on the first try:

Code: [Select]
foo_abx 2.0.2 report
foobar2000 v1.4 beta 1
2017-12-25 20:51:44

File A: 1.flac
SHA1: 30214aa861aadf122e8039d4d1b3e47b066ccc2e
Gain adjustment: +0.00 dB
File B: 2.flac
SHA1: 04e10ad8a704524be2c781954fe67ad9e7313b95
Gain adjustment: +0.00 dB

Output:
WASAPI (push) : Out: default, 32-bit
Crossfading: NO

20:51:44 : Test started.
20:51:48 : 01/01
20:51:51 : 02/02
20:51:54 : 03/03
20:51:56 : 04/04
20:51:58 : 05/05
20:52:00 : 06/06
20:52:05 : 07/07
20:52:06 : 07/08
20:52:09 : 08/09
20:52:11 : 08/10
20:52:11 : Test finished.

 ----------
Total: 8/10
Probability that you were guessing: 5.5%

 -- signature --
f50ec8a551431e8bc564f68796a08bc4eb279f6d

Re: What encoder to use in 2017

Reply #13
Here's me ABXing two identical files, each contianing 5 seconds of silence, with a similar confidence. Ironically I managed to do it on the first try:

Code: [Select]
foo_abx 2.0.2 report
foobar2000 v1.4 beta 1
2017-12-25 20:51:44

File A: 1.flac
SHA1: 30214aa861aadf122e8039d4d1b3e47b066ccc2e
Gain adjustment: +0.00 dB
File B: 2.flac
SHA1: 04e10ad8a704524be2c781954fe67ad9e7313b95
Gain adjustment: +0.00 dB

Output:
WASAPI (push) : Out: default, 32-bit
Crossfading: NO

20:51:44 : Test started.
20:51:48 : 01/01
20:51:51 : 02/02
20:51:54 : 03/03
20:51:56 : 04/04
20:51:58 : 05/05
20:52:00 : 06/06
20:52:05 : 07/07
20:52:06 : 07/08
20:52:09 : 08/09
20:52:11 : 08/10
20:52:11 : Test finished.

 ----------
Total: 8/10
Probability that you were guessing: 5.5%

 -- signature --
f50ec8a551431e8bc564f68796a08bc4eb279f6d

What are you trying to imply? I did run the ABX multiple times just to confirm that I wasn't guessing and what would I get from guessing huh? If I am increasing bitrate then in the end its gonna end up hogging up more in storage and I am gonna end up with less songs. Clearly its not transparent. Again, here are the results

Code: [Select]
foo_abx 2.0.4 report
foobar2000 v1.3.17
2017-12-26 00:03:40

File A: HMLAR.flac
SHA1: 0884731b14b5ece375768ccaa23b296ebfe39af5
File B: HMLAR.opus
SHA1: 33516ef3f1fe64efaf4d8766d2f60bf3654344be

Output:
DS : Primary Sound Driver
Crossfading: NO

00:03:40 : Test started.
00:04:12 : 01/01
00:04:25 : 02/02
00:04:38 : 03/03
00:04:52 : 04/04
00:05:03 : 05/05
00:05:17 : 06/06
00:05:40 : 06/07
00:05:57 : 07/08
00:06:16 : 08/09
00:06:37 : 08/10
00:06:37 : Test finished.

 ----------
Total: 8/10
Probability that you were guessing: 5.5%

 -- signature --
bf396091de2c60442e9a3297b0c7ae796022d336

Code: [Select]
foo_abx 2.0.4 report
foobar2000 v1.3.17
2017-12-26 00:52:48

File A: HMLAR.flac
SHA1: 0884731b14b5ece375768ccaa23b296ebfe39af5
File B: HMLAR.opus
SHA1: 33516ef3f1fe64efaf4d8766d2f60bf3654344be

Output:
DS : Primary Sound Driver
Crossfading: NO

00:52:48 : Test started.
00:53:32 : 00/01
00:53:44 : 01/02
00:54:09 : 02/03
00:54:19 : 03/04
00:54:31 : 04/05
00:55:07 : 05/06
00:55:38 : 06/07
00:56:14 : 07/08
00:56:30 : 08/09
00:56:56 : 09/10
00:57:20 : 10/11
00:57:41 : 10/12
00:58:00 : 11/13
00:58:20 : 12/14
00:58:20 : Test finished.

 ----------
Total: 12/14
Probability that you were guessing: 0.6%

 -- signature --
6d034126f8b8867de87fc5371517e7cc6e462939

Re: What encoder to use in 2017

Reply #14
Without putting too much effort into these things if I were you I would select one of the following and be done with it...

-Sound quality is paramount with no concern for storage space = FLAC (or other lossless audio format)
-Sound quality/storage space efficiency sweet spot (in my opinion) = Apple AAC @ q64 TVBR (128kbps average) (NOTE: this scores quite well in listening tests and is quite efficient with storage space to)
-Storage space is of some slight concern but are still a bit paranoid about sound quality = Apple AAC @ q109 TVBR (256kbps average)

NOTE: you can use CVBR instead of TVBR if you want as the file sizes are generally a bit larger with CVBR but it seems from listening tests around here that your better off using TVBR since it saves a bit of storage space as there don't seem to be any clear cut difference between TVBR and CVBR modes (sound quality wise) at same bit rate settings in listening tests around here. so given that info it makes more sense to use TVBR since it's more efficient.

In terms of lossy audio formats, outside of MP3/AAC, it seems Opus is clearly the best alternative right now. so basically when it comes to audio formats in general you basically got lossless (i.e. FLAC/ALAC etc) and then on the lossy side pretty much just MP3/AAC/Opus as others are not worth your time to consider at this point in time as it's simply about hardware compatibility and encoder efficiency.

As a general rule... when it comes to using lossy audio formats MP3 or AAC is always the safest choices and in this regard I would recommend AAC simply because it needs less bit rate to become transparent and still has wide hardware support (even though MP3 is king in terms of hardware support since basically everything that can play lossy audio files will play MP3). while Opus is basically a great encoder it's support is probably a bit more limited and if you don't want to risk having to re-rip your music in the future then AAC (using Apple AAC encoder) is your all around best bet in my opinion as it's better than Opus simply because of hardware support as it's pretty safe that devices that can play lossy audio files will be able to play AAC where as Opus your rolling the dice a bit.

with the above info that should give you a pretty good general idea on what you want to do without over thinking it too much. sure, you can tweak things a bit with the whole 128kbps vs 256kbps thing and maybe go somewhere in the middle if you want etc, but you get the gist ;)
For music (especially on-the-go)...
-I suggest Opus @ 96kbps (or... 64kbps minimum, 128kbps maximum). *preferred choice*
-I suggest AAC(Apple) @ 96kbps (q45 TVBR) or 128kbps (q64 TVBR). *secondary choice*
-I use Foobar2000 (/w Encoders Pack etc) to convert FLAC to Opus/AAC(Apple).

Re: What encoder to use in 2017

Reply #15
I tend to agree with ThaCrip except I'd say use the AAC options if maximum compatibility with older car stereo head units, etc, is very important. Otherwise I'd go with Opus at 96-128kbps depending on your preference.

My biggest suggestion is store your main library in lossless, then you can transcode to whatever lossy codec makes the most sense for your target device.

Re: What encoder to use in 2017

Reply #16
I agree with yourlord as if having wide hardware support is not much of a issue for you then Opus @ 96-128kbps seems like a good guideline as it's efficient use of storage space and solid sound quality. plus, like yourlord mentioned, it's best to keep your music collection (especially anything of importance) in lossless (i.e. FLAC/ALAC etc) so if you do ever need to re-rip you can do it easily.

but since AAC has not had any sound quality adjustments for years now (I want to say since 2009-2011 or so(?)) it's pretty much topped out to the point you can basically just rip @ q64 TVBR (128kbps), or whatever bit rate you prefer, and chances are you won't need to re-rip again in AAC format as I think that's partially something to consider as while needing to re-rip might happen at some point, especially if your using a modern format like Opus since they are still improving sound quality on that, I figure with AAC you won't need to re-rip with that as 128kbps is a pretty safe setting to where you ain't got to worry about having obvious sound quality issues as at that point it basically takes effort to notice it and when your just sitting back enjoying your music chances are your not going to be thinking something like, "that part sounds like crap, I wish I had a higher bit rate".

another thing to think about a bit... the OP completed the ABX @ 128kbps with Opus and while he noticed the difference, i have a feeling it's minimal to the point when your just listening to your music straight up and not comparing to the lossless source through the ABX test there is a decent chance you won't even notice it or, even assuming you do notice it, it's probably not going to be to the point that it really bothers you. if it does, simply play it safe and use a high bit rate and be done with it.

basically keep things simple ;)

p.s. depending on how picky you are... I have even heard good things with Opus @ 80kbps which I think people say is roughly similar to Apple AAC @ 96kbps and it appears those two settings in their respective encoders seem to be THE minimum fairly safe setting that people would want to use, especially if storage space is a issue and you and you don't want to risk sound quality much. you could go lower and still not sound like total crap but it seems at those rates (i.e. 80kbps for Opus and 96kbps for AAC) you still retain a large portion of quality sound overall while having maximum efficiency since file size are quite low. but in general... unless you got a fairly big concern for getting maximum amount of songs onto a device I would just use 128kbps and be done with it be it Opus or Apple AAC. like if i was suggesting a bit rate for most people it would be 128kbps because I feel it's the sweet spot where as while you can occasionally clean up the sound for some people by using a higher bit rate it's a minimal gain overall while sacrificing a fair chunk of storage space to do it especially if you start getting bit rates anything around 192kbps as that would take a 20GB collection (@128kbps) up around 30GB as it's probably not worth it. but then again storage space has came down quite a bit in price so you just sorta feel it out depending on your collection size and how much you want to spend etc. either way, things are much better with this stuff now than say 10-15 years ago, not just encoders, but mainly storage space cost.
For music (especially on-the-go)...
-I suggest Opus @ 96kbps (or... 64kbps minimum, 128kbps maximum). *preferred choice*
-I suggest AAC(Apple) @ 96kbps (q45 TVBR) or 128kbps (q64 TVBR). *secondary choice*
-I use Foobar2000 (/w Encoders Pack etc) to convert FLAC to Opus/AAC(Apple).

Re: What encoder to use in 2017

Reply #17
Just because this seems to be of relevance here:
Over in this thread: https://hydrogenaud.io/index.php/topic,115167 a recent discussion about car infotainment system compatibility has been going on.
In that case, some but not all MP4/AAC files are problematic.

 
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