Skip to main content

Notice

Please note that most of the software linked on this forum is likely to be safe to use. If you are unsure, feel free to ask in the relevant topics, or send a private message to an administrator or moderator. To help curb the problems of false positives, or in the event that you do find actual malware, you can contribute through the article linked here.
Topic: "Best" encoding for a portable setup? (Read 8587 times) previous topic - next topic
0 Members and 1 Guest are viewing this topic.

"Best" encoding for a portable setup?

Hey folks, I hang out at Head-Fi (www.headfi.org) quite a bit, but have never posted here.  I've been downloading a lot of mp3s lately, and am thinking of selling off my home rig simply because as a college student it seems insustainable financially right now.  I'm also exploring a lot of new music, and its much easier financially to do this via mp3 encoding/downloading.  I'm planning on buying a 30GB iPod in the near future (though I could be persuaded to look into something else if anyone here or at head-fi has any particularly compelling arguments), but am unsure how to go about encoding.  In the past, I was using EAC with LAME 3.90.3, I believe.  I've long since lost all of those files, but wanted to find out what most folks consider the solution for "optimum" sound quality while keeping size manageable.  I'm not going to be using an amp or incredible headphones--I'm not sure quite yet which phones, it sounds like either the Senn PX100 or Portapro's, if they're quiet enough for use in a university library and can be run with--so I don't need FLAC or other lossless solutions.  I've never used Ogg Vorbis or the others but would be amenable to trying. 

That being said, the nearest I can tell from FAQs and knowledge base articles is that I should look into getting EAC and LAME 3.97 beta for quality with alt-preset-standard?

"Best" encoding for a portable setup?

Reply #1
Actually, the HAK article makes it sound as though AAC with some kind of advanced encoding scheme/a would do better than even LAME mp3s.  Would it still be AAC, and how would I go about encoding (programs/etc.)? 

Apologies for what must seem like extremely basic/trivial questions, I'm completely new to this beyond my old experience with LAME (preceded by setting iTunes to 320kbps AAC and letting it do its thing).

"Best" encoding for a portable setup?

Reply #2
The latest stable LAME (3.97b3) with "-V2 --vbr-new" option will be optimum for filesize, sound clarity and compatibility. EAC is still the most accurate solution to rip CDDA, but now foobar2000 also offers nice CD ripper function.

BTW, PX100 and PortaPro are open-type supra-aural headphones, so you definitely will be sharing high frequency part of your music with neighbours in a library. Take a look at closed version of Sennheiser PX or even affordable canalphones like Panasonic RP-HJE50.

"Best" encoding for a portable setup?

Reply #3
Hi Hobbit,

Basically, you want to choose an encoding strategy that gives the best compromise between PERCEIVED sound quality, file size, and player compatibility.

Now, when it comes to player compatibility, you simply will not do better than MP3.  Every portable player ever made plays MP3 (as far as I know), and they are all likely to do so for many years to come.  If you are only interested in your particular player, then AAC for an iPod or OGG for some other player would give a slightly better quality/size ratio, but you are limiting your future options.

Now, assuming that you go for the safe MP3 choice, it makes sense to the LAME encoder with one of the basic presets or quality settings.  If you are an encoding geek, you can throw away the presets and roll your own custom settings, with custom low-pass filters, etc, but this is absolutely not necessary.  Which preset you choose should be based upon your own subjective listening tests, which are really the only way to figure out what you need.  If you want an example, I have found that the point at which I can start to ABX is somewhere between -V6 and -V5 (which are LAME quality settings).  Looking around these forums, I find that this is a fairly common level, but that individual's do indeed vary widely in their abilities (look up "golden ears").  Anyway, I now use -V5, which is a bit better than I can discern, and that happens to give an average bitrate of something like 128, which is around 1Meg per minute of music.  Looking at last year's comprehensive listening tests here on HA, you'll find that 128 does indeed seem to be transparent for most users under most conditions.

Anyway, I hope that doesn't confuse.  To sum up, my recommendation is that you use LAME with a simple quality setting, ie something between -V0 (incredibly high quality) and -V9 (low quality).

have fun,
Lee.


PS, you should take claims such as "-V2 --vbr-new" option will be optimum for filesize, sound clarity and compatibility with a grain of salt.  One belief that is almost universal here at HA is that compressed audio is all about your own subjective listening perceptions.  There is therefore no such thing as a single setting that is optimum for both filesize and sound quality.  For example, "-V2" is far from optimum for me, because much of the extra filesize (approx 50% larger than -V5) is wasted on my ears.  You need to find the setting that is optimum for you.  The accepted way to do this is the ABX test.  Look it up and try it for yourself.

"Best" encoding for a portable setup?

Reply #4
Luckily, "-V2 --vbr-new" can be safely recommended for those who want a quick recommendation instead of trying every possible option.

"Best" encoding for a portable setup?

Reply #5
Oh yeah, certainly -V2 is a safe recommendation.  No question about that.

I'm really just saying that hearing is a personal thing, and that LAME makes this really easy by providing nine simple quality settings to choose from.  You don't need to do endless experiments with an infinite variety of settings, just have a quick test of the settings from -V2 to -V7.  The optimum setting for you will be the highest -V setting that sounds to you exactly like the original.  For me it's -V5.

Thanks,
Lee

"Best" encoding for a portable setup?

Reply #6
Ignorance is bliss

I'll give some advice:
- When testing, go from the lowest quality progressing to the higher
- Do not try to compare to original; you'll always hear something amiss
- Go for something acceptable, and chant yourself "This is good; this is good; this is good..." (it's a form of mild self-hypnosis)
- When you settle on a quality setting that's acceptable to you, never ABX it against the original. You'll be disappointed. As I said above...

Trust my advice; I'm talking from experience

Happy transcoding!

"Best" encoding for a portable setup?

Reply #7
I have the Senn PX200 headphone which is closed (but still supra-aural so sound may leak out if you play your music loudly). I much preferred the '200 to the '100 for the kind of music I like (lots of guitars, acoustic and otherwise, plus male vocals) because the PX100 has a bit of a hump in the lower mid-range/upper bass to my ear. Something like an iPod will drive the heck out of a PX100/PX200 with no amp and I strongly recommend the PX200.

I've posted elsewhere about my recent ABX experiences. For listening with a supra-aural and/or open headphone from a portable music player in ambiently noisy surroundings you're not going to need any kind of high bitrate to sound great. I'd bet 80kpbs and 320kpbs will sound exactly alike. Since I sometimes listen with a headphone amp in quiet surroundings I'm sticking with AAC in the 100-125kpbs (VBR) range but even that's overkill. So pick some LAME settings that average out in that range and you'll be able to store a boatload of tracks in a 30GB hard-drive player.

"Best" encoding for a portable setup?

Reply #8
Quote
(though I could be persuaded to look into something else if anyone here or at head-fi has any particularly compelling arguments), but am unsure how to go about encoding. In the past, I was using EAC with LAME 3.90.3, I believe. I've long since lost all of those files, but wanted to find out what most folks consider the solution for "optimum" sound quality while keeping size manageable. I'm not going to be using an amp or incredible headphones--I'm not sure quite yet which phones, it sounds like either the Senn PX100 or Portapro's, if they're quiet enough for use in a university library and can be run with--so I don't need FLAC or other lossless solutions. I've never used Ogg Vorbis or the others but would be amenable to trying.


Particularly compelling arguments? some portions of Head-Fi are about as audiophile as you can get  . I have a pair of Sennhesier PXC250's closed can noise cancellation. I like them very much and their very durable for portable uses. I myself personally use FLAC for my CD's and Ogg Vorbis for internet other and uses. I don't know if the IPod 30 GB supports Vorbis or FLAC without the Rockbox firmware, so I guess you would just be better off sticking with LAME.

Quote
That being said, the nearest I can tell from FAQs and knowledge base articles is that I should look into getting EAC and LAME 3.97 beta for quality with alt-preset-standard?


If you choose the LAME route. There are some guides for setting up with Vorbis there too for that matter.
budding I.T professional

"Best" encoding for a portable setup?

Reply #9
The last listening test conducted by sebastian mares, shows that LAME 3.97b2, at -V5 -VBR-NEW is almost trasparent: 4.60 (of 5).

I don't really think you would need to go all the way to V2.

Probably something in the middle should be better.

I would start testing V5, V4, V3, V2, till you find the sweet spot.

http://www.maresweb.de/listening-tests/mf-128-1/results.htm

"Best" encoding for a portable setup?

Reply #10
High bitrate also have an impact on battery life with several (and maybe all) portable players. -V2 is surely a safe recommendation quality-wise, but is maybe more questionable for other aspects (such as efficiency: there's a problem if 30 Gb are too short to store a whole mp3 library with -V2 average bitrate, or battery life).

One problem is that several persons still not admit that ~130 kbps encodings can produce excellent result even with expensive headphones and are immediately looking for (or recommending) very high bitrate when it's absolutely not necessary. Kwanbis recommendation is wise: spending one or two hours to perform a short and blind listening comparison is probably nothing; moreover, such exercise is much more enlighting than any answer you may collect from any member of this board. Some people are able to ABX 200 kbps encodings whereas some others won't do it at 80 kbps: answers will at the end be contradictory and therefore completely useless. So what really matters is what YOU and only YOU can hear and not what other persons (with different needs, different hardware, different tastes, different training) are hearing or thinking.

Recent listening tests have shown that -V5 is likely to be a good starting point for evaluating yourself what may be the most suitable setting for your own needs. If you fail to ABX -V5, don't be afraid to test lower settings (such as -V6, -V7...). If you're not satisfied with -V5 (remember: during blind tests!), increase the bitrate and test again.

"Best" encoding for a portable setup?

Reply #11
I don't know if the IPod 30 GB supports Vorbis or FLAC without the Rockbox firmware, so I guess you would just be better off sticking with LAME.

Ha!  You can bet your lunch they don't support competing, fledgling formats when it would be counterproductive to their goal of world domination. ;)

"Best" encoding for a portable setup?

Reply #12
I've never heard of the Rockbox firmware, but would be open to it if Ogg Vorbis is a better solution.  What about AAC, however?  I read in the knowledge base that there is an encoding scheme (I forget which) that is comparable to LAME for AAC...so I would have even smaller files, and presumably better battery life while maintaining quality.

I'll also look into Foobar to do some ABX when I figure out the portable can conundrum.  Since I'm working in the library I thought the AKG K 26p would be the ideal solution, but most head-fiers (well, many whose opinions I trust, anyway) are really ripping them apart.  I've only heard bad about the PX200--unless you achieve a good seal, which is a rare minority--so my other options are the

Super Fi 3 Pro.  Its pros would be probably best sound quality in the price range, but it will be microphonic which could be bad while shelving books and moving and will be TERRIBLE while running. 

or Koss Porta Pro/PX100.  I'm sure both perform great for their price, but I don't know how much sound they'll leak.

"Best" encoding for a portable setup?

Reply #13
For my portable, I like MP3 @ 160Kbps Average Bit Rate or WMA @ 135-215 Variable Bit Rate.

Of course, highly recommend you make digital lossless rips of your CD's, because the physical discs seem to easily get scratched, broken, or lost.

"Best" encoding for a portable setup?

Reply #14
For my portable, I like MP3 @ 160Kbps Average Bit Rate or WMA @ 135-215 Variable Bit Rate.

just a question, did you abx both settings, or you just think you like them?

"Best" encoding for a portable setup?

Reply #15
i like WMA q50 for my portable... not too bad for running
Chaintech AV-710

"Best" encoding for a portable setup?

Reply #16

For my portable, I like MP3 @ 160Kbps Average Bit Rate or WMA @ 135-215 Variable Bit Rate.

just a question, did you abx both settings, or you just think you like them?


Blind, no.  But I did do a very exhaustive comparison to find transparency.  My Muvo plays wav, wma, & mp3, so those were the three I tested.  I have some inexpensive ear-clip phones for jogging, so they are most likely the limiting factor.

"Best" encoding for a portable setup?

Reply #17
Quote
Ha! You can bet your lunch they don't support competing, fledgling formats when it would be counterproductive to their goal of world domination.


It's not really them, it's all of the annoying Itunes users who have Vorbis files and they want to play them on their IPod or the ones who complain about Apple DRM with AAC, etc.  It's like being stuck between a Rock and a hard place. Anything but "fledgling" actually, 12% of the internet is a pretty descent number.    It's purely technical for me, nevermind the listening tests  . Above a -q 5 I really can't the difference and I mostly play stuff on my computer here.  I am college student what can I say?

Quote
I've never heard of the Rockbox firmware, but would be open to it if Ogg Vorbis is a better solution. What about AAC, however? I read in the knowledge base that there is an encoding scheme (I forget which) that is comparable to LAME for AAC...so I would have even smaller files, and presumably better battery life while maintaining quality.


Take a look at some of the Itunes AAC settings. If you were willing to install the Rockbox firmware on your IPod it would be possible to play Ogg Vorbis files, etc and a lot of other different codecs. It's entirely up to you though.


http://www.rockbox.org/twiki/bin/view/Main/IpodInstallation
http://wiki.hydrogenaudio.org/index.php?ti...implementations

Somebody should attempt to work on writing seperate AAC guides for the numerous implementations that exist.
budding I.T professional

"Best" encoding for a portable setup?

Reply #18
What about AAC, however?  I read in the knowledge base that there is an encoding scheme (I forget which) that is comparable to LAME for AAC...


There's an AAC encoder available from Nero at no cost that tests out as equal or better than Apple's encoder, depending on bit rate and which test results you read. In the sweet spot around 125kpbs the latest tests I could find indicate that the Apple and Nero AAC and LAME mp3 encoders all work more or less equally well.

I realize that some people are really into encoders. And if you're talking 100kbps or less it's worth doing some research. Otherwise, stick to mp3 for maximum portability of your files or use AAC if you know that you'll be using an iPod. Not trying to start an argument but no way I'd mess with Rockbox just to be able to use 125kbps Ogg Vorbis instead of 125kbps AAC.

Frankly, the Rockbox thing on an iPod is for people who are really into trying new things and messing around with their equipment. If you want to rip your music and carry it around with you a stock iPod and AAC files or a stock player of some other brand and mp3 files is the no-trouble way to go.

"Best" encoding for a portable setup?

Reply #19
The problem I had was that acceptable MP3's are unacceptably big. Thus I had to encode to *something* smaller. For my Nokia 6230 I encode to CT AAC (it pukes at other AAC flavors). For my PDA, it's Vorbis.

Couldn't care less about other players. Anyways, there's been a slight upsurge in MP3-licensing related problems that I heard around, and some DAP makers are starting to hedge their bets by bundling in Vorbis support, yes even some small new startups.

 

"Best" encoding for a portable setup?

Reply #20
There's an AAC encoder available from Nero at no cost that tests out as equal or better than Apple's encoder, depending on bit rate and which test results you read. In the sweet spot around 125kpbs the latest tests I could find indicate that the Apple and Nero AAC and LAME mp3 encoders all work more or less equally well.
Nero's AAC encoder was exclude from the result (see here). There's nothing to conclude from a buggy encoder which artificially boosted the bitrate on the beginning of each sample. The current encoder reacts differently and must be tested first to see how it performs compared to is direct competitors [in my opinion, Nero LC-AAC is very good, but I haven't performed any direct comparison with iTunes' one to see which one is preferable quality-wise]. There's to my knowledge there's no public or private listening test -available for reading- telling us that recent Nero's AAC encoder performs "equal or better than Apple's encoder". Do you have some precise information about this superiority?


edit: frame-> sample

"Best" encoding for a portable setup?

Reply #21
Blind, no.  But I did do a very exhaustive comparison to find transparency.  My Muvo plays wav, wma, & mp3, so those were the three I tested.  I have some inexpensive ear-clip phones for jogging, so they are most likely the limiting factor.

You should try to abx. When i did, i got shocked.

"Best" encoding for a portable setup?

Reply #22
Blind, no.  But I did do a very exhaustive comparison to find transparency.  My Muvo plays wav, wma, & mp3, so those were the three I tested.  I have some inexpensive ear-clip phones for jogging, so they are most likely the limiting factor.
You should try to abx. When i did, i got shocked.
If you strive for transparency, you must ABX. If you only strive for acceptability, you should notABX.

That said, I don't think one needs transparency when jogging, travelling by bus, travelling by train (esp. in my country), travelling by motorcycle, working near a construction site, etc.

"Best" encoding for a portable setup?

Reply #23
You got it, Pepoluan.  The only time I listen to lossy audio files is while exercising.  And the earphones are quite small, fairly reasonable quality, but obviously not anything to write home about.

"Best" encoding for a portable setup?

Reply #24
Yepp. And this is how *I* decided on my Vorbis -q level (for playback in my PDA):

- My experience showed that -q 1 was perfectly acceptable, even at home. So I encoded as many album as possible (i.e. fits in my PDA) in -q 1, except 1 (let's say "A")
- I encoded "A" at -q 0, and tested during my commutes. I found that it was acceptable.
- I re-encoded other albums at -q 0, except 1 (different from the above, let's say "B")
- I encoded "B" at -q -1, and again tested during my commute. I found that it was kind of acceptable, but some parts got ugly.
- I re-encoded "B" album at -q -0.5, and another album ("C") at -q -0.5
- I tested "C", again during commute and found it quite acceptable.
- I re-encoded everything else at -q -0.5, and go on my way. I take note if any album seemed to suffer significantly.
- For each album that seemed to suffer, I gradually increased the -q by 0.25 steps.

Note: This is *my* experience with (1) Trancemixes, (2) iPaq 2210, (3) GSPlayer, (4) Philips earplugs (forgot the series; it's one of those that have a black rubbery-flexible earhooks) which does not fit my left ear due to some deformities (of my earlobe), (5) played in commuter traffic.

So, caveat emptor. Your mileage will vary.

 
SimplePortal 1.0.0 RC1 © 2008-2021