how to: “perfect” mp3 files

how to create incredibly high quality mp3 files with no .. well, a little effort is needed, though. But it’s worth the effort ;)

EDIT: I have done some hearing tests and I admit that I don’t hear a difference anymore when using “alt-preset standard” or when using my “tweaked” settings. Apparently the makers of LAME have succeeded in creating “the option never to think of options again”
If you are using iTunes, use the “iTunes-LAME” plugin from blacktree to import CD’s as iTunes’ own mp3 encoder is mediocre… or use AAC – but many standalone players /car radios don’t support it, yet.. :(

(taken from LAME homepage and http://jthz.com and http://www.hydrogenaudio.org)
Images stolen from http://www.codinghorror.com

Great site by the way, explaining in depth why and what are the advantages of VBR (a little outdated, I admit, iTunes nowadays uses AAC+.)

1) Use exact audio copy (EAC) as a ripper/grabber, it features a “secure mode” which prevents audio glitches. To use the full potential of EAC it’s important to examine the drive thoroughly and set the parameters properly! And be sure to use “secure mode” although the “burst mode” is much faster, it’s worth the waiting.

2) Configure EAC using an external compressor, I recommend LAME – it is pretty fast and gives excellent quality)

3) Encode at “high quality” and use variable bitrate, with a target bitrate between 128 and 256. Usually the setting “–alt-preset standard” gives a great balance between speed and quality. (although I like to tweak the system for maximum quality/filesize ratio)

My settings are:
-V2 --vbr-new -q0 --lowpass 19.7 --cwlimit 10.7 --scale 0.99 -b96
(don’t forget to add %s %d for EAC!)

other presets are:

–alt-preset standard (~190 kbit/s VBR, typical 180 … 220)

–alt-preset fast standard (~190 kbit/s VBR, faster but potentially lower quality)

–alt-preset extreme (~250 kbit/s VBR, typical 220 … 270)

–alt-preset fast extreme (~250 kbit/s VBR, faster but potentially lower quality)

–alt-preset insane (320 kbit/s CBR, highest possible quality)

A brand new codec which (unlike OGG, which somehow never really came up) is AAC+ (or aacPlus), which offers incredible quality at very low bitrates,making it perfect for streaming!
If you are a dedicated streamer, you might want to give it a try. VLC player and the new winamp 5 are capable of playing AAC+ (v1+v2) files.

more info?
http://www.hydrogenaudio.org
be sure to check the forums!
.

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