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MP3 Bitrate Question


morocco31477
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I rip a lot of MP3s, I always do VBR (Varial Bitrate) highest quality setting. They always come out fantastic. My question is, when you get a MP3 from somewhere on the internet, let's say you get two versions a 192 CBR and a 320 CBR or VBR. Sometimes the 192 version will sound better, more fuller, and louder. And it will be approx 3MB less in size. Is this due to the CD that it came from, or the ripping software that was used or something?

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It vastly depends on the MP3 encoder. Blade and Xing tend to give lower quality rips depending on the type of music. Lame, FhG and GoGo give the best quality for MP3's (GoGo being a derived version of LAME, no longer produced).

LAME will encode and retain as much of the original sound much better than Blade or Xing.

Your best bet would be to play around with the different encoders, and see how they sound to your ears and use this program, EncSpot, to check out what encoder was used. Some say that Blade encodes certain things better than LAME, so depending on the type of music you listen to, it might be worthwhile to check them out.

Of course, there are trade offs. The biggest one being speed. LAME encodes slower than Blade does, and not by a little bit. It is quite noticeable. But, for the sound difference, it's better to spend the time and make really good quality files from your music :)

Also, there are other reasons why this may occur, first, the files may be transcodes (MP3's converted to MP3 again at a lower bitrate) or they may have been burnt to a CD then ripped again to a lower bitrate.

Also, a file that is 192K will be 40% smaller than the same MP3 at 320K. Take 320kbps and divide it by 8 and you get the bitrate in kB/sec. Which is 40kB/sec. So then you can work out exactly the file size :)

4 minutes = 240 seconds

240 X 40 = 9600Kb

9600 / 1024 = 9.38MB

So, a 4 minute MP3 at 320kbps is 9.38MB :)

I hope this gives you an answer to your question :)

Edited by prx984
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just an fyi mp3 is now more than 15 years old, there are much better formats with better quality, features, performance, and some that are license free. Unfortunately mp3 has become synonymous with "music file" for most people and while this has been good for adoption and compatibility it's time to move on imo. I recommend FLAC (Free Lossless Audio Codec). One of the great things about going 'lossless' is you can transcode without losing quality and can easily upgrade to better encoders in the future without having to rerip everything.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/MP3

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Flac

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FLAC is an awesome codec, but, it's practical in a 512mb - 8gb MP3 player. A better alternative codec would be something that can compress to what MP3 can, IE) OGG. OGG is by far the best alternative codec for Lossy compression.

FLAC is the best compression you can get to hold the original file, but MP3/OGG is the best for portable. So, you need to know the application. Personally, I wouldn't want all my music in FLAC (Not enough HDD space.... yet :P).

The point? Know your options for audio compression :D

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FLAC is way too big. Even if I had a 1TB drive, all my music that I currently have in FLAC format would probably fill it up. I rip all my music at the highest rate VBR using Easy CDDA Extractor which uses LAME. It only takes like 5 minutes to rip a CD, I don't know why you would use something that's faster. The MP3s sound great. I will look into OGG, however, everything is "MP3", as in portable music players, car stereos, home DVD players, ect. If you rip everything at OGG then you will only be able to listen to music on your computer. Let me ask this, what are the benefits/differences of OGG?

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OGG is a free, lossy codec. It has far superior encoding quality too. For instance, if you enjoy the sound of 128Kbps audio of MP3, OGG sounds just the same, but at 64Kbps, therefore creating file sizes half the size of the 128Kbps file.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ogg

The only problem with OGG, is that it is not in widespread use yet. Hopefully soon it will be, but until then, we just have to settle with MP3 for portable audio :(

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OGG does have VBR capability, and it does have a version of ID tag, but I don't know for sure if it allows you to add the album art. I do this also, but I don't think theres a way to do that with OGG (I use iTunes and it doesn't support OGG, so I really don't know if it does support the album art.)

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MP3 might be an old format, but it still does the job and plays music at good quality. It's not necessarily that MP3 is the only audio file format to people, but it's somewhat like digital cameras and JPEG. JPEG works on pretty much all computers, so that's why manufacturers build it into their camera firmware. MP3 has become a universal format, with pretty much every audio player out there supporting it.

My "alternate" codec of choice is actually AAC+. I find the music much clearer than OOG, but then again - I'm not a total stickler for disk space. I'll use a bit more space for higher quality - just not as much as FLAC requires. ;)

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Yes FLAC files are larger (because you are not removing parts of the audio) and is not as pervasive as mp3 (nothing else is). The first is a problem of storage capacity which I see as increasingly irrelevant as time goes by. The second is a problem of awareness, the point of my first post. :)

I predict that eventually people will demand lossless audio, because they will want quality that is par with cds and something their sound systems can take advantage of. I say start using FLAC now and in the future you will not have to re rip your cds or purchase your music all over again.

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Truth be told though - most people don't have the audio equipment to reproduce sound at the quality level where you'd hear the difference. Unless you're really paying attention, most people probably won't notice the difference between 320kbps MP3 and FLAC, even with fairly high end equipment. I've got a pair of Sony MDR-V700 studio headphones, and I have troubles differentiating between CD audio and LAME Alt-Preset Standard encoded MP3.

As a last note - think about audio systems in cars. The increased quality of FLAC or CD audio won't make a difference when you've got traffic and engine noise to contend with. ;)

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