"Best" bitrate to use? (128-320kbps)

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What is the best MP3 bitrate to use (for DJing)? (128-320kbps)

128kbps/CBR/Joint Stereo (LAME)
1
6%
160kbps/CBR/Stereo (LAME)
0
No votes
192kbps/CBR/Stereo (LAME)
3
17%
256kbps/CBR/Stereo (LAME)
6
33%
320kbps/CBR/Stereo (LAME)
2
11%
VBR HIGH (LAME)
6
33%
Other (please specify)
0
No votes
 
Total votes: 18

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JeffyCupcake
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"Best" bitrate to use? (128-320kbps)

#1 Post by JeffyCupcake » Mon Apr 05, 2004 8:12 pm

I'm getting ready to rip and encode my collection of swing CDs to DJ off of. Up until now I've been encoding all my music at 128kbps/joint stereo but now that I'm DJing I've been thinking about encoding all the new stuff at a higher bitrate. I know all about ripping and everything... just wondering what bitrates some of you think are best to rip at to get "CD quality" files. I think I'd like to stick with the CBR MP3 format and the LAME encoder. I'm just not sure what bitrate I want to encode it all at. I was thinking of going with at least 192kbps/stereo. Do you think it's best to choose something higher than that or would that be overkill? I'll probably try to find a decent test song... or maybe a couple and try a few different bitrates and see how they sound...

EDIT: I just found this link. It recommends 256kbps for Hi-Fi systems. http://www.mp3-tech.org/tests/gb/index.html
Last edited by JeffyCupcake on Wed Apr 07, 2004 9:31 am, edited 2 times in total.

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#2 Post by voilsb » Mon Apr 05, 2004 11:36 pm

Yeah. After lots of tests (which are unavailable now that r3mix.net has died) show that LAME + 256Kbps MP3s are archival quality. Using the --r3mix flag gets you similar/better quality for smaller file size, but it uses VBR settings.
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#3 Post by Zot » Mon Apr 05, 2004 11:52 pm

I've been very happy encoding at 192K for MP3 and 128K for AAC so far.

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#4 Post by JeffyCupcake » Tue Apr 06, 2004 12:08 am

Thanks. I think I'm going to go with 256kbps but would still be interested in hearing other opinions.

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#5 Post by Doug » Tue Apr 06, 2004 8:44 am

Although I use 256 LAME for ripping ALL my CDs to my home server, I am a bit anal and for those tunes that I consider great dance songs, I rip at full CD quality using EAC. Among other things, the need to re-rip the dance songs makes me relatively ruthless in eliminating so-so songs from my DJ set of CDs.

This is probably a little silly since well over 50% of my stuff was recorded prior to 1946, but Oh Well.

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#6 Post by GemZombie » Tue Apr 06, 2004 2:00 pm

VBR High. Best quality for the megabyte. I dunno why people are so oblivious to VBR. Consider that DVD's use VBR for both audio and video.

You especially get great results on older music which doesn't have the dynamic range of todays music.

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#7 Post by KevinSchaper » Tue Apr 06, 2004 4:47 pm

might as well make the mono recordings mono compressed too..

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#8 Post by GemZombie » Wed Apr 07, 2004 9:20 am

KevinSchaper wrote:might as well make the mono recordings mono compressed too..
True 'nuff. I'm usually lazy and just do joint stereo which obviously compresses quite a bit as well on mono recordings.

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#9 Post by JeffyCupcake » Wed Apr 07, 2004 9:28 am

I ripped an entire album into all three formats. Here is the space savings for VBR if I had 100 or 500 copies of that particular album. I was bored so I made a small spreadsheet. lol

QTY 256kbps 320kbps VBR (High)
1 110,357KB 137,822KB 103,661KB
100 11,035,700KB 13,782,200KB 10,366,100KB
500 55,178,500KB 68,911,000KB 51,830,500KB

So if I had 500 copies of that album and did it in VBR HIGH I would save about 3.3GB vs. the 256kbps format and about 17GB vs. the 320kbps format. And the quality should still be as good as a 320kbps file because it goes up to that as necessary. Not that I have 500 albums but just trying to get an idea of the space savings :p

I just have two questions.
1. VBR files seem to need to be handled differently in some cases. For example in BMP Studio Pro. It needs to create a temporary file for each of the VBR files or it doesn't seem to play them right. Are there any other things like that you've run into when using VBR files?

2. I noticed that sometimes the VBR file does go up to 320kbps but most of the time it's at 192 or 256. That seems to indicate to me that if I did everything as 256kbps CBR I would occasionally be loosing a little more data. In the studies I read on the website I posted earlier it sounded like people wouldn't notice if it was encoded at 320 vs. 256 and that 256 would be archival quality. I do want archival quality. I don't want to end up ripping everything and then figuring out that it would've been much better to do it one way vs. the other. I want to DJ off the collection so I want it to sound the best possible.

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#10 Post by GemZombie » Wed Apr 07, 2004 9:47 am

altmanjc wrote:I ripped an entire album into all three formats. Here is the space savings for VBR if I had 100 or 500 copies of that particular album. I was bored so I made a small spreadsheet. lol

QTY 256kbps 320kbps VBR (High)
1 110,357KB 137,822KB 103,661KB
100 11,035,700KB 13,782,200KB 10,366,100KB
500 55,178,500KB 68,911,000KB 51,830,500KB

So if I had 500 copies of that album and did it in VBR HIGH I would save about 3.3GB vs. the 256kbps format and about 17GB vs. the 320kbps format. And the quality should still be as good as a 320kbps file because it goes up to that as necessary. Not that I have 500 albums but just trying to get an idea of the space savings :p

I just have two questions.
1. VBR files seem to need to be handled differently in some cases. For example in BMP Studio Pro. It needs to create a temporary file for each of the VBR files or it doesn't seem to play them right. Are there any other things like that you've run into when using VBR files?

2. I noticed that sometimes the VBR file does go up to 320kbps but most of the time it's at 192 or 256. That seems to indicate to me that if I did everything as 256kbps CBR I would occasionally be loosing a little more data. In the studies I read on the website I posted earlier it sounded like people wouldn't notice if it was encoded at 320 vs. 256 and that 256 would be archival quality. I do want archival quality. I don't want to end up ripping everything and then figuring out that it would've been much better to do it one way vs. the other. I want to DJ off the collection so I want it to sound the best possible.
1. I use BPM Studio PRO. You can have it create the temporary file and delete it once it's done by change one little option. To be precises it has to quickly scan the file. Not all players have to do exactly that, but most players do a scan to get a rough estimate on the song length. Some older players don't scan and don't produce accurate estimates. An example is my AIWA car stereo, and some older versions of WMP. Neither of which keep them from playing.

2. I use VBR high specifically because I want to have the highest quality available. Basically VBR uses the bitrate it needs to highest quality sound, but it's a waste of there's a bunch of silence, and your using a bitrate of 320.

With Older tunes, the dynamic range is very limited, thus full bitrate isn't necessary to compress all the sound available. Even though I use VBR High (in other words a max of 320), most of my files probably never even touch the max bitrate. I pretty much error on the side of quality. I could encode many at a max bitrate of 256 or something, but i doubt it'd make much difference on size for vintage music.

--

My entire collection was encoded at VBR High, Joint Stereo (Lame Encoder). Over 10,000 songs, around 26gig of data. That translates to about 2.6MB per song... I'd guess an average song length of about 2:45. That's a significant saving, and I'd challege you to be able to tell the difference between a CBR 320 and a VBR 320 in my collection. I've done my own tests, and I can *only* tell the difference between VBR 320 and Raw WAV when I play then side by side... and even then it's not really in quality that's noticable.

One Final example... I keep two copies of one song around for this sort of thing.

SONG: Well, Git It! From Tommy Dorsey - Yes Indeed!
Length: 3:03
CBR 320 (Joint Stereo) Size: 7.01MB
VBR 320 (Joint Stereo) Size: 2.93MB
Sound Quality Difference: None

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#11 Post by JeffyCupcake » Wed Apr 07, 2004 9:57 am

Hmmm... you make some good points for VBR High... especially on older recordings. Why waste all that space? :p

Well would VBR High Stereo or Joint Stereo be better? I noticed you said you used Joint Stereo. Is there a reason you chose one over the other? I want to make sure it sounds the most like the original as possible (because i'm just anal like that :p).

btw, I tried changing that setting in BPM Studio Pro and then it wouldn't play my VBR files right. I didn't test it much but I noticed it didn't work for at least one song. Maybe I changed the wrong option. The one I changed was "Scan VBR Files". I also unchecked "Save ID3 Tags" because I don't want it messing up my ID3 tags.

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#12 Post by GemZombie » Thu Apr 08, 2004 10:21 am

altmanjc wrote:Hmmm... you make some good points for VBR High... especially on older recordings. Why waste all that space? :p

Well would VBR High Stereo or Joint Stereo be better? I noticed you said you used Joint Stereo. Is there a reason you chose one over the other? I want to make sure it sounds the most like the original as possible (because i'm just anal like that :p).

btw, I tried changing that setting in BPM Studio Pro and then it wouldn't play my VBR files right. I didn't test it much but I noticed it didn't work for at least one song. Maybe I changed the wrong option. The one I changed was "Scan VBR Files". I also unchecked "Save ID3 Tags" because I don't want it messing up my ID3 tags.
Joint stereo is a place where I just chose a setting and stuck with it. With classic recordings, 99% of them are in mono... joint stereo will compress to essentially mono, saving more space than if you were to use Dual Stereo. For mono recordings, it probably won't make a difference. To be as efficient as possible, you'd have to pick and choose your stereo/mono option to match the source. So to answer your question, probably Mono would be better.

Those changes you made in BPM studio work perfectly for me. Which version are you using, i'm using an older version 4.01 I believe.

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#13 Post by Lawrence » Tue Apr 20, 2004 1:46 pm

KevinSchaper wrote:might as well make the mono recordings mono compressed too..
I did so when I used minidiscs a few years back. Minidiscs also use compression similar to MP3s. Some minidisc players allow you to record in mono, which doubles the recording capacity of one minidisc. Thus, does that mean you could conceivably double the bitrate quality for a mono recording and use the same disc space as if you needlessly encoded the same song in stereo?
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#14 Post by Lawrence » Tue Apr 20, 2004 1:59 pm

GemZombie wrote:With Older tunes, the dynamic range is very limited, thus full bitrate isn't necessary to compress all the sound available. Even though I use VBR High (in other words a max of 320), most of my files probably never even touch the max bitrate. I pretty much error on the side of quality. I could encode many at a max bitrate of 256 or something, but i doubt it'd make much difference on size for vintage music.
Another question: although it it seems like encoding a high-quality recording loses less sound quality, I have actually found the opposite: that the worse the original recording, the less room there is to play with. Those squeals and howls of bad MP3s seem to come up much more often when encoding vintage stuff as opposed to modern stuff (not limited to jazz and blues--any modern stuff).
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#15 Post by LindyChef » Tue Apr 20, 2004 2:22 pm

One note that hasn't been discussed here is that you shouldn't skimp on the sampling rate of the MP3, which is different than what the discussion has been focusing on - bitrate. The native CD sampling rate is 44.1 kHz, or 44,100 times per second. Divide that by 1/2 to get the approximate maximum frequency that can be recorded by the rate, which is 22.05 kHz. Since the best human hearing goes to about 20 hkz, you don't want to go below this rate. For example, if you decided to change your sampling rate to 22 kHz to save space, your maximum frequency you could reproduce would be around 11kHz, so you would be losing a lot of the high range.

Also, don't bother choosing a sampling rate above 44.1 kHz since you aren't getting any new information by sampling to that rate. Instead, if you were converting to 48 kHz for example, the existing file would be simply upsampled, so you aren't really getting any new information.

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