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320kbps VBR vs 320kbps CBR MP3's?

post #1 of 34
Thread Starter 
Which is best? I've tried researching for a good while, but I could only find very mixed responses.

I understand VBR would be better as a means to save HD space, but would VBR not generally produce more dynamic sound as opposed CBR?

I've listened to several songs in both formats but I would also like to have some opinions from others.

Also, as a side question, what is the easiest way to use LAME? It seems a bit complicated, but I am also a complete newbie so please don't be too harsh on me.

Thanks!
post #2 of 34


CBR is that tiny bit better.

The easiest way to use lame is with a front end like Exact Audio Copy. If you're using a command line interface, try the "--preset fast extreme" setting.
post #3 of 34
So according to that graph there are .mp3 files that take up 85MB of space?
post #4 of 34
I think the graph is showing the progress after each song had been added to the previous.
post #5 of 34
post #6 of 34
I actually think VBR sounds better than CBR. I'll even take a 256 VBR over a 320 CBR.
post #7 of 34
Thread Starter 
Does Exact Audio Copy only work with CD's? I have some FLAC files on my HD I would like to convert to 320kbps MP3's through LAME.
post #8 of 34
Yes FLAC works with only cd's. I made a post not to long ago that will do exactly what you need. As long as you are on a Windows machine you need to look at this thread. http://www.head-fi.org/forums/f46/fl...ps-mp3-460331/

This should help you out.
post #9 of 34
I would assume CBR to give the highest sound quality, since it does not drop below 320kbps anywhere. While VBR does, and hence may risk being less transparent.
As for using LAME, I recommend iyts native interface. The command line (Terminal) one..
post #10 of 34
320 kbps is the highest rate (the lowest degree of compression) possible with MP3. So 320 kbps CBR offers the best sound quality. 320 kbps VBR doesn't exist (due to the limitation to 320 kbps), so the highest average VBR bitrates available are about 290 kbps and the like (from what I experienced myself with single tracks with LAME set to -V0). Usually the highest VBR quality (said LAME -V0 setting) results in bitrates around 250 kbps. -V0 sounds better than 256 kbps CBR.

The sweet spot when it comes to the space/quality ratio is around -V3. -V2 is commonly considered «transparent» (= indistinguishable from uncompressed) for >95% of the people.

A very convenient and transparent front-end for the use of LAME is RazorLame.
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post #11 of 34
Quote:
Originally Posted by krmathis View Post
I would assume CBR to give the highest sound quality, since it does not drop below 320kbps anywhere. While VBR does, and hence may risk being less transparent.
As for using LAME, I recommend iyts native interface. The command line (Terminal) one..
Actually VBR is shown to give higher sound quality, and at lower file size. Someone posted a really good link recently that I'm trying to find, with graphs comparing all kinds of different encodings. From doing my own listening tests, I had found that I was consistently picking the high bitrate VBR over the CBR, and when I read that article it really sealed it for me. Don't always assume that more bits necessarily = better quality.


P.S. another thing to add to the mix is that .ogg is more efficient than mp3 and gives superior sound quality at every comparable bitrate. So you might want to consider encoding to ogg instead, if your player can handle it (I think most can by now). Ogg vorbis is really state of the art, it's too bad that most people just automatically default to mp3. Ogg is also an open source format, so it's superior just on the basis of that fact, imo, all other things being equal .

wiki:
Vorbis - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

vorbis:
Vorbis.com
post #12 of 34
Quote:
Originally Posted by userlander View Post
Actually VBR is shown to give higher sound quality, and at lower file size.
That's certainly true, but nothing is better than 320 kbps CBR – by nature, as it's the lowest compression possible all of the time.

Quote:
P.S. another thing to add to the mix is that .ogg is more efficient than mp3 and gives superior sound quality at every comparable bitrate. So you might want to consider encoding to ogg instead, if your player can handle it (I think most can by now). Ogg vorbis is really state of the art, it's too bad that most people just automatically default to mp3.
That may be true, but the risk of one time owning a Vorbis-incompatible player and having to re-encode the whole music collection makes up for the 20-25% lower file size for the same sound quality. Moreover, MP3 is much less processor demanding, thus easier on the battery.

And isn't MP3 an open-source format, too (as LAME shows with its constant improvements)?
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post #13 of 34
Quote:
Originally Posted by JaZZ View Post
That's certainly true, but nothing is better than 320 kbps CBR – by nature, as it's the lowest compression possible all of the time.

That may be true, but the risk of one time owning a Vorbis-incompatible player and having to re-encode the whole music collection makes up for the 20-25% lower file size for the same sound quality. Moreover, MP3 is much less processor demanding, thus easier on the battery.

And isn't MP3 an open-source format, too (as LAME shows with its constant improvements)?
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LAME is free, but is mp3? I thought it was a case of lame being free, but mp3 itself, as the format, still being patented/proprietary? I can't say I know the actual legalities currently, and it's also more just a philosophical point right now than practical one. I just thought I'd mention it as something to consider (plus I'm hoping more people will give ogg a try, because for me at least I think it does sound better).

I hear what you're saying about 320kbps, but we have to admit even that's not perfect. So it's possible there could be more artifact generated in parts where it's high bitrate and doesn't need to be, etc. I guess that's just speculative, but I often wonder. Suffice to say that at the same bitrate, VBR will obviously be better sound quality, I think we're all in agreement on that.

But looked at from a logical perspective, the purpose of compression is to get the best ratio of SQ to file size. 320 CBR clearly doesn't do that - it has a much lower size to sq ratio and therefore defeats the purpose. So from a logical point of view, a high bitrate VBR is actually a superior compression strategy, imo, because it has the highest SQ to size ratio, with the SQ arguably being indistinguishable from 320CBR. So if you're going to lose out on the full benefits of compression by going 320, perhaps you might as well just leave it lossless.
post #14 of 34
I agree: high-bitrate VBR such as LAME -V0 makes more sense than 320 kbps CBR (at least in most cases).
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post #15 of 34
Quote:
Originally Posted by userlander View Post
LAME is free, but is mp3? I thought it was a case of lame being free, but mp3 itself, as the format, still being patented/proprietary?lossless.
MP3 is copyrighted but not restricted in use.

See MP3

WRT OP, jazz's post captures all of what I would have said.
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