Author Topic: Best format to encode into?  (Read 10757 times)

Red_Baron

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Best format to encode into?
« on: 14 Aug '11 - 06:26 »
Hi,

A few years ago, I searched all over the net and came to the conclusion that ogg is the best format. Lately I hear that aac and wma have become better? Which is the best format to use while encoding? I typically encode at 128kbps.

Jimmy Neutron

  • Posts: 473
Re: Best format to encode into?
« Reply #1 on: 14 Aug '11 - 12:18 »
Well....

"Best" is quite subjective.  There is no best for everyone.

Personally, I encode in flac.  It is lossless.  I can either play it through XMPlay or I can convert it to make it anything I want (say for my car which can handle only mp3 format).  Starting with lossless, you don't have generational degradation to worry about.

Anything done in 128kbps is already degraded.  And converting it makes it worse.

The only problem with lossless is that it takes up more hard drive space.  With the ads from Staples today, I see a 3 terrabyte drive for under a hundred dollars.  Is hard drive space a real concern?

Chinese Sausage

  • Posts: 424
Re: Best format to encode into?
« Reply #2 on: 14 Aug '11 - 13:50 »
When space drive IS a concern, then ogg (aoTuV version) is the best format quality-wise (to these ears), as it is more true to the original music source, and it leaves less noticeable noise artifacts than the other encoders.  However, aac is almost just as good and also more compatible with mobile phones, iPod's and other external players, so it is probably a better choice if you want to share your music files with anybody who is not computer savvy. The main thing I do not like about aac (at least HE-AAC) is that it does not support gapless playback, which is particularly annoying if you listen to live albums, or other music which has continuous playback.

At 64kbps though, there is none better than ogg aoTuV. Here is a link to the latest version, in case you want it. Just replace the ogg.dll and vorbis.dll files to the existing ones in your encoding program (I use MediaMonkey to encode files to ogg).

Hope this helps!  8)
« Last Edit: 15 Aug '11 - 02:22 by Chinese Sausage »

Red_Baron

  • Guest
Re: Best format to encode into?
« Reply #3 on: 14 Aug '11 - 14:19 »
Yes, space is quite important. I try to keep my collection under 10GB, otherwise FLAC would be the obvious answer. So I am looking for a lossy format. Looks like I will be sticking to ogg then. The problem is most of the devices do not support it natively, for example I have to install 3rd party software on my Nokia to play ogg. And quite a few digital storage lockers do not function well with ogg format. ( psonar, mecanto).

Chinese Sausage, the link you posted doesn't exist I think. Besides, didn't they shut down geocities a long time back?
I use Easy CD-DA Extractor, I find the GUI very easy and it also has support for multi core CPUs now.

wrkq

  • Posts: 82
Re: Best format to encode into?
« Reply #4 on: 14 Aug '11 - 15:55 »
Yes, space is quite important. I try to keep my collection under 10GB
o_O
What do you have in your collection, twenty albums?

I just installed another hard disk, dedicating the old 500GB one to music storage... and it's over 3/4 full.

Red_Baron

  • Guest
Re: Best format to encode into?
« Reply #5 on: 14 Aug '11 - 16:12 »
Yes, space is quite important. I try to keep my collection under 10GB
o_O
What do you have in your collection, twenty albums?

I just installed another hard disk, dedicating the old 500GB one to music storage... and it's over 3/4 full.
2978 files and 334 folders.
In an effort to limit the size of the collection, I often delete the pieces that are not so appealing instead of maintaining the full album for the sake of completion.

wrkq

  • Posts: 82
Re: Best format to encode into?
« Reply #6 on: 14 Aug '11 - 18:34 »
HERETIC!! *grabs a torch and pitchfork*

(And seriously now... it's indeed quite odd to me, especially in the age of cheap disks, but whatever rocks your boat.)

Red_Baron

  • Guest
Re: Best format to encode into?
« Reply #7 on: 14 Aug '11 - 18:56 »
It started with me having a constraint due to an 80GB HD. I continue the practice of deleting things that are not good ( which aren't bad either) even though I have a 500GB disk now.
So everyone here uses FLAC?

Dotpitch

  • Posts: 2871
Re: Best format to encode into?
« Reply #8 on: 14 Aug '11 - 19:29 »
Which is the best format to use while encoding? I typically encode at 128kbps.
Yes, space is quite important. I try to keep my collection under 10GB, otherwise FLAC would be the obvious answer. So I am looking for a lossy format.
If the total size matters that much, you're pretty much limited to Ogg Vorbis, M4A/AAC or WMA. Unfortunately, there's no general answer when it comes to the audio quality of each format. You should select a couple of tracks you know very well, encode them in each format and then try to figure out which on you think sounds best. If you can't hear any difference, then it'll boil down to which format is best supported by your hardware, now and in the future. M4A is a safe bet in that case.
Btw, you can get Ogg Vorbis encoders from the Support Site and from Rarewares.

At 64kbps though, there is none better than ogg aoTuV.
That's not true, the latest 64 kbps listening test showed something different, see here. Nero's HE-AAC encoder is just as good as Vorbis AoTuV, and Apple's HE-AAC encoder came out slightly better than Vorbis and Nero AAC.

So everyone here uses FLAC?
No, I use Ogg Vorbis -q4 (and -q0 for a part). For radio shows I even use AAC-HEv2 at 64 kbps, perfectly adequate.

Chinese Sausage

  • Posts: 424
Re: Best format to encode into?
« Reply #9 on: 15 Aug '11 - 02:31 »
At 64kbps though, there is none better than ogg aoTuV.
That's not true, the latest 64 kbps listening test showed something different, see here. Nero's HE-AAC encoder is just as good as Vorbis AoTuV, and Apple's HE-AAC encoder came out slightly better than Vorbis and Nero AAC.

I believe the test was based using regular ogg vorbis instead of the fine tuned aoTuV version, which is much better. As previously mentioned, there is also the disadvantage of non-support for gapless playback on HE-AAC. Still, I use HE-AAC on my Nokia phone at 48kbps since the capacity of microSD chips is limited and I have too many music files. I also got to make some space for other files such as videos.

Pike84

  • Posts: 1398
Re: Best format to encode into?
« Reply #10 on: 15 Aug '11 - 03:27 »
I use the latest LAME mp3 (3.98.4) with a high quality setting. LAME may not be the best encoder for low bitrates (<96kbps), but it has been tweaked and tuned for over ten years to achieve quality that can't be distinguished from the original source. So, the developers haven't mainly been aiming for the low bitrates, but willingly left that field for others. This is fine for me, since I use a quality setting that creates files at around 200kbps.

I sure can't tell the difference to the originals at these bitrates, but I probably couldn't even with a much lower setting. I have it high just to be on the safe side, since I have plenty of disk space. I've thought about switching to FLAC because of this (and partly have), but most of my collection is, and will remain mp3 - I don't feel any need to re-encode all my albums again.

If you plan to use a relatively high bitrate (like over 100kbps), then LAME may be your best choice. The hardware support is outstanding compared to the competition, and I doubt you could tell the difference to the originals, at least in casual listening :).

Here's a link to the LAME bundles at Rarewares.

Chinese Sausage

  • Posts: 424
Re: Best format to encode into?
« Reply #11 on: 15 Aug '11 - 05:29 »
If not for lack of wide hardware support, OGG is the format I would always use, along with FLAC.

The ogg vorbis aoTuV link is corrected :)
« Last Edit: 15 Aug '11 - 05:53 by Chinese Sausage »

Dotpitch

  • Posts: 2871
Re: Best format to encode into?
« Reply #12 on: 15 Aug '11 - 06:17 »
I believe the test was based using regular ogg vorbis instead of the fine tuned aoTuV version, which is much better.
The test was with AoTuV 6.0.2 Beta. Link.
« Last Edit: 15 Aug '11 - 06:20 by Dotpitch »

Chinese Sausage

  • Posts: 424
Re: Best format to encode into?
« Reply #13 on: 15 Aug '11 - 07:00 »
I stand corrected :)

Jace

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Re: Best format to encode into?
« Reply #14 on: 15 Aug '11 - 12:39 »
So everyone here uses FLAC?
Ogg Vorbis (-q7) all the way for me. All of my portable audio players have supported it this far. ;)
(Mainly 'cause I have that as a requirement when buying one :P)

wrkq

  • Posts: 82
Re: Best format to encode into?
« Reply #15 on: 15 Aug '11 - 14:33 »
(Mainly 'cause I have that as a requirement when buying one :P)
I haven't seen a portable player fulfilling my requirements yet (at least 500GB storage, XMPlay-powered), so I'm sticking to a laptop. ;)

Chinese Sausage

  • Posts: 424
Re: Best format to encode into?
« Reply #16 on: 16 Aug '11 - 01:26 »
XMPlay-powered

That sounded good!  :D

Red_Baron

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Re: Best format to encode into?
« Reply #17 on: 16 Aug '11 - 06:15 »
What are these -q0 -q4 -q7 etc?

Dotpitch

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Re: Best format to encode into?
« Reply #18 on: 16 Aug '11 - 07:08 »
Ogg Vorbis is a variable bit-rate codec, which means it targets a certain compression quality instead of a certain bitrate. On the command-line of the encoder, you specify this quality setting with the -q option, followed by a number. -1 is the lowest quality and produces the smallest files (~48 kbps for 44.1 kHz stereo), 10 is the highest quality and produces the largest files. -q0 is about 64 kbps, -q4 approximately 128 kbps and -q7 about 224 kbps. Note that the actual bitrate can be somewhat higher or lower, depending on the complexity of the audio.

Red_Baron

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Re: Best format to encode into?
« Reply #19 on: 16 Aug '11 - 09:47 »
So all these numbers 64, 128, 224 are only the average bitrates? And there is no such thing as CBR encoding for ogg?

Pike84

  • Posts: 1398
Re: Best format to encode into?
« Reply #20 on: 16 Aug '11 - 10:23 »
So all these numbers 64, 128, 224 are only the average bitrates? And there is no such thing as CBR encoding for ogg?
No, but variable bitrate is used for a good reason. The encoder can distribute the bits more freely, using higher bitrate in complex/hard to encode parts, and saving space in the more simple ones. This results in higher overall quality for the same filesize (or smaller filesize for the same quality). CBR should only be used when it's important that the resulting files will be of exact defined filesize.

The latest LAME mp3 encoder also uses VBR as the default setting.
« Last Edit: 16 Aug '11 - 10:26 by Pike84 »

Larry Fine

  • Posts: 16
Re: Best format to encode into?
« Reply #21 on: 30 Aug '11 - 19:57 »
My first choice is WavPack (wv): lossless or hybrid/lossy. It works fine in hybrid mode around 384 kbps with very high quality and advanced noise shaping parameters. :)


Chinese Sausage

  • Posts: 424
Re: Best format to encode into?
« Reply #22 on: 18 Aug '13 - 09:13 »
I can confirm that Ogg Vorbis aoTuV Beta 6.0.3 is better than Winamp's most recent aac encoder.

rst

  • Posts: 309
Re: Best format to encode into?
« Reply #23 on: 18 Aug '13 - 10:57 »
lossless format. Dont lost your time with lossy ones...

Chinese Sausage

  • Posts: 424
Re: Best format to encode into?
« Reply #24 on: 18 Aug '13 - 23:57 »
Flac, WavPack, Ape, those are the best formats for a high fidelity system, and keep intact the original sound on a CD. Lossy compression is useful for smartphone's limited storage. For 20,000+ files in those devices, it is more practical to use lossy formats. I was looking specifically for the best encoder at 64kbps.