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Ask Slashdot: What's the Best MP3 Encoder?

Cliff posted more than 15 years ago | from the king-of-the-encoding-hill dept.

Music 371

syd asks: "I'm wanting to convert my CD collection to MP3, and I'm looking for the best MP3 encoder to do the job. The most important factor is the sound quality of the encoded files. Other concerns are cost, platform, and speed of the encoder. However, I'm only going to encode them once, and I'm going to listen to them fairly often, so I'd rather have a slow encoder that sounds good. I would prefer to use Linux, although I would be willing to reboot into Windows if necessary. If anyone has any pointers to some real numbers, that would be most helpful." A fair enough question. What do you all think?

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l3enc (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 15 years ago | (#1733041)

I'd go with l3enc, made by the people who came up with mp3.

BladeEnc (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 15 years ago | (#1733042)

I hear bladeenc has some purdy darned good sound quality. It's Open Sourced, even. And it's what I use to encode my MP3s at 256kbps & I love the quality it outputs.

AudioCatalyst... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 15 years ago | (#1733043)

The best by far is Xing AudioCatalyst. It'll cost you, but it has the best speed and sound of all of the mp3 encoders.

More about Joint Stereo... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 15 years ago | (#1733044)

From what I've read Joint Stereo only improves sound quality when encoding at lower bitrates [ie: below 128kbps]... And that you should use real stereo encoding for the higher bitrates. That's one o' the reasons BladeEnc don't support Joint Stereo, because it wasn't developed for low bitrate endcodings. It was developed with sound quality in mind and the best sound quality they could get...

mp3 encoder (windows) (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 15 years ago | (#1733045)

Im using Music Match jukebox 3 it is 30$; but you can set the quality level (from 160 kbps to real audio Fm quality,) can convert mp3 to wav, downloads song titles from CDDB. and with my 45x cd player, a five min song takes about a minute and twenty seconds. Very High quality. Too bad its only for windows.

The sound quality is _not_ great (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 15 years ago | (#1733046)

Actually you'd have a hard time trying to find an encoder that performs worse, sound quality wise.

VQF by Microsoft (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 15 years ago | (#1733047)


not mp3 but AAC (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 15 years ago | (#1733048)

If you want good quality compression for your music, you would be best off to go with an AAC encoder. Maybe the astrid aac encoder.

Frauhofer sounds best, but use LAME/cdex anyway... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 15 years ago | (#1733049)

Frauhofer's mp3 producer for Windows has the best sound quality. For the longest time I used it with Barth's cdcopy (for ripping).

BUT... I've fallen in love with cdex [] and use it now instead. cdex rips (with very nice skip checking/reporting), cddb's, and encodes in one shot. Best of all, it uses LAME [] (Lame Ain't an MP3 Encoder), which is the closest thing we've got to a Legal, Free [] (Free Beer and Free Speech) MP3 encoder.

The LAME page links to a couple of Linux apps that do about the same in the Linux world: Grip [] (Gtk) and Krabber [] (KDE), but I've been happy enough with cdex that I haven't tried these yet.

Re:The sound quality is _not_ great (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 15 years ago | (#1733050)

actually, you're wrong. Bladeenc is the best encoder bar none, when you're above 128 kbps. And when I see bad mp3's, the problem usually presides somewhere between the computer and the seat.

Xing/AudioCatalyst (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 15 years ago | (#1733051)

I was stuck on Xing for a while there myself. I stopped using it once I heard what my MP3s sounded like over my stereo speakers (a number of people suggested that I do this, because they had seen their own problems with Xing). There was a lot of noise in the background, and some effects it doens't encode right (like echo effects).

Overall, at least every other song had something wrong with it. I was really pissed, 'cause Xing seemed to be such a kick ass encoder. I could rip a CD in like, five to ten minutes.

In the end, I decided that the sound quality was more important, especially since I started to rip CDs that weren't mine, and I couldn't re-rip them if they sounded bad. Now I use cdparanoia and bladeenc from the command line (they're so simple to use, its not even worth using a front end), and I haven't noticed any noise or inconsitancies. bladeenc is a pretty kick ass encoder, I must say. Its the fastest non-Xing encoder I've seen, and its open source.(!)


Re:Bladeenc. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 15 years ago | (#1733052)

Yeah, well when you cut out freq's thats what you get. stick with bladeenc for quality.

Well... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 15 years ago | (#1733053)

I do all my encoding on Linux. I use ripit, a perl script to drive the process. It does a CDDB lookup and names all the directories and files properly for me. It then calls CDParanoia for ripping, on my Plextor 40X SCSI drive I get REALLY fast rip times. Then it calls the Xing encoder I purchased. It costs $20, but it's FAST, really fast. And it sounds as good as any other encoder I've used. I play files with mpg123, freeamp, and XMMS. All work fine for me.

I do most albums in about 10 minutes with this setup on an AMD K6-2 450 with 128MB RAM. The encode process is started in the background, so when you finnish ripping track 1 it starts encoding it and ripping track 2 at the same time. The encode process waits for one to finnish before starting the next to keep from eating all the CPU cycles and killing the rip. ;)

I tried Bladeenc, but it was about 1/4 the speed of Xing. And since I couldn't tell the difference in sound quality I went ahead and used Xing.

windows tools; audioactive baby! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 15 years ago | (#1733054)

consider using audioactive production studio, it's the most complete windows encoder I've seen .. combined with winDAC to extract the audio you've got the best combo of windows tools available .. I'm still looking for the perfect pair of ripper/encoder for linux though :( cdparanoia & blade work well :) .. btw- you can set the bitrate as high as 256 with audioactive, and it uses the standard mp3 compression codec instead of the janky XING codec (fie upon thee! variable bitrate BAD!)

Re: He's right about MP2 being higher-quality... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 15 years ago | (#1733055)

He's right--MPEG Layer 2 is better than 3 when it comes to faithfulness to the original. When I rip from my own CDs to have them at hand on my boxen array, I use an MP2 encoder which came free with my ZIP drive, called RecordIt. Even a crappy MP2 encoder can do a far superior job to the best MP3 ripper, delivering audibly lossless compression. Downside is, each song takes ~6-7 Megs. But if you have the disk space, MP2 is the way to go--and even RecordIt, a relatively old product, rips in less than 30 seconds. Let's face it--MP3 is nice right now because of limited bandwidth, but when we all have cable modems or other high-speed access MP3s are going to be declasse and deleted in favour of larger but audibly lossless formats. And that day is coming soon, what with a cable ISP being $39.95 a month in my neck of the woods.

AudioCatalyst / Xing encoder (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 15 years ago | (#1733056)

AudioCatalyst (currently version 2.01 I think) is the merge of AudioGrabber (ripper) and Xing encoder. The intreface is pretty good and you also have CDDB connectivity. Plus you can rip and encode in one step, and even normalize if you want. The quality of the Xing encoder is really excellent and it offers many encoding options (constant or variable bitrate encoding). And if you don't need the ripper, you might want to get the Xing MPEG encoder (also encodes MPEG video) cause you can play with all the options including (joint stereo or not among other things) and even encode in MP2 which is better as someone mentioned up there.

Sony CDU-31A 1X CD-ROM. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 15 years ago | (#1733057)

This CD-ROM is so good at ripping that I have n't found a replacement in the years that I've had it. Sure the linux driver is polled and takes up 100% CPU time, but thats why you keep your old boxen for :-)

Re:Audio Catalyst suck my nuts (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 15 years ago | (#1733058)

> i guess I get to be picky though because I have a sb live plugged into a home theater system BWWWWHWHAAAHHAHAHAHAHAHAHAAAA!!! Good one! In case no one told you, people who want really great sound on their computer get an sb live, people who want really good sound AND HAVE A CLUE get a quality piece of equipment.

Re:MP3 Encoder... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 15 years ago | (#1733059)

I've found AudioCatalyst's Joint Stereo encoding to be poor. Some weird warbling that you don't get from Dual Stereo. Otherwise it's fine. It's my choice.

Re:Shouldn't you use MP2? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 15 years ago | (#1733060)

And playing mpeg 1 layer 2 streams takes half the CPU time (with mpg123, at least) of playing the same bitrate mpeg 1 layer 3.

bladeenc / stereo / joint stereo (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 15 years ago | (#1733061)

bladeenc is probably best choice its fairly fast and its mp3's have good quality also it will do *REAL* stereo and not joint-stereo like some other crappy encoders

Beowolf! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 15 years ago | (#1733062)

Encode using a Beowolf cluster, it'll be much faster.


Best MP3 Encoder? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 15 years ago | (#1733063)

Well, looks like there's tons of good options in here! :) I wanted to add my 0.02$. I'm a sound engineer and I'm sensible the MP3 quality. The best so far has been a combination of two Windows (yikes!) Programs. I'm using WinDAC 1.41 with the Fraunhofer PRO Codec. Encoding at 160kbps with Hi-Quality. That provides me a "listenable" sound. :)

- Marc Girard aka The Zapper! of Force Ten

Good point! also try Nowhere Man (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 15 years ago | (#1733064)

My test song was Nowhere Man by the Beatles. It shows how bad 128kbps really is.

I also tested lots of different encoders, and found the original Xing encoder, version 1, worked best. I don't think it is available anymore, and was only available for Windows.

Many people will flame the early Xing encoder because of the 16khz upper frequency limit, but from a technical standpoint 20khz from a CD source is questionable. Nyquist limits are just that - limits. 16khz is a much more reasonable limit for 44ksps material.

flame suit on :-)

Process intense batch jobs (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 15 years ago | (#1733065)

I've noticed alot of suggestions pointing out Windows 9x encoders. Utilizing DOS+GUI and any encoder is going to greatly prolong the time it takes to convert your entire collection to mp3. Roughly I would say it will take twice as long as a console based apllication. To stay on the cheap boot into Linux and fire off netscape. Check out They have links to Linux, Windows, Macintosh, BEOS, OS/2, SGi, Solaris and SunOS mp3 software.

Best mp3 Encoder (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 15 years ago | (#1733066)

Despite popular opinion, Xing IS NOT A GOOD QUALITY ENCODER. Xing has a fault within its core design that causes problems with high-hats and pre-echos (where music kind of echos into a beat, instead of echoing after.) The MP3 spec has three different types of block modes that were designed to handle these different types of sounds within the encoding process. XING ONLY USES ONE OF THESE BLOCK MODES. I have no idea why, but I can imagine it's either laziness or it's the reason that their encoder is so fast. It has an audible effect on the quality of MP3s. (and yes, I am talking about their NEWEST encoder)

I never did trust Xing, and I'm glad that they finally fixed the problem with their older encoders that didn't go above 16khz, which really reduced the quality of mp3s.

The undesputed champion of MP3 encoding is the Fraunhoffer Radium v1.263 Cracked & Optimized Codec.

Re:VQF by Microsoft - NOT. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 15 years ago | (#1733067)

Wrong, VQF is by Yamaha, it's quality is marginally better than MP3 and files run about 85% of MP3 size wise. ASF (which is by Microsoft) is better than either MP3 or VQF and is gaining support by the day. I'd expect to see some Linux encoders and players before to long since MS has opened the format.

Mp3c (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 15 years ago | (#1733068)

I use mp3c with bladeenc as the encoder. Mp3c is a text based frontend for encoding cds. It uses cddb to name the songs and the albums and automatically creates the playlists. It is completely configurable and easy to use.

Bladeenc will do the job (1)

anewsome (58) | more than 15 years ago | (#1733166)

I have ripped and encoded about 2,500 files myself. I disagree with the other poster who claimed that bladeenc is fast at all. It seems to be a pretty slow encoder for me, but then again I encode at 256K. I have heard that bladeenc will encode in near realtime on a 233Mhz at 128K. But I can tell you that it comes no where near realtime even on my 400Mhz with 256MB Ram. I don't think I'll be changing encoders any time soon unless someone demonstrates a noticeably better sound quality encoder. --Aaron

Xing (2)

drwiii (434) | more than 15 years ago | (#1733168)

Get the Xing MP3 encoder. You'll be happy you did. I am.


What about CDDB integration? (1)

torpor (458) | more than 15 years ago | (#1733169)

I'm about to start the process of encoding all of my personal CD's as well, and one thing I'm yet to understand is if there is some degree of CDDB integration with the popular encoders out there, so that encoded files get named properly without requiring much interaction by the user.

If not, then what is the best open-source encoder and CDDB-compatible CD player application, so that I can make a FrankenCoder that will automatically place encoded CD files into the correct directory/filename layout for easy reference...

Shouldn't you use MP2? (1)

heroine (1220) | more than 15 years ago | (#1733182)

Unless you want to upload files over the internet, the best sound quality is only going to be from MP2 above 256k. MP3 was developed for distributing music over low bandwidth connections not for archiving. If you must go with the pack, use Lame, which supports joint stereo. Bladeenc does not support joint stereo. Joint stereo greatly improves the quality.

Go with higher bitrates and LAME or bladenc (1)

X (1235) | more than 15 years ago | (#1733183)

I personally use bladenc, but I've heard good things about LAME. The key thing is that the Franhaufer (sp?) encoders are really geared to high compression ratios to make 128kbps. They do a swell job of producing good sound at 128kbps. For GREAT sound though, you want to go with 192kbps and bladenc or LAME. Franhaufer is way to tuned for 128kbps IMHO and when you boost it to 192kbps and compare with LAME or bladenc, you can actually hear the difference.

Xing Encoder (1)

jmorris42 (1458) | more than 15 years ago | (#1733185)

Xing offers their encoder for Linux for $20.

Pros: Fast. Really fast. The audio quality (on a properly supported player) appears as good as l3enc.

Cons: Closed software. Only a few current players will play back files (other players 'warble', 'hiss' and do other wierd things from time to time) produced with it even if you don't go all the way to the bleeding edge and use Variable Bitrate Encoding. In their favor though, Xing has released a decoder which plays back their stuff under the GPL so it is hard to fault them. Freeamp seems to be the only one with a linux player based on the Xing code.

I'm not trying to start flame wars, read carefully (1)

MoOsEb0y (2177) | more than 15 years ago | (#1733187)

I was just like you about a year ago, when I found a sound format called VQF.. it provided the quality of a 224 kbps mp3 with 96 kbps. The main problems that I've seen are that encoded does take much longer than mp3, (naturally, since you're packing more data in a smaller space, just like rar takes longer than zip) and also the fact that you can only play VQFs under linux with wine (eww!!).. I've racked up a pretty good collection of VQFs (1615+), and they all sound great.. more info about this format is available at I know many people in here are hardcore MP3ers, so that's the reason for the subject.
Hope this helps ya,
MoOsEb0y (

Re:art of encoding (1)

MoOsEb0y (2177) | more than 15 years ago | (#1733188)

I rip with my HP CD-Writer Plus 7200i at 6x all the time and it sounds great... just my 2 cents
-MoOsEb0y (

Re:VQF by Microsoft (1)

MoOsEb0y (2177) | more than 15 years ago | (#1733189)

I'm afraid that you are mistaken there.. it is given out for free by yamaha, and there is a plugin for winamp, kjofol plays it natively, esprit will play them once you rape the yamaha player of it's dlls, c-4 soon will, and ntt (a japanese company, which originally invented it) also makes a player. quite clearly, there is significant support for it, plus how often do you see 96k (or even 80k!) MP3s that sound good?

Re:VQF by Microsoft (1)

MoOsEb0y (2177) | more than 15 years ago | (#1733190)

correction... yamaha.. even if both companies have japanese names =), oh did I mention that solidaudio is making a portable player (similar to rio and mpman), which will play VQFs?

Re:A really good song for testing (1)

Nathaniel (2984) | more than 15 years ago | (#1733200)

On Sarah McLachlan's Surfacing album, try encoding the very last track

I happen to already have that album encoded, so I played it and listened closely for any problems. I didn't hear any. The song is called 'Last Dance'.

I've been ripping tracks with cdparanoia (alpha prerelease 9.4) and encoding with bladenc (v0.76) at 128kbs from a 20x drive, though cdparanoia makes it clear that the data speed on the drive doesn't effect the rippping speed.

This is on a Pentium 200 Mhz machine with 128 megs of memory, an IDE cdrom drive and an IDE hard drive on seperate controller. I run X, play MP3s, act as a gateway for another box, a file server (including MP3s) for that box, a server for a couple NCDs, and I've been playing CivCTP. Idle CPU goes to

In spite of that load I manage to get 3 CDs encoded each day. I've now got about 150 CDs taking a little over 7 gigs.

The wav files tend to take about 10 megs per minute, and the MP3s take a bit over 1 meg per minute.

Yes, that means I've got more than 4 days of music available. And a lot of jewel cases collecting dust.

Re:Xing Encoder (1)

aqua (3874) | more than 15 years ago | (#1733203)

I bought a copy of xingenc when it was released for Linux (impulse purchase). The speed was quite good, and the speed/quality ratio was also quite ideal. A while back I did a by-ear comparison of bladeenc, xing and 8hz' encode -- bladeenc and encode were both good quality, their perceptible flaws were some slight muddling when both high and low freqs were occuring simultaneously in the music (which is a waveform encoding issue we're not going to get away from). Xing's quality was perceptibly lower, audibly distorting both extremes of the frequency range (plus chopping the ones higher than you're supposed to be able to hear). That was all at 128kbps -- at 160kbps and above, I couldn't make out any difference.

OTOH, the Xing encoder supports VBR encoding, which did seem to increase the perceived quality quite a bit. The feature is available under Linux; the files are a bit bigger with a mid-to-high quality settings, but the result sounds nice.

Somewhere there was an actual frequency-analysis report of a bunch of mp3 encoders, including all three of the above. Now I've forgotten the URL.

Well, I hate to say it... (1)

gmezero (4448) | more than 15 years ago | (#1733208)

But I've tried a number of different encoders under Linux, OS/2 and Windows, and I'm currently settled on MusicMatch Jukebox 4.0 under Windows95. I know, I know, we all know Windows bites, but this app has really functioned extremely well for me and I even went ahead and registered it to get up to 160kbps sampling rates. Their web site is at: [] .


Re:The sound quality is _not_ great (1)

madprof (4723) | more than 15 years ago | (#1733212)

If BladeEnc is good for mp3s then, god, mp3s are pretty dire quality.
I've heard worse encoders it has to be said but they were unlistenable.
Don't use mp3 to encode at all - use something non-lossy if you are so concerned about audio quality...

How is quality judged? (1)

Shux (5108) | more than 15 years ago | (#1733215)

Everybody is saying that x mp3 encoder has better quality than y mp3 encoder. However, I was wondering as my ears are not that good, how in fact these conclusions are made. What mathematical/scientific process determines that the quality of one mp3 encoder is better than another if they encode the same file at the same bitrate? It seems as though no one is giving this person a direct answer with at least some research or links to research. Don't get me wrong, I'm not calling anyone a liar. I just wanna see a little proof that one encoder produces higher quality files than another.

Re:I would have to say bladeenc (1)

Drew M. (5831) | more than 15 years ago | (#1733218)

Try out Lame, you might really like it. I use to be a hard core bladeenc user, but I encoded mp3's side by side and listened to them using bladeenc and lame, and found that lame was more than twice a fast, and didn't have some high frequency distortion that I could hear in blade.

Try them both for yourself, you will hear the difference.... Lame works better for me

Audiocatalyst for Windows. (1)

BigEd (6405) | more than 15 years ago | (#1733219)

This is by far the best mp3 encoder out there. It's a combination of the Audiograbber software (an awesome cd ripper), and the Xing encoder and player. It also has normalization and enough different bitrates to keep just about anyone happy.

It's so easy to use that you can plop a CD into the drive, hit the CDDB button, put check marks next to the songs you want to encode and then you can leave. Come back in a little while and the songs will be ripped, normalized, and encoded at the bitrate you specified in the directory you specified with the songnames downloaded off the Internet.

You can definitely hobble together several different programs (Xing makes an encoder for Linux last I checked) under Linux to do the same thing, but it's really worthwhile to reboot into Windows for this one...

I would have to say bladeenc (1)

Chutzpah (6677) | more than 15 years ago | (#1733221)

I have been using bladeenc [] for quite awhile now, and the sound quality is great, and it is the fastest encoder available on any platform.

Different times for different songs (1)

psp (7269) | more than 15 years ago | (#1733222)

Is it anyone else than me who have noticed that some encoders (I've tested Radium enhanced FhG) use a lot more time encoding "difficult" songs, like jazz music, than when encoding less complex music.

My P2-233 easily encodes in realtime when encoding a Underworld disc, but it does a lot worse when encoding a Charlie Parker disc.

Krabber for you KDE folks (1)

astyanax (8365) | more than 15 years ago | (#1733231)

Personally I like Krabber [] , even though I don't use KDE myself (Im a WindowMaker guy). It uses BladeEnc I believe, and it's got a nice GUI (I haven't tried a recent copy of grip though).

Fraunhofer is the way to go (1)

marvinx (9011) | more than 15 years ago | (#1733234)

I've used a lot of encoders over the years, and I keep coming back to Fraunhofer. If you're converting all of your CD's to MP3s, then pay for this encoder. You can't beat the results.

Now if someone would just make a portable "discman" for playing joliet CD-Rs, then I'd be a happy man.

Re:mp3enc 3.1 (Fraunhofer IIS-A) (1)

chrisbolt (11273) | more than 15 years ago | (#1733239)

For anyone wondering how to get the Fraunhofer encoder, [] is the link to download a trial.

My experience. (1)

SyniK (11922) | more than 15 years ago | (#1733244)

In my experience Xing MP3 Encoder is one of the fastest encoders and sounds very good (a Linux port is available). I've found that the Fraunhafer encoder(sp?) in High Quality mode has the best audio quality. With the right encoder an MP3 is very hard to distinguish from a CD if the bit rate is 256 kb/sec. Hope that at least gets you started!

Test for yourself... (1)

Kevin Burtch (13372) | more than 15 years ago | (#1733251)

...after all, you're the one who has to live with
the results. :)

Seriously, a lot of people seem to like the
$200 Fraunhofer encoder over LAME, but for the
music I've encoded, I think it sounds better.
(Fraunhofer's sounded muddy to me)

It all depends on your music... for example,
there's a certain synth used by a certain
group that sounds absolutely horrible under
any of the ISO based encoders I've tried...
yes, even Blade. LAME is the _only_ one that
could reproduce it, except the pricey one
mentioned above. (this is at 128kb/s)

The ones I would recommend trying are:

Fraunhofer (demo, capable of 30-second encodes)

Those are some of the ones I've tried... can't
remember the others (I already deleted them).

Anyways, use cdparanoia to rip a song or two that
you really like (and are _very_ familiar with) and
use each one to encode it. Listen carefully to
each one ( loud! :) and you'll probably notice
a difference.

If you decide to use something other than
cdparanoia to rip the CDs, be sure to rip the
same track several times (into different files)
and compare them with "diff". I tried one that
is supposed to be based on cdparanoia, and every
single rip was different! With cdparanoia, you'll
get the same data every time. (YMMV)

Good luck!

Re:Lame, BladeEnc (1)

hystrix (13799) | more than 15 years ago | (#1733254)

The site he is refering to that has detailed comparison of some popular encoders can be found HERE [] I have found it to be a really fair analysis.

Comparison of MP3 Encoders by David Bradbury (1)

davco9200 (13848) | more than 15 years ago | (#1733255)

There is a really a good comparison of MP3 encoders, with an eye towards those for the Mac. He does a pretty good pseudo-scientific review of the sound quality, which encoding rate (128? more, CBR or VBR?).

Check it out: []


Re:art of encoding (1)

Preston Pfarner (14687) | more than 15 years ago | (#1733258)

For ripping, I always use cdparanoia under Linux.
It does error correction when it can (but some
discs are beyond repair). That may help if I'm
correct in my understanding that you get those
errors in the WAV files. Also, I've seen a lot
of variety in CD players for ripping accuracy.

Using bladeenc to convert these WAVs to MP3s,
I don't get discontinuities or errors.

Re:Well, I hate to say it... (1)

D3TH (15279) | more than 15 years ago | (#1733263)

I also use Music Match 4, also the registered version. I have encoded over 200 CDs and haven't encountered an of the artifacts that the others have been talking about. I have a $250.00 set of Altec Lansing speakers with subwoofer and find that the sound quality has been excellent. I listen to a good bit of classical, and even the strings and brass are crisp. I also like alternative and industrial and the BOOM at the bottom is critical to me as well. Although I don't have any numbers for you, I can say that I reccomend it without hesitation.

A really good song for testing (2)

webslacker (15723) | more than 15 years ago | (#1733265)

On Sarah McLachlan's Surfacing album, try encoding the very last track (I forgot what it's called) with different encoders. It's a really difficult song for MP3 encoders to get right, esp around 23 seconds into the song when the cello starts. Every encoder I've used so far screws up the cello at 128kbs, but you can compare which encoders handle it better than others.

Lame, BladeEnc (1)

akeru (15942) | more than 15 years ago | (#1733267)

Simply put, Lame is the fastest encoder especially with the -f option (which lowers sound quality, but I couldn't detect a difference) Lame also supports variable bitrate encoding (better sound quality, but slower) generally, I think it is the most versitile of the encoders. BladeEnc on the other hand gives the best sound quality at bitrates OVER 128kb/s but equal or lower quality at bitrates equal to or lower than 128kb/s (from teh BladeEnc website). Also, the BladeEnc website, I believe has a link to a site that compares MP3 encoders. Note that Lame requires the ISO-encoder which can be difficult to find, but usually goes by the filename of dist10.tar.gz or dist10.tgz if you decide to go the Lame route.


Re:Audiocatalyst for Windows. (1)

akeru (15942) | more than 15 years ago | (#1733268)

Sorry, but have you looked at GRIP? Does everything you listed and more.
Additionally, read some of teh comments on the quality of Xing's encoder, sure it's fast, but suffers from sound quality. BladeEnc is the highest quality high bit-rate encoder, l3enc (now mp3enc) from Frauenhoffer is the highest quality low bit-rate encoder. With grip, you just put the CD in the drive, click two buttons and walk away. Grip can also use the Xing encoder (actually, any command line encoder) to do its thing if you really want to use Xing, over BladeEnc (for Quality) or Lame (for speed).


Re:How is quality judged? (1)

Qube (17569) | more than 15 years ago | (#1733273)

However, I was wondering as my ears are not that good, how in fact these conclusions are made. What mathematical/scientific process determines that the quality of one mp3 encoder is better than another if they encode the same file at the same bitrate?

Encode the same track with the different encoders, then hook up a decent amp & speakers (or a good set of headphones) up to your soundcard, and listen to the tracks back to back.

Alternatively you could take the mp3s you created, decompress them back to .wav and burn them on to a CD as audio. Then you can listen to the differences on a normal hifi CD player.

Like most audio things, quality isn't really something that can be measured in numbers - plus it's different things to different people. Pick the encoder that produces the sound that you're happiest with, screw what other people think.

(But I'd say just this - Xing sucks badly, it's quick but I'd rather take an extra 10 mins per CD)


there's ripenc (1)

Scudsucker (17617) | more than 15 years ago | (#1733277)

Its a frontend for rippers, encoders, and id3 tools (makes song title, artist name etc part of the mp3 file).

I've used it with cdparanioa and bladeenc, but haven't gotten the id3 stuff to work. I think you need xmcd to use the cddb stuff, but I could be wrong on that part.

One cavet: ripenc rips the cd, and then encodes the wav files, instead of starting to encode as soon as the first track is ripped.

Bladeenc seems slow, and I'm too lazy to try different encoders. I have dual 450 celerons running RH 6.0, and my 44x CDROM always finishes ripping (assuming the disk isn't scrated) before bladeenc is done.

You can find all this software and more by searching on

where's the bottleneck (1)

Rainy (17894) | more than 15 years ago | (#1733280)

First of all, it's very hard to give any hard data here. My personal opinion based on experience is that if you use
$ cdparanoia -Bz "1-" to rip entire disc and encode it with bladenc at 256kbps, mp3 quality won't be a bottleneck, at least on my system. I have a reasonably good amp/speakers that cost me $250 for speakers and $320 for amp (paradigm minimonitor 3's and nad C340) and when I listen to mp3s I can hear internal computer noises, cdrom spinning up, static discharges, internal power supply, etc. I have a reasonably good audio card (sb audiopci64 based on ensoniq 1370 chipset). Encoder's quality is not the bottleneck in this case. It might be if you go with extremely high end sound card like Event gine ($300?), but i woudln't bet on it. overall cdparanoia/bladenc at 256 is easy, fast, and good enough unless you invest money in soundcard and invest ALOT of time in testing various configurations.
- Rainy

Re:Well, I hate to say it... (1)

Quarters (18322) | more than 15 years ago | (#1733281)

Since MMJB 3.0 they've been using the updated Xing encoder that doesn't have the limitation you mention. Your info is a tad dated.

MMJB 4.0 is also my encoder of choice.

Best linux encoder (1)

ottffssent (18387) | more than 15 years ago | (#1733282)

Personally, I would recommend the Xing technology [] mp3 encoder. It is available for linux, and costs about $20. On a P-233 w/32mb ram, running the windows version under win95, it encodes at approx. 1.5X on an IDE drive. Bitrate variable from 8 - 256 kpbs as .mp3, and up to 384kpbs as .mp2. Anything higher than about 192kpbs is overkill: you can't tell the difference even on excellent speakers. Even then, the differences are only noticeable in classical or other similar music with more pure tones.

Bladeenc. (1)

tomk (20364) | more than 15 years ago | (#1733295)

Bladeenc works great for me. IMHO I think it has the best sound quality and decent speed.

On another topic, though, has anyone tried Xing? I heard that they had the fastest encoder.


AudioGrabber (1)

mejum (22989) | more than 15 years ago | (#1733298)

I'd have to say that AudioGrabber does a really nice job of ripping CD's. It didn't work on my 8x ATAPI cdrom but worked fine with my 8x SCSI cdrom.
To encode, I use AudioCatalyst.
Both of these utilities are for Windows.

Normalization (1)

skip277 (24541) | more than 15 years ago | (#1733301)

Here's my question. I'm currently using grip with cdparanoia and bladeenc. The problem is that the wave files that cdparanoia rips aren't normalized before encoding by bladeenc. This results in pretty crappy sound. What are people using to normalize wavs before encoding? And it sounds like I'm gonna have to check out LAME. Anyone have a url? (I'm lazy)


Xing Owns (1)

EvlG (24576) | more than 15 years ago | (#1733302)

I've been a big fan of Xing for a while. Their MP3 encoder just owns. I can get a 5 minute song into a 128kbps MP3 in around 1:30 or less.

IMO if you arew going to convert a whole lot of CDs to MP3s, speed will be an issue....add 1-2 minutes per song onto the encode time, and then multiply that by ~12 per CD, and then multiply that by the number of CDs and you start to get a lot of time saved.

I highly recommend Xing. Their Linux encoder is a simple console app (read: script friendly, ready to have a GUI built around it). Check it out.

Lame is pretty good (1)

nufan (26081) | more than 15 years ago | (#1733310)

Check Look at the betas, the most recent beta has worked well for me.

Ripper/Encoder Combo (1)

lightPhoenix (28084) | more than 15 years ago | (#1733314)

Windows Software
I use Exact Audio Copy for the ripping ( l)
And then BladeEnc for the encoding.
I *know* blade is not the fastest, :( (I ripped Weird Al's running with Scissors, then handed it to my friend who ripped/encoded at the same time using MusicMatch Jukebox, he was doing 160kbs vs my 128kbs _and_ was faster. All I was doing was encoding. Oh well, both these are free, thats some thing at least), but has good quality overall. Encoding ususally matters for what I'm listening to... Weird Al eventually got 160, while Last of the Mohicans Soundtrack (Celtic Instrumental) got 192, b/c anything less was disgusting. The quality of your sterio is also something to take in account. If you are still using the $5 speakers you got with your computer, then 128kbs is fine. But a nice pair of JBL's with a set of Altec Lansing 48s makes sound descrepancies very noticable.


NexEncode (1)

freakho (28342) | more than 15 years ago | (#1733316)

It's under W95, but it works well and simply. It's incredibly easy to encode whole discs, it's free, and it looks cool. Not to mention the sound quality, which is the best I've found.
Download Nexencode []

Also whatever you do end up using, please let it not be AudioGrabber. It Sucks. Yes, that's a capital "S". [no flame please]

The FreakHo

Re:RealJukebox Plus (1)

Jeckle (30833) | more than 15 years ago | (#1733322)

I agree. About the only thing I use my windows partition for anymore is gaming, Dreamweaver/Fireworks/Flash, and ripping my Cd's. after that I simply make a symlink in my home dir to /98/mp3z so's I can get to them quick in the Linux partition, and all's well. I used MusicMatch when I got my Rio and it was alright, but RealJukebox free version offers so much more, it's free, it records faster than most other things mentioned, and is more configurable than MusicMatch. Only problem I have with it is that it's processor intensive. Of course, that could be because I am trudging away on a P200!

Re:Well, I hate to say it... (1)

NetHunter (34567) | more than 15 years ago | (#1733329)

Don't forget that MusicMatch uses Xing mp3 encoder as its encoder, and don't forget that Xing is killing everything higher then 16Khz, to speed things up, so maybe it is fast and everything, but i got real speackers, and an amplifier, and MusicMatch/Xing made MP3s really sux in quality...

Consider Carefully (2)

miracle69 (34841) | more than 15 years ago | (#1733331)

This is a valid question anyone who encodes should consider. I currently have over 40 mp3 CDs worth of my collection that I've encoded. I've maxed out a 20 GB HD and will be purchasing another to put the rest of my mp3s on my server.

I encoded a large portion of my collection using Windows, specifically Audiocatalyst. It works really good most of the time. However, it did not work great with all my drives. My HP 8100i CD-R is the best drive I have to rip with. My DVD Drive and older CD-Rs would have too many skips. In going back and listening to my collection, I still run across songs that have blips in them, though this is rare. Audiocatalyst rips and encodes so fast, you don't have time to listen to all the songs prior to burning a CD, so I expected a bit of this. Of course, when you rip under windows, don't expect to be able to use it for anything else, unless you love reading hex on a blue background.

I am currently using Linux to rip and encode, and I have much better results. My CD-R is still the fastest drive to rip with, but I can rip with a 2nd gen DVD, and a 12x CD-R. My 4x4x NEC CdChanger is the only drive I can't rip with. I use CD Paranoia. It is currently for linux only, and has ripped flawlessly for me, even when using BOTH drives (CDR,DVD) to rip on a P200MMX 128 MB RAM. That's a pretty modest machine. I use it to rip, encode, WHILE using netscape, irc, several terminal sessions, and Sure, my load hovers between 3 and 4, but the machine is usable and doesn't crash.

I currently am encoding with bladeenc, which is much slower than the Xing encoder. It is better at higher bitrates - 160 and above - than the Frauenhauffer(sp) encoder. However, I've been using it at 128 because I find that I still get great sound. I haven't tried the Xing encoder under linux, but perhaps I will today.

You will run across many sites that analyze the quality of mp3s encoded at different bitrates by different encoders. The gist of those sites is this: The higher the bitrate, the better the sound. Nothing beats the Fruenhauffer encoder at 128, but most other encoders aren't noticebly different.

My personal experience is this - if you are encoding so your machine can serve up thousands of mp3s to listen in the background as you work, 128 is fine, and choose the encoder you like.

A great X frontend is gRip - which uses cdparanoia and bladeenc and has cddb capabilities built in. It has debs and rpms if you are looking for ease of installation.

email me with any other questions.

mp3enc 3.1 (Fraunhofer IIS-A) (1)

thebard (35403) | more than 15 years ago | (#1733333)

Its simply the best. Its definately NOT the fastest. Its also comercial and $200. Bladeenc is faster, but at 192k and higher its not even close. LAME is the best free encoder. Check out LAME's web page as to why lame is better than bladeenc (sound samples) and why the FhG encoder is still the best.

Re:VQF by Microsoft (1)

rudiger (35571) | more than 15 years ago | (#1733334)

If I am not mistaken, VQF is a Sony product.

I second the motion (no text) (1)

abamfici (35737) | more than 15 years ago | (#1733335)

yeah, go with blade.

use scsi (1)

abamfici (35737) | more than 15 years ago | (#1733336)

IDE blows for ripping. Use scsi. IDE cdrom drives are dime a dozen and just aren't made with quality in mind.

And about that blit/blut noise, I have a 6x that does that. I have no idea why. It plays cd's normally (yeah yeah i know there's a difference between ripping and and playing but I like to think not :) On the other hand my 16x doesn't.


Re:I'm not trying to start flame wars, read carefu (1)

My_Favorite_Anonymou (36494) | more than 15 years ago | (#1733338)

Next time I butt-kiss a product, I won't use the as the email adress.

(Actually I'm going to look into it, I have to pack songs in my limited-space libretto.)


Grip works great with notlame too (1)

Standfast (36916) | more than 15 years ago | (#1733339)

I share the opinion that Bladeenc's sound quality is not up to par for my preferred bit rate (192K), so I installed notlame to replace bladeenc in grip. In a few weeks I've built myself a 1500-song archive with the benefits of both worlds: convenience with good sound quality.

But cdparanoia is too slow!!


art of encoding (1)

marcas1 (36966) | more than 15 years ago | (#1733340)

1. I alway rip the CDs at 1x speed or I get "blit", blut" noises, even with brand new ones. Did someone experienced good results with higher speeds? 2. I Tried AudioCatalyst Demo (with variable encoding rate or fix rate) but I always get "shlimp shliump" noises with mpg123, X11amp or even Winamp. So I still use mp3compressor. 3. I'm using 128Kbits/stereo rate. Some friends of man said thet the resulting music can't be earable whith headphones. Am I already dumb ?

Best encoder (1)

cgray4 (39638) | more than 15 years ago | (#1733346)

If you are using gnome, go with grip and bladeenc. I don't have any numbers to back this up, but I am encoding my CD collection right now with this method and it is certainly the most convenient I've found. A bonus is that bladeenc is now under the LGPL.

It depends on the bit rate (1)

Camper Bob (40312) | more than 15 years ago | (#1733348)

Some encoders seem to be better at certain bit rates than others.

Under Win32, the so-called "Radium" variant of the Fraunhofer-IIS Professional codec is pretty much the undisputed quality champion at 128 kbps. The newer versions of the Xing encoder are almost as good, and way faster (30 seconds or less to compress a typical track on a fast Pentium II/III). On Win32 you want to stay away from older versions of Xing, and you also want to stay away from the gimmicky variable-bit-rate option on the newest version.

As far as a multiplatform encoder goes, the LAME (LAME Ain't an MPEG Encoder) project claims to have made numerous improvements over the standard ISO reference implementation on which most other freebie encoders are based. However, LAME is still far, far inferior to Radium/Fraunhofer at the usual 128K bit rate. I found that it was necessary to run LAME at 160 or even 192 kbps to achieve the same quality that Fraunhofer delivered at 128.

YMMV... []

I maintain LAME, but if you've got the $$, use FhG (1)

mt (40685) | more than 15 years ago | (#1733349)

As many people have written, FhG is unbeatable at 128kbs. I think it is $200 for linux, cheaper for windows.

In my tests, Xing($20?) and LAME are pretty close and both give
acceptable results at 128kbs. I have samples where LAME does better
than Xing, and vice versa. (but I am probably biased).

BladeEnc produces output identical to the ISO dist10.tar code. Thus
it has not yet fixed many serious bugs in the psycho acoustics and bit
allocation routines. You can see a list of these bugs on the LAME web
page. One example: the pre-echo detection turns on the window
switching exactly one frame too late. Thus the pre-echo is completely
missed and the window switching causes more harm than good.

Since you are going to invest a lot of time into encoding, I think it
would be worth it to downloading the free encoders, and the demo
versions of the commercial encoders and do your own tests with a good
pair of headphones. Test the music you like to listen too, and listen
to short passages dozens of times. Some encoder artifacts you wont
notice at first, but once you "learn" to hear them, you'll really notice them. The LAME homepage has many test cases with notes
on what types of flaws to listen for and what techniques we have coded
to improve the quality.


l3enc for dos (1)

empath (44572) | more than 15 years ago | (#1733354)

With the -hq switch (high quality), it takes forever and a day, but has the best quality I've ever seen. You can also batch stuff up easily with DOS batch files, but it doesn't handle long file names, which can be a pain. Stick with 8.3, and l3enc is the best. You might have a little trouble finding it, though.. I think it's copyrighted or something. I still have my old (pre license) version, and it works great.

Audio Catalyst suck my nuts (1)

lubricated (49106) | more than 15 years ago | (#1733356)

I have never had poorer quality mp3 then when I used audio catalyst even at 160Kbps. i guess I get to be picky though because I have a sb live plugged into a home theater system

Re:My experience. (1)

lubricated (49106) | more than 15 years ago | (#1733357)

I've used audio catalyst. The quality is crappy. I have never heard worse mp3's. lame works really well for me.

MusicMatch is pretty good (1)

agtofchaos (56094) | more than 15 years ago | (#1733365)

I personally prefer Music Match Jukebox. It is more reliable on my computer than AudioCatalyst. AC tends to have some problems with my ide dvd-rom. MusicMatch 4 is free if you only want to do 96kbps encoding, but it costs $30 for up 320kbps.

grip (1)

Sir Joltalot (66097) | more than 15 years ago | (#1733376)

I use grip, which comes with cdparanoia built in, for a clean install, and can work with pretty much any command-line mp3 encoder. I would suggest bladeenc because it can do a lot of bitrates. I think 192kbps sounds good and keeps the files pretty small... grip also does CDDB, which means you don't have to do your ID3 tags manually, as long as you have mp3info.

yee gads, a Mac reply... (1)

Matter Eating Lad (66251) | more than 15 years ago | (#1733378)

For Mac, SoundJam(TM) MP 1.0 is just out and pretty cool.
(by Casady and Green)
The Melt o' Rama psyhcodelic screen is great, especially when listen to Geeks and Space mp3's

MP3 Encoder... (1)

xENTROPYx (66709) | more than 15 years ago | (#1733380)

I use AudioCatalyst.. Pretty sweet interface, and you are able to select a wide range of sound qualities.. It's pretty cool.. One step ripping, encoding, and normalization..

Best mp3 encoder... (1)

z4ce (67861) | more than 15 years ago | (#1733381)

The best mp3 encoder is undoubtly Fraunhofer. It's the undisputed champion of mp3 quality. Out of the mp3 encoders I have used I have found lame in high-quality mode and a tweak found on the webpage to define smaller packs to be the closest to fraunhofer as the people who write lame said.. perhaps %90 of fraunhofer. Bladeenc is not suggested due to the fact it uses ISO encoding not pyscho-aucstic(sp) which is much better. I believe the l3enc is also based on that design. (correct me if I'm wrong l3enc people). Xing is also very fast and very good and support variable bit rates which can greatly increase quality. (Lame also supports VBR, though it cuts my compression time to 1/1.3 on a 450celery). I typical use lame with forced-joint stereo, and at a 160bit rate, If I use VBR I can get a better quality but at a big proformance cost. I hope this helps you.

Im a lame man, myself (1)

Mal_ (70147) | more than 15 years ago | (#1733388)

IMHO, lame is the best encoder out there for linux. Its based on the iso code, but seems considerably faster and better quality than other encoders based on that code (bladeenc for example). I use it in combination with cdparanoia, an exeptionally fine ripper. Lame gets about 1.4x on my celeron 333. There are several frontends available for both, grip and krabber spring to mind. Find all these great products on freshmeat.

CDex [windows] (1)

chocolatetrumpet (73058) | more than 15 years ago | (#1733393)

Here's CDex []

What do you all think of it?

Re:Im a lame man, myself (1)

Mr. Haplo (75276) | more than 15 years ago | (#1733397)

I'm also a lame man. That in combo with grip (for ripping and cddb) is wonderful. I can put a cd in, select all the tracks, and let it do it's thing. The incredible part is that at 128kbs, it encodes faster than it can rip tracks. I've tested it against l3enc and bladeenc, and it is by far the fastest encoder I've seen. The quality is also fantastic. I highly recommend the combo of grip (using built-in cdparanoia for ripping), and lame.

Everyone, please read this FAQ! (1)

antdude (79039) | more than 15 years ago | (#1733401)

Okay everyone, please read this FAQ. It is a common question:

It will answer your questions. It all depends on the songs, your ears, speakers, etc.

The FAQ does list the best encoders to use. :)

RealJukebox Plus (1)

funkapus (80229) | more than 15 years ago | (#1733402)

not open source or free OR linux-based, but it'll encode up to 320Kbps, and it can record up to 7x the speed of playback, depending on your machine (don't know whether it'll be much slower to encode at high bit rate or not) it grabs the track name from CDDB. here 'tis... []

Good Format, VQF (1)

Sigle (80240) | more than 15 years ago | (#1733403)

Yeah, I've been using VQF for some time and it's really quite good. It really reduces download times while actually being better quality than most MP3s. One drawback is the relative unavailability of it, compared to MP3. So when I can't find something I'm looking for in VQF I do look for it in MP3. But I expect that will likely change as VQF becomes more widely known.
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