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Old 05-15-2012, 12:11 PM
stonecaper stonecaper is offline
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Default Please Comment on choice of Encoder and Encoding Frontend

I require your wise advises/suggestions on CD Ripping and conversion of Audio files to a Lossy format so that i can fill my DAP with them
My Humble audio Setup includes a Sony walkman NWZ-S545 and an MEELEC M9
So here It goes -
1.Does one Need to use different encoder/encoding settings for Different genres of Music?
2.I chose foobar2k as my frontend (Setting Ripping security to paranoid),is it good?
3.i was fairly sure of My choice of encoder to be Lame (v0) until i heard about Apple aac true VBR
Now i am confused,tried abx too,couldn't decide, Please help me to choose the Best of the Two
My Settings for Lame v0 was - -V 0 --vbr-new --add-id3v2 --ignore-tag-errors --ta "%a" --tt "%t" --tg "%m" --tl "%g" --ty "%y" --tn "%n" %s %d (Still cant add the q0 switch )
and for Apple TVBR - --tvbr 100 --highest - %d (should i Increase the quality from 100 to 127?)
One Thing i noticed is that the file size was 20% Lower in Apple TVBR when Compared to Lame v0
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  #2  
Old 05-15-2012, 02:47 PM
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McDougal McDougal is offline
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1. No, just use what sounds good. Although on more complex music you may need to go higher.
2. Yes, foobar2000 is a good option. fre:ac is another choice. For ripping in foobar2k, paranoid is probably overkill, I've gotten good results with just standard mode.
3. LAME -V0 will sound the same as AAC 256VBR (aka iTunes Plus). foobar2k cannot use the Apple AAC encoder, only iTunes can. You would have to use NeroAAC to encode with foobar2k.
My suggestion is to just use -V0 .
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  #3  
Old 05-15-2012, 04:49 PM
skip252 skip252 is offline
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foobar2000 can use the Apple AAC encoder. See the qaac encoder page for more on that. There's several threads over on Hydrogenaudio you can find on how to get setup and fine tune your settings. In fact you can use most commandline encoders with foobar2000 if you set it the right way.

There's even ways to encode to WMA. No idea why anyone would want to, but they work.

The placeholders in the options line stonecaper posted are from an older version of EAC so I'm guessing that's what they're using. I'd definitely update to the latest version. I've found the newer version to have a good number of improvements that make updating worth the effort.

My thoughts on what ripper/encoder to use are in this much too long thread. I'd advise using your ears and equipment to determine what encoder settings to use after you create your lossless rips. Using the directions in this thread on how to set up foobar2000 to ABX will help with that.

I'll try to summarize what's in those threads. I'd rip to lossless using a secure ripper. Then I would use a good converter to create samples at different settings to ABX. Once I determined what settings made files that were transparent to the lossless source I would encode to those settings. Doing it that way I would be assured I had the audio information from the disc in at the settings that are best for me.

Since I started doing it that way a few years ago I've never felt the need to ask anyone else what settings to use.
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Old 05-15-2012, 08:01 PM
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I didn't know you could use the Apple AAC encoder in foobar2k.

And yes definitely ABX if you care. But FYI I've never ABX'd and I find LAME -V2 to be transparent most of the time .
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  #5  
Old 05-15-2012, 10:15 PM
skip252 skip252 is offline
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I was just letting you know that foobar2000 can create files AAC using the iTunes CoreAudioToolbox, McDougal. The rest was for stonecaper.

Just telling someone "use what sounds good" doesn't really help if someone is looking for solid information. There's a wide range of possibilities that fit that description. Letting them know there's a way to reliably determine differences using their ears and equipment is much more helpful imo.
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Old 05-16-2012, 10:49 AM
stonecaper stonecaper is offline
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Thnx to Mcdougal and skip252

Quote:
Originally Posted by McDougal View Post
foobar2k cannot use the Apple AAC encoder, only iTunes can.
Yes it Can
I use qtaacenc

@skip252, bro I tried abx several times and often found v0 and v2 to be the best settings ...will do the test again to come to conclusion
So I am dropping apple aac and Sticking to Lame 3.99.5 (or 3.97?)

Last help i need is that command Line Switch which will let me to encode at v0 with ripping quality set to q2

TIA
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  #7  
Old 05-16-2012, 11:41 AM
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I get pretty much the same results with qtaaenc or qaac. In fact when I've used foobar2000's bit compare the audio information has been the same in a few cases. I can't ABX a difference so I went with qaac. I found qaac a bit easier to set up. Can't see any need for having both as I was just experimenting as I was helping someone move from iTunes. I'm sticking with mp3s for the greatest compatibility. Everything plays those.

When I can't ABX a difference I encode to the lower setting. I can't see using space on my portables to store bits I can't hear. Have you tried encoding with qtaacenc at lower quality settings? I can't hear a difference with much lower settings than Q100. Somewhere around Q59 - Q68 iTunes AAC is transparent for me.

Not saying that's true for you, of course. Just suggesting you try a converting and ABXing a few files at lower settings. The results may let you put more files on your Sony.

If you downloaded the complete LAME package you can check the html documentation for detailed switches. If I'm reading it correctly it should be -q <number>. If you've already tried that I'm not sure why it's not working. Check the detailed documentation. There's probably a way to force that drop in the quality switch.

Not sure why you would want to force LAME to use a lower quality setting but that's up to you. The default has been -q 0 since LAME 3.98.4. If you're seeing the lower -q settings when you check the encoding parameters you may want to upgrade your version of LAME.
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  #8  
Old 05-16-2012, 03:00 PM
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@stonecaper, if you've decided on MP3, then yes, V0 and V2 are the best settings to use IMO. As for the version....it doesn't really matter. I'm still using 3.98.4. Take a look at this thread about the latest version. From some test results it appears the newest version creates larger files with higher quality settings, and smaller file sizes with lower quality.

EDIT:

I thought I'd give qaac a shot in foobar2k. So, I downloaded it, and copied all the files in the x86 folder to the foobar2000 programs folder. I then went to the convert menu, but only NeroAAC is there. How do I set this up?
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Last edited by McDougal; 05-16-2012 at 03:08 PM.
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  #9  
Old 05-17-2012, 11:08 AM
skip252 skip252 is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by McDougal View Post
I thought I'd give qaac a shot in foobar2k. So, I downloaded it, and copied all the files in the x86 folder to the foobar2000 programs folder. I then went to the convert menu, but only NeroAAC is there. How do I set this up?
You have to refer foobar2000 to the encoder you want to use. The only ones that show automatically are the ones that have default settings in the basic Converter component installation.

I find the simplest way is to have the converter .exe in the root of the foobar2000 folder. I right click the files I want to convert, enter the name of the converter.exe in the Add New Preset dialog that comes up under Output format. Just putting the full name there refers the converter to the root foobar2000 folder and it finds it automatically when the conversion starts.

Then I add the parameters and name the preset. Most often I've found the toughest part is finding the right parameters for each encoder.

For qaac I use the <strategy> <option> <argument> format posted by the author. An example would be
Code:
--tvbr 60 - -o  %d
for a true variable bitrate file at quality setting 60. The actual setting is "--tvbr 60". The "- -o %d" parameters feeds it to a pipe instead of creating a temporary file and designates an output file. If you want to create iTunes Plus compliant files the parameters the author posted are
Code:
-v256 -q2 - -o %d
The options from the Qaac site are
Code:
strategy     option            argument
TVBR       -V, or --tvbr    quality value(0-127)
CVBR       -v, or --cvbr    target bitrate(in kbps)
ABR        -a, or --abr     target bitrate(in kbps)
CBR        -c, or --cbr     target bitrate(in kbps)
The very approximate values fot the "Q" settings that someone posted on Hydrogenaudio are
Code:
Q0 - Q4 = ~40 kbps
Q5 - Q13 = ~45 kbps
Q14 - Q22 = ~75 kbps
Q23 - Q31 = ~80 kbps
Q32 - Q40 = ~95 kbps
Q41 - Q49 = ~105 kbps
Q50 - Q58 = ~115 kbps
Q59 - Q68 = ~135 kbps
Q69 - Q77 = ~150 kbps
Q78 - Q86 = ~165 kbps
Q87 - Q95 = ~195 kbps
Q96 - Q104 = ~225 kbps
Q105 - Q113 = ~255 kbps
Q114 - Q122 = ~285 kbps
Q123 - Q127 = ~320 kbps
I say very approximate because the bitrates I get sometimes are nowhere near what I expect at times. Encoder results that are very different from what I would expect are one of the reasons I started ABX testing.

The same parameters that sometime produce a file at ~130 kbps will sometimes produce files that are as low as ~67 kpbs. The higher bitrate files came from a drum and bass album and the lower from a acoustic jazz trio. They are both transparent to the original source to me.

If I were looking at the bitrate I might think I needed to boost the quality settings for the lower bitrate files. Once I got over being astonished at how low the bitrate was and ABXed I found the encoder knew better than me and had produced files that let me hear all the music and saved me quite a bit of space.
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  #10  
Old 05-17-2012, 02:32 PM
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Thanks skip252 for the information ! I am going to try and set this up tonight.

I noticed the command line you put for iTunes Plus is constrained vbr mode. Are you sure iTunes Plus files aren't true vbr? Because I've seen iTunes songs go up to as high as 400kbps when playing them through foobar2000.

I could probably save a ton of space by switching over to something like 192TVBR AAC files, but it's not worth the hassle now. Besides, I don't have a lot of music, so I'm not running into space issues.
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  #11  
Old 05-17-2012, 03:22 PM
skip252 skip252 is offline
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I don't know personally what settings are used to produce iTunes Plus files. I don't have iTunes installed and the few files someone bought for me don't give their exact settings. That was from the last time I checked this thread. http://www.hydrogenaudio.org/forums/...pic=85135&st=0 If you're interested you can no doubt find more settings for reverse engineering iTunes Plus to get the right settings. I see several different results when I do a google.

iTunes encoded AAC files encoded at high a quality setting that high are a waste of space for me in any case. When I use qaac to encode and ABX they are transparent to me at a much lower setting.
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  #12  
Old 05-17-2012, 04:57 PM
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Yeah the iTunes Plus is probably overkill for me too. But I don't see why not if I have the space for it.

Here is a screenshot from Mr Questionman of an album I purchased from the iTunes Store, as you can see, it doesn't tell you much:



I also found out on some albums right after "MPEG-4 AAC" under Encoder info there is a small symbol of some sort. I don't know what this means but it seems to be the same settings. Maybe it's a different encoder that they use.
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  #13  
Old 05-17-2012, 08:13 PM
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After doing a little testing I'm prone to believe the CVBR setting posted may be correct. Not for quality reasons but for marketing reasons. The TVBR setting sometimes produces a MUCH lower average bitrate.

I encoded one of my jazz trio albums using the TVBR Q120 setting. The resulting bitrate was ~126 kbps. The same album encoded at the "iTunes Plus" CVBR settings averaged ~240 kbps. They're both transparent to me.

Considering most people seem to equate bitrate to quality they would probably believe the lower bitrate file wasn't delivering the expected quality. Instead of trying to explain that VBR encoding varies the bitrate to match what's actually needed to fully represent the audio information it would just be simpler to encode everything at the higher setting. There would be a lot less chance of being accused of skimping on quality.
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  #14  
Old 05-17-2012, 08:27 PM
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I encoded a Linkin Park album (Hybrid Theory) in FLAC to the iTunes Plus setting that you posted.

The result was the same as your album, the average bitrate is ~272kbps. It looks the same as albums I've gotten from iTunes except with encoder information. I have not bothered to test this out in true vbr mode yet.

It does make sense that Apple would use CVBR instead. I would imagine it would be a lot easier for Apple to explain to the average joe that 256kbps was CD quality, instead of explaining what TVBR is.

I may try this album in TVBR mode another time, but the bitrate probably won't be as low as yours, since the music is more complex I think (rock vs jazz).
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