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best lossy format?
psybot
post Apr 17 2006, 06:03
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I am certainly a newbie so please have tolerance for any ignorant ways I have.

I am looking for the best lossy audio format for ripping and storing my favourite songs.

After some skim reading of various sources, I am drawn to aacPlus version 2. I have heard some examples of this and am impressed.

Please I am looking for what knowledgable people have to say on this and what your opinions are on what is the best. I am attracted to the low file size yet do not want to hurt the audio quality & doing my own research, I am always walking in circles.

Also I am not sure how to encode to this. I am also weary of the .mp4 format as have heard that this has too much copyright involved. I don't trust DRM and this sort of thing.

Thank you.
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AtaqueEG
post Apr 17 2006, 06:14
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.mp4 only has DRM involved if you purchase them from iTunes. If you rip them yourself you don't need to worry about this.

There are plenty of topics in HA covering "the best lossy codec" subject. There is a poll right now that gives a good overview of what people use and why.

I think, for a newbie, the best way to go would be LAME 3.97. It has pretty much everything one could ever want. Including high quality. Try it. Just don't mess with the presets.

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psybot
post Apr 17 2006, 06:33
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Thank you AtaqueEG. But even after googling for some time, I still am unsure how to use LAME. It seems as if this in itself is not a program? Also, does this rip to .mp4? Thanks very much - appreciate this information.
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Enig123
post Apr 17 2006, 06:41
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LAME is a mp3 encoder.

mp4 is a container format which can contain aac (advanced audio coding) or mp3 if you want.

I'd suggest you use tools with gui to converting wav files or whatever to mp3 using LAME.
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psybot
post Apr 17 2006, 09:44
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I see that the majority say mp3 still. However it is this which makes me question:

" • CD-quality stereo down to 48 kbps", (http://www.codingtechnologies.com/products/aacPlus.htm).

This is for aacPlus.

So if these guys are speaking correctly, this is so much better than mp3 right? I know the compatability issues but for the moment I'm looking past this.
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Firon
post Apr 17 2006, 10:01
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HE-AAC sounds great, but it is not transparent at any bitrate. I really had no problems ABXing the samples in the 48kbps listening test, and my own personal tests on 64kbps samples. However, on really cheap equipment or if you don't have "good" ears, or are just doing casual listening, you may not be able to hear the difference.

What you can do is encode some samples at 48 and 64kbps, and ABX to see which one sounds better to you, and if either bitrate is acceptable to your ears.

This post has been edited by Firon: Apr 17 2006, 11:05
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kennedyb4
post Apr 17 2006, 12:37
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Hi. It would be helpful if you could describe what bitrate you will use, etc. Will you be tsfering files to a portable as well? Is transparency your first criteria?
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jorsol
post Apr 17 2006, 20:42
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QUOTE
" • CD-quality stereo down to 48 kbps", (http://www.codingtechnologies.com/products/aacPlus.htm).
This is just like Microsoft marketing that claim CD quality at 64kbps using their WMA. Never trust what the creators said about their formats... make your own test and conclusions.

Anyway is not CD quality but AACv2 is posibly the best at that bitrate (at least right now).

If what you need is balance with high quality and space saver this is my choice: Ogg Vorbis 128kbps, tested many times that is one of the best at that bitrate (near CD-quality), or even 96kbps is sufficient if you dont have good-ears.


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Garf
post Apr 17 2006, 20:43
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QUOTE (jorsol @ Apr 17 2006, 09:42 PM) *
QUOTE
" • CD-quality stereo down to 48 kbps", (http://www.codingtechnologies.com/products/aacPlus.htm).
This is just like Microsoft marketing that claim CD quality at 64kbps using their WMA. Never trust what the creators said about their formats... make your own test and conclusions.

Anyway is not CD quality but AACv2 is posibly the best at that bitrate (at least right now).


The last test actually showed that HE-AAC is better than HE-AACv2 at 48kbps.
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halb27
post Apr 17 2006, 23:26
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QUOTE (psybot @ Apr 17 2006, 07:03 AM) *
I am looking for the best lossy audio format for ripping and storing my favourite songs.


You don't say what you want to do with your stored songs.
If you just want them on your pc you may go for best quality as disk space isn't a problem anymore (buy for instance a fat and cheap external hard disc).

So the very best solution would be to go lossless (use for instance wavPack), but you say you want to use a lossy format.

Next best solution is a lossy variant of a lossless format. I suggest wavPack lossy used at something like 400kbps (or more). This gives you a quality identical to lossless in a practical sense while saving half of the diskspace (or more). This solution is considered best for transcoding to other formats for mobile DAPs. wavPack lossy can also be played directly on a series of iRiver, iPod and iAudio players when you use Rockbox firmware. Disk space is an ever decreasing problem for mobile players, so wavPack lossy is a good solution for them too.

Another very good solution is vorbis aoTuV - excellent quality at -q5 and higher, and supported by many mobile players (and by Rockbox firmware).

Good old mp3 is another attractive candidate. If you allow for a bitrate way beyond 200 kbps and use a good encoder you get a very good quality as well. Use for instance current Lame 3.98a3 -V0 or old but good (at high bitrate) Lame 3.90.3 --abr 270 -h.
Main advantage of mp3 is it's universal usability. No need to transcode to something else. Good battery life on mobile players. That's why I use mp3.

mp2 (MPEG Level II) is an older and unusual format, but has some merits of its own. Most important is that it's the same codec family like mp3 (MPEG Level III), just one layer lower and simpler. So many mp3 players are able to play mp2 as well (for instance Rockbox firmware player). Because of its greater simplicity using high bitrate is essential (I suggest at leat 320 kbps), and you can go up to 384 kbps. Qualitywise it has an advantage at very high bitrate compared to mp3: the temporal resolution is a lot better, but whether or not this essential to you is another story (to me it's not - can't hear the differences). A good mp2 encoder is QDesign MPEG Audio Codec 1.01. A good solution IMO but a little off the main road.

I'd be careful with other formats like AAC cause you may find yourself on a dead end street having to transcode and thus give away quality.


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Supacon
post Apr 17 2006, 23:53
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As halb27 said, you need to specifiy what applications you have in mind. Different codecs have strengths that make them suited for different purposes.

If you don't care about compatibility, eventually you'll run into a situation where you "wish you had MP3s" or something, because other formats won't work. That being the case, I would recommend that you rip to lossless formats, then you can use foobar or similar tools to transcode to something really nice and small, and back your lossless files up onto DVDs or the like.

For super-low bitrate, IMHO, nothing beats HE-AAC, but it's certainly not going to sound transparent. The files will have a "dirty" quality to them, but shouldn't sound annoying if you aren't listening for it.

If you want a bit higher bitrates, ogg Vorbis sounds really good at over 80Kb/s, and has better compatibility, is free, etc. Ogg is probably my favorite.

If you want the best of both worlds, you can encode to WavPack at 400 kb/s or higher (as halb27 suggests), and then you have transparent sounding files that will encode nicely into any other format, but take les sthan half of the space of lossless files.
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psybot
post Apr 18 2006, 04:41
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I've done some more reading here - I've more of an idea now of what i want:

Firstly, to make lossless backups of all songs i have. But some say that this WavPack can be in place of lossless? Otherwise recently I have been using FLAC if anyone has theories / opinions on this.

Secondly, I have a 20GB DAP - iAudio X5L am looking to have smaller file sizes. I have a helluva lot of tunes and want to fit as many as possible on here. I don't want ""dirty" quality" though.

What I see is recommendations of ogg Vorbis from 80Kbps up?

Thanks for the wisdom.
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audiofile
post Apr 18 2006, 04:51
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QUOTE (psybot @ Apr 17 2006, 11:41 PM) *
I've done some more reading here - I've more of an idea now of what i want:

Firstly, to make lossless backups of all songs i have. But some say that this WavPack can be in place of lossless? Otherwise recently I have been using FLAC if anyone has theories / opinions on this.

Secondly, I have a 20GB DAP - iAudio X5L am looking to have smaller file sizes. I have a helluva lot of tunes and want to fit as many as possible on here. I don't want ""dirty" quality" though.

What I see is recommendations of ogg Vorbis from 80Kbps up?

Thanks for the wisdom.


I still think many people would say Lame. It seems to be considered the "gold standard" as far as its normal application (the second application you mentioned). It's cool that you bought a player that will take those different formats like ogg Vorbis; mine only takes Atrac3 which I had to learn myself over time sounds bad to me (actually it's the Plus version which sounds bad; I don't have much experience with earlier Atrac3), and MP3 but without letting you use the EQ on it. I also would suggest Audiograbber if you're not too into the technical aspects, or Nero if you have it, or also Easy CD-DA. I like Audiograbber. People also suggest CDex which seems to give extremely accurate rips according to people here, but has a dull interface to me, but that is a non-issue to many.

This post has been edited by audiofile: Apr 18 2006, 04:56
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vinnie97
post Apr 18 2006, 06:42
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QUOTE
What I see is recommendations of ogg Vorbis from 80Kbps up?

Indubitably and without a doubt, the latest aoTuV release of Vorbis at q1 (~80 kbps) is perfect for portable usage. You can get it directly from here: http://www.geocities.jp/aoyoume/aotuv/ or an optimized (much faster!) version here: http://homepage3.nifty.com/blacksword/index.htm
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halb27
post Apr 18 2006, 07:54
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QUOTE (psybot @ Apr 18 2006, 05:41 AM) *
Firstly, to make lossless backups of all songs i have. But some say that this WavPack can be in place of lossless? Otherwise recently I have been using FLAC if anyone has theories / opinions on this.

Secondly, I have a 20GB DAP - iAudio X5L am looking to have smaller file sizes. I have a helluva lot of tunes and want to fit as many as possible on here. I don't want ""dirty" quality" though.

What I see is recommendations of ogg Vorbis from 80Kbps up?

Thanks for the wisdom.

Now your side conditions are clear (and similar to mine, I just have a 40GB iRiver H140 and not an extremely large music collection).

IMO the best solution for you is:

Backup losslessly on pc and transcode for your DAP.
For lossless backup I personally prefer Monkey (ape-Format) using extra high compression cause this means better compression than FLAC or wavPack while still getting good speed when encoding and decoding.
compression ratio however doesn't vary very much with different encoders and settings.
For transcoding I guess latest Ogg Vorbis aoTuV -q5 (~150 kbps) is the best choice for you. I wouldn't go for lower quality though aoTuV is already very good at -q2 (~100 kbps) or even below. Temporal resolution is a limiting factor (try with harp40_1 from the problem sample page). For a comparison of codecs to achieve very good quality (codec errors at the non-annoying level) see for instance my post here.

If you want to save disk space for your backups on pc you don't have to fear about quality if you use wavPack lossy at around 500kbps. The lossy version of wavPack lossless just adds some noise to the music which is to be considered inaudible at such a high bitrate. I just finished a listening test with problem samples for wavPack lossy.
Problem samples are for instance harp40_1, Atemlied, furious, badvilbel, florida_seq, 41_30sec, herding_calls, trumpet, with badvilbel being the worst to get transparent.
With a bitrate below 300 kbps noise can be so high with these samples that it is not perceived as noise but as distortion. In the 300 to 400 kbps range noise is preceived as noise but is audible on critical samples.
Beyond 400 kbps only badvilbel produced abxable noise to me (but very slight and not annoying). At 512 kbps even badvilbel was transparent to me.
When using wavPack lossy using the -h switch or the -x switch is essential for good quality. You can use both switches but encoding gets very slow while not achieving a remarkable better quality. -h yields a quality a bit better than -x but slows down all your later transcodings. You can also shift the added noise more to lower and higher frequencies. As a default noise is shifted to lower frequencies, but according to some posts here on HA this is a bit questionable especially when using very high bitrate. I can confirm this with the problem samples mentioned, where my best choice was -s0.5 which shifts noise a bit to higher frequencies. According to the frequency dependency of the audibility threshold noise is less audible at very high frequencies. You can go the neutral way and use -s0 which distributes noise uniformly. Anyway not a very big deal - very high bitrate and -h or -x is what counts essentially.
So if you want to use wavPack lossy instead of a lossless format my advice is to use it with the parameters -b512xis0.5.

Use EAC for ripping, and foobar for encoding (to your desired backup format) and for transcoding, or rip directly to your backup format with EAC.

Edited: link address

This post has been edited by halb27: Apr 18 2006, 07:56


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shadowking
post Apr 18 2006, 09:27
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The s0.5 should be used only with very high bitrates because generaly it will make most samples more hissy, despite that some extreme HF stuff benifits from this positive shifting. Practicaly speaking raw 350k without shaping or mid-side seems to me totaly transparent outside 2~3 samples. This is a very competitive bitrate. I tested more and more 'real life' material such as my own CD's and some classical stuff from Guruboolez and 320k was enough for all but 1 odd sample. I encoded and listened to many albums at 320k and I never noticed anything. In contrast lame or even mpc at 180k made me occasionaly suspicious in normal listening and I abxed them. Transcoding quality from these 320k files is almost unbelievable - you cannot abx the real flac lossy vs transcoded lossy 99% of the time with all codecs. I used -h mode no shaping and L/R stereo.

I think that 350k with dualstream like VBR model and or advanced shaping is a more practical solution.

halb27 what do you think ?

This post has been edited by shadowking: Apr 18 2006, 10:17


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halb27
post Apr 18 2006, 11:33
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QUOTE (shadowking @ Apr 18 2006, 10:27 AM) *
The s0.5 should be used only with very high bitrates because generaly it will make most samples more hissy, despite that some extreme HF stuff benifits from this positive shifting. Practicaly speaking raw 350k without shaping or mid-side seems to me totaly transparent outside 2~3 samples. This is a very competitive bitrate. I tested more and more 'real life' material such as my own CD's and some classical stuff from Guruboolez and 320k was enough for all but 1 odd sample. I encoded and listened to many albums at 320k and I never noticed anything. In contrast lame or even mpc at 180k made me occasionaly suspicious in normal listening and I abxed them. Transcoding quality from these 320k files is almost unbelievable - you cannot abx the real flac lossy vs transcoded lossy 99% of the time with all codecs. I used -h mode no shaping and L/R stereo.

I think that 350k with dualstream like VBR model and or advanced shaping is a more practical solution.

halb27 what do you think ?

As for s0.5 I can confirm this is useful only with high bitrate when added noise is already very low. In this situation it had a (small) positive effect on the samples I tried intesively.
In the context of this thread I thought of wavPack lossy as an alternative to going lossless for backup purposes, and as for this I'd suggest to use a very high bitrate like 512kbps. Disk space saving is some 50%, and qualitywise there is a big safety margin not bad for archival purposes. Sure safety margin can be lower according to everybody's personal preference.

I have no experience with dualstream. Think it's more sophisticated, but AFAIK it's slower.
wavPack lossy has a better perspective for me cause there is hardware support.
If I hadn't bought already a H140 player I'd buy a 60GB iAudio X5L with improved battery life, and use wavPack lossy @ 512 kbps (or may be a bit less for this purpose).
But sure this doesn't match psybot's needs as he has a large musical collection and relative to that restricted disc space. So he is independent with his backup format and go lossless or very high quality lossy whichever way is best to him.

This post has been edited by halb27: Apr 18 2006, 11:44


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martinb28
post Jun 9 2008, 19:29
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Hi. Its now half way through 2008. What is best lossy format and what is the best way to convert CD audio into that format?

Hi. Its now half way through 2008. What is best lossy format and what is the best way to convert CD audio into that format?
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twostar
post Jun 9 2008, 19:59
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Best in terms of what criteria and for what use?
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