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Horrible: LAME VBR MP3 in iTunes., No Solution. Must rip CBR?
kiyoshi
post Jun 15 2006, 03:49
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Regardless of bit rate, MP3s encoded with LAME do not function correctly in iTunes.

iTunes fails to give a correct time code, meaning that the song will sometimes abruptly end, even though the MP3 file has the information to keep playing!

MP3 files encoded with VBR work PERFECLY if you use iTunes' built-in MP3 encoder - but who wants to do that when LAME does a better job? (HA Wiki proves this, I inject no bias.)

CBR is inefficient and produces lower quality files at the same bit rate as VBR.
To have CBR have the same quality as VBR, higher bit rates must be used, also resulting in large file sizes.

This is just simply unacceptable! A program called "VBRfix" has been offered before, but what about Macintosh users?

If you want MP3s to play back on your iPod and iTunes, it would seem you have NO CHOICE but to use CBR or encode VBR with the less-than-stellar iTunes MP3 encoder. Is there any solutions? Anyone?
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Teqnilogik
post Jun 15 2006, 04:06
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Hmmm, I haven't had an issue with LAME VBR MP3s in iTunes using -V 2. The only issue I have had is my iPod skipping briefly on one LAME VBR track of mine but others have played fine. But I have heard other people having issues with this.
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grommet
post Jun 15 2006, 04:35
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Same here. I don't see this problem with iTunes, and *all* of my VBR MP3 encodes are LAME generated. blink.gif As iTunes/iPod "owns" the portable device market, this can't be a general problem.
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saratoga
post Jun 15 2006, 05:17
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QUOTE (kiyoshi @ Jun 14 2006, 19:49) *
Regardless of bit rate, MP3s encoded with LAME do not function correctly in iTunes.

iTunes fails to give a correct time code, meaning that the song will sometimes abruptly end, even though the MP3 file has the information to keep playing!

MP3 files encoded with VBR work PERFECLY if you use iTunes' built-in MP3 encoder - but who wants to do that when LAME does a better job? (HA Wiki proves this, I inject no bias.)

CBR is inefficient and produces lower quality files at the same bit rate as VBR.
To have CBR have the same quality as VBR, higher bit rates must be used, also resulting in large file sizes.

This is just simply unacceptable! A program called "VBRfix" has been offered before, but what about Macintosh users?

If you want MP3s to play back on your iPod and iTunes, it would seem you have NO CHOICE but to use CBR or encode VBR with the less-than-stellar iTunes MP3 encoder. Is there any solutions? Anyone?


Sounds like you're not using LAME properly and generating files with bad headers. How are you encoding?
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kiyoshi
post Jun 15 2006, 06:13
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QUOTE
Sounds like you're not using LAME properly and generating files with bad headers. How are you encoding?


iTunes 6.0.4 (3) is the software I am using to play the VBR MP3s.
I am using Max 0.6.1 (on Mac OS 10.4.6), which uses LAME 3.97b2.
Strangely, they sometimes play correctly! (I double checked)

I have no idea what is causing this, but I had heard a lot of people talking about and *do* notice it when a song cuts off 10 seconds early...

Any other users have this issue? I just joined HA and after reading a thousand posts I won't be posting without proof or unbiased results! Any help appreciated - I'm about to do a massive undertaking of ripping 200-300 cds in a format good enough for DJing and I simply CAN NOT have the tails of the tracks deciding not to play!

My ears aren't golden, but I can tell when songs don't play all the way through - I don't believe it to be an isolated incident (some songs, sometimes, just me, my computer is messed up, etc.) - so I hope this post can help others.
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Teqnilogik
post Jun 15 2006, 06:16
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You say you are using a Mac, I wonder if that has something to do with it. I'm on Windows and haven't had an issue with iTunes playing my LAME VBR files. Anybody with Windows experiencing a similar issue?
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BradPDX
post Jun 15 2006, 08:52
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I have had this problem with iTunes 6.0.x on Windows 2000/XP. It appears that there is some inaccuracy in time calculations when iTunes deals with a file with large VBR bitrate variations (e.g., -V 2 settings). The error is generally small, and so seems to be noticable only when playing long files (typically longer than 10 minutes or so).

With shorter songs (the majority of pop music) it is rarely observable.

I have noticed this when playing some long LAME encoded tracks on my old 3G iPod as well (??) - my Shuffle does NOT appear to exhibit this issue.

I have tried re-encoding tracks that exhibit this, and found that there is a degree of randomness - the re-encoded tracks "cut off" at slightly different times. Using FooBar to rebuild the MP3 stream changes it again, but not by much.

Transcoding the tracks to AAC eliminates the issue, not surprisingly.

I wish I knew more, but that's what I have.
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kiyoshi
post Jun 15 2006, 18:17
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QUOTE (BradPDX @ Jun 15 2006, 01:52) *
I have had this problem with iTunes 6.0.x on Windows 2000/XP. It appears that there is some inaccuracy in time calculations when iTunes deals with a file with large VBR bitrate variations (e.g., -V 2 settings). The error is generally small, and so seems to be noticable only when playing long files (typically longer than 10 minutes or so).

With shorter songs (the majority of pop music) it is rarely observable.

I have noticed this when playing some long LAME encoded tracks on my old 3G iPod as well (??) - my Shuffle does NOT appear to exhibit this issue.

I have tried re-encoding tracks that exhibit this, and found that there is a degree of randomness - the re-encoded tracks "cut off" at slightly different times. Using FooBar to rebuild the MP3 stream changes it again, but not by much.

Transcoding the tracks to AAC eliminates the issue, not surprisingly.

I wish I knew more, but that's what I have.


Ah... I use -V1 or -V2 settings depending on what the final bit rates will be (I like my files to be in the 210-250kbps VBR range).

Perhaps it is this setting + TIME that most affects whether or not something will skip? I DJ with these MP3s, and many MP3s are club edits, meaning they can last up to 7.5 minutes each...

Although I use CDs to DJ, I use my iPod *every day* in the car to judge/rate/choose tracks for my upcoming sets. I would hate to have to transcode all my mp3s (two libraries) so that I could have 1 set for listening and 1 set for DJing. For my setup and sound system (important, right?), MP3s in lame become transparent at around 200kbps VBR. Of course, the car or iPod setup could easily be doing -V5 and I'd probably not notice (as long as the songs played in full!)

I wonder if using a different version of the lame codec would help? I have no problems with 3.96.

I will rip 20 CDs of rock, dance, and jazz - i'll listen to the tracks and see if any of them cut out. I've updated all of my software (OS, iTunes, Max, etc.) -- Just to be sure (and because I need to), I am wiping out my system and reinstalling everything on to a clean HD. This should eliminate any doubt that it is the system, HD corruption, etc.) If the problem persists or goes away, I'll post again here.

Thanks for your help and information!
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dpaint4
post Jun 15 2006, 18:58
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I've got extremely long songs in my iTunes 6.0.4.2 Library on my Windows XP Pro PC (some uncut live shows in the 2.5 hour range), encoded via EAC and Lame 3.97b2. My 60Gb ViPod plays them correctly as well.

I use -V5 through -V2 for the files, depending.

The times are all exactly correct. This is proven that the records can be retagged with Foobar+FreeDB before and after importing to the iTunes library, and of course that they are played correctly by iTunes.

In other words, there is some third factor causing this issue for you. I really hope you can hunt this issue down, because missing out on LAME is missing a lot.

Have you tried the LAME iTunes plugin for Mac? That might help, or not. I couldn't know.
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Otto42
post Jun 15 2006, 19:00
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I had this problem on some of my older LAME VBR encodes. VBRFix fixed them in all cases. Newer LAME builds from rarewares have never caused this problem for me. iTunes for Windows.


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saratoga
post Jun 15 2006, 19:27
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QUOTE (kiyoshi @ Jun 14 2006, 22:13) *
QUOTE
Sounds like you're not using LAME properly and generating files with bad headers. How are you encoding?


iTunes 6.0.4 (3) is the software I am using to play the VBR MP3s.
I am using Max 0.6.1 (on Mac OS 10.4.6), which uses LAME 3.97b2.
Strangely, they sometimes play correctly! (I double checked)

I have no idea what is causing this, but I had heard a lot of people talking about and *do* notice it when a song cuts off 10 seconds early...

Any other users have this issue? I just joined HA and after reading a thousand posts I won't be posting without proof or unbiased results! Any help appreciated - I'm about to do a massive undertaking of ripping 200-300 cds in a format good enough for DJing and I simply CAN NOT have the tails of the tracks deciding not to play!

My ears aren't golden, but I can tell when songs don't play all the way through - I don't believe it to be an isolated incident (some songs, sometimes, just me, my computer is messed up, etc.) - so I hope this post can help others.


Download the lame command line encoder and try that. Its probably just a crappy ripper.
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Teqnilogik
post Jun 15 2006, 19:33
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I just tested a 23 minute song encoded a -V 2 and I can confirm I have this problem. The song cuts off slightly before it is supposed to end. iTunes reports the song as 23:08 and Foobar reports the song at 23:09 but Foobar finished the song correctly while iTunes seems to miscalculate the time of the song.

BTW, EAC 0.95 beta 4 and LAME 3.97b2 (build from Rarewares) was used to do the rip and encoding and iTunes 6.0.4.2 was used for the playback.

Edit: I would also like to add the Windows Media Player 11 beta reports the song at 23:08 as well and before the track ends it reaches 23:08 on the counter but WMP 11 continues to play the song until it ends. I would also like to add that QuickTime 7 plays the song correctly, must be an issue with iTunes.

This post has been edited by Teqnilogik: Jun 15 2006, 19:42
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xmixahlx
post Jun 15 2006, 19:46
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try using different versions of lame and see if the problem persists

it might be attributable to a particular lame build


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Teqnilogik
post Jun 15 2006, 20:20
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I just did two test encodes, one with LAME 3.90.3 and another with LAME 3.98 alpha 4 and the problem still persisted in iTunes. I think the issue is with iTunes.
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Busemann
post Jun 15 2006, 20:41
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iTunes does seem to have trouble playing LAME vbr files correctly if one fast forwards with the playhead, but if the file is played straight through, it ends correctly. Really strange.

This post has been edited by Busemann: Jun 15 2006, 20:48
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dpaint4
post Jun 15 2006, 20:41
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You guys don't have that stupid 'cross fade' setting in iTunes turned on do you? It might be trying and failing to do that.

I think this is unlikely and a semi-annoying comment on my part, but I just want to clarify since no one has brought this up yet.

I share my Lame MP3's with my room mate who has an iBook. He and I both use the latest iTunes (he on his Mac and I on my HP Pavilion running XP Pro) and neither of us experience this issue.
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Teqnilogik
post Jun 15 2006, 21:02
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Already thought of the crossfader and disabled it. Problem still persists. Note that the problem seems to only exist with very long files (20+ minutes for me). Shorter files playback flawlessly.

This post has been edited by Teqnilogik: Jun 15 2006, 21:03
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mat128
post Jun 15 2006, 21:31
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I have the same problem directly on the iPod, songs abruptly end (sometimes 30 seconds in advance). This seems to be caused by the fact that I transfered the songs on my ipod using yamipod, which is a 3rd party utility to transfer songs to an ipod. iTunes seems to add the SONGLEN tag to every songs when you add them to the library, or transfer them to your ipod, yamipod does not do it. This is confirmed on my ipod since I only uploaded two albums on it using yamipod. For songs that my ipod think are longer, they just get played all the way thru, then they skip song when the ipod figures there's no more audio data. The bug is also visually appearant on the progress bar, on the ipod.

For the record, I am using a 30g black video iPod.
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darky
post Jun 15 2006, 21:41
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QUOTE (mat128 @ Jun 15 2006, 22:31) *
I have the same problem directly on the iPod, songs abruptly end (sometimes 30 seconds in advance). This seems to be caused by the fact that I transfered the songs on my ipod using yamipod, which is a 3rd party utility to transfer songs to an ipod. [...]
For the record, I am using a 30g black video iPod.

Yes, it's yamipod's fault. I'm using an iPod 5g 30gb, too and no -V2 --vbr-new encoded mp3s stutters or something similar.


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saratoga
post Jun 15 2006, 21:45
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QUOTE (Busemann @ Jun 15 2006, 12:41) *
iTunes does seem to have trouble playing LAME vbr files correctly if one fast forwards with the playhead, but if the file is played straight through, it ends correctly. Really strange.


I just tried Windows iTunes 6.0.42 using a standard LAME 3.97b2 -V 2 rip that I made myself. I skipped back and forth and never got anything odd to happen. Perhaps the problem is specific to some iTunes versions then? I've never seen anything like it.
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Andavari
post Jun 15 2006, 22:36
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QUOTE (Mike Giacomelli @ Jun 15 2006, 13:27) *
Download the lame command line encoder and try that. Its probably just a crappy ripper.

Agreed!

One possibility is some programs won't use the LAME settings (I'm talking about lame_enc.dll with the .ini configuration) we think and expect them to use, and somewhere along the line settings are either mangled or ignored altogether. I ran into this when I briefly only for a few minutes tried out AudioGrabber that so many people rave about with lame_enc.dll that utilizes the .ini for forcing settings, not a good experience. Also Audacity overrides chosen settings via the .ini, and since lame.exe can't be used I never export to mp3 with Audacity anymore. Use the trustworthy it does what you want everytime lame.exe.


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Busemann
post Jun 15 2006, 23:20
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QUOTE (Mike Giacomelli @ Jun 15 2006, 12:45) *
QUOTE (Busemann @ Jun 15 2006, 12:41) *

iTunes does seem to have trouble playing LAME vbr files correctly if one fast forwards with the playhead, but if the file is played straight through, it ends correctly. Really strange.


I just tried Windows iTunes 6.0.42 using a standard LAME 3.97b2 -V 2 rip that I made myself. I skipped back and forth and never got anything odd to happen. Perhaps the problem is specific to some iTunes versions then? I've never seen anything like it.


Did you scrub it back and forth and then to the end and so that it played out completely? Seems it cuts off almost all the LAME tracks a few seconds early here.
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grommet
post Jun 16 2006, 00:21
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OK, I'm not a "big fan" of iTunes... so it's not my primary player by far. When I casually tested it earlier, I wasn't able to repro it.

But, later today... I able to reproduce this on some content: I used numerous tracks from eMusic -- who uses (an older) LAME VBR MP3 on all their content. The encodes I've produced seem to have a much higher "no problem" rate. But no matter... It does cut off the very end of the track in many cases... just a second or two. I just jump to the last 30 seconds and let it play out to reproduce. Obviously, if there is silence at the end... you won't notice.

Anyway, it is an issue with iTunes. Other MP3 players/decoders have no problem with the content, including my car. Good luck on seeing this fixed... it'll probably get as much attention as the VBR MP3 skipping issues on iPod nano & mini. blink.gif I guess anyone that cares can log a support call and offer sample content if necessary.
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Fuchal
post Jun 16 2006, 02:31
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I'm using Max and iTunes as well, encoding to V2 and V0, and I don't have any problems either in iTunes or on the iPod with displaying incorrect time lengths.
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grommet
post Jun 16 2006, 04:08
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QUOTE (Fuchal @ Jun 15 2006, 18:31) *
I'm using Max and iTunes as well, encoding to V2 and V0, and I don't have any problems either in iTunes or on the iPod with displaying incorrect time lengths.
It's not really the "time length" display... it's just that it gets cut off. As I said, I don't really have the problems on most of my encodes... but I did reproduce it using a few of eMusic's LAME encodes and it only happens with iTunes. The last one I tried was encoded using 3.96 -- but I have no specifics on what parameters beyond "-V 2" they used. (Most of the content seems to be 3.93.)

So maybe it could be related to how it was specifically encoded, but the "problem" only appears with iTunes... sad.gif

EDIT: I forgot mention, in my tests... it generally only happens if I skip around or "fast forward" through the track... if I play the track from beginning to end without interruption, the end isn't cut off.

This post has been edited by grommet: Jun 16 2006, 04:17
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