CBR versus VBR

When converting to MP3s, which is better CBR or VBR?

VBR

@marvin_martian wrote:
VBR

I’m going to put you on the spot…

Why?

For the best sound quality that MP3 can deliver, CBR 320 (actually, higher bitrate is possible with MP3 but it is not supported in hardware players). For older or picky CD, DVD and MP3 players that do not support VBR, CBR at your choice of bitrate (only because you can’t use VBR). If the preceeding conditions are not needed, than VBR (this will be 99.9% of users).

As others have noted here, your question is a bit vague as to the meaning of “better”.

@fuze_owner_gb wrote:


@marvin_martian wrote:
VBR


I’m going to put you on the spot…

 

 

Why?

OK, assuming you are using a quality encoder like the LAME encoder, think of it like this…hmm, analogy…buying a pound of coffee in a can, or one of those condensed bricks…it’s about space. If you get the little basket at the grocery store, instead of the cart, you can fit more of the bricks in the basket than the can, right?

So on that note…Technically the highest quality mp3 would be 320kbps at CBR, but that uses more space than the highest quality setting VBR encoding ( V0 ) would. Since so many people worry about cramming as many songs as possible onto their portable players, VBR would be more useful to the majority of users. The chances of someone hearing any difference between a 320CBR and a V0-setting VBR, which varies in size to match the complexity of the data being encoded, are incredibly slim. 

There are people out there that can hear the difference between lossless ( FLAC, WAV ) and 320CBR or V0-VBR…a minority, but they are out there. But I would be shocked if there was an audible difference discerned by anyone between 320 and V0, unless the files were encoded with a crap encoder…remember, my original assumption was using the LAME encoding.

Some would make the archiving argument, “use 320 for highest quality , hard drive space is cheap”. If you’re going to take that approach, and make the “space is cheap” argument, it would make more sense to archive in FLAC, wouldn’t it?

I use Traders Little Helper.

VBR is more complex to decode, and more prone to playback issues than CBR. With VBR, one probably also gets less battery life due to the more complex decoding. For similar sound quality, one might save 20-25% of the space using VBR. If space is at a great premium, ie. one has very little storage space and can’t expand the space, then VBR might be the best way to go. Those such as myself who have plenty of extra space though,   found that using CBR was easier to deal with. I have not found a need to switch to VBR. I use 256 kbps CBR MP3 for my music, and have been flamed many times for refusing to convert to VBR. The Fuze has had some issues with some VBR files. I guess most if not all of those have already been resolved. I avoided those by using CBR.

Ha Ha… I knew if I threw out “why?”, we would get some opinions flowing.  This question has been debated at length in other forums without a concrete solution.  I’m going to stay out of the CBR/VBR debate, but throw this into the mix.

For me, the type of audio format is far more important (that is, if your player can handle both CBR and VBR) than if CBR or VBR is utilized during the encoding process.  It’s no secret that I’m not a big fan of MP3, and to my ears anyway…almost any of the other modern day codecs do a better job (if everything is equal as settings go) than MP3.  Your mileage may vary, as no 2 ears are the same, nor do they have the same capability.

The bottom line is that there is no “best” for everybody or for every application.  That’s why there are different codecs and different settings.

“It’s no secret that I’m not a big fan of MP3, and to my ears anyway…almost any of the other modern day codecs do a better job (if everything is equal as settings go) than MP3.”

Those other codecs are more difficult to decode, and will probably give shorter battery life than mp3 files of similar sound quality.

@jk98 wrote:

“It’s no secret that I’m not a big fan of MP3, and to my ears anyway…almost any of the other modern day codecs do a better job (if everything is equal as settings go) than MP3.”

 

Those other codecs are more difficult to decode, and will probably give shorter battery life than mp3 files of similar sound quality.

 

That’s the rub.  Battery life is a non-issue with me as it takes my primary player a week to get to a point that it needs recharging.  To my ears, almost any modern day codec sounds significantly better than MP3…so for me at least…there is no such thing as a “similar sound quality”.