Curiosity poll - What format do you use & why?

I have some VBR WMA’s that show up in the 150’s for bitrate in Explorer, that sound indistinguishable from LAME V0 mp3 files that hover around 300kbps. Of course, I didn’t get those WMA’s from WMP, either…I converted them from high-quality FLAC rips done with EAC. But to accomplish this, is probably going beyond what the OP is interested in.

I think the OP would probably be happy with WMA VBR done with WMP11, at the 85-145kbps target range…just make sure the copy protection is turned off in WMP.  I think a lot of the WMA “haters” would be surprised at how well that setting works…assuming the CD’s aren’t scratched.

“I think a lot of the WMA “haters” would be surprised at how well that setting works…assuming the CD’s aren’t scratched.”

I don’t hate WMA, but do dislike the shorter battery life when using it. That is why I don’t rip to WMA.

JK98 wrote:

“I think a lot of the WMA “haters” would be surprised at how well that setting works…assuming the CD’s aren’t scratched.”

 

I don’t hate WMA, but do dislike the shorter battery life when using it. That is why I don’t rip to WMA.

I don’t know exactly how much of a difference WMA makes, but it’s not nearly as bad as the FLAC battery life penalty. I did a FLAC test with my old Clip and the battery life went from 14-15 hours with WMA-MP3 to 8.5 hours with FLAC.

No, I haven’t really settled on what program to use yet.  One thought is WMP is already on my computer, easy to use, & tags well, so maybe vbr WMA.  Another thought is, it would be nice to use MP3 for battery life.  I was thinking vbr MP3s, but WMP doesn’t do them.  Maybe cbr MP3s at 192kbps.  Or, I had downloaded MediaMonkey a while back because I wanted to use the ReplayGain feature for shuffle play, but last night when I tried to rip a cd it said the free version won’t rip any more because it’s over 30 days old.  Without using the program more I’m not sure I want to spend money on it.  I don’t know.  It might suck.  It did seem at bit more complicated to use.  I also don’t know if you can still use the ReplayGain feature with the free version.  Yet another thought was that a lot of people mentioned EAC.  That it’s free & does a good job.  I don’t know.  To us non-techies this is getting a bit baffling.  :cry:  Too many choices!  Which reminds me, I might start another thread about ReplayGain.  Thanks again guys!  Keep it coming.  :stuck_out_tongue:

EAC confuses me.  it’s too complicated.  I rip a lot of audiobooks and cds so I need to change bit rates a lot.  I don’t worry too much about tags because I run everything through mp3tag when I’m done.  what I do is rip everything to wav with EAC and then I use LameXP to convert it to whatever bit rate I want.

@tipsypenguin wrote:
EAC confuses me.  it’s too complicated.  I rip a lot of audiobooks and cds so I need to change bit rates a lot.  I don’t worry too much about tags because I run everything through mp3tag when I’m done.  what I do is rip everything to wav with EAC and then I use LameXP to convert it to whatever bit rate I want.

I think EAC is over rated.  It does exactly what it is supposed to do, but it isn’t the be all - end all of ripper encoders out there.  If you have to have secure rips dbpoweramp makes a wonderful program that is much faster than EAC without losing any functionality.  There are plenty others, many free, that do a decent job as well.

Media Monkey will run after 30 days if you substitute the official lame_enc.dll for the timed-out one in Media Monkey.

A good download link and instructions for a similar situation in Audacity are  here.

Just unzip, get lame_enc.dll and replace the one in C:\Program Files\Media Monkey. 

For what it’s worth, you can also rip to .mp3 in Windows Media Player: better tags, worse encoder. You change the settings under Rip. Right-click on the very top line if you don’t see Tools. 

Or if you want, here’s the last freeware dbPoweramp..

Message Edited by Black-Rectangle on 02-21-2010 03:07 PM

I quite like the tags in mediamonkey. User submitted or not, I have better luck with MM.  Maybe it’s because I listen to a fair amount of unreleased albums.

I have been particularly impressed with the quality of OGG. It sounds reasonably good to me (with my portable headphones) at 128kbps. My Fuze is nearly full (mostly 192kbps MP3), so I re-ripped a bunch of CDs to Ogg, particularly the stuff that I plan to leave on the Fuze long-term. Not much really plays this format, so its really just for the Fuze. I re-encoded some purchased MP3 files to Ogg, too. Some people view this as sacrilege to go from one lossy format to another, but I find the compression methods are similar enough that the loss isn’t as noticeable as they claim.

:smiley: Thanks for the info!  I’ll try to get MediaMonkey working when I get home tonight! 

Hey, thanks for the MediaMonkey tip.  It worked!  :smileyvery-happy:  Now I just gotta figure out how to use it.

@kellyr wrote:

Just wondering what format you all use & why.  I’m new at this, and I’ve already screwed up my library once not knowing the difference between WMA & WMApro, so I figured I’d ask for some advice.  I heard that WMA is “better” than MP3 for quality & compression, but that they both become “transparent” at 128kb anyways.  What format/bitrate do you use?  Does the Fuze work better with one particular format over another?  I have an 8gb Fuze and about 200 cds (I don’t mind getting a microSD card if needed).  Also, I’d like to use the ReplayGain to even out the sound for shuffle play.  Thanks guys!

 

Kelly

FLAC / MP3 (preset extreme)

Quality / reasonable quality and portability

ReplayGain on both

VBR MP3s compressed with the latest LAME (parameters -q0 -v2) when packing music that I might give off to friends (that rarely have Vorbis compliant MP3 players).

Vorbis at quality 6.3 for myself - for those tracks that I estimate nobody but me wants to hear. :slight_smile:

I’m a habitual Vorbis user. Started using it 'round the early part of the last decade.

FLAC for archival and for playback on my desktop machine (they just eat up too much space and battery life on portables). :frowning:

Music MP3s at 256K VBR and NOT joint-stereo for portable devices, ~30GB total space for my ~500 CD music collection.

Oh, I do have a rare track or two at 320Kbps CBR because even at 256K vbr the encoder was having issues.  However that was for my old portable that didn’t support FLAC.  With the Fuze I’ll just use the FLAC file for those rare cases.

Audiobooks MP3s at 32Kbps mono with an 16KHz filter.  They sound like a mediocre telephone connection but they’re still easily understood and take a hell of a lot less space and battery. :wink:

Podcasts I just leave at whatever encoding rate they came at since they get deleted as soon as I’ve finished listening to them.

Message Edited by knifethemac on 02-24-2010 02:42 PM

Regardless of what codec/bitrate you choose for you portable devices, you should absolutly rip to FLAC.  Ripping a big CD collection is a giant PITA and you’ll never want to do it more than once.  If you rip to a lossless format like FLAC you can always trancode to any lossy codec/bitrate you want for portable use.  And you can change your mind as many times as you want without ever having to rerip.  If you rip straight to a lossy format and then change your mind, you’re SOL.  You can never get back quality that was lost and if you want to go to a lower bitrate, you’ve now applied two lossy conversions decreasing quality even more.

For accurate ripping, there are really only two choices: EAC and dbPoweramp.   Use EAC with the REACT add-on if you are technically inclined and are interested in seriously customizing the ripping process with scripts (very powerful, but steep learning curve).  Also, it’s free.  Otherwise, dbPoweramp is much easier to use and is still fairly customizable, but it’s not free.  Both are great and both will do an excellent job of ripping to FLAC, tagging, downloading album art, applying ReplayGain, etc.

For managing your media use something like MediaMonkey or Winamp.  Both can handle transcoding from FLAC to MP3 (or anything else) on the fly while syncing your portable devices.  Or you can batch convert your entire library at once and then manually drag/drop MP3s instead of syncing.

Also, keep in mind that it’s only going to be a few more years before 64 & 128GB flash players are common place.  When that time comes, just stop transcoding and use your FLACs directly on your portable devices.

Skinjob wrote: …

 

Also, keep in mind that it’s only going to be a few more years before 64 & 128GB flash players are common place.  When that time comes, just stop transcoding and use your FLACs directly on your portable devices.

 

Sorry, but IIRC, my FLAC archive is already at 160GB (I’m not home right now so I can’t verify it).  :wink:

Anyway, i actually agreed with all of that post.  Although, I’ll probably still use MP3 on portables even if all my FLACs will fit because FLAC playback will always use more battery power than MP3s (more reads due to the higher bit rate means more power used) and I suspect that battery life will never be long enough to satisfy me.

[ed. If battery life every hits  a full month continuous play of FLAC files per charge then I’ll use FLAC exclusively. ;-)]

Message Edited by knifethemac on 02-24-2010 03:50 PM

I agree with ripping initially to the best format available… then re-encode for smaller lossy format. This assumes you have the space to store it

This reminds me of my early days of “stereo systems” (mid 70’s) when we would initially copy albums (vinyl) to the best media available, which back then meant reel-to-reel, using the best tape available, and the highest speed for the deck, with no equalization applied (not counting dolby). Then only after that would we copy to cassette or the like usually from the album again or from the reel-to-reel copy. 

Of course the analogy isn’t quite fair since the quality of a tape recording or album degrades slightly with each play and for tape over time as opposed to a digital copy where that should not happen.

I use MP3 for all music, period. No, it isnt the best format, but it is the defacto standard and (most of all) is it impossible to lock it. So I never have to mess with DRM crap. I can copy it endlessly.

When I buy music on iTunes or anywhere else the first thing I do is convert it to MP3 format. 

@knifethemac wrote:


Skinjob wrote: …

 

Also, keep in mind that it’s only going to be a few more years before 64 & 128GB flash players are common place.  When that time comes, just stop transcoding and use your FLACs directly on your portable devices.

 


 

Sorry, but IIRC, my FLAC archive is already at 160GB (I’m not home right now so I can’t verify it).  :wink:

 

I’m not sure he/she meant you could put your whole collection on devices in a few years, just that you could put more on so people would be less inclined to convert from lossless first. I have no problem with space and flacs, but I’m of the generation that grew up with Walkmans playing cassettes so I didn’t grow up thinking of portable players as something to store my whole collection on, and am not interested in doing that anyway, though I realize other people want to. I would have to have a 3TB unit (!) just to do that with what I have now, and by the time it was available my collection would have grown again anyway.

@bexicon wrote:


@knifethemac wrote:


Skinjob wrote: …

 

Also, keep in mind that it’s only going to be a few more years before 64 & 128GB flash players are common place.  When that time comes, just stop transcoding and use your FLACs directly on your portable devices.

 


 

Sorry, but IIRC, my FLAC archive is already at 160GB (I’m not home right now so I can’t verify it).  :wink:

 


I’m not sure he/she meant you could put your whole collection on devices in a few years, just that you could put more on so people would be less inclined to convert from lossless first. I have no problem with space and flacs, but I’m of the generation that grew up with Walkmans playing cassettes so I didn’t grow up thinking of portable players as something to store my whole collection on, and am not interested in doing that anyway, though I realize other people want to. I would have to have a 3TB unit (!) just to do that with what I have now, and by the time it was available my collection would have grown again anyway.

Yeah, I just meant that the same amount of mid-rate mp3’s that you can fit in 16GB can probably take around 64GB with FLAC.  My whole FLAC collection is around 1TB (about 3000 CDs).  I don’t think I’m ever going to be carrying that around on a flash player.

Message Edited by Skinjob on 02-26-2010 12:38 PM