Better App for encoding MP3s than iTunes?

Discussion in 'Mac Help/Tips' started by JimmyMac, Jul 25, 2002.

  1. JimmyMac macrumors newbie

    Joined:
    May 19, 2002
    Location:
    St. Louis
    #1
    I use iTunes to encode my MP3s. I just got a nice pair of headphones (getting ready for my iPod) and have noticed some quality problems with the songs I've been encoding.

    My distortion problem is most noticable when playing piano solos or opera. Any high note crackles and distorts. Bass in other genres also distorts. There's also lots of hiss at high volumes. The songs play fine when played straight from the CD on my Mac, so I know it's not the headphones or my Mac hardware.

    I have iTunes set at 320bps. This does not get rid of the hiss or the distortion problems.

    I just for fun tried N2MP3 demo to see if it could do a better job. It encoded the song perfectly. Even at high volumes, the songs play beautifully with no distortion or hiss.

    Why is this so? I thought encoding an MP3 was the same no matter what app you were using. And how come N2MP3 does such a better job than iTunes?
     
  2. ShaolinMiddleFinger macrumors 6502a

    ShaolinMiddleFinger

    Joined:
    Oct 12, 2001
    #2
    Hmmm....that's interesting. I use iTunes and I haven't gotten any of those problems...did you play around with the e.q. settings? That might be the problem. I listen to mine flat.

    BTW...does anyone know of a comparible PC software to iTunes? Software that has that same crossfade feature. That feature is great, no more dead silence.
     
  3. arn macrumors god

    arn

    Staff Member

    Joined:
    Apr 9, 2001
    #3
    Re: Better App for encoding MP3s than iTunes?

    MP3 encoding can vary from app to app.

    Many people like LAME... which is a unix app.

    There are some LAME apps that allow you to encode in LAME via iTunes. Let me look for it... but http://www.versiontracker.com is hte obvious place to look.

    arn
     
  4. kaltsasa macrumors 6502a

    Joined:
    Jan 9, 2002
    Location:
    Kellogg IA
    #4
    Here where I work, my boss and I are designing a "party Player" it's essentaly a small pc, mounted in a Megatouch cabnet(those little ones you see at the bars) We encode the mp3's at 320 with LAME, LAME from what I understand is by far the best mp3 encoding software there is. I've never had the problems you speak of in itunes tho, I encode at 160 in itunes.
     
  5. JimmyMac thread starter macrumors newbie

    Joined:
    May 19, 2002
    Location:
    St. Louis
    #5
    Arn et al,

    Thanks for the help.

    I sure hope you can find that app that works with iTunes using LAME. I don't want to have to use one app for encoding and one app for organizing and playing.

    That's interesting that the quality of the encoding varies from app to app. If someone knows why, please explain it to me. I thought the process of encoding was a standard thing?

    N2MP3 (got it from Apples Dowload page) uses LAME. At least that is an option you can choose when you encode.

    From my experience with this one song I've been experimenting with, choosing the LAME option gave me a flawless MP3 without any crackle or hiss.

    Thanks for the help.
     
  6. arn macrumors god

    arn

    Staff Member

    Joined:
    Apr 9, 2001
    #6

    iTunes-LAME Encoder _-_ 1.0.3

    http://www.versiontracker.com/moreinfo.fcgi?id=13048&db=mac

    This script serves as a bridge between iTunes and the LAME command line encoder. It allows encoding of multiple tracks and automatically tags the new MP3s. The LAME encoder is required for it to work.


    If you are real anal about encoding... go see http://www.r3mix.net/ and read it... but it just makes me tired and sad to read it all... :)

    arn
     
  7. JimmyMac thread starter macrumors newbie

    Joined:
    May 19, 2002
    Location:
    St. Louis
    #7
    OK. I have concluded that it is partly iTunes that is causing my distortion and crackle problems.

    After re-encoding with N2MP3 the song that was giving me the problem, I played it again in iTunes. As I stated earlier, it played much better. However, there was still a little distortion in some parts of the song. I've also turned off all effects in iTunes.

    I tried playing it in QuickTime 6.0. OK, now all the distortion is gone! What gives?

    In case anyone is wondering, the two songs I've been playing around with are:

    George Winston December
    Track 9: Variations on the Kanon
    Track 12: Peace

    Both songs have some pretty heavy piano pounding.

    I'd be curious if anyone else notices the same things I've heard.
     
  8. Pepzhez macrumors regular

    Joined:
    Jan 23, 2002
    #8
    I contributed to an earlier thread on this subject here just last week. The thread is nominally about AAC but read further down the 1st page:

    http://www.macrumors.com/forums/showthread.php3?s=&threadid=7840

    First off, the best thing you can do is delete iTunes from your HD. I know there are many people here who will flame me for this, but Apple is not infallible and iTunes is a dated, obsolete, crummily implemented app that is incapable of producing decent sound.

    The truth of it is that iTunes itself is a very mediocre-quality player with truly lousy, obsolete mp3 encoding codecs. Yes, it's free and suits most people's needs (those who listen to music from the built-in speakers and the like), but if you are going to be more demanding in your needs then you can't really expect top quality from a free iApp.

    You can use the script and encode with LAME within iTunes, but you still are stuck with the playback problem.

    I suggest you look into Audion 3. It's a great mp3 player for the Mac - simply the best playback quality I've found. It also uses the LAME encoder and is MUCH more versatile and easier to organize than iTunes' interface. Plus you can change the appearance of it easily. Oh, yes, it also uses much less CPU power than iTunes (which is a real CPU hog).

    It simply blows away iTunes in every respect but one: iTunes is free and Audion 3 will cost you (I think) $30. But d/l the demo and see if you think it's worth it. I think it is. It does everything that N2MP3 Pro can do (plus it's a player!) and it's MUCH cheaper than N2MP3 (which I also have, but have since removed from my system as Audion 3 has made it redundant).
     
  9. alex_ant macrumors 68020

    alex_ant

    Joined:
    Feb 5, 2002
    Location:
    All up in your bidness
    #9
    There are two things keeping me from using Audion, and those are 1) price (I'm a cheap bastard) and 2) the great metadata index with search features that iTunes has. iTunes' interface is better, although not as good looking, IMO. Granted, with the Browser on, it does take up a good 800x600 pixels of the screen...

    On my 550MHz G4, Audion seems to only use an average of about 4% less CPU when playing the same MP3. Both iTunes and Audion and every other OS X MP3 player I've used are NASTY at CPU usage. I wouldn't be surprised if this were due to the current crap OS X compilers. I would switch to Audion if they could get their decoders around 5% usage, perhaps with AltiVec. For some reason there are no good AltiVec MP3 decoders. There's an app called mpegToaster, but it's barebones and buggy, and even that barely gets below 10% CPU usage on my system.

    I kinda miss my 550MHz K6-2 PC, on which MP3 playback hovered around 0.2 and 0.6% CPU usage.

    Alex
     

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