Bitrate questions...

Discussion in 'iPod' started by ordo1980, Sep 11, 2007.

  1. ordo1980 macrumors member

    Aug 28, 2007
    Pittsburgh, PA
    Hey guys, I just got my first iPod ever, the classic, and I'm ripping my CDs to put them on it, but I don't know much about bit rates or anything. I used to just use Winamp and then WMP, and I just usually ripped everything using 128, but I've been reading about how different the bit rates can be and about VBR and all this stuff and I don't know what settings to use or if i should use a 3rd party program to do it and not iTunes, what settings do you guys use? I guess VBR is really good? what are the minimum and maximum bit rates to use with VBR? Or is there one specific constant rate that is good? 320? 256? 192? I don't know much about how different they sound, but I just want a good quality and having 80gigs I now don't need to worry about cramming my music into a small player, just wondering if I could please get some help in understanding what program and/or settings to use and why. I got a trial version of xilisoft but I don't understand half the settings it's asking me to configure for anything, please help??
  2. Blue Velvet Moderator emeritus

    Jul 4, 2004
    It depends on many things like:

    • How big is your CD collection?
    • Do you want your entire music collection on your iPod?
    • What kind of headphones do you have?
    • What sounds OK to you?

    Personally, just for my iPod, it was all 256AAC for a while, then to 228AAC to fit everything onto my new MacBookPro and now with an 80gb iPod, all new CDs are ripped to 320AAC.

    However, every CD I own is also ripped to Apple Lossless and stored on an external drive at the mo. I would suggest trying 192 or 256 AAC, see what works for you. Rip the same song 3 or 4 times under different bitrates, listen to them carefully and choose the one that offers the size/quality you need.
  3. CrouchingDonkey macrumors member

    Feb 28, 2007
    Hong Kong
    That's the best way, as it's all down to personal preference and your circumstances.

    I personally rip everything to 320-MP3 Constant Bit Rate. It never hurts to go higher quality, because at the rate hard drive/flash memory capacities are increasing, I'm sure it won't be too too long before you can encode with Apple Lossless and be able to store your entire CD collection on an iPod shuffle. Hehe, well, you get my my gist!
  4. greg555 macrumors 6502a

    Mar 24, 2005
    Don't forget that the iPod storage rating (in songs) and battery life are based on 128kbps AAC. If you go higher your iPod will hold fewer songs naturally, and may not last as long on a charge. With hard drive based iPods the battery life was strongly affected by the bit rate. I'm not sure if the flash based ones are affected as much.

  5. swwack91 macrumors 6502a

    Jan 28, 2007
    New Jersey
    i'm pretty much a stickler for audio quality (i make a ton of videos/films and work as a freelance video editor) and 160kbps MP3 is more than enough for comfortable listening... on the computer & on my iPod
  6. motulist macrumors 601


    Dec 2, 2003
    If you care about keeping the highest quality possible I suggest Apple Lossless encoding which creates bit-for-bit identical copies of the audio tracks from the CD, with absolutely no loss in quality. The only problem is that it creates very large file sizes - about 4 MB per minute of audio (iirc).

    To make smaller file sizes you need to use lossy encoding like mp3 or aac that intelligently throws away some information from the audio track in order to make the file size smaller. The highest quality audio file compression you can use is generally agreed to be the LAME encoder. Use LAME with the settings -b 320 and you'll have super high quality MP3s.
  7. sushi Moderator emeritus


    Jul 19, 2002
    I went with MP3 at 256Kbps, 44,100Hz, True Stereo, at constant bit rate. It was important to me, to be able to play my songs on iPods, computer and other portable listening devices. Basically, the MP3 format works on everything out there. So for me, this encoding works great.

    I would suggest that you take a couple of songs that you really like that have subtle nuances and test encode them at different rates using different encoders. For example:

    MP3 at 128, 192, 256, 320

    ACC at 128, 192, 256, 320

    After listening to them, you can choose the encoding that you like.

    Remember that the higher the rate, the fewer songs will fit on your iPod. Also at higher rates, there is more info to transfer when you listen to the songs so it will decrease your battery life on HD base iPods. And it will also take longer to sync your music.

    Some folks will swear by other encoding methods. The key is to find one that you really like, then use it.
  8. redfirebird08 macrumors 6502


    Feb 15, 2007
    I personally use AAC at 160 kbps VBR. For a while I was using mp3 at 192 kbps VBR but AAC is a better encoder and thus I can save some storage space using 160 kbps with it.
  9. ordo1980 thread starter macrumors member

    Aug 28, 2007
    Pittsburgh, PA

    Great bunch of posts you guys, not really sure which suggestion I'll go with. I'd personally like to have them in mp3 format, and I've heard good things about the Lame encoder, so I guess I'll have to figure out what bitrate to go with. I don't have stereo surround equipment or anything like that, I listen to all my music on headphones. I would like to, at some point, get good quality headphones, so I can appreciate the fidelity of the music. What I'm thinking, though, is what's the bitrate worth my while, since without a surround system to really take advantage of the full fidelity, even if I had good headphones (I'd pay at most maybe $100), I wonder if I would really be able to hear the difference between 320 and 192, or even 160? and if I encoded at 192 or 160, does it make a difference whether I do VBR or CBR? I was told VBR was good, but then I also hear that CBR is good, as a couple of you guys seem to use CBR. Any thoughts?

    PS: Anyone know how much the cache memory is the the new Classic? Just curious, as it is a bit of a factor. I listen to my iPod a lot walking around, so it's not like it's permanently plugged into my car or anything, thus, batter life is a factor. it seems to me given my use for it and the fact I just use headphones, that it's either 192 or 160, using VBR or CBR, help?

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