iTunes and MP3 - which bitrate should I choose?

Discussion in 'Digital Audio' started by jon08, Apr 20, 2011.

  1. jon08 macrumors 65816

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    Nov 14, 2008
    #1
    So I've come to the point where I would like to digitalize my entire CD collection for the convenience sake and to have all my music in one place - iTunes. Now the problem is that I would like to make a compromise between sound quality and size of the MP3s I will be making.

    The question is, should I just go with 256 kbps? Or would VBR be better in terms of sound quality and reasonable size? (I probably won't be ditching my original CDs, but still plan to archive the MP3s I will be making...)

    I would also need some help with iTunes settings:

    - what should I choose under quality? (It ranges from Lowest to Highest)
    - Sample Rate?
    - Channels?


    Thanks.
     
  2. TMRaven macrumors 68020

    TMRaven

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    #2
    320kbps variable bitrate aac is what I use. I personally can't tell the difference between it and lossless even with the very analytical DT990 headphones.
     
  3. jon08 thread starter macrumors 65816

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    #3
    The problem with AAC (in my opinion) is compatibility, as it's only compatible with iTunes, iPod, Zune and some others, while MP3 is basically compatible with any sound devices....
     
  4. blueroom macrumors 603

    blueroom

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    #4
    What other devices would you want? :)

    I switched over to Apple Lossless. When syncing with an iPod I let iTunes downconvert it to 128kBs.
     
  5. ChrisA macrumors G4

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    #5
    Skip the "compromise" and just use Apple Lossless. Otherwise sooner or later you will be re-ripping al the CDs. Because some day you might buy better stereo equipment ad maybe over time you listening skills will improve. Youcanbuy a 1TB disk for well under $100. Disk space is dirt cheap. No reason to use small files.

    If you must compress then AAC is better than MP3. Use AAC320.
     
  6. ChrisA macrumors G4

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    #6
    1) Are you really ever going to buy something that can't play AAC?

    2) You can convert formats if you download to a low-end device, but keep the archive in the best format you can.
     
  7. jon08 thread starter macrumors 65816

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    #7
    That's what I've been wondering myself. :) I guess my concern stems from whether a Hi-fi or whatever CD player would play those AAC songs if I were to burn them on a CD... And I assume it wouldn't...
     
  8. TMRaven macrumors 68020

    TMRaven

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    #8
    Just get a hi-fi setup that doesn't use CDs then. Pretty simple.
     
  9. jon08 thread starter macrumors 65816

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    #9
    I heard that above 192 kbps AAC and MP3 are the same in terms of sound quality and pretty much the size too.. Why use AAC then?
     
  10. TMRaven macrumors 68020

    TMRaven

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    #10
    No I havn't heard that. While it is definitely harder to discern differences between different codecs at higher bitrates, or even a 320kbps mp3/aac or a losses file, there will always be very subtle difference that depend on bitrate, how codec handles compression etc.

    I choose AAC over MP3 because it technically is the superior codec, even though it might not be as widely supported as of yet, or as mature as mp3, or even if it's extremely hard to tell their difference.

    I do remember reading somewhere that above 192kbps bitrate met satisfactory transparency requirements for some audio standard, but I've never read that the two codecs are virtually the same above 192kbps. As for size-- well size will be exactly the same if both are at same bitrate obviously.
     
  11. jon08 thread starter macrumors 65816

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    #11
    I see. You said that you use 320AAC VBR - why should I use VBR as opposed to CBR? Is it because it's smaller size only, or will it benefit in sound quality too?
     
  12. TMRaven macrumors 68020

    TMRaven

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    #12
    It's just supposedly a more efficient way of encoding. It will use less bitrate when it sees necessary (like on a silent part of a song, or an instrumental solo) and more bitrate for busier parts of the song where instrument separation is ideal. The end result should be about the same file size as constant bitrate.

    For video encoding it can be a bit different, because your perceived quality relies moreso on the slower frames, so something like variable bitrate x264 uses a higher bitrate in slower frames so people can perceive more detail, while using less bitrate for faster scenes, where motion blur is part of the eye's natural phenomenon (it's still a pain to see macroblocking artifacts, but x264 and other advanced codecs have macroblock blurring)
     
  13. jon08 thread starter macrumors 65816

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    #13
    I see, thanks. So I should use the following settings?

    320AAC VBR
    Sample Rate: 44.100 kHz
    Channels: Auto
    High Efficiency Encoding: ON or OFF?
    Optimize for voice: I guess OFF?
     
  14. jon08 thread starter macrumors 65816

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    #14
    Btw, does iTunes still use the "Fraunhofer" encoding method with MP3s? Or is it LAME now?
     
  15. Ommid macrumors 6502

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    #15
    Mine is all lossless but I wouldn't go for under 320kbps these days personally
     
  16. AdrianK macrumors 68020

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    Feb 19, 2011
    #16
    If you have a large CD collection, definitely archive as FLAC/ALAC, to give you maximum flexibility. That way you can encode to any lossy format whenever you choose.

    Sample rate should be left as default (44100Hz).
    For channels, joint stereo should be used (this uses matrixed channels, as far as I understand).
     
  17. Zoddino macrumors member

    Zoddino

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    Jun 27, 2010
    #17
    use the iTunes Plus preset and you're good to go. Or archive with lossless then go with AAC True VBR available only through XLD :)
     
  18. jon08 thread starter macrumors 65816

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    #18
    Does iTunes play FLAC?
     
  19. TMRaven macrumors 68020

    TMRaven

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  20. jon08 thread starter macrumors 65816

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    #20
    So I guess it's best to just go with ALAC then... Do you think 320kbps MP3s will feel "obsolete" or useless 20 years from now?
     
  21. TMRaven macrumors 68020

    TMRaven

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    #21
    Perhaps, but not as much as other compression technologies.
     
  22. JamesPDX Suspended

    JamesPDX

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    Aug 26, 2014
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    USA
    #22
    iTunes 12: Classical music or acoustic instrumental music: WAV, AIFF, Lossless, AAC @320kbps, Stereo (not Joint Stereo), 44.1kHz, CD read-error correction on, evertyhing else unchecked. Pop and Rap: iTunes Plus (auto) or mp3 @128 kbps, VBR is plenty.
     

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