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Which MP3 Bit Rate?

Discussion in 'Recording Gear and Equipment [BG]' started by Big Benner, Oct 17, 2005.


  1. I'm just learning about MP3s. I work on both MAC and PC so I think the standard MP3 format is what I'm going to use for easy flipping back and forth (no Windows Media or Apple Lossless files for me) and I just bought a 250 gig Firewire & USB 2 combo drive and I want to start ripping using the MAC and iTunes.

    But what MP3 bit rate? Apple iTunes has:

    "Good Quality" at 128kbps, joint stereo

    "High Quality" at 160kbps, joint stereo

    "Higher Quality" at 192kbps, normal stereo

    ... and then a bunch of custom settings that you can play with.

    If I'm planning on DJ'ing with these songs through large sound systems,... will "Higher Quality" 192 kbps normal stereo be enough?

    I want to use that for all my files from here but if I get enough people telling me that "Higher Quality" 192 kbps normal stereo is not enough,... well then I'll have to think some more. :)

    What bit rate do you use and why? What kind of system do you play the music on?

    Thanks everyone,

    Benner
     
  2. The Clap

    The Clap

    Jan 5, 2004
    Scottsdale, AZ
    If you're going to rip your own use some form of variable bit rate for good quality and space efficiency. 192 is OK, but if you're going to be DJing with the rips, you ought to use a higher quality.
     
  3. phxlbrmpf

    phxlbrmpf

    Dec 27, 2002
    Germany
    I've seen DJs use plain-jane 128kbps mp3s (which was easy to tell as they were using Winamp) and no one seemed to care, I didn't think they sounded crappy, either. But then again, I'm not exactly an audiophile. The only thing I notice around 128kbps is that some cymbals sometimes start sounding "compressed".

    Personally, I think variable bitrates are the way to go, the popular LAME mp3 encoder has a few settings that do this, I recommend "alt preset standard" for a decent compromise between quality and file size.
     
  4. Oysterman

    Oysterman

    Mar 30, 2000
    Sweden
    I'd say that if you're DJ'ing, probably nobody in the audience will hear the difference between 192 and the higher bitrates. But if you want to be on the safe side, increase it. LAME variable bit rates are nice, with the "quality 1" parameter you should have reasonably compact files, good enough for anyone but the very picky and/or "golden-eared". Not to mention you'd need those golden ears AND a suitable listening environment to be able to pick out the subtle differences between a high-quality MP3 and a lossless rip. To my knowledge, not many DJ jobs are done on audiophile systems in treated rooms... with a silent crowd. ;)

    Although if you're really concerned with quality, I do believe there are lossless formats that can be used on both PC and MAC; FLAC is one.
     
  5. Kristopher

    Kristopher

    Mar 13, 2005
    Tempe, AZ
    So .wma files are "lossless" compression?
     
  6. if you're able to use the LAME mp3 encoder, use the --alt preset standard switch...
     
  7. well I've been geek about mp3 for a while, and while there is a lot of things people disagree upon on various forums, I kinda narrowed it down to this:

    - I prefer stereo mode. joint stereo probably works well for playing mp3s on PC, or some mp3 player, but if you play them on decent stereo, you will notice how messed up 3d image is. If you don't care about it, use joint stereo by all means

    - Most of the "easy mode" cdripping sofware cuts off certain frequencies when encoding to mp3. I am a vane person, and I like to have frequencies I cannot even hear in my mp3 files. It keeps the mice away.

    - There are lots of debate about should it be constant bit-rate, variable bit rate, and so on. Some older players cannot handle variable bit rates. Other then that, vbr is generally a good idea.

    As for codecs, the answer is simple, use LAME (http://lame.sourceforge.net/). There is a nifty package (EAC: http://www.exactaudiocopy.de/) containing good cd ripper, which can use lame to create mp3s. For quick and easy you can use one of the --alt-presets, or just --r3mix switch (I do). Check lame documentation on what those switches do. If you feel geeky, you can compose your own argument lists, but in most cases, presets will work just fine.


    Now, there is this whole issue of copyrights, mp3's and all that, so you could as well use ogg-vorbis instead of mp3 if you live in a country when special units of your local police force might be busting thru your windows in "Brazil" style, just because you "backed up" one of your cd's. If your local police force is mainly occupied by chasing bank robbers, murderers, and such, just use mp3. :bag:

    Also, for archival purposes, you could use one of the lossless codec formats, like FLAC. You could rip cd's, burn flac files on dvd-r's and store the somewhere safe. I usually make a 1-1 copy of every new cd I buy, and listen to those, so that originals don't get scratch (wish I could do that with vinils back in the days).

    Hope all of this helps.
     
  8. No, .WMAs are lossy (as are .MP3s) if you want lossless compression then FLAC is your best bet.
    It's the ripping they care about, not the file format you put it into.
     
  9. Ripping to FLAC means that you get lossless audio, but smaller file size. It also means you can cross-convert from FLAC to MP3 if and when you need to. HOWEVER most DJ software uses MP3s and I haven't seen many that extend to DJ-ing with FLAC.

    I'd say for most purposes MP3 at 192 variable bit rate will be just fine for what you're planning. Bos_mindwarp's advice is worth looking into re: EAC. Probably quicker / better to use that than iTunes or Windoze Media Player.

    Can I recommend Native Instruments Traktor DJ Studio as software for DJing? It's a great piece of kit.
     
  10. bigbeefdog

    bigbeefdog Who let the dogs in?

    Jul 7, 2003
    Mandeville, LA
    If you're sticking with MP3, I find that the differences are noticeable below 192kbps. Going above 192 seems to give only minimal inprovement; I can't tell the difference except on a top-quality system.

    If you're DJ'ing, and playing to a noisy crowd, I don't think going over 192 will matter much.
     
  11. JMX

    JMX Vorsprung durch Technik

    Sep 4, 2000
    Cologne, Germany
    It also seems a good idea to avoid joined stereo and variable bitrate, VBR can cause playback problems.
     
  12. 320, 44.1, stereo.

    With storage space so cheap these days why not?

    I've got an ipod interface on the stereo in my car, and I'm pretty sure I can hear the difference b/t that and 192. Then again, it could be mental and maybe I need a placebo test, but still.
     
  13. sean_w_mcgrath

    sean_w_mcgrath does this forum name make me look fat?

    If you plan on using iTunes as your player, I would recommend using the AAC encoder. You get much better quality for the bit rate. I encode all my music at 128 kbps AAC with the exception of my favorite albums which I encode at 192 kbps AAC (as well as Ogg Vorbis).
     
  14. Thank You Everyone!

    Wow, I thought that I might be beating a dead horse with this but I did do a search for MP3 bit rate and didn't really come up with anything.

    I think this particularly made a lot of sense:

    - I prefer stereo mode. joint stereo probably works well for playing mp3s on PC, or some mp3 player, but if you play them on decent stereo, you will notice how messed up 3d image is. If you don't care about it, use joint stereo by all means

    - Most of the "easy mode" cdripping sofware cuts off certain frequencies when encoding to mp3. I am a vane person, and I like to have frequencies I cannot even hear in my mp3 files. It keeps the mice away.

    - There are lots of debate about should it be constant bit-rate, variable bit rate, and so on. Some older players cannot handle variable bit rates. Other then that, vbr is generally a good idea.

    Thanks bos_mindwarb.

    I'm going to burn a couple of pop songs (Sting, Madonna) a Durm & Bass and a Jazz tune with the original wave file and a "Higher Quality" at 192kbps, normal stereo MP3 and take it around and have a listen. I think it will be enough for me.
     
  15. sean_w_mcgrath

    sean_w_mcgrath does this forum name make me look fat?

    If you want some literature on the codecs (MP3, AAC, and Ogg Vorbis), you can check out this report I wrote a little under a year ago: http://blog.seanmcg.com/?p=52