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Winamp Fraunhofer MPEG-4 AAC Encoder?
HA2013
post Dec 23 2012, 00:28
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Is FhG AAC encoder bundled with Winamp 5.63 a decent one, or there are better free alternative?.This encoder can achieve a maximum bitrate of 448 kbps on CBR mode and LC profile, but I wonder if it's more efficient than other encoders, as I'm considering switching fro MP3 insane preset encodec with LAME 3.99.5 and re-ripping lossless source into AAC-LC (.m4a) files.Thanks in advance.

This post has been edited by HA2013: Dec 23 2012, 00:31
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2814-6890
post Dec 23 2012, 03:19
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It's good. Extremely good.

This post has been edited by 2814-6890: Dec 23 2012, 03:21
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soundping
post Dec 23 2012, 12:19
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QUOTE (HA2013 @ Dec 22 2012, 18:28) *
Is FhG AAC encoder bundled with Winamp 5.63 a decent one, or there are better free alternative?

Opus is a very good Lossy free format. But it's not fully supported (yet) as ACC is.

BTW There no reason to go CBR with AAC it's a Lossy format. You're just wasting space and not gaining any audio quality. wink.gif
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Brand
post Dec 23 2012, 13:19
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IMO it's one of the best AAC encoders and lossy encoders in general. Better than Nero and neck to neck with Apple/Quicktime, which I think is the only competition.

Apple's did score better at the ~96kbps test from 2011, but I wouldn't say that's enough to conclude that it's necessarily better at something like ~130kbps (--vbr 4) with the last versions.
(With a quick test I found FhG the most difficult to ABX at that bitrate, but individual lossy vs. lossless ABXing is subject to bias and I'd need to test with more samples, so take that for what it is.)
I'm hoping we might be able to do a proper comparison between FhG --vbr 4 and Apple's equivalent (TVBR 63 or so), although I know it's challenging at those bitrates, because they already sound more or less transparent.

Some objective comments: they distribute bitrate very differently, depending on the material. Even when I managed to find an album that would have the same overall bitrate, the individual songs varied a lot. So I'm guessing this might leave some room for personal preferences.
FhG encodes noticeably faster. It's also easier to setup in Foobar (at least if you don't want to install Winamp or iTunes/Quicktime).

This post has been edited by Brand: Dec 23 2012, 13:27
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HA2013
post Dec 23 2012, 13:33
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QUOTE (soundping @ Dec 23 2012, 08:19) *
QUOTE (HA2013 @ Dec 22 2012, 18:28) *
Is FhG AAC encoder bundled with Winamp 5.63 a decent one, or there are better free alternative?

Opus is a very good Lossy free format. But it's not fully supported (yet) as ACC is.

BTW There no reason to go CBR with AAC it's a Lossy format. You're just wasting space and not gaining any audio quality. wink.gif


Hehe, I expected to read that.But due to plenty of hard disk storage and maybe a bit of pareidolia (I want to believe it sounds better even if actually doesn't), I think I'll be sticking with CBR.But reconverting my CDs and FLAC to AAC is advisable, or am I probably wasting my time?I don't think I'll hear a noticeable difference between MP3 @ 320 kbps and AAC @ 448 kbps with the headphone I have (Sony MDR-V55), but maybe it's time to change and adopt a newer and more efficient compressing technology.Thanks for the answers, I'll keep using Winamp FhG AAC encoder, at least I have everything I need in one single application. biggrin.gif
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DonP
post Dec 23 2012, 14:16
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QUOTE (HA2013 @ Dec 23 2012, 07:33) *
QUOTE

BTW There no reason to go CBR with AAC it's a Lossy format. You're just wasting space and not gaining any audio quality. wink.gif


Hehe, I expected to read that.But due to plenty of hard disk storage and maybe a bit of pareidolia (I want to believe it sounds better even if actually doesn't), I think I'll be sticking with CBR.But reconverting my CDs and FLAC to AAC is advisable, or am I probably wasting my time?I don't think I'll hear a noticeable difference between MP3 @ 320 kbps and AAC @ 448 kbps with the headphone I have (Sony MDR-V55), but maybe it's time to change and adopt a newer and more efficient compressing technology


IF you have storage and want to believe it sounds better, why not just play the flac files? OH, but they are VBR...

BTW, Some of my flac files are already smaller than 448 kb/s.


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Brand
post Dec 23 2012, 16:23
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I agree. The main purpose of lossy encoding is to save space.
So using such high bitrates and CBR is missing the point, IMO.

And even if you use an insanely high bitrate lossy and achieve audible transparency for "regular playback", you might still have to deal with things like audible gapless imperfections. AFAIK, Vorbis is one of the very few lossy codecs (if not the only one) which handless gapless perfectly. Neither AAC or MP3 do that. So if you're "paranoid" about audio quality you're stuck with lossless anyway.

This post has been edited by Brand: Dec 23 2012, 16:26
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HA2013
post Dec 23 2012, 17:35
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Sorry for double posting, I'm sure I didn't click reply/quote twice.I forgot to mention I'll play these lossy files in my Samsung Galaxy smartphone (running Android 2.3.6), which doesn't support FLAC files, but I'll keep FLAC files ripped from CDs in HD for archival purpose.I'll rip some CDs into AAC-LC with VBR mode.

To be honest, with low end/budget audio gear (no hi-fi headphone, regular desktop onboard audio chipset etc). I'm starting to wonder if there will be actually any transparecy difference between lossless and a well encoded lossy file by LAME or FhG, no matter if bitrate is variable or constant .Thanks for the help guys, the Fraunhofer encoder seems efficient and fast, I'll just keep using it.I'll rip CDs using VBR mode or stick with FLAC for lossless.

This post has been edited by HA2013: Dec 23 2012, 17:37
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jkauff
post Jan 1 2013, 16:39
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QUOTE (HA2013 @ Dec 23 2012, 11:35) *
Sorry for double posting, I'm sure I didn't click reply/quote twice.I forgot to mention I'll play these lossy files in my Samsung Galaxy smartphone (running Android 2.3.6), which doesn't support FLAC files, but I'll keep FLAC files ripped from CDs in HD for archival purpose.

Did you know Winamp has an Android version? PowerAMP is another popular Android music app that plays just about any format. If space is not an issue (does your phone have a memory card slot?), you could avoid a lot of extra effort and just use your FLAC files.
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greynol
post Jan 1 2013, 17:02
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QUOTE (HA2013 @ Dec 23 2012, 08:35) *
To be honest, with low end/budget audio gear (no hi-fi headphone, regular desktop onboard audio chipset etc). I'm starting to wonder if there will be actually any transparecy difference between lossless and a well encoded lossy file by LAME or FhG, no matter if bitrate is variable or constant

This sentiment is echoed quite a bit, but actual test data to support it is scarce. Lossy artifacts are generally only suppressed by a noisy listening environment. Other factors such as an uneven frequency response may break masking, causing artifacts to become more audible, rather than less audible.

At the bitrates you're talking about using, you're probably not going to notice any differences as most everthing should be transparent unless you have golden ears. It is when you get to around 128 and below that more modern codecs begin to show strong superiority over MP3.


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Hex144
post Feb 13 2013, 22:19
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I noticed a weird behaviour with the FhG AAC encoder (bundled with Winamp). If I apply a lowpass filter to the audio source before encoding with VBR 5 or 6 (of 6), the bitrate goes up (contrary to what's expected).
LPF was applied using:
CODE
qaac --decode -b 24 --lowpass xxxxx input.wav output.wav

The more aggressive the lowpass, the greater the bitrate swell, i.e. bitrate increases with decreasing lowpass cutoff frequency.
Maximum bitrate is achieved at 15-16 kHz LPF, with a gain of up to 5% (depending on the music). Going below 15, the file size starts to fall.

Lowpass & VBR 4 doesn't lead to (large) increases (nor decreases) with the music I've tested so far.

Can someone with in-depth technical knowledge shed some light on this seemingly anomalous behaviour?
Are those extra bits put to good use, at least? Or maybe they're just wasted in inefficient programming?
I'm trying to make a decision whether I will continue using the lowpass.
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C.R.Helmrich
post Feb 14 2013, 14:50
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In order to be fast, the Fraunhofer AAC encoder has a simplified psychoacoustic model. It tries to achieve the target bit-rate regardless of whether the input is low-passed, but due to some small inaccuracies/assumptions, it might be off by a few %, as you noticed. It does, however, realize that (filtered-out) content above the lowpass is masked, so yes, the saved bits are put to good use below the low-pass frequency, and are not wasted.

I also see from your qaac command-line that your low-pass input to the AAC encoder is 24-bit. This might also increase the AAC bit-rate somewhat over inputting 16-bit.

Lastly, why are you using a low-pass at all? The encoder applies its own low-pass (VBR 4 e.g. has one at 16.5 kHz), and anyway, a very small percentage of the bit-rate is spent on (nearly) inaudible frequency regions.

Chris


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Hex144
post Feb 15 2013, 10:52
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QUOTE (C.R.Helmrich @ Feb 14 2013, 15:50) *
I also see from your qaac command-line that your low-pass input to the AAC encoder is 24-bit. This might also increase the AAC bit-rate somewhat over inputting 16-bit.

For what it's worth, I've just tested the encoder with 16-bit input, and the output is sometimes a tiny bit larger, sometimes a tiny bit smaller compared to 24-bit...

QUOTE
Lastly, why are you using a low-pass at all? The encoder applies its own low-pass (VBR 4 e.g. has one at 16.5 kHz), and anyway, a very small percentage of the bit-rate is spent on (nearly) inaudible frequency regions.

I see that VBR 5 (which I intend to use mostly) employs a ~19.3k lowpass.
Quicktime AAC seems to spend a lot of bits on very high frequencies, as evidenced by the big decrease in file size brought about by applying an LPF before encoding.
I was hoping to achieve some economy (small or big) in file size with Fraunhofer AAC too, by using an LPF beforehand, but I was baffled when I saw the file increase in size, and I was worried the encoder might do something wrong.
Since you say that very few bits are spent in that frequency zone, I will probably give up on the LPF. (Or maybe use it if I would want a VBR "5+" of sorts cool.gif ).

Thank you for your clarifications!
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francesco
post Feb 15 2013, 12:17
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hi

i have a question
does Fraunhofer MPEG-4 AAC Encoder work only with winamp ?
i mean it's an winamp exclusive
i mean winamp it's free , i use only foobar

sorry for my poor english
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Brand
post Feb 15 2013, 13:26
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Yeah, it's a Winamp exclusive from what I can see. But it's easy to make it work in Foobar: http://pastebin.com/TbCwDeSV
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Mach-X
post Feb 15 2013, 15:46
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BTW the fhg encoder in win amp doesn't do true CBR. Even if you set it that way it still runs in vbr just more constrained around the target bitrate set. I actually like the easy settings in the real vbr mode. At q3~96 I was just barely able to abx so I bumped up to 4. Set and forget love win amp.

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francesco
post Feb 15 2013, 16:17
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QUOTE (Brand @ Feb 15 2013, 07:26) *
Yeah, it's a Winamp exclusive from what I can see. But it's easy to make it work in Foobar: http://pastebin.com/TbCwDeSV

thanks Brand
i tried with foobar and it works great!
would be amazing have it working with cool edit/audition

This post has been edited by francesco: Feb 15 2013, 16:34
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