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WAV and MP3 simultaneously and LAME Settings
dms802
post Feb 4 2013, 21:25
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I am archiving my collection of over 1,000 CDs. Itís a big job, and I want to get it right so I donít have to repeat it. I already started to rip CDs using iTunes and Roxio, but I noticed quite a few songs had pops, crackles, and/or distortion. At first I thought it was a problem with my CD reader, and I went out and purchased a lens cleaning disc. When that didnít solve the problem, I did more research online and realized the problem might be with the programs I was using. That is how I cam across EAC, which I really love but find a tad confusing. So, I have a few questions.

My goal is to back-up every CD in two formats: 1) WAV files to store on an external hard drive as a true archive, and 2) MP3 files to use for iTunes and portable MP3 players. Here are my questions:

1. Is it possible to save in both MP3 and WAV files while only reading the disc once? At this point, I am reading it once for the WAV files and a second time for the MP3 files. I tried just reading it once and saving as WAV files and then converting to MP3s; however, when I did that, none of the info regarding artist, track number, etc. were saved and I had to manually edit the info for use in ITunes and other players. I already have two profiles save in EAC Ė one for WAV and one for MP3. In each case, I have file naming set to save the files in folders under the artist name, with a subfolder for the artist name.

2. Regarding compression settings, I am using the latest version of LAME (I think it is 3.99.5). I would be happy with VBR and a minimum bit rate of 256 kbps, but I found it simpler to just go with 320 kbps CBR. I am not too worried about the difference in file size. I am not sure if I have the correct settings or if I could reduce the number of additional commands. Here are the additional command-line options I have entered for External Compression:

-b 320 %islow%-V 5%islow%%ishigh%-V 2%ishigh% --vbr-new %source% %dest%

And here is a screenshot of my External Compression tab:



3. Does anybody know the easier way to import the ripped MP3 tracks to iTunes? At this point, I am ripping straight to the iTunes folder, with a folder for artist and subfolder for album. After the files are ripped, I go into iTunes and add the folder to the library.

4. In terms of playback, is one player better than another? Specifically, is one player better than iTunes for playback? I also have used WinAmp. For my home stereo, I can simply play the WAV files stored on my external hard drive, but I use an iPod for traveling and the car.

Sorry for all the questions on my first post. If it would be better, I can break them down to separate posts. I am most concerned only with Questions 1 and 2 above.
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pdq
post Feb 4 2013, 21:54
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The biggest mistake that I can see that you are making is ripping to wav. This means that you have no proper support for tags, so all of the information about the tracks is missing. You should rip directly to a lossless file, such as FLAC, complete with tags. You can then create the mp3 version from the lossless version and have all of your tags.
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dms802
post Feb 4 2013, 22:02
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QUOTE (pdq @ Feb 4 2013, 15:54) *
The biggest mistake that I can see that you are making is ripping to wav. This means that you have no proper support for tags, so all of the information about the tracks is missing. You should rip directly to a lossless file, such as FLAC, complete with tags. You can then create the mp3 version from the lossless version and have all of your tags.



Thanks. That makes sense. I guess I wanted WAV files because I perceived them as more universal at this point, though FLAC seems to be getting quite common. What about the items in additional command line?
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Nessuno
post Feb 4 2013, 22:54
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Out of curiosity: did the pops, clicks, distortion etc... go away when ripping the same CDs with EAC instead of iTunes/Roxio?

For the rest I second what pdq already said, as the most sensible way to go.


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dms802
post Feb 5 2013, 00:51
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QUOTE (Nessuno @ Feb 4 2013, 16:54) *
Out of curiosity: did the pops, clicks, distortion etc... go away when ripping the same CDs with EAC instead of iTunes/Roxio?

For the rest I second what pdq already said, as the most sensible way to go.



For the most part, the pops, clicks, etc. went away. Most CDs are in excellent conditions, but a few are older and worn. With iTunes and Roxio, the problems occured regardless of the condition of the CD and did not seem to be related to any particular track. The quality of iTunes improved when I used error correction as an option.
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dms802
post Feb 5 2013, 04:32
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So, it sounds like the issue of ripping the disc once is solved by FLAC. Regarding the other questions, are the additonal commands correct? Any advice on those? And do files sound better in another player? I did more research and some say Foobar sounds better.
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Mach-X
post Feb 5 2013, 04:46
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Those settings are rather needlessly complex. the vbr new switches have been replaced by the simpler -vx switch of which v2 is the official HA recommended useage being transparent to most listeners on most source material. As far as playback no player should sound any different than any other since they make calls to the operating system for decoding. Sound quality then depends on your devices audio hardware and speakers. Hope this helps!
Just reread it looks like you are ripping directly to mp3 and you wont have the lossless files after.

This post has been edited by Mach-X: Feb 5 2013, 04:50
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db1989
post Feb 5 2013, 04:51
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Good catch on --vbr-new being unnecessary, although it doesnít harm anything (yet, till they bring out another new algorithm wink.gif).

More relevant is the fact that -b320 limits the minimal bitrate to 320 kbps, thus completely destroying any prospect of VBR and rendering your other settings useless.

(There are some cases in which -V0 -b320 can be useful, but those are isolated and not relevant to general usage.)
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dms802
post Feb 5 2013, 05:03
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I had a feeling that the additional commands were useless or inappropriate. I copied them from somehwere and added the -b 320 because it was ripping at a much lower bit rate. What would be the right string of commands for either 320 or 256 VBR?
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Aleron Ives
post Feb 5 2013, 07:06
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VBR settings target a specific quality level; specifying a bitrate targets a specific filesize, and these are essentially opposite goals. There is no such thing as 256 VBR: although many genres of music might end up within a certain bitrate range with a certain VBR quality setting, other genres and specific songs can be above or below that bitrate.

If you want the maximum VBR quality, use:

-V 0 %source% %dest%

What Mach-X was trying to tell you is that the highest VBR setting is often overkill, i.e. your files will be bigger than they need to be to still sound exactly the same as the original CD audio would. The LAME developers recommend using V 2 to get smaller files that still contain no audible artifacts, but some listeners can even use lower quality settings than that and still be satisfied with the sound quality. The only way for you to know authoritatively which quality level best suits your needs is to conduct some ABX tests on your music to determine the lowest VBR setting that still sounds transparent to you.

Transparency at the lowest bitrate possible is the desired outcome of using a lossy codec like MP3: if a file encoded at V2 sounds the same as the original CD and a file encoded at V 0 also sounds the same as the original CD when you compare those files in a double-blind test, the only difference between the V 2 file and the V 0 file is that the V 0 file is bigger. As such, there is no reason to waste the extra space for no discernable increase in sound quality, and you should use V 2 instead of V 0. You can go ahead and use V 0 without doing any tests if you want, but just be aware that your music may be taking up more space than necessary that way.
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db1989
post Feb 5 2013, 12:45
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QUOTE (dms802 @ Feb 5 2013, 04:03) *
I had a feeling that the additional commands were useless or inappropriate. I copied them from somehwere and added the -b 320 because it was ripping at a much lower bit rate. What would be the right string of commands for either 320 or 256 VBR?
Here we see demonstrated the importance of knowing what an option does before you activate it. wink.gif “much lower” than what? What did you expect? What type of material were you compressing? As Aleron Ives has said, there’s not actually any such thing as “320 or 256 VBR”, so expecting to see either of those figures as a mean bitrate will only lead to disappointment! But again, it all depends upon what you are compressing. Generally, you can trust LAME to do its job efficiently: compressing with an appropriate probability of perceptual transparency determined by your chosen numerical setting and using only as many bits as it needs for that.

This post has been edited by db1989: Feb 5 2013, 12:46
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phofman
post Feb 5 2013, 16:34
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And then there is the wonderful mp3fs filesystem in linux which handles the flac-mp3 conversion on the fly when accessing the flac files stored on the hard drive smile.gif
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dms802
post Feb 5 2013, 19:52
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Thanks guys. I did try to figure out what all the commands meant, but it is not so straightforward - and I am no stranger to computers, albiet new to EAC and LAME.

As for 256 or 320 VBR, I thought perhaps there was a way of specifying a minimum bit rate. I know in that is the case in iTunes -- you sepcify the minimum and the VBR option will only increase that bit rate where necessary. It will never drop below the minimum. I guess that is not the case with LAME?
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pdq
post Feb 5 2013, 20:01
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That IS the case in LAME, but its use is generally discouraged because LAME does an excellent job of deciding that for you. If you are still determined to use it, the syntax is to combine -V with -b, such as -V2 -b256. If you use -b320 then every frame will be 320 and there is no savings in file size over a 320 cbr file.
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Aleron Ives
post Feb 5 2013, 20:03
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Yes, you can use the -b switch to specify a minimum bitrate with LAME, even in VBR mode. The point is that doing so defeats the purpose of using VBR. In VBR mode, LAME analyses the audio and determines the minimum bitrate necessary to achieve the quality level you selected. When using V 0, the highest quality setting, LAME will often use 224, 256, and 320 kbps frames, but some frames will use lower bitrates than that. They will use a lower bitrate because LAME determined that those particular portions of audio are of low enough "complexity" to still reach the quality specified by V 0 at a lower bitrate.

Every single second of your music isn't going to require 256 kbps to sound transparent, and the whole point of VBR mode is to achieve a fixed level of sound quality with the lowest bitrate possible on a moment-by-moment basis, thus saving as much space as possible. You can specify -b 256, -b 224, or whatever you desire, but doing so is only going to waste space and force your files to become larger for (likely) no perceivable gain in sound quality. If possible compression artifacts are so worrisome to you, perhaps you shouldn't use MP3 at all; just keep everything in FLAC format and listen to that. You won't have to worry about compression artifacts if your files are lossless.

This post has been edited by Aleron Ives: Feb 5 2013, 20:04
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Nessuno
post Feb 6 2013, 08:58
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QUOTE (dms802 @ Feb 5 2013, 00:51) *
QUOTE (Nessuno @ Feb 4 2013, 16:54) *
Out of curiosity: did the pops, clicks, distortion etc... go away when ripping the same CDs with EAC instead of iTunes/Roxio?



For the most part, the pops, clicks, etc. went away. Most CDs are in excellent conditions, but a few are older and worn. With iTunes and Roxio, the problems occured regardless of the condition of the CD and did not seem to be related to any particular track. The quality of iTunes improved when I used error correction as an option.

Well, such a consistent (we're not speaking of a couple of tracks in 1000 CDs, right?) night and day difference between rippers, especially on good conditions CDs is not to be expected.
So you used iTunes to rip (and Roxio what for? It's a burning software, isn't it?). And how did you listen back the ripped tracks?


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Mach-X
post Feb 6 2013, 09:45
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Perhaps to put in simpler terms what others are saying, lame mp3 isn't mp3 as back in the 'audiograbber' days, it's been finely tuned to deliver hi fidelity in vbr mode using the least amount of bitrate necessary for a given sample. If you are listening to the encoded track in winamp and getting alarmed when the bitrate dives below 100kbps, don't be. The encoder has determined that for that frame of audio, xkbps is sufficient for the quality level you have chosen. On more complex frames it will jump up to 256 or 320 and then dive down again when less is needed. Which is the entire point behind lossy encoding, more and less when it's needed.
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dms802
post Feb 7 2013, 18:54
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QUOTE (Nessuno @ Feb 6 2013, 02:58) *
QUOTE (dms802 @ Feb 5 2013, 00:51) *
QUOTE (Nessuno @ Feb 4 2013, 16:54) *
Out of curiosity: did the pops, clicks, distortion etc... go away when ripping the same CDs with EAC instead of iTunes/Roxio?



For the most part, the pops, clicks, etc. went away. Most CDs are in excellent conditions, but a few are older and worn. With iTunes and Roxio, the problems occured regardless of the condition of the CD and did not seem to be related to any particular track. The quality of iTunes improved when I used error correction as an option.

Well, such a consistent (we're not speaking of a couple of tracks in 1000 CDs, right?) night and day difference between rippers, especially on good conditions CDs is not to be expected.
So you used iTunes to rip (and Roxio what for? It's a burning software, isn't it?). And how did you listen back the ripped tracks?



I used iTunes to rip MP3s and Roxio to rip the WAV files. Roxio has ripping abilities, too. I noticed pops and clicks with both prgrams. In a few cases, the MP3s and WAV files had problems at the same locations, whihc clearly was a problem with the disc. In such cases, I re-cleaned and "repaired" the disc and ripped again. In other cases, the clicks, pops, and distrotion were more random. In general the problems were worse with Roxio, especially after I used the error correction option in iTunes. I have a feeling Roxio rips by just reading once and not correcting errors. That's why I switched over to EAC.

I had been ripping WAVs just to use with legacy devices, but I think I'll switch to FLAC to make life easier. As for LAME, I was jsut looking for a string of cammands that would be ideal for ripping at high-quality VBR.
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2Bdecided
post Feb 7 2013, 19:07
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QUOTE (Mach-X @ Feb 5 2013, 03:46) *
As far as playback no player should sound any different than any other since they make calls to the operating system for decoding.
Very few players use Windows ACM for decoding - they (almost) all have an internal decoder.

Generally they don't sound different though.

Cheers,
David.

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2Bdecided
post Feb 7 2013, 19:09
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QUOTE (dms802 @ Feb 7 2013, 17:54) *
I had been ripping WAVs just to use with legacy devices
mp3 is more widely supported than anything else.

But for a once-and-for-all never-want-to-do-it-ever-again ripping exercise, definitely rip to lossless and keep those FLAC files as the source for anything else you might want in the future.

Cheers,
David.
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