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What's the best AAC encoder today?, Status as of 2013
mrgou
post Sep 9 2013, 20:56
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QUOTE (eahm @ Sep 9 2013, 20:17) *

Nice, thanks!

Do you think I can assume that qaac will use the DLL's it finds in the same folder in priority over those installed by iTunes? That would make it possible to keep using the latest iTunes encoder while not upgrading iTunes itself.
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eahm
post Sep 9 2013, 21:57
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QUOTE (mrgou @ Sep 9 2013, 12:56) *
Do you think I can assume that qaac will use the DLL's it finds in the same folder in priority over those installed by iTunes? That would make it possible to keep using the latest iTunes encoder while not upgrading iTunes itself.

That was my worry, it was probably using the ones installed with iTunes but I can't test right now, let's see if nu774 sees this post and comments.

This post has been edited by eahm: Sep 9 2013, 22:02
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IgorC
post Sep 10 2013, 01:13
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QUOTE (saratoga @ Sep 9 2013, 15:55) *
AAC-HE doesn't really encoder higher frequencies anyway , so you're just looking at harmonic extension of the lower frequencies. Hence, I wouldn't worry much about what the stuff above 11khz looks like unless you're using regular AAC.

HE-AAC isn't meant for transparency but most of people exaggeratedly beleive that it's a kind of "fake" algorithm that generates high frequencies (almost) from nothing. I'm not a developer but my basic knowledge of HE-AAC indicates that SBR is actually advanced form of prediction of HF from LF. There is an envelope adjustment and a residual coding that adds a missed HF's components.

Not trying to be a smart hat, I just think that HE-AAC (and Opus) can do a decent job preserving a high audible bandwidth (and quality as well) on a reasonable range of bitrates.
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nu774
post Sep 10 2013, 02:29
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QUOTE (mrgou @ Sep 10 2013, 04:56) *
Do you think I can assume that qaac will use the DLL's it finds in the same folder in priority over those installed by iTunes? That would make it possible to keep using the latest iTunes encoder while not upgrading iTunes itself.

I'm afraid it's too qaac specific a question and becoming off-topic, but your question is answered here:
http://www.hydrogenaudio.org/forums/index....85135&st=56
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saratoga
post Sep 10 2013, 05:26
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QUOTE (IgorC @ Sep 9 2013, 20:13) *
QUOTE (saratoga @ Sep 9 2013, 15:55) *
AAC-HE doesn't really encoder higher frequencies anyway , so you're just looking at harmonic extension of the lower frequencies. Hence, I wouldn't worry much about what the stuff above 11khz looks like unless you're using regular AAC.

HE-AAC isn't meant for transparency but most of people exaggeratedly beleive that it's a kind of "fake" algorithm that generates high frequencies (almost) from nothing. I'm not a developer but my basic knowledge of HE-AAC indicates that SBR is actually advanced form of prediction of HF from LF.


My knowledge of AAC-HE comes mostly from optimizing the SBR code in libfaad, which is just a decoder so I may have missed things. My understanding of the code is that you are essentially using a filterbank to mirror the lower frequencies onto higher frequencies, than using side channel information to coarsely scale the mirrored data so that the approximate power is correct. In this sense I think its fair to say that it doesn't encode the higher frequencies, rather it tells you how to compute something that will sound natural enough to be acceptable, but is not necessarily accurate or even all that similar sounding. IIUC, if you really have a signal where the higher frequencies are sufficiently uncorrelated with the lower frequencies, you can't actually encode them with HE.

That said I don't fully understand how all of the side channel bits in HE mode actually work, so I could be mistaken.
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Pulstar
post Sep 10 2013, 13:04
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QUOTE (db1989 @ Sep 9 2013, 11:43) *
QUOTE (Pulstar @ Sep 9 2013, 09:15) *
anything approaching +16kHz
What is this supposed to mean? Semantically, it is hopelessly unclear.

QUOTE
better for the human ear?
Are you insinuating that files with frequencies above 16 kHz sound better or otherwise audibly detectable when compared to files lowpassed around that point, and/or are healthier for the senses? If either, evidence will be needed, personal double-blind listening tests or medical citations respectively.


Please enlighten me. I see a lot of encodes that cut off at around the 16kHz mark, with higher bitrates retaining a higher threshold. 20kHz ceiling is optimal but most of us can't hear that well to begin with. For non-audiophiles HE-AAC can save tons of space for non-musical material.
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db1989
post Sep 10 2013, 13:24
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QUOTE (Pulstar @ Sep 10 2013, 13:04) *
Please enlighten me.
What you meant by “anything approaching +16kHz” is unclear:
QUOTE (Pulstar @ Sep 9 2013, 09:15) *
Btw isn't anything approaching +16kHz better for the human ear?
I was asking whether you were stating that frequencies about 16 kHz should be preserved on the basis of audibility. But you already said it yourself:
QUOTE (Pulstar @ Sep 9 2013, 09:15) *
I'll have to do a personal ABX test from FLAC sources to really determine which is best lol.
Unless someone proves to themselves with a double-blind listening test that they can hear frequencies above 16 kHz in normal material representative of their needs, they should accept this cutoff frequency when a known well-designed encoder chooses it.

This post has been edited by db1989: Sep 10 2013, 13:26
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IgorC
post Sep 10 2013, 16:44
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QUOTE (saratoga @ Sep 10 2013, 01:26) *
My knowledge of AAC-HE comes mostly from optimizing the SBR code in libfaad, which is just a decoder so I may have missed things. My understanding of the code is that you are essentially using a filterbank to mirror the lower frequencies onto higher frequencies, than using side channel information to coarsely scale the mirrored data so that the approximate power is correct. In this sense I think its fair to say that it doesn't encode the higher frequencies, rather it tells you how to compute something that will sound natural enough to be acceptable, but is not necessarily accurate or even all that similar sounding. IIUC, if you really have a signal where the higher frequencies are sufficiently uncorrelated with the lower frequencies, you can't actually encode them with HE.

That said I don't fully understand how all of the side channel bits in HE mode actually work, so I could be mistaken.

Reasonable.

LC-AAC requires 96 kbps to be on par with MP3 at 128 kbps, that's 25% of a bitrate reduction.
HE-AAC 48 kbps is on par with LC-AAC 64 kbps, that's another 25% of a bitrate reduction (though on low bitrates only). Still, it's all good.

P.S. Hydrogenaudio auditory is different from an average user. High quality HE-AAC (as FhG) shoud be approaching a 4.0 score at 64 kbps.

This post has been edited by IgorC: Sep 10 2013, 17:19
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Mardel
post Sep 10 2013, 19:11
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QUOTE (mrgou @ Sep 9 2013, 19:44) *
I extracted the files CoreAudioToolbox.dll and CoreFoundation.dll and put them next to qaac.exe on a computer where iTunes isn't installed. It worked fine.

Need more than 2 dll files. Edit: Illegal redistribution of patented, copyrighted material removed.
I installed sandboxie and I download QuickTime because I've got some errors with iTunes.
Installed QuickTime into sandboxie and I copied dll files from (sandboxie) C:\Program Files (x86)\Common Files\Apple\Apple Application Support\.

This post has been edited by Garf: Sep 10 2013, 20:13


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mrgou
post Sep 10 2013, 20:17
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QUOTE (Mardel @ Sep 10 2013, 20:11) *
Need more than 2 dll files.

The PC I ran it from with these two doesn't have any iTunes installed. But maybe it worked because I was using a basic command (qaac -v 110 -o out.m4a in.wav), with no tagging or anything special. It would make sense if it threw an error if I used a tagging parameter about missing the Unicode libraries.

Thanks for the tip about sandboxie!

This post has been edited by mrgou: Sep 10 2013, 20:42
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eahm
post Sep 10 2013, 20:31
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mrgou, I believe you need to edit and remove the link in the quote, Apple's proprietary DLLs are included in that package. Same reason why nu774 linked "makeportable" instead of the package.
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mrgou
post Sep 10 2013, 20:43
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QUOTE (eahm @ Sep 10 2013, 21:31) *
mrgou, I believe you need to edit and remove the link in the quote, Apple's proprietary DLLs are included in that package. Same reason why nu774 linked "makeportable" instead of the package.

Done, thanks for the heads up!
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fanerman91
post Nov 21 2013, 03:32
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Is there any consensus on what format is best at ~256kbps or higher? ie, Nero vs Apple AAC, etc? At that bitrate does it matter? I'd prefer to encode through foobar, so I was thinking of Nero, but the plot on the first page has Nero at the bottom of the pack at 96 kbps.
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greynol
post Nov 21 2013, 03:57
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QUOTE (fanerman91 @ Nov 20 2013, 18:32) *
Is there any consensus on what format is best at ~256kbps or higher?

On this forum? I don't believe so.

QUOTE (fanerman91 @ Nov 20 2013, 18:32) *
At that bitrate does it matter?

For all but a minuscule proportion of killer samples, and possibly people who are both trained and gifted to be able to spot artifacts, no. For those situations where it might matter, I doubt one single codec does better than all the rest. I have not seen any worthwhile data that indicates a clear winner, though that doesn't mean there isn't any. That said, this type of speculation is pointless, just as it is pointless to ask people who do not have another person's ears to tell that person what he hears. The bottom line is if you can't tell the difference it doesn't matter. If you can then you are in a unique position to choose accordingly.

QUOTE (fanerman91 @ Nov 20 2013, 18:32) *
I'd prefer to encode through foobar, so I was thinking of Nero, but the plot on the first page has Nero at the bottom of the pack at 96 kbps.

Foobar2000 can be configured to use QAAC (a command line program to encode using Apple Quick Time) and any other codec that works from the command line.

This post has been edited by greynol: Nov 26 2013, 00:33


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lsn_RU
post Dec 13 2013, 07:27
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Hi all (and sorry about my English)
I think what the best AAC encoder in high bitrates is FAAC, with "Main" profile, q=450..500. All other (QAAC, FhG, Nero, CT_AAC) haven't switсh "Main" and use only LC-, HE- profiles. LC was fast and easy decode by portable devices in early 2000-x, but will always gives you pure end-quality..
Now, MPEG4 .m4a and .aac "Main" files didn't playable on iPod, QuickTime and many other hard&soft players - need to use MPC (compatibility 100 %) or foobar2000 (compatibility unknown %). I hope test's will confirm my personal experience.
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hlloyge
post Dec 13 2013, 09:20
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aac encoders don't have "main" profile, that is related to video encoding (baseline, main, high).
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LithosZA
post Dec 13 2013, 09:50
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QUOTE
Hi all (and sorry about my English)
I think what the best AAC encoder in high bitrates is FAAC, with "Main" profile, q=450..500. All other (QAAC, FhG, Nero, CT_AAC) haven't switсh "Main" and use only LC-, HE- profiles. LC was fast and easy decode by portable devices in early 2000-x, but will always gives you pure end-quality..
Now, MPEG4 .m4a and .aac "Main" files didn't playable on iPod, QuickTime and many other hard&soft players - need to use MPC (compatibility 100 %) or foobar2000 (compatibility unknown %). I hope test's will confirm my personal experience.


FAAC pretty much sucks at most bitrates according to all the listening test that have been done. I personally can only tolerate it at >= 192Kbps.
Do you have proof that the 'Main' profile of FAAC will give better quality than 'LC' profile of other encoders at those bitrates?
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LithosZA
post Dec 13 2013, 09:52
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QUOTE (hlloyge @ Dec 13 2013, 10:20) *
aac encoders don't have "main" profile, that is related to video encoding (baseline, main, high).


Wikipedia says differently:
QUOTE
Main Profile (Main) like the LC profile, with the addition of backwards prediction;
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lsn_RU
post Dec 13 2013, 10:17
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QUOTE (LithosZA @ Dec 13 2013, 09:50) *
QUOTE
I hope test's will confirm my personal experience.


FAAC pretty much sucks at most bitrates according to all the listening test that have been done. I personally can only tolerate it at >= 192Kbps.
Do you have proof that the 'Main' profile of FAAC will give better quality than 'LC' profile of other encoders at those bitrates?


I don't hears FAAC at low bitrates, I only say what FAAC is the best at max quality 500% AND "Main" profile, f=22050. Bitrate then usually around ~315 kbps.
All parameters in GUI for command line. Better when all other AAC encoders.

This post has been edited by lsn_RU: Dec 13 2013, 10:22
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testyou
post Dec 13 2013, 10:53
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Provide us with evidence that you can distinguish FAAC from the other AAC encoders at 315 kbps via a double blind listening test or your claims are meaningless.
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lsn_RU
post Dec 13 2013, 11:31
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testyou
DBT is may be fake, because it founded on the mistaken assumptions.smile.gif And, if you don't agree to the first, secondly, can't be useful then quality really "near CD-audio".
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LithosZA
post Dec 13 2013, 12:45
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QUOTE (lsn_RU @ Dec 13 2013, 12:31) *
testyou
DBT is may be fake, because it founded on the mistaken assumptions.smile.gif And, if you don't agree to the first, secondly, can't be useful then quality really "near CD-audio".


I have no idea what you just said.
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Kohlrabi
post Dec 13 2013, 14:03
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QUOTE (lsn_RU @ Dec 13 2013, 11:31) *
testyou
DBT is may be fake, because it founded on the mistaken assumptions.smile.gif And, if you don't agree to the first, secondly, can't be useful then quality really "near CD-audio".
On the contrary, so far DBTs have been very reliable means to assess codec performance. Regarding the initial question, we have conducted double blind tests in the past at 96kbps (see http://listening-tests.hydrogenaudio.org/i...-96-a/index.htm ), where Apple's, FhGs and Winamp's encoders were scored very closely, Nero being slightly behind, and FAAC being used as low anchor! That being said of course that doesn't mean that FAAC will perform equally bad at high bitrates, but at the bitrates you quote, at 315 kbps, its main contenders will definitely be transparent, except for singular killer samples. I don't know if that is or is not true for FAAC either, but there is hardly a point to use FAAC if you can just use an encoder which produces much better results also at lower bitrates.


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lsn_RU
post Dec 13 2013, 18:39
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At 96 kbps makers of encoders try to do just attractive, good-looking sound. This is also not fair, and it is time to test codecs in high bitrates, I think.
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C.R.Helmrich
post Dec 13 2013, 19:39
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This is wrong for all modern codecs I know. They all aim for the same sound as at very high bitrates: transparency.

Chris


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