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Informed rebuttal of VBR disadvantages appreciated, VBR always rocks, when it comes to lossy compression, right?
post Oct 16 2008, 09:54
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As already mentinend in this thread some fanboy over at the offical Pioneer forums is making claims that VBR sucks (here and here) in that it needs more processing power compared to CBR and for various other reasons.

I would like to have a well written rebuttal of that statment based on facts so Pioneer might reconsider putting VBR support into their upcoming DJ equipment. I've ripped all my 1000+ CDs to VBR and I wouldn't want to reencode them just because Pioneer doesn't get it right. Thanks!
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post Oct 16 2008, 20:03
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Who is BDX? smile.gif

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post Oct 16 2008, 20:49
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Alright guys, I'm the guy who did the wall of verbiage. I'm here to defend myself (a little - please read what I have to say carefully before flamage smile.gif ).

1) I LOVE being proven wrong. It means I've learned something. I'm here to be educated.

2) I'm a DJ first. While I have many posts at Pioneer, I'm not exclusive to their equipment - I use (and pay for) whatever fits my needs best. In fact, the only piece of Pioneer gear I currently own is a pair of headphones.

3) I did miss the point in my "wall of verbiage". I'm going to go and fix it.

4) I wasn't clear in my comment: "... I can't tell the difference between a WAV and a 320kbps MP3 - but I CAN tell the difference between that and a VBR MP3, or that and a 128kbps MP3." I should have added to that "from certain encoders". I think that it's generally accepted that certain encoders (both the software and human kind wink.gif ) and the settings used with them are inferior and can really mess up the sound in your file. Please correct me if I'm wrong.

5) We know that MP3 is lossy. We know that it won't have the best sound quality when compared to a lossless algorithm - you people here at HA will know that better than anyone given the breadth of the forums. Unfortunately, MOST people who use MP3 either can't tell the difference or just don't care. As a DJ I believe it's part of my JOB to care - I don't want to be promoting BAD sounding music, as some DJ's do that go ONLY use filesharing as a means to get their music, which more often than not results in a crappy-sounding MP3 from some n00b who doesn't know any better.

6) CPU's, whether in a computer or a CD deck, have more than enough horsepower to handle a VBR, regardless of the back-end so-called extra processing that may or may not be required (I believe it is, negligible as it may be). Personally, I think that Pioneer's (shoddy) support of it comes down to not taking the time to handle all the exceptions and broken MP3's that occur with so many internet-shared MP3's out there, VBR or otherwise. It's no secret that the boys over at Serato Scratch Live have spent countless hours refining their program to handle those broken MP3's - a quick forum search over there reveals the mods and dev team constantly requesting files that don't play right so they can find out why they're broken. They're a big company, but I think Pioneer is bigger - why can't their engineers do the same?

7) In a club or other loud DJ environment, I'm pretty sure that NO ONE can tell the difference between even a 128kbps CBR MP3 and something better. I don't think it matters how good the sound system is, there's just too much ambient noise. I know I can't, as long as the MP3 is well encoded.

8) With #7 in mind, who am I to decide who can and can't hear things? So, I choose to encode my MP3's at 320kbps CBR so that I give my crowd the best possible chance at hearing the music in the way it was originally recorded.

9) With #8 in mind, who is MY ENCODER to decide what is a difficult passage or not in the VBR encoding process? I know that I'm already losing data to the encoding process, I would rather not lose any more than I have to.

10) I would say that the POINT of MP3 (or any other compression algorithm) is to reduce filesize either for storage or transfer (say over the internet). But, as mentioned in the other forum, storage is getting cheaper, as is bandwidth (at least where I live). I choose to use MP3's because the collection I carry around with me is too big to fit (in WAV format) on today's hard disks (~500GB at 320kbps) in a portable format. Since I play out with my MP3 collection and don't use CD's anymore, keeping everything in WAV would be damn near impossible unless I carted SEVERAL 1TB disks around. And since my music collection is part of my livelihood, my drive is a RAID 1 external USB enclosure. So for every drive I take, I now need TWO - cheap or not, this is getting more and more expensive. The tradeoff, for me, came at that point. I'm willing to accept MP3's lossy format at 320kbps because of practicality. I understand that other people's "tradeoff" point is different from mine.

It could be argued that I don't need that much music and there I will agree with you. Most often I could play certain shows off of less than 2 or 3 GB of files, call it 10 to 15GB of WAV files. I just never know what I'm going to need, so I carry everything.

11) I consider myself a professional when it comes to being a DJ. That means that I strive for excellence, and (perhaps unfairly) compare myself to other professionals, such as doctors. In an (admittedly flawed) analogy, a doctor with a shoddy education doesn't get a very favorable review; by the same token, a DJ using shoddy music won't either. Education is the base of the doctor's craft; music is the base of the DJ's.

Basically my point is this: VBR is an acceptable alternative to CBR these days, no question - if it's for personal use. Pioneer's lack of support for it in one CD player is crap, IMHO, as is their generally shoddy support for it. But, from my experience, VBR is easier to screw up than CBR. So, I stick with CBR because I'd really rather not take the chance, either that the CD player is going to hose it up or that my ears won't like how it sounds. I also promote using CBR's because I believe (as I said) that CBR's leave the least chance of error for people who (IMHO) SHOULD use the highest quality music that they can, or believe is good for them. I DO NOT believe that a VBR MP3 is acceptable, FOR ME, since I consider myself a professional. And since I listen to other DJ's, I like them to use good-quality stuff too smile.gif

So there is another wall of verbiage for you - sorry I can't be more succinct. I'm going to go put my flame suit on and wait to see what you guys have to say smile.gif


This post has been edited by DJRyanJ: Oct 16 2008, 21:06
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post Oct 16 2008, 21:29
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QUOTE (DJRyanJ @ Oct 16 2008, 21:49) *
...So, I choose to encode my MP3's at 320kbps CBR so that I give my crowd the best possible chance at hearing the music in the way it was originally recorded. ...
...I DO NOT believe that a VBR MP3 is acceptable, FOR ME, since I consider myself a professional. And since I listen to other DJ's, I like them to use good-quality stuff too smile.gif...

This sounds a lot more reasonable than when reading the quoted passages.
There's nothing wrong using CBR 320 with regard to minimizing the risk of wrong encoder decisions which can happen. But you should be aware that there are many possibilities for an encoder to go wrong:
  • when deciding for using long or short blocks
  • when deciding for l/r or m/s (decision can be avoided by using plain stereo but at the expense of a lower encoding precision as a tendency)
  • when deciding for the amount of audio data required for a frame. In contrary to what you are thinking this process is involved also with CBR. CBR means constant frame data rate. Audio data rate however is variable also in the case of CBR as audio data can expand beyond frame border as well as not cover up an entire frame. It is true however that the decision process is less prone to errors when CBR or ABR is used. There is no reason however to general disbelieve in the VBR process of a good encoder like current Lame in the case of mp3.
  • I'm sure there are a lot more decision making problems for an encoder no matter whether it uses CBR or VBR.
As I said it's okay to play it safe to the utmost extent if you like to and don't have to care much about file size. But in a practical sense you shouldn't feel really safer than when using -V0.
If you're looking at seriously bad encoded tracks it turns out that it's not VBR which is to blame. Take for instance extremely bad pre-echo sample eig (you'll find it in this forum). The majority of mp3 encoders will produce a very bad result even when using CBR 320. Contrast this to Lame 3.98's behavior when using best VBR quality -V0: the result isn't perfect but a lot better than that of many encoders' CBR 320 results (the Lame 3.98 CBR 320 result is of course as fine as the -V0 result).
The fact that perfection can't be achieved with mp3 is the reason why most members here prefer an encoder setting which produces smaller files than when using CBR 320. The quality achieved is identical in a practical sense no matter whether you use -V0, ABR 270 or similar, or CBR 320. Compared to such a setting most members here prefer a lower quality demand like when using -V3 or -V2, simply because there's nothing wrong with the quality except on rare occasion (in which a higher quality setting often brings only a minor improvement). So it's a personal choice which quality setting to use, quality difference is zero in most cases, and it's only about how to handle the rare exceptions to this.

Unfortunately you're a bit on a mission and you're wrong with this. You dislike VBR so much that you wrote a lot of fancy stuff about VBR's speed penalty which is really nonsense. With respect to quality you put the blame on VBR for no really existing reason (or do you have samples to back up your opinion?). You're disrespecting the fact that the results of high quality VBR settings are fine, and in those rare cases where they're not you cannot expect to get better results from CBR 320 compared to those of -V0.

This post has been edited by halb27: Oct 16 2008, 22:14

lame3100m --bCVBR 300
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Posts in this topic
- Moon   Informed rebuttal of VBR disadvantages appreciated   Oct 16 2008, 09:54
- - Raiden   Don't waste your energy. Self-absorbed people ...   Oct 16 2008, 10:51
- - halb27   It's all up to whether an encoder works well. ...   Oct 16 2008, 11:27
- - JensRex   Yes, don't waste your time. That guy is comple...   Oct 16 2008, 11:43
- - Slipstreem   As the other guys have already said, you're wa...   Oct 16 2008, 12:56
|- - add   QUOTE (Slipstreem @ Oct 16 2008, 13:56) C...   Oct 16 2008, 16:40
|- - Lyx   QUOTE (add @ Oct 16 2008, 17:40) QUOTE (S...   Oct 16 2008, 17:19
- - probedb   No point with some of these people....I've giv...   Oct 16 2008, 12:59
- - Canar   These threads are really old. I created an account...   Oct 16 2008, 16:59
|- - Synthetic Soul   QUOTE (Canar @ Oct 16 2008, 16:59) I resp...   Oct 16 2008, 17:08
- - Canar   No, I think I'm going mad. That post I made is...   Oct 16 2008, 18:10
|- - uart   QUOTE (Canar @ Oct 16 2008, 09:10) No, I ...   Oct 16 2008, 20:01
- - Slipstreem   Well, we have an answer of sorts over there from a...   Oct 16 2008, 18:18
- - Soap   Mind, if you do decide to argue: The argument that...   Oct 16 2008, 18:59
- - Slipstreem   I'm specifically not joining that forum as I...   Oct 16 2008, 19:39
- - Canar   Who is BDX?   Oct 16 2008, 20:03
|- - DJRyanJ   Alright guys, I'm the guy who did the wall of ...   Oct 16 2008, 20:49
|- - halb27   QUOTE (DJRyanJ @ Oct 16 2008, 21:49) ...S...   Oct 16 2008, 21:29
|- - kwanbis   QUOTE (DJRyanJ @ Oct 16 2008, 19:49) 5) W...   Oct 16 2008, 21:36
- - uart   I dont know, it's not me. Does anyone have a t...   Oct 16 2008, 20:06
- - Slipstreem   It wasn't me either, and I don't have a tr...   Oct 16 2008, 20:12
- - kornchild2002   I will post just to be ballsy. I don't see Pu...   Oct 16 2008, 20:48
- - Canar   I don't have the time right now to get more in...   Oct 16 2008, 21:13
- - m0rbidini   Pioneer should support VBR and stfu. If using VBR ...   Oct 16 2008, 21:57
- - DJRyanJ   OK, I have a brief moment here before my midterm s...   Oct 16 2008, 22:00
|- - Ron Jones   QUOTE (DJRyanJ @ Oct 16 2008, 14:00) Why ...   Oct 16 2008, 22:59
|- - m0rbidini   QUOTE (DJRyanJ @ Oct 16 2008, 22:00) QUOT...   Oct 16 2008, 23:32
|- - kwanbis   QUOTE (DJRyanJ @ Oct 16 2008, 21:00) I...   Oct 17 2008, 03:09
- - [JAZ]   I guess most it said already but I'd like to c...   Oct 16 2008, 23:01
- - Axon   What MP3 decoding library does Wavelab use? It...   Oct 16 2008, 23:02
- - DJRyanJ   QUOTE About 0.01% had issues. Most where CBRs. Di...   Oct 17 2008, 04:39
|- - kwanbis   QUOTE (DJRyanJ @ Oct 17 2008, 03:39) Did ...   Oct 17 2008, 05:06
- - xmixahlx   1. regarding the difficulty of decoding VBR it...   Oct 17 2008, 05:52
- - m0rbidini   QUOTE I've seen this in my very limited video ...   Oct 17 2008, 11:00
- - Lyx   Why have a long discussion when it all can be summ...   Oct 17 2008, 13:21
|- - halb27   QUOTE (Lyx @ Oct 17 2008, 14:21) Why have...   Oct 17 2008, 14:33
|- - lvqcl   QUOTE (halb27 @ Oct 17 2008, 17:33) QUOTE...   Oct 17 2008, 14:49
|- - Lyx   QUOTE But maximum bitrate for LAME VBR (i.e. lame ...   Oct 17 2008, 15:13
- - pdq   I am guessing (and I don't really know anythin...   Oct 17 2008, 13:50
- - Slipstreem   Won't the part of the audio stream being worke...   Oct 17 2008, 13:57
|- - pdq   QUOTE (Slipstreem @ Oct 17 2008, 08:57) W...   Oct 17 2008, 14:48
- - Synthetic Soul   DJRyanJ, kudos for making the effort to partake in...   Oct 17 2008, 14:04
- - Slipstreem   I'm gonna have to go and read more about how t...   Oct 17 2008, 15:01
- - Slipstreem   The only problem I can see with that is that some ...   Oct 17 2008, 15:43
|- - Lyx   QUOTE (Slipstreem @ Oct 17 2008, 16:43) T...   Oct 17 2008, 15:56
- - halb27   IMO the old --preset scheme or a similar one addre...   Oct 17 2008, 15:59
- - greynol   Now we're just going around in circles. There...   Oct 17 2008, 16:05
|- - Lyx   QUOTE (greynol @ Oct 17 2008, 17:05) Now ...   Oct 17 2008, 16:21
- - Synthetic Soul   We're also going way off-topic...   Oct 17 2008, 16:53
- - Slipstreem   A quick heads-up (not that I've been spying). ...   Oct 17 2008, 19:25
- - DJRyanJ   I actually know Pulse personally and he's not ...   Oct 17 2008, 20:59
|- - kornchild2002   QUOTE (DJRyanJ @ Oct 17 2008, 13:59) I...   Oct 17 2008, 21:21
|- - Canar   QUOTE (kornchild2002 @ Oct 17 2008, 13:21...   Oct 17 2008, 21:48
||- - kornchild2002   QUOTE (DJRyanJ @ Oct 17 2008, 14:40) Gene...   Oct 17 2008, 22:27
|- - kwanbis   QUOTE (kornchild2002 @ Oct 17 2008, 20:21...   Oct 19 2008, 19:25
- - Neasden   On the switch subject, I just would like to add th...   Oct 17 2008, 21:34
- - DJRyanJ   QUOTE (kornchild2002 @ Oct 17 2008, 13:21...   Oct 17 2008, 21:40
|- - Slipstreem   QUOTE (DJRyanJ @ Oct 17 2008, 21:40) What...   Oct 17 2008, 21:59
- - DJRyanJ   QUOTE (Slipstreem @ Oct 17 2008, 13:59) O...   Oct 18 2008, 01:11
|- - Synthetic Soul   QUOTE (DJRyanJ @ Oct 18 2008, 01:11) I...   Oct 18 2008, 10:00
- - Moon   Well, I'm sorry but after finding out about Pi...   Oct 18 2008, 11:11
|- - Synthetic Soul   QUOTE (Moon @ Oct 18 2008, 11:11) Well, I...   Oct 18 2008, 19:04
- - Slipstreem   With reference to your last paragraph, have you tr...   Oct 18 2008, 13:04
- - Moon   I'm gonna try em tonight. I've also conver...   Oct 18 2008, 16:36
- - pdq   If even a single frame uses 320 kbps then the enti...   Oct 18 2008, 22:16
- - Moon   QUOTE (Synthetic Soul @ Oct 18 2008, 20:0...   Oct 19 2008, 09:24
- - DJRyanJ   QUOTE (Moon @ Oct 18 2008, 03:11) a) a fu...   Oct 19 2008, 10:33
|- - Synthetic Soul   QUOTE (DJRyanJ @ Oct 19 2008, 10:33) I su...   Oct 19 2008, 11:54
|- - Moon   QUOTE (DJRyanJ @ Oct 19 2008, 11:33) QUOT...   Oct 20 2008, 09:50
- - shadowking   Dj's of the world please stop bothering us wit...   Oct 20 2008, 12:50
- - DJRyanJ   I'm trying to do some comparisons, and I'm...   Oct 21 2008, 19:58
|- - Canar   http://ff123.net/samples.html is a good place to s...   Oct 21 2008, 20:16
- - halb27   On problemSamples folder you'll find those sam...   Oct 21 2008, 20:25
- - DJRyanJ   QUOTE (Canar @ Oct 21 2008, 13:16) Howeve...   Oct 21 2008, 20:58
|- - halb27   QUOTE (DJRyanJ @ Oct 21 2008, 21:58) .. f...   Oct 21 2008, 22:06
|- - Moon   QUOTE (DJRyanJ @ Oct 21 2008, 21:58) I...   Oct 21 2008, 22:28
|- - Slipstreem   QUOTE (DJRyanJ @ Oct 21 2008, 20:58) I...   Oct 22 2008, 00:52
- - lvqcl   QUOTE It refers to the LAME problem samples page f...   Oct 21 2008, 21:09
|- - Canar   QUOTE (lvqcl @ Oct 21 2008, 13:09) http:/...   Oct 21 2008, 21:26
- - DJRyanJ   That's the plan, slipstreem. Moon, I'll s...   Oct 22 2008, 04:31

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