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2 bus mix to MP3; CBR or VBR option.

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2 bus mix to MP3; CBR or VBR option.

Postby Glenn Bucci » Wed Apr 01, 2020 3:58 am

In Wavelab when taking a song and converting it to a MP3, you have the choice of using CBR at 320 for the best quality or VBR encoding and choose highest quality.

Here is an article that explains the differences between the two.
https://www.lifewire.com/difference-bet ... ng-2438423

I have always used the CBR at 320. I am curious if the VBR at the highest quality setting would be a better choice if you want the best audio quality. The article just says VBR gives you the best balance between quality and file size.
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Re: 2 bus mix to MP3; CBR or VBR option.

Postby Hugh Robjohns » Wed Apr 01, 2020 9:40 am

Glenn Bucci wrote:I am curious if the VBR at the highest quality setting would be a better choice if you want the best audio quality. The article just says VBR gives you the best balance between quality and file size.

That article explains it pretty well. These things can vary a little with the specific encoder being used, but in general the audio quality achieved with VBR should be exactly the same as CBR at 320kb/s. The reason is that VBR can use any appropriate rate up to and including 320kb/s as and when the encoding model decides the audio requires lots of data.

At other times, when the audio is simpler and requires less data, VBR sends less rather than sending a continuous stream much of which carries nothing relevant (as CBR does).

The issues to consider are whether the decoders are VBR-compatible (most are bit some very old ones might not be), and if streaming whether the connection can support the peak bit rate of VBR, rather than a possibly lower constant CBR rate. Also for streaming, VBR encoders typically have a longer latency than CBR encoders.

There's also the potential benefit that VBR files are generally smaller than the equivalent CBR files... but we've long since stopped having to worry about file size in most applications, so this feature probably isn't that relevant any more.

...then again, is MP3 actually relevant anymore? If you want quality why not just use FLAC or ALAC. Guaranteed full quality without compromises. yes, the file sizes are bigger but is that really a concern anymore?
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Re: 2 bus mix to MP3; CBR or VBR option.

Postby The Elf » Wed Apr 01, 2020 9:54 am

These days I think to myself "Would it matter if this audio were replicated, and do I want to discourage that?". If the answer is "Yes", then I provide an MP3; if the answer is "No", then I provide a WAV or FLAC.
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Re: 2 bus mix to MP3; CBR or VBR option.

Postby James Perrett » Wed Apr 01, 2020 12:39 pm

Hugh Robjohns wrote:If you want quality why not just use FLAC or ALAC.

I tried that but too many people couldn't play the files. So I'm back to mp3 for quick demos (track order, timings etc) and .wav for serious listening.
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Re: 2 bus mix to MP3; CBR or VBR option.

Postby Hugh Robjohns » Wed Apr 01, 2020 12:52 pm

James Perrett wrote:I tried that but too many people couldn't play the files. So I'm back to mp3 for quick demos (track order, timings etc) and .wav for serious listening.

For demos, track layouts, embedded text/images etc then I agree mp3s are very convenient... but as a convenience option it really won't matter whether you use CBR or VBR.

Glenn was asking about which provides the higher quality... and if that's the critical parameter a loss-less codec (or even native WAV/RF64) has to be the better option. Personally, I like to use ALAC as it maintains all the subcode data convenience of MP3 and is effortlessly recognisable by all Apple platforms.

FLAC recognition does still seem to be restricted only to audio nerds, sadly.

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Re: 2 bus mix to MP3; CBR or VBR option.

Postby The Elf » Wed Apr 01, 2020 12:57 pm

Hugh Robjohns wrote:FLAC recognition does still seem to be restricted only to audio nerds, sadly.
That's not my impression. I use several players and they all play FLAC (also including file conversion utilities). Not all play ALAC!
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Re: 2 bus mix to MP3; CBR or VBR option.

Postby James Perrett » Wed Apr 01, 2020 2:10 pm

The Elf wrote:
Hugh Robjohns wrote:FLAC recognition does still seem to be restricted only to audio nerds, sadly.
That's not my impression. I use several players and they all play FLAC (also including file conversion utilities). Not all play ALAC!

It seems to be more of an Apple/PC thing. Windows 10 devices will play FLAC natively but not ALAC while Apple devices will play ALAC but not FLAC (without additional software).
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Re: 2 bus mix to MP3; CBR or VBR option.

Postby Glenn Bucci » Wed Apr 01, 2020 3:08 pm

Many people i send files to will play it back on their phones. They will then play the music with headphones, in their car, or a Bluetooth box. In these situations, it seems MP3 would be the best option for compatability?
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Re: 2 bus mix to MP3; CBR or VBR option.

Postby Hugh Robjohns » Wed Apr 01, 2020 4:13 pm

The Elf wrote:I use several players and they all play FLAC (also including file conversion utilities). Not all play ALAC!

:lol: Neither are consistently supported, that's for sure! ALAC is Apple's own format, so natively supported on all things Apple -- Macbooks, iPhones, iPads etc -- which makes it a seamless format for most of the musicians I deal with.

While a lot of hi-fi boxes will play FLAC, in my experience it's much less well supported on PC platforms (certainly pre Win10) and Android phones.
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Re: 2 bus mix to MP3; CBR or VBR option.

Postby Glenn Bucci » Wed Apr 01, 2020 4:36 pm

I just bounced a song in Wavelab with the ALAC setting choosing the ITunes + setting. I emailed it to myself on my PC and the attachment was a M4A file.

My Android phone (was a previous IPhone user) downloaded it and I was able to play the song in Google Play with no issue.

Based on this quick test, in 2020, it seems Alac would be the best format to send music as it is the standard for ITunes and it plays in Google Play.
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Re: 2 bus mix to MP3; CBR or VBR option.

Postby Hugh Robjohns » Wed Apr 01, 2020 5:29 pm

Glenn Bucci wrote:I just bounced a song in Wavelab with the ALAC setting choosing the ITunes + setting. I emailed it to myself on my PC and the attachment was a M4A file.

Yes, ALAC is packaged as an m4a file.

My Android phone (was a previous IPhone user) downloaded it and I was able to play the song in Google Play with no issue.

:-D I must admnit I've not tried it in google play for a while, so it's good to have that confirmation.

Based on this quick test, in 2020, it seems Alac would be the best format to send music as it is the standard for ITunes and it plays in Google Play.

And you can integrate all the standard info/graphics in iTunes just as you would/could for an MP3, so it has all the same convenience benefits as MP3, but absolute audio quality. And, while it is inevitably a larger file than MP3s, it's still only half the size of a full-fat wav file.

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