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Best audio encoding format?

688 Views 8 Replies 6 Participants Last post by  Karnis
In your opinion, what do you think is the best auto encoding format.

1) MPEG 3 Audio [*.MP3]: Definatly the most widely used, however patented and a very 1st gen encoding method

2) Windows Media Audio [*.WMA]: encoder built right into windows with easy API, better encoding method then MP3 (files are slightly smaller); however patented and can contain (but optional) DRM.

3) Ogg Vorbis [*.OGG]: patent free, open audio standard in the public domain with encoding method that lowers filesizes lower then MP3 and slightly lower the WMA but taking the same resources as MP3. However no native support for most audio players (Winamp needs a plugin, WMP/Xine/MPlayer needs a codec, native support in Sonique), and has a constantly changing bit rate.

4) FLAC [open]/Monkey's Audio [closed]: These are lossless formats (best quility you can get and still be compressed), take the least amount of time to encode and non-cpu intensive decoding. However, the filesizes of audio tend to be very very large. Monkey's Audio seems to have slightly lower filesizes then Flac, but Flac wins in encoding/decoding speed. [The same track encoding in MA is 43.70 MB, in Flac it was 44.40 MB)
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I prefer to upsample all .wav files to 24/96 with Sonic Foundrys' Batch Converter and playback thru the latest verison of Winamp, which now supports 24/96.

With the advent of large HDD and falling prices, why compress?
What's the benefits of upsampling? And frankly, you can do real-time upsampling in the decoder rather than doing it in advance. It'll save tons of disk space.
Disclaimer: I work with Matt Ashland, the author of Monkey's Audio/APE. We work on Media Jukebox.

APE is a lossless encoder. This means that you hear _exactly_ what you would hear from the CD. It is bit for bit perfect.

Compression is about 2 to 1 over wav format, so each CD you rip will occupy around 250 to 300 MB. That used to be a problem, but now that hard disk drives are big and cheap, it means that you can store around 500 CD's on a drive that costs less than $300. It's under $1 per CD and it's dropping.

Ripping and encoding using Monkey's Audio is much faster than with MP3. And if you decide you want to do some other encoding later, you don't pay the penalty you would if you had used lossy encoding in the first place.
Upsampling to 24/96 sounds better than 16/44.1! I've tried the real-time upsampling & frankly, I didn't think it sounds as good. Batch Converter gives you much more control in the depth of interpolation, noise shaping, etc. I wouldn't dedicate the file size space if it wasn't worth it, believe me!

Plus, in my own personal case, when my pre-pro receives a 24/96 signal it auto switches to stereo 2 channel, and that saves me a manual switch out of pro-logic (I'm a lazy, lazy man! ;)).

But that is a subject for another thread, as hearing is the most subjective of senses. I don't want to get this thread off topic, so back to your regularly scheduled programming!

I bet DVD-R will be a boon in this field.

My knowledge of compression is somewhat lacking as it isn't really my field. But as I understand it, there is a known enthropy value to the maximum compress that can be achieved on a specific data-size.

This sort of limits the amount of data you can compress without being lossy.

So here's a quick suggestion for monkey audio:

Computers now have TONS of memory, make it possible to use library sizes of 128mb or more. Then make a CD-File format so that you can use the entire CD as one big chunk of data and make sure your player (or prefferably DirectShow decoder) supports a chaptering system (using the IAMStreamSelect interface for DirectShow).

That'll probably add a few more % of compression.
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I am looking at ripping all my cd's to .wav. My question is, are you tagging the files with id3 or anything? If so, what program do you use? When I rip to wav using EAC or Easy CD-DA Extractor I turn on ID3 tagging, but when I play the file in Winamp, I don't get any id3 info. I can open the raw file and see that it has added the tag to the end of the wav file but see nothing in playback mode.

I'm an MP3 holdout. MP3 files offer the widest software and hardware compatibility out there thus making this format the most versatile. Sure it's lossy compression. However to my ears, my mp3s recorded at 320kbps, variable bit-rate sound close enough to the real thing to be satisfactory (actually my mp3s sound indistinguishable from the original CD to my ears but that's an argument I won't start in this thread:) )

The versatility of the mp3 format is what gives me the most benefit. My HTPC stores all of my mp3s for playback when I'm home. I keep a copy of the same mp3s with the same directory structure on my portable NEO player. Since both the HTPC and the NEO have the same mp3s and same directory structure, the playlists are interchangeable. I create playlists on the HTPC, download them to the NEO and off I go! Downloading playlists to the NEO is a lot quicker than downloading songs. My girlfriend burns CDs off the HTPC for use in her car in-dash mp3 player.

I don't think that there's any other format that can provide enough versatility to satisfy the needs I have above. All of the other formats have some combination of problems including lack of wide support and large files (preventing effective use of portable players.)

I don't think the perceived/actual increase in sonic playback quality justifies me trading away the versatility I have.


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Originally posted by Steely
Karnis, I am looking at ripping all my cd's to .wav. My question is, are you tagging the files with id3 or anything?

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