I don't know of an MP3 player that I would ever consider listening to....
But assuming that I had to pick among the choices offered, I think that WMA 128 is the least offensive codec, and if I were really drunk, I might even think it sounded passable. I don't mean to sound like an audio snob, but after spending 25 years of my life as a professional musician, I have become somewhat bitter as to the ways technology has found to make music sound worse. SACD and DVDA are leaps forward (though currently implemented poorly)....MP3 and WMA are, well, I'll leave well enough alone
I use Siren Jukebox. I can't recommend it - it seems to be a discontinued product - but it was the only one last I looked that supported "auto-rip". This is the feature that lets you preconfigure your ripping preferences, and it will automatically rip any CD that you stick in a CD drive. Very useful if your HTPC is connected to a front projector, and you don't want to fire up the projector to interact with the UI.
Good insight, I'll be trying EAC on my next ripping session. What about LAME's settings? I realise lots of you use lossless compression, and I'm planning to give it a comparative listen when I have a spare hour or two, but I'm always transferring stuff to my portable MP3 players too, so MP3 and WMA are more functional for me. I, too, don't have golden ears!
As for MP3, I typically use a 160 or 192 fixed bitrate, with LAME, using the high quality setting. Without significantly increasing file sizes, what can be done to improve sound quality?
For a start, try checking out r3mix.net . The best way to increase sound quality and decrease file size is to use Lame's VBR settings, not its CBR ones. You'll find out why and how on r3mix.net.
Don't use WMA. Lame VBR 320 (--r3mix) + MAD decoder + Winamp/Coolplayer offers a substantial jump in quality over any of the competing lossy formats; once you've tried this combination, you'll never look back.
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