I'm using Exact Audio Copy to rip cd's as .wav files. What is the best standalone mpeg compressor for shrinking down these files? I"m only interested in making mp3's, and I'll probably be using a bitrate of 320 Kb/sec, perhaps less.
LAME is probably the way to go with mp3. But you might want to read some of the discussions over at Hydrogen Audio. There are many alternatives, with lossless codecs like ape or flac, and lossy ones like mpc, aac, and ogg. You should be able to "integrate" these into EAC also.
I'd second the vote for LAME if mp3 is your goal. I really like the way EAC passes the job off to LAME, even allowing you to supress the LAME window. I know some people are able to tell the difference between high-bitrate mp3s and some of the other formats, but I can't, so for me there's really no reason to look into another solution.
I am doing some more testing, just for fun, and honestly have trouble telling much difference between any of them, on the higher bitrates (above VBR at ~ 256K) anyway. Just "discovered" that Nero 6 has AAC built in, that adds yet another option. It sounds great, but then so does LAME with the extreme or insane preset, mpc with the same presets, and ogg above q of 6, even though I usually use 8.
What I have been doing is burning DVD-R's with my ape files on them as a backup, and then organizing the lossy versions on the hard drive for HTPC listening. If I ever have a real audiophile moment, I can pull out the DVD backup, or just slap in the actual CD, for cryin' out loud!
FYI, I do what I call my "critical listening" in the "back orifice" on headphones, have some Alessandro MS1's (aka Grado SR225), and several homebrewed headphone amps (of which the Gilmore Dynamic Class A is my favorite), and my Delta Dio analog outs. For a while, I was spending nearly as much time at head-fi and headwize as I did here. I'm pretty much back to avs full time now, though. I think my rig is "good enough" for now, until I spring for some Senn's or Sony 3000's, or can't stand it any longer and try my hand at a PPA.
Why go for Senn's or 3000's, I have the SR325 and Grado amp and couldn't imagine it getting much better than this (maybe a tad in the lower frequencies), but I have never heard music as beautiful as it is on these headphones!
I love my MS1's, don't get me wrong, but I just can't shake the thought that the Grado's are shrill and bright, and wanted to try something different (even though the foobar 2K equalizer is getting pretty nice). I know headphones are like the "flavor of the month" as they say over at the headphone forums, but the Sony's seem to be the ticket these days. Unfortunately, (or maybe fortunately) I haven't had $400 lying around lately :-( too many hobbies!
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