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Topic: What do you use to Rip/encode?, Whats the best ripper out there?< Next Oldest | Next Newest >
Elbow
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Posted: Aug. 19 2002,14:26

Hi,
Just thought I'd try to get the ball rolling with some off topic type banter/chat.

What are you all using to rip/encode and why are you using it/them?

Im currently using CDEX (free) to encode (Lame) and so far its been doing its job fantastically.
Im still trying to work out what VBR does and if its worth it.
I usually try to encode at a minimum of 192 kbps , I'd like it to be higher but I don't have much disc space :(.
I dont use the ripping feature at the moment as I dont have a burner that works so theres no need to really (or is there?)

I'd love to hear what your using and hope to get the Lounge a bit more busier soon.
Elbow

"what?"
"Its not my round, I bought the last one didnt I?"
"you dont know what ripping is? You must live in a hole"

Edited by TokyoElbow on Aug. 19 2002,17:31

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Magnus Brading
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Posted: Aug. 19 2002,15:01

Ripping and encoding are two different things. Ripping is the process of getting an exact digital copy of the music data from the music CD to the computer (most likely to a wave-file). Encoding is the process of converting this raw-sampled sound data to compressed mp3 audio.

In general it could be said that programs that do this process "all-in-one" have always had inferior quality compared to tools that concentrate on one of these processes at a time (not to all of them of course, but to the best ones).

I use AudioGrabber for the ripping, which is a very nice and high quality program I think. For the encoding I usually use the Fraunhofer encoder, but I have heard many people say that the freeware (open source?) LAME encoder has the best sound quality for the moment.

Of course the "best sound quality" is not easily defined, and many people will tell you different in this question, so try to filter out the most "religious" opinions among these.

Anyway, for sound quality, the encoder is the clearly most important thing. The ripper is fine as long as it gives an error free digital copy of the sound data. Not nearly as much is left for personal opinion here as in the encoder case.

So, does anyone here have any opinion (or even better, something more fact-like) about the sound quality of different encoders?

I know there are websites and discussion boards dealing with practically only this issue (sound quality of mp3 encoders), but I don't have any URLs off the top of my head. Anyone have any good tips maybe?

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Skirge01
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Posted: Aug. 19 2002,17:34

Here's a pretty good start for everyone:

http://www.riocar.org/modules....estions

and

http://empeg.comms.net/php....in=9380

The first link was compiled using some of the information from the second link.

For myself, I use Audiograbber and LAME.  I always use a VBR setting of 1 (one step below the highest) and normal stereo.  Generally, if I hear a flaw in the MP3, I discover that's it's on the original CD, but became more pronounced after the encoding.  I also notice that I often don't initially hear the flaws on my Klipsch's on the computer, but I do hear them in the car on my JBL's.  Could just be a volume thing!  :D

George
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Disposable Hero
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Posted: Aug. 19 2002,21:26

For insanely detailed discussions of nearly all encoders/compressors, try Project Mayhem
Many of the developers and contributors to the different audio software projects post and respond in their forums. In their MP3 forums there are instructions, recommendations, and download links for the LAME encoder/compressor.

I think that CDEX is a good ripper, especially if you do not want to dedicate a small portion of your life to figuring out software settings. But if you DO want to spend some of your time that way, try Exact Audio Copy. That's what I use.

For encoding MP3's, I use the version of LAME available from Project Mayhem, and the --alt-preset extreme.

I will recommend against use of the r3mix preset. It has been completely superceded by the --alt presets.

I agree with Magnus generally that most all-in-one programs are not that great. The dramatic exception would be Media Jukebox. It uses LAME for MP3, handles most encoded formats, has an ASPI burner, an audio editor, and is pretty amazing in general.
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Elbow
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Posted: Aug. 20 2002,09:50

Hi Disposable,

Quote (Disposable Hero @ Aug. 19 2002,21:26)
For encoding MP3's, I use the version of LAME available from Project Mayhem, and the --alt-preset extreme.

I will recommend against use of the r3mix preset. It has been completely superceded by the --alt presets.

Whats all that about?
alt presets?
Are you trying to confooze me?  ???

Please explain.

Elbow

Wet T-shirt Nite - Frank Zapper.mp3
now playing in winamp

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Disposable Hero
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Posted: Aug. 20 2002,22:07

TokyoElbow:

LAME has a ton of options that one can set to control how it encodes/compresses. These are input as command-line options (a bunch of letters, numbers, and special characters). Rather than deal with all that, there are some simplified presets (fewer letters, etc) that are easier to remember. So each preset is roughly equivalent to a bunch of different encoding/compression options.
Here's a link to a list and explanation of the different presets:
LAME presets

I haven't used CDEX for a while, but I'm sure it has a textbox to put encoding options into (usually when one selects "external encoder"). That's where one would type the preset, like so:
%1 %2 --alt-preset extreme
...where "%1" and "%2" are CDEX's input file and output file commands, and "extreme" is whichever preset one has chosen. Please note again that these presets are for LAME.

Frankly, if you're happy with the results that you get right now, it's probably not worth the time of dealing with all that.
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Big
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Posted: Sep. 05 2002,03:31

Hi,

I tried AudioCatalyst; a grabber with Xing encoder. I liked it pretty much: the faster one, simple, and effective. I usully encode at 44hz / 128kps because I don't really see the difference with higher rates excepts for disk space!

But I didn't like the way it handled id3 tags: only v1 and nothing else than title, artist, year and genre. And it's not free...

So I tried Exact Audio Copy (http://www.exactaudiocopy.de/) But I found it difficult to use.

But I give it a chance and now I'm using it cause it has PLENTY of usefull features. It handles complete id3 v1 and v2. CDDB, writting mp3 CD-R... very quality!

It can evens grab scratched cd with a great error recovery. you should check the web site for details.

For the encoder, i use LAME v3.92 (http://www.mp3dev.org/mp3/) and it has plenty of features to. You can encode in simple, 128 kps, without VBR, like i do. But if your a quality freak, there's lot's of "presets" (--alt-preset) that can endode at 192kps with VBR.

I usely don't use VBR cause it's really long to encode, and it give me bigger files! I stick with classic 128kps...


EAC and Lame are really the best combination! you should give it a try. They are free.

Big
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Elbow
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Posted: Sep. 06 2002,08:09

Hi Big,
Welcome to the Board.

I do have EAC but I found it took ages with my older cds so I switched to CDEX (also free).

You should give cdex a try and let me know if its better or worse. (Im too lazy to do it so Im asking you
:idea: )
I may get that copy of EAC out and give it a go.

I also use LAME but Im still trying to figure out what settings are best VBR etc. I always encode to at least 160 but usually I go to 192 kps as I mp3-dj to a load of noisy people down my local pub, and Im sure they can tell the difference  :D  NOT!

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Disposable Hero
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Posted: Sep. 06 2002,22:45

TokyoElbow: for explanations of LAME presets, check the link I posted above - the link's name is "LAME presets". I even made the command in that post specifically for CDEX since that is what you use :)

As to which is better, it's mainly a matter of what is important to you. If you're happy with CDEX and you like the results, then there's no problem. EAC's main advantage, IMO, is it can be set up for obsessive people (like me) who desire "perfect" copies of their music. Its methods of handling errors (scratches, etc) are more robust.
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Elbow
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Posted: Sep. 07 2002,04:07

[quote=Disposable Hero,Sep. 06 2002,22:45][/quote]
Quote
TokyoElbow: for explanations of LAME presets, check the link I posted above - the link's name is "LAME presets". I even made the command in that post specifically for CDEX since that is what you use :)

Im a lazy sod,thanks for that kick up the arse  :D
I do sometimes suffer from wondering browser syndrome.
I checked that link but its moved, I know I know , if I went there when you posted it ...blah blah,,, But Im searching for it now. Update Still cant find it but Ill have a look on google.


Quote
As to which is better, it's mainly a matter of what is important to you. If you're happy with CDEX and you like the results, then there's no problem. EAC's main advantage, IMO, is it can be set up for obsessive people (like me) who desire "perfect" copies of their music. Its methods of handling errors (scratches, etc) are more robust.


Thats interesting because thats what I want, I am obsessive when it comes to music quality so maybe I will give that EAC a go. :agree: . I dont have a great PC (Pen II 300) so EAC does tend to take ions to encode, but I can wait just this once.:p
I have a pile of old cds with tonnes of scratches on, some I know work . I wonder if EAC would take long encoding them?

Thanks Disposable hero.
:idea: BTW Does your name have any ref. to the hip hop band  "Disposable Heroes of Hiphoprisy"?

Update: I found a site with some Lame presets information here and I did what I thought was right.
I opened CDEX and chose external encoder and then navigated to the file ( lame_enc.dll ) , on cdex there is a parameter string box there so as a test I put this preset into it  
Code Sample
--alt-preset fast standard

I got an  error 'cant launch external encoder'
Am I doing this right?
:ashamed:
Im sure Ive missed something out.
Maybe I should just head on over to the EAC ranch ............

Edited by TokyoElbow on Sep. 07 2002,04:27

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Disposable Hero
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Posted: Sep. 07 2002,12:41

Yes, they changed servers. This link should be correct: LAME presets

I believe you have to use the LAME exe in order to use the alt presets. That might be the prob, or CDEX might need for the external encoder to be an exe. Last, don't forget the "%1 %2" so CDEX knows how to name your files - pretty sure that is necessary.

My nym is just the first thing that came to my mind when I was signing up for a forum. No relation to anything in particular. Offhand, I thought it was a book, story, or movie title from long ago, but google just turns up a bunch of links for bands, songs, old amiga games, and other people using the same nym.
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Elbow
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Posted: Sep. 24 2002,00:50

Well Im conveted.
I now use Exact Audio Copy , after finding a great support site Chris Myden
Thanks for the suggestion.

Have you checked Chris Mydens Uber Node?

Laters

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EddyGeez
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Posted: Sep. 26 2002,23:34

I use EAC to rip and add ID3v2 tags (after carefully double-checking any data it pulled from FreeDB for typos, or things entered "inconsistently" by others with my tagging standards... such as putting the name of a song remix in square-brackets [ ]. This makes it easy to parse extra info in the title from a title that really has parenthesis as part of the name).

I have tweaked EAC as much as possible, including using some of EAC's known "Reference CD's" to determine the block offset of both of my CD drives so I can get an exact a rip as possible.

I use LAME 3.92 (until 3.93 comes out) to encode, using the --alt-preset standard option.

I try to follow some of the LAME development discussion forums, and the LAME developers pretty much agree that --alt-preset standard is the "best bang for the buck" encoding option out there. The fact that it says "standard" does not imply any kind of sub-optimal encoding; APS has been tweaked for very high quality encoding of most anything you can throw at it while keeping the bitrate reasonable (which to me, is under 230 kbps). LAME blows away every other encoder I've ever tried.

I'm concerned with file size (since I have a huge CD collection) and don't see any benefit to encoding with "extreme".

I'm not concerned with how long it takes to encode; to me, it is a matter of "encode once, listen many times", so I'd rather have the encoding be as good as possible and take as long as it needs.

I use Mp3/TS to correct tagging typos or errors that I didn't catch when ripping/encoding by EAC/LAME, and to correct/clean-up tags from downloaded MP3s.

Edited by EddyGeez on Sep. 26 2002,23:37
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Elbow
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Posted: Sep. 27 2002,03:50

After switching to EAC and finding Uber Node, I now use APS and its just the buisiness when it comes to sound.
My only problem now is the time it take sto rip /encode.
It usually averages at about 1.5 to 2 hours.

I do only have a Pen II 300 and 256 Ram.
So with 200+ to re rip/encode Ive got a whole lot of waiting to do.
To be able to use Uber you have to adhere to the standards set out.
Must use eac and lame APS.


I wonder if you have any advice on how I could perhaps speed things up a bit?

Quote
I have tweaked EAC as much as possible, including using some of EAC's known "Reference CD's" to determine the block offset of both of my CD drives so I can get an exact a rip as possible.

Im interested in this, I have attached a reg file that Chris Myden has on his site for eac.
I wonder if you have any comments on it.

Download attachment [ OCTET Stream ]
Number of downloads: 918

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EddyGeez
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Posted: Sep. 27 2002,10:44

For details on determining your CD reader's offset, see the "Offset Technology" section on this page:

http://exactaudiocopy.de/eac3.html

which includes a list of "offset reference" CDs. Be sure to pay attention to the pressing number (usually readable near the CD's inner ring) to ensure you are calculating the offset on the exact same disc Andre used.

To detect/set the offset, just select "Drive options..." from the "EAC" menu, select the "Offset / Speed" tab, insert several reference CDs, hit "Detect read sample offset correction...", and if at least 2 reference discs have the same offset, that is the value to use. My Plextor PX-W1210A, for example, has an offset of +99.

As for speeding up the encoding with LAME, there really isn't much you can do, unless you can buy a faster machine. :) Just try to "stick with it", and remember: Encode once, listen many times. High-quality encoding does take some time, but it is a one-time hit, for potentially many, many "plays" of enjoyment.
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Skirge01
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Posted: Nov. 06 2002,19:49

I've switched over to using some manual settings in LAME now.  I'll post those when I get a chance, as well as an explanation to what they are and why I chose them.

:idea:  Now, I've got a question for Magnus and everyone else...

Who'd like to see Magnus write a front-end for something like LAME?  I can't think of anyone I'd rather have write one.  I still use Audiograbber, but it's not really kept up with anymore.  (December 24th was the release of 1.81 and October 6th was 1.82 beta 1...  please! ).  I've tried and like EAC, but I truly HATE the interface.  I paid $20 for Audiograbber and it was worth it, but I'd gladly pay again for something Magnus writes!!!!   :agree:

George

Edited by Skirge01 on Nov. 06 2002,19:51
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Magnus Brading
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Posted: Nov. 06 2002,19:56

Thanks for the confidence George. If you now only could get hold of a few hundred more people who are as honest with their program registrations as you are, I might just be able to take a look at that one too without going bankrupt. ;)

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Skirge01
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Posted: Nov. 06 2002,20:59

LOL!  That's what spare time is for!  You mean you don't have any of that?  ;)
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Skirge01
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Posted: Nov. 09 2002,00:14

Okay, here's my manual settings for LAME:

-ms -q1 -v -V1 -b112

The explanations are listed in the "usage" file that comes with the LAME .dll file, but here's what they are:

-ms = Stereo
(I've tried the other options, but don't like the artifacts that wind up in the music.)

-q1 = Quality setting of 1 (0-9 with 0 being the highest quality)
(Again, even the docs recommend q2, but I've had issues with anything above q1.)

-v = Use Variable Bit Rate
(Only slightly smaller files, due to the q1 setting, but still saves some space.)

-V1 = VBR quality setting of 1 (0-9 with 0 being the highest quality)
(This affects LAME's psycho acoustics, which determines how much compression you achieve.  I've also had issues with settings above 1.)

-b112 = Minimum bitrate to use during VBR compression
(Most people recommend 112 if you're going for quality files, rather than compression.  Allowing lower bitrates puts you at risk of having audible distortion in your files.  I've never tried a higher setting, since I don't have any issues with 112.)

I'd highly recommend that if anyone is interested in producing higher quality files (or learning how to get smaller files without losing too much quality), that they read the "usage" file.  It's got some great info!

George
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Disposable Hero
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Posted: Nov. 09 2002,02:10

Skirge01: I'm interested in what artifacts you have heard with other settings, specifically with regard to q2 and, if applicable, any --alt presets you have tried. An indication of the equipment that you use for listening would also be interesting.

I'll go first: Santa Cruz card, SPDIF out put to Scirocco Pro, Beyerdynamic DT831's for headphones.
What I notice (when I notice any artifacts) depends greatly on the material. Usually seems to be upper treble flanging or 'softening'. I usually use the 'extreme' preset for disk space considerations.
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thei
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Posted: Nov. 23 2002,13:49

Hello.

This is just my opinion :)

If you rip CD's which may contain scratches or other problems, use EAC. Note however that certain modes in EAC may not work with certain CD-ROM drives or controllers etc. If you experience problems, experiment. LAME is the best encoder for high quality variable bit rate mp3's, Fraunhofer is best for lower quality constant bit rate files. XING is best for nothing. If you want ultimate quality, don’t use mp3 at all, hard drives are cheap now. A well-encoded mp3 is “transparent”, that is, it cannot be distinguished from the original CD source except by weirdos :p with multi-million dollar equipment (and super-human ears). In other words, for the average normal human who doesn’t have free hard drive space but likes music, ripping with EAC and encoding with LAME using a preset such as “--alt-preset standard” (or the fast equivalent for slower PC’s – there’s no noticeable difference in quality between this preset and the fast preset, the fast preset can sometimes cause larger file sizes) will provide the best ratio between quality and file size. Using one of the higher quality presets is (IMHO) overkill for the normal person. Believe me; your ears aren’t good enough to hear the difference. Fraunhofer will encode faster, and produces good results at 192 kbit, albeit with larger file sizes.

On a related note, EAC truncates ID3v1 fields with an “song title blah blah...” (note ...) which messes up the smart tag sync in Tag Studio.
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noddy
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Posted: Feb. 23 2004,03:42

Quote (TokyoElbow @ Aug. 19 2002,14:26)
Hi,
Just thought I'd try to get the ball rolling with some off topic type banter/chat.

What are you all using to rip/encode and why are you using it/them?

Im currently using CDEX (free) to encode (Lame) and so far its been doing its job fantastically.
Im still trying to work out what VBR does and if its worth it.
I usually try to encode at a minimum of 192 kbps , I'd like it to be higher but I don't have much disc space :(.
I dont use the ripping feature at the moment as I dont have a burner that works so theres no need to really (or is there?)

I'd love to hear what your using and hope to get the Lounge a bit more busier soon.
Elbow

"what?"
"Its not my round, I bought the last one didnt I?"
"you dont know what ripping is? You must live in a hole"

Quote
Im still trying to work out what VBR does and if its worth it.


Tokyo,
There are 3 main formats for encoding MP3's.

Constant bit rate.
Variable bit rate.
Average bit rate.

CBR should be self explanatory, but for anyone who isn't sure, the CODEC will assign the same amount of data space whether the block requires that much or not.

VBR will work on a minimum and maximum threshold set by the user. That is, you tell the CODEC "no lower than 96 kbit, no higher than 256 kbit". The CODEC will then analyse every block (or chunk of audio) and assign a block (frame) size according to the complexity of that piece of audio. If it's super complex, it'll assign it 256 kbit 'cause you said "no higher than 256", even if it would prefer to use 320 kbit.
Likewise at the lower end. It might be happy to encode that frame at 64 kbit, but you said "no lower than 96 kbit" so it will use a 96 kbit frame.
Is it worth it? That's open to debate, and I've seen guys argue for days over the validity of one preset over another.
At the end of the day, we're all human and we all hear the same sound differently. I'm not going into a whole discussion on psychoacoustics right here and now, but the point is, come up with a preset that works for you. If you can't hear the artifacts, don't stress about the guy telling you you're using too low a bit rate.

ABR uses one threshold. You tell the CODEC "--abr 160 -m s" and the CODEC will stick to 160 kbit for most frames except where the audio will suffer dramatically, and then it will assign smaller or larger blocks accordingly.

Hope this helps. :)

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noddy
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Posted: Feb. 23 2004,03:52

Geez,
I only just realised how old this thread is.... is anyone still here?
Hello? :)
Another good ripper worth looking at is CD'n'Go Suite.
Don't have the url handy, but google will find it.
Oh, and as far as a Lame frontend goes, check out RazorLame. Unfortunately the guy who wrote it isn't modifying it any further. The last version was 1.1.5, and it rocks. It allows you access to every variable, plus it gives you a custom field so you can override the interface and type in your own parameters if you want.

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NRen2k5
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Posted: May 12 2004,02:10

It deserves to be said here - don't use manual settings; just use the Alt Presets!
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noddy
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Posted: May 13 2004,01:35

Quote (Guest @ May 12 2004,02:10)
It deserves to be said here - don't use manual settings; just use the Alt Presets!

Why?
What if I want a particular set of paramaters that isn't covered in any of the presets?
For example, I back up voice tracks from projects as mono 160kbit MP3's. Ain't no preset in existence that allows for mono!
And even for stereo, I'd rather type in the parameters for myself, so I KNOW what's being done.
But hey, I'm an audio engineer, and probably a little fussier over CODEC switches than your average pimply-faced teenager trading pirated Korn MP3's! :)

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Elbow
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Posted: May 26 2004,07:25

noddy,
Im still alive but only just ;)

Since writing that original thread things have speeded ahead.

I use Exact Audio Copy V0.95 prebeta 3
lame-3.90.3.exe
Preset APX.

I have what is IMHO the BEST ripping/encoding guide ever for mp3.  :agree:
If anyone wants me to add it here let me know and if time permits I'll post it up.

Ive done about 500 or more CDs so far and I reject any cds that give me errors during the ripping stage.

If you disagree with this you need a check up from the neck up  :p

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Magnus Brading
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Posted: May 26 2004,12:11

Sure, add the guide, it can always be interesting.

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Disposable Hero
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Posted: May 27 2004,08:50

Quote (noddy @ May 13 2004,01:35)
Quote (Guest @ May 12 2004,02:10)
It deserves to be said here - don't use manual settings; just use the Alt Presets!

Why?
What if I want a particular set of paramaters that isn't covered in any of the presets?
For example, I back up voice tracks from projects as mono 160kbit MP3's. Ain't no preset in existence that allows for mono!
And even for stereo, I'd rather type in the parameters for myself, so I KNOW what's being done.
But hey, I'm an audio engineer, and probably a little fussier over CODEC switches than your average pimply-faced teenager trading pirated Korn MP3's! :)

I understand the urge to control param's manually, but I doubt that you're fussier than the folks who helped develop and tune the LAME presets. You're welcome to find out by quizzing them over at Hydrogen Audio, though an initial reading through the many lengthy discussions about preset tuning is recommended. It sounds like you could contribute in a few areas.
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NRen2k5
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Posted: Nov. 07 2005,16:36

Quote (noddy @ May 13 2004,01:35)
Quote (Guest @ May 12 2004,02:10)
It deserves to be said here - don't use manual settings; just use the Alt Presets!

Why?
What if I want a particular set of paramaters that isn't covered in any of the presets?
For example, I back up voice tracks from projects as mono 160kbit MP3's. Ain't no preset in existence that allows for mono!
And even for stereo, I'd rather type in the parameters for myself, so I KNOW what's being done.
But hey, I'm an audio engineer, and probably a little fussier over CODEC switches than your average pimply-faced teenager trading pirated Korn MP3's! :)

You can modify the presets to suit your needs. For example, try --alt-preset cbr 160 -m m
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