v1.2; last modified 2004-05-26 19:41:09 EDT by MikeSolomon
I've been ripping/encoding some more music recently and I thought I would re-explore the encoder field once again. Previously, I had encoded most of my collection with lame 3.92 using the --r3mix settings. I've used this under Windows (with ExactAudioCopy) and Linux (with CDParanoia) with reasonable success.
This has some slight bugs that are perceivable only infrequently, tends to "over-encode" a significant subset of my collection - namely punk. I perused the hydrogenaudio.com forums and despite the very low signal to noise ratio on that site, I've concluded that lame 3.93.1 is the build to beat. Unfortunately, even with some reasonable compiler tuning, lame can only muster about 2x realtime encoding with r3mix, barely 1x with their recommended setting alt-preset standard. This is all done on my 400MHz G4 TiBook.
I don't consider myself "golden-eared" but I am able to discern a lot of encoding errors that most people don't pick up, so the standard settings usually leave me cold.
I tried the following tests using iTunes 4.2 with all sound-altering code turned off (equalizer, sound-check, sound-enhancer) using only my Sennheiser HD-570 headphones in a quiet room.
I am an efficiency junkie which is why VBR encoding has a lot of appeal. However, after closer inspection, I think it's too easily tricked by questionable mastering techniques. Given the enormous CPU cost in encoding with lame, I think I'm going to switch to 192kbps CBR MP3. The aggregate convenience matched with excellent audio quality makes it my choice.
I should throw in some techno - with some very sparkling, if not artificialy highs. Those wreak havoc with digital audio in general.
I will, of course, continue to monitor my collection and attempt to ferret out any sample that trips up the 192kbps encoding. Until then, I await iPod support for OGG Vorbis as the impotus for my next round of tests.