Sunday, March 29, 2009

Want more efficient MP3s - use iTunes

All MP3 encoders are not created equal.

For my money, iTunes has the most efficient encoder. You should consider using it when creating MP3s for the Web.

Here's an example. Both MP3s listed below were created from the AIF file. But while "haight.mp3" was exported from Sound Studio at 9.5 MB, "haigh.mp3" was converted in iTunes and is 6.3 MB, a third smaller.

I've had similar results for Audacity and its LAME encoder.

So my advice: Consider taking the extra step to export the file as a WAV or AIF from your editing program and import it into iTunes for encoding. Of course, you should do some comparison tests yourself to see how much, if any, improvement there is. But so far I have yet to run a test where iTunes didn't produce smaller files.



At 3/29/09, 11:29 PM, Blogger Brian B said...

Same bitrate?

At 3/30/09, 1:15 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Regardless of bitrate (and I admit, that was my first question as well), a lot of audiophiles believe that the iTunes encoder is generally one of the more inferior ones out there.

Of course, the average person probably won't notice much, if any, of a difference, but if you care at all about the underlying audio quality, you'll encode with something else. Besides, storage space is cheap these days. You can get 1.5TB drives for $99 if you look around.

(In fact, it's so cheap that many audiophiles are now insisting on FLAC format music, which results in much larger files but are essentially identical to the content of the original CD, with no loss whatsoever.)

At 3/30/09, 9:27 AM, Blogger Doug Fisher said...

Yep, same bitrate.

As for the quality, we're talking about voice and Web delivery for journalism stories here, so I'd rather go with the smaller file. It isn't a case of storage space as much as delivery -- I'd always rather deliver a smaller file (yeah, yeah, with streaming it shouldn't make much diff., but there are still a fair number of folks out there who, for whatever reason, don't stream or use a streaming site).

Admittedly, were we talking about music for close listening, such as through an iPod, other considerations apply. (I sould have specified those conditions, sorry.)


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