Reviews by Spike
If you are getting bad quality output from a good quality input, or the encoding is slow, then its you that is doing something seriously wrong, not the encoder! LAME only takes a few seconds per song, and that is encoding with q=0 (the slowest but best precision).
The default precision is q=5, but thats by no means bad!LAME isnt the best encoder out there in terms of quality of output, however it IS the best MP3 encoder! If you encode a wav file using the options:V=3 q=0you will get a very good quality variable bitrate file that retains all the nice audio acoustics without the mp3 artifacts. Even at V=4 or V=5 you wont get these!
Variable bitrate is the way to go as you dont waste bitrate. If you need a definitive file size, use ABR 2-pass instead.
Note the capital and lower case letters, v is a different option to V, as q is different to QThe problem with a lot of even new encodes people do out there is they use grossly outdated software (for some software 6 months can make it grossly outdated!) or the wrong encode settings (or the wrong combination of settings).
Using a 6 year old LAME you wont get the same quality or speed as the very latest 3.99 builds.The best encoder out there at the moment is NeroAACenc, which is an AAC reference encoder. It is far superior to the Apple (iTunes) AAC encoder. Thing about AAC is, instead of getting the artifact sounds it will gradually cut out the frequencies that gives the audio its depth or warmth. The iTunes AAC encoder even at higher bitrates shows this tendency, and again a VBR mode should be used (like NeroAACenc q value, q=0.5 default, higher=better quality).
iTunes AAC has probably held back the uptake of AAC, just like Quicktimes h.264 implementation i believe has held back h.264 uptake (encoding quality is pathetic)!So, use LAME 3.99a14 or newer, use the correct output settings (V=3 or 4, q=0), and make sure the input quality is good! For the average song, these settings will be around 150BKPS or so, but the quality will be superior to some mp3 files ive heard even at 320kbps.Psychology also plays a part of it.
People will often swear one audio file (same works for video) is superior or inferior to another if they think its codecencoder A vs B, if they for some reason dislike encoder B they will swear its inferior, or that A is superior, but wht you could really be showing them is an identical audio file :)
Encoder is really slow and multi core support is not great. Converter is a joke - it has like no encoding options. I wouldn't pay for it even 5 bucks.