The question of whether to use MP3 or AAC as an encoding format for music stirs strong passions on both sides of the debate. It's time to weigh in. Let us know which codec you prefer for your music and why. But remember, be polite!Weigh In
The actual truth
- At bit rates around 96kbps ACC does indeed outperform LAME 3.97 MP3s. At ACC over 200kbps and LAME V-2 hardly anyone can ever tell the difference except when ABXing on some problematic sample... and even those who can ABX (minimum 20 trials) a difference at those bit rates can't then say which format is which. So which format to choose? 96kbps & under: AAC because it sounds better. 190kbps+ (Lame -V2 or higher): LAME MP3, for two reasons: you won't tell the difference between it and an equal bit rate ACC, or if you can tell the difference you wont be able to tell which is which...AND MP3 patents are all going to be expired by 2017 meaning you might even have an MP3 playing toaster.
- —Guest K
AAC is compatible with almost everything
- AAC is NOT an Apple codec. It is a standard just like MP3. I encode with iTunes, usually AAC at 256 Kbps, though most people are happy with 128k AAC. MP3 does not get good until 192 in my opinion. I then can play on my BlackBerry or iPhone or whatever. Seriously, virtually all new smartphones and any new portable player should support AAC. It is what the iTunes Store uses and is the new standard format.
- —Guest Dale
- I just use the original LPCM on my server, no compression.
- —Guest KARMA MRA MGTOW
- thanks so much...worked perfectly :) super helpful...
- —Guest picki
Both! Depends on what you are encoding
- I believe it depends on the music you're encoding. I think that MP3 is better suited for acoustic instruments such as guitars, drums with prominent snare, hats and high frequencies are really emphasized. AAC is better for bass-heavy recordings such as electronic music, loud music, or vocal music.
- —Guest Marc Rivers
Too much fuss
- I usually rip my music with Windows Media Player in MP3 format with 320 kbps quality, then I use MP3 Quality Modifier to alter the bit rate to between 170-210 kbps (VBR). Personally, I cannot tell the difference between the 320 kbps and the lower VBR files, only that the latter ones are smaller. I think some people psychologically find a difference in quality between different file sizes because that's what they expect to find. I only begin to tell a difference when the bit rate drops below around 120 kbps. Enough with all the fuss, just enjoy the music for goodness sake!
- —Guest Esiquel
- Well, I first converted all my CDs to MP3 back in 1998. Back then, 128K 44.1 was the best encoder for my buck. After 2002 128K 22.5 helped to spare storage space. Now in 2012/2013, I have a mega hard drive and I'm finally re-doing my CD collection. I was in radio for 10 years and have consulted my peers in the radio community, my friends and researched everything I could find online. My radio friends and research pointed to AAC. My friends said MP3 at a higher bitrate because of the compatibility. Being an iPod owner, I chose AAC. Mainly because on my test with Green Day's "Good Riddance" song I heard more guitar strings on AAC. However other songs were fairly the same on both formats, mainly the techno stuff on my test. But I have to believe that since AAC was picked by my research and my friends in the radio community and the fact it's 96 bandwidth not just 48 I have to choose AAC. But it's what I'm doing; others may choose differently.
It depends on the music
- I agree with the comment from audiophile. I find AAC can be a little flat even when compared with MP3. A few points to bear in mind, when compressing you should only be doing it to put on a portable player so will probably not be in an ideal listening environment. If you are using ear buds you probably won't notice any difference due to the poor sound quality, if using in-ear or on-ear headphones then you will, but the environment makes a difference. I also find it depends on the track and artist. Some just need lossless, others you can "get away with" with some compression. I use lossless at home stored on Synology NAS and streamed through SONOS, iPod touch for out of home and streaming to headphones at home. Synology app does this and stores music. Then compress at highest AAC when transferring to iPod, but for those tracks I don't use the Synology app offline where it stored them.
- —Guest IP
- 256 is my sweet spot...but only with certain songs...just do the test, have the original cd and you will find it. 192 is great also.
- —Guest cb74
Neither of them
- The only encoder that I found having near-CD quality is the musepack (mpc). I did listening tests on uncompressed tracks to avoid the influence of decoder. There were 5 original tracks x 4 variations: original, cda>mp3(320kbps)>wav>cda, cda>acc(320kbps)>wav>cda, cda>mpc(~300kbps)>wav>cda. The tracks were played in random order, the whole procedure was recorded with webcam to check when each track was played, the quality was rated each time on each track from 1 to 10. Conclusion: The MP3 lacks some low and very high, but still hearable frequencies even on 320kb. Also the dynamics and stereo positioning is not perfect. With ACC it's even worse. The very high frequencies sound unnatural and sometimes even unpleasant, also I clearly hear some sort of annoying "flatness". MPC: although slightly lower bitrate, 4 times of 5 I couldn't distinguish it from the original track. Sound setup: CD player + 2x90W amplifier + 2x120W monitors. Genres: classical, jazz, chillout, club, sol
- —Guest audiophile
- File formats such as MP3 are overused and usually manipulated: You get some 192kbps converted to 320kbps. And why would such a business as YouTube use AAC for their videos? Proof of concept, with a smaller size, quality is the same or even better. Rani, you fail at being a musician: Making tunes that people enjoy is one thing, but you should, as an audiophile, put the QUALITY in your PRIORITIES. The only thing you've achieved is the right spirit, but a disrespect for your human hearing capabilities.
- —Guest B.P
- I am a musician and, to be honest, I use my ears to hear the whole world. I don't care what quality my sound is as long as people enjoy the tune and it makes them remember the good, bad, and ugly times in life!
- —Guest Rani
- The BBC use AAC at 320kb for their top quality Radio 3 (Classical channel) Internet stream. 'Nuff said
- —Guest Gordon
- God... What a dumb question... It depends on bitrate first, encoding source second, and everyone knows lossless is best. Get your stuff in FLAC and then convert it to ALAC if you use iTunes.
- —Guest zomg
I love MP3 and AAC
- MP3 is good but you can hear the difference in quality if you listen to a song that has super bass sound like DJ and disco and hardmix and if you listen to a song have super treble sound, the difference in treble sound is big. High treble sound is clear in AAC like the sound of metal triangle instrument, but not wide in MP3. In bitrates (AAC 96 kbps, 44.1 khz) is nearly like (MP3 128 kbps, 44.11 khz) because AAC is high in compression and clear, but I love both of MP3 and AAC. AAC used in movies (AAC, AVC), Blu-ray or Blu-ray ripped 1080p, 720p because it compresses and has good quality, but usually (XVID, MP3) IS used in movies ~700mb (CD) to supported in VCD and DVD players, but I love both of MP3 and AAC.
- —Guest Nabeeh