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I'm thinking about spending some time re-ripping my CDs. The last time I did this was a while ago when I was somewhat limited in Hard Drive space. So I encoded all my music at a somewhat thrifty 160kb mp3 files.

I'm no longer worried about hard drive space but rather quality, so I want to re-import my music at higher bit rates and possibly better encoding formats, but I'm worried about interoperability - I don't want to be stuck only listening to my music from my computer with only one program.

In my current set up I can listen to my music:

  • on my computers as well as on my 360 and ps3 through streaming with windows media player sharing/windows media center.
  • on my TiVos through TiVo Desktop
  • on my phone (a Blackjack II) when I sync to it through WMP.

This is one of the many reasons I've stuck with mp3, because the tivo desktop is the lowest common denominator that only plays mp3. But I'm curious about other possibilities (I've had some music shared to me in OGG format and have had success getting it to play in one computer but not streamed).

I'm also interested about what's the best way to encode if I do stick with MP3. Should I stick with high static bitrates (thinking about going with 320kb), or should I do VBR? Again, size is not an issue, only quality and interoperability - I remember some years ago some software and PMP's still had problems with VBR, is that still much of an issue today?

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2 Answers 2

A couple of Gizmodo articles might help here:

How To: Rip Your Music Like a Pro

The Great MP3 Bitrate Test - Results

256kbps is, it seems, where people just can't really tell the difference.

But the archive to Flac and transcode-as-needed is the most certain way if you never want to stick a CD into the drive again.

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Excellent link for the bitrate test. I think there's real science to support the "more isn't necessarily better" argument for bit rate -- specifically the typical persons ability to hear high frequency (18k+) sound. –  jcollum Mar 7 '11 at 3:26
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This is a set of suggestions for your requirements

  1. Always rip to FLAC
    • use the FLAC in all places that support it (your PCs for example)
    • you also get some FLAC players these days
  2. Convert from FLAC to 320Kbps MP3 CBR for good portability
    • Do not re-sample or normalize anything -- to retain quality
    • You always have the FLAC backups
      for quick conversion to whichever custom format specific devices want (like WMP)
      in the worst case
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Why FLAC first? Will Windows be able to stream FLAC to my 360 or PS3? Otherwise it looks like I'll need to rip to FLAC and mp3, not just do an mp3 conversion when needed. If that's the case, what's the need to have both files? It's just meant for playback on electronics, I still have my CD's so I don't needed a backup. –  Chuck Sep 30 '09 at 2:34
    
@Chuck, FLAC is lossless storage (you will not need to rip the optical media again). You can probably use this format in all places. When required (like MP3 player devices or game-consoles as you indicate), you can quickly and easily translate to MP3 of various forms as necessary. You can delete the MP3 and other conversions (keeping the FLAC handy) after copying them to the desired devices. –  nik Oct 1 '09 at 4:25
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