Ripper's Guide --
Most of us listen to our MP3 recordings through the modest computer speakers on our system. Because of this, many can't really discern the quality variables between a low and high bit recording because the better sound found in higher compressions never gets past sub-quality ear gear. To these users, recording quality has become less of a concern.
As for the rest of us who patch our digital tunes into the stereo or use high quality phones with our MP3 portables, we CAN tell the difference and want to record our tunes at the best quality that is practicle.
For those in the second group, one of our readers has provided his detailed guide to optimizing MP3 recordings. He has a strong personal opinion on the subject covering most of the major MP3 ripping utilities, so feel free to print this one out-- Editor
The Way to Rip High Quality Digital Audio (Rippers Guide v0.05b)
After playing around with numerous ripping utilities over the last 24 month's, I have found a way for people to get a guaranteed, high quality rip with no glitches.
As the utilities get better, the chances of getting a glitchy rip are pretty rare, however no system of copying digital audio is perfect, and glitches do crop up from time to time. Also in this article, we commonly refer to the copying of audio data as ripping.
The following programs we give a thumbs up!!! Configuration of each utility will be explained later in this document file, but if your familiar with the utility your using then it should be easy to fix.
Programs that work:
For ripping Analog/Live Audio Feeds:
Programs we forbid:
Anything, which uses the Xing codec to compress so AudioCatalyst is definitely out for compressing WAVs. Also Virtuoso Gold tends to make the MP3s screwy (?!?) or Real Player Real Jukebox (uses the Xing codec). Why is this? Simple, because Xing has a nasty habit of killing off the ambiance of your source recording, therefore making the end MP3s horrible to listen to. In a sense, it makes your high/low ends washed or warble, thereby it doesn't sound as clean on a typical high-end stereo system. Also, apparently MusicMatch Jukebox does use a form of the Fraunhoffer codec, but it also tends to ruin the MP3s when it compresses. User beware!
Standard rules for ripping are as follows:
Q : What's the difference between the various stereo modes?
A : It's important to understand the difference between Stereo and Joint Stereo. 'Joint Stereo' modes take advantage of the similarities between the L+R channels. This allows more bits to be used in other areas and in many cases this can give an overall gain in encoding quality. Almost all encoders use joint stereo when encoding at 128 kbits. Joint stereo has 2 sub-modes called IS and MS. 'Joint Stereo IS' destroys phase information and shouldn't be used for high-quality encoding. 'Joint Stereo MS' means Middle/Side and is OK for use in most encoding. However, for some audio, Joint Stereo MS may create a 'flanging' or 'swishing' effect. In these cases it's better to use 'Stereo mode'. This mode creates 2 independent channels for both left and right. When stereo mode is used, you should also use a higher bitrate (160 or 192 kbits) - Stereo mode will allocate about half of this bitrate for each channel. In summary, for most audio, Joint Stereo MS at 128 or 160 kbits should be fine. If your audio is especially 'wide' and creates flange you should use 'Stereo' mode. You can change these modes in the Radium codec control panel.
Detecting Xing rips
Xing rips are inundating the Net, but how to tell if that new rip you just got has been Xing'd?
Well, other then a sound difference (not as clear, as well as a washy sound), just check the ID3 tag (hit Alt-3 when in WinAmp) which will bring up the following info to the right of the MPEG file info box + ID3 tag editor.
Here's the confusing part, AudioGrabber gives the same values as a Xing rip/product, so really the only way to tell is if the rip sounds clean, rather then muggy (or the high ends sound washed). Downloader beware!
Installing and Configuring the FHG Radium MP3 codec:
Latest version is v1.263. The Radium codec is faulty for the 192 kbps settings. They set it for Joint Stereo rather then Stereo for some weird reason, but a lot of people say Joint Stereo at 192 kbps sounds really good. In my opinion, it tends to give the MP3s a hiss and can even distort the bass/high ends. YOU MUST USE Stereo as this tends to make the MP3 sound a lot cleaner.
The following applies to proper configuration of the codec:
Patching AudioActive Studio Pro:
AudioActive uses an internal Fraunhoffer codec for compressing .WAV files. Because of this, your 192 kbps rip will come out as Joint Stereo rather then stereo (it cannot detect or use the external codec). You will need to download and use the patch on AudioActive Pro so that it uses the Radium Codec. AudioActive must already be installed on your drive before patching it.
This can be really tricky to install, but it does support the external codec, so that's cool. WinDAC-32 is probably the best utility you can use for those systems which support an EIDE CD-Rom.
Configuring Exact Audio Copy (at time of this writing, it's still Beta)
EAC is the best utility you can use for systems which support a SCSI CD-Rom setup.
Where to find the programs listed in this article:
AudioActive Production Studio Pro: http://www.audioactive.com
Exact Audio Copy: http://www.ExactAudioCopy.de
Sound Forge: http://www.sonicfoundry.com/Products/NewShowProduct.asp?PID=5
NotLame MP3 encoder: http://hive.me.gu.edu.au/not_lame
Real Player Real Jukebox: http://www.real.com/jukeboxplus/
Sonique MP3 player: http://www.sonique.com
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