iTunes vs. LAME Encoding


Hello, I currently have my whole MP3 collection encoded with 192 kbps no VBR, with NORMAL STEREO..My friend claims that if i use LAME with VBR and JOINT stereo it will be better quality, I tested one CD and heard no difference between the two, is it worth it to go all VBR with LAME? is the iTunes encoder with VBR just as good as the LAME VBR? Thanks for the help!



Defender of the Realm
I went through the same thing (encoded everything in itunes, the found out about LAME).

First off, let me say that in audio, your ears are king. If iTunes 192K sounds good enough to your ears on your system, then don't let anybody tell you different.

That being said... in my experience LAME blows iTunes out of the water. iTunes has problems with skips and pops on some tracks, LAME does not. iTunes also tends to brighten up the high and low end, which may sound good on lower end sound systems, but doesn't represent real fidelity. For testing LAME, I suggest using "--r3mix" without the quotes as your encoding options. For more hard numbers and facts, check out

On another note, why wouldn't you want to use VBR? It let's you use more bits where they're needed, and spare them where they are not. Over all if done properly, VBR results in both better sounding and smaller files (I will refrain from commenting as to whether iTune does it properly...)

Re-encoding isn't all that bad...
(Thankfully, I was able to create a ripping farm of NetBSD boxes at work... made short work of 800 CDs).

Hope this helps...
-(another) alex.


I encode all my MP3 at 8kbps (mono)/320 (stereo), joint stereo. I think you're fine encoding in iTunes. Consider that the amplifier in your Mac (and iPod) is probably not that good. If you're an audiophile like me, don't waste time trying to hear detail from an MP3 (lossy music format) on cheap hardware. The noise that creeps into the playback of MP3 on ANY computer is inevitable, you can't get around it. I don't care what arguments a PC user will make with his Super-Duper SoundBlaster Ultra card, a computer will introduce NOISE into the music.


Gone !
I use iTunes to encode at 160kbps. The music I want in smoother quality I use MiniDisc technology to play :).

Joint stereo is significantly different from normal stereo. Yes, there is a difference if you use joint stereo instead of the normal. The difference is: better sound repartition in your headphones, esp. if they're good.

Personal experience: my HD800 ("Symphony") Sennheiser is precise enough to get advantage from joint stereo. My AMF80 MiniDisc headphones aren't, nor is my iMac ;).