The Bitrate Debate

What's yer rate, mate?

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This thread was started way back in 2005, when player capacity limits meant people used higher compression/lower bitrates for their music. A newer thread continues the discussion.


Every week, someone on here is bound to ask: What bitrate should I use?

So, I thought we could help others get a better idea of which bitrates we use by way of ... yes, you guessed it, a poll!

It would help even more if, as well as voting, you could post your preference and explain your reasons (i.e. do you prefer Constant Bit Rate to Variable Bit Rate, or vice versa?).

Let's aim to make this the definitive thread we can point others to :smashin:

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Right, me first:

I use 64kbps because - with Sony's ATRAC3Plus - it gives me a more-than-decent-enough sound and stupidly small file sizes, so I can squeeze more music onto my HD5H.
I had pretty much decided to use Atrac3+ at 192kbps for my HD5, as a compromise between quality and number of albums on the player. (I have a ton of CDs and wanted to minimize swapping.) When I did listening tests on a few songs with a couple of different headphones, I found no real noticeable difference (to my ears) between 64kbps and 192kbps. This was in a quiet environment too. So I am encoding my CDs at 64. Lots more songs on my HD5 (and the gf's NW-E107), and they sound fine.

As an aside, a friend listened to my HD5 last week at work. He has an iPod, most stuff is at 128 or around 160-190 (not sure the exact mp3 rates). He just kept saying how good the HD5 sounded, sounds great, nice bass, clear sound, etc. Which led me to infer that the iPod (at higher mp3 bitrates) didn't sound as nice.
128k mp3 is fine for me.. Listening while riding my bike or on the bus, it really doesnt make a difference
I use 192 CBR MP3, because it is a good compromise between sound quality and file size. And the number looks...I don't know...round :) .

And I use the MP3 format because of compatibilty with other players (in case I ever get a non-Sony DAP).

The only times I use ATRAC is for my dance CDs which are gapless, for which I use ATRAC3Plus 256KBs.
i use 320 vbr mp3 or even lossless for some cd,s. Ive recently migrated to a dap from a humble cd player and couldnt believe the difference on quality to the 'real thing'. Anything less than 320 IMO is a waste of time, for me its quality and not quantity, would rather have 2000 quality mp3 on a 60gig drive than 10000 crap files for the sake of squeezing them on
I use 48 kbps [Atrac 3+] -- maybe its just my ears, but I can't notice the difference between this and 64 kbps. Brilliant. Good enough for me -- the gym background noise is high, my car cassette adaptor, inexpensive headphones -- all reasons why absolute sound quality is not an issue for me.

Also, I use a Sony 1GB flash player -- smaller files allows many more tracks onto my unit.
256 for me, even deom'd some B&W speakers using my ipod connected to a stereo amp and the other people in the shop (other customers) commented and were surprised how good it sounded.
I use mostly Atrac 132kbps, and some files with Atrac 64kbps. I think 64 sounds exceptionally good for its file size, but depending on the complexity of the music it's a little wanting.
Does anyone else think there is something very unpleasant about MP3s encoded at 160kbps. I notice it has recieved practically no votes. And I've always thought, for some reason, that 160kbps MP3s sounds quite squelshy.

Is that just me?
when i rip CDs if i really like that CD i rip in ATRAC3Plus256
if the CD is old and I only kinda like i rip in ATRAC3Plus64
Q: Do other folks here using Atrac3+ encoding hear much of a difference (in most music) between 64 and 192 over their regular headphones? Just wondering how bad my ears are, as I don't hear much difference generally. On a few songs that are heavy on cymbals the cymbals seem a bit harsh, but on the majority of tunes I still hear good stereo separation and pretty clear highs, lows and mids at 64.
Generally, for space issues, I just encode to 96kbps WMA. The quality is fine and I've no problems with it, as they are generally just used for earbud listening anyway.

But if I like a CD, I'll rip it at the highest (eg Lord of the Rings, The Killers etc)
Looking through my library there are bit rates from 128 up to 320. Generally import at 192kbps AAC these days so the lower rate ones will probably have been imported when I first started using iTunes (2001/2002 I guess) - they do the job though and i've no intention of reimporting them. Life's too short.
ATRAC3+ 256kbps.

I find it best for both Hi-MD and the NW-HD5 when encoding CDs. 64k or 48k are the only other compression options for Hi-MD (apart from LP2/4 in NetMD mode ) and they sound much worse than 256k. PCM is a waste of space for portable equipment, and wasn't listed anyway.
192bits for me (Some I may do higher) and as I get most of my songs from I can choose the encoder, etc. I cannot hear much useful difference between this and CD although my DVDA and SACD is better. But the compromise of car, work, volume and quality makes this work best for me.

160k I agree something is wrong there :)
192k is not 'crap' I have plenty of tracks recorded at 320 and 192 with not much difference and my ears are actually tested as better than 'average'. My set up uses Grace m902 headphone amp, RS1 Grado's, Terratec sound card and Musical fidelity tube x10 v3. Any big diferrences are going to be heard quite clearly :) With either Denon 3910 for play of SACD, DVD-A, etc or computer with 192k pro sound card loler
192k WMA for the vast majority of my stuff. I've dabbled with higher bitrates and if I squirt these at my HiFi, they can sound better but on the tube, 192k is quite sufficient.
256k ATRAC 3+ for me too. Might try 192k on my HD5 soon (assuming it can be done) as that would seem to be quite a good option...
I use Cdex set on VBR for mine, up to 320k. Space is not an issue :)
192AAC for the iPod but am currently starting to rip all my CDs into lossless for hifi use.
JohnG said:
but am currently starting to rip all my CDs into lossless for hifi use.
Good luck! Took me 2.5 days for MP3 320 kbps and lossless versions of albums
LFC_SL said:
Good luck! Took me 2.5 days for MP3 320 kbps and lossless versions of albums

How many albums is that, LFC? Just so I can scale up your figure to account for the 800-900 CDs I'd have to rip (yet again!) if I went lossless or 320 :)
Incidentally, my thanks to you all for your support of this thread. Let's hope it's of use to others.
The Verve - Urban Hymns just took 12 minutes to rip @ 320 kbs

:laugh: I was bored
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