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Introduction to LAME

LAME is high quality MP3 encoder. The name LAME is a recursive acronym for LAME Ain't an MP3 Encoder, although the current version is, in fact, a stand-alone MP3 encoder. It shows superior performance and gapless playback. LAME is the recommended MP3 encoder at The Mixing Bowl. Some benefits of using LAME:

LAME Homepage


Download LAME from RareWares:

Recommended LAME version

LAME 3.99.5


LAME is a command line program, although there are graphical interfaces like ALL2LAME which can make it easier to use.

Variable Bitrate (VBR)

VBR mode is the recommended way to use LAME at The Mixing Bowl. You use it like this:

lame -V 2 input.wav output.mp3
  • Please note: The switch --vbr-new, which enabled a superior VBR mode in LAME 3.97 and some previous versions, is no longer needed with LAME 3.98 and greater as it is now the default VBR mode. However, if you are still using LAME 3.97 or older, you have to add --vbr-new to your commandline to use that mode.
  • The -V 2 switch controls the quality LAME will use and it can be any whole number between 0-9. A lower numbers means a higher quality and therefore a higher bitrate.
List of bitrates for VBR mode
Switch Target Kbit/s Bitrate range Kbit/s
-V 0 245 220...260
-V 1 225 200...250
-V 2 190 170...210
-V 3 175 155...195
-V 4 165 145...185
-V 5 130 110...150
-V 6 115 95...135
-V 7 100 80...120
-V 8 85 65...105
-V 9 65 45...85

TMB Recommended Setting

-V 2 (-V 2 --vbr-new for LAME 3.97 and older) is the recommend LAME quality setting to use at The Mixing Bowl. It is probably a higher quality than is strictly necessary (the lower quality presets still provide excellent quality), however its usage is strongly encouraged to avoid any arguments over quality.

-Y Advanced Setting

The -Y setting is especially useful for use on audio that has been recorded from radio transmissions that do not have any audio greater than 16kHz. That generally includes most UK broadcasts, and indeed is especially relevant for older mixes that were recorded onto cassette tapes (as the cassette tape frequency limit is approx 15-16kHz).

In simple terms this means that by using the switch you'll save a few KBs and produce a slightly lower VBR bitrate as the encoder doesn't have to worry about audio over 16kHz.

The technical explanation goes something like: sfb21 bloat is possible with LAME settings -V0 through -V2. Due to faults in the design of the Layer III format itself, encoding audio of 16kHz and higher will cause more bits to be needed than normal. The Heavy Metal genre suffers with this sfb21 bloat problem sometimes. -V3 through -V9 do not have this problem as they have the -Y switch activated by default. This switch basically makes it where if the data above 16kHz will bloat the bitrate it is not encoded.

So, you only use it on the -V0, -V1 & -V2 switches.

Constant Bitrate (CBR)

CBR mode is not recommend because VBR provides better quality, but if you still want to use it you use it like this:

lame -b 192 input.wav output.mp3

The -b 192 switch controls the bitrate LAME will use. Please use a bitrate of 192 kbps to avoid arguments over quality (or better still, use -V 2 --vbr-new instead).

Graphical interfaces


Foobar2000 is an advanced freeware audio player for the Windows platform that comes packaged with LAME and provides a very easy way to not only listen to but also convert to almost any format you desire.


ALL2LAME is a graphical interface for LAME that makes it very simple to use. Follow these instructions for the easiest way to encode high quality MP3s:

  1. Download ALL2LAME from ALL2LAME homepage ( and extract it to a folder.
  2. Download LAME from RareWares (as explained in the download section at the top of this page, and not from the link on the ALL2LAME homepage) and extract into the ALL2LAME folder.
  3. Run ALL2LAME and type -V 2 in the Switches: box.
  4. Load the files you want encoding and click Encode.


LameDropXPd is a drag 'n' drop frontend for LAME. As well as encoding recordings to MP3, it can also transcode Ogg Vorbis files, decode MP3 files to WAV, accept FLAC input to create MP3 files, and auto-tag the files it encodes.

It can be downloaded from RareWares:

Further Reading

Hydrogenaudio are widely regarded as the digital audiophile site on the web. Most of the audio codec developers are members of the forum, and the information detailed there in the Hydrogenaudio wiki, stickies and posts, in our opinion, is the best available anywhere on the internet.

Hydrogenaudio's recommended LAME compile for optimal quality is now always the latest stable version (unless noted otherwise).