- 1 Introduction to LAME
- 2 LAME Homepage
- 3 Download
- 4 Recommended LAME version
- 5 Usage
- 6 lowpass Advanced Setting for FM & Satellite recordings
- 7 Graphical interfaces
- 8 -Y Advanced Setting: depreciated
- 9 Further Reading
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:
- Highly optimised presets
- CBR, ABR and VBR encoding methods
- Gapless playback with LAME-header compliant decoders
- Exact Audio Copy and CDex support
Download LAME from RareWares:
Recommended LAME version
- The LAME bundle which includes the lame.exe & lame_enc.dll
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 0 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 0 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.
|Switch||Target Kbit/s||Bitrate range Kbit/s|
TMB Recommended Setting
-V 0 (-V 0 --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.
lowpass Advanced Setting for FM & Satellite recordings
lame -V 0 --lowpass 16 input.wav output.mp3
The --lowpass 16 setting is especially useful on audio that has been recorded from FM radio transmissions that do not have any audio greater than ~15.5kHz. That includes all UK broadcasts and indeed is especially relevant for older mixes that were recorded onto cassette, VHS, DAT, and MiniDisc tapes.
A --lowpass 17 setting can be used for recordings made from satellite transmissions (DVB-S / DVB-T / DAB) that are broadcast as MP2 files with a cutoff of ~17kHz.
In simple terms, this means that by using the switch you'll save a few MBs and produce a slightly lower VBR bitrate as the encoder will ignore any audio over 16kHz or 17kHz (depending on the lowpass setting used). This means it will remove the FM pilot signal - set at 19kHz - that is often found on FM recordings.
The use of the recommended -V0 setting doesn't use a lowpass, which is also another reason why we should make use of this lowpass LAME setting.
You only use it when creating VBR mp3s.
This is a superior option than the -Y setting that is described below.
Constant Bitrate (CBR)
CBR mode is not recommend because VBR provides better quality at a given bitrate: VBR is higher quality than ABR, which is higher quality than CBR. However, if you still want to use it, then you use it like this:
lame -b 320 input.wav output.mp3
The -b 320 switch controls the bitrate LAME will use. The bitrate number can be 192, 256 or 320. We still recommend using the -V0 setting though.
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.
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:
-Y Advanced Setting: depreciated
** This setting is no longer recommended: use --lowpass 16 as stated above. Information remains for historical value. **
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, VHS, DAT, and MiniDisc tapes.
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.
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).