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Revision as of 22:07, 20 January 2008 by Ojay (talk | contribs) (Lame 3.98b6 as the new "recommended" MP3 encoder)
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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:


Download LAME from RareWares:

Recommended LAME version

LAME 3.98 (beta b6 or newer)


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 --vbr-new input.wav output.mp3

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

-V2 or -V 2 is the recommend LAME quality setting to use at The Mixing Bowl. This is especially true if you prepare MP3 encodings from original WAV or FLAC files. -V2 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. For transcodings of lossy and medium bitrate broadcasts (192kbps or below) it might be of advantage to take higher quality settings into consideration. You have the choice between -V1 and -V0. However, the right choice among them and other additional lame options (such as -q0, --lowpass, ..., etc.) often requires some background knowledge so staying with -V2 is in general acceptable.

-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


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 v2

LameDropXPd v2 is a drag 'n' drop frontend for LAME. It can not only be used to encode recordings to MP3 but also for transcoding from other formats to MP3 (again with a simple Drag'n Drop). 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 stickies and posts, in our opinion, is the best available anywhere on the internet.

Hydrogenaudio have officially announced a successor to their previoulsy recommended LAME mp3 encoder version 3.90.3. The recommended version is now Lame 3.98 (beta b6 and newer).

  • See this post for details on the LAME 3.98b6 Hydrogenaudio recommendation.
  • See this post for the Hydrogenaudio recommended LAME settings.
  • See this post for a high level overview of the LAME versions.