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Old 3rd September 2019, 08:07   #1  |  Link
albesp77
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Best AAC encoder with tag support

Dear all, i want an aac audio encoder, free or not free is not important, that can encode an mp3 audio track with tag to aac without losing tag.
I'm not so expert in AAC encoding, so i want to know which subformat is better LC or not LC to a medium bitrate of 160kbps stereo track ?
I need to convert my music catalog to gain some space, do you think that with a bitrate of 160kbps AAC is good or another format is better like the old OGG ?
Please help me, thanks!
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Old 3rd September 2019, 12:35   #2  |  Link
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1) Best is a question forbidden by forum rule 12. BTW for bitrates around 160 Kb/s for stereo source all encoders work fine, without differences in test.

2) The recommended encoders (NeroAacEnc, qaac, ...) can be obtained for free, and can be used from command line but maybe you want a GUI like Foobar2000 to include the tags in the mp4 container (.m4a files).

3) The AAC LC subformat is the recommended for bitrates over 88 Kb/s for stereo sources.

4) The old free OGG format was replaced by the OPUS format, like I say before for high bitrates is dificult to say what is better.
If your player support OPUS is the recommended free format now.

Foobar2000 can manage qaac and opus encoders.
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Last edited by tebasuna51; 3rd September 2019 at 13:31. Reason: add info
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Old 3rd September 2019, 14:02   #3  |  Link
hello_hello
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foobar2000 with QAAC is pretty easy. QAAC comes in the foobar2000 encoder pack. To obtain the files required for encoding, download the full itunes installer, then download the makeportable zip file from here https://sites.google.com/site/qaacpage/cabinet
Extract the bat file from the zip file, put it in the same folder as the itunes installer, then run the bat file. It'll extract the required files to a folder called QTFiles. When that's done you can delete the itunes installer. The encoder pack puts the encoders in a folder called encoders, located in the folder where foobar2000 is installed. Copy the QTFiles folder to the encoders folder.

The fb2k encoder configuration looks like this for QAAC. I'd use the variable bitrate method with the quality set to VBR Q 82. That should, on average, give you stereo audio with a bitrate of approximately 160kbps. I'd stick with AAC as player support is fairly universal.



When you initially open the converter configuration, there's links on the right such as Output Format (for creating encoder presets as per the screenshot above) and the last link is labelled "Other". That's where you tell fb2k to copy existing tags while it's converting. It's probably enabled by default. You can save the whole converter configuration as a preset, and it can be selected via the Converter menu when right clicking on a file or files in a playlist.

Last edited by hello_hello; 4th September 2019 at 13:24.
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Old 3rd September 2019, 14:26   #4  |  Link
albesp77
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thanks to all for suggestions, and excuse me for violation of forum rules, i don't know that "best" is wrong here!
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Old 3rd September 2019, 21:52   #5  |  Link
SeeMoreDigital
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And lets not forget...

It's possible to add/change the meta-data tagging of most audio files using MP3tag
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Old 4th September 2019, 13:07   #6  |  Link
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Quote:
Originally Posted by SeeMoreDigital View Post
And lets not forget...

It's possible to add/change the meta-data tagging of most audio files using MP3tag
The trouble is, it replaces everything in the tags of the destination files. That includes the gapless playback info for m4a/mp4 files and any ReplayGain data. I posted about it in the Mp3tag forum a while back, but it didn't seem to attract any interest from the developer.
https://community.mp3tag.de/t/replay...ing-tags/17696

Mp3tag will happily past itunes gapless information into a flac file when copying tags from an m4a/mp4 source. fb2k can batch copy and paste tags as Mp3tag does. The GUI isn't as nicely laid out as Mp3tag for that sort of thing, but it's smarter about it. It doesn't mess with any gapless playback or ReplayGain info and it keeps the gapless info even when you tell it to delete the tags. There's a screenshot here. https://community.mp3tag.de/t/replay...-tags/17696/18

It seems to be something of a step backwards, storing gapless information at the container level for m4a/mp4, when for mp3 it's stored in the header and out of harms way.

Last edited by hello_hello; 4th September 2019 at 13:27.
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Old 5th September 2019, 09:18   #7  |  Link
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Quote:
Originally Posted by hello_hello View Post
The trouble is, it replaces everything in the tags of the destination files. That includes the gapless playback info for m4a/mp4 files and any ReplayGain data.
I don't know why anybody would require these features in any of their 2-channel [stereo] AAC audio files...
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Old 12th September 2019, 08:06   #8  |  Link
hello_hello
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If you have an album with tracks that run into each other (no silence in between), the gapless playback information is fairly essential when converting to a lossy format. I'm not sure what a player might do if you copied the tags from an m4a file to a flac file while including the gapless playback information, given the flac version wouldn't have the same "padding". Hopefully players would be sensible enough to ignore it.

My entire music collection has been volume adjusted using ReplayGain. Admittedly in my case I always keep a lossless copy, scan those with ReplayGain, save the data, then apply the volume change while converting to a lossy format with fb2k, and then it doesn't matter if a portable player doesn't support reading ReplayGain data and adjusting the volume on playback, but if you use ReplayGain the way it was intended with a player that supports it (almost any software audio player) the ReplayGain data needs to be correct or it's useless.

Apple has their own system they call Soundcheck. Same idea as ReplayGain, but they probably wanted it to sound like they invented it. fb2k can be told to save ReplayGain data as Soundcheck tags so Apple players can adjust the volume on playback too, and while I haven't checked because I never save Soundcheck tags, I'd be surprised if Mp3tag doesn't over-write that data when copying and pasting.

ReplayGain is the best thing since the MP3. I fill my portable player with music, generally use it in "random" mode, and don't have to continually adjust the volume from one song to the next.

Last edited by hello_hello; 12th September 2019 at 08:15.
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Old 12th September 2019, 09:32   #9  |  Link
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I guess much depends on the playback device and how we use them...

With regard to home listening: Although my OPPO offers a 'gapless' playback mode, I prefer to generate 'continuous' lossless Flac encodes (ie: one continuous track instead of separate tracks) from my CD's along with a cue sheet file.

With regard to portable device listening: I have no idea if my mobile phone supports 'ReplyGain' or 'gapless tagging' when playing AAC files, (encoded as separate tracks). And I'm not sure what I need to do to test such features!

Personally, I mainly listen to albums from start to finish. I don't create playlists to select random files.
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Old 13th September 2019, 03:19   #10  |  Link
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ReplayGain mightn't be as important if you only listen to full albums, but it does have two modes. Track Gain and Album Gain. The first adjusts individual tracks to the same volume, while the second scans a group of files as an album and adjusts them by the same amount so their relative volumes don't change. I only use Track Gain mode myself as I don't often listen to whole albums.

I doubt any default Android player would read the tags, but I'd be more than astounded if the Android version of fb2k doesn't.
When using a player that supports the tags you can scan the files, save the data, and let the player adjust the volume on playback. The PC version (it's the only version I use as I still use a dedicated MP3 player) lets you insert ReplayGain into the conversion chain so when you convert files it'll adjust the volume at the same time. That way the encoded files are at the same volume and you don't need a player to read the tags. Or....

MP3 and AAC can be adjusted losslessly as each audio frame contains volume data, so the volume can be changed by adjusting that data. For reasons I can't remember, the volume can only be adjusted losslessly in increments of 1.5dB, so adjusting that way will get you to within 1 dB of the "target volume".

I have the reading of the tags on playback disabled so I can always hear the "real" volume and I adjust the volume while converting or using the lossless method.

fb2k doesn't use the old ReplayGain algorithm to determine volume. It still calls it ReplayGain and saves the same ReplayGain tags, but it uses the newer EBU R128 algorithm for scanning. It's a little better.

The only thing dumb about ReplayGain is the way the target volume is referred to. The target volume is 89dB, which is based on a SMPTE standard for calibrating volume for cinema audio systems, and it's actually a sound pressure level. Translated to human-speak, it's a target volume of -18dB. Apple chose -16dB as the target volume for SoundCheck. The typical volume for broadcast video is -23dB, as soundtrack audio tends to be more dynamic than ordinary music tracks.

I put music on my mother's tablet for her (she teaches line dancing) and because it's an average audio system in a big hall and she needs to squeeze as much volume out of it as she can, I use -14dB as the target volume for that (93dB the way ReplayGain labels volume). Most audio still doesn't clip. If it does I use a limiter DSP while converting. I have two fb2k tabs dedicated to showing me the track/album gain volumes. The TrackGain column in the screenshot shows the adjustment required for the official ReplayGain target volume, as the tags are always written relative to that.

I also use fb2k to adjust the volume of soundtrack audio while re-encoding (if required). It's much better than peak normalisation. Anyway... the result of an Album Gain scan on a bunch of files that were already adjusted individually to 4dB above the standard ReplayGain volume looks like this.



And as I have two tabs in fb2k configured to display the Track Gain and Album Gain volume saved to tags, so I'm a bit fussy about it being correct.



That's my sales pitch. I'm a big fan of ReplayGain.

If you encode an album with tracks that run into each other as MP3 or AAC and play the individually encoded tracks in the album order, they should run seamlessly into each other. If they don't because the player also plays the silent lossy "padding", it doesn't support gapless playback, or there's no gapless info saved to the files, but I imagine (and hope) gapless playback support is a pretty common thing.

Last edited by hello_hello; 13th September 2019 at 03:34.
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