Converting WAV to MP3

I recently got a CD and ripped the tracks off of it. Now I have all the WAV files on my computer. I’m interested in converting them to MP3 Format with Audacity. I just wanted to check and make sure that I have the best options for the LEAST QUALITY LOSS possible. Here’s how my conversion setting are set up:

Bit Rate Mode: Preset
Quality: Insane, 320 kbps
Variable Speed: Standard
Channel Mode: Stereo

I have some concerns about whether to use Stereo or Joint Stereo. And if the Variable Speed and Bit Rate Mode I’m using will ensure the least quality reduction possible. I’m a beginner at best with Audacity, so please be simple with your explanations. Thanks.

Generally “Joint Stereo” gives better results than “Stereo” because it allows more bits for better stereo when it is needed whereas “Stereo” produces 2 channels, even if the left and right channels are identical.
VBR is generally the best quality option because it allows more bits for better detail when it is needed.

At 320 kbps, the options mostly go out of the window because the encoder is performing at the highest rate all of the time. “Preset = Insane” is the same as 320 kbps CBR is the same as 320kbps VBR.

“Variable speed = standard” is a “legacy” option, left over from earlier versions of LAME, The “Fast” setting is usually as good or better (and is faster).

For sound quality there is rarely any audible difference between Preset = Insane and Preset = Extreme.
For “archive” quality it is better to use a lossless format such as WAV or FLAC.

Oh, so what your saying is as long as it’s 320 kbps it doesn’t really matter what options I use? Also thanks for clearing up the Stereo vs. Joint Stereo thing. I also use to think that Standard Variable Speed would be of higher quality because it takes longer. Lol. I just think, “Well, if it takes longer to process it must be of higher quality”.

Thanks for the advice. :slight_smile:

In older versions of LAME that was the case, but the LAME developers have put in a lot of work to improve the “Fast” setting and now it is just as good (or better) than the old “Standard” setting. There’s probably not much reason to retain the old “Standard” setting, but then there’s probably not much point in humans having an appendix. :confused:

Through all that, MP3 always creates sound damage, so they’re great for listening or uploading to the internet, but maybe not archive. Archives should always be in the highest possible quality like WAV or FLAC, not the highest possible compression ratio. WAV files have a bitrate, too. It’s something like 1700.

You can always go from WAV to anything else, but if you need to make an MP3 from another MP3, the compression damage is cumulative – and you can’t stop it.