Export quality settings should be more visible

I’ve just discovered that all of my supposed 32-bit 96KHz recordings have been exported in 16 bit i.e. I’ve been caught out by the fact that export quality settings are buried under the Options button and not configurable under Preferences. (See more details at http://forum.audacityteam.org/viewtopic.php?f=15&t=34072&start=0)

I think that the export quality settings (bit depth, sample rate etc.) should be at least one of:

  1. Globally set under Preferences (like many other apps)
  2. The export dialogue Options button should be removed and the export settings made part of the export dialogue box

I had someone else saying the same thing a while ago, but he wasn’t very forthcoming on the details of what happened. Pretty obviously, the explicit WAV and AIFF options say 16-bit. So are you saying that you chose Other Uncompressed Files, then assumed that would give you 32-bit because that is how Audacity 1.2 was set up? From some tests that I did it appeared that could happen quite easily because of the problem of having a hybrid preferences file that partly takes its preferences (or tries to) from 1.2.

You’re entitled to your vote but few people want to go back to 1). I think 2) is a possible way to go. But until then will calling the button “Settings” instead of “Options” help? is there a better word? “Quality” looks a bit odd to me.


Ok here’s more on what happened.

I selected “WAV (Microsoft) signed 16 bit PCM” file type.
The confusing thing was that other file type options e.g. flac, mp2 etc. don’t mention bit rate, so I had just assumed that the ‘MS signed 16 bit’ part was some form of standard ‘WAV on Windows’ file properties bit endian thing and nothing at all to do with actual encoding bit rate. Also this impression was further confirmed when I’d loaded a previously saved wav file and the waveform window indicated nothing different i.e. 96k, 32-bit float etc. (I think that file open operation should clearly indicate what the encoding settings are, by previewing file’s properties at file load time and also after loading e.g. in the title bar.)

Subsequent to all this, it was a complete surprise for me to find WAV was also hiding under the “Other uncompressed files” file type! It never entered my head to look under “other uncompressed files” since WAV and FLAC were already present in the drop-down list. From the above, I had just assumed that whatever I had chosen as the recording quality would be reflected in the saved file format and nothing had given me any clue otherwise.

(BTW I’ve never used Audacity 1.2.)

So back to some suggestions:

  • The File types should be consistently named i.e. with everything having format + bit rate + other characteristics, or else just the basic format type.

  • All file types should be in the drop-down list with none buried under options.

  • A warning whenever down-sampling (data loss) is about to take place, since once that data is gone it’s gone. There should be an option to disable it of course for ppl that are frequently
    down-sampling and understand what they are doing.

  • My previous suggestions for making the file format resolution config obvious.

BTW can you clarify what you mean by “few people want to go back 1”? Was it originally configured globally, or do you mean that would ppl not like (back) this setting style?
It seems to work fine with say Foobar2k which has all the different file types with a summary of the corresponding bit rates and other settings on a single page.
When Foobar2k converts a file it uses an editable format preset, rather than a file type.

(I agree that “Quality” prolly isn’t ideal terminology, although Prefs does make use of this term)
Also bit rate is not really an ‘option’, it’s a fundamental setting, so it needs to be clearly displayed wherever a config change could change it.

The format you chose says 16-bit (meaning bit depth or sample format). The bit depth in the Track Panel when you import a file is not the bit depth of the file but the bit depth the file is being imported at, according to the Quality Preferences. The Preferences default to 32-bit float sample format so your 16-bit WAV imported as 32-bit float.

MP2 and MP3 options do state the bit rate. The bit rate isn’t all that meaningful for 16-bit PCM or higher but is 1411 kbps for a 16-bit stereo WAV at 44100 Hz (Audacity’s default) .

WAV is also in “other uncompressed files” because (as a container format) it can be used as a header for many different encodings besides PCM (for example, U-Law), and for different bit-depths. I suggest reading the Manual.

With Prefs at 32-bit float by default, every export would invoke a warning about “data loss” except for 32-bit or higher PCM WAV or float. A few people have argued about this 32-bit project > 16-bit export case before (usually along the lines that default project bit depth should be 16-bit so that the default is that there is no downsampling). Your argument is different but few people can hear the difference between 32-bit float WAV and 16-bit PCM WAV.

In 1.2 you had to go into Preferences to choose the settings that are now accessed by the “Options” button in the export window.


Your argument is different but few people can hear the difference between 32-bit float WAV and 16-bit PCM WAV.

That may be, however for subsequent processing e.g. click removal etc. the extra headroom can be very useful. Nevertheless “few can hear the difference” is hardly an excuse for not displaying the info clearly! :wink:

IMO there still needs to be much clearer labelling of file import, workspace and export of resolution, bit depth etc. This basics of this kind of thing e.g. WAV files needs to be obvious and not require looking in a manual!
I think that changing GUI options things may make sense for quite a few folks given historical app memory, but the impression may be completely different for someone who’s using 1.3 for the first time. IMO the resolution settings should be set globally with an additional opportunity to clearly review and change them at export time.

If you record a project at 96kHz, then Export the recording, it will also be at 96kHz unless you change the project rate.
If you export as “WAV (Microsoft) 16 bit PCM”, the the exported file will be “WAV (Microsoft) 16 bit PCM”
What is there that is not clear about that? :confused:

See my previous post about how the file format labels threw me, given the choices available. Yes I understand that it may all seem simple with app experience, but for a new user the inconsistent format labels are confusing.

Gist of this thread moved to Wiki/Pending Feature Requests.

Full thread retained here on the forum.