Lame settings [SOLVED]

Clear install W10 + Audacity 2.1.2
Lame and ffmpeg are imported.
When I do an MP3 export, I find only a standard format option.
Works fine but the problem is that the format is not accepted by my video editing system.
My question: how can I export an MP3 with Lame, like it was before?

MP3 options are in the Export dialog:

Had all the combinations have not been tested.
Find out that I have to use “constant” bit rate and now it works.
Happy again :smiley:

As I said elsewhere I think it was a mistake to change the default from constant bit rate, and probably a mistake to set the default above 128 kbps. LAME default is 128 kbps CBR (for a stereo track). That is what we should use as default, IMHO.


I doubt that we will hear from the happy users that are now enjoying the benefit of better quality MP3s, though I have noticed that since the default was changed, there has not been a single complaint about the poor sound quality of our MP3 encoding.

With well over a million downloads of Audacity 2.1.2, the “two” questions that I’ve seen about the new MP3 defaults have been resolved quickly, efficiently and to the satisfaction of the user. The fact is that if we change anything in Audacity, there will be questions from some users. Personally I am very pleased that Audacity has moved on since it’s initial release 16 years ago. It’s OK to be nostalgic, but even nostalgia isn’t what it used to be :wink:

Of course we will only usually hear from the miffed.

I think there have been complaints about the exported file being “too large”.

The main point to me is that we can’t make any sensible decision when there are so many use cases.

A secondary point is we should not have a default that will not work at all in some cases (any app or purpose that requires CBR). A default in other words should be the most compatible choice. Do any apps require only VBR? We could also (largely) achieve your purpose of higher quality default by setting it as CBR > 128 kbps.

My reaction to the “main point” though is that we should use the LAME default. I happen to know what that default is, so to me the current Audacity default is unexpected.


Which is why I very much welcome the new Export dialog that exposes the MP3 settings when MP3 is selected (rather than ‘hiding’ them behind an “Options” button).

Not that I know of, but there are applications that require mono, so the most compatible choice is CBR mono, but that would be a terrible choice as the default.

Yes it’s strange that LAME has chosen a default that differs from their recommended (“Standard” preset) setting. I guess they had the same discussion that we had, but had a different outcome from their decision making process.

Of course that somewhat mitigates what I see as the “problem”, but clearly people who don’t look at the defaults or don’t know that they require CBR for their purpose are still going to get stuck.

Despite the Stereo/Joint Stereo export choice being confusing where the user has a mono track, the user does get a mono MP3 by default if they only have a mono unpanned track.

Perhaps you would remind me where that text is on

I don’t think that alters the argument that we might choose the most compatible bit rate mode (CBR).


Here in their “recommended user interface for developers including LAME in their apps.

More recent discussion on lame-dev Mailing List for LAME (Lame Aint an MP3 Encoder) recommended that the “standard / fast” VBR mode option should be dropped as the quality for the “fast” mode is now as good or better than the older “standard” mode. Sorry but due to the (useless) search facility on the mailman archive I can’t find that discussion now.
There is however information about this on hydrogenaudio.
The “standard/fast” modes are alternative names for the vbr-old / vbr-new modes.

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 higher, as it is now the default VBR mode. However, if you’re still using LAME 3.97 or older, you have to add --vbr-new to your command line to use that mode.
The target bitrate and actual typical bitrate for each VBR quality level is shown in the Technical details for > recommended LAME settings section below> .

Does that really infer that the “recommendation” is for VBR 50 % quality, rather than just being an interface suggestion?

I hope they are not suggesting the recommended CBR bit rate should be 8 kbps. :wink:

I do agree that they expose a Mono encoding choice with reduced bit rate (that they call “downsampling”):

Do Hydrogenaudio claim their recommendations are LAME’s recommendations?

This is a bit like the FFmpeg AAC encoding problem. Do we want as few complaints as possible, or as few major complaints as possible (“major” being that the export won’t play at all)?

I think our current default of VBR MP3 export has changed the type of complaints we get. Even if slightly reduces the total number of complaints, the complaints we do get are more likely to be “major”.


I guess they ‘could’ have decided to show the GUI recommendation with non-default settings (though I can’t think why they would do that), but the text / links on that page also point to recommendations for VBR.

The LAME HTML help (included in the LAME source code) quotes “Hydrogenaudio recommended settings” in the “usage” section (lame-3.99.5/doc/html/usage.html).
The only CBR setting that gets a recommendation is 320 kbps.

It’s greyed out, which is another indication that it is not the recommended setting.
If you really need the smallest possible file, then 8 kbps CBR is really the only choice as 8 kbps ABR is almost always a bit over 8 kbps (and afaik, never smaller). However, if you really do need files to be compressed as much as that, there are much better formats than MP3.

Something I wasn’t aware of - for very low bit-rates (below 100 kbps), they recommend ABR. For example, for low bit-rate voice or radio recordings : --abr 80 (stereo) or --abr 56 -m m (mono). ABR is also less likely to show up problems with players that cannot determine the length of VBR MP3s.

No offence intended to the original poster, but as soon as you select “MP3” as the export format, the settings are right in front of your nose. The “major complaint” (your words) appears to be that some users do not know what settings they want. I guess that providing a “Help” button could be useful in so far as we could link it to an article that suggest settings for various use cases, but even that will only help if users that need help click on it and read the help page.

Neither of the “complaints” that I’ve seen have been “major complaints” - not really “complaints” at all, but rather “how do I …” questions. For example in this topic:

Just a quick pointer to Export dialog in the manual, and the problem was solved with the user saying:

Where are the links? Do you mean the link on LAME MP3 Encoder :: Related Links to HydrogenAudio’s recommendations?

There are four Hydrogenaudio recommendations for different use cases, and the LAME default uses none of them. I think the case that our default is LAME’s recommendation is likely to be a misconception.

In LAME’s CBR page I see “CBR is useful for people who are concerned about maintaining maximum compatibility”.

So if quality was our main consideration, why don’t we default to a higher rate CBR then we can at least satisfy “maximum compatibility”?

I suspect it’s greyed out because the “bitrate” radio button is not selected.

They also say the VBR slider should be aligned with the CBR/ABR slider to indicate resulting bitrate, but their 50% quality is aligned with 8 kbps. :confused:

I really don’t have a lot of confidence that anything in that interface is their recommendation for settings.

Yes, but given we would not default to a very low bit rate I don’t think that suggests any changes in Audacity, other than addressing the compatibility problem.

Which would not matter if the default was the most compatible. This is the reasoning why 44100 Hz and MME host and “medium quality” real-time sample rate conversion are defaults rather than going for higher quality or performance.

Again, with the old defaults we would not have seen that post.

Bubbly sound is one thing, broken is another. :wink:


“VBR” is not “broken”. Some media player are “broken”, but I’ve just tested all four media players on my computer and they all play VBR MP3s correctly.
Certainly there are “some” use cases that require CBR, just as there are “some” use cases that require mono, or require stereo, or require no metadata, or require a specific peak level, or have some other specific requirements - that’s why we provide options, and that’s why I’m pleased that those options are now clearly displayed rather than “hidden” behind an options button.

I know that you are very concerned about the sound quality of the music that you listen to. What is your honest opinion of the sound quality of 128 kbps CBR stereo? Don’t you think it reflects badly on Audacity if the default sound quality is poor to mediocre? Is it right that we should force poor sound quality on users?

We’re just going round in circles, really.

Users who don’t know why they can’t play or stream the file and don’t get a straightforward error message in their app are just going to blame Audacity. It won’t help that much that they can see the MP3 export options in front of them.

Normally, a default is the most compatible option. We seem to have changed that principle here, on the grounds LAME are saying something I don’t think they are saying. It would be better to argue the case on what it is, sound quality for music.

I would turn it on its head. It reflects badly that we choose a default that we cannot guarantee will play or show the correct length.

For music, of course 128 kbps CBR MP3 is mediocre. The comparable VBR preset 6 is not that much better. VBR 6 is sometimes demonstrably worse than CBR 128 for the more subtle quiet music that I tend to listen to. VBR thinks the quiet sections don’t matter, so drops the bit rate on them.

The previous 128 kbps CBR default was reasonable, IMO, given many MP3 users want to keep the file size down. 128 kbps keeps files down to a predictable 1 MB per minute. The user can now see “Quality” as a control in the MP3 export options, so it should not be too hard for them to use a higher setting if the quality is not good enough.

In contrast if the user’s file won’t play or shows the wrong length, there is nothing in the MP3 export options that suggests what to change.

I know we got quite a few complaints about honky MP3’s. For some of those the user would have accepted or preferred mono which would have solved the honkiness, but we don’t make it easy to mix down to mono. I think your proposed Mixdown choices in export dialogues will help with that.

For people who want stereo, I accept your preferred default may mean we may get somewhat fewer complaints overall, but as I said, the complaints we do get will be more serious (“broken”, as it appears to the user).

I think we can get most of the benefits you seek from a higher CBR bit rate. Even Peter was not fully convinced about VBR, from the comments he made on Bugzilla. As he said, VBR presents a more complex interface to the user. As above, with VBR you cannot predict the file size, and you cannot guarantee the file will play or show the correct length. For me, all that makes VBR unacceptable as default.

I would be happy enough with 192 kbps CBR as default. We will still get some complaints about files being “too large”, but we have had a few of those with the current default.


That does not appear to concern Amazon, and they have millions of dollars riding on it:

The Digital Music Store delivers music in MP3 format—the most widely compatible music file format supported by most media player applications, hand-held music devices, and some CD and DVD players.

Here’s more information about music files from the Digital Music Store:

Bit Rate
Where possible, we encode our MP3 files using variable bit rates for optimal audio quality and file sizes, aiming at an average of 256 kilobits per second (kbps)

but for mono files, that would mean much bigger file size (almost double the size of the “standard” preset), which is likely to bring in a new wave of complaints.

The bottom line is that this was discussed extensively, and within the decision making process at the time, it was decided to upgrade the default to preset “standard” and the upgrade (“change”) was made. I understand that you disagree with that decision. Under our new decision making procedures you could propose a vote on Team to reverse that decision.

Perfectly true if the user did not reduce the CBR bit rate accordingly, but not if we actually fixed the long-standing in accordance with the LAME interface guidelines which you apparently set store by.

In a typical stereo pop song, it looks like VBR preset 2 files are about one-third larger than 128 kbps CBR. We have had a few complaints about that size increase, though I think as far as it goes it is a reasonable trade off for better quality in pop music. My problem as Quality Manager is that we are now producing by default MP3 files that may not play at all or may have length display issues and it won’t be obvious to the user why.

It did not happen like that. You campaigned in a bug report for this change, Peter backed you (but had one reservation about VBR) and Leland committed it before I could cast my “vote”. It was really do-ocracy and “vote early, vote often”. :wink:

Yes, if we get lots of complaints because we have not chosen the most compatible default I will certainly be pointing this out.