losing quality when exporting

I’m running XP, with an onboard sound card. I’m using Audacity v.2.0.3, LAME v.3.98.3.

When I record a song directly from Youtube, they sound exactly the same. But when I export that song at 320kbps, the quality is less. I have even listened to songs in MP3 format through a media player, and I can never export the same level of quality.

I get that exporting to MP3 reduces the quality of the audio. But my question is, how is it that others achieve a higher quality of sound, even if I export at 320kbps? I could only think of three possibilities:

  1. The user is using the .wav format of the song in the video.
  2. The user exported the song from a CD to .wav format, and then converted to .mp3.
  3. My system sucks and I need to upgrade.

Would appreciate some ideas. Thanks.

Going through Audacity has it’s problems, too. Audacity adds dither to the show to compensate for its internal standards conversion. Audacity doesn’t edit at 16-bit. It edits at 32-floating and has to convert in and out.

It should not make any difference, but lame is a free knock-off of the real, paid MP3 software from Fraunhofer-Gesellschaft. People have posted that they could hear the difference.

So there are two differences.

Free iTunes for Windows, I believe, has a real MP3 license.


ABX testing (double blind testing) indicates that for bit rates of 160 kbps or higher, LAME is at least as good as the Fraunhofer-Gesellschaft encoder.

There is some evidence to suggest that Fraunhofer-Gesellschaft may be better than LAME for low bit-rate CBR encoding (LAME is optimised for high quality VBR encoding).

To make a direct comparison you would need to compare the MP3 encoded file with a direct 1:1 copy of the original, playing both files in the same media player, otherwise you could be hearing differences that are due to differences in playback settings that are unrelated to the actual quality of the file.