Newer codec versions

The version of LAME that Mac Audacity users are told to download is four years old, version 3.98.2. (Incidentally, Windows users can use a version that’s less than a year old; what’s up with that?) I installed LAME 3.99.5 through MacPorts, and Audacity didn’t recognize that it was installed. I tried setting the libmp3lame.dylib file in the preferences, and it still wouldn’t recognize it was installed. Same with FFmpeg.

Is it possible to use more recent versions of LAME and FFmpeg? How, or why not?

Audacity is married to the two software packages at the download site. Even better, the last time I tried to manually install lame and FFMpeg, it failed. You must use the automatic install and let it put the two packages in the directory of its choosing. If you have Mountain Lion, you may have troubles because /Library is a hidden folder now. There are posted work-arounds for that – to make /Library visible again.


The reason that Audacity’s Libraries Preferences is tied to the recommended LAME and FFmpeg is that other versions of those libraries usually don’t have enough “symbols” compiled in, so the exported files are written without proper length information, with metadata missing and similar problems.

You can export using arbitrary versions of LAME or FFmpeg by choosing “external program” when you export then pointing Audacity to the compiled binary of your choice - that is, to the LAME.EXE or FFmpeg.EXE on Windows (or to the “LAME” or “FFmpeg” file on Mac), not to the DLL or DYLIB file.

For LAME, try (you may need to rename binaries as “LAME” on Mac).

For FFmpeg, use the “static” builds on for Windows or or for Mac. There are no guarantees with latest FFmpeg that all will work correctly in Audacity.

For help exporting using (external program), see .

You can always build any version of LAME or FFmpeg you want from their sources.


Ah. But then what about on Unix/Linux? It seems that there, Audacity uses the same libraries that everyone else uses, rather than custom-built ones. And, again, why are Mac users stuck with a version that’s four years old?

The situation is different on Unix/Linux because Audacity is not distributed as binaries on these platforms. The binary distributions are provided by the distribution maintainers, so it is their job to ensure that Audacity is built against a version of Lame that works. If you build Audacity from the source code, then you take on the responsibility for ensuring that the version of Lame that Audacity is built against works.

On Mac OS X, what would you hope to gain by using Audacity with a more recent version of Lame?

Whatever benefits it might have. Why wouldn’t I? And if there’s no benefit, why would they bother to update the Windows version for Audacity?

I’m not aware of any changes to LAME since 3.98.2 that offer any improvements for Audacity on Mac OS X.

There was an issue with FhG V1.5 build 50 that ships with MS Windows, so there may be some marginal benefit in using 3.99.3 on Windows though I’m not certain that this issue affects Audacity at all as I’ve used both 3.99.3 and 3.98.2 on Windows and there is no noticeable difference.

Because no-one we trust made a build we could recommend since then. But there is nothing to stop you building the shared dylib file(s) for us with the necessary symbols, if you would like to do that.

Or you can use the binaries I suggested in Audacity’s command-line exporter, or use iTunes for MP3 creation which uses its own encoder rather than LAME.


iTunes for MP3 creation which uses its own encoder rather than LAME.

And it’s easy to do to MP3 or any of the compressed formats that iTunes supports including AAC.

iTunes > Preferences > General > Import Settings. Select the format and quality.

Drag or copy your music to iTunes. When it arrives, Control-Click the music and Create MP3 Version (or AAC version or whatever you picked). Both versions will appear and you can drag either one to wherever it needs to go.

We give the usual boiler-plate warning that MP3, AAC, and other compressed formats cause music damage and you can’t ever fix it later. You can’t easily edit MP3, AAC, etc files later, either, without creating even more sound damage.