Encoders 128 kbit/s

For preserving as much sound quality as possible @128 kbit/s SoundExpert recommends compressing music with these coders:

  • AAC family encoders both LC and HE profiles from iTunes, Nero and Winamp
  • MPC


  1. The above recommendations relate exclusively to perceived audio quality of encoders but not their popularity, compatibility with software/hardware players or any other features which can also be considered in practice (tag support for example).
  2. The above recommendations refer exclusively to the encoders which have been already tested at SoundExpert and which ratings are listed below. If you think the list is incomplete, please drop us a line with your suggestion. After the new rating become reliable SoundExpert recommendations will be revised accordingly.
AAC+ CBR@128.9 (Winamp 5.21)
Vorbis VBR@129.9 (aoTuV B4.51)
AAC VBR@117.5 (NeroRef 1540)
AAC VBR@128.0 (NeroRef 0506)
AAC VBR@118.4 (iTunes 11.1.3)
mpc VBR@123.3 (SV8)
AAC VBR@112.0 (Winamp 5.666)
AAC CBR@129.6 (Winamp 5.21)
Vorbis VBR@119.4 (Xiph 1.3.3)
mp3 VBR@113.7 (Lame 3.99.5)
mpc VBR@128.4 (1.15v)
AAC VBR@110.9 (libfdk 3.4.12)
AAC VBR@134.5 (iTunes 6.0)
Opus VBR@115.7 (libopus 1.1)
mp3 VBR@131.3 (Lame 3.98)
wma 9.2 CBR@129.6
mp3 VBR@112.7 (Lame 3.97b2)
ATRAC3 CBR@132.6 (LP2)

in alphabetical order

AAC CBR@129.6 (Winamp 5.21) - MPEG-4 AAC Low complexity CBR, 129.6 kbit/s FBR
CODER: MP4/LC-AAC Encoder v1.2 from Winamp 5.21
- CD Ripping
- Bitrate: 128 kbps
- Channel Mode: Stereo
- 44100 Hz
DECODER: Winamp 5.21
- Nullsoft Disk Writer plug-in v2.11

AAC VBR@110.9 (libfdk 3.4.12) - MPEG-4 AAC LC, VBR, 110.9kbit/s FBR
CODER: fdkaac frontend (0.5.3) for AAC Codec Library from Fraunhofer FDK for Android
- libfdk-aac 3.4.12
- usage: fdkaac -m 4 ref.wav
- 44100Hz Stereo
DECODER: FAAD v2.7 (build Jun 14 2010)
- usage: faad.exe -b 4 out.m4a
- 32bit output

AAC VBR@112.0 (Winamp 5.666) - MPEG-4 AAC LC, VBR, 112.0kbit/s FBR
CODER: MPEG-4 AAC Encoder v1.08 from Winamp 5.66 (Fraunhofer IIS, v03.02.16)
- Mode: Variable Bitrate (VBR)
- Preset: 4 (AAC LC)
- 44100Hz, stereo
DECODER: FAAD v2.7 (build Jun 14 2010)
- usage: faad.exe -b 4 out.m4a
- 32bit output

AAC VBR@117.5 (NeroRef 1540) - MPEG-4 AAC LC, Constrained VBR, 117.5 kbit/s FBR
CODER: Nero AAC Encoder (build 2010-02-18)
- usage: neroAacEnc.exe -q 0.4 -if ref.wav -of out.mp4
- AAC Profile: Low complexity (AAC LC)
- 44100Hz Stereo
DDECODER: FAAD v2.7 (build Jun 14 2010)
- usage: faad.exe -b 4 out.mp4
- 32bit output

AAC VBR@118.4 (iTunes 11.1.3) - MPEG-4 AAC LC, True VBR, 118.4kbit/s FBR
CODER: Apple iTunes or QuickTime 7.7.4 AAC Encoder via qaac 2.30
- CoreAudioToolbox
- usage: qaac -V63 ref.wav
- 44100Hz Stereo
DECODER: FAAD v2.7 (build Jun 14 2010)
- usage: faad.exe -b 4 out.m4a
- 32bit output

AAC VBR@128.0 (NeroRef 0506) - MPEG-4 AAC VBR Low Complexity, 128.0 kbit/s FBR
CODER: Nero Digital Audio Reference MPEG-4 & 3GPP Audio Encoder (build 2006-05-01)
- usage: neroAacEnc.exe -q 0.462 -if ref.wav -of out.mp4
- AAC Profile: Low Complexity
- 44100 Hz Stereo
DECODER: Nero Digital Audio Reference MPEG-4 & 3GPP Audio Decoder (build 2006-04-26)
- usage: neroAacDec.exe -if out.mp4 -of out.wav

AAC VBR@134.5 (iTunes 6.0) - MPEG-4 AAC VBR Low Complexity, 134.5 kbit/s FBR
CODER: AAC Encoder from iTunes
- Stereo Bit Rate: 128kbps
- Sample Rate: 44.100 kHz
- Channels: Stereo
- Use Variable Bit Rate Encoding (VBR): Yes
- Optimize for voice: No

AAC+ CBR@128.9 (Winamp 5.21) - MPEG-4 AAC High Efficiency CBR, 128.9 kbit/s FBR
CODER: MP4/aacPlus (HE-AAC) Encoder v1.2 from Winamp 5.21
- CD Ripping
- Bitrate: 128 kbps
- Channel Mode: Stereo
- 44100 Hz
DECODER: Winamp 5.21
- Nullsoft Disk Writer plug-in v2.11

ATRAC3 CBR@132.6 (LP2) - ATRAC3 LP2 (used in Sony's NetMD players), 132.6 kbit/s FBR
CODER: SonicStage
- Import from CD
- Format: ATRAC
- Bit rate: 132 kbps (ATRAC3)
- Add copy protection: No
- 44100 Hz Stereo
DECODER: SonicStage
- Convert to WAV

mp3 VBR@112.7 (Lame 3.97b2) - MPEG-1 Layer 3 VBR, 112.7 kbit/s FBR
CODER: Lame 3.97b2
- usage: lame -V 5 --vbr-new --noreplaygain test.wav test.mp3
- 44100 Hz Joint Stereo
DECODER: MAD 0.15.2b

mp3 VBR@113.7 (Lame 3.99.5) - MPEG-1 Layer 3 VBR, 113.7 kbit/s FBR
CODER: Lame 3.99.5
- usage: lame -V5 ref.wav out.mp3
- 44100 Hz Joint Stereo
DECODER: MAD 0.15.2b
- usage: madplay -b 24 -o wave:.\out.wav out.mp3
- 24bit output

mp3 VBR@131.3 (Lame 3.98) - MPEG-1 Layer 3 VBR, 131.3 kbit/s FBR
CODER: Lame 3.98
- usage: lame -V 5 ref.wav out.mp3
- 44100 Hz Joint Stereo
DECODER: MAD 0.15.2b

mpc VBR@123.3 (SV8) - Musepack, 123.3 kbit/s FBR
ENCODER: MPC Encoder 1.30.0
- usage: mpcenc --quality 4.0 ref.wav out.mpc
- profile: --radio (--quality 4.00)
- 44100 Hz Stereo
DECODER: foobar2000 v1.3.1
- 32bit output

mpc VBR@128.4 (1.15v) - Musepack, 128.4 kbit/s FBR
CODER: mppenc 1.15v
- usage: mppenc --quality 4.01 ref.wav out.mpc
- 44100 Hz Stereo
DECODER: mppdec 1.95e

Opus VBR@115.7 (libopus 1.1) - free audio format (IETF RFC6716), VBR, 115.7 kbit/s FBR
CODER: opusenc from opus-tools 0.1.8
- 44.1/16 -> 48/24 by Audition CS6
- usage: opusenc --bitrate 96 ref48.wav out.opus
- 48000Hz Stereo
DECODER: foobar2000 v1.3.1 (32bit)
- 48/32 -> 44.1/32 by Audition CS6

Vorbis VBR@119.4 (Xiph 1.3.3) - Ogg Vorbis, 119.4 kbit/s FBR
CODER: OggEnc v2.87 (libVorbis 1.3.3)
- usage: oggenc2 -q4 ref.wav
- 44100 Hz Stereo
DECODER: OggDec v1.9.7 (libVorbis 1.3.1)
- oggdec.exe -b5 out.ogg
- 32bit output

Vorbis VBR@129.9 (aoTuV B4.51) - Ogg Vorbis, 129.9 kbit/s FBR
CODER: OggEnc 2.8 [aoTuV b4b]
- usage: oggenc2 -q4.25 test.wav
- 44100 Hz Stereo
DECODER: OggDec 1.0

wma 9.2 CBR@129.6 - Windows Media Audio 9.2, 1-pass CBR, 129.6 kbit/s FBR
ENCODER: Windows Media Player 11.0.5721.5145
- CD Ripping
- Format: Windows Media Audio
- Audio quality: 128 Kbps
- 44100 Hz Stereo
DECODER: Windows Media Player 11.0.5721.5145
- Burning Audio CD

The ratings above are live. Each time a participant of SE listening test sends a grade - the corresponding rating updates immediately. You can participate as well, it's easy and looks like fun, no need for "golden ears" or special equipment. Just visit our Testing Room, download a random sample, listen it in headphones and send back your grade. Afterwards corresponding rating will get new value and become more accurate. As the testing is fully blind you'll get to know the device/technology you've tested after sending your grade only. Thanks.

Testing Room ►

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How to read the ratings

Rating bar graph

The rating bar consists of the following elements:

#1 - Device or technology being tested.

#2 - Value of actual perceived audio quality (rating) which is also indicated
by the bar length #3. Anchor points could be interpreted as follows:

In most cases using this device/technology:

1.0 – you will hear heavily distorted sound
2.0 – you will hear unpleasant sound artifacts
3.0 – you will hear distinctly audible but tolerable sound artifacts
4.0 – you will hear faintly discernible sound artifacts
5.0 – you will not hear any sound artifacts
above 5.0 – all sound artifacts will be beyond threshold of human perception with corresponding perception margin

#4 and #5 - "low" and "high" of rating. As each device is tested with nine different sound samples, there are nine different local ratings for a device. In fact, the actual rating #2 is an average of those nine local ratings. The highest and the lowest ones are indicated. Big gap between them means that sound quality of device/technology is not consistent enough. It varies with type of sound material: music of different genres and complexity, voice with or without music, noisy/clear recordings etc. The lowest local rating is more important in this sense as it indicates worst case behavior of tested device.

#6 - Accuracy of rating. It is also indicated by the color of bar - more accurate ratings have darker bars and less percentage values. Accuracy depends on number of grades returned by participants. In most cases 5% or less is OK.

#7 - Ruler for convenient estimation of "highs" and "lows".

For devices with small impairments (not audible in ordinary listening tests) SoundExpert amplifies their sound artifacts to some predefined extent. Ratings of such devices are calculated analytically taking into account both the grades received and the amplification applied. They are above 5th grade on the scale showing certain quality headroom of such devices.