Encoders 96 kbit/s

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AAC+ CBR@96.2 (Nero 6.0)
4.47
~2%
AAC VBR@89.8 (Winamp 5.63)
4.39
~0%
AAC VBR@91.2 (NeroRef 1330)
4.37
~1%
wma 9 CBR@97.4
4.31
~3%
AAC VBR@90.0 (NeroRef 1540)
4.29
~1%
mp3PRO CBR@95.9
4.17
~2%
wma 9 VBR@91.7
4.08
~3%
wma 8 CBR@96.7
4.05
~2%
AAC VBR@92.1 (QTime 7.7.3)
4.03
~0%
AAC CBR@97.7 (QuickTime 6.3)
3.99
~3%
Vorbis VBR@90.4 (Xiph 1.3.3)
3.76
~1%
AAC VBR@96.3 (PsyTEL(R) 2.15)
3.68
~2%
AAC CBR@94.8 (Nero 5.5)
3.67
~2%
mp3 CBR@96.0 (Lame 3.91)
3.67
~1%
mp3 VBR@90.2 (Lame 3.99.5)
3.66
~1%
mp3 CBR@96.1 (Musicmatch 6.10)
3.60
~2%
Opus VBR@90.7 (libopus 1.0.2)
3.56
~1%
AAC CBR@95.6 (PsyTEL(R) 2.15)
3.55
~1%
mp3 CBR@96.3 (Musicmatch 8.10)
3.43
~1%
mp3 VBR@92.4 (Musicmatch 8.10)
3.27
~3%
mp3 ABR@92.2 (Lame 3.90.3)
3.13
~2%
QDesign Music 2 CBR@95.9
2.86
~2%

in alphabetical order

AAC CBR@94.8 (Nero 5.5) - MPEG-4 AAC CBR Low Complexity, 94.8 kbit/s FBR
CODER: Ahead MPEG-4 AAC Encoder Plugin for Ahead Nero Burning Rom 5.5.10.0
- Ahead audio RAW convertor (resampling plugin) - SINC, Quality 100
- Encoder quality: High
- AAC Profile: Low Complexity
- Enable PNS: No
- 32000 Hz Stereo
DECODER: Ahead MPEG-4 AAC Decoder Plugin for Ahead Nero Burning Rom 5.5.10.0

AAC CBR@95.6 (PsyTEL(R) 2.15) - MPEG-4 AAC CBR Low Complexity, 95.6 kbit/s FBR
CODER: PsyTEL(R) MPEG-4 AAC Encoder V2.15
- usage: aacenc -production -br 96 -if test.wav
- 44100 Hz Stereo
DECODER: Freeware AAC Decoder: Dec 28 2001 for WinAmp 2.78c
- output to Nullsoft Disk Writer plug-in 2.0a

AAC CBR@97.7 (QuickTime 6.3) - MPEG-4 AAC CBR Low Complexity, 97.7 kbit/s FBR
CODER: MPEG-4 Audio Compressor for QuickTime 6.3
- 32000 Hz (Recommended), Stereo
DECODER: QuickTime 6.3

AAC VBR@89.8 (Winamp 5.63) - MPEG-4 AAC LC, VBR, 89.8kbit/s FBR
CODER: MPEG-4 AAC Encoder v1.04 from Winamp 5.63 (Fraunhofer IIS)
- Mode: Variable Bitrate (VBR)
- Preset: 3 (AAC LC)
- 44100Hz, stereo
DECODER: FAAD v2.7 (build Jun 14 2010)
- usage: faad.exe -b 4 out.m4a
- 32bit output

AAC VBR@90.0 (NeroRef 1540) - MPEG-4 AAC LC, Constrained VBR, 90.0kbit/s FBR
CODER: Nero AAC Encoder 1.5.4.0 (build 2010-02-18)
- usage: neroAacEnc.exe -q 0.34 -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@91.2 (NeroRef 1330) - MPEG-4 AAC Low Complexity VBR, 91.2 kbit/s FBR
CODER: Nero Digital Audio Reference MPEG-4 & 3GPP Audio Encoder 1.3.3.0 (build 2008-09-17)
- usage: neroAacEnc.exe -q 0.35 -if ref.wav -of out.mp4
- AAC Profile: Low Complexity
- 44100 Hz Stereo
DECODER: Nero Digital Audio Reference MPEG-4 & 3GPP Audio Decoder 1.3.3.0
- usage: neroAacDec.exe -if out.mp4 -of out.wav

AAC VBR@92.1 (QTime 7.7.3) - MPEG-4 AAC LC, True VBR, 92.1kbit/s FBR
CODER: Apple QuickTime (7.7.3) AAC Encoder via qaac 2.18
- CoreAudioToolbox 7.9.8.2
- usage: qaac -V45 ref.wav
- 44100Hz Stereo
DECODER: FAAD v2.7 (build Jun 14 2010)
- usage: faad.exe -b 4 out.m4a
- 32bit output

AAC VBR@96.3 (PsyTEL(R) 2.15) - MPEG-4 AAC VBR Low Complexity, 96.3 kbit/s FBR
CODER: PsyTEL(R) MPEG-4 AAC Encoder V2.15
- usage: aacenc -qvbr 38 -if test.wav
- 44100 Hz Stereo
DECODER: Freeware AAC Decoder: Dec 28 2001 for WinAmp 2.78c
- output to Nullsoft Disk Writer plug-in 2.0a

AAC+ CBR@96.2 (Nero 6.0) - MPEG-4 AAC CBR High Efficiency, 96.2 kbit/s FBR
CODER: Ahead MPEG-4 AAC Encoder Plugin for Ahead Nero Burning Rom 6.0.0.23
- Encoder quality: High
- AAC Profile: High Efficiency
- Enable PNS: No
- 44100 Hz Stereo
DECODER: Ahead MPEG-4 AAC Decoder Plugin for Ahead Nero Burning Rom 6.0.0.23

mp3 ABR@92.2 (Lame 3.90.3) - MPEG-1 Layer 3, Average Bit Rate, 92.2 kbit/s FBR
CODER: Lame 3.90.3 (Aug 2003)
- usage: lame --preset 96 test.wav test.mp3
- 32000 Hz Stereo
DECODER: THOMSON mp3PRO Audio Player Demo 1.1.0 Build 0

mp3 CBR@96.0 (Lame 3.91) - MPEG-1 Layer 3 CBR, 96.0 kbit/s FBR
CODER: Lame 3.91
- usage: lame -b 96 -q 0 test.wav test.mp3
- 32000 Hz Stereo
DECODER: THOMSON mp3PRO Audio Player Demo 1.0.2 Build 85.

mp3 CBR@96.1 (Musicmatch 6.10) - MPEG-1 Layer 3 CBR, 96.1 kbit/s FBR
CODER: MUSICMATCH Jukebox 6.10.0225CJJ
- input from Audio CD
- processing level - "very high"
- maximum bandwidth - "let encoder choose"
- 44100 Hz Stereo
DECODER: THOMSON mp3PRO Audio Player Demo 1.0.2 Build 85

mp3 CBR@96.3 (Musicmatch 8.10) - MPEG-1 Layer 3 Constant Bit Rate, 96.3 kbit/s FBR
CODER: MUSICMATCH Jukebox 8.10.2017CJJ
- input from Audio CD
- processing level - "very high"
- maximum bandwidth - "let encoder choose"
- Near CD quality
- 44100 Hz Stereo
DECODER: THOMSON mp3PRO Audio Player Demo 1.1.0 (Build 0)

mp3 VBR@90.2 (Lame 3.99.5) - MPEG-1 Layer 3 VBR, 90.2 kbit/s FBR
CODER: Lame 3.99.5
- usage: lame -V6.9 ref.wav out.mp3
- 32000 Hz Joint Stereo
DECODER: MAD 0.15.2b
- usage: madplay -b 24 -o wave:.\out.wav out.mp3
- 24bit output
- 32/24 -> 44.1/32 by Audition CS6

mp3 VBR@92.4 (Musicmatch 8.10) - MPEG-1 Layer 3 Variable Bit Rate, 92.4 kbit/s FBR
CODER: MUSICMATCH Jukebox 8.10.2017CJJ
- input from Audio CD
- processing level - "very high"
- maximum bandwidth - "let encoder choose"
- Custom Quality (VBR) - 34%
- 44100 Hz Stereo
DECODER: THOMSON mp3PRO Audio Player Demo 1.1.0 (Build 0)

mp3PRO CBR@95.9 - mp3PRO CBR by Fraunhofer IIS & Coding Technologies, 95.9 kbit/s FBR
CODER: Nero mp3PRO Encoder Plugin for Ahead Nero Burning Rom 5.5.4
- Allow intensity stereo coding - yes
- Allow downmix - yes
- Padding - ISO
- 44100 Hz Stereo
DECODER: THOMSON mp3PRO Audio Player Demo 1.0.2 Build 85.

Opus VBR@90.7 (libopus 1.0.2) - free audio format (IETF RFC6716), VBR, 90.7 kbit/s FBR
CODER: opusenc from opus-tools 0.1.6
- 44.1/16 -> 48/24 by Audition CS6
- usage: opusenc --bitrate 90 ref48.wav out.opus
- 48000Hz Stereo
DECODER: converter from foobar2000 v1.2.5 (32bit)
- 48/32 -> 44.1/32 by Audition CS6

QDesign Music 2 CBR@95.9 - 95.9 kbit/s FBR
CODER: QDesign Music Encoder 2 Pro for QuickTime 5.0.2 Pro Player Edition
- 44100 Hz Stereo
DECODER: QuickTime 5.0.2 Pro Player Edition.

Vorbis VBR@90.4 (Xiph 1.3.3) - Ogg Vorbis, 90.4 kbit/s FBR
CODER: OggEnc v2.87 (libVorbis 1.3.3)
- usage: oggenc2 -q2.2 ref.wav
- 44100 Hz Stereo
DECODER: OggDec v1.9.7 (libVorbis 1.3.1)
- oggdec.exe -b5 out.ogg
- 32bit output

wma 8 CBR@96.7 - Windows Media Audio 8 CBR, 96.7 kbit/s FBR
CODER: Microsoft Windows Media 8 Encoding Utility
- 44100 Hz Stereo
DECODER: Windows Media Audio 4.02 for Windows ACM.

wma 9 CBR@97.4 – Windows Media Audio 9 CBR, 97.4 kbit/s FBR
ENCODER: MS Windows Media Encoder v9.00.00.2799
- 16bit 2-pass CBR
- 44100 Hz Stereo
DECODER: MS Windows Media Encoder v9.00.00.2799

wma 9 VBR@91.7 - Windows Media Audio 9 VBR, 91.7 kbit/s FBR
ENCODER: MS Windows Media Encoder v9.00.00.2799
- 24bit quality-based VBR – Q75
- 44100 Hz Stereo
DECODER: MS Windows Media Encoder v9.00.00.2799

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 >>

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.