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Old 6th January 2009, 17:16   #1
nbinns
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Improvements to LAME encoder integration within Winamp

Improvements to LAME encoder integration within Winamp

The main reason I bought Winamp Pro 5.541 is that it uses the acclaimed LAME MP3 encoder and makes use of the Gracenote CDDB database for obtaining track data for tagging. However, I have a few suggestions for improving the integration of LAME within Winamp.

1. Please could you adopt the LAME user interface guidelines as suggested by its developers (http://lame.sourceforge.net/lame_ui_example.php), as this would make adjusting the various settings easier to understand - currently Winamp seems to have a confusing number of settings such as Quality presets, VBR Q values and Modes with several different types of VBR. It's not clear how all these settings relate to each other, or whether certain settings are ignore based on the choice of other settings. The default LAME VBR setting is now --vbr-new.

2. Please could you turn on the LAME option switch (--replaygain-fast) that adds track Replay Gain to the LAME tag as seen by a tool such as LameTag (http://phwip.wordpress.com/home/audio/). This is the default setting for the encoder. I assume Winamp has been configured to use --noreplaygain as there is no RG track gain information stored in the LAME Tag.

3. Please could you provide official Winamp up-to-date compiled LAME encoder binaries on your website, so that it's possible to use Winamp with the latest non-beta release of LAME without having to wait for a new Winamp update. I assume it would just be a matter of replacing (using Windows Explorer) the current installed copy of lame_enc.dll in the Winamp\Plugins directory with an updated version.

4. Finally, would it be possible to provide an 'Advanced' option for the LAME encoder that would allow knowledgeable users to adjust/apply most of LAME's options. I would envisage a simple text box that would allow the various LAME option switches to be applied. I understand this level of complexity runs counter to my first suggestion to simplify the interface, but as long as it is clearly indicated that this is for advanced users only and that you should refer to the LAME website for configuration options (http://lame.cvs.sourceforge.net/*che...tml/index.html or the recommended LAME settings page on the Hydrogenaudio Wiki at http://wiki.hydrogenaudio.org/index.php?title=LAME), it shouldn't be a problem.

Best regards.
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Old 6th January 2009, 17:59   #2
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welcome to winamp. I know you are new to the forums (and maybe the software) But all of the stuff that you ask for is already there. It may not be in the format that you like/want but its there.
1 and 4) yes the UI for the LAME interface is not what its developers suggest, but it is still functional and actually I prefer it over what the LAME developers suggest. Consider the interface to be the advanced mode that you were looking for in question 4. And if you want the simplified defaults, you choose the presets. (alt preset fast standard is the --vbr--new default you were looking for)
2) you can turn on the LAME option switch (--replaygain-fast) if you want to. I dont like replay gain myself. Under the Output file settings tab there is a check box for "Automatically calculate replay gain"
3) You can use winamp with any version of LAME that you wish (even beta versions) by replacing the current installed copy of lame_enc.dll in the Winamp\Plugins directory with an updated version. That way you dont have to wait for the next version of winamp to use the next version of LAME. Cool Huh? Whether versions of LAME can be hosted here, I dont know.
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Old 6th January 2009, 20:58   #3
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Hi Juanus,

Many thanks for your very prompt reply and helpful information.

I would be very grateful if you would further clarify a couple of my points:

2. I've turned on "Automatically calculate replay gain" and the RG Track gain is now shown when you right-click an MP3 in the Media Library and select "View file info...". However it appears on the ID3v2 tab (as well as the Basic Info tab) but not in the LAME tag when viewed using the LameTag tool, which presumably means the information is being stored just in the ID3v2 tag. The default setting for the LAME binary is --replaygain-fast. When I encode a .wav file via the command line implementation of the lame.exe encoder, the RG track gain is written to the LAME tag, not to the ID3v2 tag. Is it possible for this behaviour to be changed so that RG data is written to the LAME tag in the same way that the 'naked' binary writes it?

3. With regards to replacing the installed version of lame_enc.dll with an updated one, where do you recommend obtaining the LAME binary from if it's not available on the Winamp site? I got my binary from RareWares www.rarewares.org/mp3.php. Is that a recommended source?

4. Although, as you suggest, the Winamp LAME interface is more advanced than the LAME guidelines, it still doesn't provide the complete flexibility of being able to apply any of the encoder's option switches via a simple command line text input box. Such an option would be very useful for 'power users'.

Finally, I realise this is a feature request forum, so it's not the right place to ask you this question but I hope you'll forgive me anyway. Please can you tell me how to turn off the advertisements in Winamp Pro. I can accept there being adverts in the free version, but I don't expect to have to tolerate them if I've paid for the software. Actually, if it's not possible to turn them off in Winamp Pro, then this is a feature request!

Many thanks for your time and help.
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Old 6th January 2009, 21:51   #4
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I had to do some research on this. And I hope that someone with even more knowledge will chime in if I say something that is incorrect.
Yes, the LAME binary does write replaygain to the LAME tag, but according to the ReplayGain specifications, this is incorrect. It should be saved in the ID3v2 tag. I looked and LAME started their replaygain implementation in 2003 with version 3.94 and have done some slight improvments but have not changed it since then. It could be that they did it before the standard was finalized? I am not sure. But the standard is to write those values to ID3v2. And the devs at Winamp are very specific with standards. Maybe the people at LAME have a specific reason that they do it this way?
You can get the LAME binaries anywhere that you wish. They are all the same if they are distributed correctly. You can get them from rarewarez, the LAME website or anywhere you wish.
And you are correct about the UI not being able to apply any of the option switches. I think that you will find that if you are truely an advanced user, they are unneccesary and if you are a novice, they are confusing. Everything you need is there and believe me, without all those switches, you are being saved from yourself.
Finally, what ads are you talking about? Winamp doesnt have any ads. If you are under the online services section, unfortunately there is nothing that can be done because that is just a portal to "outside" webpages and winamp has no control over that. There should not be any other places you see ads. If there are, be more specific.
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Old 6th January 2009, 23:13   #5
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Quote:
Originally posted by Juanus
And you are correct about the UI not being able to apply any of the option switches. I think that you will find that if you are truely an advanced user, they are unneccesary and if you are a novice, they are confusing. Everything you need is there and believe me, without all those switches, you are being saved from yourself.
Actually the UI still exposes too many options (*cough* Stereo *cough*), and is confusing eg. if you don't know that you're supposed to set vbr "bitrate" via VBR Q and not via Min/Max Bitrate or Quality.

As for additional switches, I don't think the dll (Winamp doesn't use lame.exe) allows access to all of them, and the most 1337 ones have been completely disabled in beta/final versions anyway (no more --preset audiophile).
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Old 6th January 2009, 23:30   #6
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Quote:
Originally posted by gaekwad2
Actually the UI still exposes too many options (*cough* Stereo *cough*), and is confusing eg. if you don't know that you're supposed to set vbr "bitrate" via VBR Q and not via Min/Max Bitrate or Quality.

As for additional switches, I don't think the dll allows access to all of them, and the most 1337 ones have been completely disabled in beta/final versions anyway (no more --preset audiophile).
gaekwad2, is the resident expert in this field and since he did not correct or adjust anything that I have previously said, I will assume that I was somewhat correct in the things I said. I agree that too many options are shown. Just give the presets and be done with it. Thats all you need. Personally that UI that LAME recommends doesnt make any sense to me.

Also, I have been looking at storing the ReplayGain in the LAME tags. It seems like LAME is the only encoder that does this and so far I cannot find any program that will read the ReplayGain from these LAME tags. It seems that LAME needs to update where they put the ReplayGain tags.

My suggestion (and the prevailing opinion on this board from gaekwad2 and others) is to set the quality to --alt preset fast standard LEAVE ALL THE REST OF THE SETTINGS ON THAT PAGE ALONE and rip your CDs or whatever. Make your life simple and dont confuse yourself.
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Old 6th January 2009, 23:52   #7
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Well then, I'm going to correct one thing:
Quote:
Originally posted by Juanus
2) you can turn on the LAME option switch (--replaygain-fast) if you want to. I dont like replay gain myself. Under the Output file settings tab there is a check box for "Automatically calculate replay gain"
This enables separate replaygain scanning performed by Winamp after the files are encoded.

One problem with lame's approach is that indeed no player reads the values from the lame tag. Now you (read: Winamp) could simply copy them into id3v2 (or ape) tags but the other problem is that lame only calculates track gain (afaik lame.exe (not sure about the dll again) can calculate album gain if called once with all tracks as input but that would require ripping the whole album to wav first).
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Old 7th January 2009, 00:19   #8
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fair 'nuff!
The shortened version is that LAME doing the replay gain is WHACK!
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Old 7th January 2009, 12:49   #9
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Hi Juanus,

>Yes, the LAME binary does write replaygain to the LAME >tag, but according to the ReplayGain specifications, this >is incorrect. It should be saved in the ID3v2 tag.

You've reassured me that Winamp is adopting the correct standards and LAME is not.

>2) you can turn on the LAME option switch >(--replaygain-fast) if you want to. I dont like replay >gain myself. Under the Output file settings tab there is a >check box for >"Automatically calculate replay gain"

I would be very grateful if you could enlighten me about why you don't like Replay Gain and also the difference between Track and Album RG. Finally, I'm able to apply Track RG with Winamp (as you indicated in this thread), but I can't see how to also apply Album RG. Please could you tell how to configure Winamp to apply Album RG.

>Finally, what ads are you talking about? Winamp doesnt >have any ads. If you are under the online services >section, unfortunately there is nothing that can be done >because that is just a portal to "outside" webpages and >winamp has no control over that. There should not be any >other places you see ads. If there are, be more specific.

With regards to my question about adverts, if you click the "i" button ("More information about this artist) when in the Media Library, you get adverts via AOL music.

Many thanks for your help in answering my questions.
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Old 7th January 2009, 13:53   #10
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If you rip a full CD Winamp calculates both track and album gain.

To calculate it for existing tracks you have to select all of them (using shift or ctrl), then right-click > send to > calculate replay gain. After the scan has finished you'll get the option to save album & track ("as album") or just track gain (if you simply want to scan a whole playlist in one go but the tracks aren't part of the same album).
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Old 7th January 2009, 17:40   #11
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Quote:
Originally posted by nbinns
I would be very grateful if you could enlighten me about why you don't like Replay Gain and also the difference between Track and Album RG.
I dont use ReplayGain because I am an "album" guy. All my albums are ripped into FLAC and I will normally listen to a playlist of the album. Much like putting in a CD. Also, I read somewhere that FLAC entusiasts dont like RG because "Replay Gain is not lossless" and the defeats the purpose of lossless. I dunno. I do have some loose songs and I guess I should use RG for those. I just dont. I dont see the need really but I know that people like it.


Quote:

With regards to my question about adverts, if you click the "i" button ("More information about this artist) when in the Media Library, you get adverts via AOL music.
Yeah, whenever you go outside of winamp to a webpage, you might get ads. Basically winamp provides a portal for you to find information about an artist without going outside of the program. Unfortunately, nothing can be done about that because that is an external webpage that is not maintained by Winamp. Thankfully, if you dont like these portals, they can be removed.
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Old 7th January 2009, 18:56   #12
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Replaygain is as lossy as the volume control (since it doesn't do anything else).
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Old 7th January 2009, 18:59   #13
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Quote:
Originally posted by gaekwad2
Replaygain is as lossy as the volume control (since it doesn't do anything else).
gaekwad2, you make an excellent point. However, I am sure you can see the point that replaygain is not a direct reprensentation of the CD. I am not choosing sides. I think that both points are valid. I dont have anything against RG, I just dont use it.
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Old 9th January 2009, 15:22   #14
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Hi Juanus/gaekwad2,

Many thanks for taking the time to answer all my questions and for the interesting discussions they generated. I'm very grateful. The subject is clearly much more complex that I originally thought.

The ultimate purpose of my questions was to help me to make the best informed decision as to which settings I should use when I start ripping my large CD collection with Winamp. I want to make sure that my music is optimally ripped and compressed from the outset, thus avoiding the need to repeat this laborious task because I chose sub-optimal settings.

Currently I have quite a lot of albums ripped at 256kbps CBR in iTunes (don't laught!). This was before I became enlightened by Winamp and the LAME encoder! I don't want to repeat that mistake this time!

One final question I have. I've noticed that a number of digital download music retailers (e.g. Amazon) sell their files encoded with LAME using -V 0 (--alt-preset fast extreme). Juanus advised using --alt preset fast standard (-V 2). Do you think there is any tangible audio quality gain at the expense of an increase in file size that would justify that setting? With regards to the increased file size, my logic follows the line that as the capacity of storage devices and MP3 players is continuously increasing and getting cheaper, whereas my spare time (to re-rip my music collection at a higher quality level) is finite, ergo it's better just to go straight to the best quality I can get i.e. --alt-preset fast extreme (barring the insane preset at 320kbps CBR). Any thoughts?

Cheers.
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Old 9th January 2009, 16:18   #15
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The difference is very small. If something isn't transparent at -V2 it very often won't be transparent at 320 CBR either (though it might sound a little better). But then storage space is cheap.

Otoh you might consider ripping to lossless (in this case: FLAC) instead, that's the only way to be 100% sure you won't have to rerip.* Converting those files to mp3 for a portable doesn't take that much time (plus you can get away with using a lower quality setting if you notice the portable is filling up quicker than you thought). It'll take 3-4x as much space on your computer HD though (compared to -V0).

*ripping errors notwithstanding to be really sure, use EAC
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Old 9th January 2009, 16:46   #16
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nbinns, Listen to gaekwad2, he knows of which he speaks. Let me tell you what I THINK would be the best way and its the way I did it and its what gaekwad suggested. Rip everything to FLAC. Storage space is cheap and it doesnt take up as much space as you might think. I have approx 600 full albums and it takes about 150 gigs. Then what I did was to use winamp's format converter and transcode all of those to a seperate MP3 directory using the same directory structure. I just set it up before I went to bed and when I woke up they were all done. This takes up about 40 gigs and I sync my iPod with those. But when I am listening to music, I listen to the FLACs.

By ripping to FLAC, you can make sure that you will never have to rerip your whole collection again. If you want them in a different format or use a different encoding method, send them to the format converter and go to bed.
Just make sure you keep those FLACs in a safe place and back them up constantly! Thats basically how I did it. I saved you all the boring stuff about directory structure and organizing.
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Old 9th January 2009, 17:14   #17
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Hi Juanus/gaekwad2,

Many thanks for the advice re. ripping to FLAC. Please could you tell me where I can find the Winamp Pro format converter that you mentioned, for transcoding to MP3. I'm sorry to ask, but I'm relatively new to Winamp and I haven't used this approach before.
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Old 9th January 2009, 17:17   #18
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Yeah, easy.
Right click on something either in the playlist or the Media Library > Send To > Format Converter
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Old 10th January 2009, 13:31   #19
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Hi Juanus,

I'll follow your advice regarding ripping to FLAC first.

On the subject of Replay Gain. I understand your point of view that it's messing about with the volume level across an album in a way the sound recording engineer didn't intend, but surely it doesn't hurt to apply Replay Gain to all tracks at the point of encoding, since the effect it produces is only realisable if you actively turn on Replay Gain in the Playback preferences in Winamp (or whatever media player you are using). After all, Replay Gain information is nothing but metadata stored in ID3v2 tags and it's there should you want to avoid widely varying volume levels across a playlist.

One other question. Does Winamp store album art as ID3v2 metadata (or another tag type) so that it will be included with the MP3 file when it's copied over to a player such as an iPod?
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Old 10th January 2009, 17:09   #20
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Quote:
Originally posted by nbinns
I understand your point of view that it's messing about with the volume level across an album in a way the sound recording engineer didn't intend
You can use album gain if you don't like track gain.

Quote:
One other question. Does Winamp store album art as ID3v2 metadata (or another tag type) so that it will be included with the MP3 file when it's copied over to a player such as an iPod?
No, and mostly no. Winamp saves covers an an image in the containing folder for the file(s) and it won't copy covers to a portable unless you embed them into a file and Winamp just copies the file, i.e. embedded covers are lost if you encode (convert) the audio.

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Old 10th January 2009, 18:29   #21
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Quote:
Originally posted by J_Darnley
No, and mostly no. Winamp saves covers an an image in the containing folder for the file(s) and it won't copy covers to a portable unless you embed them into a file and Winamp just copies the file, i.e. embedded covers are lost if you encode (convert) the audio.
Actually J_D, I have to disagree just a little.
1) Winamp does not save the image to the ID3 tag. It saves it to the folder. Personally I think that this is better than saving the image to the ID3 tag. Always seemed silly to me to embed the cover art to EACH file when you can just have it once and that will work.
2) If you have images embedded in a file, and you use the winamp format converter, it will copy over all the tags EXCEPT the album art because it cannot write album art to the file. However, if you have the album art stored in the folder and use the format converter, it will copy over the album art in the same format. I would hope that in the future, the format converter could see the album art embedded in a file and then extract it to the folder or something along those lines.
3) When it comes to managing your iPod, I have to admit that the built in pmp_ipod leaves a little to be desired when it comes to functionality, but it does a really good job. Here is the simple rule, If winamp sees your music and album art and playlists correctly, it will copy the music and art and playlists correctly when you sync to your iPod. The only problem that I have with the built in iPod manager is that when you play a song the art doesnt appear next to it in the display. But it shows up everywhere else like in coverflow and all that. And I know that art issue is being worked on so I am hoping that in the next version it will be fixed.

Quote:
Originally posted by nbinns
On the subject of Replay Gain. I understand your point of view that it's messing about with the volume level across an album in a way the sound recording engineer didn't intend, but surely it doesn't hurt to apply Replay Gain to all tracks at the point of encoding, since the effect it produces is only realisable if you actively turn on Replay Gain in the Playback preferences in Winamp (or whatever media player you are using). After all, Replay Gain information is nothing but metadata stored in ID3v2 tags and it's there should you want to avoid widely varying volume levels across a playlist.
You are right, now that I revisit the issue, I should have done ReplayGain on all my files when I originally ripped them and then not turned on the option. But at least I would have had the information available if I decided to use it. It never hurts to have too much information availible in the tags. I also wish I had written the track numbers as track/total. But oh well minor things in the long run.
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Old 18th July 2011, 17:16   #22
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Feature requests

Humble apologies for reviving an old thread. At least it cleared up the difference between Quality and VBR Q:

Quote:
Originally Posted by gaekwad2 View Post
Actually the UI still exposes too many options (*cough* Stereo *cough*), and is confusing eg. if you don't know that you're supposed to set vbr "bitrate" via VBR Q and not via Min/Max Bitrate or Quality.

As for additional switches, I don't think the dll (Winamp doesn't use lame.exe) allows access to all of them, and the most 1337 ones have been completely disabled in beta/final versions anyway (no more --preset audiophile).
I don't know what is possible with the lame.dll, but I would like to see the following:
  • Ability to embed art into mp3 file. While placing a single image into an album folder makes some sense, the 10-20kB per file addition is hardly much of an impact on file size, when we're arguing merits of VBR. And also I prefer not to use album folders. I let WinAmp's ML GUI do the sorting for me.
  • I prefer mp3gain vs. Replay Gain. It embeds volume adjust into mp3 encode (losslessly) so that even old mp3 player that cannot recognize Replay Gain will benefit. The disadvantage is that mp3gain has no album gain feature.
  • With respect to VBR, I don't care how long the encode takes, opting instead for quality instead of efficiency for the same resulting file size. I prefer a more detailed analysis of the originating file that results in a more compact high quality file, much like a 2-pass ABR would be. I would like to understand the best setting to accomplish this.
  • I'd like to see high- and low-pass filter options. It's been a long time since I've been able to hear anything above 15kHz, and 20kHz bandpass is overkill for most of us.
  • Disallowing anything lower than 32 kbps under ABR/VBR. This is a bug.

Last edited by onix; 18th July 2011 at 17:19. Reason: typos
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Old 18th July 2011, 19:55   #23
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Improvements to LAME encoder integration within Winamp

Quote:
Originally Posted by onix View Post
Ability to embed art into mp3 file. While placing a single image into an album folder makes some sense, the 10-20kB per file addition is hardly much of an impact on file size, when we're arguing merits of VBR. And also I prefer not to use album folders. I let WinAmp's ML GUI do the sorting for me.
That's one of the main reasons why I gave up using Winamp and started using MediaMonkey - it uses the LAME encoder and allows seamless embedding of album art directly from Amazon.
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Old 18th July 2011, 21:08   #24
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Quote:
Originally Posted by onix View Post
  • I prefer mp3gain vs. Replay Gain. It embeds volume adjust into mp3 encode (losslessly) so that even old mp3 player that cannot recognize Replay Gain will benefit. The disadvantage is that mp3gain has no album gain feature.
Not?

http://meggamusic.co.uk/shup/1311023244/ag.png

And MP3Gain is only lossless if you keep the Tags, which hold the undo values. If the tags are lost, you cannot restore the original volume anymore.
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Old 18th July 2011, 21:17   #25
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mp3gain

Sure, let's be clear. The stored audio quality remains unchanged using mp3gain -- there is no re-encode. The studio volume setting is lost, so if you consider that loss being lossy, then yes.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Koopa View Post
Not?

http://meggamusic.co.uk/shup/1311023244/ag.png

And MP3Gain is only lossless if you keep the Tags, which hold the undo values. If the tags are lost, you cannot restore the original volume anymore.

Last edited by onix; 18th July 2011 at 21:18. Reason: Clarification
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