LAME Encoder vs Fraunhofer: Is There a Difference?

Podcasters and musicians know there is a difference between the LAME Encoder utilized by Audacity’s recording software and the Fraunhofer codec used by iTunes.

When listening to spoken word recordings, such as a podcast episode, does the audience know the difference?

Most will not. After all, they are listening in a noisy car or through tiny earbuds while jogging.

While superior audio quality isn’t necessary for podcasts, there is one step I recommend you take that could improve the overall quality of your production:

Convert your files to MP3 using iTunes on your computer.

 

Audacity’s LAME Encoder (LAME is a real name)

I’m a HUGE fan of Audacity. I even created a course to help frustrated podcasters learn how to use Audacity more efficiently with Tips and Tricks I’ve used for almost 15 years.

Audacity requires the use of a 3rd party option called the LAME Encoder. Once installed, you are able to export your Audacity project as an MP3
Audacity MP3 converter SettingsHowever, Audacity makes LOUSY sounding MP3 files for podcasters. Maybe I am an audio snob but there are some shows where you can tell the sound is a little “off”.

 

Fraunhofer: A Superior Codec

Fraunhofer IIS practically invented the MP3 standard that we use every single day – whether as a podcast produce or a listener.

How do you get the Fraunhofer converter? Simply install iTunes on your PC or use it on your Mac. iTunes is a free program for PC or Mac – and it comes with the Fraunhofer codec built in!

I have used iTunes to convert recordings from CDs and old vinyl for many years and found the sound quality to be superior to Audacity and Windows Media Player.

 

How to use iTunes to make an MP3

These first few steps demonstrate how to set your preferences inside iTunes. Once completed, the settings are saved and will be used every time going forward.

Note: The screenshots below are for Mac users

Set Your Import Settings in iTunes:

First, click on Preferences (PC users will find this under the Edit menu / Mac users find it under iTunes in the menu bar).

Next, click on Import Settings

04 iTunes Settings (import or convert file)

From here you can set the file type (ie: MP3) and overall quality of your conversion (Good Quality 128 kbps).

05 Change iTunes import-convert settings

Most podcasters like yourself will choose between 128kbps to 192kbps mono or joint stereo.

07 Choose iTunes import-convert bitrate

You could dive deeper into the settings by selecting Custom and changing the bit rate, sample rate, channels, etc.

Below are my settings: 

08 Choose convert settingsI used to convert to 192kbps mono but found little difference in using 128kbps mono – except the file size was 30% smaller!

 

How to Convert Your Podcast Recording in iTunes:

I export my Audacity project as a WAV file and keep an original copy – just in case.

Then I drag the WAV file into iTunes. Don’t worry if it shows up as a music file – you aren’t keeping it in iTunes for long.

03 iTunes library (music)

Simply right-click the file and select “Create MP3 Version”.

09 Right-click Create MP3 Version...

A copy will be made in an MP3 format.

10 Creates MP3 version

From there you can Right-click > Get Info to tag the file title, add artwork, etc.

Voila! You have a file ready to upload to your media server (I use libsyn).

 

Test the difference for yourself

If you want to hear the difference, if any, follow these steps:

  1. Find a WAV recording on your computer (or create one to test)
  2. Open the WAV file in Audacity, then export it as an MP3
  3. Take the same WAV file and drag it into iTunes (the desktop program on your computer)
  4. Export the WAV in iTunes as MP3 (Edit > Preferences > General Tab – Import Settings button > Import Using: MP3 Encoder, Settings: Good Quality (128 kbps) > OK button)
Finally, put in a set of earbuds and listen to the two MP3s back-to-back. Let me know if you hear a difference.

 

 

If you found this tutorial helpful then check out The Audacity Workshop.

The first 10 videos for free at http://SteveStewart.me/Audacity

Once you finish adjusting the Import Settings then simply right-click the file in your iTunes Library and click "Create MP3 Version" in the drop-down menu.Sign up today and receive invitations to exclusive webinars with podcast industry experts.

Previous webinars featured:

  • Daniel J Lewis from The Audacity To Podcast
  • Dave Jackson from the School of Podcasting
  • Hani Mourra, creator of Simple Podcast Press media player
  • Craig Carpenter from RelayThat.com
  • Jeff Brown from Read To Lead Podcast
  • and MORE!

Click here to find out more

About Steve Stewart

Hello! My name is Steve and I started podcasting in 2010 on the MoneyPlan SOS podcast. I love everything about this exciting new medium! I would share my enthusiasm with bloggers who would say "I should start a podcast!" I agree: instead of a cold, faceless logo with no personality - You Should Podcast Too! The purpose of this website it to encourage you to put your image in front of your audience. Let your readers/listeners/fans get to see who you are and identify you as someone they can trust. Maybe you just want to record a YouTube video and embed it on your site or offer an audio version of your Free Report. It has never been cheaper and easier. And Yes, You Can Podcast Too!

Comments

LAME Encoder vs Fraunhofer: Is There a Difference? — 1 Comment

  1. Pingback: iTunes Changed the Steps to Convert WAV to MP3

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *