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The EAC guides are written by xuncat, all screenshots by xuncat (February 2008 - September 2009).

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1. Introduction: Lossy Formats


As previously mentioned, you can convert your FLAC files to lossy formats like mp3 or Ogg Vorbis. Since FLAC is lossless, the files resulting from such a conversion are of the exact same quality as the files you get if you rip to wave and then convert to a lossy format from the wave files. Use an audio converter such as dBpoweramp or similar.

Keep the original FLAC files if you think you may want to perform further conversions in the future. Conversion from lossy files to anything else is bad transcoding, so once you have converted your files to a lossy format you should let them stay that way. The reasons for this, as well as the difference between lossless and lossy formats, are briefly explained in Spectral Comparisons.

You may sometimes prefer to rip an album directly to a lossy format all the same. So, here are instructions for how to rip and have EAC convert files to LAME mp3 or Ogg Vorbis with no intermediate creation of FLAC files. The only difference compared to the main (FLAC) setup guide is step 4b, "External Compression". Leave all the other settings the way they are in the main (FLAC) setup guide. That includes the additional "do not create ID3 tags" settings (setup 4c and 4d). The tags will be created using the command line instead of letting EAC add them.

2. LAME mp3


First of all, you need to get LAME: download the latest stable/final version (at the time of writing that is 3.98.2) from codecs.com or RareWares.

Your download will be a .zip file. You can either extract it to a folder on the desktop and then move lame.exe to your EAC folder, or create a new folder (for example C:\Program Files\LAME), and extract all the files in the .zip archive to that folder.

N.B. There are several different mp3 encoders. They encode to mp3 in dissimilar ways since the MPEG standard does not include a precise specification for encoders. (Decoding, on the other hand, is strictly defined.) If you examine mp3 files with a bitrate/encoding checker such as AudioIdentifier (freeware), you may run into mp3 files encoded with FhG, Xing, or Blade, just to mention the most common ones besides LAME. There are plenty of listening tests that show that different mp3 encoders produce files of audibly different quality. The general consensus is that LAME is superior, at least for higher bitrate encodings, which is why LAME is the one chosen for this tutorial. Also note that mp3, unlike the other formats treated in the EAC Guides, is a proprietory format. Two companies (Fraunhofer IIS and Thomson Consumer Electronics) have been granted patents on mp3 encoding in some countries, which means that distribution of mp3 codecs is somewhat restricted.

As mentioned in the introduction, all the settings will be the same as shown in the Setup Guide (for FLAC), except for the compression settings. In order to change them, hit F11 or click the EAC menu – Compression Options. Choose the "External Compression" tab.

Settings:

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  • Use external program for compression: Checked.

You need to check this in order to make EAC look for the lame.exe file that you specify below.

  • Parameter passing scheme: Select "User Defined Encoder" in the dropdown menu.
  • Use file extension: .mp3 - remember the dot before "mp3", and do not type "MP3", or "Mp3". The program will copy what you type here exactly the way you typed it!
  • Program, including path, used for compression: browse to lame.exe, which will of course be in the EAC folder if you put it there, or in the LAME folder if you created one. The picture shows the latter alternative.
  • Additional Command Line Options:

Select, then copy one of these lines (depending on which preset you are creating a profile for), and paste into the box in EAC:

a) For V0 rips:
-V 0 --vbr-new --add-id3v2 --ignore-tag-errors --ta "%a" --tt "%t" --tg "%m" --tl "%g" --ty "%y" --tn "%n" %s %d

b) For V2 rips:
-V 2 --vbr-new --add-id3v2 --ignore-tag-errors --ta "%a" --tt "%t" --tg "%m" --tl "%g" --ty "%y" --tn "%n" %s %d

c) For 320 CBR rips:
-b 320 -h --add-id3v2 --ignore-tag-errors --ta "%a" --tt "%t" --tg "%m" --tl "%g" --ty "%y" --tn "%n" %s %d

This is what the command line options mean:
-V n: VBR (variable bitrate) quality setting. 0 is the highest quality, 9 is the lowest.
--vbr-new: makes LAME use the new VBR mode. This is the default setting for LAME 3.98, so it could be left out. However, it will do no harm if included, and leaving it in these recommendations will make sure that those that have not upgraded their LAME version will use the new VBR mode.
-b n: setting the lowest allowed bitrate. Since 320 is the highest possible bitrate for mp3s (the non-standard "free format" excepted), the command line above will result in files that are 320 CBR. In other words the files will be encoded to have a constant bitrate of 320 kbps.
-h: makes LAME use the highest recommendable quality setting (q2)
(Read more about the settings for LAME in this Hydrogenaudio article and see the complete list here.)
--add-id3v2: LAME only adds ID3v1 by default, so using this setting will make sure that your files are tagged with both.
--ignore-tag-errors makes LAME compress the files even if you have used non-standard genre tags.
(The use of genre tags that are not supported by LAME will cause LAME to exit without compressing the files - you will be left with only the .wav files in such cases, unless that "ignore tag errors" switch is set. Here is a list of the tags that LAME supports.)
All the --ta, --tt, etc, options are for adding ID3 tags for the files. The tags will be what you see in the main EAC window:

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%s will be replaced by EAC with the full path to the source wave file.
%d will be replaced by EAC with the full path to the destination mp3 file.

  • Bitrate: Will be ignored, so it does not matter what it says.
  • Delete WAV after compression: Checked (unless, for some reason, you want to keep the wave files).
  • Use CRC check: Unchecked.

This setting will be ignored when a "user defined encoder" is used. In some other cases, it makes the encoder store the CRC value in the file's header, which is seldom of any practical use. This setting has nothing to do with the Test and Copy (= Read) CRC values that show in the main window and the log file.

  • Add ID3 tag: Unchecked.

The tags will be made from the command line, not by letting EAC add them.

  • Check for external programs return code: Checked.

This option makes EAC check for and report errors reported by the external compressor (lame.exe), including incorrectly used parameters in the command line. Enable it as an extra precaution against encoding errors (that may happen after the actual rip is finished).

  • High/Low quality: Leave this at "High" - it will have no influence on a rip made with these command lines anyway.

It is possible to use a command line in which the high/low quality settings will result in different encodings. See this Hydrogenaudio wiki page, note 4, for an example.

When you are done with the settings (including FreeDB, EAC Options and Drive Options, if you have not already done them), save the profile as described in Saving Profiles. Give the profile a descriptive name, such as "[Drive name] mp3 V0" or "[Drive name] mp3 320 CBR", etc.

3. Ogg Vorbis


Ogg is really a container format, that can be used with a variety of encoders. This guide is about using the Vorbis format within an Ogg container with EAC. Vorbis is FLAC's lossy "cousin", so to speak. It is superior to mp3 in that it will retain higher audio quality than mp3 for files of the same size. It is, however, not quite as widely supported as mp3, so you may have to add a plugin or even change music player in order to be able to play Ogg Vorbis files. Read more about it here and here.

First of all, you need to get Ogg Vorbis: download the latest version of oggenc from RareWares. The general consensus seems to be that the aoTuV encoder is superior to the original libVorbis encoder (see this Hydrogenaudio article).

Extract the zip file and move the file "oggenc2.exe" into the EAC folder.

As mentioned in the introduction, all the settings will be the same as shown in the Setup Guide (for FLAC), except for the compression settings. In order to change them, hit F11 or click the EAC menu - Compression Options. Choose the "External Compression" tab.

Settings:

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  • Use external program for compression: Checked.

You need to check this in order to make EAC look for the oggenc2.exe file that you specify below.

  • Parameter passing scheme: Select "User Defined Encoder" in the dropdown menu.
  • Use file extension: .ogg - remember the dot before "ogg", and do not type "OGG", or "Ogg". The program will copy what you type here exactly the way you typed it!
  • Program, including path, used for compression: browse to oggenc2.exe in the EAC folder.

  • Additional Command Line Options:

Select, then copy one of these lines (depending on which preset you are creating a profile for), and paste into the box in EAC:

a) For q6 rips:
-q 6 -a "%a" -t "%t" -l "%g" -d "%y" -N "%n" -G "%m" %s -o %d

b) For q7 rips:
-q 7 -a "%a" -t "%t" -l "%g" -d "%y" -N "%n" -G "%m" %s -o %d

c) For q10 rips:
-q 10 -a "%a" -t "%t" -l "%g" -d "%y" -N "%n" -G "%m" %s -o %d

This is what the command line options mean:
-q n: VBR (variable bitrate) quality setting. 10 is the highest quality, -2 is the lowest.
-a, -t, etc: adding "tags" (Ogg Vorbis comments) to the files, similar to the ID3 tags shown for mp3 above.
%s: Source file path.
-o %d: Output file name and destination file path.
Read more about the settings for Ogg Vorbis in this Hydrogenaudio article.

  • Bitrate: Will be ignored, so it does not matter what it says. It happens to say "320" in the screenshot, but you can just as well leave it at 128 kBit/s.
  • Delete WAV after compression: Checked (unless, for some reason, you want to keep the wave files).
  • Use CRC check: Unchecked.

This setting will be ignored when a "user defined encoder" is used. In some other cases, it makes the encoder store the CRC value in the file's header, which is seldom of any practical use. This setting has nothing to do with the Test and Copy (= Read) CRC values that show in the main window and the log file.

  • Add ID3 tag: Unchecked.

The tags, in the shape of Vorbis comments, will be made from the command line. You do not want to risk adding ID3 headers to Ogg Vorbis files since it can make them unplayable by some players.

  • Check for external programs return code: Checked.

This option makes EAC check for and report errors reported by the external compressor (oggenc2.exe), including incorrectly used parameters in the command line. Enable it as an extra precaution against encoding errors (that may happen after the actual rip is finished).

  • High/Low quality: Leave this at "High" - it will have no influence on a rip made with a "user defined encoder" anyway.

When you are done with the settings (including FreeDB, EAC Options and Drive Options, if you have not already done them), save the profile as described in Saving Profiles. Give the profile a descriptive name, such as "[Drive name] ogg q 6" or "[Drive name] ogg q 10", etc.

4. Appendix: The LAME DLL Tab


If you add lame_enc.dll (which is included with LAME 3.98.2) to your EAC folder, a new tab will appear in Compression options:

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It works in combination with selecting the LAME DLL encoder in the Waveform tab:

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However, if you set an external compressor for LAME as described above, the LAME DLL settings will be overwritten. In other words, they will not affect how EAC performs the compression to mp3. I recommend sticking to the external compression method with lame.exe, at least for now - I have not tested the results of using the DLL instead.