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Encoding .mp3 on Windows using LameXP

Ronald MacDonald <ronald@rmacd.com> v1.0, Tue Oct 23 13:20:52 GMT 2007

Introduction

This HOWTO walks you through the simple task of converting .WAV files to MP3 files.

The MP3 codec is regarded as a fairly bog standard, lossy codec, which is owned by Fraunhofer. There are many shareware applications that will encode many different formats into .MP3’s, but these applications cost since a proportion of the profits must be given to Fraunhofer, the holders of the mp3 patent.

To encode MP3’s for free, we will use the application LameXP 3.08. LameXP is a frontend to LAME, an Open Souce application which encodes media to MP3.

Download and Install

LameXP is availble to download from lamexp.sourceforge.net.

Startup and Configuration

Once you’ve opened the application, the first options to have a look at are in the ‘Configuration’ tab. Many of these can be left as they are, but a couple of the interesting ones I’ll outline as follows:

Encoder Quality/Speed: Essentially, the quicker you encode a file, the lesser quality the output will be. Quality significantly affects the output, both in terms of the harmonic distortion as well as the eventual file size.

Channels: Setting this to other than ‘automatic’ in some circumstances is very useful sometimes. For example, if you have a mono audio track, and wish to put it on stereo, selecting the ‘stereo’ option will force the track to be stereo.

Display Encoder Console: For impatient or inquisitive users, this option will display the progress of the track as it passes through the encoder. Information can also be gleaned from this to find the most suitable quality to speed ratio.

In addition to these options, it is also useful to go through some of the settings outlined on the ‘Compression’ tab. For general use, it is probably easier to understand the concept of Bitrate-Based Compression, select by the first radio button on LameXP. At a low bitrate, the definition of an audio track is much lesser than that of a high bitrate. Ideally, try to use a bit rate greater than or equal to 128kbps. Any less than this and the audio will begin to lose a lot of the higher tones.

Adding and Encoding files

Ideally, all WAV files, ready for converting, should be in the same folder. Using the LameXP interface, navigate to the ‘Source Files’ tab, and click on ‘Add Files’ at the bottom of the window. This will open up a file browser, through which you should select all of your files, either one by one or all at once.

Almost there, it’s now time to take a look at the ‘ID3 Tag’ tab. This allows you to set the details which appear in the media player while replaying your newly created MP3’s. Of particular use are the Artist and Album tags, which will allow you to efficiently sort your music collection if in any case your collection becomes very big.

Last step, select the output of the encoder. Do this by clicking the ‘Output Folder’ tab on the encoder interface, and click ‘Select Personal Folder’. If there are many files, it may be an idea to click ‘Browse’ and create a new folder to store all the encoded tracks in.

Click ‘Encode’, wait a bit, and you’re done!