Encoding Your Music - dummies

By Jeff Strong

The actual encoding process is pretty simple. Just open your MP3 encoding software and choose the parameters that you want for your file. This is not a list of the step-by-step details here — every encoding program is a little bit different — but keep the following points in mind when you encode your music:

  • To ensure that you get the best sound quality possible, encode your MP3s from a WAV or AIFF file instead of directly from your CD. The process of ripping a song from a CD can create problems in sound quality.

    So, by converting your CD to WAV or AIFF files first, you get a chance to hear your ripped song and to correct problems that ripping may have caused before your music goes to MP3.

  • Import your WAV or AIFF file into a sound editor. Sound editor programs, such as Sound Forge 9, work fine. When you have your file in the editor, use the Maximizer plug-in to raise the overall level of your song. You lose some dynamics, but they don’t come through with the MP3 file anyway.

    If you recorded your music in your computer, you can use the recording software instead of a separate sound editor to do this procedure.

  • Choose the mono or joint stereo modes for a better sound. The regular stereo option has a lower resolution (bit rate) and doesn’t sound as good given the same file size. Choosing the force stereo option is fine if your encoder supports it.

  • If you want to put your music on the web, choose the 128-Kbps bit rate for downloading and a rate between 64 and 96 Kbps for streaming audio.

  • Experiment with different modes and encoding engines. Some sound better than others on certain types of music.