MP3 bit rates explained

If you have used mp3 for a while you will probably be aware that there are different bit-rates available for encoding an audio file to mp3. Newbies to mp3 could be forgiven for thinking that bit rates don’t really matter much, after all mp3 is mp3…but those of you who have used mp3 for some time will be aware that bit-rates are an important consideration when encoding. This is because the higher the bit-rate, the better the quality, right?

Well yes…and no!

Technically, the higher the bit rate, the better quality of the file (for example, you’d expect a song encoded at 320Kb/s to be better quality than 128Kb/s). But, this is only correct on paper – in practice this argument is fundamentally flawed. And it’s all to do with the way our ears perceive sound and the way computers and mp3 players play mp3 files.

If I were to say to you that a backing track encoded at 128Kb/s was far superior to a backing track encoded at 320Kb/s would you disagree? If so then you’re in for a shock because it is!

Don’t encode another backing track or buy another backing track until you’ve read my article on choosing a bit rate for backing tracks which explains fully why you should NEVER encode a backing track any higher than 128Kb/s.