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by Brian Schrader

More Efficient VBR MP3s and Podcasting

Posted on Mon, 15 Aug 2016 at 12:30 PM

Marco Arment

I explained how MP3s work, and why this is a problem, on Accidental Tech Podcast last week...

See for yourself: here’s that same podcast in VBR. Note that the file is 25% smaller and the theme song (at 1:22:47 in the original file) sounds way nicer in the VBR version. But if you seek to the same timestamp as the above share link — 1:24:30 — you’ll hear the wrong audio. The player will say 1:24:30, but you’re actually hearing the audio at 1:25:16.

This post is direct follow up to his really awesome discussion on ATP this week about Variable BitRate (VBR) MP3s and why they're more space-efficient, better sounding, and yet no one uses them. It's a really interesting topic, and as usual, Marco does a great job illustrating the problem and the many possible solutions.

As with so many things in software, the solutions are rarely limited by technology, they're limited by the standards we use (or don't use).

Why don’t podcasts use VBR MP3s? Because iOS and macOS don’t accurately seek them →

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