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MP3 compression is probably the most popular format ever for sharing audio over the Internet. MP3 has become so popular that manufacturers already started making stand alone MP3 players so you can listen to your favorite MP3s even without a computer nearby. The music industry tries to bring down MP3 as being illegal which is absolutely not true! MP3 is here, and it is here to stay. That is until a much better compression format arrives of course :)

In this part of the tutorial we will use the Fraunhofer IIS MPEG Layer-3 Codec (professional).

Product: Fraunhofer IIS MPEG Layer-3 Codec (professional)
Author: Fraunhofer Gesellschaft
Platform: Windows 95/98/ME/NT/2000
Price: ?

In 1987, the Fraunhofer IIS-A started to work on a perceptual audio coding in the framework of the EUREKA project EU147, Digital Audio Broadcasting (DAB). In a joint cooperation with the University of Erlangen, the Fraunhofer IIS-A finally devised a very powerful algorithm that is standardized as ISO-MPEG Audio Layer-3 (IS 11172-3 and IS 13818-3). This revolutionary compression standard became popular under the name MP3. MP3 was the first compression standard that could provide near CD quality at a decent compression ratio. Through the years the psycho-acoustic model of the Fraunhofer encoders has improved providing even better quality.

The Fraunhofer codec used here is version 1.263 with Radium hack. Not Fraunhofer's latest but without doubt their best encoder to date. The newer Fraunhofer codecs offer better Variable Bitrate performance, but their output quality is lower than the good old 1.263. Avoid 'em! Nowadays Fraunhofer is surpassed in both quality and speed by LAME. When it comes to Variable Bitrate encoding you better forget about Fraunhofer. It's just not on par with LAME. If you really want the best encoder you better read the LAME part of this tutorial. What Fraunhofer excels in is low bitrate encoding. At bitrates of 128 kbit/s and lower no other encoder can beat Fraunhofer. However, our goal is creating high bitrate (thus higher quality) MP3 files.

Obtain the Fraunhofer codec

The Fraunhofer Professional codec is unlike LAME not open source freeware (yet another reason to use LAME). Therefore I cannot provide a download location (and don't mail me for one). Anyway, for a seasoned Internet user it shouldn't cost too much effort to find the Radium enhanced Fraunhofer 1.263 codec.

Configuring EAC for the Fraunhofer codec

Make sure you have Configured The Compression Options in Exact Audio Copy.

From The EAC menu select Compression Options... or press F11. This opens the Compression options window.

Make sure Use external program for compression is disabled on the External Compression tab. Otherwise you are not able to select the Fraunhofer codec. Then on the Waveform tab select Fraunhofer IIS MPEG Layer-3 Codec (professional) from the Wave format drop down box.

Enable Add ID3 tag if you want to take advantage of the ID3 tag features. The ID3 tag saves extra information like artist name, track title, album title into the MP3 file. The newer ID3v2 tag (which is also supported by EAC - see Configuring The Compression Options) can store even more extra information and gets rid of ID3v1's 30 characters limitation.

Check Do not write WAV header to file to avoid the writing of a WAV header. MP3 cannot be wrapped by a WAV header. Therefore this option must be enabled.

Enter .mp3 in the File extension for headerless files. Note the dot (point) before the extension. It is necessary to put the dot in front of the letters mp3.

Setting the Fraunhofer encoding options for high quality constant bitrate encoding

Fraunhofer can be configured in EAC by selecting the bitrate from the Sample format drop down box on the Waveform tab. As mentioned before we will use the recommended settings for MP3 encoding. has done extensive tests with MP3 encoders and defined the optimal settings for the best quality. recommends 256 kbit/s high quality stereo encoding. See the screenshots on the left for an example. Fraunhofer uses stereo mode encoding by default at 256 kbit/s.

When uploading to newsgroups or FTPs 256 kbit/s MP3s are sometimes considered as a little bit overkill. Most people do not hear the difference between 192 kbit/s encoded files and 256 kbit/s. Therefore you may choose to use 192 kbit/s instead. Note that Fraunhofer will use joint stereo at bitrates of 192 kbit/s and lower. You'll have to change the Fraunhofer settings if you want to use the preferred stereo mode. In Windows 2000 (sorry, no 95/98/ME here) that can be done via Start -> Settings -> Control Panel -> Sounds and Multimedia -> Hardware -> Audio Codecs -> Properties -> Properties -> Fraunhofer IIS MPEG Layer-3 Codec -> Properties -> Settings...

192 kbit/s is nowadays the preferred bitrate for Internet distribution. However, for personal use, or if you just care about quality always go for 256 kbit/s.

When you are sure the settings are correct for your needs click the OK button. EAC is now configured to extract to high quality MP3 files. See Extracting Tracks To Your Harddisk for more information about this.