Originally Posted by xda_dentex
So, the one million dollar question: where would you "stop" the available qualities, regarding mp3 conversion in YTD... considering what's available as audio from YouTube? 192, 256 or 320 kbps? (I would not transcode at all... but that's different. Most people want mp3s anyway).
I transcode to MP3 not for quality, but simply because it is so compatible with so much hardware and software. I use the files on multiple devices, with one MP3 player being over 15 years old, but still going strong
As for the bit rate, for me, its a simple cost-quality calculation. Storage is so relatively cheap, so I go for the highest bit rate. However, in reality,:
1. I understand that the source is bad to start with, so a high quality copy of a distorted sample is arguably a waste. However I repeat, storage is cheap.
2. I actually have headphones with a frequency response of (I *think*) 8Hz to 23KHz. Most people use cheaper headphones with an advertised response of 20Hz to 20kHz. Some people raise the point we cannot hear above 20kHz, however, they miss the point that the device reported 20kHz is actually the point at which the response degrades below a specific level. ie 20.0001kHz is not reproduced acceptably, and 19kHZ may only be just acceptable by the standard; ie not 100%. So, going too high in sound quality may be wasted by the physical reproduction channel (ie conversion from data to physical audio, sound waves, which is analogue). You also have degradation at the DAC and amplifier.
3. I am no longer a spring chicken. My ability to hear the higher frequencies is physically degraded. ie most adults cannot hear the higher frequencies retained in quality recordings.
And to clarify the above, unless you go really low in your MP3 bit rates, most audible quality is lost (or added/distorted) in the higher frequency end. However, really low bit rates will have audible artifacts in the lower end as well. eg mono bass
Historically, 128Kbs has been considered the min bit rate that most people find acceptable; it has been super common since the days of music sharing apps ie Napster and ilk. 192Kbs is approaching a quality that on casual listening, a lot of people have said approaches CD quality. Personally, I find anything below 128Kbs hard to listen to, and 192Kbs as acceptable for most speaker playback. However, as I said, if I can, I encode as high as possible, but usually at or below 320Kbs; above that I personally find it difficult to differentiate the audio with an uncompressed source. Note, I am not talking just about YouTube clips here, I also encode other digital audio.
So in summary, I encode as high as available as disk space is cheap, and into MP3 as its so well supported. Its a personal choice which also depends on your intended playback device and storage choice. Also, if you can use the format no transcoding would always be the best route.