BladeEnc FAQ

What is BladeEnc?

BladeEnc is simply a program to generate MP3-files from WAV-samples. It has been based upon source code from ISO, the organization that defined the MPEG Layer 3 standard and should therefore do a good job when encoding your WAV-files.

What is the legal status of BladeEnc?

BladeEnc is freeware and I intend to keep it that way. However, if you like BladeEnc I would like you to send me an E-mail or a postcard. It's always nice to get feedback. However, due to patents held by Fraunhofer IIS and Thomson Consumer Electronics it might be illegal to use BladeEnc for certain purposes in certain countries.

What are the system requirements?

The Windows version of BladeEnc functions properly on a 486 or better running Windows'9x/NT, but since MP3 encoding is a very time consuming task, I really recommend you to run it on the fastest machine available.

It looks like a DOS program!

Yes it does, but it is actually a real 32-bit Windows Application, supporting things like long filenames etc.
The reason it looks as it does is that it's much easier to port to other operating systems this way. If you dislike the interface there are a nice selection of frontends to choose from on my Supporting Products Page.
Why should I use BladeEnc instead of MP3 Compressor/MP3 Producer/L3Enc/mpegEnc?

Well, maybe you shouldn't. It all depends on what you want to do.

If you, like most people, want to make 128 kBit MP3-files you should go for MP3 Producer or MP3 Compressor since these encoders are the fastest available and well-geared for coping with this bitrate. You should in no event use Xing's mpeg encoder since that encoder creates MP3-files of terrible quality!

However, if you want to produce high quality MP3's of 160 kBit or higher (personally I prefer 256 kBit) you should definitely go for either BladeEnc or mpegEnc. Even if the latest versions of MP3 Producer and L3Enc supports higher bitrates than 128
kBit, they are still geared for lower bitrates and therefore generates lower quality at high bitrates than a more general implementation.

Both BladeEnc and mpegEnc are built around the same core, a sourcecode form the ISO-team, and therefore generates nearly identical results. BladeEnc might produce MP3's of a slightly better quality than mpegEnc since I have been VERY careful when changing the sourcecode to make sure that I don't make any modification that might affect the sound quality in a negative way.

The main difference between BladeEnc and mpegEnc is that BladeEnc is a lot faster (between four to five times faster, depending on your computer equipment) while mpegEnc has a much nicer user interface. If you don't like the commandline approach of BladeEnc you can always use one of the numerous frontends presented on my Supporting Products Page.


Isn't 128 kBit good enough for anyone?

Definitely not. If you're just using your MP3's to play music coming from a standard sound card through a set of standard multimedia speakers, you can always settle with 128 kBit. But if you have a somewhat more sophisticated music equipment, you can almost certainly hear the difference between a 128 kBit MP3 and the original CD-track.

Another thing to take into account is that you not only hear music, you (for the lack of a better word) "feel" it too.
The reason is that you subconsiously hear more than what filters through to your consious mind. To illustrate this, let me give you an example:

Let's put a drummer to play a drum-solo and record the contents. Then let a drum-machine play exactly the same drum-solo with samples that corresponds to the drums the drummer was using and make a recording of this too. If you have been very careful and your drummer have a very good beat-feeling, you should now have two recordings that you can't tell apart just by listening a few seconds to them each. But if you were to play the two recordings for two different test audiances, you would probably notice that the one listening to the drum-machine recording starts to get tired of the drum-solo much sooner than the one listening to the real drummer. Why?

The reason is simple. Every single beat of the drummer is unique. He never hits the drum at exactly the same spot or with exactly the same strength, neither does he always keep the beat exactly. The drum machine on the other hand plays exactly the same sounds over and over again and this is discovered by your subconsious, that gets "tired of this repeating sound".

I have during a number of occasions listened to MP3's for hours while doing something else and suddenly discovered that the current song sounds more natural and "alive" than the previous ones without being able to say where the difference is. After having taken a closer look at the MP3's I have always found that the current song has a higher bitrate than the previous ones.

Personally I prefer to use 256 kBit MP3's since this gives a wastly better quality than 128 kBit and at the same time isn't too big to handle.
How do I use BladeEnc with Audiograbber?

  1. Select MP3 Settings from the Preferences menu.

  2. Mark the "Send Wavefile to MP3 program" checkbox.

  3. Use the browsebutton to navigate to and select BladeEnc.exe.

  4. Select what bitrate to use. If you want to use a bitrate that isn't displayed in the list (40, 48, 80, 160, 224 or 320 kBit/s) you can mark the checkbox named "Own arguments" and enter "-br 160000" (for 160 kBit/s) in the field right of the checkbox. Please note that 8, 16 and 24 kBit/s are bitrates that aren't supported by BladeEnc.

  5. Click the OK-button. Now will all tracks you rip automatically be compressed using BladeEnc when the MP3-checkbox in the main window is marked.

How do I use BladeEnc with WinDAC?
WinDAC has something called scripts that can be run after each ripped track. These scripts functions as normal commandlines so the only thing you have to do is to write a script that calls BladeEnc with your desired parameters. I would recommend "BladeEnc %L -160 -QUIT -DELETE" for encoding the ripped WAV to a 160 kBit MP3 and then automatically delete the WAV-file. Make sure to mark the "Wait for End" checkbox. Please note that you might have to enter the whole path for BladeEnc if you don't have put BladeEnc.exe in the SYSTEM-directory.

Also make sure to mark the "Run Script" checkbox in the confirmation dialog that pops up before WinDAC starts to rip the tracks.

How do I use BladeEnc with CD Copy?

  1. Go to the filemenu and select options.

  2. Switch to the "General" tab.

  3. Mark MP3 in the "save file as" selection.

  4. Switch to the "Read" tab.

  5. Mark the "Use BladeEnc" checkbox.

  6. Write the path to BladeEnc (excluding filename) in the edit field named "Compressorpath".

  7. Write -QUIT in the edit field marked "Add command line options".

  8. Switch to the "MP3/WAV/RA/VQF formats" tab and select bitrate.

On some systems (Windows NT?) CD Copy only shows a blank console window when BladeEnc is running, which can be a bit confusing.

Will you release the sourcecode for BladeEnc?

Yes, the source will be available sometimes later, most likely before the end of the year.

Will you port BladeEnc to [operating system] ?

I would love to see BladeEnc ported to all possible operating systems. The only problem is that I only have knowledge in and access to Windows/DOS and Linux machines. But if someone who has access to the specified machine and the necessary knowledge and tools volunteers to port it I'm sure we can work something out. However, check my download section first since BladeEnc allready is available for a number of systems.

Will you support VQF?

I can't. Yamaha hasn't released the source for their encoder or any technical details on how VQF works, so I have nothing to start from. The only way to do one would be to reverse engineer their encoder which is a hell of a job. Besides, I don't think they would be especially glad if I did it. They would probably send me to court.

If Yamaha would reconsider and release a reference sourcecode for both an encoder and decoder I would gladly include VQF support in BladeEnc.

Will you support AAC/MP4?

As soon as I can get my hands on a decent AAC encoder reference source I'll start to include AAC support in BladeEnc. The currently available reference code is almost useless and considering that Fraunhofer seems to be more protectionistic when it comes to AAC than they have been with MP3 its quite possible that we never will see a decent reference source. Although they seem to be forced to release the source for a reference encoder in order to make AAC into an MPEG standard, they can still scale it down and fuck it up so that it's practically useless...
Does BladeEnc use Joint-Stereo or "Real Stereo" ?

BladeEnc uses "real stereo". This is one of the reasons that it works worse than Fraunhofers encoders at low/medium bitrates and better at high bitrates.
Will you optimize BladeEnc for AMD's K6-2 with 3DNow technology?

Possibly, but not for some time to come. I have a K6-2 myself, but I rather concentrate on doing more general improvements that benefits everyone first.

Will you write an MP3 decoder as well?

Well, since basically every MP3 player has an option to decode the MP3 to a WAV-file I really don't see a necessity for a complementing BladeDec program. However, a lot of people have asked for a commandline based decoder, so I might write one in the future.  

How do I convert an MP3 into a WAV?

Most MP3 Players, including the very popular WinAmp, have a feature for decoding the MP3 file back to a WAV. In WinAmp you can do it by changing the output plugin to something called "Nullsoft Diskwriter". All played MP3 files will then be decoded to WAV files intstead of actually being played.

How do I convert an MP3 to a .CDA?

<Sigh> I get this question all the time and I think its time for a somewhat more indepth explanation:

First of all, music CD's does NOT contain CDA-files, they contain raw sound data which isn't organised into files at all. It's just a continuous stream of sound data that could be compared to what you have on a normal audio casette or vinyl record. The only difference is that it's digitally encoded and that you have some information in the beginning telling the CD player the number of tracks and where they start and end. If you try to view the contents of a music CD in Windows you will be shown a number of files called Track01.cda, Track02.cda etc. This is just Windows way of telling you that its a music CD with a certain number of tracks. The CDA-files isn't on the CD, they're just an illusion, provided by Windows. If you try to copy the CDA files from the CD you will (depending on your system) either:

A. Get an error message.

B. Get a small CDA file that doesn't contain the sound data itself. It only works as a shortcut to the actual track on the CD.

C. Get a WAV-file on your harddrive containing the music. This is only provided if your CD-Rom drivers have built functions for CD-Ripping and is quite neat since its a very straight forward way to rip the contents of a CD without the need of an external program.

So, I guess that what most of you actually wants to know is the answer to the following question:

How do I put my MP3 files back on a CD so I can play them in my CD Player?

Simply convert them back to WAV-files (see question above if you don't know how to do it). All CD cutting software I know of can cut WAV-files as CD tracks. Read their manuals or online help.