video encoding&cleaning


 Codecpage News

  MP3, MP3-5.1
  Ogg Vorbis

  MP4 (AAC)

Sample rate conversion and Asynchronity

Filtering with Cool Edit (Adobe Audition)
Magix Audio Cleaning Lab

Cutting and merging MP3 or MP2
Repairing digital TV audio streams
Other useful audio tools
Audio test files


No video without audio. Compressed, of course. Getting a good audio compressor however is a problem, at least if it should be a codec. Codecs have the advantage that they can be used by several programs for simultaneous video and audio processing.

For capturing or compression with MS Media Encoder, MS audio is recommendable. Good even at 64 kbps (160kbps is very good to capture TV music programs later to be converted to mp3). This however refuses to work in file formats other than ASF and WMV. Both of these formats however tend to stagger at playback, much more so than AVIs. DivX;-) 3.11 contained a hacked MS audio engine that would work with AVIs, BTW.


MP3 is not only the most common standard for audio compression, it's also the most used in connection with DivX video of any kind.

Maybe you can get a software package containing the discontinued FhG professional mp3 codec that usually has the file name L3CODECP.EXE. If you have this file, just execute to install the codec. Audioactive Production Studio contained it, for example.
For legal reasons, I cannot recommend to use any of the hacks circulating on the net. The quality of this old FhG codec is also not so good, it can really produce garbage with certain sources.
The question remains why FhG have abandoned selling any VFW codecs. Their new engine would be much better and faster than the old one.
Instead, they license plugins for some 3rd party software. The disadvantage: you have to split audio and video, then encode audio only, and merge them again.

Nero Burning ROM from Ahead offers an MP3 plugin for as little as $15 (Nero itself is generally much cheaper in stores than at their website, BTW). This plugin is far better and faster than the old VFW codec (10x real time and more). Uncheck 'allow downmixing' (this is a lowpass filter that's really too strong).
The new
mp3 pro engine for Nero could be even better but I haven't yet tried it (available at With no DirectShow filter available for playback, I'll think twice before I pay them a second encoder. What really sucks is that Nero 5.5.x is stubborn in setting 80 kbps mp3pro as default for any single file now. Just as stubborn as it switches off joliet and restores all kinds of imbecile burning options at every upgrade.

The best mp3 option is VBR done with the FhG engine in CoolEdit2000 (or plugin for Cool Edit Pro) by Syntrillium (unfortunately, they sold to Adobe; The latest Cool Edit Pro 2.1 is now almost identical, Adobe Audition 1.0. This is expensive, but Cool Edit also never has been cheap (more below)). Also very fast. Peculiar that the default low pass filtering makes files bigger and worse, at least for the average bitrates. Use none (22050). Switch off intensity joint stereo if possible. If you do so and set quality to 50%, you get something like 80...90 kbps at yet an impeccable quality.
CBR 128 kbps (also filter 22050) is also superior to any other I've heard with this bitrate.

The freeware
Lame is also quite good but low vbr rates, but CoolEdit is considerably better even if Lame is set to slowest encoding (5 times slower than CoolEdit or Nero). A good feature of Lame is the ABR encoding (use Razorlame to set it), it allows to tune bitrates very low. It can go down to 64k and less, Useful for already bad soundtracks. At 80-120 k, CoolEdit is clearly better. Look for Lame on the web and also have a look at the utility software at

Of course, you have to merge the audio with the video after separate encoding. You can't open mp3 directly in VirtualDub but you can give it a WAV header, then it works. There seems to be only one tool on the web that does it quickly and reliable: WaveMP3. It is very hard to find now and the author's web page is down, so as an exception from our general policy I have decided to carry this absolutely legal and free tool, with his permission of course.
Another way is to use
nandub (from to merge video and mp3. This can even handle variable bitrate (vbr) mp3. A vbr mp3 from CoolEdit for example can still be excellent for movie soundtracks at about 80 kbps.

Nandub can also make dual language AVIs (2 mp3 streams). For playback, get the Morgan Stream Switcher. With this, Media Player will suddenly offer language selection.

With DivX4/5 being ISO compliant, the development goes to true MPEG4 streams which will also contain MP4 audio.


Recently, FhG-IIS have released their MP3 Surround format. It can compress 5.1 channels in 160 kbps or above, and the resulting files can be played with older 2 channel decoders as well. An evaluation software is for download at their site. The encoder is valid until the end of 2005, the decoder is unlimited.


This is a standard audio compression format for MPEG2 and DVD video, at least in PAL countries (for NTSC DVDs, only AC3 is standardised, but MP2 will work in almost any case).
A good freeware mp2 encoder is
toolame. You may find it at doom9. Make sure you check "show all audio tools" in the downloads.

BeSweet+Belight is another very versatile choice (probaly the best).

If you need a sample rate converter, you may also checkSSRC.
Both Toolame and SSRC are command line programs but can be automatically called by TMPGEnc encoder and are reportedly good. There is also a GUI (Windows frontend) available for toolame.

Another (older) option would be Germanix Transcoder (google for downloads). Sort of 'Swiss army knife' for audio transcoding. Seems only to support 192 kbps with mp2 though, and I haven't yet done quality tests with it.

There also are codec solutions for MPEG2
The Qdesign codec, for example, was not cheap but super fast and therefore good for capturing with slow computers. Bad quality below 160 k however.

Ogg Vorbis

A very good new audio format (my favorite now) is Ogg Vorbis Audio 1.0. It's a free, open-source, high compression audio format that's a real alternative to mp3. Recently, the German c't magazine has tested several audio codecs including mp3pro, WM9, MP4-AAC, RealMediaSurround. Ogg Vorbis 1.0 beats them all at 64 as well as 128 kbps. Ogg is normally VBR, BTW. The Ogg DirectShow filter, enables MediaPlayer to select between multiple audio streams (languages) if so intended.
(MP4 has meanwhile improved a lot and catched up OggVorbis at least, see below)

I have recently done my own tests with OggVorbis and c't is right: Almost incredible, the absolute lowest possible quality setting, with < 40 kbps, is already really good for audio tracks that do not contain sophisticated music. 64 kb are good for music, 80 kb are excellent.
I also use this for music archiving now with rates 100-120 kbps. Well supported by Winamp as well. There are also some CD rippers converting to Ogg (see Ogg site).

I can really recommend to use OggVorbis audio together with DivX5: No better compression anywhere.

To encode audio, I use OggdropXpd.
To multiplex with video, OggMux is quite handy. You can mux as many audio tracks as desired. For example, different language and additional comment tracks, all in different bitrates if useful.
The resulting file will play in all versions of Windows media player, sound tracks can be selected with an icon that appears in the task bar.

Ogg files can also be cut after production. OggCut is one tool for this.
VirtualDubMod is more powerful and a must if you want to further edit your .ogm files. It can also do a LOT more, have a look at their site.

BTW, Ogg media also supports subtitle streams. I will not cover this on this site.

What is also not quite in focus here but remarkable: Tools for 5.1 surround support are under development, and Ogg will support many more formats. Compared with AC3, Ogg compresses several times better.


This is the new audio standard for MPEG4 program streams, and the newest version (HE-AAC) competes closely with Ogg Vorbis. In my opinion, it sounds a bit more original at lowest bit rates.
Nero6 has an AAC encoding module that can also deliver HE-AAC, and there is also a Winamp AAC plugin. Latest Winamp versions (5.33) have a prety good built in HE-AAC encoder and are much easier to use for format conversions now. Best of all, it's freeware. I guess HE-AAC will be widely used, other than the MP3pro format that was a complete flop from the beginning, due to lack of software.

Note that AAC has not become part of the BluRay standard. It is only found in file formats like mp4 video.


AC3 (5.1 channel surround in most cases, but can also be plain stereo) is the audio format most found on DVDs. Ifou don't need multichannel or your video standard is PAL (European) you should be fine with MP2 audio. If your video standard is NTSC however (US) and you want to be 100% compatible with vintage players, you may want to use AC3 at least instead of the other alternative, uncompressed audio (it may however still not be so helpful, as DVD players so ancient that they don't accept MP2 may also be unable to play self burnt DVDs at all). AC3 is also part of the BluRay standard. Hence, AC3 is most universal as a format (also if you encode just two channel stereo). 
AC3Filter is a freeware set of tools that includes Directshow filters and also a Winamp plugin that can be used for playing AC3 sound.

AC3 encoding can be done with several free tools, for example ffmpeggui (comes with an older ffmpeg.exe version). 
Probably the best free Solution is BeLight: this newer GUI to BeSweet is easy to use and allows to transcode many audio formats (the old BeSweet GUI was quite bizarre). You need to download  BeSweet and then BeLight and copy the BeLight files into toe BeSweet folder.
AC3Filter is a freeware set of tools that includes Directshow filters and also a Winamp plugin that can be used for playing AC3 sound.
Nero also offers AC3 encoding in some upper versions. OEM versions of Nero (called Nero Express) don't have the audio conversion function (be aware that in the US, these versions are nevertheless often sold way overpriced and with a description that tries to pretend that you get the full version).

Sample rate conversion and Asynchronity

48/44.1 kHz conversion often introduces asynchronity. Why?

Well, 48/44.1=1.0884354.....

Hard to implement in a conversion routine. An accuracy of about 5 digits is mandatory to avoid any time deviation. So the reason for this problem is quite obvious. Even a very small inaccuracy will cause the sound to deviate from the picture after some time.
(Some people stated the soundcard was the problem and a PCI soundcard would solve the problem. Nope. No soundcard hardware is ever used by any of the conversion programs.)

Correcting the problem:

1) use a good conversion program. For example, if you encode something with FlaskMPEG, always stick to the source bitrate and use something better, like CoolEdit, to convert later on.
There is a very command line conversion tool,
SSRC, that can be used with TMPGenc or with BeSweetGUI.
An easy way to convert sample rate and file format in one step, is with 
Germanix Transcoder (google for download sites).
BeSweet+BeLight is the latest and probably also the best choice for most tasks.
You need to download  BeSweet and then BeLight and copy the BeLight files into toe BeSweet folder.

2) do a direct stream copy with VirtualDub and set a little different video frame rate. Not the most elegant method but it works. May cause you problems if you want to do further work on the file later on. Disencouraged.


Conversions from cinema frame rate (24fps) to PAL TV (25 fps) are usually done by simply playing the movie faster. The speed difference can hardly be noticed, but the audio cannot simply be accelerated because the change in pitch would easily be heard by many people.

For Video, only the framerate byte in the AVI header has to be changed, either with an avi tweaking tool (instantly, but be careful with some tools before you tested them thoroughly) or by copying or converting the file with Virtualdub (in most cases, frame size also has to be changed, which requires a recompression).

The solution for audio is a special conversion, changing speed while maintaining pitch.

There are 3 tools I can name for this:
- Adobe Audition (former Cool Edit)
- Germanix Transcoder (google for downloads)
- BeSweet+BeLight also offer some speed change options (download  BeSweet and then BeLight and copy the BeLight files into toe BeSweet folder).

I haven't done tests with GermaniX in that discipline, but for Cool Edit I can say that with "medium" quality setting, results are very good.


Filtering with Cool Edit (Adobe Audition)

Cool Edit was way the best audio software, however it has been taken over by Adobe, as 'Adobe Audition', and now there is no Cool Edit 2000 version anymore. Audition is pretty expensive, but it's street price is only half as much as Cool Edit Pro was, and only little more than the almost 140$ that Cool Edit 2000 with only one add-on (filters, really necessary) had been. This is still pretty pricey for amateur use, however I fear that there is really no alternative if you really want some professional audio filtering and cleaning. With newer version available meanwhile, you may bargain for the 1.0, which is entirely adequate.
The peculiar part of it: Cool Edit was only known and sold to a few people, but since it's with Adobe, everyone wants it.


A typical problem with TV recordings is intercarrier hum. TV cards tend to have this, and it's especially nasty because this is like a square wave, with lots of harmonics.
I've recently seen a comparison of audio tools and the guys really tried to use a notch filter to eliminate hum. As such a test is zilch, I can't tell from it which products are recommendable.

I know however that CoolEdit (now Adobe Audition) is good, so here is how to use it on hum:
Use the 'noise reduction' tool.
Mark a silent part anywhere in the soundtrack and 'get samples from selection'
Set reduction level to 100% below 1 kHz and let it drop to below 50% above 1 kHz.


You could eliminate hiss and hum in one pass with the noise reduction tool. However, the part above 1 kHz may reduce hiss very well, but there is great danger of getting warbling sound artifacts (Many professionally remastered CDs also have this).
Experiment with the preview function; use good headphones to determine the best settings.
You may get better results using 'noise reduction' on hum only (up to about 5oo Hz) and tackling noise with a threshold filter (named 'hiss reduction' in CoolEdit). Again, sample a silent part and then set the threshold carefully.

Another good approach is to use several steps of moderate 'noise reduction' in sequence. I got some very good results with this but it's time consuming.


CoolEdit has a terrific declicker as well, and its MP3 encoder is the best that I've seen. The ideal tool to rescue your old vinyl albums.
For declicking, again sample a silent part, that only contains clicks, then let it do a 2-pass run. If you get equal or more 'rejected' than 'corrected' clicks, you're OK.

With the MP3 encoder, never allow any low pass filtering (always set filter to 1/2 of sample rate), and never allow intensity joint stereo. Both make things worse, at any bit rate. Mid-Side joint stereo is always OK.


Magix Audio Cleaning Lab

The best cheaper alternative to the almost perfect Audition is Magix Audio Cleaning lab. It has easy to use and very efficient filters for noise and crackle, as well a numerous other functions.
Easy to use and you can't do much wrong trying it at this price.

Cutting and merging MP3 or MP2

MP3trim is a tool that can cut MP3 without recompression and, unbeknownst to most, also does MP2. We open the file with it, select to cut of frames from the beginning, and click until we have selected enough frames to roughly equal 480 ms (in this case). Now save the file, and quickly and without recompressing anything, the job is done.
Should we encounter a positive delay, another tool called MP3merge also is capable of MP2, and we only need some silence encoded with the right bitrate (toolameGUI) to cut and paste some of it before our audio file.
MP3directcut is a freeware tool that also cuts MP3 as well as MP2, but other than the above it has a graphical wave display and many more functions.

Repairing digital TV audio streams

Some audio problems that may cause error messages with really picky applications as GUI for dvdauthor or DVDstyler, can be corrected with mp3val-frontend, that even does many files at once, or, if it's AC3, with Delaycut. Delaycut  can also synchronize audi files by adding or cutting parts at the beginning and end.
With mpeg2 DVB recordings, it is advisable always to apply these tools, as a precaution. With HD recordings, the procedure may cause asyncheronity, here it should be regarde as a last resort.

Another issue: sometimes one appliation opens the audio file and another won't. This could be a problem with the file header. Then it may help to open the file in MP3trim, cut off just one frame (0.02s) from the beginning, and save the file. This may repair the header and it does not cause any visible asynchronity. Again, mp3trim can open mp2.

Some digital TV transmissions may have nasty audio streams (fortunately this has become very rare): Switching between stereo and AC3, for example. Stoically reading over all the bumps is CoolEdit or Adobe Audition, if you choose multitrack mide, right click on a track and select "insert audio from video".
Save as wav and recrompress.


Here are a few freeware
tools to maintain an mp3 collection:

MP3gainGUI can adjust the volume of multiple mp3 files or folders without recompression, reversible any time and obeying physiological loudness. A real must-have !

Rname-it (popup infested homepage) is a very easy and powerful multiple file renamer that can be handy for any image or sound collection.

ID3master comes in handy to manage mp3 file info tags.

MP3tag offers a lot more and cannot only handle mp3 tags including cover images, but also  tags of ogg, mp4, or flac files.


Audio test files

These are samples for testing. You may use them to check the frequency response of your amplifier, sound card or mp3 encoder, for example.

Sweep05.wav (394 kB)

Test sweep from 20 Hz - 20 kHz

sweep05n.mp3 (36 kB)

Perfect mp3 version of the above (this is entirely sufficient to download if you want to use an mp3 player or if you have a software that converts mp3 back to wav).


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