Questions regarding audio settings from a Mac user

General questions or discussion about HandBrake, Video and/or audio transcoding, trends etc.
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snyar
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Joined: Tue Oct 09, 2018 1:13 am

Questions regarding audio settings from a Mac user

Post by snyar » Tue Oct 09, 2018 1:53 am

Hello everyone.

I recently decided to start making digital copies of my DVDs and Blu-rays using MakeMKV. Now I'm moving on to Handbrake to convert them into mp4 files so they're compatible with iTunes (and by extension my other apple devices) and to cut down the size of the Blu-rays. I'd like to think I have a decent understanding of most parts of Handbrake from reading around the last week or two but I'm still a little hesitant about the audio setting and would appreciate this forums thoughts before I proceed compressing everything (so far I've just been testing with the odd chapter or two).

For added context, I only plan on playing these through my MPB via headphones, earphones or the built in speakers, or on my Dell monitor via Edifier speakers through the MPB or a Sony PS4, so surround sound equipment isn't present and I don't plan on adding any for the foreseeable future due to my living arrangements. Also, I've added all the audio files available through MakeMKV, including the lossless tracks (e.g. DTS-HD MA), since I thought it was better to have them and not need them than the opposite.

Firstly, keep AAC (CoreAudio) as the Codec? I understand this is good on the Mac variant, better than the other options?

Secondly, is it beneficial to use the DTS-HD MA track over the DTS track or will it not make much of a difference? I was told it was bad to further compress an already lossy audio track.

Thirdly, Stereo or Dolby Pro Logic II? I noticed watching with the original DTS-HD MA track causes the seemingly common issue of low dialogue volume compared to music / other sound effects - I roughly understand the cause of this without going into it. Using a chapter (5) of the film Baby Driver, I compared the audio of Stereo and Dolby Pro Logic II at Bitrate 320 using the original DTS-HD MA track, which were both better in this regard in terms of dialogue volume, but were themselves slightly different:

Dolby Pro Logic II:
Image

Stereo:
Image

Stereo certainly seemed to make everything slightly louder but also made the dialogue very even with everything else, perhaps even too much. Regardless, which of these would be considered the best Mixdown to use? I'll consider adding a second track with DTS/AC3 passthru just for future proofing.

And lastly, bitrate 160? 320? I'm used to using 320 for my music and it's probably not necessary there, but what about for films?

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BradleyS
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Re: Questions regarding audio settings from a Mac user

Post by BradleyS » Tue Oct 09, 2018 4:17 am

The Apple 1080p30 Surround preset is a good starting point for you and your devices. H.264, AAC+AC3, in MP4.

1. Core Audio AAC the best AAC encoder.

2. In either case, HandBrake decodes the DTS core only. Makes no difference when encoding (not passing through, e.g. DTS-HD MA in MKV).

3. Stereo. DPL2 is fine, too, but we're switching to stereo in all official presets going forward because a) there's a bug in the DPL2 encoder that can affect how sounds panning from front right to surround left are represented and b) decoding matrixed surround formats is practically never attempted in 2018.

4: 160 kbps AAC as the first track for Apple devices. Many support higher bit rates for audio files but not when part of a video. If you want to use higher stereo audio bit rates with video, be sure to test compatibility with all your devices. Devices like Apple TV will use the discrete surround AC3 track, so the AAC track is mostly for mobile.

snyar
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Joined: Tue Oct 09, 2018 1:13 am

Re: Questions regarding audio settings from a Mac user

Post by snyar » Sat Oct 13, 2018 12:27 am

BradleyS wrote:
Tue Oct 09, 2018 4:17 am
The Apple 1080p30 Surround preset is a good starting point for you and your devices. H.264, AAC+AC3, in MP4.

1. Core Audio AAC the best AAC encoder.

2. In either case, HandBrake decodes the DTS core only. Makes no difference when encoding (not passing through, e.g. DTS-HD MA in MKV).

3. Stereo. DPL2 is fine, too, but we're switching to stereo in all official presets going forward because a) there's a bug in the DPL2 encoder that can affect how sounds panning from front right to surround left are represented and b) decoding matrixed surround formats is practically never attempted in 2018.

4: 160 kbps AAC as the first track for Apple devices. Many support higher bit rates for audio files but not when part of a video. If you want to use higher stereo audio bit rates with video, be sure to test compatibility with all your devices. Devices like Apple TV will use the discrete surround AC3 track, so the AAC track is mostly for mobile.
Thanks for the reply BradleyS. Really much appreciated.

I have a few more questions - hope that's okay!

Am I making a mistake leaving tune on none rather than the main three of film, animation and grain? Do they make a noticeable difference in size or quality?

I understand Level 3.1 for DVD, but for Blu-rays should I use 4.0, 4.1, auto? Again, does it make a noticeable difference in size or quality?

And lastly, should I be concerned about a "low" total bit rate? I made a 1080p copy of Baby Driver with the following Video settings:

Video Encoder: H.264
Constant Quality: RF: 20
Present: slow
Tune: none
Profile: High
Level: auto
with a single 320 kbps AAC stereo audio track

and it came out at 5.62 GB and a total bit rate of 6953 according to iTunes, which I understand is below general recommendations for a 1080p film?

I was happy with the size and the quality seems good to me though.

mduell
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Re: Questions regarding audio settings from a Mac user

Post by mduell » Sat Oct 13, 2018 4:04 am

What recommendations? Some bitrate target stupidity?

That's actually on the high side for bitrate for that movie IMO, as RF 20 for 1080 is pretty low.

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BradleyS
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Re: Questions regarding audio settings from a Mac user

Post by BradleyS » Sat Oct 13, 2018 5:06 am

You're fine leaving tune on none or selecting a tune. The other tunes can affect other factors including compatibility.

HandBrake uses level 4.0 for 1080p30 because it's most compatible and avoids extreme bit rate spikes. Some devices work with 4.1 just fine, some do not. Depends on what your playback scenario is; stick to the preset system if you can, we figured this out for you.

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