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CBR VS VBR | What’s The Difference?


Do you have a music CD and rip it to get an output in MP3, AAC, WMA, etc.? Or, do you simply need to convert one file format into another? If so, before anything else, we suggest you read this CBR vs VBR comparison.

First of all, we will learn what these abbreviations exactly mean. Also, it would be handy to learn their functionality, the significant differenced between these file formats and encoding methods.

Please note that terms CBR and VBR represent other aspects. For instance, CBR for CDisplay Archived Comic Book files and VBR for volume boot record. However, you must know that none of these terms describe what we are explaining in this CBR vs VBR comparison article.

PS: here are the best FLV2MP4 Converter, AVCHD converter and Xvid Converter for your reference too.

Encoding of CBR File format

CBR is the abbreviation that describes the term ‘constant bitrate’. In fact, it is an encoding method that helps to keep the bitrate of the file without causing any changes. In the event of an audio data is encoded (this is done by codec), the file uses a fixed value for its bitrate. For instance, the bitrate would be something like 128 Kbps, 256 Kbps or 320 Kbps.

The most notable advantage associated with the CBR file format is that it offers faster data processing. That means when you compare CBR vs VBR in terms of data processing speed, CBR wins. Nevertheless, when it comes to the quality factor, the output files of CBR don’t come with better optimization. Again, when you compare CBR vs. VBR in quality perspective, VBR is better. So, in a nutshell, it is basically a matter of selecting quality over speed or vice versa.

When you need to stream multimedia files, CBR can be considered as a useful choice. Say that your connection supports a certain bitrate only (for instance, 320 kbps) for steaming. In that case, a constant bitrate (of 300 Kbps) or a lower value is beneficial. Compared to a format that changes the bitrate constantly throughout the transmission, a format with steady bitrate is better. If the bitrate goes higher than the supported bitrate value of the respective network, the streaming would be interrupted. So, it makes more sense to have a CBR file when it comes to a task like online streaming.

Encoding of VBR File format

The abbreviation VBR refers to the term ‘variable bitrate’. Well, the term itself suggests its functionality. All you have to do is to realize the difference between the terms ‘constant’ and ‘variable’. In other words, the constant bit rate and variable bit rate are concepts with exactly opposite meanings. VBR is an encoding method which makes the bitrate of the audio files either increase or decrease depending on the requirement. There is a target range when it comes to bitrate. For instance, it can range from 65 kbps to 320 kbps. VBR is compatible with audio file formats such as MP3, WMA, OGG and several other formats.

VBR file formats have the special characteristic of sound quality to file size ratio. In fact, that is the most significant advantage associated with VBR files when it is compared to CBR. Because of this aspect, you can achieve a smaller file size to match the quality of the video. For instance, if the original sound quality of the file is pretty low, VBR will alter the file size. Thereby, low-quality files will be light in weight, and the exact opposite will happen with high-quality files.

As per the mechanism of VBR, the bitrate of the file will be reduced remarkably for inaudible segments. What about more complex parts of the track (where there is a mix of frequencies)? Well, the bitrate of those segments will be automatically increased to a maximum of 320 kbps. So, the sound quality will be maintained in the areas where it is absolutely necessary. So, in general, this is a great way to achieve pretty small file capacity while maintaining a decent quality. All in all, you will require less space to store VBR files as opposed to CBR.

The main disadvantage associated with VBR though is a compatibility issue. With the fluctuating bitrates in the encoding process, VBR is considered to be more of a complex file format. So, this file format may not support some of the older devices. However, on the other hand, CBR files are compatible with pretty much all the devices including older devices. In addition to that, VBR files take substantially longer time to encode audio files. That is obviously because VBR files are pretty complex to be processed with the fluctuating bitrates.

Continue with the rest of CBR vs VBR comparison.

CBR VS VBR: What should be your choice?

If you are to select between CBR or VBR, what would be the best move? What are the things you should consider? Well, if you have sophisticated devices with required hardware specifications, you should probably select VBR. Hardware devices that support VBR is an investment in the long term. In the near future, the VBR file format will be a standard due to the quality of the sound they offer. Also, VBR files require substantially less space compared to CBR. So, if you are going to purchase hardware devices that play music, we suggest you go for ones that are compatible with VBR.

As emphasized in our article, VBR offers superb balance when it comes to quality and the file size. Therefore, the VBR file format is ideal to have in portable players that have limited storage capacities. Also, this is a good option for those who want to utilize available storage capacity with better efficiency. That means, if you have storage options like USB drives, flash cards, memory chips, etc. consider VBR. These VBR files will make sure that the files are stored in a more efficient manner.

Apart from streaming audios, both VBR and CBR are used in IP cameras as well these days. Just like with audio, VBR will change the bitrate according to the contents if the image. On the other hand, CBR maintains a constant bitrate throughout the process.

So, which is better for IP cameras? Well, the answer is obvious; just like with the audio, VBR is the better option. In general, VBR holds the best image quality whenever a video is streamed. Nevertheless, if you need to transmit video stream over a network connection with constrained bandwidth, go for CBR. Through that, you can actually set your bitrate to a predefined value throughout the video and broadcast it. If you set the bitrate to a lower value, you can expect to broadcast it through limited resources. In general, CBR is regarded to be the most common format to stream videos. This is applicable specifically to Flash Media Servers. Conclusively, VBR is known as the default method when it comes to the IP camera bitrate controlling.

Well, those are the information we have to share with you in regard to CBR and VBR file formats. You can go through the CBR vs VBR comparison contents once again and pick what is perfectly matches your requirement. After all, it is a matter of selecting the correct format depends on the resources you have. We hope you’d find this article to be useful. Good luck and thanks for reading.

By the way, you may also want to know how to convert ISO to MKV as well as Convert2MP4 easily.

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