An open source front-end to an open source version of the H.264 codec (x.264), Handbrake is all in all a great piece of software. I did a comparison earlier this year between Handbrake and Adobe Media Encoder to see if there were tangible benefits to doing a little more work and investing a little more time in order to use this software. The results were quite striking and very much in favour of Handbrake.
I have, however, noticed one problem recently with the default audio encoding. This is a description of what the problem is and how to resolve it.
Handbrake defaults to AAC audio encoding. This is fine, particularly as the recommendation for upload to YouTube (and other video hosting services) is AAC. Unfortunately, the default format is actually AAC (avcodec)…
I was noticing what can only be described as a ‘fluttering’ sound in my audio under certain conditions such as sibilance on speech, chords / pads and helicopter rotors (don’t ask). This was coming through on the speech of all my tutorials recorded prior to a few months ago and I was blaming YouTube and their shoddy and rather hefty re-compression. I never noticed that this was in the version I was uploading to YouTube despite the audio being at a respectable 320kbps. It’s very much like the type of sound when you would hear when encoding audio at a very low bitrate such as 64kbps. Not quite the same but that’s the best description I can give.
This is actually caused by Handbrake and more specifically, the AAC (avcodec) setting.
Well, pretty simple. Change this setting. I have tested AAC (FDK) at 320kbps and this seems fine but I’m also using 320kbps MP3. Most video hosts are perfectly happy with either of these.
I’m so glad I noticed this. Even though it is only noticeable under certain high frequency detail conditions, I hate the idea that after putting effort into production, it’s let down because of a simple software setting.
NOTE: Thanks to the guys at Handbrake for putting out such a fantastic and functional program for so long. Many programs like this get sucked up by corporations and ruined or dissolved, or the developers move on. It’s nice that this is still going.