[quote]Originally posted by Xaqtly:
<strong>VBR can be better and worse at the same time.
I decided to go with straight 192 after a lot of experimentation with VBR and other straight bitrates. I found that if I set it to VBR with minimum quality of 128kbps it was actually acceptable for the most part, and usually about 1 MB smaller than ripping it at 192... but it wasn't consistant like just doing it at 192, hence the "variable" part. I found that most of the time, the VBR tracks were acceptable but then they would drop down closer to 128 kbps in some parts and it didn't sound too good.
So why not just up the minimum VBR quality to 192? Because then the MP3 actually ends up being bigger in size than a straight 192 kbps MP3. So I decided straight 192 was the best compromise for file size and consistant quality.
But this is all personal taste of course... your mileage may vary.
You should go with LAME. Often times the files are smaller than 192 and they sound better than 192 CBR all the time. If you use the standard presets, you can have things that range from around 140 upto around 200 (some things go higher). It's not just bitrate that's important, it's the encoding method. I've reencoded some of my albums using LAME and while the file size on the whole is less than that of 192k, the sound quality is MUCH better. (ex.: re-encoded all of Kid A most are under or at 192k and that translates directly into smaller files.)