Degraded sound through mp3 decoding

I am getting so frustrated that so much of the nuances in sound quality gets lost through compression (mp3 or AAC the same). When listening to the wave material/mixes inside WL it sounds fine but as soon as it is compressed half is lost (even through 350kbs . Treble gets harsh and tiring and a slight distortion seems to lurk inside the signa evrywhere. I know it IS a problem most people have to face but I really would appreciate advice on how to minimise the loss of quality since the only way to share your music seems to go through compression and streaming. I dont know if this has anything to do with WL´s decoding capacities or lack thereof.
/yours Frans

First of all, all mp3 files are lossy, so it’s true you are a losing at least a little quality when converting to MP3. The amount of loss will depend on the bit rate, the codec you choose, etc.

That being said, how loud is the file you’re trying to convert? What are it’s peak levels? If you turn on oversampling on the meters (true peaks), open the MP3 in Wavelab and hit play, is the meter exceeding 0db?

When converting to MP3, some sources recommend leaving a dB of headroom or so prior to conversion to avoid these overs…

This may or may not be the cause of the problem, but it’s just a suggestion worth checking out.

Also, try the Encoder Checker in Wavelab (in the Playback Processing section in the Master Section) to audition the MP3 and AAC at different bit rates and quality settings vs. the source, in real time before making the lossy files. It will also show you if input levels to the encoders are too hot, and will tell you how the MP3 and AAC will sound on playback.

I don’t think thee are any issues with WaveLab mp3 encoding. I pretty much always use 320kbps Fraunhofer on the “High Quality” setting and I find that encoding 320kbps mp3 from the 32-bit audio stream of the WaveLab montage (no dithering), sounds nearly identical to the 16-bit/44.1k WAV version.

If you’re not careful and don’t respect the weaknesses of the mp3 format (mainly not leaving enough headroom for peak levels after the encoding process), then problems can arise.

I’m not sure if the WaveLab Encoder Checker has this but Sonnox ProCodec (plugin version) has a way for you to hear the “difference” so you can hear just the mp3 codec artifacts to understand what’s going on better.

I think if the mp3 sounds that bad to you @ 320kbps, then maybe something is happening earlier in the process that isn’t ideal and is causing excessive audible negative artifacts.