winLAME Survey Results

In the winLAME 2017 beta versions,the users of winLAME have the opportunity to fill out a small survey to give feedback. This was done using the two "Send a Smile" and "Send a Frown" smiley buttons in the winLAME menu band or the toolbar. The two feedback forms are also available using the website links.

Note that you can always take the survey using these two links:

Survey Results - winLAME 2017 beta 2 and beta 3

Here are the collected responses from the feedback survey in the "2017 beta 2" and "2017 beta 3" time frame.

Send a Frown - 12 answers

Let's start with the frowns first. The following two questions were asked:

Only the answer to the first question was mandatory. This time, there was a notice below the survey, that bugs shouldn't be reported using this form, but instead the bug tracker or a personal mail sent to me should be used. There were 12 answers, which are summarized and abbreviated here. Some answers were double or were variations of other answers and were left out from the list.

First, there still were some bugs reported using the form:

Unfortunately I can't do much about these bugs, as I can't reach out to the specific user, as the survey is completely anonymous. Please, write at least an e-mail to me, in order to get these bugs fixed!

Then there were some missing features reported using the "Frown" feedback form:

Some of these features can certainly be done easily, and I will consider them for the winLAME 2018 version. The M4A AAC support is a little bit more complicated, since another encoder library has to be integrated into winLAME. The solution may be to integrate ffmpeg, since it supports many audio formats. Ths also would be a possible feature for winLAME 2018.

One miscellaneous issue was reported that came up twice:

The output location is only read-only when the check box "Use input file's folder as output location" is checked. It should now be obvious where the files are going to be written.

Send a Smile - 29 answers

Now to the positive feedback. The following two questions were asked:

Only the answer to the first question was mandatory. There were 29 answers, which are summarized here.

These answers are given very often and reflect on the maturity of the application:

Most feature requests come from the Smile feedback form, also this time:

Some of these requests are also considered for winLAME 2018. Especially the wish for extending the presets stand out. These can already accomplished today, the provided preset.xml file can be extended with new presets, and a detailed explanation is contained in the winLAME F1 help file.

Then there were some features that are already available in winLAME, but some users couldn't find them:

The first item, the filename template for ripped files, can be adjusted in the "CD Read Settings" page. The way to create FLAC files (in sample sizes of 8/16/24 bits) is to select the "libSndFile Audio Output" module and either select the FLAC 16 bit preset, or select "Custom settings" and set the File Format to "FLAC". The Sample Format can be adjusted at will.

Finally there were some miscellaneous comments:

The Joint Stereo / Stereo question is probably as old as the MP3 format itself. On the old winLAME home page there was an FAQ section with exactly that question. I back then asked one of the LAME team members if the stereo mode should be made available in the UI again. Here's what Gabriel Bouvigne answered:

I would strongly advise you to NOT provide this kind of choice to the end user. Activating legacy stereo instead of joint stereo will decrease quality in 99% of the cases. Lame is internally able to switch between LR stereo and MS stereo on a frame basis, trying to use the most efficient mode on each frame. On usual signals, using LR instead of MS is quite inneficient, using more bits. When there are not enough available bits to stay at the transparency threshold, we must decrease quality. This situation is more likely to appear in legacy stereo mode.

I think that most users only want this because of placebo effect. They feel better if they can change default options, and because of this they are convinced (without blind tests, of course) that the results are better. If we never offered the option, users would probably not mind, but now that we provided the choice in the past, they want it. Most AAC encoders (Apple, Nero) are not offering the choice, and are using MS or LR at their own convenience when the user is encoding a stereo track, and no one is complaining about it, mainly because those encoders never offered any other choice.

What the MusicBee user wanted is probably to integrate the LAME encoder into the media player.


Survey Results - winLAME 2017 beta 1

Here are the collected responses from the feedback survey in the "2017 beta 1" time frame.

Send a Frown - 37 answers

Let's start with the frowns first. The following two questions were asked:

Only the answer to the first question was mandatory. There were 37 answers, which are summarized and abbreviated here. Some answers were double or were variations of other answers and were left out from the list.

There were some serious bugs reported using the survey form. Unfortunately this form is not the best way to report bugs, and so in the meantime I added a sentence below the survey to report bugs in other ways. When fixing bugs I often need more information, e.g. a crash dump file, or I let the user try another build of the winLAME.exe if the bug is gone. Nevertheless I tried to reproduce the errors and come up with a fix for these bugs.

There were some feature wishes also. The first, to offer cropping (MP3) files would be an interesting feature, but unfortunately adding audio file editing is outside of the scope of what winLAME should or could do. The "doesn't save settings" is a valid point. Nowadays settings that one has adjusted should be saved immediately - I often stumble over this myself during debugging winLAME.

These are some points that deal with the new user interface and with the icons used. The new user interface is different, in that it presents you the list of tasks that are worked on, which is necessary now that winLAME does parallel encoding. The way of setting up encoding with a wizard (which I guess is winLAME's reason for success) is still used, both in Modern UI and in Classic UI mode.

I'm using some stock icons (famfamfam's silk icon set, in fact) in winLAME. I'm not an artist, so I can't design new icons (that would look even uglier), so if you are a graphics designer and/or you want to provide better icons, get in touch with me!

Send a Smile - 70 answers

Now to the positive feedback. The following two questions were asked:

Only the answer to the first question was mandatory. There were 70 answers, which are summarized here.

These two points were given often. The easy to use UI was always the strength of winLAME. My guess is because the wizard approach doesn't shove all of the options in your face at once, and still give you the feeling you're in control. The fast conversion is natural nowadays, with CPU's much faster than 17 years ago when winLAME started.

There were some big feature requests in the answers. These are all great, but they have a downside - someone has to code them. As I'm working on winLAME only from time to time, these features most probably won't get worked on. Remember that coding the new Modern UI together with the multithreaded encoding took me about 7 years, working at it on and off. Nevertheless, winLAME is Open Source, and if you have some C++ coding skills, you could tacke one of the features and try to develop them. Contact me if you have questions during coding, or hack on your feature right away. Note that winLAME is using the GPL license.

These are some minor features or things that were requested. They might or might not get into the next "2017 beta 3" version of winLAME. As above, if you are a coder, you may implement these features yourself.

There are so many features in winLAME that sometimes a feature is already built into winLAME without the user noticing. I improved the winLAME Help File and updated all pages, so if in doubt about an option or feature in winLAME, press F1 and start reading. About the features mentioned in the survey: The requested LAME preset is already there, it's called "Archiving: Best Quality". FLAC tags also should be read already. If there's anything missing, report a bug or contact me.

About the Linux version... there's a package called Wine that emulates Windows on Linux. Starting from Wine-2.0 it can also run winLAME without problems. I used the winLAME setup package on Ubuntu 16.04 to test this. Ubuntu has the package "Play on Linux" which sits on top of Wine which makes installing winLAME possible even for non-hackers. I may post an article in the future about how to install and use winLAME on Linux.


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