VBR MP3 when encoded correctly sounds quite decent. I don't mean using some ancient version of LAME (it really only started at 3.9x something anyway!!! so 3.97 is ancient), or using a -q value of more than 2, or a -V value more than 4 (lower is better for both of those). Note that -v is a completely different option to -V! Also using the new VBR algorithm (I believe this is the default now). I personally use -q0 and -V3. Encoding in CBR can be either quite wasteful (320KBPS) or not enough (192 in complex scenes). VBR adjusts the bitrate accordingly, and can go up to 320KBPS. Its far superior to how it used to be, so there is no detriment to audio quality. Latest builds of FLAC and LAME can be found here: http://www.mediafire.com/lame No idea who builds them, but they work great currently using LAME 3.100A0 from 18 March 2012, but the less adventurous use the 3.99.5 instead. The date on the archive is very important, such that FLAC 1.2.2 is quite different to FLAC 1.2.2_20111201 (01 Dec 2012). I would have been using AAC (using a good encoder like the Nero AAC) if the .m4a container format (which is absolutely NOT an Apple format like some may think) were more widely accepted in devices. I'd use a -q value of 0.45. A lot of audio encoded in AAC either uses a crappy encoder (like the iTunes store), or too low of a setting, or force AAC HE because 'high efficiency' sounds better than 'low complexity', but HE is only meant for speech, and its a common mistake. Apparently there is a new audio format being developed which is something like twice as efficent as AAC again. It would be getting very close to not being able to go any further!