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Old May 7th, 2015, 08:24 AM   #1
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Best Encoder?

Which one delivers the highest quality encodes, which is the fastest, and which ones do certain tasks better than the others ?

Apple's Compressor
Adobe Media Encoder
Sorenson Squeeze
Telestream Episode
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Old May 7th, 2015, 09:34 AM   #2
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Re: Best Encoder?

I've only touched Episode once, but know the others well.

Handbrake is fantastic for low volume encoding of h.264/MP4. It does this one trick very well, serving as a GUI for the excellent x264 codec. Really, this codec tests out to be the best among all of them, and it's fast too. Handbrake also includes the yadif deinterlacer, best in class (but when's the last time I fed it interlaced?). And, the Lanczos scaler, also best in class.

I have the other products, but it's Handbrake for most of my work, because low volumes of excellent h.264/MP4 is my most common need, I suspect that's true for many people.

OTOH, Handbrake is a little finicky, and is a freeware product, which can have an unacceptable cost if/when you need some sort of support.

Second on my list is Squeeze, it does everything HB does (x264) and so much more, including legacy codecs, multibitrate HLS segments with the needed index files (an important newer file format & codec), and a full set of corrective filters when you need them. Its GUI exposes more codec parameters, even on x264. It's also got a staggeringly good workflow for high-volume work.

AME and Compressor have their uses (ProRes!, though you can get it on Squeeze/Mac), but there's a liberal sprinkling of so/so codecs in their mix, and the workflow is good, not great. For creation of digital intermediate files, AME and Compressor are tied into their software suites in an efficient manner.

My advice: Use Handbrake for the most common distribution needs. Use Squeeze where needed, for particular codecs, filters, or high volume.

These are just my personal opinions, reflective of my experience. My version of Squeeze is overdue for upgrade, the rest of the stable are current. There are times when I do a *lot* of encoding, but I do smaller stuff all the time.
30 years of pro media production. Vegas user since 1.0. Webcaster since 1997. Freelancer since 2000. College instructor since 2001.
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Old May 12th, 2015, 01:10 AM   #3
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Re: Best Encoder?

Seth, thanks for your detailed reply, very helpful.
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Old May 12th, 2015, 08:03 AM   #4
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Re: Best Encoder?

Apple Compressor seems like a nice solution for basic stuff, but I wish it was a lot faster when it came to encoding straight from the FCPX timeline. It's incredibly slow doing that.

Media Encoder is a lot faster encoding a timeline from Premiere. This means no intermediates if you want to skip that step. It also has a ton of encoding options and a pretty nice selection of settings for under-the-hood tinkering.

Frankly, if you already have Compressor or Media Encoder (and especially Media Encoder), then I would add Handbrake to the list and be done with it. Handbrake is great for those single projects in which you want a great, high quality x264 encode. Media Encoder is great for batch jobs and is a lot faster of an encoder as well with it's MainConcept H.264 engine.

I'd also add Resolve Lite. It's free and most of the work I do in Resolve (even though it is an excellent color correction tool) is transcoding. It's fast.
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