BTW, lest there be confusion – I’m using a VBR setting, not a fixed bitrate. Problem is, it’d be nice to have the voices at a high rate, while the silences are at low. At high (0) quality, LAME encodes it all between 128-160-192. At lower quality settings, the silences get bitrates as low as 32, but the voices also drop down into the 48-64-96 range.
I’d ripped to .wav separately. My soon-to-be-ex-computer is a frankencomputer at this point. I have to switch drives to boot Win95 in order to rip, Win98 to burn a CD, and boot Knoppix from the CD drive (which is then locked, so no ripping is possible) in order to encode. The .wav portion went just fine, nice and clear; encoding using LAME 3.95 goes ok, but I’m concerned about the clarity of the encodings in the end.
Still, it’s a LOT better than the last encoder I tried (RealNetwork’s crap), which had output that sounded like the speakers were living in a washing machine no matter what bitrate I used.
Hmm. If it’s using LAME as a back-end, though, it must either be a question of the settings you are using or of the flags it is passing. I’ll see if I can dig that out of the code (I’m guessing it’s a Linux prog, since it’s on SourceForge).
Oops! Great idea! That’ll do the trick all by itself, I think. I’d like to get them all on one MP3-CD, or better yet one (non-gigabyte) memory card so I can buy a Rio.
Pimsleur – they get rave reviews from most people. I used their Russian CDs a few years ago, and they were pretty good overall. My one quibble with them is that they have practically zero written material – the lessons are audio-only, so you don’t get any practice with cyrillic (or in this case, with pinyin or even pictographs). The whole booklet has only about half a dozen Chinese characters in it, and the few pinyinized words/phrases don’t have tones marked.
With Russian, I could at least use a dictionary to create written phrasebooks from the lessons, but it’s a lot harder with Chinese. . . .