Q - "I've been playing around with handbrake for a week now, MP4 and MKV and all that stuff. I'm ripping DVDs to MP4 and I need to know the best audio and video settings that I should use. I have tried most the presets, please help?"
There have been a lot of discussions and recommendations about best settings for HandBrake to rip DVD to MP4 and MKV. But most people are still messing around with those complex video/audio presets options in HandBrake, all of which, on the one side, amaze professional users, but are really nerve-wracking for all the rest.
So here again, we try to show you the best HandBrake settings for DVD to MP4 in an easily understandable and clear format, and to ensure you know why you should set parameters as we recommend, so that you can find out optimal settings for HandBrake when ripping DVDs/Blurays and converting videos.
There is no universal best setting for HandBrake under all circumstances, please click into any of the following links based on your need:
Q - "My goal is to preserve the exact quality to the source DVD. As of right now I'm using VBR - 4000kbps Average - 2 Pass Encoding - Placebo speed - Film profile. Audio is always AC3 passthrough. To encode a 2 hour movie with these settings using an Intel Xeon processor that has a 10000+ benchmark rating, it takes 24 hours. That's a little longer than I would like. So I thought if anyone else has tried to do this and what settings best for DVD to MP4 with HandBrake. File size is not an issue. Hard drives are cheap."
What are the factors affect the output MP4 video quality?
Converting DVD to MP4 is a process of re-encoding with compression. So there is data loss to some extent and you can't preserve the exact original quality. But it is possible to remain as close as possible.
1. The source DVD video quality
DVD has two standards: 720 x 480 (NTSC) and 720 x 576 (PAL), both of which are belong to SD (Standard Definition). If you have a source DVD file in 480p (Main@L3), and you decide to rip DVD to MP4 with 1080p (Main@L4) settings, there actually is nothing but file size increases. Forcibly upscaling 480p to 1080p or even 4K will not enhance the quality. If you are dealing with a Bluray, then the best HandBrake settings could be 1080p and higher.
2. Video settings of the transcoding
Your HandBrake settings like bit rate (most important), resolution, frame rate, MP4 codec, etc. The setting of the number of video bit rates directly decides your output video quality, while video bitrate is dediced by both image resolution and frame rate. The higher the resolution (pixels) is, the more vivid the image will be.
Frame rate affects the smoothness of a video. High quality sometimes also means no stuttering. Probably your display devices should be count in as well, because a 480p video might be HQ on mobile phone but not even clear on a 4K TV.
1. Any preset with resolution higher than 480p and 576p is not necessary or not the best HandBrake settings for DVD to MP4.
2. Check our best recommended settings for HandBrake to rip DVD with high quality X264 and X265 encoders in the following part:
[General] - Video codec: H.264 (x264) video; Encoder Profile: High
• HQ 480p30 Surround - Framerate: 30 (Peak Framerate); Constant Quality: 18-20 RF; Encoder Preset: Slow; Encoder Level: 3.1
• Super HQ 480p30 Surround - Framerate: 30 (Peak Framerate); Constant Quality: 16 RF; Encoder Preset: Very Slow; Encoder Level: 3.1
• HQ 576p25 Surround - Framerate: 25 (Peak Framerate); Constant Quality: 18-20 RF; Encoder Preset: Slow; Encoder Level: 3.1
• Super HQ 576p25 Surround - Framerate: 25 (Peak Framerate); Constant Quality: 16 RF; Encoder Preset: Very Slow; Encoder Level: 3.1
[Legacy] - Video codec: H.264 (x264); Encoder Profile: High
• High Profile - Framerate: Same as source (Variable Framerate); Constant Quality: 20 RF; Encoder Preset: Medium; Encoder Level: 4.1
Output video quality and size are the main factors that affect the DVD to MP4 encoding speed. First you should know video size = time duration x bit rate, and then let's see what we can deduce from the information.
• High quality > requires complex algorithms > results in large file size > takes more time > slow
• Low quality > requires simpler algorithms > results in small file size > takes less time > fast
• Good quality > requires medium algorithms > results in medium file size > not too fast or slow
e.g. A 1080p HD video takes longer to encode than a 576p file using the same settings and hardware, because of the 5 times the pixels to process.
1. Strictly speaking, it doesn't mean it is in lower quality if the file size is smaller than others, which might just be the result of a more efficient compression algorithm. But generally, the more the bit rates are, the higher the video quality is and the larger the file size will be.
2. All we are talking about above is just the encoding part. How about the decoding speed? A Baseline H.264 will be far quicker to decode than a High Profile H.264, and release your CPU to spend more time on encoding. One more thing: HandBrake can't decode copy-protected DVDs. So forget about best HandBrake settings if you attempt to convert an encrypted DVD, and just use an alternative to rip encrypted DVDs.
For Windows and Mac only. If you are a mobile user, please click here.
So if you really don't mind quality and just want an ultrafast speed to convert DVD to MP4, here are the recommended best HandBrake settings:
[General] - Video Codec: H.264 (x264)
• Very Fast 480p30 Surround - Framerate: 30 (Peak Framerate); Constant Quality: 20-22 RF; Encoder Preset: Veryfast/Superfast; Encoder Profile: Main; Encoder Level: 3.1
• Very Fast 576p25 Surround - Framerate: 25 (Peak Framerate); Constant Quality: 20-22 RF; Encoder Preset: Veryfast/Superfast; Encoder Profile: Main; Encoder Level: 3.1
• Fast 480p30 Surround - Framerate: 30 (Peak Framerate); Constant Quality: 20 RF; Encoder Preset: Fast; Encoder Profile: Main; Encoder Level: 3.1
• Fast 576p25 Surround - Framerate: 25 (Peak Framerate); Constant Quality: 20 RF; Encoder Preset: Fast; Encoder Profile: Main; Encoder Level: 3.1
[Legacy] - Video Codec: H.264 (x264)
• Universal - Framerate: 30 (Peak Framerate); Constant Quality: 20 RF; Encoder Preset: Fast; Encoder Profile: Baseline; Encoder Level: 3.0
* If the hardware you are running on permits, the best HandBrake settings for DVD to MP4 at ultrafast speed would be using H.264 (Intel QSV) to exert hardware accelerated encoding.
If you want a good trade off among quality, speed and file size without too much sacrifice of any of them, here is what we recommend:
Disclaimer: Digiarty Software does not advocate ripping copy-protected DVDs for any commercial purpose and suggests referring to the DVD copyright laws in your countries before doing so.
Digitize virtually all unprotected and copy-protected discs to MP4, AVI, MPEG2, MOV, iPhone, iPad, Android, Xbox etc, with removal of various schemes like CSS, region code, RCE, Sony ArccOS, Disney DRM and others.
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Estrella H. is a senior editor in Digiarty Software. She manages the software test section and creates easy and useful how-tos. When not in editing, she spends her spare time on Rubik's Cube and ukulele.