Software Tips & Tutorials

How to Calculate Handbrake Video Bitrate/Quality Settings

This HandBrake video quality tutorial can help you obtain the most appropriate bitrate settings for converted videos.

HandBrake[1] is powerful integration of DVD ripping and video converting software. It is open-sourced and cross-platform on Microsoft Windows, Mac OS X and Linux. As for free program, HandBrake gains great reputation and popularity. However, some of HandBrake's settings are always confusing to general users, for example the mostly concerned issue - how to calculate Handbrake video bitrate/quality settings when ripping DVD and converting videos. And this article aims at illustrating how to compute these complicated settings to choose the parameters that perfectly meet your need.

HandBrake Windows Tutorial

Jump to:
1. Understanding of HandBrake Video Setting Control Panel
2. HandBrake Quality Settings Guide
3. Something Wrong with HandBrake Since 0.9.0
4. HandBrake Alternative Software can Achieve Better Video Conversion

Free download WinX DVD Ripper Platinum, the best Handbrake alternative capable of ripping and converting home-made and copy-protected DVD to any target size and quality as you like! 350+ profiles are ready.

Free download WinX HD Video Converter Deluxe, the best HandBrake alternative in converting any SD/HD/4K UHD videos to nearly any format and quality you like at super fast speed. 410+ premade profiles are offered.

Understanding of HandBrake Video Setting Control Panel

Handbrake video bitrate/quality settings panel

Video Codec is device or software that enables video compression and/or decompression for digital video. Video codec used by HandBrake includes [MPEG-4, MPEG-2, H.264 (x264/Intel QSV) and H.265 (x265)]. MPEG-4 is one of the latest compression methods standardized by MPEG group, and H.264 (also known as AVC, MPEG-4 Part 10) achieves high quality video in relatively low bitrates. There is minor quality difference between MPEG-4 and H.264 codec. But among those codecs, only H.264 has one option that supports converting video in accelerated speed by using Intel QSV tech.

Framerate (FPS) is the frequency at which an imaging device produces unique consecutive images called frames.

2-Pass Encoding: when you use average bitrate in 2-pass mode, the encoding will take twice as long. It can do a better job doling out bitrate, and you get a better quality video closer to the average bitrate you told it use.

Turbo first Pass: by enabling this, when encoding 2-pass with x264, you can cut down the time of the first pass by 50%-75%. There will be a drop in quality, but so slight as to be imperceptible to the eye.

Here Comes the Most Concerned Matter - HandBrake Quality Settings

!!! Update: HandBrake has removed Target Size option. Luckily, there's still a way to calculate the bitrate to get approximately the same sized output without any other software.

1. Target size, really, is just the flip-side of average bitrate. The size of a video is the bitrate times the length. So if you have limited HDD storage space or you nearly run out iPad 64G, iPhone 32G memory space, you can choose Target size option. Then according to your demand on output size, HandBrake will calculate the proper bitrate on the basis of formula above. And the input value will be in MB units.

2. Sometimes you may have fair enough HDD space and rather than worry about the output video file size, you attach more importance to the Video Quality. Under the premise of avoid storage space waste, you are willingly to find a balance between video size and quality. Therefore you can manually set the Avg Biterate to achieve this equilibrium.

Here is a more specific formula guiding you to calculate video bitrate/quality settings when ripping DVD and converting videos: Bitrate=outputwidth x outputheight x k x r.

Note: Different video codec has diverse K value (H.264 k=0.012345, MPEG-4 k=0.0135), and R depends on the quality you desired (excellent r=1.0, good r=0.55, normal r=0.35).

Take 480P video as example. On the basis of formula above, you can calculate Handbrake video Bitrate/Quality settings when converting 480P video:

480P(720x480) h.264 excellent bitrate=4266 kbps, good bitrate=2346 kbps, normal bitrate=1493 kbps,
480P(720x480)mpeg4 excellent bitrate=4665 kbps, good bitrate=2565 kbps, normal bitrate=1632 kbps.

You'll notice that it is not as difficult as thought before. You can compute the approximate bitrate in accordence with the video codec you chosen and the file size you preferred. Please also take note that, this HandBrake Video Quality Setting formula is just approximately empirical formula. It can be applied to majority of video codecs, but not all of them. So you still need to make choices in accordance with actual situation. >> How to Set HandBrake for X265 Videos

3. With the average bitrate or target size methods, you control the size of the output file but give up controlling over the video's quality. Constant quality mode does the opposite; you specify a quality level and HandBrake adjusts the bitrate to meet it. Because it takes a different bitrate to reach a given quality level for any given part of any movie, the output size is unpredictable and varies from source to source. If you want to preserve the image quality, set HandBrake Quality Setting > Constantly Quality > around RF20. If you want to reserve some compression ratio, set HandBrake Quality Setting > Constantly Quality > around RF28. You'd better keep RF below 32, otherwise the output quality will be terrible.

Another Note: 100& applies no compression. So should you use 100% to perfectly preserve the source? Nope. You'll end up with video that's way larger than the DVD, but doesn't look any better. To sum up: when converting from a DVD source, there is no reason to go above 80% quality, which is roughly equivalent to how heavily the DVD is compressed. If you do go higher, your output will be larger than your input! However, as for some HandBrake alternative for ripping DVDs, like WinX DVD Ripper Platinum, they can make perfect backup of the DVDs by copying DVD to computer as MPEG2 video format with 100% original video, AC-3/DTS surrounding audio in only 5 mins.

Something Wrong with HandBrake Since 0.9.0

1. From HandBrake V0.9.0 (Aug 19, 2007) to V1.0.7 (May 6, 2017), users always denounce the castigate of HandBrake that - how and when can HandBrake backup my own encrypted Disney DVDs (Learn to conquer HandBrake VLC 64bit Error when ripping copy-protected DVDs)?

2. From Wikipedia you learn that - HandBrake is designed to convert MPEG video (including DVD) into an MPEG-4 video in MP4 or Matroska (.mkv) containers. That means you have deadly limited output choices. Sometimes HandBrake developing team lack of deep-going analysis upon specific video conversion (without specific optimization to peculiar video codec, the conversion always consumes a lot of time).

3. Apart from HandBrake powerful DVD/video converting ability, it needs much more user-friendly GUI, since not all of HandBrake users are masterful at computer things.

At Times HandBrake Alternative Software can Achieve Better Video Conversion

WinXDVD multimedia software family (WinX DVD Ripper Platinum, DVD Ripper for Mac, HD Video Converter Deluxe, HD Video Converter for Mac) are best recommended HandBrake Alternative software. They are fully compatible with Windows (32 bit & 64 bit) and Mac OS. They have particular Profile system, which employs best optimized DVD/Video converting scheme (tested time after time by senior Digiarty Software Developing team). In accordance with your video converting demand, they can perfectly achieve Speed, Size, Quality as you expected.

Manually import Self-defined Profiles, More Convenience Than HanBrake

Moreover, it is pretty hard to learn to create Handbrake iPad/iPhone preset settings, but with WinX DVD Ripper/Video Converter, you can not only use prepared iPad, iPhone, iPod, PSP, Xbox profile settings, but also make self-defined Profile settings for all your portable and console players at will.

1. WinX DVD Ripper Platinum ( free download) and WinX DVD Ripper for Mac ( free Download) will make up ripping all DVDs that always cause troubles upon HandBrake (for instance backup Sony, Paramount and Disney encrypted DVDs).

2. Built-in more than 370 video/audio codecs, WinX HD Video Converter Deluxe ( free download) and WinX HD Video Converter for Mac ( free download) support all your HD/SD videos (like Blu-ray video, BDAV, AVCHD Video, etc), as well as HandBrake unsupported portable console players, like PS4, Xbox. What's better than HandBrake for this converter is that it can take full use of QSV & CUDA/NVENC to fast encode and decode videos in any format.

3. Moreover, WinX DVD/Video Converter software is designed with user-friendly GUI. Even inexperienced users can finish DVD/Video conversion without hassle.

Also read: HandBrake Windows Tutorial, HandBrake Mac Tutorial, Best HandBrake Alternatives, 'Handbrake Video Quality Poor' Fixed, DVDFab Slow Ripping Speed Fix

Related External Source

[1]: HandBrake - HandBrake is a free and open-source video transcoder, originally developed in 2003 by Eric Petit (aka "titer" from his SVN repository username) to make ripping a film from a DVD to a data storage device easier. Since then, it has undergone many changes and revisions...

Readers Feedback

"hi, i am beginner of handbrake, thanks lot for this detailed handbrake video quality settings tutorial, it is really helpful! "
- Garrick

"i ve tried your handbrake alternatives - let me say - winx dvd ripper, it's cool, comparing with handbrake, it is faster. it takes only 16 minutes to backup my whole d9 dvd! it is amazing! "
- Henry

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