Setting MP3 Bitrate in Rhythmbox

November 28th, 2008 by Peter Anselmo Leave a reply »

Rhythmbox is the music player that comes on the default Ubuntu installation. Anyone that has ever used iTunes, Windows Media Player or any other similar program will find it very intuitive. You do need to download an extension to add MP3 capability, but this is easy to do.

What frustrated me for months has been the lack of options for ripping music from CDs. Although it has a great selection of formats (WAV, flac, ogg, mp3) it doesn’t give you any options for setting the mp3 bitrate. At last I found a way, and thought I would pass it on:

Open “Preferences” from the “Edit” menu
Select the “Edit” button to the right of “Preferred Format”
Select “CD Quality, MP3” from the menu and hit “Edit”
Under the “Gstreamer pipeline” field you will find the following:

audio/x-raw-int,rate=44100,channels=2 ! lame name=enc mode=0 vbr-quality=6 ! id3v2mux

To remove the default, remove the vbr-quality=6 statement, and replace it with vbr=0 bitrate=256. This will change it from variable to constant bit rate, and set it to 256 kb/s. You can set it to whatever bit rate you prefer, I like 256. You line should now look like the following:

audio/x-raw-int,rate=44100,channels=2 ! lame name=enc mode=0 vbr=0 bitrate=256 ! id3v2mux

Close the window, and Viola! You’ll now rip CDs at a higher quality


  1. Nathan says:

    Thanks very much for this post, which quickly solved my problem of trying to set the bitrate in rhythmbox. Cheers,


  2. Kam Samji says:

    Is there a way of changing the bit rate for the aac format? I can only seem to play my Rhythymbox aac files in Linux, not in anything else that plays aac. Not in my Nokia, not in my creative or not in my WMP (with the appropriate plugin). I know they all support aac as i have played aac in them before.



  3. Joe says:

    Finally an example that works! You are a legend 😀

    I’ve tried so many times to get the right gstreamer pipeline for CBR using all kinds of examples found on Google. Every time I’d rip again and find that the quality hadn’t changed. Your recommendation did the trick.

  4. Marty says:

    umm — why change from VBR?? From my understanding, VBR bitrates yield a higher quality sound at an equal or smaller file size.

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