Opened 8 years ago

Last modified 4 weeks ago

#4954 open defect

joint stereo indicator missing from mp3 headers

Reported by: pico4743 Owned by:
Priority: normal Component: avformat
Version: git-master Keywords: mp3
Cc: Blocked By:
Blocking: Reproduced by developer: no
Analyzed by developer: no


Summary of the bug:
mp3 header files created by ffmpeg do not specify a channel mode of joint_stereo when joint_stereo is performed by libmp3lame.

libmp3lame provides a switch (-joint_stereo) to select either joint_stereo or plain stereo. The interface to lame works correctly so that the audio frames are fine, but ffmpeg doesn't use the lame library to write the mp3 header.

Instead libavformat/mp3enc.c sets the channel mode to either MONO or STEREO based on how many channels there are.

    switch (codec->channels) {
    case 1:  channels = MPA_MONO;                                          break;
    case 2:  channels = MPA_STEREO;                                        break;
    default: av_log(s, AV_LOG_WARNING, "Unsupported number of channels, "
                    "not writing Xing header.\n");
             return -1;


    header |= channels << 6;

MPA_JSTEREO should be used when appropriate. The repair doesn't seem simple, but I'd be willing to help if someone wants to discuss approaches.

How to reproduce:

use a version with libmp3lame enabled
% ffmpeg -i input.mp3 -joint_stereo 1 output.mp3
The relevant bits of the output.mp3 header will be 0 == MPA_STEREO
ffmpeg version -- git master fb4d350

Change History (12)

comment:1 by Carl Eugen Hoyos, 8 years ago

Keywords: joint_stereo header removed

comment:2 by GraniteStateColin, 7 years ago

This problem is still a problem. It's very easy to reproduce per pico4743's explanation above.

Another way to reproduce: Install the current released version of ffmpeg for Windows (don't think the OS matters, but that's what I happened to be using) 3.3.2 as of this post. Convert a file from WAV to MP3 using the '-joint stereo 1' flag. Test the status of the file with Mp3tag -- shows Stereo instead of Joint Stereo. Note that the same LAME library used in Audacity correctly sets the file to Joint Stereo.

In my case, I was banging my head against this before finding this bug report which confirms the problem I was seeing. Basically, the -joint_stereo switch is useless, because anything playing the file thinks it's still in stereo, and NOT joint stereo. Programs like Mp3tag report the output files as Stereo and not as Joint Stereo making this easy to test and validate.

comment:3 by mrapp, 3 years ago

Not only does it not set the channel mode bit properly on encoding, it doesn't recognize it on decoding. Using an externally created joint stereo MP3 file (verified with mediainfo), ffmpeg -i joint_stereo.mp3 will just show stereo.

Last edited 3 years ago by mrapp (previous) (diff)

comment:4 by Balling, 3 years ago

Status: newopen

doesn't recognize it on decoding

But it decodes it correctly? Then why does this matter? If on the other hand we will add support for this will no it break other players or even hardware ones?

in reply to:  4 comment:5 by mrapp, 3 years ago

Replying to Balling:

But it decodes it correctly? Then why does this matter?

Yes, but it misreports to the end-user.

If on the other hand we will add support for this will no it break other players or even hardware ones?

how? joint-stereo is already enabled by default, but the header is not set to indicate it was used. that itself might lead to issues in some players. how can fixing this discrepancy lead to issues?

comment:6 by Balling, 3 years ago

I do not know what you used to read the data, but joint stereo 2 bit and MS Stereo two bit are set (and on some SS mode is set), just not from the first Frame 0 - Tag (Xing) frame. From the Frame 1.

Much bigger problem is CRC absence, IMHO (at least in the header, by LAME).

Also -joint_stereo 1 is the default, just FYI and not MS/SS was not supported for a long time.

Last edited 3 years ago by Balling (previous) (diff)

comment:7 by GraniteStateColin, 8 months ago

This longstanding bug still exists in ffmpeg. It has to do with the way ffmpeg uses libmp3lame. It does set the header to Joint Stereo, but doesn't actually encode in Joint Stereo. MP3 players that require Joint Stereo will choke on these files (a common requirement among older MP3 players, generally not an issue with newer players). The -joint_stereo 1 option does NOT work as a parameter in ffmpeg.

Because it changes the header to "claim" it's Joint Stereo, that's why many here mistakenly believe that there is no bug. There absolutely is a bug and has been for years (see my prior comment here 6 years ago).

For an easy test if the data itself is encoded in Joint Stereo, if you don't have access to an old player to see it fail to play, fortunately there are applications that check the audio data in place of the header/metadata, like the freely available Mp3tag. Its "Mode" column shows "Stereo" for output from ffmpeg.

Here's an example of a simplified ffmpeg command that always yields a Stereo file and NOT a Joint Stereo file:

ffmpeg -i input_file.mp3 -f mp3 -joint_stereo 1 -id3v2_version 3 Joint_Test_output_file.mp3

Another way to confirm that the problem exists is to use another program to correctly convert to Joint Stereo and then compare. For example, here is my current work-around (so this should also help anyone else having the problem), where SoX does correctly convert to Joint Stereo. This is a command I use in Windows to convert files and get around the bug in ffmpeg (where I use a WAV file intermediary to reduce loss from MP3, but this does strip out other metadata, which keeping at as MP3 would not, nor would it be necessary to use SoX if ffmpeg did not have the Joint Stereo bug):

for %x in ("*.mp3") do (ffmpeg -i "%x" -f wav -af dynaudnorm -id3v2_version 3 "int_%x.wav" & sox --norm=-3.25 "int_%x.wav" -c 2 -C 192 -r 44100 "ready-%x")

If you look at the those resulting files in Mp3tag, you will see that unlike the pure ffmpeg command, after the SoX command, they show a Mode value of "Joint Stereo."

This comment should provide enough information to reproduce the problem and confirm if it's fixed. Please correct this longstanding bug in ffmpeg.

Last edited 8 months ago by GraniteStateColin (previous) (diff)

comment:8 by Elon Musk, 8 months ago

Sorry but you got it wrong and provide no valuable info to solve this bug at all. Joint encoding is working fine, just Xing header that is not written by default by mp3 muxer is not providing any info of encoder params used by libmp3lame encoder.

comment:9 by Elon Musk, 8 months ago

And mediainfo shows correct info when encoder is join or not without xing headers present

comment:10 by Balling, 8 months ago

There is still an issue in #9755. The gapless information gets destroyed in some cases as in during -c copy and in some race cases where there is a specific amount of samples.

comment:11 by GraniteStateColin, 4 weeks ago

Correction to my prior post: While this bug still exists in ffmpeg, I was wrong about where the problem lies. After looking inside the MP3 files including with the developer of Mp3tag that reports Joint Stereo output files as Stereo, we can see the bug, as originally posted by pico4743, is a better description. Specifically, ffmpeg DOES output to Joint Stereo, but the header incorrectly says that the file is in Stereo. This confuses several apps that check the MP3 file for stereo format. SoX and libmp3lame do not have this problem, it's specific to ffmpeg's implementation and use of libmp3lame.

The examples in the prior post remain correct to demonstrate the problem, just that the problem is the reverse of what I had described. This better aligns with the original poster, @pico4743, who correctly described the problem as being with the header, rather than the encoding itself.

Last edited 4 weeks ago by GraniteStateColin (previous) (diff)

comment:12 by Balling, 4 weeks ago

Specifically, ffmpeg DOES output to Joint Stereo, but the header incorrectly says that the file is in Stereo.

That is what I said too. I just used Mediatrace to check the bitstream.

Note: See TracTickets for help on using tickets.