VBR is the abbreviation for Variable Bitrate, as opposed to CBR or Constant Bitrate. VBR encoding is designed for size and quality optimization. VBR uses less or more bits depending on the complexity of the audio to more accurately represent the true sound of the media file. Where there is silence in the music, it will drop the bit rate since there's not much information to encode. Where the full orchestra and high noise percussion is joining in, the encoder will choose a higher bitrate to accommodate the demands. As a result, the size of the VBR-encoded media files will be much smaller than media files of the same quality that is encoded using constant bitrate. Now many software applications and hardware devices can play VBR encoded files properly.

Encyclopedia of Audio/Video

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