CBR vs. VBR: Difference Between Constant Bitrate and Variable Bitrate

What is Bitrate?

Bitrate measures the amount of data that is transferred over a period of time. In online video streaming, video bitrate is measured in kilobits per second, or kbps. Bitrate affects the quality of a video. Streaming with a higher bitrate helps you produce higher-quality streams. 

There are three options in YoloBox: constant bitrate encoding (CBR), variable bitrate encoding (VBR), and constant quality (CQ). This blog defines the terms and provides recommendations for when to use all three.

What is CBR? 

The acronym CBR stands for Constant Bitrate. If you are streaming video or audio using CBR encoding, the data required to provide that service is set at a constant data rate.

CBR is preferred in many streaming situations because it has been the standard in online video streaming for some time. Since it is so popular in the live streaming industry, constant bitrate is the most compatible option.

The consistency of CBR makes it well-suited for situations where video content must be encoded in real-time. CBR is not suited for storing data.

What is VBR? 

The abbreviation VBR stands for variable bitrate. The term itself suggests its functionality. All you have to do is realize the difference between the terms ‘constant’ and ‘variable.’ In other words, regular bitrate and variable bitrate are concepts with exactly opposite meanings.

In terms of encoding, data is output at a set rate per time segment, and variable bitrate is measured by taking the average bitrate of the entire file. The fluctuating aspect of this method of encoding makes VBR best suited for on-demand video transcoding. This is because it can take longer to process the data. 

What is CQ? 

Constant Quality aims at achieving a fixed visual quality. While ensuring the highest compression rate in a single encoding, each frame is allocated enough bits to achieve the required visual quality.

Recommended Encoder Settings for Live Streaming with YoloBox 

We recommend using CBR for live broadcasting with YoloBox and YoloBox Pro. That’s because the constant bitrate is more reliable for encoding video content in real-time. CBR also produces higher-quality streams than VBR, making them ideal for large audiences that consume live content online like sports games or concerts.

Final Thoughts

CBR and VBR play different roles in online video streaming. It is important to use the appropriate option for your specific streaming needs. The bottom line is that CBR is more consistent and reliable for time-sensitive encoding, and VBR produces higher-quality results. CBR is the best option for live streaming, whereas constrained VBR is the best option for on-demand video upload. 

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