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Understanding Video Streaming Quality Options - Handbrake vs Mux
Understanding Video Streaming Quality Options - Handbrake vs Mux

Explore the differences between Handbrake and Mux for video streaming quality.

Updated over a week ago


When it comes to streaming high-quality videos for your audience, choosing the right video processing tool can make a big difference. In this FAQ, we explore two popular options: Handbrake and Mux. Both of these tools use the same underlying technology—ffmpeg—which standardizes video data and strips away extra metadata. Let's dive into what makes each option unique and how they can serve your streaming needs.

Table of Contents

What is ffmpeg?

ffmpeg is a multimedia framework that serves as the foundation for both Handbrake and Mux. It performs two main functions:

  1. Standardizes the video data into the most widely supported format, which is H.264 codec with AAC audio.

  2. Strips away all the extra metadata that could inflate the size of the video file.

By doing this, ffmpeg ensures that the videos are optimized for a better streaming experience.

What is Handbrake?

Handbrake is an open-source video transcoder that uses ffmpeg to convert your videos into different formats. When you feed a 1080p video into Handbrake, it runs the video through ffmpeg and outputs it in a quality of your choice, typically 720p. This results in a video that is playable on a wide variety of platforms (iOS, Android, Chrome, Safari, etc.) and a significantly smaller file size.

What is Mux?

Mux is a more comprehensive video API service that also utilizes ffmpeg. When you send a 1080p video to Mux, it processes the video into various quality options: 240p, 360p, 480p, 720p, and 1080p. Moreover, Mux uses Adaptive Bitrate Streaming (ABS) to ensure the best streaming quality based on the viewer's internet connection.

What is Adaptive Bitrate Streaming (ABS)?

Adaptive Bitrate Streaming is a technology that adjusts the video quality in real-time, based on your internet connection. When you start a video, it may initially appear grainy but will improve in quality as your internet connection stabilizes. This ensures a smoother and more enjoyable viewing experience.

How do Handbrake and Mux differ?

  1. Quality Options: Handbrake allows you to convert your video to a quality of your choice, typically suggested at 720p. Mux, on the other hand, outputs your video in multiple quality options for greater flexibility.

  2. Adaptive Streaming: Mux offers Adaptive Bitrate Streaming, which adjusts video quality on the fly based on the viewer's internet connection. Handbrake does not have this feature.

  3. Ease of Use: Handbrake is more of a manual, user-operated tool, while Mux provides a more automated, user-friendly service.

  4. Cost: Handbrake is free to use on your own while Mux is part of our Premium video service. Contact our support team to learn more about pricing.

Which one should I choose?

If you're looking for a simple, one-off solution to reduce file sizes, Handbrake may be your best bet. However, if you want a more automated system that adjusts video quality according to the viewer's internet connection, AND you have the budget, Mux is the better choice.

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