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I'm trying to compress video files using handbrake.

While I'm managing to bring the video bit rate down, the audio bit rate is always at around 380kbps, no matter what I set in the audio settings tab. See below images for details.

What am I doing wrong?

handbrake audio settings

resulting file properties

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What tool do you use for showing the Audio bitrate? Try MediaInfo to make sure that Handbrake is the problem here. But as far as I can see, you aren't doing anything wrong (besides setting the audio bitrate this low ;) ). The avcodec AAC encoder also has quality settings, you can try these out as well (Couldn't hear any difference for settings 3 and higher, but was able to hear some slight artifacts at 2, never tried 1). For best compression use MKV container with opus audio and x265 video encoder.

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