For years I used old versions of Audacity that worked with LAME 3.99.5 and exported music files in mp3 format at 128kbps resolution. Being a compressed format, I assume there is a loss of quality, but for me it was imperceptible to the ear.
Now that I have a new computer I have updated Audacity to the latest version (3.1.3), which incorporates the latest version of LAME (3.100). However, when exporting music in mp3 format at 128kbps I was very disappointed, because with the new version of LAME I clearly hear the loss of quality.
To make sure it wasn’t a kink of mine, I’ve tried importing and exporting the same music file five times in succession with both versions of LAME, using both the old and the new computer. The result is that in both cases there is an obvious deterioration in audio quality, but the loss is much more serious using LAME 3.100. To my knowledge, the test result confirms that the latest version of LAME encodes worse at 128kbps compared to the previous one.
The problem is that Audacity 3.0.3 embeds LAME 3.100 into the program and doesn’t allow you to use LAME 3.99.5. Therefore, to export music in mp3 format at 128kbps I will have to install an old version of Audacity on the new computer, hoping it will work. I don’t see any other solution. It’s a shame.