Before someone marks this as a duplicate, please read just a little further. :)

I've been using youtube-dl to download audio from SoundCloud and now YouTube. There are several different ways to get audio only from YouTube, but they all seem to yield the same exact file, so I'm not sure which settings I should be using.

I've tried all these and they all give the SAME file. (The MD5s are different, but the size and bitrate are exactly the same.)

--extract-audio --audio-quality 0
-f bestaudio
-f bestaudio --audio-quality 0
-f bestaudio/best
-f bestaudio/best --audio-quality 0

So my question is: What the heck are the differences between these options if they all give the SAME file? And which option(s) should I be using to get the best quality, untouched audio?

1 Answer 1


All informations are described in the man page:

From man youtube-dl

--audio-quality QUALITY
  ffmpeg/avconv audio quality specification, insert a value between 0
  (better) and 9 (worse) for VBR or a specific bitrate like 128K (default 5)

-f, --format FORMAT
 video format code, specify the order of preference using slashes, as in -f
 22/17/18 . Instead of format codes, you can select by extension for the
 extensions aac, m4a, mp3, mp4, ogg, wav, webm. You can also use the special
 names "best", "bestvideo", "bestaudio", "worst".
  • Yes, I've already read over all that. My question is what are the differences between all the options I listed since they all give they same file?
    – Mixx
    Oct 23, 2015 at 13:13
  • The real problem is that bestaudio will select only the best of the dedicated audio formats, even if there is a better audio available in combined format. Apr 2, 2017 at 7:08

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