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Apple FCP and Compressor vs. Adobe CC, Timeline-to-Transcode Workflows, Part 2: Test Results--UPDATED WITH LINK TO TEST FILES

The results are in! See link to project files, encoder presets, and output files from our test set added at the beginning and end of the article.


While the raw numbers of our tests tell a fairly complete story of how each encoder performed, they don’t tell you the “why” behind the divergence. There are several reasons. While Adobe Media Encoder is a 64-bit application, Apple’s Compressor is still a 32-bit application. It also appears that Adobe Media Encoder is more optimized to take advantage of the Apple hardware at its disposal. Take a look at the screenshots showing several instances of Activity Monitor during some of our tests. (Click the images to see them at full size.)

The above images are representative of all of our tests. Note that AME takes advantage of a greater percentage of the performance resources available. Additionally, certain Creative Cloud applications allow you to adjust the amount of memory available to each individual application. FCP and Compressor don’t allow you to manually manage the memory. We left our settings at the default in Adobe Media Encoder and Premiere Pro in order to limit differences between the two competing applications.

Although Apple may have the upper hand in mindshare, having their product “branded” for Macs and easily accessible in the App Store, Adobe has clearly taken their video encoding more seriously for pro users. Whether producers are encoding 10-15 minutes of content or several days’ worth, the time savings that Adobe Media Encoder provides can drastically improve a workflow. Everyone wants to get their output, whether for proofing or final delivery, into their customers’ hands as fast as possible. When quality differences are minimal to non-existent, faster will always win. In these tests, Adobe has taken the title.

You can now view our project files, encoder presets, and output files to compare the quality and specs for yourself at this link.

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