in staxrips, i used 2-pass at medium preset with slow first pass. the eta of the first pass was 3 hours which was considerable for me.
now, i tried to up the quality by using the very slow preset with slow first pass, still. the first pass takes waaaaay longer at eta 12 hours.
so my question is, do presets really affect the first pass in general? am i better off not ticking slow first pass?
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They affect the first pass, but your real question probably is: "is the additional time is worth it?" The answer is usually not. A slower first pass (with slow settings) will usually hit the target bitrate convergence slightly closer, but that's it. The frametype distribution will usually not be any different, and quantizer distribution will only be marginally different.