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These are some encoding settings I've tested for encoding audiobooks The source is Audible Enhanced Audio (.aax), 63kbit/s, 44.10 kHz, MPEG-4 Part 14(aac)

Codec bitrate bandwidth quality
mp3 32k 16k muffled*
mp3 32k 22.05k muffled*
mp3 48k 22.05k slightly muffled*
mp3 56k 22.05k hard to tell if any difference
mp3 64k 22.0.5k no detectable difference
m4b/aac 32k 16k very bad
m4b/aac 32k 22.05k very bad
m4b/aac 64k 44.1k essentially same as source
opus 32k 22.05k hard to tell if any difference
  • muffled* but words easily distinguished