The most recent version of LAME (a new one after a very long time) is a huge improvement at least for me. I was previously using 3.90.3 which the mavens at hydrogenaudio said was the best version. They started recommending this new beta and wow! I'm getting 8.5x instead of 2.8x ripping speeds with "--preset fast standard". Sounds great, too. Highly recommended. Source is at this sourceforge link, and binaries for those who do not compile are at Rarewares.