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New "mp3PRO" From Fraunhofer, But What About LAME?

Hemos posted more than 13 years ago | from the the-industry-keeps-moving dept.

Music 206

xenoweeno writes: "This Week In Consumer Electronic reports that Thomson and the Fraunhofer Institute are working on a new mp3 format they've dubbed "mp3PRO." Thanks to competition from e.g. Windows Media Audio, they're looking to get 128kbps quality down to 64kbps. Great, but what does this mean for projects like L.A.M.E., which has just recently freed itself from Fraunhofer ["regular"] mp3 code/patents? Back into the fray?"

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Re:LAME (1)

Twisted Mind (155678) | more than 13 years ago | (#514845)

A lot of Open Source project actually show what software can *really* be too, but anyway, he's right. MP3 is quite old, and ready to replace.
WMA has better quality and higher compression-rate.

ISO code-free? Yes. Patent-free? No. (2)

Anonymous Coward | more than 13 years ago | (#514846)

LAME's code no longer includes any of the ISO code, so is free of copyright claims in this area. However, the MP3 processes are patented in many countries, and have to be used in order for an MP3 encoder to work. Fraunhofer haven't slapped the LAME coders with a suit yet. Vorbis should be patent-free. Yet Fraunhofer issued a warning a few days ago to the effect that the Vorbis coders were probably infringing some patent somewhere. This is, of course, a meaningless and unsupported threat. But, then, if you paid for the final development work on the most popular compressed media format in the world, wouldn't you go looking for a little compensation?

Question (1)

Phoenix (2762) | more than 13 years ago | (#514852)

Will this new MP3 Format be playable on current technology MP3 Players? I'm not talking about the software players...those are always upgradable, but I'm asking about the stand alone portable players out there. Rio, Nomad, those are the ones I'm concerned about.

I just bought a SoundsGood Audio Player add on module for my Handspring Visor and basically has it just become a paperweight?

Re:Software/algorithm patents... (3)

SubtleNuance (184325) | more than 13 years ago | (#514856)

Source alternatives (png, ogg vorbis, etc) they are always in reaction to an existing technology brought forth by a company who could afford the R&D costs on something more original.

I think you are making a wild assumption. What I think you dont realize is you are using your 'capitalist-centric' rationale to relate these things unnecessarily. Its a chicken-egg problem. I believe that because the modern social organization is essentially the corporation it plays a dominant role in everything. While I'll agree that new tech usually appears under a Corporate moniker - it does not happen as a natural result of something this corporation provides.

Research is done by people -- these people have motivations (fame, food, sex, whatever) -- if they were _allowed_ to produce work for the public domain: they would. The technology would still be there -- there would still be innovation. We have allowed corporations (or those who can use them as tools to satisfy their own needs) to gain _alot_ of 'power'. That power is all around you - your City Hall is a corporate entity and acts like one, your employer is a corporate entity and acts like one, your civil groups, your soccer league, your grocer -- EVERYTHING is a corporate entity and acts like one.

What I would advocate is a legislative restructuring and balancing of (Capitalist) Corporate vs Civic vs Private 'power'. We have (unfortunately) allowed (Capitalist) Corporate entities to 're-organize' culture to their advantage -- I use the analogy of a virus being capable of altering conditions within its host -- this effectively precludes any action outside of this dominant social structure.

So, back to your original point: Don't believe that innovation, freedom, basic needs and all else that you require for sustenance would vanish if Corporations did - that somehow they have 'given' us these things: It is very untrue. Technology would be born and evolve quite well outside of the present (Capitalist) Corporate world - maybe more so, because alot of the unfortunate after effects would be lost -- we could spend a greater amount of our efforts on worthwhile things (technology, art, and other self-satisfying pursuits) if we could abandon the 'necessary evils' of the corporate world: Advertising, Marketing, BizHeadTalk, Consumerism, Needless Pollution, Self Rewarding Greed, Corporate Enslavement, Exploitation of the Underprivileged and other various crap - people should be able to live their lives without being _forced_ to participate in (in what I believe) to be a selfish, ill-conceived system to fuck other people. I believe it is better to share with your neighbour than to steal from him - but what option do I have outside of being a modern-life-martyr and starving?

Ok - im done preaching. ;)

Re:But what of VBR mode (1)

Skeptopotamus (303674) | more than 13 years ago | (#514866)

Actually, as the article states, they are playing catch up with Microsoft's Windows Media formats more than anything in the Open Source world. Ogg Vorbis is great, better than mp3. But have you heard the quality of Windows Media Format Audio version 8? Or seen the video of its video-counterpart? It blows away anything else currently available.

If you haven't seen it, there's a demo/beta version available on Microsoft's site. The quality (for the amount of data used) is simply amazing.

View Here []

Of course, if you're running a non-Windows machine, don't bother.

BlueMatter is a brand, and it's InterTrust (1)

KNicolson (147698) | more than 13 years ago | (#514869)

I could correct most of the factual errors above, but instead here's the web site that will tell you all []

I believe the underlying codec is AAC, as Universal prefer it to MP3.

Re:ISO code-free? Yes. Patent-free? No. (1)

Skeptopotamus (303674) | more than 13 years ago | (#514870)

But, then, if you paid for the final development work on the most popular compressed media format in the world, wouldn't you go looking for a little compensation?

That's a silly question to ask on Slashdot.

Most of the people on this site wave the banner of Freedom and Openness when in reality all they want is a free lunch. In my experience, the same people who support open source software are the ones who support the whole pirate warez scene. They dont want more freedom, they just want more things for free. That's why any sane person can see that there is a huge degree of communist idealism in the open source movement. Don't kid yourself, Richard Stallman is redder than Stalin!!!

Re:I wonder how it'll sound? (2)

Ashran (107876) | more than 13 years ago | (#514871)

99% of people dont notice the difference ..
1% does have a sensitiv enough ear to hear it...

I'm f*cking glad, I'm one of the boring 99% ;)
I dont really notice any difference at 128kbit

Re:LAME will survive (1)

jamesbulman (103594) | more than 13 years ago | (#514872)

I appreciate what your saying, but the flip side of making file sizes smaller is that you get better quality for the same bit rate. If they can make 64kbps mp3s sound like 128kbps (which I doubt!), the surely 128kbps will sound better!

Re:Software/algorithm patents... (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 13 years ago | (#514873)

That's what companies /believe/, but, in fact, if you actually read the infamous EULA (End User License Agreement) that comes with most commercial software, you'll find that agreeing to it exempts the software house from most liability (and as an aside, that's why UCITA is bad for companies, it puts such licenses on a firm footing, although even pre-UCITA it was difficult to argue around them).

I took a middle-manager at the company I work through an MS EULA one day to actually point out how little legal recourse the company had (at the time, NT was being pushed, hard, onto engineer's desktops, exactly where we didn't want it.) (And yes, we were both very bored at the time.) He was quite amazed.

Upon further analysis (and slow percolation up the chain of command), it was found that with linux or BSD (we went BSD-wards)and a decent "platinum" installation, support, and infrastructure maintenance subcontractor (there's the people you point to when things go wrong), in terms of legality, we were on much firmer ground with Open Source software. And, since we use a lot of in-house custom code, running it on NT for 4 times the price of,say, a RH boxed set for everyone in the company (And that is of course unnecessary) was just silly (although perfectly possible - NT has no shortage of dev tools, you just pay for most of them.)

Although the total cost is not, as some people would have you believe, free, it is much better value for your money than going an MS route, particularly if someone sues you for leaking chip designs that were under NDA (worked out where I work yet?), and it is somewhat better value than Solaris (at least for some purposes - we do use a rather large solaris ultrasparc lump for some hairy simulations)

I wonder how it'll sound? (1)

linuxpimp (236963) | more than 13 years ago | (#514886)

Ooh, another lossy compression format. And here I'm waiting for digital music representation that is better than CD-Rom. (Mmmm... vinyl. I can hardly wait for DVD audio.) I doubt that this will be used for music as much as they seem to suggest. It might be good for streaming voice-only lectures, though.

The Real Deal (4)

tartanboy (262669) | more than 13 years ago | (#514889)

Now people (heavens no, not me) can download twice as much Metallica for the same price!

Software/algorithm patents... (3)

The Dodger (10689) | more than 13 years ago | (#514892)

Why is it that so many de facto Internet standards are based upon software or algorithm patents? MP3, GIF, RSA (until recently)...

Is it because software companies are happier licensing something from another company than adopting an open standard?


new, improved mp3 (1)

Qu4ntum (96620) | more than 13 years ago | (#514894)

the new codec will be adopted immediately by the digital pirate subculture, then filter down and replace mp3 in no time at all. long live free networks :)

Re:The Real Deal (2)

Skeptopotamus (303674) | more than 13 years ago | (#514896)

You may think this is funny now but it wont be so funny when talented artists like Eminem stop writing music because you communists think you are allowed to steal it for free.

Re:LAME will survive (2)

revin (191651) | more than 13 years ago | (#514897)

Bandwith IS important. I know about a music studio that is putting on the infrastructure to record a bass guitarist from Canada, a lead guitar from Italy and a drumset from Spain. Think about it as distributed computing, but then distributed music channels.

MP+ (1)

Twisted Mind (155678) | more than 13 years ago | (#514898)

I haven't heard from MP+

It's a new format developed by a German student, which is/aims to be completely patent free
I haven't tried it yet, but from what I heard it's fairly well. der.html []

And a comparison site: []

Re:The Real Deal (1)

LordNimon (85072) | more than 13 years ago | (#514899)

talented artists like Eminem

Hahahahahahaha!!!!! If artists like Eminem (notice I didn't use the word "talented") stop writing music, the world would be a better place. And we'll have Napster to thank for that!

Ways to earn money (1)

kyrre (197103) | more than 13 years ago | (#514900)

Guess they are trying to regain all the wealth they missed out when leting people use mp3 for free. This format will probably be locked and you have to pay huge/hugeish royalties for using it. With Ogg Vorbis getting better I think it this plan will fail.

Though mp3s have gotten lots of publicity lately.

bzip (1)

pchown (90777) | more than 13 years ago | (#514901)

A while ago I did some experiments compressing audio with bzip. The results were surprisingly good. Some things would compress—losslessly of course—to about twice the size of the equivalent MP3. The audio was recorded at CD sampling rates but lower quality.

Before you get too excited, I should say that this was only done for some audio tracks that were important for a project I was working on. I haven't tried ripping a track off a CD and compressing it that way.

Re:But what of VBR mode (1)

kyz (225372) | more than 13 years ago | (#514902)

The problem with VBR mode is that it isnt supported within the Linux kernel.

VBR mode used to be supported in the Linux kernel, but I replaced it with the meaning of life. It got into the 2.4 release along with support for Water Faeries.

Re:I wonder how it'll sound? (2)

Sir_Winston (107378) | more than 13 years ago | (#514916)

I grow weary of people who always complain about such-and-such compression format being lossy. Well, boo-hoo, whine and complain, lossless compression is the exception not the rule. Almost all data in the world around us is compressed, and not losslessly, like CDs, TV, films, you name it. From your remark you seem to be one of those people who laments that CDs don't sound as good as vinyl. Well, maybe one person in a thousand can tell the bloody difference, so who cares/ Even the vinyl isn't going to sound as good as the live studio session, because even vinyl doesn't capture 100% of the audio data. Even vinyl--even the master tapes--are compressed, lossily, because they don't capture perfectly every audio nuance. But hey, that doesn't matter much anyway, because tracks aren't laid down live altogether in a studio any more--usually, separate instruments or effects are mixed in. So, there is no "100% lossless" experience to capture anyway. Same's true op even HDTV and DVD, much less plain old NTSC or PAL. Short of putting tiny actors inside your television set, you are always going to have a lossily compressed picture. Same's true for film--fowever many lines of resolution a 35mm or even 70mm print has, real life has more. So, does that mean that everything should be performed live on stage, with real-time real-life special effects? Sounds silly, eh? Well so does your complaint. The new standard is being made to get comparable qualities into smaller file sizes. But before people yet again whine about mp3 being lossy and bah-bah-bah, I'll point out something people who complain usually don't think about. Sure, a 12bkbps mp3 sounds worse than a tape dub. So what? download a 320kbps file, listen to it for any popping or encoding errors, then when you're satisfied with its quality, keep it. If it doesn't live up to your standards, throw it into the bitbucket of history. Just don't keep making the same old tired boring useless complaints that everyone here has read fifty billion times, mmmkay? If you're one of the very small pecentage of the population who can hear the difference between a 320kbps mp3 file and a CD, or vinyl for that matter, then don't download mp3s. Fine. Just DON'T COMPLAIN ABOUT FREE STUFF. If you want to make perfect reproductions of your CDs, then rip them to WAVs and then tar.gz or .rar or .zip them. Short of that, you're not getting a lossless digital copy of a CD track, much less a quality better than CD. As I said, anyway, all daa in the real world are lossily compressed, so get over it.

Ogg Vorbis (1)

rommi (61644) | more than 13 years ago | (#514917)

So, Ogg Vorbis 2.0 will be announced soon?

Re:Not likely (1)

boomi (207352) | more than 13 years ago | (#514918)

It's NOT downwards compatible.

IMHO they just add additional information to each Mp3 frame.

Content encoded in mp3PRO can be played back in a traditional MP3 player but without the quality enhancement. The format can also be used for streaming Web audio.

Gosh. (4)

viktor (11866) | more than 13 years ago | (#514919)

So Fraunhofer, without whom we wouldn't have the MP3 format to begin with, is developing a new, improved format. To me that would seem like great news. I can fit twice as much music on my harddisk as I do today.

And the immediate comment by Slashdot is "But what about LAME?!". Aren't we being just a tad narrow-minded here? What the article subject says to me is "Fraunhofer is developing something new, which is bad because we've just managed to legally use the last thing they did."

Fraunhofer developed mp3. Had slashdot been around by then, it would probably have considered that to be really, really bad news because of the license. But, yet, I can listen to mp3:s today. The development of mp3 wasn't a bad thing in the long run, and there's nothing that indicates that the development mp3PRO would be bad in the long run either.

Couldn't we try to be just a bit positive about new inventions and developments instead?! Even if the inventions aren't made by three happy hackers in a University basement?


Re:I wonder how it'll sound? (1)

clare-ents (153285) | more than 13 years ago | (#514920)

Almost all data in the world around us is compressed, and not losslessly, like CDs, TV, films, you name it.

Er, I might be mistaken but CD's are not compressed. Similarly analogue media is not compressed either, it may be noisy and/or have a lower resolution than you would like.

Lossy compression trades quality for space/bandwidth. It's entirely separate to the question of capture and display quality.

People who moan about lossy compression usually do so because they have an excess of bandwidth / space and would rather have more quality than more free bandwidth. The also complain because it's possible to convert a lossless compression into a lossy compression but not the other way around.


Why shouldn't people who write and use free software be allowed to voice their opinion on what quality / bitrates it should use just because it is free?

Re:same speed, better quality? (2)

Neverrtfm (303783) | more than 13 years ago | (#514921)

Actually, with a bit of knowledge, you would see that it is indeed possible to achieve a file size compression without an increase in sound quality. Sound fidelity could easily have a maximum value apart from the file size.

Re:Not likely (1)

The Step Child (216708) | more than 13 years ago | (#514922)

Windows Media Encoder 8 (in beta) has similar claims, and I have to admit they're pretty close. MS has some demos [] up. Being able to stream audio at an acceptable quality on my dial-up rocks :)

Re:Not likely (1)

pouwelse (118316) | more than 13 years ago | (#514934)

If they say it "plays in traditional MP3 player" it means to me downwards compatible, you have to upgrade to PRO support to get the full benefits.

That would mean they take for example a 32 Kbps rate compatible MP3 frames and add a new stream of 32 Kbps PRO side info.

It would be impressive if they could equal the quality of 128 Kbps standard MP3 with that...


whining nonsense (4)

joss (1346) | more than 13 years ago | (#514935)

You can't have it both ways.

I thought people believed that open source was better than commerical software.

So MP3 comes out, and open source can faithfully reproduce it by violating these (non-obvious) patents. It matches implementation but certainly doesn't improve on the efforts of Fraunhofer institute, their real work being in developing the acoustic model. If Fraunhofer can improve on that it just shows that potential for improvement was always there, but open source efforts weren't good enough to find it.

The only reason people would switch to this new encoding would be if it was substantially better. If that means that open source software falls behind - tough shit, this can be fixed eventually, it just means ignoring a different set of patents. This just shows where the real innovation comes from. I know that innovation is a dirty word now that MS have got their fangs in it, but there is such a thing as the genuine article.

Re:Software/algorithm patents... (1)

remy the man (303068) | more than 13 years ago | (#514936)

One of the problems with open standards is that they sometimes contain too much "information" to suit everyone's needs. Cisco's routers perform better than routers of other companies because they are propriatary instead of conforming to open standards.

Re:I wonder how it'll sound? (1)

boomi (207352) | more than 13 years ago | (#514937)

You could have mentioned too that vinyl is much worse than CD. (NO, I DON'T WRITE IMHO! )
Vinyl just sounds so crappy that the people actually think it's the music that must sound like vinyl, and I agree.
I like listening to the good 'ol Doors on Vinyl!
This lack of dynamic sounds like the time before me, yeah, so OLD.

Doesn't the article contradict itself (1)

browser_war_pow (100778) | more than 13 years ago | (#514938)

"Like MP3, mp3PRO will be open and available for licensing." seems to me like the media whores didn't read what they were about to publish.How can something be open on one hand and require licensing on the other?!

lucky (1)

revin (191651) | more than 13 years ago | (#514939)

At least the guys at (that by the way have nothing to do with Fraunhover) will get hits on their site. :-)

Small size is important (1)

Baki (72515) | more than 13 years ago | (#514940)

If they can get the same quality mp3(pro) in 64 kbit that today takes 128 kbit, then those limited memory MP3 players (often only 64MB, just enough for an hour music) can hold twice as much music. That seems a big advantage to me.

The flash memory used by MP3 players is expensive enough to make smaller size at same quality very useful.

Compression and Storage (1)

smolix (133533) | more than 13 years ago | (#514941)

Patenting and licensing issues aside (not everything that is good is free and not everything that is free is good either) the claims of MP3pro sound very good. I think it will be successful, and here's why:

The fact that you can get sound quality that at 64kbit sounds like a 128kbit MP3 means that you get higher quality at 128kbit, too. In other words, your 128kbit MP3pro might sound like 200kbit MP3 or similar. So a more efficient codec is useful in any case, also since it most likely will give you CD quality at a lower bitrate.

VBR is usually independent of a better compression scheme. I guess, you can employ it for MP3pro, too, without too much trouble.

The format is backwards compatible to MP3, this means you can keep on using all your old MP3 hardware. This is the killer feature that no other format has. Just think of going from black and white TV to color TV, vs. color TV to HDTV (the latter requires that you buy a new TV set).

Re:LAME will survive (2)

TheGratefulNet (143330) | more than 13 years ago | (#514942)

Storage is stupid-cheap these days.

sometimes its not!

I have a neo25 mp3 player [] and this uses a 2.5" notebook drive.

currently, the largest you can find is 32gig from ibm, but its FAR from cheap (around $500) and hard to find right now. and still, 32gig doesn't hold half of what I currently have (all at 128k, btw; done with the linux frau. encoder).

for iso cd-r's, you also don't have infinite space - for those car and portable players that use the data cd's.

for home use, yeah, storage is free and infinite (almost). but all other areas are NOT.


Re:I wonder how it'll sound? (1)

boomi (207352) | more than 13 years ago | (#514943)

Record your vinyl on a GOOD equipment to GOOD mp3 (Lame with VBR) and play it back on a GOOD equipment! You're done!
But don't complain that the 128kbs Britney song you downloaded sounds ugly on your PC-Speaker!
-128kbs is ugly
-Britneys music is ugly
-Your lame PC-Speaker is ugly

Re:LAME will survive (4)

Gleef (86) | more than 13 years ago | (#514944)

adolf writes:

I don't -want- to see hear bad they can make things sound at 64kbps. And further, I don't care about bandwidth or disk usage, even though I'm behind a 28.8 modem.

I -do- want high-quality downloadable (freely or not) music. By high-quality, I mean indistinguishable from a CD to my own ears (LAME at ~220Kbps average VBR does this for me).

Storage is stupid-cheap these days. Bandwidth is slowly spreading out into much more diverse, and usually competitive, markets.

Sounds like what you are looking for is FLAC ( [] ). It's lossless compression. If you sample at CD resolutions, you get CD quality sound (if you sample at higher resolution from a better input source, you get better than CD quality sound). Only two downsides:
* Less compression than mp3's
* Not finished yet (but they do have working code)

Check it out.


Gah! (1)

Scorchio (177053) | more than 13 years ago | (#514945)

Wrist slap for me for not checking out the article properly!

Ok.. what about players not mentioned in the article?

bah (2)

QuantumG (50515) | more than 13 years ago | (#514946)

I don't believe you can actually say that we've reached the limit of audio compression. What kind of a researcher are you? Why bother doing a PHD about a "mature" technology that has no where to go? Sheesh.. The lower limit (for size) has already been defined. Have a look at MOD/S3M files. These are systems which store the actual placement of samples into different channels at different frequency/pitch. ie. they actually contain the composition of the song. Reading an S3M file is like reading sheet music with a list of instruments to play. You can get high quality songs, similar in quality to studio recordings for under 300k (although most are a meg these days). These are full length songs. A lot of the S3M's that are produced today contain too many samples which blow out the size. For example, an artist may include the same sample at two different pitches because he/she is not aware that they can use the format to change the pitch. We're nowhere even close to developing a system that can reduce an audio stream to the component instruments and a score format like S3M. Well as far as I know. You're the researcher, so tell us, is it even possible? Isn't this where the research should be focused -- on the hard problem?

Content Control? (1)

kennylives (27274) | more than 13 years ago | (#514947)

Details in the article are a bit sparse.. I wonder if mp3PRO is going to include content control mechanisms, to placate the RIAA et al, by providing a means to 'protect the copyright holders' interests'.

Any clues?

Re:But what of VBR mode (2)

TheGratefulNet (143330) | more than 13 years ago | (#514948)

vbr encoded files almost always have problems (in players) with time elapsed and time remaining; in the display portion of the decoder.

its annoying but admittedly has nothing to do with the sound.

otoh, vbr without a settable upper limit can cause problems to various hardware based decoders that stop at 192k. there are plenty of them out there, like the lp3 dongle [] device and various clamshell cdr iso cd players.


Re:waiting, but not for long..... (2)

QuantumG (50515) | more than 13 years ago | (#514949)

why would they be pissed? I'm sure it will contain some "copy protection" scheme in the format and they will go sue happy over anyone who ignores the "copy bit".

Re:The Real Deal (2)

TheGratefulNet (143330) | more than 13 years ago | (#514950)

if Eminem stops writing music, well, I would assume Hershey Foods would step in and supply another nutty band to help satisfy the urge ...


Patent from Francrapper (1)

IRNI (5906) | more than 13 years ago | (#514951)

Ok so I am sure that someone else could come up with a much better compression method if they tried. Lets just not accept anything else from a group that tries to extract ungodly amounts of money for using their code. Mp3 was really revolutionary and started a movement which we are in today. But we got it from here. There are too many people in the game to have us dependant upon one group for a new high compression standard.

Re:They're not the only ones killing MP3... (1)

Rentar (168939) | more than 13 years ago | (#514965)

OggVorbis is even more free than GPL/LGPL (for those, who prefer not infecting other software ...). The algorithms and the formats are completly public domain, and you're free to do whatever you want with it (even include it in highly proprietary software). Only the implementation is LGPL (for the library) and GPL (for the demo-player, which IMHO doesn't have any effective value, 'cause there's a plugin for xmms).

Re:LAME will survive (1)

boomi (207352) | more than 13 years ago | (#514966)

I just wanted to support you by pissing at those rio people. HEHEEE!
I carry 20gigs in my Neo 25 so I can afford more than 128kbs. Actually my whole cd-collection is LAME V1 :)~

I agree that space doesn't really matter, but bandwith does.
It's not only about napster users, but online broadcasters would love to see their bandwith saved.
(Ok ok, multicast will solve all problems but at the moment you must provide a stream PER USER)

So What? (1)

gagravarr (148765) | more than 13 years ago | (#514967)

So FhG/Thomson have released a new codec, based on mp3, which they claim gives twice the compression (but probably only does about 1.5x). The guys behind LAME think that if they were to make some changes that weren't allowed by the original spec (just like FhG have done), then within 120 hours of coding they could make big improvements, probably up to the 1.5 mark. What stops them is that existing players wouldn't play it

It is impossible for a 64kbps mp3pro stream to sound like 64kbps to an old player and 128kbps to a new one in the manner they've described. If they ofload large amounts of processing onto the player, the having a 64kbps stream sound like 48kbps on a mp3 player and 128kbps on mp3pro then that I can just about accept

So, why would we want to move from mp3 to mp3pro? The quality improvement isn't that great - vorbis will be able to match that by about release 2, and vorbis is patent free GPL / LGPL and will soon support subtitles and video! mp3pro will be at least as patented and needing licencing as mp3 (don't forgot that lots of companies are now being asked for mp3 royalties from FhG, who haven't gone after royalties for a few years), and quite possibly more. So, when you're in that boat you've also got to consider real audio and media player as serious contenders (they're cheaper than mp3pro is likely to be based on mp3, and sound nearly as good), while Vorbis shines out.

Finally we've got the player issue. You can get an mp3 player for almost every platform out there. Realplayer and media player run on very few, and look at dvds! Are we really gonna see players for linux, bsd, os2, beos?

Yeah, we're going to see some mp3pro, but I don't think it'll oust mp3 just like that, and I really think vorbis is the one to watch. (Vorbis is at [] )

Too dependent on content (1)

GeekDork (194851) | more than 13 years ago | (#514968)

I actually tried this, too. My result was the following:

Original file: approx. 24MB
bzip'ed file(*): approx 17MB
MP3 file(**): approx 5.5MB

(*): I made it there after several experiments with blocksize and stuff. Don't ask me about the settings.
(**): encoded using LAME, VBR at highest quality. Average bitrate at about 230.

This makes me think that bzip might actually not be the best compressor available, but for lossless compression it surely is about the best solution.

Re:ISO code-free? Yes. Patent-free? No. (1)

SuperSnail 2000 (302447) | more than 13 years ago | (#514969)

Poor baby. So you are upset the users clowns like you have abused with your shoddy Windows shareware and comerical software and enslaving software licenses finally have had enough and moved to Linux and other OSS software and told you to fuck off. Too damn bad. For *YOU* that is.

Ummm.... What?
I want to believe you had a point to make, but I see something about some users who have some upset clowns with windows.

Apparently these clowns are either enslaving, or being enslaved by software licenses, but then moved to Linux and other Open Source Software, which promptly told them to fuck off.

I need a translator!

Fraunhofer (3)

QuantumG (50515) | more than 13 years ago | (#514970)

I was at a reverse engineering conference and happened to sit down next to a guy from the Fraunhofer Institute. They do a lot of research in many different fields and when I asked him about patents he shut up for a minute and then said "yes, we are commercial oriented, that's how we get to do so much interesting research." He didn't seem too happy about it.

Re:Gosh. (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 13 years ago | (#514971)

Actually, I can understand Slashdot and it's users anti-Fraunhofer sentiments, since my company is in the middle of licensing negotiations with them. We've also been working very closely with Mark Taylor, the guy who is maintaining LAME.

Thompson, the people who license the Fraunhofer stuff, has not been easy to deal with. No one is when they're trying to screw you every step of the way. A lot of stuff like "we'd like x% of your gross profit for x years." Because what our software is doing with the LAME codec is relatively new and not-well-understood by Thompson, the licensing people have been even more difficult.

As I'm sure you and others know, Thompson/Fraunhofer has also started rattling their swords regarding OGG/Vorbis. Who knows what will happen about that, but from experience, I'd bet they try to do something legally nasty.

In the end, be very glad that there's people like Mark at LAME and all of the OGG/Vorbis guys. It's incredible that they devote their time and energy to something as complex as sound compression & the related. With out 'em, Thompson and Fraunhofer would be gouging you even worse.

-Posting anony because of the licensing & legal stuff.

Too bad i cant view the link (1)

krappie (172561) | more than 13 years ago | (#514972)

Its real nice how my school's web proxie wont let me go to any internet site with the word mp3 in it.

Re:But what of VBR mode (1)

yulek (202118) | more than 13 years ago | (#514973)

but... VBR doesn't stream well. i have an mp3 jukebox running icecast that various machines listen too over the network. VBR crackles and pops.

j u l e s @ p o p m o n k e y . c o m

Re:I wonder how it'll sound? (1)

DrSkwid (118965) | more than 13 years ago | (#514974)

sorry mate wrong

CD Audio is compressed because it has an upper and lower limit on the frequncies it can represent.

Just vecause the storage method doesn;t ue a compression algorithm

go away and read some literature on sound engineering

Re:You Assume Too Much (2)

QuantumG (50515) | more than 13 years ago | (#514975)

Hmm.. for some reason I think that if the muzak corps started producing 900k music files that sound better than today's mp3's people will accept whatever player that have to download to play them and if that player can only be written by people with licenses from Fraunhofer then they will make a lot of cash. Especially if they have some stupid form of copy control embedded.

Patents aren't so easy to get around. (5)

jemfinch (94833) | more than 13 years ago | (#514976)

Great, but what does this mean for projects like L.A.M.E., which has just recently freed itself from Fraunhofer ["regular"] mp3 code/patents? Back into the fray?"

LAME isn't "free from Fraunhofer mp3 code/patents". They may have finally outgrown their name and become a full-fledged mp3 encoder in their own right, but no matter, Fraunhofer's patent still stands. LAME infringes on that patent.

From the Vorbis [] FAQ:

Why Vorbis? MP3 is open.

No, it isn't. Fraunhofer (and other MPEG consortium members) claim that it is impossible to create an mp3 encoder without infringing on their patents. To create/use an encoder, the law says one must pay royalties to Fraunhofer and other MPEG Consortium members. In other words, you can play what you like, but you're not allowed to contribute without paying the ante.
(note that this question isn't on the faq from, it's from [] .

No matter how hard LAME tries, it is another MP3 encoder, and as such, infringes on mp3 patents.

Higher quality closed formats is not the answer. Higher quality open formats [] are the only way.


Forget encoding (2)

QuantumG (50515) | more than 13 years ago | (#514977)

Why is this so hard? Really, if you are the music company and you have the individual channels of the song, then you can do remarkable clean channel encoding and mix them together on the client side. I believe this is what mp4 does.. someone back me up here. So think about it. If music companies and individual artists (the only folk who can do this) produce music files that are better encoded and drastically smaller than "ripped" music files, wouldn't we pay for them? The RIAA is running around talking about Napster and laws and copy control but they really can't give us a good reason why we would want to pay money for the official stuff instead of grabbing the free stuff. Isn't this a reason? or am I out on a limb here?

A first for Microsoft (1)

scum-e-bag (211846) | more than 13 years ago | (#514978)

This seems to be a first for Microsoft eh?

Making their end products smaller and less bloatish than everyone else, while at the same time getting the jump on the market as a whole.


hummmmmm.... (1)

zoftie (195518) | more than 13 years ago | (#514979)

Lets breath in and take a moment! .....
Now, we do not know really how good the format is
and maybe it is simply an attack at present mp3
format. So what? Most compressed media devices
support MP3. MP3Pro is perhaps a preceived way
by Fra.... whatever to stuff gene back into the
bottle. It can't be done. Even if it is 50% better
than mp3, even then 128 isn't that great, 160 is
somewhere around listenable quality, unless it
happens to be a rip of britney spears CD from
Napster by people to who sound is two computer

They are falling forward to make a strike, albeit
a very clumsy one. If they'd done their homework,
they should've done some tests, perhaps rigged
ones, not just say, hey all stuff out there
sucks so dump it and go for our new thing, that
you will HAVE to pay money for.

Just another of lowball stories on hype the world
coming to an end, corporation will own you type

They're not the only ones killing MP3... (4)

David E. Smith (4570) | more than 13 years ago | (#514981)

Everyone and their distant cousin is in the business of trying to improve on MP3, it seems. The Ogg Vorbis [] format claims to do roughly the same thing -- provide better-sounding music, while taking less disk space.

Vorbis is GPL/LGPL too, which is a definite plus to many geeks :)

Re:Software/algorithm patents... (1)

tono (38883) | more than 13 years ago | (#514982)

In short, yes. Because with open standards they don't have anyone to sue when they implement it wrong. If they liscence it from another company they can sue them when something goes terribly wrong or it doesn't work in their app.. blah blah blah

same speed, better quality? (5)

morie (227571) | more than 13 years ago | (#514985)

<STUPID QUESTION>if they claim they can heve the same quality in half the data, does this also maen they have better quality in the same ammount of data?</STUPID QUESTION>, e.g. is this going to improve the quality of a 128 kbps compression?

Right on! (1)

Codeala (235477) | more than 13 years ago | (#514986)

This kind of thinking from xenoweeno must go. Just because some company came up with something doesn't mean they are automatically good! We need to have more faith in our brothers and sisters that create truly great open source works.

At the very least we can do is to wait til the darn thing actually came out before crying "Uncle"...


Perhaps a good chance for OGG/whatever (1)

sith (15384) | more than 13 years ago | (#514990)

If the Fraunhofer people think we should start using a new audio codec, perhaps we should. But if we're going to be starting over from scratch, why not make it a free codec? Why should I reencode all my mp3s in mp3pro (hmm.. "What should we name our new audio codec guys?" "Uhh.. who cares?" "Mp3pro it is then") when I can just as easily reencode them to something else that isn't restrictively controlled? Perhaps this is a good chance for free codecs to gain ground..

waiting, but not for long..... (1)

Karahaj (253950) | more than 13 years ago | (#514998)

now that fraunhoefer has made the announcement, i am sure the RIAA has contacted their lawyers... I just hope that the internet community can embrace as many standards as possible so as to put the RIAA out of business by way of lawyer-cide....

Anyone tried FLAC? (1)

arseonick (28913) | more than 13 years ago | (#514999)

I encode 99% of the audio I listen to, and since storage is so cheap I use FLAC [] to do it. It takes a while to encode, but the result is a great lossless file. Check it out. Anyone have experience with other lossless coders?

Re:Doesn't the article contradict itself (1)

gabuzo (34544) | more than 13 years ago | (#515000)

Nope. MP3 is open since its spec are available publically and it is available for licensing since the encoding process is covered by patents. So it may probably be the same thing for MP3Pro. So I don't think there is any contradiction in the article.

Catch-up for portable mp3 players? (1)

Scorchio (177053) | more than 13 years ago | (#515001)

How many of the portable mp3 players currently available support reflashing of the software to support new formats like this? Odds are that a new format with better compression and quality will come along and replace mp3 as the popular choice sooner or later. Have many or any of the manufacturers taken this into account with the design of their player?

Re:Software/algorithm patents... (1)

ToLu the Happy Furby (63586) | more than 13 years ago | (#515002)

Not to mention that if you actually read the Vorbis site, the guy's been doing it since way before MP3 became popular.

Well, yeah; there are open-source projects implementing just about everything. The point is, they don't get anywhere until they get a critical mass of developers. And, no matter how cool the idea, they rarely get a critical mass of developers until the idea has already become popular out in the closed-source world and is suddenly now something everybody "needs".

Re:The Real Deal (1)

Pahroza (24427) | more than 13 years ago | (#515003)

"It's a bit, nutty..." - austin powers

Corollary to Godwins Law? (1)

dmaxwell (43234) | more than 13 years ago | (#515004)

The invoking of Hitler or Nazis is widely held to be an automatically losing move in a debate. I'm wondering if Red-baiting shouldn't be equally potent weapon for rhetorically shooting yourself in the foot. The only difference I can see is a leftward ideological skew for making differently flavored flamebait.

I bet (1)

Capt. Beyond (179592) | more than 13 years ago | (#515005)

that Fraunhofer will keep a tighter lid on this patent, if, and when they are successful. This is good news, tho. I love music, and anything that will let me store gobs and gobs of music on my harddrive, and other places is very welcome.

a genuine question is not a troll (1)

morie (227571) | more than 13 years ago | (#515006)

I posted it because I wanted to know. I thought it would probably be the case but I was not sure. I learn the most by asking "stupid questions". Just because there are always people around who know more or who think differently.

Seeing the different reactions taught me that:
  1. There are more lines of reasoning then just the one I postulated
  2. People tend to react on something I already stated: this could be a stupid question
I can immagine you are supprised this got modded up. So was I. However, simple questions by people who want to check their assumptions in order to gain deeper understanding are not trolls. Maybe they should be modded up, since they show that what is clear to the majority of /. is not neccesarily clear to all.

SHN files (1)

acomj (20611) | more than 13 years ago | (#515007)

Shorten files.
Lots of Phish/DMB files are in this format (some tapers don't like mp3 qualitiy)

Files are Lossless and can play in some programs without uncompressing. Files are very very big though compared to mp3, it seems like a bzip sort of compression

Re:hummmmmm.... (2)

Grab (126025) | more than 13 years ago | (#515008)

Hang on, aren't Fraunhofer the guys who originally came up with the MP3 format? So they're the guys that everyone (NullSoft, MS, Sony, etc) pays for licensing to produce an MP3 player? So they're the ones making a nice amount of money off the current MP3?

So can anyone guess how likely it is that Fraunhofer are trying to stop ppl using MP3 format? Back in the real world, it's a response to Ogg Vorbis etc - if you want to stay in front you have to keep producing new and innovative products. They've done it once with MP3 (radically better than anything else at the time), and they're trying to do the same again with MP3Pro. Where's the issue with this?

Incidentally, YOU won't be paying money for it directly. Nullsoft etc will pay to produce compatible players, but that's it.


You Assume Too Much (2)

ryancooley (248760) | more than 13 years ago | (#515009)

And you assume this new format will take over the world? Lightning doesn't strike twice, they will try and fail just as all others have.

Re:SOunds good, personally... (1)

zoftie (195518) | more than 13 years ago | (#515010)

Compressed audio != uncomressed audio -> ( audiophile -> not happy)

Hence the word audiophile, spend ~3K+ on stereo
sound. Many amps have digital bypass for simple
stereo amplification, true audiophiles avoid
digital circuitry like fire, let alone god forbid
any compression. I however draw the line,
where people say that vinyl sounds better than
Funny they add PRO to the mp3, because it is like
sticking a label in gold and red saying something
to effect 1000+1000Watts! P.M.P.O. just makes me
take compression format with less seriousness,
just as I would take a whimsical burp of a
marketing team.

But what of VBR mode (4)

POPE Mad Mitch (73632) | more than 13 years ago | (#515012)

Sounds like Fraunhofer and the likes are trying to play catchup on the developments that have been made in the open source world, with improved psyco-acoustic models, and refinements in VBR encoding. With the likes of LAME used in VBR (variable bit rate) mode, even at max. compression i can get files that have an average of only 80kbps and sounds way better than the crud produced by some of the commercial encoders at 192kbps fixed rate. (eg. the encoder shipped with the rio500).

Many people seem to overlook VBR mode, i have yet to find a player that doesnt handle it, the rio, xmms, winamp all handle it fine (the bitrate meter goes silly, but hey) and you can get much better quality for the space, as it ramps the quality up and down as required, so your not wasting a few hundred kbps on the silence.

Re:new, improved mp3 (3)

gabuzo (34544) | more than 13 years ago | (#515013)

According to this [] (in french can't find anything in english, sorry), MP3Pro shouldn't be the only new codec blooming in spring 2001. Universal Musics wants to launch his new codec: BlueMatter (developped by Entrust ( [] ?).

According to this interview [] (once again, in french sorry) of the director of Universal Music France, BlueMatter should be used to make people pay for online music (I also read about Universal projects of online music and it seems to be streaming only).

So I guess that the new formats won't be as public as MP3 has been to prevent unauthorized players and encoders. One can always try to revers enginer the codec but it'll be hard both technically and legaly (especially in USA with the DCMA if they intermix an access control process with the codec). Beside, this was the strategy used by Apple with the Sorenson codec and unfortunatly there is still no free (as speech) Sorenson codec.

Re:I wonder how it'll sound? (1)

pallex (126468) | more than 13 years ago | (#515015)

I`ve never understood lossy compression. Mp3`s sound shit, unless you choose a compression ratio that is barely worth having. Mp3 is good for a `crippled-shareware` style demo, but i`m not going to listen to them for more than a few mins at a time. The bass is especially amusing - perfect for that `underwater sound` perhaps, but little else.

Re:Right on! (2)

srichman (231122) | more than 13 years ago | (#515018)

Just because some company came up with something doesn't mean they are automatically good! We need to have more faith in our brothers and sisters that create truly great open source works.

Right on! Some company! Thomson? Fraunhofer? Who the hell do they think they are!?

Oh yeah. The people that revolutionized high quality audio compression with mp3 and paved the way for the rampant online exchange of audio that has changed the music industry forever. Nevermind.

Not likely (5)

pouwelse (118316) | more than 13 years ago | (#515020)

Researchers in the field of audio coding agree that the subband filtering technology in MP3 and AAC is now mature. The MP3PRO claims are very impressive, the improvement claims they make are not very likely. They have either changed the world of audio coding or are defending they intrests with waporware.

For my Ph.D. research I work a lot with audio codecs and the statement that they want a 64 Kbps bitrate to sound like 128 Kbps MP3 is doubtfull. They claim the MP3PRO format to be downwards compatible, the MP3 standard does not leave any room for a 50% reduction without a giant breakthrough.

A new technology is needed such as sinusodial coding. []

MP3PRO Open technology? also doubtfull [] .


Re:a genuine question is not a troll (1)

morie (227571) | more than 13 years ago | (#515025)

OK, if I had half an ounce of common sense I would have clicked the right reply button, replying to the first comment instead of to my own post

Re:LAME will survive (1)

Mawbid (3993) | more than 13 years ago | (#515029)

Well, maybe. It's a common opinion that while the Fraunhofer mp3 encoder is the best for making low bitrate mp3 files(64kbps and down), it sucks for higher bitrates. Fraunhofer doesn't appear that interested in high bitrate encoding. So, there's no guarantee that 128kbps files in the new format will sound good compared to 128kbps mp3's encoded with LAME. But then again, if that doesn't happen, maybe we'll see LAMEPRO appear before long :-)

No new compressed audio format is likely to excite me, at least not while "CD quality" is the standard benchmark. I have a large stash of 256 and 192 kbps mp3's. I don't think I've ever been able to tell the difference between a CD and 256kbps mp3 version of the same song*, and very rarely do I hear flaws in the 192kbps mp3's. So all I'd gain from tighter compression is disk space and transfer speed, which aren't too limiting now and becoming less so all the time.

* The funny thing is, a few time's I've been listening to music and thought to myself "Damn, this sounds a little off. Is 256 not enough?", only to realise I was actually listening to a CD.

Re:ISO code-free? Yes. Patent-free? No. (1)

davidmb (213267) | more than 13 years ago | (#515030)

I see open source as more akin to socialism. I also see that as a good thing, socialism doesn't have the same ultra-negative image in Europe as it does in the US.

They've been doing that for years! (1)

flimflam (21332) | more than 13 years ago | (#515033)

It's called ISDN. I remember reading about studios recording remotely at least as far back as 1990, and I think even earlier than that.

Also -- there's the phoned in guitar solo on one of the early TMBG albums (Lincoln I think);-)

Re:bah (2)

Jerf (17166) | more than 13 years ago | (#515034)

I don't believe you can actually say that we've reached the limit of audio compression.

Well, it's good to know your credibility won't be strained, because he didn't say that. Please play again.

Zkx0mo!! EcIL0 ?? (1)

llzackll (68018) | more than 13 years ago | (#515036)

er, who's the moron who encoded this 320kbps mp3 in joint stereo!

Re:I wonder how it'll sound? (1)

keli (143788) | more than 13 years ago | (#515037)


Uhhh... pardon me but isn't he complaining about 'non-free stuff', like mp3?

Behold! (1)

AFCArchvile (221494) | more than 13 years ago | (#515038)

Fraunhofer IIS, the self-proclaimed authority on high-compression media, decides to force a new format on the people of the world. Furthermore, the source code will be withheld, and the world will play catch-up.

However, I know that this won't happen. We're happy enough with MP3 for now, and when someone open-sources a better standard, we'll try it out. But for now, Fraunhofer IIS remains the "mp3 nazis" of the world.

Re:LAME will survive (1)

cmg (31795) | more than 13 years ago | (#515039)

32gb for 500 is "stupid-cheap" to people with a long time frame in computers. Think back ( not so long ago ) when storage hadn't reached the $1 / meg mark.

Re:I wonder how it'll sound? (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 13 years ago | (#515040)

The 'watersound' comes from crappy encoders and low bitrates. Use lame/192kbit and shut the fuck up.

Re:You Assume Too Much (1)

quantum pixie (266938) | more than 13 years ago | (#515042)

Lightning doesn't strike twice

Yeah it does. It strikes a whole hell of a lot more than just twice.

Re:But what of VBR mode (1)

tcdk (173945) | more than 13 years ago | (#515044)

The only player I've tried that doesn't support VBR is my standalone DVD/SVCD/VCD/MP3 player from Nintaus (N9901). :-(

LAME will survive (4)

adolf (21054) | more than 13 years ago | (#515046)

Not to sound pragmatic, but with any luck the new 'mp3' format will fizzle and die.

I don't -want- to see hear bad they can make things sound at 64kbps. And further, I don't care about bandwidth or disk usage, even though I'm behind a 28.8 modem.

I -do- want high-quality downloadable (freely or not) music. By high-quality, I mean indistinguishable from a CD to my own ears (LAME at ~220Kbps average VBR does this for me).

Storage is stupid-cheap these days. Bandwidth is slowly spreading out into much more diverse, and usually competitive, markets.

The focus should not be to make the files smaller (Realaudio G2, anyone?), but to make the quality better. The data distribution and storage capabilities of the Internet at large are progessing leaps and bounds ahead of the state of human hearing (which is actually moving BACKWARDS due to higher levels of everyday ambient noise) - once the epitome of perceptually perfect encoding is deemed possible for the masses, I'll settle for smaller files that reach the same end. Until that point is reached: Fuck off, Fraunhoffer.

And, dispite my freedom-esque views on life, I'd like to see high-quality encoding forced forced upon the populace, as the most infuriating members don't seem to mind even 96Kbps joint stereo mp3s either due to the fact that they are deaf, use equipment that is absolute shit, or just have never heard anything better.

It's for their own good, really - most illicit MP3s come from teens-to-20somthings who don't have to the cash to spend on quality (as in, "you can't buy this at Circuit City") audio equipment, but who (given the forward momentum of consumer electronics) will, at some point, be disappointed with the sound quality of the typical 128KBPS MP3 (of which they will have amassed several tens of gigabytes by such a point).

You idiots who bought a Diamond Rio (or similar) with only 64 megs, being pissed that you can only get an hour's worth of still half-assed-sounding music on the device, are no exception. You should have realized that flash memory is hideously expensive -before- you made such a purchase.

Feel free to moderate this down as flamebait. It's not like karma doesn't grow on trees.

Re:Software/algorithm patents... (5)

Skeptopotamus (303674) | more than 13 years ago | (#515047)

I think that in general its because the patented, closed technology comes first. With all due respect to the people who create wonderful patent free & Open Source alternatives (png, ogg vorbis, etc) they are always in reaction to an existing technology brought forth by a company who could afford the R&D costs on something more original.

By the time the open source alternative is available for use by non-programmers it is generally too late...Even if the open source alternative has considerable benefits over the closed one (PNG compared to GIF for example) habits that have had time to form don't die easily, and the majority of people just stick with what they've already grown used to.

Re:same speed, better quality? (1)

Skeptopotamus (303674) | more than 13 years ago | (#515050)

Heh why is this moderated as Interesting? I don't mean to sound flamish, but that WAS a stupid question, and all you need is half an ounce of common sense (not technical knowledge) to realize that if they can maintain the same quality with half the data they can have better quality in the same amount of data.

Clearly the post is a troll?

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