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Vorbis And Musepack Win 128kbps Multiformat Test

timothy posted more than 10 years ago | from the wax-removal-makes-music-sound-better dept.

Music 272

technology is sexy writes "After 11 days of collecting results Roberto Amorim today announced the results of his 2nd Multi-Format listening test: Vorbis fork AoTuV scored the highest and ranks as the winner together with open source contender Musepack closely followed by Apple's AAC implementation and LAME MP3, which improved markably since last year thanks to further tunings of its VBR model done by Gabriel Bouvigne. Sony's ATRAC3 format ranks last after WMA on the third place. The suprising success of AoTuV (compared to last year's performance of Xiph.org's reference implementation) shows the potential of Vorbis and possible room for further tuning and improvments. Take a look at the detailed results and their discussion at Hydrogenaudio.org."

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Striving for innovation (5, Funny)

MrIrwin (761231) | more than 10 years ago | (#9236410)

So given Microsofts stated goal to bring us innovative technology, they should throw in the towel and ship OggVorbis and derivatives with Windows, right?

They will never (1, Troll)

millahtime (710421) | more than 10 years ago | (#9236445)

So given Microsofts stated goal to bring us innovative technology, they should throw in the towel and ship OggVorbis and derivatives with Windows, right?

Microsoft will never. They will take the code from the #1, put a DRM to it and ship it as the next version of WMA. If they can't make the best they buy or take the best and make it their own. (with some tweaking of course)

No (4, Insightful)

RAMMS+EIN (578166) | more than 10 years ago | (#9236659)

No, they won't. Their definition of innovation is making the same thing in an incompatible way.

Re:Striving for innovation (4, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#9236674)

its important to point out two things especially:
WMA brought clearly worse quality than (good old) MP3 at 128kbps

itunes AAC brought clearly better quality than WMA at 128kbps

so why should anyone even a minute consider buying crap quality wma encodes at napster, coca-cola, walmart or however the wma-based music stores are called?

on the legal way -> itunes is better
on the illegal way -> even old mp3 (next to vorbis or aac) is better

Re:Striving for innovation (4, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#9236768)

The Microsoft-published PC version of Halo uses Ogg Vorbis for all of its audio - so it's not as if there hasn't been a precendent. :-)

But does it matter? (5, Insightful)

Gothmolly (148874) | more than 10 years ago | (#9236412)

When everyone gets an iPod, dood, or the WinFooTunes player that you get with your Dell only works with WMA, or your in-dash CD player only groks 128kbps MP3s, whats the practical application of the other codecs? It's nice that we propeller-heads on Slashdot can smirk while we rip everything to FLAC and write custom Perl apps to transcode-on-the-fly to our wireless enabled MythTV box, but for John Q. Drone^H^H^H^H^HConsumer, none of this matters.

So how do we get the word out? How do we start the revolution? Open-Source hardware?

Re:But does it matter? (4, Interesting)

Liquid-Gecka (319494) | more than 10 years ago | (#9236475)

I don't think we have to "get the word out." Most cool tech innovations make it into the mainstream if they are really good enough. I remember buying a CD-RW (4x2x2) for $400. Everybody thought I was stupid for spending so much on a piece of hardware. Later I spend $300 on a 64MB MP3 player. The guy at the desk told me that I shouldn't get a MP3 player because changing the media was really hard. Yet most people now have both of these gadgets. If Vorbis is license free and simple enough to put on a hardware chip then it will slowly gain support and slowly people will begin to see it.

Re:But does it matter? (4, Insightful)

millahtime (710421) | more than 10 years ago | (#9236490)

There is a difference to this. At the time there was no alternative to the CD-RW. There are many compressed sound types that are being marketed.

Re:But does it matter? (2, Interesting)

Liquid-Gecka (319494) | more than 10 years ago | (#9236538)

At the time there where many large format media types available. Tape, Jazz, Zip, portable HD all where in there prime. CD-RW discs couldn't be read in most CD-R drives and most earlier audio systems wouldn't read CD-R discs. There wasn't a big advantage to buying a CD-RW drive over other solutions. Zip drives where $100 and the discs where $2, when I bought my CD-RW discs where like $20 and CD-R discs where $.50, or $1.25 with a jewel.

Re:But does it matter? (1)

ErroneousBee (611028) | more than 10 years ago | (#9236934)

Vorbis's problem is that it suck batteries dry in about 2/3rds the time it takes MP3 to do it. Thats only based on my iRiver, but I think the Rio Karma gets similar figures.

But what do I know, my first player was a POS Nex ia.

Re:But does it matter? (4, Informative)

mukund (163654) | more than 10 years ago | (#9236485)

You have a point. There are devices however such as from iRiver [iriver.com] which can play Ogg Vorbis and the winning encoder/codec in the Slashdot story AoTuV seems to be just an encoder fork which is bitstream compatible with Ogg Vorbis.

Open source marketing (1)

millahtime (710421) | more than 10 years ago | (#9236534)

What we need is open source marketing. The open source community may be great at producing programs but at marketing them, well that's another story. We need open source marketing.

Blind testing? And "Best sound" or "Accuracy"? (5, Insightful)

turnstyle (588788) | more than 10 years ago | (#9236745)

Of course it matters! I took a quick look, but I didn't seem to find anything describing how the tests were performed.

IMHO, the best way to test is to provide an uncompressed source and a variety of compressed files, and ask "which most closely matches the uncompressed source" -- and NOT "which sounds best."

Years ago, I did an a/b switch test with a high-end audio engineer between a CD and a 128kbit/s MP3. Though we could both clearly hear a difference, he actually guessed wrong.

My point is: the test needs to be blind, and the test should be looking for compressed files that most closely sound like the uncompressed original -- and not the ones that "sound best."

Re:Blind testing? And "Best sound" or "Accuracy"? (1)

Short Circuit (52384) | more than 10 years ago | (#9236852)

ask "which most closely matches the uncompressed source"

Subjectively, ala an untrained consumer, or objectively using a computer?

(Not critisizing...just curious.)

I'm not an audio specialist by any means, or even all that well versed in audio compression, but here are some thoughts:

If you wanted to do it with a computer, the best means (or so it would seem to me) would be run a continuous frequency analysis of the original digital sample and of the digital outputs of each of the competing codecs.

You can compare the running frequency analysis and find out considerably more than which one comes closest to the original sample. For example, you could find out the overall frequency response, and how much it changes at points in a sample where there's a lot of different sounds or signals to contend with.

Why would you care about accuracy? (3, Insightful)

cgenman (325138) | more than 10 years ago | (#9236986)

If a sound was perfectly accurate except for an instantaneous annoying pop every few seconds, it would probably average as the best codec, but it would be useless as a consumer standard. I remember a codec shootout years ago where Mp3Pro sounded "tinny," WMA sounded "flat," and MP3 sounded "fuzzy." Was being objectively closer to the source material more important than the type of distortion introduced? Not at all.

When dealing with sound equipment, from pre-amps to encoders, the tone of the introduced distortion is very important. Everything introduces distortion, in some way or another. You just want it to make the sound better, not worse.

Re:But does it matter? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#9237009)

Sooner or later, Venture capitalist will start to pick support of OSS projects. In fact, I am guessing that in about a years' time, one them will have the bright idea to create a contest to fund the best ideas. At that time, we will see a number of OSS ideas and projects make it big.

I think I speak for everyone... (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#9236413)

... when I ask, "Technology is Sexy? WTF?"

Re:I think I speak for everyone... (-1, Offtopic)

Jesselovesscripts (719652) | more than 10 years ago | (#9236559)

no, you don't. your new to slashdot huh?

mp3 still defacto standard (5, Insightful)

Random Web Developer (776291) | more than 10 years ago | (#9236414)

No matter what researchers find the best format, the best format for users is what they can doubleclick to play, use on their el-cheapo portable mp3 player or whatever music device they own.

This might be of interest to musicians but the proverbial "jane doe" will keep using mp3 for quite a while

Re:mp3 still defacto standard (5, Interesting)

Roland Piquepaille (780675) | more than 10 years ago | (#9236507)

This might be of interest to musicians but the proverbial "jane doe" will keep using mp3 for quite a while

Actually it's not that simple. Jane and Joe Doe will start using Ogg, AoTuV or other TLA and ETLA compression schemes when their favorite music players feature them. In the case of Ogg, it's not going to happen anytime soom because:

1 - There's an entrenched MP3 market, as you said

2 - It's an open-source format, i.e. it reeks of piracy and hackers in the minds of music player manufacturers and of the public

3 - It doesn't have the backing of major industry players, being seen as a "maverick" effort to undermine other potentially money-making closed-source formats

4 - It certainly doesn't have the backing of the RIAA, because it doesn't have DRM and other in-the-customer's-face copyright protection schemes

In short, people using Ogg will be opensource-aware and advocates for a long time to come. As for other Apple customer-unfriendly sort of schemes, I'm not convinced the general populace has bought into the idea of paying for music tracks that can become unplayable at the next Apple format-change-du-jour, because they're copyright-protected and therefore impossible to convert to another standard (in theory).

So yes, you're right, MP3 will stay around for a long time. I certainly won't convert my collection anytime soon...

Re:mp3 still defacto standard (2, Insightful)

minus_273 (174041) | more than 10 years ago | (#9236595)

are you kidding? i can click a button on itunes and remove all DRM from the music. It is called burning to CD...

Re:mp3 still defacto standard (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#9236665)

Why would you "convert" your collection in the first place? All that would result in is a loss of audio quality as it's recompressed in another lossy format.

Unless you're suggesting that you actually own the CD's from which your "collection" is made, which I somehow doubt.

Re:mp3 still defacto standard (1)

RAMMS+EIN (578166) | more than 10 years ago | (#9236762)

``2 - It's an open-source format, i.e. it reeks of piracy and hackers in the minds of music player manufacturers and of the public''

And you think they care? These are the people who get all upset when someone sues them for stealing music, and the people who write the software used to play stolen music. Believe me, the public does not have an aversion of piracy, nor of open source. They just don't know it, and it's the fear of the unknown that keeps them away.

Re:mp3 still defacto standard (1)

Phekko (619272) | more than 10 years ago | (#9236603)

Winamp already plays Ogg out of the box. So do the Open Source counterparts (Zinf and XMMS do at least) but still MP3 seems to be the thing.

For me MP3 is the preferred format because my car stereo plays it but not Ogg. It is a couple years old and I don't intend to replace it because a) it works and b) I don't have the money. Had there been an Ogg-enabled car stereo around at the time I bought it things would be different.

The whole MP3 vs. Ogg conversation reminds me of VHS vs. Beta vs. V-2000. Which one wins has little to do with which one is best.

moo (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#9236415)

moo

The Big Marketing Push (4, Insightful)

millahtime (710421) | more than 10 years ago | (#9236428)

The open source ones don't have the big push amungst the general population. So, number 3 on the list Apple (ACC) can say in independent tests ACC scored higher than WMA or MP3. The top 2 don't have the marketing push to get out and be popular in the general population.

This does give more fuel to Apple. Although I'm not complaining about them having fuel over Microsoft.

Re:The Big Marketing Push (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#9236492)

"The open source ones don't have the big push amungst the general population."

I don't see why not, I hardly notice what the extention is when I play music files.

Since Ogg is open source though I encode only in that format. If more people were to do this it would catch on.

Re:The Big Marketing Push (2, Insightful)

millahtime (710421) | more than 10 years ago | (#9236544)

Yes, but WMA and ACC have the push of Apple and Microsoft. Marketing push out weighs how good it is to most people since most people can't tell the difference.

FLAC? (-1)

hot_Karls_bad_cavern (759797) | more than 10 years ago | (#9236432)

er, did i miss flac [sourceforge.net] in there somewhere? It's lossless, fast and compresses quite well....why leave it out?

Re:FLAC? (4, Informative)

runderwo (609077) | more than 10 years ago | (#9236446)

WTF? Why would you even need a listening test if codecs are lossless? By definition, lossless compression produces final sound identical to the source. If it didn't, it would be lossy.

Re:FLAC? (1, Flamebait)

hot_Karls_bad_cavern (759797) | more than 10 years ago | (#9236456)

Ah. My mistake. WTF? Why are you even listening to lossy codecs then?

Re:FLAC? (2, Insightful)

swv3752 (187722) | more than 10 years ago | (#9236673)

Because I want to fit more than two songs on my MP3 player. If the encoding is good enough, then it is indistiguishable from the original are close enough. I don't want to dedicate an entire 80GB drive just to house my music collection.

Re:FLAC? (1, Insightful)

hot_Karls_bad_cavern (759797) | more than 10 years ago | (#9236713)

"I don't want to dedicate an entire 80GB drive just to house my music collection."

Glad to hear it. But i sure don't want to have saved a small (think future with me) amount of space at the cost of crappy audio. Your call.

Re:FLAC? (0, Troll)

Jugalator (259273) | more than 10 years ago | (#9236856)

First -- it's only crappy if the difference is noticeable. Icode my music in a lossy format, but of course enough so it isn't noticeable when using headphones. That's good enough for me, and as a bonus I've saved the disk space. In the future 80 GB might be little, but it isn't today and that's what matters as you buy hard drives.

Re:FLAC? (0, Flamebait)

runderwo (609077) | more than 10 years ago | (#9236935)

Are you done with your holier-than-thou charade yet? Imagine this -- other people just might have different needs and desires than yourself when it comes to compressing audio. That's why it's great to have choices. Comprende?

It's called a "control"... (4, Insightful)

gumpish (682245) | more than 10 years ago | (#9236770)

What if a lossless codec were included in the test - and it came in dead last?

That would provide useful information: either the listeners weren't up to the job or the lossy codecs at ~128 kbps were truly indistinguishable from the source material.

Re:It's called a "control"... (1)

runderwo (609077) | more than 10 years ago | (#9237014)

What if a lossless codec were included in the test - and it came in dead last?
I still don't understand why a lossless codec must even be considered in a survey that is comparing lossy codecs. A file compressed with a lossless codec will be indistinguishable from the uncompressed original audio files (which I assume he included for comparison, else it's a rotten test).

What I can't seem to find out is if the original file was both supplied for comparison as well as made part of the double blind test. That would be the best methodology in my opinion.

Re:FLAC? (3, Informative)

Electroly (708000) | more than 10 years ago | (#9236450)

Because this was designed to test various codecs at 128Kbps. You can't make flac do 128Kbps. Besides, flac, being lossless, sounds exactly the same as the source media, so what's the point of testing how it sounds?

Re:FLAC? (1)

Jugalator (259273) | more than 10 years ago | (#9236875)

what's the point of testing how it sounds?

To see how much worse the lossy codecs are in comparison?

Re:FLAC? (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#9236460)

We need (Score: -1, Incompetent) for Postings like yours.

Re:FLAC? (3, Insightful)

Slowtreme (701746) | more than 10 years ago | (#9236478)

Assuming FLAC is truly LOSSLESS:

1) Is it really a codec? Seems to me it is a compression method for media, like .zip .tar etc., not an encoder... technically.
2) It should sound exactly like the original. LOSSLESS = no loss. No point in comparing it to lossy codecs, unless it's not truly lossless.
3) The stored file sizes although smaller than the raw music are still way to big to be portable IMO.

Re:FLAC? (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#9236517)

1) Is it really a codec? Seems to me it is a compression method for media, like .zip .tar etc., not an encoder... technically.

Umm... technically, by definition, yes it is a codec. enCOder/DECoder. It encodes a WAV file into something else, which happens to shrink the file size, and can then decode the something else back into a WAV file, restoring the WAV file losslessly.

Re:FLAC? (3, Insightful)

Roland Piquepaille (780675) | more than 10 years ago | (#9236566)

1) Is it really a codec? Seems to me it is a compression method for media, like .zip .tar etc., not an encoder... technically.

"Codec" means "coder-decoder". FLAC sounds encoded to me, if you need a FLAC library to enable a piece of music-playing software to read it, then I'd say the FLAC library is a codec.

2) It should sound exactly like the original. LOSSLESS = no loss. No point in comparing it to lossy codecs, unless it's not truly lossless.

Actually, it's interesting to compare lossless and lossy compressions because, these days, there's a fair chance that very good lossy compression sound so good it's almost impossible to tell the difference with the lossless compression.

3) The stored file sizes although smaller than the raw music are still way to big to be portable IMO.

Depends how much smaller. I'd say anything that doesn't produce at least 5x compression is worthless in any music player. You can zip a wav file and despite being much smaller than the original, it will still feel worthless to you in a compactflash card in terms of size.

No (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#9236799)

"there's a fair chance that very good lossy compression sound so good it's almost impossible to tell the difference with the lossless compression."

Simply untrue.

What you might be saying is "using my earbuds, my ears can't distinguish the difference between the CD and 128kb AAC".

Really, that's pretty thin justification for cheerleading for iTMS (which sounds pretty thin).

Re:FLAC? (1)

Fweeky (41046) | more than 10 years ago | (#9236681)

3) The stored file sizes although smaller than the raw music are still way to big to be portable IMO.

Well, sure; I don't want to devote 90% of my 512M CF card to a single album, but for my desktop it's perfect. I just transcoded an album from it to Vorbis (this is where it's nice that FLAC is so effecient to decode) -q-1 (that's right, quality minus one) and it sounds fine on my iPAQ. FLAC reduced the filesize from 683M to 466M, which is fine for my desktop; Vorbis reduced the filesize from that to 23M. It's not the sort of thing I want anywhere near my desktop with it's 90UKP soundcard and Sennheiser headphones, but for a portable device it's fine.

In future I hope portable storage scales up to the point at which I don't need to worry about encoding to lossy formats though. In the mean time, having my source as FLAC means I can transcode to whatever format best suits the available technology; from burning an exact CDDA copy for my CD player to a bunch of MP3's for my DVD player to a bunch of ultra low bitrate Ogg Vorbis files for my iPAQ. That'll do me fine until I can get a 256G CF card :)

FLAC has an extensive testing suite if you're not convinced it's lossless, btw.

Re:FLAC? (3, Informative)

0x0d0a (568518) | more than 10 years ago | (#9236882)

1) Is it really a codec? Seems to me it is a compression method for media, like .zip .tar etc., not an encoder... technically.

Compressers are encoders of a particular variety. They just choose a different data representation as an encoder does, but make an effort to take advantage of specific known characteristics of the data they are compressing to get a smaller, reasonable representation..

ZIP and gzip (tar does not do compression, just file joining) do very poorly at compressing audio. They do things like look for patterns of repeating (or at least commonly seen) sequences of data, and simply say something like "every time you see "z1", I really mean ";lt&a href="". This approach often works very well in computer-generated files.

However, it's very unlikely that you will get exactly the same sequence of bits in an audio recording, so .zip/.gzip are very poor at compressing audio recordings. FLAC and similar lossless audio compression look for things like (I would imagine) relatively small deltas from each sample point to the next, since this is a common characteristic of audio data.

FLAC is indeed lossless.

Re:FLAC? (-1, Offtopic)

Malc (1751) | more than 10 years ago | (#9236539)

Er, come on son: engage your brain.

Umm because it's a 128k test? (1)

Kjella (173770) | more than 10 years ago | (#9236555)

FLAC compresses to what, 5-600k? The only way you could make it fit the competition would be to mutilate the original WAV, and trust me, you wouldn't want to do that.

Certainly, it's a good reference if you want to compare across bitrates (what's 128k vs 256k vs lossless like in quality/size) but it has no place here.

Kjella

Re:FLAC? (1)

Kukling (782472) | more than 10 years ago | (#9236853)

Testing FLAC is useless, as most of you say.
But I think it was convenient testing any kind of lossless (FLAC or WAV).
The audience may have giving slanted scores because they know the clips suffered lossy codecs, they were hearing artifacts the way people hear "voices".
It would have been interesting to know if lossless scores 5.
And a codec wich really improves music would help many artists today XD

Good. (4, Interesting)

Cyno01 (573917) | more than 10 years ago | (#9236442)

Good to know MP3 is still improving. Yes vorbis and others are great, but i know every software and hardware player out there plays MP3. I'll be ripping all my cds to high quality MP3 befor i go to college, not because its the absolute best, but because its a standard. Standards aren't always the most efficient, but their strength lies that you cant change them on a week to week basis. Whatever hologrphic storage based finger sized half terabyte 24th generation iPod i buy ten years from now will probably still play my 128 and 256 MP3s.

Re:Good. (1)

Malc (1751) | more than 10 years ago | (#9236572)

If you can play back Vorbis, then why would you care if your collection doesn't meet the most common standard? I bought an iHP-120 and I don't care if anybody else can listen to my tracks or not because I can hear them fine. If I'm listening on my computer, then I have the choice of any number of players that support it. In fact, I used EAC + Mario and I've been ripping my CDs to FLAC at the same time and I still have no problems with playback on the PC. If I even need my CDs in a different format, I can re-encode from my FLAC archive. So why is it that you really want MP3? So you can swap them with somebody else?

Re:Good. (3, Insightful)

DrEldarion (114072) | more than 10 years ago | (#9236643)

I think he was getting at the fact that MP3 is pretty future-proof. Sure, maybe a couple portable players support OGG and FLAC right now, but people who look for that feature are RARE. If the product doesn't do well and the company sees that that feature isn't something people want, they won't use it in their products in the future. MP3, however, is pretty much guaranteed to be around for a loooooooooong time.

Would you want to be stuck using a 10-year-old OGG player in the future when the awesome 300GB new-tech MP3 players built into your watch are out?

Re:Good. (2, Interesting)

Malc (1751) | more than 10 years ago | (#9236707)

I can't say that I'm that worried about it. It's just a matter writing a short script to iterate over my FLAC archive and re-encode. I anticipate doing that anyway as encoders improve at the same bit-rate. In fact, I'm already thinking of doing that with anyway to change some of my options...

Re:Good. (2, Insightful)

13Echo (209846) | more than 10 years ago | (#9236790)

Yeah. I think that there will always be some sort of player that supports the most common lossless format out there. If FLAC gets overthrown by some other format (which is unlikely), it's just a matter of running a script to convert the files to another lossless format.

Meanwhile, I'm probably going to buy a RIO Karma to play my FLAC library on the road.

Re:Good. (1)

Malc (1751) | more than 10 years ago | (#9237001)

Think about that a bit more. I have about a quarter of my CDs ripped so far (80 of them) and that requires nearly 27GB. I also looked at the Karma, but was worried about it only coming with a 90 day warranty - not long for a portable with a hard drive. Then again, I may be over-blowing it and being unduly paranoid. I'm still weighing up Vorbis vs MP3 on my iHP-120. It's coming down to battery life vs. storage requirements. The .OGGs take less space but they seem to burn through the battery in 2/3 - 3/4 the time.

Re:Good. (5, Interesting)

m0rbidini (559360) | more than 10 years ago | (#9236587)

OK, you have a point. But check VorbisHardware [xiph.org] for hardware with Ogg Vorbis support. Also, though Lame did well, MP3 is known to have some limitations. But if you have to use MP3, experiment --alt-preset standard in Lame. It was made to offer very good sound quality in bitrates that average below 200 kbps in most cases.

Regarding the results... It's a bit surprising that this third party tuning/tweak of Vorbis did so well. Which is great and I think Xiph should think about incorporating this work on their official encoder as soon as possible, in order to take advantage of its potential. You may be surprised about the relative low performance of AAC. This is partially due to the fact that the chosen AAC encoder was a CBR only encoder (because it was the best AAC encoder at this bitrate on a previous test - Nero encoder is also a good one and offers VBR encoder). With a good implementation of VBR AAC, it should be possible to get a better performance.

While most of the tested codecs/formats showed good performance at 128 kbps, this test alone shows that none can give transparency ( transparency == unability to distinct from the original source for most people and under good conditions) at this bitrate, contrary to what many think. People who think this is important should demand higher quality files from famous online music services (like iTunes Music Store).

People interested in lossy audio encoding should also try Musepack (file extension .mpc). It is considered by many of the hydrogenaudio enthusiasts as the best format at medium/high bitrates, offering transparency with bitrates normally lower (with standard preset ~170 kbps, typical 142 ... 184 kbps) than what is possible with other formats/codecs. It's now open source (LGPL, iirc). Its biggest disadvantage is the lack of support in portable players (though decoding musepack is faster than decoding the other formats in this test). There are plugins for almost every software player and foobar2000 [foobar2000.org] (which I consider the best one) has native support for it

Re:Good. (2, Interesting)

Ploum (632141) | more than 10 years ago | (#9236608)

IMHO, you are wrong.

If the Fraunhoffer institute decides that every MP3 decoder must buy a very expensive lisense, you will not be able to listen legally to your music for free.
Dont say "it will never happen !". It CAN happen.. Look at the Movable Type story.

It's why MP3 codec is not available in the default Fedora system.

If you convert all your music to Ogg Vorbis (like I do and there's more and more Ogg Vorbis compatible player), you can be sure that in 100 years you will be able to play your music legally for free !

It seems that a lot of people aren't aware of the difference between a "Standard" and a "De facto standard"... There's a huge difference...

Re:Good. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#9236786)

I've been using Lame for many years now, ever since I purchased one of the original Diamond Rio's.
I use the HQ VBR 0, Joint Stereo, setting most of the time.
The Lame codec has definately improved over the years.
If your using a Windows box Audiograbber v1.83 is now freeware.

markably? (1, Funny)

Alan Partridge (516639) | more than 10 years ago | (#9236455)

a) Markedly
b) Remakably

Choose ONE only.

best vs popular (5, Interesting)

trs9000 (73898) | more than 10 years ago | (#9236473)

i realize the geeks of the populace want the highest quality encoding to win. naturally. and it helps when something such as vorbis is rated so highly; it gives it even more geek cred.

however: as someone who studied music and audio, i am constantly surprised at what people will listen to. my friends (well some of them) have no problem cranking low quality mp3s of 50 cent, while i drop my jaw at the poor audio quality as a result of lost information. one time i even remarked to my dad "oh its an mp3" when he was playing something i had given to him which had been apparently later encoded. he wasnt sure (he didnt do the encoding) but doublechecked and yes it was mp3 (probably 160 kbps). he was impressed, when to me the timbral change in the cymbals was a dead giveaway. another time i asked a friend of mine if he was using aac to import all his cds in to itunes when he had been recently doing so. he looked at me blankly and said "whats aac?". which meant, yes he was.

i apologize for rambling, this is what im arriving at:
despite early adoption influence etc that geeks hold, how much does all of this really matter. most people dont care what format its in as long as they can listen to it. and often they cant discern loss of quality unless its extreme. so while i applaud these efforts, im simply wondering if -- aside from research -- they arent futile.

Re:best vs popular (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#9236617)

Is there such a thing as lossless audio recording? No. You can get better results with expensive equipment I agree with your comments about the futility of these studies, what if people liked the 128kbs mp3 version better than the cd recording! You can critise the 'timbral change in the cymbals' but why do we worry so much about this when, in many cases came off a synthesizer anyway.

Re:best vs popular (2, Interesting)

trs9000 (73898) | more than 10 years ago | (#9236765)

You can critise the 'timbral change in the cymbals' but why do we worry so much about this when, in many cases came off a synthesizer anyway.

no, im afraid you may have misunderstood. what i was trying to convey is that while i may have a personal preference for a more 'accurate' representation, that doesnt really matter because most people dont seem to care too much. it has nothing to do with the synthesizing of it. i make electronic music so i tend to be quite fond of that, personally. (^_^)

it can be considered personal preference and if someone would rather listen to an downsampled, 8bit version of my music, well by all means, let them.

but in the pursuit of standards and codecs, etc, i think we should strive for accuracy -- but keeping in mind that it may not be adopted: whatever means you give the majority that is readily available and working, i believe *that* is what they will use.

Expensive earbuds and MP3 players (3, Insightful)

0x0d0a (568518) | more than 10 years ago | (#9236753)

It could also be marketing.

MP3 players got *heavily* marketed after Napster and friends got press and serious college use. "MP3" became associated with "free music". They took off.

The iPod, a decent but not earth-shattering MP3 player, sold *much* better than other MP3 players out there. Why? Marketing. Lots of ads -- the only significant difference to cause such a change.

Vorbis doesn't have a lot of ad money behind it pushing it.

I'd also like to point out that:

* People still use CBR MP3s. CBR was designed for exactly one reason -- allowing constant-rate streaming. It's *stupid* to use CBR for locally stored files -- it gets significantly worse quality for the size -- I've generally found that on the music I listen to, using VBR is equivalent to at least a 30% increase in bitrate in terms of my ability to distinguish between a master an an MP3. If people cared about quality, CBR MP3s would not exist. They wouldn't even have to switch their hardware/software around, since it's the same format, but they won't even go that far.

I *really* get a kick out of it when people buy an MP3 player and a pair of high-end earbuds. It's just plain inane. They just purchased a low-quality audio playback device and then spent a huge amount of money on an expensive pair of earbuds that don't let them hear the now missing nuances of the audio. It's the ultimate in trendiness -- like buying Nike or Banana Republic clothing. iPod + expensive earbuds is not "the ultimate in sound reproduction" even if you really, honestly gave a lot of retailers a whole lot of money for the combo.

Re:Expensive earbuds and MP3 players (1)

trs9000 (73898) | more than 10 years ago | (#9236891)

i think you have some excellent points -- and another poster here even said something like "what we need is open source marketing"....
but unfortunately what we are dealing with is something larger than the marketing of an audio format or even -- perhaps more importantly -- an audio playback device. the riaa probably wouldnt be too keen on an open format being used for the encoding of music that they want to make money off of.

when -- and i say when cause i believe it will have to change -- the model of payment changes for recording artists to something such as subscription or etc, then we may see a flourish of superior technologies being used. especially those that are open source which may allow companies to save money the r&d end of things.

Re:Expensive earbuds and MP3 players (2, Interesting)

kryptkpr (180196) | more than 10 years ago | (#9236990)

I *really* get a kick out of it when people buy an MP3 player and a pair of high-end earbuds. It's just plain inane

Ever heard of --alt-preset-extreme?

Sure.. stuff I download will continue to sound crappy (I don't even keep anything below 192kbit anymore).. but stuff I encode myself sounds quite good. I'm not audiophile, but I cannot tell the difference between an --alt-preset-extreme'd recording and the original.

Re:best vs popular (2, Informative)

Vellmont (569020) | more than 10 years ago | (#9236789)

I listened to many of the blind tests. I have a decent sound card (Nvidia n-force), a high quality receiver, and decent, but not excellent quality speakers (i.e. $200 bookshelf speakers I bought a few years ago). I had a very hard time telling most of the samples from the reference implementation. Even the ones I thought I could tell a difference I wasn't sure.

I do remember a few years ago listening to really crappy implementations of mp3 codecs and hearing seriously awful artifacts. Considering that most samples scored far above 4, with 5 being imperceptible and 4 being perceptible but not annoying I think the results of this test mean that your choice of codec doesn't make much difference. Don't choose WMA or Altrac3 and you'll likely never notice a difference, or the slight differences aren't annoying. The worst score among the decent codecs was lame mp3 for Kraftwerk, and even that scored a 3.32 where 3 is slightly annoying.

Re:best vs popular (1)

trs9000 (73898) | more than 10 years ago | (#9236794)

to beat anyone else to the punch:

i am constantly surprised at what people will listen to. my friends (well some of them) have no problem cranking low quality mp3s of 50 cent, while i drop my jaw

yes i would drop my jaw if my friends cranked 50 cent too!

oh come on 50, i kid, i kid.
please dont shoot me.

Re:best vs popular (2, Funny)

tomstdenis (446163) | more than 10 years ago | (#9236910)

it's not 50 cent it's "fitty cent".

Say it like the "rapstors" say it.

Tom

Re:best vs popular (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#9236884)

Your shift key seems to be broken.

Academically interesting, but pointless (-1, Redundant)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#9236474)

MP3 is as much a brand as it is a technology these days. Someone stop my mom, she is about to buy that new vorbis forked, hoooptee super player which by the way is not compatible with any of her software or her friends players or her in dash player or her DVD players.. yeah right.

iTunes AAC encoding problems (4, Interesting)

lotsofno (733224) | more than 10 years ago | (#9236493)

It is interesting that the note that they used the AAC encoder in iTunes 4.2 instead of the newer 4.5 because of "quality" concerns.

Apparently there's some "high frequency ringing" going on [hydrogenaudio.org] .

Better stick to something else for now, if planning to rip to AAC.

How much of this is just OGG fans voting? (5, Insightful)

DrewBeavis (686624) | more than 10 years ago | (#9236502)

I read some of the results, and I'm not a Vorbis hater or anything, but how much of this is open source fans voting for their favorite codec? I looked at the test just now, but can't tell if it was blind or not.

Re:How much of this is just OGG fans voting? (5, Informative)

technology is sexy (636179) | more than 10 years ago | (#9236527)

It was a double blind test (ABC/HR) adhering to ITU-R BS.1116-1 [itu.int] . Read more about the methodology in the initial announcement [slashdot.org] .
In addition to being double blind results were also encrypted so manipulation is very unlikely.

Re:How much of this is just OGG fans voting? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#9236553)

It was double blind!

Re:How much of this is just OGG fans voting? (1)

0x0d0a (568518) | more than 10 years ago | (#9236621)

I conducted a double-blind test on my own, unrelated to this test, between MP3 (VBR, LAME) and Vorbis. This was about a year ago.

In general, using the particular (percussion-heavy) piece I was listening to, I could consistently distinguish between the ogg and the original wav file at a higher bitrate. Drums just sound slightly different when compressed with Vorbis.

However, the Vorbis artifacts didn't make the music sound unpleasant to listen to. MP3 artifacts sound *awful*, turning cymbals into swooshing and wooshing sounds. As a result, I use vorbis rather than mp3.

Keep in mind that this test is a year old, and as the study indicated, Vorbis has undergone significant improvements, so my results may be less useful than they once were -- I would not be surprised if LAME's psychoacoustic model has been changed as well.

Also, I only worked with a single clip of music, thirty seconds long. It's likely that some codecs do significantly better or worse on particular songs.

Re:How much of this is just OGG fans voting? (4, Interesting)

13Echo (209846) | more than 10 years ago | (#9236866)

I was always fond of LAME encodings in a high quality VBR mode. It was always my favorite method of storing my music on my hard drive, since the quality was quite good. Over time, I decided that I would really start comparing it to some other formats for long-term archiving. I wanted to settle with one format, once and for all. I had originally been a BladeEnc user, but LAME seemed far superior to me.

When I first enconded some of my music in the Vorbis format, I was a bit underwhelmed when comparing it to LAME. It didn't really sound the same. Then, I compared the Vorbis files to the raw WAV rips. Surprisingly, the Vorbis files sounded more true to the original WAV rips. I was very surprised. All this time, my ears had tuned to the LAME acoustic model, which wasn't as accurate as I had once thought. After comparing a large portion of my CD collection in both LAME and Vorbis encodings, I made a decision...

I decided to start using FLAC. That way, I could listen to al of my music without any concern for quality. Sure, each CD takes up about 300 MB of space (50%-60% average compression), but it sounds so sweet.

If quality is a concern, maybe LAME MP3/AAC/Ogg Vorbis aren't the the right choices. Hard drive limitations aren't so much of an issue anymore. I guess that I cna see a point in having lower quality files for easy web transmission and low storage capacity, but the quality difference is just too noticable for me to ignore, when comparing any of these formats to a lossless format like FLAC. That's also one of the reasons that I like Magnatune so much, since I can buy music online that is already compressed in lossless FLAC format.

Yes, but how did Ogg do? (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#9236503)

*ducks*

Open source wins: really cool, but ... (4, Interesting)

eatmadust (740035) | more than 10 years ago | (#9236513)

it isn't everything. Microsoft still has enough cash to fight this. Our local radio (Switzerland) still broadcasts in .asx. I sent them an e-mail asking them why. They said because their server is sponsored by Microsoft. Now I listen to virgin radio, they broadcast in broadband ogg [virginradio.co.uk]

Re:Open source wins: really cool, but ... (1)

SYRanger (590202) | more than 10 years ago | (#9236589)

The Norwegian Public Broadcasting company (nrk) now offers radio streaming in ogg vorbis in addition to mp3 and wma.

Inaccurate test, big bitrate differences (3, Interesting)

Echnin (607099) | more than 10 years ago | (#9236529)

Quoting post on second page of discussion:
This particular test should be called, "The 128 kbps test for iTunes/WMA, and the low-130 test for AC3 and LAME, and the close-to-160 test for MPC/Vorbious.

Leahy iTunes MPC Vorbis Lame WMA Atrac3
bitrate 128 155 149 133 128 132
Score 4.34 4.41 4.68 4.11 4.37 3.76

That really doesn't look very fair to me! MPC and Vorbis using about 20% more bits than Lame and iTunes AAC.

Re:Inaccurate test, big bitrate differences (1)

technology is sexy (636179) | more than 10 years ago | (#9236556)

Those numbers are just plain wrong. Take a look at the detailed result page to see the correct ones.
Additionally the encoder settings were tested on gigabytes of material to ensure they averaged at about 128kbps.
That's the beauty of using a VBR codec: It can allocate bits where they are needed. (That's also the reason for LAME's phenomenal performance)

Re:Inaccurate test, big bitrate differences (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#9236928)

If I look at the detailed result page, the bitrates still differ.. They state the average bitrate on the page, so it really doesn't matter how many GBs of music they encode.

How can you compare 128 kbps to 136 kbps and be surprised that the 136 kbps encoding sounds better?

Re:Inaccurate test, big bitrate differences (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#9236578)

The average bitrate for all files was:

iTunes: 128
MPC: 136
Vorbis: 135
Lame: 134
WMA: 128
Atrac3: 132

Re:Inaccurate test, big bitrate differences (1)

trs9000 (73898) | more than 10 years ago | (#9236585)

That really doesn't look very fair to me! MPC and Vorbis using about 20% more bits than Lame and iTunes AAC.

thats a feature, not a bug:

Vorbis! Now with 20% more bits!

Re:Inaccurate test, big bitrate differences (4, Informative)

technology is sexy (636179) | more than 10 years ago | (#9236586)

Those numbers are wrong. The real average bitrates are:
iTunes MPC Vorbis Lame WMA Atrac3
128 136 135 134 128 132
Take your time to look at the detailed results [rjamorim.com] yourself next time.

Re:Inaccurate test, big bitrate differences (4, Insightful)

13Echo (209846) | more than 10 years ago | (#9236965)

128 / 149 = 86%

Vorbis is not a CBR codec like WMA. It's almost impossible to get it directly on the nose. The encoder doesn't easily allow that kind of control without seriously damaging the quality of the finished file. I'm not sure that the 14% difference really matters as much as you insist.

To be fair though, WMA does perform reasonably well for a CBR format. However, that's not what the test is about. It's about getting the best sound out of a similar amount of space.

I don't doubt that Vorbis would still beat WMA if the bitrates were 100% even, to be honest with you. It's just not that simple to get it directly on the nose. It would have been interesting to see the results of Vorbis on a quality level that is a notch lower, so that we could see how much variance there is between each level.

Re:Inaccurate test, big bitrate differences (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#9237000)

Eeh, WMA can be both CBR and VBR (just like Vorbis). In this test it seems 1-pass VBR WMA was used.

Compared with radio (4, Insightful)

danormsby (529805) | more than 10 years ago | (#9236532)

Compare this with radio. There are a lot of popular AM and LW radio stations here in the UK even though FM is a superior format. MP3 will be around for almost ever due to the popularity and level of takeup.

Re:Compared with radio (2, Informative)

MrIrwin (761231) | more than 10 years ago | (#9236602)

Well that is a nice quaint british thing, aint it!

But I wonder if there is anywhere else in the developed world where music stations target FM, if nit for licence/economic reasons?

BTW, Radio 4 is the **only** UK station on LW, and is also available on FM, the LW 198KHz band is mainly kept active for the marine weather forcasts as so a low band is recievable quite a way offshore. Nor does it have music.

Radio's 1, 2 & 3 are maintained on AM, but they are also available on FM, digital, and satelite.

Similar story with commercial radio, but more bias to FM.

So what do people **actually** use to listen to music in the UK?

Re:Compared with radio (3, Funny)

Polkyb (732262) | more than 10 years ago | (#9236638)

So what do people **actually** use to listen to music in the UK?

Headphones...?

:-)

Re:Compared with radio (1)

myc_lykaon (645662) | more than 10 years ago | (#9236736)

So what do people **actually** use to listen to music in the UK?

I'm afraid I'm an old fogey so I listen to R4 (mostly commentary/news and current affairs) and ClassicFM. Both in my car on the way to work. FM holds up better in terms of reception quality in a car AFAICT. I also suffer from cloth ears - I used to shoot .22 rifle in competition so I'm a bit deaf in the 6kHz range and as a result when listening to digital streams, anything above 128kbps is a total loss on me.

Re:Compared with radio (1)

Malc (1751) | more than 10 years ago | (#9236750)

I thought SW had a better range. Didn't they used bounce it off one of the upper levels of the atmosphere to get it in to eastern bloc countries?

Aotuv vorbis enconder for Debian (1, Informative)

rsilva (128737) | more than 10 years ago | (#9236618)

There is a Debian repository at rarewares [rarewares.org] where you can get the aotuv version of vorbis enconder. Grab yours today!

More vorbis content is needed (4, Insightful)

mojo17 (607881) | more than 10 years ago | (#9236631)

One way I see Vorbis making it into the mainstream is if there were high availability of Vorbis content on the net. This includes P2P channels as well. If music releasers in the underworld start adopting vorbis, then Joe 'I own the original CD' Downloader will get a far wider familiarity with the codec, same as to what happened IMHO with xvid. More content will eventually lead consumers to start demanding vorbis compatibility in their hardware.

Re:More vorbis content is needed (2, Interesting)

Petronius (515525) | more than 10 years ago | (#9236784)

archive.org [archive.org] has lots of *free* content in OGG format.

Musepack (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#9236635)

What is it? I followed the link, but there was no info about it. It appears to be open source though!

Control (3, Insightful)

vossman77 (300689) | more than 10 years ago | (#9236715)

It would have been nice to have an original unencoded piece and rate it against the masses. That way we'd be sure the listeners weren't picking up on a mastering problem that is muffled by an encoder.

Vorbis and MP3 formats from a techie view point (5, Interesting)

tiger_omega (704487) | more than 10 years ago | (#9236851)

Having designed and written a mp3 decoder and now working on a vorbis decoder I can't say I'm that suprised by vorbis coming out on top.

From a technological standpoint the Vorbis codec has 10 years of audio compression R&D in it since MP3 was invented.

MP3 is a subband DCT based codec using fixed window length. Vorbis is also DCT based but encodes an approximation to the orginal frame's spectral curve and also uses variable length window length.

In using the source from the vorbis library and the decoder specification to help guide its development I have to say it is a real joy to code. The people at xiph.org have really done a first class job and have approached some of the problems of audio codec design with some of the best lateral thinking that I have ever seen.

Believe me! Coming from me that is very rare praise.

trocLlkore (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#9236919)

fear the reap3r were c0mpounded

What it means for Vorbis (4, Informative)

QuantumKnot (779700) | more than 10 years ago | (#9236987)

Well, I can only comment from a technical point of view, but firstly it is very good news that we are progressing in the right direction in terms of quality. Secondly, compared with the other codecs (esp. the proprietary ones), Vorbis is quite simple and minimalistic and lacks a lot of advanced tools and profiles, yet we've been able to extract quite competitive performance from some adjustments here and there. There is more to do in Vorbis and Monty has some new ideas that he wants to implement in the next major version like a better stereo model, noise normalization (which in its current form is mostly experimental), and support for 5.1 stereo. Given the success of aoTuV and the fact that Monty is fully aware of these third-party tunings, I think Vorbis development is looking ever-more exciting. :) (Note I don't work for Xiph.Org but just one of those third party Vorbis tuners)
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