Some of these writers/editors really need to spend each day reading at least one headline from that day in 2016, 2015 .. all the way back to 1999.
MP3 is now more free/libre, or at least when it comes to encoding/decoding. Patents are one of the reasons people have been so hesitant about H.264 and why we see things like WebM.
Personally, I've encoded in FLAC for years, and even in the early days (2003-ish) I was backing up CDs to oggs instead of mp3s. Unless you're really concerned about space today, download your music in a lossless format. Sites like Bandcamp and CDBaby now support lossless (FLAC and ALAC)
I guess the current aac patent holders are smiling now :)
Confuse & conquer!!!
If you look at the three links that Marco posted in the first sentence, they lead to articles by Gizmodo, Engadget and NPR, all of which completely got the story wrong. That's shocking, if you ask me.
It's not just Engadget and ilk. The difference between being end-of-life as a product for Fraunhofer, and obsolete as a format, is a distinction not many outlets have made.
It's an aggregator, and you need to resist the urge to click on the links. But the headlines and blurb are often informative enough that you usually don't need to click.
"Fraunhofer, the major contributor to MP3, shut down its licensing program in April as MP3 patents expired — Red Hat has announced that Fedora will include official MP3 decoding and encoding. The reason is that MP3 is now patent free - as far as anyone can tell."
First linked (Engadget) article:
"MP3 is dead, long live AAC.
Its creators have abandoned licenses to the format, signing its death sentence."
Not clicking would have both saved you time and left you better informed.
A CTO without technical background is indeed in a very poor state
There's some unfortunate irony in that we just got out from under the MP3 patents, which mean that MP3 encoders can finally get mainlined and won't require screwing around like we're all gotten used to for a decade+ (having to add some extra repo to your apt.sources or equivalent file, etc.), but at the same time the consumption patterns of music have shifted again, away from portable devices with high-density storage like iPods, and towards streaming particularly over cell-data networks.
There is an argument, although I do not like some of its conclusions, that some of the newer codecs are preferable to MP3 if you are working within <96kb/s for a stereo signal so that you can put it over a 3G connection or something. MP3 starts to sound audibly bad at lower bitrates, depending on what you're listening to.
My cellphone today is a much more powerful device than my 2007 iPod, but doesn't have nearly the same amount of available onboard storage (and what storage it does have is split between music and photos and software and other stuff). So the tradeoffs that make for an ideal codec choice on the iPod aren't clearly great on the phone.
IMO, this is an argument for keeping your personal music collection in an uncompressed/losslessly-compressed format, so that you can recompress it easily based on how it's actually going to be used.
If you were sharing, FLAC was guaranteed high-quality and free. AAC/WMA usually meant copy-protected though likely a higher quality.
When I was a teenager my first MP3 player (RCA Lyra) came with one 32 MB CompactFlash card. I cut the bitrate down far enough to fit 4 or 5 full albums on that at once. It sounded like absolute garbage but I was the only kid who could fit that much music in my pocket.
I tell this story because I'm still impressed by what MP3s can do after so much time.
Do you only use software that'll run on Windows 2000?
Mainstream support for Windows 2000 ended twelve years ago.
> So where are these shitty players that can't play Oggs? I've never had one.
Apple is selling a music player called "iPod" right now. Perhaps you've heard of it. Updated in 2015 https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/IPod_Touch_(6th_generation)
Guess what iPods don't support? OGG.
Guess what iPods do support? MP3.
BTW, "Ogg" isn't an acronym.
As for me, flac is better for storing sounds. Stored flac has no artifacts (if obtained without them), I can recode it to mp3, vorbis, opus or something else, and get artifacts from that codec, but not artifacts from mp3 plus artifacts from that codec.
And even assuming that it's audible at 192kbit/s with a decent encoder, why not just use 320kbit/s MP3 which are still significantly smaller than lossless?
16bit lossless audio is great for producers, you have a lot of headroom for messing with it, re-encoding it, twisting it, amplifying it, mixing it etc... But if you're just archiving public releases for "consumption" it's completely overkill.
>It's like interlacing in movies or bugs at borders of contrasting areas of picture in jpeg
In what way? Interlacing is completely irrelevant in the context of audio.
I'm sorry if I come off as adversarial but it's a pet peeve of mine. The maths and physics behind signal processing are very well understood, if some algorithm induces a signal degradation in the audible spectrum it should be trivial to show it objectively with the right measuring equipment and/or the right mathematical equation.
Splash cymbals in particular sound terrible (or noticeably degraded) on low bitrate stereo MP3s (ie 128kbit/s). Some early encoders actually did a lowpass filter to eliminate frequencies above 16kHz, to mask the 'watery' high-frequency warble (see ). Note how even the Fraunhofer codec differs a lot at high-frequencies in the charts on that link.
Some of it is still noticeable even in lower bitrate AAC. I've got U2's Pop album on CD from 1997 (coincidentally the first album to be leaked as MP3 ), and even at 128kbps iTunes AAC the cymbals just don't sound right on 'Gone'. They're watery, like an audio version of a badly compressed JPG. I keep meaning to re-rip it at higher bitrate.
With good headphones (I'm talking 200+ euros class headphones for example) there is a certain difference between even a 320 kpbs MP3 vs a 128 AAC.
AAC or OGG for example just has better usualy clarity in the sound, the bass is clearer and more distinct and the hihats and other hi sounds aren't muffled in the background or don't lose their clarity like they do with MP3s.
And like the parent wrote, once you have heard those 'signature losses' of the mp3 codec, it's very hard not to notice them.
Still, when I get new stuff, or rip now, I try to do it at least at 192 or 320, since space isn't an issue any longer.
If I first heard the MP3 version, and then heard the FLAC... I might be able to point out which one was which afterwards, under very good conditions and depending on the recording. I remember doing this test several years back. The general details are pretty much the same, but the MP3 version kind of changes the "sound stage" a bit for a lack of a better term.
It's very subtle and in practice, you need critical-listening environments even to do this. 99% of music is not heard in critical listening music environments. A huge amount of music isn't even engineered for this kind of critical listening these days (eg: you need recordings that haven't destroyed the dynamic range in the first place, which rules out most radio pop today.)
I agree that having the ability to transcode to lossy with as little loss as possible is IMHO the best reason to store music in FLAC.
I would love to have lossless audio purely for storage purposes - however, it would be quite expensive for me to do so with the amount of music I have, as well as time consuming. For me at least, mp3 is the perfect balance, and its ubiquitous compatibility makes it a no brainer.
Although this is anecdotal, it pings off your own experiences: A friend of mine (and self-described audiophile) recently got into a discussion with a mutual friend regarding mp3, FLAC, and how both of them could tell the format apart simply by listening. I suggested that perhaps the mp3s he had available were simply poorly encoded, and sent him a sample of my library that's a direct rip from a CD (at a modest bitrate of either 192kbps or 256kbps, I can't remember). He then realized that the mp3s he had been comparing against his FLAC copies of the same album were likely YouTube rips from before he bought the album, and that he likely never downloaded the official mp3s when he purchased the FLAC sources. He confided that he had a difficult time determining which was which when comparing the two on more equal footing with the sample I sent.
I still posit that the average person can't tell the difference, even with above average hardware. Exceptionally sensitive hearing outside the normal range of most humans notwithstanding, a decently encoded mp3 (or Opus format for that matter) should hardly be distinguishable from a FLAC, if at all. I suspect that most of those who claim they can hear the difference aren't particularly special--they're just comparing poorly encoded files against a source format.
At any rate, I'm in my mid-thirties, and I know my hearing isn't quite as acute as it was a decade ago. FLACs are more of a novelty for the sake of original sources, because there's no way I could tell the difference between that and mp3s with a good bitrate. With the exception of the Hunt for Red October soundtrack, I've not been able to tell low/moderate (~128kbps) bitrate mp3s apart from high (384kbps) ones AFAIK (the high pitches in the hymn "warble" at lower bitrates--not sure I can detect this now, though).
The same thing could be happening with lossless. If you are going to the trouble of encoding and storing a lossless digital music collection, I think chances are good you're listening on very good equipment. And you might scoff at the idea of trying out high-bitrate MP3 on it, because the MP3s you have from your Napster days really do sound terrible through your tube amp.
OTOH I wouldn't go too far down the "can't hear it anyway" road. I'm in my 40's and there's plenty I can't hear, but I assume not everything in my collection will be on YouFacePotify for my grandkids to listen to while their ears still work.
My scheme is FLAC when I can, otherwise MP3. I can render the FLAC to MP3 (a batch script keeps things up to date) for compatibility/size with some things, but my main system plays FLAC just fine.
It isn't practical to take my full collection with me in MP3. Just checked, and the music share is currently 5.38T, but that's with a full set of MP3 dupes. And there is some garbage in there I haven't has the patience to weed out yet. I just point the phone at the MP3 directory and pick 'n choose with ITunes. If I really want some random song while not at home, I can pull it off my server easily enough, but at my age, I don't really develop strong needs for a particular song.
I can understand why Fraunhofer made this statement (it is still despicable) but it is really sad to see how gullible people are.
I haven't used it in years, but I'm pretty sure Bandcamp will only accept lossless codecs.
Huh? That seems totally wrong to me.
I wouldn't expect a codec to develop their own, unique, incompatible container format, and I would hope very much that they would not (!!), but it's a real mistake to develop a codec and not specify at least some sort of preferred container format.
Otherwise, people are going to do what is often done with FLAC: not put it into a container format and just treat the raw output from the codec as a distribution format. And then complain that the whole thing sucks because there's no support for multiple streams, metadata, lyrics, subtitles, album covers, cuesheets, whatever.
The way to avoid that is not to set users up for failure by releasing the bare codec without some sort of preferred container format that's used by default. If the FLAC encoder had always used OGG containers (or Matroska or Quicktime or AVI or whatever) by default there'd be a whole lot fewer bare FLAC files floating around, convincing everyone that "FLAC sucks because there's no metadata".
That said, there are some issues with container formats as they are frequently implemented, which tends to drive users towards not using them and just exchanging bare codec output: if you separate the user from the codec with an intermediate container layer, you can create a ton of frustration when users get files that they think they can use, based on the file extension, but then get an error because they don't have the codec du jour... but there was no obvious way to tell that when they were looking at the file. The codec used is far more important to the average user than the type of container format, most of the time. (And yeah the ideal solution would be for filesystems to stop sucking so badly at metadata; MacOS and HFS was better at this stuff in 1996 than most modern computers are today -- at least it had the idea of both a file "type" and its "creator" as distinct things from the extension.) But in our world, the result is some containers being perceived as "unreliable" or "fussy" because they're used for a diversity of codecs that not all implementations have.
I don't have a great solution to that second problem, but at the very least I think that the file extension should follow the codec combination used inside the file, and not the container format. E.g. an AVI container with AVC compressed video inside shouldn't have the same file extension as an AVI container with Sorenson Video inside it; those two things are not interchangeable as far as a user is concerned. Since file extensions are the only metadata users get, they need to somehow represent the combination of both codec+container.
Not sure why anyone would regard a patent expiration as a sign of its death. It should be the opposite! It's now free for everyone and in the public domain, and that is cause for celebration.
Who are these people for whom the thought of not making that money causes them such stress and anguish?
...furthermore, what were they like as children?
I don't regret ripping my entire collection as AAC / lossless but I also acknowledge that the space savings are basically a waste of time for anyone not using good speakers / headphones in a very quiet environment, and outside of a handful of pieces susceptible to pre-echo lossless was a hedge against double-encoding in the somewhat unlikely event that the future codec landscape changes dramatically.
As it stands though, we just get to apply Occham: in online news media, A/Bing truth vs lies for clicks has a clear winner.
The writers at all the AOL and Gawker franchises are the end result of this trend - a million monkeys sitting at typewriters.
How so/any links or search terms for the aspects you're impressed by?
And also  is a good read.
A lot of the advances came from the psycho-acoustic modeling and VBR algorithms from the LAME devs.
I remember doing a comparison test way back in the late 90s between an officially licensed MP3 encoder and LAME on the same set of music WAV files, and was simply blown away when I could actually hear a difference in the results. Being the sort of anti-audiophile that I am, I then reduced the bitrate of the LAME encoding until I could just barely tell that it was too low, so that I could cram more music onto my hard drive, make playlists, and record them at 1x speed through the line-out port to an audio cassette tape, for my car stereo.
At the time, LAME made the smallest file sizes for the crap music quality that I tolerate. Nowadays, I encode at minimum of 96k/sec (sometimes better) just to annoy other people around me less, and to cut down on the suggestions that I get some real speakers for my phone. It ain't the speaker, folks; that's pretty much the best quality I can discern with my own ears.
When it comes to music, I think people pay far too much attention to audiophile opinions, and perhaps not enough to those who have physiological limitations on their enjoyment of music and/or recognition of speech-frequency sounds. But yeah, even I could tell when someone used a crappy encoder on their MP3 files. That's why I always ripped my own CDs, or specifically sought out lossless-encoded files, so that I could then use LAME to get an acceptable and consistent level of crappiness. Even now, I only download FLAC, and transcode my own MP3s for portable devices.
Have a strong feeling there is going to be a cultural black hole where large segments of music etc lost in the post-naptster/post-piratebay world because it only existed on the artists machine, Spotify's servers and YouTube's servers.
(I understand pirate bay is still kicking but its all certainly way more niche that it was 5-10 years ago)
I'm fully aware that Spotify and its competitors are deals with the Devil but if they allow me to feel less burdened, the price is worth it.
It's deeply hypocritical but I also secretly hope that at least a few people stick to archiving and curating just in case.
In other words, I had a kid, played my favorite music to the baby, and can now mooch off all the wonderful new CDs that show up in the house. All CDs get ripped and encoded as FLAC for the family media drive, and everyone transcodes their own lossy files for their own portable devices.
It's kind of an expensive solution, though, and occasionally fails to recommend music that I like.
From there, the researcher has to continually upload conceptual primitives through the sensory apparatus, and the NI prunes and rebalances its own neural network to establish basic foundation concepts such as object permanence, the acceleration of gravity, thermodynamics, ballistic path prediction, etc. Eventually, when the network is sufficiently trained, researchers may begin to input additional data through a natural language interface. Due to variations in the biomechanical devices, it is currently impossible to use standard bootstrap code to accelerate that process.
In order for the NI to be useful as a music recommendations engine, it is essential to expose it to music that you already like through its audio sensors, during the initial training phases. After approximately 8 years, the NI will begin to autonomously seek out music samples in the wild and recommend that you purchase copies of promising collections. The system is not perfect. It will occasionally issue recommendations for music that was already present in the training corpus, or for maliciously-formed music files designed to hack uninoculated NIs into recommending them. And it should be noted that these NIs have been known to abruptly diverge from preferences implied by the training corpus, producing wildly inaccurate recommendations thereafter.
It's probably just cheaper and more reliable to use an AI, but as long as this thing still works okay, I'm going to keep refueling it.
I used to spend several hours per week on average looking for new music (new for me, might be old releases) and Spotify's AI basically does the job for me now. Well worth 10 bucks per month.
Also, the biggest factor in "sound quality" is the matching of the master and the device used to listen (most notably compression of the dynamic range, you want it strong on low-end speakers and/or noisy environments, and as dynamic as possible on high-end systems in good listening conditions). I'm very pleased with Spotify's masters, they're often equal or superior to the CD even, which is nice in an otherwise "loudness war" ("bricked") market (been that way sadly since the late 90's, which brings tears to many a sound engineer).
I can't speak for Apple Music (never tried it) but Google Play Music has absolutely terrible masters in many cases, way too compressed, sounding flat.
Note: I speak of dynamic range compression (audio technique), which has nothing to do with data compression (e.g. MP3). The actual end-user codec has actually little to nothing to do with it, it's all about mastering, i.e. targeted reproduction devices and listening conditions.
I still manage an mp3 library and use a (modded) iPod because network access is unreliable for me sometimes. It's a curated library that I spend time adding to and culling from; it's its own little hobby.
I also really like streaming services. I like to be able to press a couple buttons and get a non-stop stream of music that I don't have to worry about, and can often lead to new artists, etc.
They each have their pros and cons; I see no reason to be dogmatic about either. The separation also helps with curation; I can keep social and casual music to the streaming stuff, and keep the library focused on 'dedicated' listening.
There are already and always have been large gaps in the streaming catalogs but those are mostly releases that have never been there in the first place. I guess it will be different when John Doe sees his Spotify library shrinking and realizes that he was just renting all this music.
I'm the same as you, I like collecting and listening to music, and I was tired at how fragile playlists are. If you move some files or rename them, they break.
So, I wrote a spec for a new format, which is resilient to pretty much all operations:
I'm currently writing a plugin for beets, but if anyone wants to help out with implementing an import/export plugin for a music player with library functionality, I would love that. I'm basically trying to scratch my own itch here, and hopefully one that many other people have.
A universal cross-platform playlist format seems like a much needed feature, but I don't se ehow this could work without significant changes in every supported player/software.
Here's a very real playlist issue I'm facing right now: I use Roon as my main audio player / music management solution. Roon manages my library which is located on a NAS. I have a few playlists created there, but no way to sync them to my iPhone unless I manage a separate playlist in iTunes which has access to the very same NAS library. It's not a deal breaker since I'm used to playlists being software-specific.
Unfortunately I don't see that changing anytime since everyone's answer to this problem seems to be using one single streaming service - a solution which, frankly, handles this particular problem very well, but doesn't work for me due to disadvantages of streaming discussed earlier in this thread.
That has already happened several times. Anyone remember silent films? Most of the scores were never archived, so most of the original music that went to those films is lost to history.
Discover Weekly is highly helpful, and the Release Radar is basically functioning like my music RSS feed. I also use Spotify's save option as basically bookmarks on which albums to download.
Therefore, Spotify is still more than relevant to me, even though I'm keeping local copies of music. I can't really discover new stuff in my own library.
As for music disappearing, I have only ever seen that on my ISP's own streaming service, I've never actually seen it happen on Spotify.
Besides that, I think it is in the best interest of the record labels to keep Spotify going. They're absolutely raking in the cash from streaming, and have just posted their largest industry revenue increase in 20 years. I think they would be willing to keep Spotify going on life support, as long as it makes them money.
Yes. Why not? There's no physical law forbidding it, and I'd wager their T&Cs contain a way to do so. They could even be magnanimous and refund the un-used portion of your last month, but you're still stuck without the music.
> I'll simply gather local copies of everything I like, during the shutdown period
Assuming their servers can handle millions of paying subscribes downloading all of their music all at once.
Not from Spotify, from other sources. A lot of stuff I listen to, I already have as CD rips. A lot of other stuff is available for sale on sites like Bandcamp.
Should they? No. Can they? Yes they can - why couldn't they?
A lot of the stuff can be bought on Bandcamp or through other sites.
Until then I'm ok with streaming.
I buy vinyl only as a last resort if it's a vinyl-only release or rare classic I'm interested in (yes, there's lots of stuff only available on vinyl - old and new).
Then I just rip it and add the digital, lossless result to my collection.
The vinyl format itself is too inconvenient for my taste and the audio quality is too dependent on various factors like used equipment, condition of the media and quality of the pressing.
I have never seen a professionally pressed CD fail. I have seen lots of self-burned CDs fail after about three years. Of course there are archive-quality CD-Rs with projected lifespans of 100 or 300 years (if burned really slowly), but that's not what most people use for backups.
Vinyl, with some care for environment, is really good for archival.
Amazon will also automatically add (most?) vinyl purchases to your Amazon Music Library, and allow download.
The Amazon downloads seem to all be 44.1 khz mp3 (just downloaded an album of mine to check).
I've never seen a mass-produced CD (the aluminum kind) fail due to age rather than physical damage. However I have read about it happening, where the aluminum layer wasn't properly sealed in the polycarbonate and over time got corroded.
Nope; you can scratch "phone calls" from that list.
AAC (specifically, the AAC-LD variant) is not the best for low bitrate calls; you want a dedicated voice codec for that application.
AAC-LD is only geared toward voice in one parameter: frame size. It's basically just a "look, AAC can do this too if you want" feature.
Look at the remark there: "It can use a bit rate of 32 - 64kbit/s or higher". That's a whopping lot. 32 kbps is about the far-out upper bound on bit rate for using a voice codec. You can get very good call quality at half that.
Basically if you look at all the options for compressing speech in telephony, AAC doesn't make a whole lot of sense.
Anecdotally, the sound quality is above and beyond what I get on my cell, without question.
Am I reading that right? The consortium has graciously begun issuing royalty-free licenses now that the patent has expired?
How nice of them.
At any rate, (pun intended), I'm perfectly happy with my vorbis files and not in any hurry to convert to MP3. But I'm glad I don't have to worry about the silly patent any longer.
Clearly there's absolutely no effort involved in being a journalist anymore.
You skipped a chapter on the history of the web. Formerly "reputable" outlets have transitioned to rubberstamping their brand on any blogger they think can help them preserve their business model, so while they might admittedly still be frontrunners in name recognition and still have credibility in narrower contexts, they have all but morphed into full-time clickbait farms.
If this isn't being done, it seems like something that could potentially be achieved with current tech, if not now, then in the near future.
yes, because MP3 is now similar to public domain it does not mean it's dead. only the business of patent trolls behind it is dead.
I just read your blog post through Google Translate. You seem to claim that they patented the use of Fourier transform for storage of music. This is not what happened at all. The patent was granted for specifying which part of the Fourier transform can safely be discarded for storage (and reconstructed while playback) without harming the sound you hear too much. That's not something they just looked up in a 200-year-old book but took more than a decade of complex research. The result of this research is their actual product and it's a highly valuable one.
According to the case of Bilski, patents should involve a machine, otherwise it's invalid. But trolls don't care of their patents are invalid, because of how patent cases are handled in courts
Fraunhofer would not have developed audio compression if they couldn't earn money with it (they are a non-profit by the way and the money earned funds new research). That's their business model. They have novel ideas, do hard work to make them possible, and sell that to companies. Are you suggesting people shouldn't get paid to do their work?
Algorithms are the machines of the 21st century.
It's the unfortunate effect that the German research organisation that developed it only finances all their research with patents.
Sat May 6 23:12:02 UTC 2017
Recompiled to support libmp3lame.
Recompiled to support libmp3lame.
Patched to build with ffmpeg3 and gcc7.
Recompiled to support libmp3lame.
Reverted a patch that causes IFUNC errors to be emitted.
Recompiled to support libmp3lame.
Recompiled to support libmp3lame.
Not sure about Audacity, but I guess that will be the same.
Maybe, once most people, even in the third world, have unlimited data plans, music file sizes will stop mattering. Or maybe we will have moved on to something else entirely where big files is still an issue. Maybe people will want to stream music from earth to space stations or lunar bases, I don't know.
¹ Yes, this is the ultimate in unreliable anecdote, sorry.
If you want or need your library in another format at some point you really should not transcode from a lossy source. You may say that won't ever happen, but storage is cheap it's very short sighted to risk being locked into one format. It's not something you could easily fix later.
Except that lossless audio is far from hidden and widely available as soon as you look past the iTunes store. I buy my music in a lossless digital format exclusively and frequently - from multiple stores, without any DRM and with no problems at all finding it.
If the music industry tried to lock the lossless source away, I'd say it does a very bad job.
Could you give an example of some?
- Artist and label stores
There are others like HDTracks, but they always seem to be selling snake oil to audiophiles. Just my impression. I don't see any point in paying extra for more than CD-quality. I draw the line at 16 Bit / 44.1 KHz.
Most importantly, audio CDs still use uncompressed WAV. Buying and ripping the audio CD for a popular album is a pretty surefire method for getting a lossless copy, even if it's not always the easiest.
Never convert between lossy formats, not even once.
MP3 is more widely supported than any lossless audio codec. Lossless compression enables the collector to keep an original.
Not everyone is a collector though - for them, MP3 is probably fine, and if they need a different format later they'll probably just stream, re-encode, or re-purchase, in order of likelihood.
Most people don't care about that
If I play only 128k mp3s on a modern hi-fi system, I can tell the difference. I prefer FLAC myself. It's a little more space, but at least I know I have a real archive of a CD.
I have rips of some good bands bands that never made it past the bar scene and who abandoned their MySpace pages long ago, so it's nice to know I have a preserved copy I can share with other audio-nerds.
Anyway, anecdote time:
I was actually part of a double blind test.
On a really really good setup with very little background noise I can tell that there is a difference at 320kbit (encoded using LAME) with about 65% reliablity for short pieces of music, which was the second best in the group.
I could not, however, say which sample was better.
128 is just barely good enough to be tolerable for a lot of people, but nobody would claim it's transparent. AAC does a lot better at that bitrate.
As someone who grew up loving music while listing to Nth generation tape copies on a really shitty walkman I just don't understand this line of reasoning.
It's great that audiophiles can hear so well, but when they start talking about tubes and premium cables and vinyl records and gold-plated contacts, I just want to give them an otitis media infection that cuts them down to my level. You just don't know what you've got 'til it's gone. I know that's wrong to wish such ill upon others, but it's so much harder to suppress my envy when I'm being inundated by what appears from my perspective to be superstitious nonsense.
As someone who can still somehow enjoy music when it's encoded as a 64k/s MP3 file, I am baffled as to how someone can say the very same music can be bad at 128k/s. I'm just glad that I can still hear it at all!
More generally, this applies to any scenario where the sound is distorted or altered by something. A crappy speaker might have a perverse frequency response. A room reflection might manifest as a comb filter. Both will destroy the careful masking assumptions of any psychoacoustic model.
Lossy compression should be avoided as an archival format whenever possible, even if you think you know better, because you never know when you might need the information you thoughtlessly threw away.
And even if it were, that doesn't make it worthwhile. Gzip compresses plain text by a factor of 4 or 8 and is lossless in the absolute sense, but most of us don't keep our text files in .gz form.
Text files are not a good analogy, as they have a different workflow compared to musical files.
I use ZFS and NTFS compression on all the things. For example, ~/.android on my desktop: "Size 1.49 GB, Size on disk 293 MB". Not everything compresses as nicely but in general you can save a lot of space on a desktop.
And how many decades from now do you expect that to be the situation?
I think MP3 and us are going to be fine for quite a while. This is after, all not a bug that needs to be fixed.
Basically I don't think about this is a "problem" and this I don't agree about the "pushing it ahead of us" metaphor.
If I want to store some really high quality audio, I'd use something like FLAC. But for general listening? Nah, MP3-320 is fine.
These days, all my music is in a lossless format anyway. Especially now that my phone has enough storage space for it.
Anyhow. I'd say that if anything... The patents expiring way the heck sooner would have been healthy for the format.
Opus is supported in all major webbrowsers and natively in modern Android systems. I'd call that widely supported.
Not supported in Safari. I guess the reason is that iOS devices don't have hardware encoder for it and Apple doesn't want to compromise battery life (maybe marginal issue with audio, but big issue with webm).
I rather think that Apple doesn't like the idea of royalty-free codecs which would make it easier for free operation systems to support multimedia on the web. AAC helps to keep you locked into macOS or Windows, because it works out-of-the-box there (in contrast to Linux distributions like Fedora).
I wouldn't call a technology that's only available to 63% of your users 'widely supported'.
And we haven't had any improvement in Audio compression since then. MP3 - AAC and That is it. All the others are at best AAC similar quality / bitrate.
At 256Kbps, the majority couldn't hear a difference between MP3 and AAC. At 128Kbps it is only slightly better.
We dont have anything like HEVC which is an order of magnitude better then, say MPEG-2 at low bitrate.
Do you base this assertion on blind testing? I'd really like to know how much of the people that says "MP3 sounds X/Y/Z" actually did one (actually, I'd like all of them to actually do one), because in the blind tests I've participated/seen participating, with a modern encoder and mid/high bitrate (in the average range of 192/224 kbits) users were systematically not able to hear any difference.
Of course I found some exceptions; for example, a friend of mine had good hearing on high frequencies, therefore, he could immediately spot 128 kbps CBR mp3s which have a lowpass threshold at ~16 khz.
If there are some passionate podcast listeners here,
1) do you have recommendations for an alternative to Overcast (ideally cross-platform, Android/Linux required, Windows desirable)?
2) can you recommend HN related (overlapping with the content here) podcasts?
I thought they state "MP3 is dead" just because its patent is expired, while AAC isn't:
I upvoted it because of the annoying articles and comments that came up regarding this. Going from the "I can hear the difference" to "It's dead now".
This article points the facts out clearly and I don't see anything to discuss about there.
MP3 isn't dead :)
This is patently false unless you listen on bad audio gear (bad DAC, bad cans).
I don't even have serious equipment (MBP+iPhone so guess about the DAC, as for headphones: AKG k514 mkII, Sennheiser Momentum (over ear), SoundMagic E10 (intra), Marshall Monitor (not mine), BeyerDynamic DT 770 250Ω (not mine)) and the difference is downright obvious going from 128k to 256k almost whatever the place and definitely noticeable on select features from 256k to 320k.
Some corner-case audio patterns are just known to make MP3 encoders choke whatever the bitrate (a higher bitrate merely mitigates the problem for MP3), while they pass with flying colours on AAC. Sadly those corner cases are not just theoretical and have a real effect for some songs. At 320k though it won't make the song any less enjoyable (which is another metric entirely) but it can definitely be noticed (which is what the article claims).
Double blind tests suggest this is true for somewhere between 128 kbit and 256 kbit (256 kbit is CD quality, while 192 kbit is near CD quality, and the difference between 128 kbit and 192 kbit is miles compared to 192 kbit and 256 kbit; hence I suggest 192+ kbit. However, its 2017 and 320 kbit or lossless isn't a huge issue anymore; its even OK over 4G). Also, my quote is from 2000; ever since we swapped to LAME and ABR > VBR > CBR; ABR isn't even a static (constant) bitrate.
Quoting r3mix.net from 2000:
128 kbit/s is not cd quality
256 kbit/s is cd quality (x) (in case of Lame or some Fraunhofer, not Xing)
In february 2000 c't magazin organised a blind listening test. 300 Audiophiles were involved, finalists tested 17 1-min clips from different artists (classic and pop):
original CD recording
128 Kbit/s Joint Stereo [MusicMatch (FhG) v4.4] encoded PC decoded Mac
256 Kbit/s Joint Stereo [MusicMatch (FhG) v4.4] encoded PC decoded Mac
all on cdrs and played in a Recording Studio on:
B&W Nautilus 803, Marantz CD14 with amp PM14 (Straightwire Pro
cabling and extra's) [DM30000- so bit more than $15000]
Sennheiser Orpheus Electrostatic Reference-headphones with tweaked accompanying amp (digital and analog out) [>$10000]
90% of the 128 Kbit material was picked out
MP3@256 was rated to have the same music quality as cd!
If you find MP3@256 to be of inferior quality compared to the original cd, you're very likely to be doing something wrong with the test (correct decoder, no objective double blind testing, DSP filters distorting the process, ...) Maybe this is something for you. You can always read the article in the german c't 6/2000 on p92.
The treshold of mp3 transparency lies somewhere between 128kbit/s and 256kbit/s, depending on the kind of music and your hearing and equipment.
Try running that 256kbit MP3 through a pitch shifter. The quality loss becomes very apparent very quickly.
Mp3 is a clever compression algorithm made for consumption. It isn't intended to be pitch shifted...
BTW, if you can easily discern 256k from 320k, I'd venture to guess that you are a 1% "golden ear" listener. OTOH, even my 60yo ears can tell 128k from 256k.
- 128k MP3 is like watching a Q=10 JPEG (artefacts and blockiness all over the place) while 128k AAC is much more like Q=50 (artefacting is much much more local, like the little grass patch on the left side of the stone)
- 256k MP3 is generally great but still has artefacts happen occasionally in some local, specific areas, similar to Q=50 (but not in the same way as 128k AAC), and definitely not on all songs, while 256k AAC is very close to perfect in any situation.
- 320k MP3 is very close to perfect save from very specific (and rare!) pathological corner cases that throws encoders off (like you have to have some specific bass line and some footwork on the bass drum and some very specific cymbal then the cymbal gets subtly crashy and noisy while the bass work gets subtly glitchy and muddled), which doesn't happen with AAC. Yes I've double blind-tested this with a friend who did not believe me, and used multiple MP3 encoders for that.
So to sum things up:
128k annoying enjoyable
256k excellent awesome
It's not much that I have some "golden ear" that I've been trained into looking for some patterns when I was studying DSP and now that I know what to look for they just annoyingly pop out. It's a bit like watching logs fly by just fast enough that you can't read them yet spot some oddity and just go "wait, there was something right there", and should you scroll back, sure enough, here's the deal standing out like a sore thumb.
Taking a bet that audio equipment gets better and cheaper with time I'd rather have a reasonable quality as a source, especially in light to the storage space and general bandwidth we have at our disposal. Then again in an increasingly streaming world we don't get much in the way of a choice whether it's about formats themselves or encoders.
I have never seen anyone pass that bullshit-detecting test. 128kbps encoded with lame is barely detectable, and anything higher just isn't.
I'm not a snake oil audiophile, but it's obvious that conducting the test on a train with crappy $1 earbuds and an old Realtek DAC will yield results that are considerably different from e.g. http://www.jeremykipnis.com/Jeremy_Kipnis_-_Home_Page.html