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New "mp3PRO" From Fraunhofer, But What About LAME? 206

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

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  • A lot of Open Source project actually show what software can *really* be too, but anyway, he's right. MP3 is quite old, and ready to replace.
    WMA has better quality and higher compression-rate.
  • by Anonymous Coward
    LAME's code no longer includes any of the ISO code, so is free of copyright claims in this area. However, the MP3 processes are patented in many countries, and have to be used in order for an MP3 encoder to work. Fraunhofer haven't slapped the LAME coders with a suit yet. Vorbis should be patent-free. Yet Fraunhofer issued a warning a few days ago to the effect that the Vorbis coders were probably infringing some patent somewhere. This is, of course, a meaningless and unsupported threat. But, then, if you paid for the final development work on the most popular compressed media format in the world, wouldn't you go looking for a little compensation?
  • Thanks. You also did remind me of analog audio compression formats like Dolby A/B/C/SR, which I forgot to consider. The B type in particular, does not have the sliding frequency bands like the others so under my narrow definition it wouldn't be compression (which it is).
    I mostly didn't like his attitude. :)
  • Good point, but this claim was for a hardware acceleration of the encoding process. Unfortunately, it was proprietary, much like Creative's other stuff.
  • If you know what you're doing, you encode at 256kbps or above...
  • I've been on slashdot long enough to know that OPEN source is the only way to go. Simply put...why is there such a poor atitude towards Fraunhofer who is developing something new on top of a format that we all enjoy? I see no net benefit between close and open source as both have their own advantages and disadvantages. For every good examply given, there is a poor one for each type.

    Thy anti-closed attitude here is just sad especially since the claims of open-source have always been about creating "new" and this is "new." Why not take a look at reality once in a while instead of living in a self-created open-source heaven and battling the gates of closed-source hell led by the forces of Bill Gates. You are not fighting a holy war as much as you'd like to be revolutionaries...its just self-made.

    Enjoy the new format and the hopeful improvements it has. Develop alongside or against it as in the end, any development is good.

  • by pod (1103)
    The term 'instrument' in relation to module music formats (like s3m) is somewhat misleading as they're not really instruments. An instrument in this case is any sampled sound: speech, ambient sounds, crowd sounds, distorted guitars, vocals or whatever. The goal of sound compression should be to identify patterns in wave music, isolate them into instruments and play them back by modyfying the pitch, volume, etc, to recreate the original recording as close as possible. Worst case scenario is you end up with 1 instrument, the entire track, hopefully mp3 compressed, so you're guaranteed at least as good a compression as regular mp3.
  • Will this new MP3 Format be playable on current technology MP3 Players? I'm not talking about the software players...those are always upgradable, but I'm asking about the stand alone portable players out there. Rio, Nomad, those are the ones I'm concerned about.

    I just bought a SoundsGood Audio Player add on module for my Handspring Visor and basically has it just become a paperweight?
  • Why Vorbis? MP3 is open.

    Ah, but Thomson has been claiming that Ogg Vorbis is probably also in violation:

    http://slashdot.org/yro/00/12/11/2347252.shtml [slashdot.org]

  • Wasn't ment as a troll, I guess I just have a very different view of music I guess then you.

    As far as the 'Why would anyone ever need more than 640k of ram?' quote I don't think its directly comparable.

    In the case of memory, more memory ment that the programs could get more complex with higher memory requirements. My question was, assuming each CD holds about an hour of music (on average), carrying around 500 hours of music won't change the fact that there is still only 24 hours in a day (only so much you can actually listen to at once). Its like saying "I hate DVDs because they still only put one movie on a disk! I want to be able to carry around the complete run of 'Cheers' (chosen at random) in the memory of my computer so I can watch the episodes at random as my background wallpaper."

    If you're using it as a big music juke-box I can understand the need for more storage/better compression (I guess), but I don't see what so hard about saying, 'I feel like X Y and Z today' and picking CDs (mp3 or otherwise) to take with you for that day.

    I think this may be just a difference in viewpoint and we'll have to agree to disagree.

  • last time i used the winamp plugin for winamp, the playing, changing the volume, anything. would use 100% cpu.

    also compression was about 500X slower then LAME.

    but i didn't compress tracks enough to see a "major glitch". i ment performance, as in speed. i didn't enconter any bugs.

    -Jon
  • by SubtleNuance (184325) on Thursday January 11, 2001 @05:14AM (#514856) Journal
    Source alternatives (png, ogg vorbis, etc) they are always in reaction to an existing technology brought forth by a company who could afford the R&D costs on something more original.

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

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

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

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

    Ok - im done preaching. ;)

  • maybe offtopic: what about wavelet transformation for audio compression? anybody who knows about signal processing?

    an audio codec does not only consist of a psychoacoustic model, but also a mathematical description of the data, in case of MP3 its basically the fouriertransformation.
    for image compression, they now start to use the more modern wavelet transformation (really, fouriertransformation is nice, but its literally last century mathematics). would wavelets improve MP3 on the mathematical side? anybody?
  • I -do- want high-quality downloadable (freely or not) music.
    Now, "halved storage space" might be turned the other way around to (IMO (and probably yours too) the more important) "doubled music quality". If they can get the mp3 128kbps quality at 64kbps with mp3PRO, it means they are actually working to improve the quality of the music. Double it, if you will.

    So don't be so negative. It works the way -you- want too =)

    (Looking at most of the posts here, this is perhaps the most mistunderstood aspect?)

    - tankefugl
    "mrhg-tap-tap-ping" - famous typewriter, 1853AD
    http://www.famous-words.com/ [famous-words.com]
  • jemfinch quotes from a faq:
    In other words, you can play what you like, but you're not allowed to contribute without paying the ante.

    According to Thomson's licensing terms [mp3licensing.com], you're only allowed to play for free if it meets these 4 conditions:

    • Software implmentation for "desktop" use
    • Distributed free of charge
    • Downloaded via the Internet
    • For personal use of end-users
    These specific details are at this page [mp3licensing.com]. Any other software players, they want $0.50 each with a minimum of $15k/year (hope you sell an aweful lot), or a much larger one-time payment. Terms are similar for hardware [mp3licensing.com], but there's no free version. They want quite a bit more if you're encoding.

    I've heard a number of people say that their patents only cover the encoding process. Maybe that's the case, and they're just trying to tax decoders without a leg to stand on.... but so far I've not seen a really good arguement backed up with references to the patents. If you know of one, please post a link or email me. Thanks.

  • On every Live! card, Creative claims "up to 320Kbps" encoding, as well as "9X mp3 encoding". Unfortunately, that's integrated into their "PlayCenter 2" software, which only runs on Windows, and even then it won't run properly on Windows 2000 or Windows NT 4. Should this be considered false advertising? Should Creative release the source code for this so all Live! owners with the card can encode on all operating systems? Should Creative be cited for false advertising? I believe so.
  • I've wondered about this myself. Some of my favorite music pieces are vocals and a single acoustic guitar or a single piano. I would think one could separately code the two sources more effectively than the sum. This would give the listener the added advantage of mixing the output themselves (they might me interested in learning the music part). I wonder how many separate tracks could be coded before it becomes more efficient to just code the aggregate.

    For you to say though that this feature would induce people to pay for the version means there must be some sort of copy protection to prevent the user from just coping it to another file and preserving the multi-track info. Of course this is going to make it less appealing, even to people who bought the song in the first place, by making it difficult to play the same song at home, in the car, and on a portable.
  • Most of the people on this site wave the banner of Freedom and Openness when in reality all they want is a free lunch.

    Sorry, this sort of ad hominem bullshit just doesn't cut it here. Sure, some of the community are freeloaders, but very few of the Open Source people I deal with are. Those whom I know well don't hesitate to pay shareware fees, buy a few copies of RedHat, and otherwise compensate that digital street musician for his/her fine work. The "some do it, so all are bad" argument is worthless crap, no matter who presents it. Even M$ ain't totally bad, if examined fairly and without bias.

    In my experience, the same people who support open source software are the ones who support the whole pirate warez scene.

    Then I suggest you stop hanging with those clods and get some better experience, or else provide some verifiable support for that claim. I DO NOT believe the FACTS support it. My experience, for one data point, is entirely the opposite. To take the extreme position, does Stallman approve of warez? I think you'll find he does not.
  • by operagost (62405) on Thursday January 11, 2001 @05:38AM (#514863) Homepage Journal
    Compression is not the same as filtering. True, CD audio has its own artifacts because of the brick-wall filter necessary for the 22KHz cutoff and the 16-bit sample rate. 24-bit sampling takes care of the artifacts for most carbon-based life forms, and with a 96KHz sample rate, the Nyquist theorem tells us that our nasty ass brick wall filter works in ranges exceeding 40KHz, well out of the range of humans. Still, according to your definition 24/96 is still "compressed" because we're still discarding some data. Well, then every single bit of data in the world is compressed, because we would need infinite sample rates and infinite resolution to get "everything". We'd also need pure omnidirectional microphones with infinite frequency response and infinite sensitivity.

    Let's not be silly and just say that a compressed format uses a compression algorithm, okay? And there is a difference between lossy and lossless compression.

    By the way, I'm an engineer so I've read some literature.

  • Is LAME catching up to mp3pro or is mp3pro catching up to Ogg and Advanced Audio Coding?

    Simple solution:

    1. Use Wine.
    2. Create better codecs.
    3. Port to native Windows/BeOS/MacOS/Amiga
    a. This easier than it might seem
    b. 1.5x the work of the original for
    5x the value
    c. Gives competitors who like to do as
    little as possible something to worry
    about.
    4. Keep the competition busy.
  • There is a beta of a Mac version of Windows Media Player, too.
  • Actually, as the article states, they are playing catch up with Microsoft's Windows Media formats more than anything in the Open Source world. Ogg Vorbis is great, better than mp3. But have you heard the quality of Windows Media Format Audio version 8? Or seen the video of its video-counterpart? It blows away anything else currently available.

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

    View Here [microsoft.com]

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

  • then you should know what compression means

    tape compression is audible but maybe cd compression isn't
    .oO0Oo.
  • Why is it that so many de facto Internet standards are based upon software or algorithm patents? MP3, GIF, RSA (until recently)...
    Is it because software companies are happier licensing something from another company than adopting an open standard?

    As for GIF and RSA, they both stem from the same reason, as far as I can tell; Netscape. I wonder if we can pin this on Marc?

    Here's my reasoning. Netscape was the first wildly popular web browser. Sure, Mosaic was first, but Netscape really brought it to the masses when they spruced up HTML into something that normal people (IE, non-geeks) want to look at. Netscape had the power to do something other than use GIF, but didn't.

    Why use GIF in the first place? Compu$erve was the most popular ISP at the time, not that it was really an ISP. Still, it was the way most people connected to the greater networked world, unless they were at a uni. Compuserve used GIFs... Oh my.

    Anyway, with a whole bunch of GIFs running around the world, it becomes a reasonable format to work with. Plus, it's compressed, which can be pretty handy. You can also flag a color as transparent (anyone know if that's what that was originally used for? Or if it's part of the original spec?) so that's extra handy. Later, the animation supported by GIF (which some other programs like the DOS .MOD music player "modplay" used) was added.

    RSA seems to have come about due to Netscape though, directly. There is a fascinating document which serves as an Introduction to SSL [iplanet.com] which explains the basics. It doesn't tell you the story of Netscape inventing it (probably because it would be boring) but it does mention in passing that they're responsible for SSL.

    Anyway, NCSA Mosaic used GIF, Netscape didn't decide to use something else, and Netscape decided to use RSA for key exchange inside of HTTPS. To be fair to NCSA, the web in that form was never really intended to be the final web. We should have never taken the web past a toy, and developed something better, and used that instead. Everyone, including those who are responsible for its success, tends to agree on this. Too late now, though.

    Of course, I'm one of those people, since I lived in a scruz geek house and had a web page. I should have known better and preached against it. Then I could do interviews and talk about how "I know it would be the world wide wait" or something.

  • I could correct most of the factual errors above, but instead here's the web site that will tell you all http://www.bluematter.com/ [bluematter.com]

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

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

    That's a silly question to ask on Slashdot.

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

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

    I'm f*cking glad, I'm one of the boring 99% ;)
    I dont really notice any difference at 128kbit
  • I appreciate what your saying, but the flip side of making file sizes smaller is that you get better quality for the same bit rate. If they can make 64kbps mp3s sound like 128kbps (which I doubt!), the surely 128kbps will sound better!
  • by Anonymous Coward

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

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

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

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

  • It's because a lot of research usually goes into developing those algorithms, and that research needs to be paid for.
  • by F.Prefect (98101) on Thursday January 11, 2001 @10:20AM (#514875) Homepage
    Sorry you got such stupid responses from others on this question. Here's a better one: Yes, it does mean you get better quality.

    To use Microsoft's Windows Media Audio format as an example (because they make the same claim as MP3PRO): One of Microsoft's claims on WMA is that you get better quality at half the size. This is actually more true than most people (especially around here) are willing to believe. I thought it was marketing BS until last week, when I decided to run an informal experiment.

    Using MusicMatch Jukebox I ripped one song ("Finding Me" by Vertical Horizon, because it starts off immediately with sufficiently dynamic sound) into raw WAV, 128 and 64 kbps MP3 and 128 and 64 kbps WMA. Then I listened to sections of the song, comparing the same section in the five formats. I'm a vocal musician, and have a sensitive ear to sound quality, particularly in music (I know it's not as rigorous as that waveform analysis of MP3 encoders that was published here recently, but in the end it's how the music sounds to the human ear that really counts).

    I was impressed with the fidelity of the 128 kbps WMA. In fact (and I was quite surprised at this one) the WMA was truer to the original than the same bitrate MP3. The MP3 was actually slightly dampened in the high ranges compared to the original. What was really surprising were the 64 kbps files. The MP3 at that bitrate basically sucked, because the sample rate was only 22 kHz (resulting in weak low ranges and muted upper tones), while the 64 kbps file sounded quite good, because it was still at a 44 kHz sample rate. Of course, there was a slight degradation (to my hearing) in the sound quality between the 128 and 64 kbps files (mainly a slightly "metallic" sound in some spots), but I suspect that most people wouldn't really notice it.

    So, MS's claim of 1/2 the size, better quality is not strictly true in combination; it's more like same size == better quality, half the size == considerably-more-acceptable-than-MP3 quality at that size.

    If MP3PRO uses an even better compression/interpolation algorithm than MS Research came up with for WMA, then not only will 128 kbps MP3s sound better, but 64 kbps MP3s will probably start becoming the norm for use in pocket MP3 players.

  • Read again.
    The guy says that it is possible to increase the file size without a better quality, that means _decreasing_ the compression ratio.
    In fact, that's something that is not very clear, Fraunhoffer people say that 128kbps is enough, but what about 196kbps? is it noticeably better?
    Apart from that, the particular codec might be designed to achieve 128kbs quality and nothing more than that, but that is another story.
    Anyway, I think that if we are going to change formats, a free standard is the way to go.
  • Reminds me of Intel renaming the P6 Pentium Pro.

    Makes sense from their end, no? Gotta keep leveraging the name..

    -Justin
  • "open" does not mean "free" (either as in "free beer" or "free speech"), it just mean that the specification is available to anyone, and the algorithm can be licensed by anyone.
  • Excellent analogy!

    And what true artist stops creating music because he isn't making money? Most musicians didn't make squat before the era of recording.

  • In the long run, who cares. These are all lossy compression techniques, and as bandwidth expands, downloading actual CD quality audio (perhaps viewed as a compressed form of 24bit/96kHz "DVD" audio) will be feasible. Likewise for portable players affected by storage media costs and size. I would wager that in 10 years, nobody will listen to MP-anything, except perhaps MP4-SA, which is effectively a sound synthesis and processing language rather than a compression technique.
  • If you read the FLAC [sourceforge.net] site, or more importantly, the comparison page [sourceforge.net], you'll see that FLAC compresses a little more than Shorten, and is seekable and streamable. (Shorten is seekable in its most recent version only.) Also, FLAC supports meta-data within the file (ID3 / ID3v2 tags, for instance).

    I don't know FLAC's algorithms, but I can say that shorten has nothing to do with bzip2 in terms of compression style. As I recall, Shorten uses a predictor equation to predict the next sample from the current sample, and then uses Huffman coding on the difference between the predicted sample and the actual sample.

    --Joe
    --
  • Everyone seems to have forgotten that years ago, Frau accidently left the source code for their original MP3 encoder on their FTP site!

    This is the basis for many open MP3 encoders today.

    Perhaps they will be helpful enough to make the same mistake twice ;)

  • I said: predict the next sample from the current sample... Brain fart. More correctly, it predicts the next sample from several recent samples.

    --Joe
    --
  • Christ, stop and think a minute before you open your mouth. What the original poster meant to say, which is a very valid question, is does the new mp3pro "top out" at 64kbps. MP3 certainly does so, but not at 64kbps. The difference between a 256kbps MP3 and a 320kbps MP3 is almost negligable. I doubt if there are 1000 people in the world that could tell the difference. Yet the difference between 128kbps and 192kbps is extremely obvious, even to the untrained ear. So if mp3pro were to offer great advanced in sound quality up to 64kbps, but then be no different from 64kbps on, then we'd want to know about it, because it would be just like having 128kbps MP3s all over again, which aren't really that useful to some.

    --
  • Well, I was referencing the files themselves. not the compression format itself. Getting music for free is great, even if the *format* isn't GNU/FSF/Debian sort of "free." In my own case, the best thing about it is downloading all sorts of crummy Britney Spears and N*SYSNC stuff for my young cousins and burning them CDs, so that I can effectively prevent the sale of crappy consumerized marketroid-driven artificial teeny-muzak. Wow, that was a mouthful... ;-)

  • Ooh, another lossy compression format. And here I'm waiting for digital music representation that is better than CD-Rom. (Mmmm... vinyl. I can hardly wait for DVD audio.) I doubt that this will be used for music as much as they seem to suggest. It might be good for streaming voice-only lectures, though.
  • I paid ~300 for a 40 meg hard drive in the early 90s. Nuff said.

    --
  • by tartanboy (262669) on Thursday January 11, 2001 @12:31AM (#514889)
    Now people (heavens no, not me) can download twice as much Metallica for the same price!
  • Yer.. and the copyprotection scheme wouldn't work but that appears to be the way the wind is blowing. Perhaps if artists were willing to sell the first download and either allow people to trade it freely or just forbid them to trade it (and they do it anyway), it might be doable. But the point of having tracks seperate is not just compression, you can pull out the vocal track and record yourself singing it and then redistribute your version of it for example. I can even imagine a cool site where you get a multitracked mp3 with no vocal track or no guitar track off a forum and record the track and then post it back up. People review it and say whether it is good or not or whatever and you sort of put a song together by commitee. Now that songs both fun and someone scary.
  • by The Dodger (10689) on Thursday January 11, 2001 @12:32AM (#514892) Homepage

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

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


    D.

  • You may think this is funny now but it wont be so funny when talented artists like Eminem stop writing music because you communists think you are allowed to steal it for free.
  • Bandwith IS important. I know about a music studio that is putting on the infrastructure to record a bass guitarist from Canada, a lead guitar from Italy and a drumset from Spain. Think about it as distributed computing, but then distributed music channels.
  • OGG VORBIS vorbis.com
    -----
    Kenny Sabarese
    Left Ear Music
    AIM: kfs27
    irc.openprojects.net #windowmaker
  • What the article subject says to me is "Fraunhofer is developing something new, which is bad because we've just managed to legally use the last thing they did without paying for it ."

    Last phrase mine.

  • Which is a good point- you can't simply _accept_ claims like that, it's suicidal. They will claim _anything_.
  • I assumed with the candy reference, you were alluding to M&Ms brand candies. M&Ms [m-ms.com] are made by Mars Inc. not Hershey.
    Like Tetris? Like drugs? Ever try combining them? [pineight.com]
  • ok, take all those 'stupid cheap' cdr's and stack them up vertically.

    how many? lets see: suppose I have a 32gig drive. that's about 50 cdr's. do YOU want to lug around 50 cdr's or something that has a hard drive (preferably notebook 2.5"), given those two size choices?

    if you MUST use cdr's, then the need for higher compression is even more urgent.

    --

  • In my opinion, *GPL is a deterrent to adoption. I wouldn't touch a GPL'd codec because i don't want to have to give away my source code.

    With a LGPL'd codec, you don't have to. IANAL, but it appears you just have to

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

  • by viktor (11866) on Thursday January 11, 2001 @02:25AM (#514919) Homepage
    So Fraunhofer, without whom we wouldn't have the MP3 format to begin with, is developing a new, improved format. To me that would seem like great news. I can fit twice as much music on my harddisk as I do today.

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

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

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

    /Viktor...

  • Actually, with a bit of knowledge, you would see that it is indeed possible to achieve a file size compression without an increase in sound quality. Sound fidelity could easily have a maximum value apart from the file size.
  • Then don't accept them.

    You're not obligated to use the codec, nor are you obligated to use the source code.

    GPL code gives you 2 options:

    1. Don't use it. If you believe that the GPL code has less value than your code, then you might be better off reimplementing it.

    2. Negotiate with the copyright holder. As the copyright holder can license code under whatever terms they wish, I'm sure that they would be willing to license you the codec under terms that are more to your liking.. Of course, there may be a different (probably monetary) price attached.

    GPL code is not public domain. There is a price attached. It's not a monetary price (like windows/oracle/mtv/..). But it is a price. You either pay the price, or you don't use GPL'ed code in non-free (libre) software.

    Let me repeat that: GPL is not the same as public domain.

    As a personal question, how is a GPL code less free than a non-free codec? What are the license fees to fraunhofer for MP3? How about liquid audio? Microsoft Audio? GPL code isn't public domain, but it is free'er than those non-free codec in several ways. Those techniques are closed, trade secret, proprietary, and patented, thus un-reimplementable. At least Vorbis lets you reimplement it with no obligation.

  • by Chris Johnson (580) on Thursday January 11, 2001 @12:45PM (#514925) Homepage Journal
    mp3pro doesn't have mastering controls to match LAME. LAME has a control based on ATH level that I call 'ambience suppression level', and if you know what you're doing and can handle the HF and LF rolloffs artistically you can get _much_ more of the essence of the sound encoded than with Frauhofer encoders, including a far superior 'take' on the reverberant field that is not totally collapsed and obliterated, while still keeping it in balance with foreground sounds.

    Why do I say this when it's not in the LAME docs? Because LAME is open source, I needed it, and I hacked it in.

    It's that simple. (I've tried to interest the coders in this but they don't 'get it': I think mastering engineers will be a lot more interested.) Let me put it this way- as long as there are mastering engineers and studio types willing to struggle with the code enough to look after _their_ interests, LAME will beat whatever Fraunhofer comes up with, because Fraunhofer is all computer geek researchers- I see them going for a 'one size fits all' consumer encoder, and this is totally unacceptable and wrong for professional use.

    And encoding music into mp3 or similar lossy formats _is_ a professional task: in the field of music it is so competitive that anything a band or artist can do to give themselves an edge _will_ be done. If LAME operated by a real mastering engineer using serious reference speakers and adjusted to let the soul of the song through beats the quality level of mp3pro operated by the artist... then the guy using LAME will score more downloads, get more attention and money, sell more CDs when his music _sounds_ _better_ at the same bitrate, and the guy using mp3pro and coloring his sound with a preset compressor that isn't tailored for the individual song will _lose_.

    This is such an obvious development, and it is totally favoring the 'open source' side of things, because there are not enough 'mastering engineers', even wannabes, to tailor a commercial product to them- yet the work they do can outperform what you'll get from preset compressors. It's not the easiest skill to acquire but if you can do serious mastering on CDs you have the skillset to know what to do when you have your dirty little hands deep in the internals of LAME.

    I'll demonstrate using my music [besonic.com] as an example: the top album, "Marginal Theorems", and the second most recent, "Wounded Skies", are all made into mp3s using LAME with this ATH level control and extensive mastering work on the low and high frequency cutoffs. Psy model is turned off and replaced with ATH masking only, and ATH is custom set to the needs of the track to render the reverberant field with the proper weight, where necessary. The high cutoff is a great deal more gentle than you'll usually see, so that the tendency of the encoder to grab at all the HF data it can get is mollified without seriously altering the tonal balance of the HF sounds- basically the highs are eased back in volume until they take a place in the soundstage that isn't over-forward, but retain their character. The lows are set with a combination of low cutoff and slope that allows a sort of resonant area to be moved up and down according to the needs of the track- sometimes extending well below hearing, sometimes moved up to add muscle to the midbass.

    Go ahead and hear for yourself [besonic.com]. You should hear how good the _256K_ mp3s from the same settings sounded! (I'm probably going to find a site that lets me upload those for high quality buffs or those who want a CD made- probably Ampcast.com.) Any mastering engineer could do this, but at the moment it is LAME-only because I'm not aware of any other encoder that lets you meddle with the guts of the encoding parameters that way. I asked about this for almost a year now and nobody had an answer, so I finally did it myself.

    Anyone wishing to roll this into the main LAME distribution will get full cooperation from me... so far I haven't seen an interest. Which, cynically, I don't mind so much: _I_ believe in the principle of free software, but if people don't _want_ the hack by which I'm able to encode ambient information properly, fine: I'll just use it myself. I happen to think it is one hell of a secret weapon. I posted on rec.audio.pro about my modified Lexicon reverb and used 'Marginal Theorems' (128K mp3) as a demo of what I do with my Lexi and people were _floored_. They didn't neccesarily figure out how much of that I owed to free software and LAME, though ;)

    muahaha, free software as secret weapon!

  • The company acknowledged that the primary driver behind the upgrade was competition from other codecs, including Windows Media Audio, that purport to offer equivalent or better sound quality at half the MP3 data rate.

    1st off. Windows Media Audio (what a crappy name), does NOT offer 128kbit MP3 quality at 64kbit. it's not even close, and you don't need a kick ass pair of speakers from here [slashdot.org] to tell the difference. Secoundly this is FUD in response to FUD. There lieing about Microsoft's success and saying "we can do the same thing". it's all a lie.

    Now what IS true is that Windows Audio Whatever does offer much better quality at lower bitrate, WAAAYYY better quality. MP3 is really geared for >128kbit, while Windows Audio is really for OggVorbis [vorbis.com] Monty does talk about how OGG should scale very well to lower bitrates, so don't really expect and new compitition.

    The new format is going to be fantastic news for sites like Nullsoft's shoutcast.com [shoutcast.com], live365.com [live365.com] (which only has 56 and lower streams). Where lower bitrates are very common, and well.. sounds like crap.

    Finally this is a good marketing move, For microsoft to say, "We have something better" doesn't mean much, for the guys who made the big #1 success to say "We can a new version, that's better". means a lot. It's like "MP3 II, the return of the codec". that and making it backwards compatible is going to mean instance acceptance.

    Also FgH is going to be able to protect it's IP better this time around, maybe not even release a "dist10" (demo source) like they did last time, which spawned LAME, BladeEnc, and every other codec outthere.

    Hopefully we all give this the big middle one, and use OggVorbis, unfortantly it's not done, and currently performes like crap.. at least for now. hopefully in the future this will change.

    -Jon

  • So, back to your original point: Don't believe that innovation, freedom, basic needs and all else that you require for sustenance would vanish if Corporations did - that somehow they have 'given' us these things: It is very untrue.

    You seem to be reading to much into the statement of the previous poster. The top level asked why it is this way, and the second level explained why. He didn't say that this is the only way is can occur, but why it occurs given the society that we have. You stated that society has been infected by the corporations, and the sencond level post was explaining a consequence of that. I don't doubt that there are alternatives to the societies that we have that can still produce technological advances, but that doesn't invalidate statements about the societies we have.

  • by joss (1346) on Thursday January 11, 2001 @02:41AM (#514935) Homepage
    You can't have it both ways.

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

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

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

    sometimes its not!

    I have a neo25 mp3 player [neomp3players.com] and this uses a 2.5" notebook drive.

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

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

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

    --

  • by Gleef (86) on Thursday January 11, 2001 @03:55AM (#514944) Homepage
    adolf writes:

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

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

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


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

    Check it out.

    ----
  • by QuantumG (50515)
    I don't believe you can actually say that we've reached the limit of audio compression. What kind of a researcher are you? Why bother doing a PHD about a "mature" technology that has no where to go? Sheesh.. The lower limit (for size) has already been defined. Have a look at MOD/S3M files. These are systems which store the actual placement of samples into different channels at different frequency/pitch. ie. they actually contain the composition of the song. Reading an S3M file is like reading sheet music with a list of instruments to play. You can get high quality songs, similar in quality to studio recordings for under 300k (although most are a meg these days). These are full length songs. A lot of the S3M's that are produced today contain too many samples which blow out the size. For example, an artist may include the same sample at two different pitches because he/she is not aware that they can use the format to change the pitch. We're nowhere even close to developing a system that can reduce an audio stream to the component instruments and a score format like S3M. Well as far as I know. You're the researcher, so tell us, is it even possible? Isn't this where the research should be focused -- on the hard problem?
  • vbr encoded files almost always have problems (in players) with time elapsed and time remaining; in the display portion of the decoder.

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

    otoh, vbr without a settable upper limit can cause problems to various hardware based decoders that stop at 192k. there are plenty of them out there, like the lp3 dongle [lp3music.com] device and various clamshell cdr iso cd players.

    --

  • why would they be pissed? I'm sure it will contain some "copy protection" scheme in the format and they will go sue happy over anyone who ignores the "copy bit".
  • if Eminem stops writing music, well, I would assume Hershey Foods would step in and supply another nutty band to help satisfy the urge ...

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

    What do you mean by "better"? I, for one, have never claimed that open source is a magical ingredient that magically makes everything better.

    The open source process has the potential to produce very bug-free code. It gives an extremely large group of software developers (more or less the whole world) a chance to contribute, which can lead to innovative new features. (Did you know that the 2.4 Linux kernel directly supports speech synthesizers? Blind folks can now debug kernel code if they want to!)

    I agree that the slashdot headline is strange. When I hear about proposed new MP3 technology, my first thought isn't "but what about LAME?" What the heck, this is slashdot. "End of the world coming in one month! What will happen to the 2.5 kernel?"

    But your flame about "This just shows where the real innovation comes from" is just dumb. Take a good look at what is going on with Ogg Vorbis. Vorbis will produce better quality in fewer bits than MP3, and it will do it with one hand tied behind its back (i.e. with lawyers checking at every step to make sure no patents are infringed). The Vorbis spec has more room for growth than the MP3 spec, too... future versions of Vorbis will include wavelet compression, for example.

    steveha

  • Man, I know you were joking but as well as being funny, your post was an ironic statement on the hypocrisy of the current music industry as eminem's latest song's main rift is ripped from a Red Hot Chili Peppers song.

    Rich

  • Uh, that would be great if I *actually wanted* to hear sheet music played back to me. But I don't. I want to hear what the artists fingers actually played. I want to hear the crowd. I want to hear the interview. I want to hear somebody reciting DeCSS code. You cannot create a musical instrument definition for every sound on earth.
  • Well a lot of these songs do include speech you know. That's just a channel that is encoded with a speech specific compression technique (which believe it or not actually works a lot similar to compressing wind instruments). Knowledge of the domain is the key to lossy compression. So trying to compress multiple domains (different instruments and speech at the same time) is very inefficient.
  • Er, I might be mistaken but CD's are not compressed

    I think his point was not that it was compressed as such, but that there *is* a finite sampling rate which makes it "less than real life", i.e. "less than perfect" - so that while so many people are raving about how the compression sucks and chanting "CD quality CD quality CD quality", they don't seem to realise that even "CD Quality" is far from perfect.

  • What they should be doing is working on maximizing quality, not minimizing size.

    The goal should not be 128kbps quality in 64kbps. It should be 44KHz/16 bit quality (or even better yet, 96Khz/24bit quality) in a manageable size.

    -S
  • by QuantumG (50515) <qg@biodome.org> on Thursday January 11, 2001 @03:28AM (#514970) Homepage Journal
    I was at a reverse engineering conference and happened to sit down next to a guy from the Fraunhofer Institute. They do a lot of research in many different fields and when I asked him about patents he shut up for a minute and then said "yes, we are commercial oriented, that's how we get to do so much interesting research." He didn't seem too happy about it.
  • Hmm.. for some reason I think that if the muzak corps started producing 900k music files that sound better than today's mp3's people will accept whatever player that have to download to play them and if that player can only be written by people with licenses from Fraunhofer then they will make a lot of cash. Especially if they have some stupid form of copy control embedded.

  • by jemfinch (94833) on Thursday January 11, 2001 @04:08AM (#514976) Homepage
    Great, but what does this mean for projects like L.A.M.E., which has just recently freed itself from Fraunhofer ["regular"] mp3 code/patents? Back into the fray?"


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



    From the Vorbis [vorbis.com] FAQ:

    Why Vorbis? MP3 is open.


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

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

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

    Jeremy
  • Why is this so hard? Really, if you are the music company and you have the individual channels of the song, then you can do remarkable clean channel encoding and mix them together on the client side. I believe this is what mp4 does.. someone back me up here. So think about it. If music companies and individual artists (the only folk who can do this) produce music files that are better encoded and drastically smaller than "ripped" music files, wouldn't we pay for them? The RIAA is running around talking about Napster and laws and copy control but they really can't give us a good reason why we would want to pay money for the official stuff instead of grabbing the free stuff. Isn't this a reason? or am I out on a limb here?
  • by David E. Smith (4570) on Thursday January 11, 2001 @12:36AM (#514981)
    Everyone and their distant cousin is in the business of trying to improve on MP3, it seems. The Ogg Vorbis [vorbis.com] format claims to do roughly the same thing -- provide better-sounding music, while taking less disk space.

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

  • The problem with converting from MP3 to Ogg is that you're using lossy compression on something that has already been compressed using lossy compression. It makes it sound even worse. Your script is cool, but it should come with a warning that says "you should not use this". :)

    If you make it easy for people to convert mp3 to ogg, we're going to end up with LOTS of really shitty sounding ogg files. I'm re-encoding everything I have from the CD, I urge everyone else to do the same.
  • by billstewart (78916) on Thursday January 11, 2001 @08:03AM (#514984) Journal
    The article quite noticeably said Nothing about built-in copy protection. That's a nice change from the other commercially developed compression algorithms that claim to be twice as tight as MP3, like AT&T's a2b-music, Sony's system used in their memory stick widgets, etc. It's still software they're planning to license, but the hook is only "you'll get twice as much music in your portable player", not "record labels can use this to take back control of the music industry". Cool.

  • by morie (227571) on Thursday January 11, 2001 @12:37AM (#514985) Homepage
    <STUPID QUESTION>if they claim they can heve the same quality in half the data, does this also maen they have better quality in the same ammount of data?</STUPID QUESTION>, e.g. is this going to improve the quality of a 128 kbps compression?
  • Um... I usually carry around a simple CD case with my laptop.

    Untill now this has usually ment about 10 CDs.

    Lately I've started converting my CDs into MP3s and then burning them onto CD-Rs. Okay... so now, instead of having 10 CDs, I have 2 Mp3-CDs and a few CDs that I haven't bothered converting yet.

    assuming a decent filesize to song ratio, each Mp3 CD I've burned has had about 10 or 11 CDs on it. So, 50 of those would be about 500-550 CDs.

    Why would anyone need that much music with them?
    I figure if I progress through and replace carrying all my CDs with Mp3-CDs then I'll have about 100 to 110 CDs with me at a time. This is more music then I can listen to in a day, and you know what? If I like certain songs and hate others, I can always burn a 'Best of' CD.

    if you MUST use cdr's, then the need for higher compression is even more urgent.

    Why does anyone need to carry their whole library with them at any one time?
  • Vorbis sounds absolutely excellent compared to the same bitrate MP3. I'm encoding all of my CD's into Vorbis format. I wish Napster or Audiogalaxy [audiogalaxy.com](has linux support) would support the Vorbis format. I've emailed Audio galaxy about it but haven't heard back. If programs like these supported the format, it would catch on much faster.
  • Hang on, aren't Fraunhofer the guys who originally came up with the MP3 format? So they're the guys that everyone (NullSoft, MS, Sony, etc) pays for licensing to produce an MP3 player? So they're the ones making a nice amount of money off the current MP3?

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

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

    Grab.
  • And you assume this new format will take over the world? Lightning doesn't strike twice, they will try and fail just as all others have.
  • GPL code is not public domain. There is a price attached. It's not a monetary price (like windows/oracle/mtv/&c). But it is a price.

    In other words, it's not free?

    That's actually pretty amusing.

  • by POPE Mad Mitch (73632) on Thursday January 11, 2001 @12:54AM (#515012) Homepage
    Sounds like Fraunhofer and the likes are trying to play catchup on the developments that have been made in the open source world, with improved psyco-acoustic models, and refinements in VBR encoding. With the likes of LAME used in VBR (variable bit rate) mode, even at max. compression i can get files that have an average of only 80kbps and sounds way better than the crud produced by some of the commercial encoders at 192kbps fixed rate. (eg. the encoder shipped with the rio500).

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

  • by gabuzo (34544) on Thursday January 11, 2001 @12:54AM (#515013) Homepage

    According to this http://www.neteconomie.fr/news/infoCOM.php3?id=838 [neteconomie.fr] (in french can't find anything in english, sorry), MP3Pro shouldn't be the only new codec blooming in spring 2001. Universal Musics wants to launch his new codec: BlueMatter (developped by Entrust (http://www.entrust.com/ [entrust.com]?).

    According to this interview [01net.com] (once again, in french sorry) of the director of Universal Music France, BlueMatter should be used to make people pay for online music (I also read about Universal projects of online music and it seems to be streaming only).

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

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

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





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

  • by pouwelse (118316) on Thursday January 11, 2001 @01:07AM (#515020) Homepage
    Researchers in the field of audio coding agree that the subband filtering technology in MP3 and AAC is now mature. The MP3PRO claims are very impressive, the improvement claims they make are not very likely. They have either changed the world of audio coding or are defending they intrests with waporware.

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

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

    MP3PRO Open technology? also doubtfull [mp3licensing.com].

    Johan.

  • Why would anyone need that much music with them?

    this must be a troll. why do you THINK you'd want more than that?

    oh, and btw, why would anyone ever need more than 640K of ram?

    Why does anyone need to carry their whole library with them at any one time?

    you don't seem to get it. you want to carry your whole library since now's the first time that you actually can.

    but to answer you directly, some people like to have a lot of choice available to them in what they listen to. I listen to many genres and have about 8000 mp3's that I personally ripped and encoded. it makes for a fun experience, having that many songs available to you, all randomly accessible, almost instantly.

    --

  • So many people here are saying that the inventors of mp3 should be allowed to charge royalties if they want to. But the problem is, MPEG-1 is on open format, and mp3 stands for MPEG-1 Audio Layer 3! Fruaenhofer donated their mp3 to be part of an open format, so they shouldn't be able to charge for it!

  • Well, sort of.

    Newer, slightly less cheap players such as the Pine and Compro handle VBR just fine, and they also handle the entire gamut of bitrates (32-320, I believe).

    I have an MPtrip (which I'm returning to buy a Pine), and it DOES handle VBR. The problem is that it can only deal with bitrates up to 192, so when the bitrate on a VBR-encoded track goes above that, _then_ the player goes wonky.

    What's annoying is that players such as these almost certainly don't have upgradeable firmware, so they'll never be able to support any forthcoming formats, such as ogg.

    Sotto la panca, la capra crepa
  • LAME _has_ improved upon it. The LAME encoder can do VBR correctly, something which almost no other encoder (including the commercial ones) can do. VBR, when done correctly, is a great balance between audio quality and file size, yet most FAQs you read out there advise against it, not because the decoders can't handle it (they can), but because LAME is the only encoder that really does a nice job with it.

    Sotto la panca, la capra crepa
  • by 2nd Post! (213333) <gundbear@@@pacbell...net> on Thursday January 11, 2001 @09:04AM (#515032) Homepage
    Regardless of the philosophical implacations of the GPL, you *can* sell software that you give the source away too.

    You're a programmer; you sell your service to write code, for whoever will buy your program, whether it be a business, end user, or whatever.

    As a personal preference, you have every right not to want to give away your source code. But there is a distinction between selling software and writing source.

    Software has been tested, debugged, packaged, polished and marketed.

    Source is just that, source, like the distinction between architectural blueprints and a house.

    If a GPL based company actually wanted to buy your source, is that any less or more a transaction than buying the software? The intent of some people, as regards Open Source, is that when you buy the software, you can get access to the source, otherwise you're relegated to a 'service', of providing support and fixes and improvements to a program, where the purchaser cannot fix, modify, or tweak the code to their taste.

    That's just one view, at least.

    Geek dating! [bunnyhop.com]
  • by Jerf (17166)
    I don't believe you can actually say that we've reached the limit of audio compression.

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

  • by Richy_T (111409) on Thursday January 11, 2001 @09:19AM (#515035) Homepage
    It's getting into semantics now but in the contexct of his argument, his description of lossy compression is correct.

    The art of lossy compression is to remove parts of the data that won't be noticed. In the case of TV for example, advantage is taken of persistance of vision and the angular resolution of the eye to say "We can usually get away with 50-60fps and a screen that contains *about* 640x480 pixels). With mp3s, advantage is taken of certain harmonics of tones being inaudible to remove the need to encode them.

    You say that a compressed format needs a compression algorithm but the TV algorithm is "sample the picture every 1/60th of a second and average light values over x degrees horizonatally and vertically, arrange the samples horizontally and vertically and add sync pulses as appropriate". That *is* an algorithm

    Now, you may want to argue that for compression, the algorithm has to be complex and change dynamically with the data but then we *are* getting into semantics and I think you're choosing to define your terms to support your argument.

    So I agree with the original poster, all data fed to us us compressed in some way. Usually, effort is made to ensure that the losses are not noticed by us (with mp3 as much as with TV). Some audiophiles claim with mp3 that this is not done successfully (though I can't tell. I have "fill in" with music where I'm listening to the *music*, not the waveform that's coming into my ears). But equally, with TV, there's room for improvement (digital TV, HDTV et al).

    By the way, I'm an engineer so I've read some literature.

    Charles Dickens, Shakespear?

    Rich

  • by adolf (21054) <flodadolf@gmail.com> on Thursday January 11, 2001 @01:15AM (#515046) Journal
    Not to sound pragmatic, but with any luck the new 'mp3' format will fizzle and die.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    Feel free to moderate this down as flamebait. It's not like karma doesn't grow on trees.
  • by Skeptopotamus (303674) on Thursday January 11, 2001 @01:18AM (#515047)
    I think that in general its because the patented, closed technology comes first. With all due respect to the people who create wonderful patent free & Open Source alternatives (png, ogg vorbis, etc) they are always in reaction to an existing technology brought forth by a company who could afford the R&D costs on something more original.

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

Numeric stability is probably not all that important when you're guessing.

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