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Music Media

MP3Pro Released 212

Posted by Hemos
from the so-many-submissions dept.
Andrew writes "An initial news story tweaked me to the fact that, "Thomson Multimedia and the Fraunhofer Institute, the two creators of the MP3 format, released a coder and decoder (codec) for the MP3pro format Thursday on the RCA.com Web site". It apparently achieves parity with the MS version 8 player. Their download on their web site is here (Windows only)." *yawn*
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MP3Pro Released

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  • by Anonymous Coward
    I agree. So why post it?
  • by Anonymous Coward
    More interesting will be watching if the manufacturers of mp3 portables switch over. Given the price of memory sticks and the low capacity most players have, this is a very appealing way to double storage for the cost burning a chip or two. If the Rio's do go MP3Pro it could have a serious effect on the longevity of standard mp3's.
  • by Anonymous Coward
    Compressed 5.1 is called AC3, although the bitrate on a DVD is usually 448kbit/s which is a bit much to put in a divx rip...

    It's also possible to put two mp3 or wma streams in a file, giving 4 channel audio.

    And vorbis supports multiple channels.
  • by Anonymous Coward
    Ogg Vorbis is never going to become popular. For one, it has a really weird name. For another, people don't call it by it's file extension. For another, what IS it's file extension? .OV? People are used to three letter extensions. If it doesn't have a 3 letter extension, it's not gonna become widespread. Name one single format which has a two letter extension and is popular. And no, .GZ is not popular... it's only used by unix and linux guys... you don't find gzipped files on most websites. Change the name to something that's more normal and give it a 3 letter extension. I've got an idea... call it MP5. Then people will assume it's a newer version of MP3. I doubt that the company that makes the MP3 format could possibly get away with keeping people from using MP as a file extension in combination with any other letter or number.
  • by Anonymous Coward
    Best luck with girls, they often know Tux or the BSD Deamon because they are cute, but not for what they represent.
    Well, isn't that enlightened of you.
  • by Anonymous Coward
    We'll see whether or not the piracy groups adopt the new mp3 codec. If they do, then there's a good chance that the rest of us will. If not, we'll stick to mp3's at 160kbps and 44.1kHz.

    Personally, I think it's likely LAME/mp3 will remain the standard for quite some time. Bandwidth and storage are cheap.

    Which reminds me, when are we going to get a decent compressed surround-sound scheme? Compressing two channels is easy, I want 5.1 though, as will anyone who uses divx in the future.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday June 14, 2001 @11:57PM (#149183)
    Apparently OGG Vorbis V1.0 (released next month) is going to achieve near CD quality at the 80Kbit range - whereas MP3Pro gets there at 128. http://www.technologyreview.com/web/kiang/kiang061 401.asp
  • Do NOT download mp3pro! Why do you think it's a windows-only download? There's trojan code inside the new MP3PRO executable that *deletes* every "normal" (free, great-sounding) MP3 on your hard drive, replacing it bit-by-bit with an mp3pro file!! My friends have been struck by this horrible program, and I don't want the rest of you to suffer the same fate!

    TELL EVERYONE YOU KNOW about this!! IIS/Fraunhofer CAN NOT co-opt our MP3s!!

    --
    Forget Napster. Why not really break the law?

  • Yeah, uh, I knew I'd get a reactoin like that, even after I noted carefully that the fact *I* got rejected wasn't so much an issue to me. My concern is the overall quality of /. and if you give a shit - enough to complain about my post - it should be your concern too.
  • Since /. doesn't offer any place for meta discussion, I have nowhere else to turn with this message...

    I submitted this a week ago:

    2001-06-08 16:22:29 MP3Pro codec set to debut (articles,music) (rejected)

    This isn't sour grapes; I know that there are different editors with different interests and different approaches, and it certainly harms me none to have a submission rejected.

    What was accepted on 6/8 - after my rejection - was Thomson Announces Royalties For MP3 Streaming> [slashdot.org], an article which referenced the second half of the same Technology Review article [techreview.com] that I submitted.

    My submission did as the Tech Review article did: made MP3Pro the focus, and included the streaming licensing story as part two. If the editor followed the link in the submission that was posted, he had to skip past the first half of the article - detailing the debut of MP3Pro - to read the paragraphs about mp3 streaming licensing.

    I don't point this out to troll. I point this out because it's interesting how /. stories are chosen. And because the readers deserve to know, especially those who rely on /. for news. If you're going to rely on a source, it's good to be aware of how that source operates -- so that it's a more "open source", so to speak.

    I believe that Taco et al have hit a snag in how the community operates: what is "news" is determined by the editors. The editors are only human and it would appear they have a pretty tough job on their hands. What's worse, their own bias affects the biases of the community. Then the community is subtlely encouraged through the moderation system to promote articles based on any bias they can find.

    One alternative is in use at Kuro5hin [kuro5hin.org], where the community itself votes on the submitted, pending stories. This increases the importance of a strong community, while it decreases the possibility for editor bias or editor error. I'm a big fan, if you couldn't tell.

    That system might be unworkable here, but it's not hard to imagine other possible systems that permit the community itself to participate in the article selection process. An increasing number of eyeballs could only help.

    A place to meta-discuss /. itself would also be huge. That way, people like me could indulge in that area, instead of polluting story threads with items like this. To Taco et al, it might seem like heresy to give the community any level of editorial control. But how could that be, when the community generates 99.9% of the content?

    Think about it, won't you? Thank you.

  • That's for when you go to the gym or go for a run or a bike ri.... erhmm... never mind. :)
  • Windows 2000 Pro(fessional)
  • by Chris Johnson (580) on Friday June 15, 2001 @04:38AM (#149190) Homepage Journal
    Yes, but given that
    • apparently the new one wipes all content over 10K
    • ...and then tries to synthesise it back again, a truly dumb-ass move
    • and thus (and from early reports) sounds _awful_

    ...how can you be sure anyone will buy hardware using the new format?

    My guess is that there's a very serious risk of consumers returning any prospective hardware that uses MP3Pro, believing the hardware to be broken. There's only so far you can go with audio garbage before you cause even totally untrained ears to categorize the sound as 'distorted' or 'something in this must be broken, it sounds wrong'. From what I'm seeing in early reports, MP3Pro crosses that line.

  • by Chris Johnson (580) on Friday June 15, 2001 @04:46AM (#149191) Homepage Journal
    Actually, _all_ of you guys are waaaaaay too gullible. 128K mp3 _and_ 80K .ogg and certainly 64K or indeed 128K MP3Pro are so obviously compromised that it's really not hard for even an untutored listener to identify them as sonically compromised. Any playback system that's not itself totally hosed (even really cheap headphones with elements enough to extend to around 18K) will reveal this. Apparently, MP3Pro is the _worst_ and most easily identifiable, possibly because it attempts to re-synthesise discarded content above 10K. I know mp3 tends to cut off at 18K if at all, and have never heard of .ogg cutting off at all, much less trying to resynthesize data that was completely discarded. That way lies madness :D
  • Actually the latest versions of Ogg Vorbis are quite competative in quality per filesize, especially with variable bitrate.
  • What about <a href=http://flac.sourceforge.net/>FLAC</a&gt ;? Lossless audio compression, that way I'm not beholden to the latest lossy compression fad, and get true CD quality. And, whenever I want to compress further, I can downsample to MP3, or whatever. XMMS plugin, it's got it all? Or am I missing something?
  • Real state-of-the-art quality will never come from a compressed file

    Of course it will. It just won't come from lossy compression schemes like MP3 and Ogg Vorbis.

  • Actually, it specifically says on this page [codingtechnologies.com] ( http://www.codingtechnologies.com/mp3PROzone/faq.h tm ) that: "Libraries for the Linux operating system will be available during the third quarter of 2001."
  • I think the bigger issue that most slashdoters are concerned about is that the mp3 codec is encumbered by Fraunhofer patents. It's not an open standard, but one that a company owns.

    Josh

    Yes, I really did mean slashdoters.. it's funny, laugh :)
  • You are incorrect.
    It is all under the BSD license since beta4. Even Richard Stallman had to admit that it made more sense for this type of program.

    ------------------------------------------------ --------
    UNIX isn't dead, it just smells funny...
  • Transcoding from one lossy codec to another is not really a useful way to compare them.

    Loss due to lossy compression is cumulative.

    You lost some sound quality in the original CD -> MP3 encoding, and then lost some more in the MP3 -> VQF encoding (or MP3 -> WAV -> VQF, same thing).

    To sound halfway decent, VQF may well want information that was thrown out in the original MP3 encoding pass.

    The only fair comparison would be between CD -> MP3 and CD -> VQF.

    [ not that I really have any great desire to defend VQF in general ... it wasn't THAT good and deserved to die for other reasons, but it's certainly better than you experienced ]
  • Dude, even WinAmp ships with a Vorbis plugin these days.
  • From a quick search most of the important Barnsley patents appear to be circa 1990-1995 so it'll be a few years before they enter the public domain.
  • Oh Come on.. Lame may add support but Blade sucks, all he did was fix the dist10 source to compile more easily then optomise the code without touching the algorithms. So he ended up with a slightly faster version of the dist10 encoder. All very admirable except that by the time he open sourced it Lame had surpassed it in speed and quality. STOP USING BLADEENC, IT SUCKS
  • Once PDAs with the processing speed to play back MP3/Ogg Vorbis files become widespread (Palm will be there next year, and the year after that it will be cheap; WinCE is there now, and in a year the current models will be cheap), there will be no reason to buy a dedicated MP3 widget, since the PDAs are at roughly the same price point and do more.

    The exception might be the MP3/CD players, but for those the MP3Pro format really isn't a significant advantage (when you already get more than 12 hours of music on a disk, who cares?).

    Jon Acheson
  • The best Windows based ripper/encoder is CDex. It's small, light, fast, fully featured and free. Hard to think of a better combination of features (yes, it's also open source, but that's beside the point).

    Err... being open source, doesn't it give you a nice warm-n-fuzzy knowing it will *stay* free?
    --

  • by SurfsUp (11523) on Friday June 15, 2001 @06:48AM (#149210)
    The flipside of this for commercial vendors though is that Ogg Vorbis is horribly GPL encumbered.

    That's absolutely silly. If you acutally bothered to look at the site, you would have found:

    The encoders, decoders, plugins, and tools at vorbis.com are under the GPL (GNU Public License) and the libraries are under the business-friendly BSD license.
    And from the FAQ:
    The OggVorbis specification is in the public domain. It is completely free for commercial or noncommercial use. That means that commercial developers may independently write OggVorbis software which is compatible with the specification for no charge and without restrictions of any kind. However, developers that wish to use the open source software we have written must adhere to certain rules.
    In other words, you can do what you damm well want, just don't rip off the tools, write your own. This is made dead simple by having the libraries available and the open source code available to learn from. Sheesh.
    --
  • I haven't looked into it, but someone needs to write a Winamp plugin to decompress this stuff. Now.

  • So suppose MS releases a whole album in WMA format.

    Bill Gates singing Start Me Up?

  • now that'll make everyone cry, not just grown men.
  • The problem is that even though you could do this digitally, with little loss (some due encoding twice), most people wouldn't.
    They run windows, and can play all the .wma, so why bother encoding it in something else?
    This would mean that the people that DO care about this, is a minority, and the amount of mp3s would diminish.
  • It's a hell of a lot better than the DCT approach we use in JPEG, and better even than the wavelet technique used in JPEG-2000, ...

    Do you have anything to support this claim?

    The long encoding time for fractal image compression alone makes it impossible for the method to be "a hell of a lot better".
  • From the vorbis faq [vorbis.com]

    What software and hardware supports Ogg Vorbis?

    Ogg Vorbis encoding and/or playback is now native in a wide variety of popular software. It's included in popular players such as Sonique, FreeAmp for Windows, and Unsanity Echo for MacOS. It's also supported in popular audio applications such as CDex, Siren Jukebox, and GoldWave. For a more complete list, refer to our software page. On the hardware side, iObjects has announced Ogg Vorbis support in their Dadio 2.0 OS, designed for portable audio players. Along with other hardware providers, this development should ensure that Ogg Vorbis support is widespread in future consumer audio hardware.
  • Asking the average teenager on the street anything and expecting them to tell you anything moderately intelligent is a triumph of hope over experience.

    All a new file format needs to be successful is for the people that pirate movies and CDs to start using it. One of the triggers for the success of .mp3 was the warez scene, and the same could happen for .ogg.

    The alternative route is for the file format to mysteriously become the default on the operating system that all these technically semi-literate people use (as Microsoft will be trying to do with .wma).

    The real advantage of .ogg over *all* the other recent lossy perceptual encoders is that it has *no* patenting issues, *no* licensing issues, and has equal or better performance than the current market leader. All it needs now is for some people with a marketing budget to pick it up :)
  • How about this one [blorp.com]? :) It's currently up to version 1.05, and it'll be in the main Winamp distribution the next time they release an upgrade to Winamp.
  • by jonathan_ingram (30440) on Friday June 15, 2001 @02:12AM (#149232) Homepage
    The best Windows based ripper/encoder is CDex [n3.net]. It's small, light, fast, fully featured and free. Hard to think of a better combination of features (yes, it's also open source, but that's beside the point).

    For Linux, use cdparanoia + lame or oggenc, or one of the many good frontends - Grip comes to mind. Additionally, the upcoming KDE 2.2's builtin audiocd IOSlave will allow you to rip CDs very easily (though not yet write them).

    You 'gave up after 5 albums' - why? You can use the computer for other things while you're ripping a CD, you know :). Combine ripping and encoding, and it'll probably take about 30 minutes to fully process a CD, but there's no reason why this shouldn't go on in the background.

  • by jonathan_ingram (30440) on Friday June 15, 2001 @02:52AM (#149233) Homepage
    The problem with MP3 isn't content protection -- the problem is the licensing. There is no need to pay to get a license to *decode* MP3, but there is to *encode*. Even if you write a free encoder, you are supposed to pay for a license.

    Given this, and despite what they say on their website, Lame and all other free MP3 encoders are unlicensed, illegal software in the USA.

    The only reason this hasn't been pursued by Fraunhofer is the bad press it would generate -- but never rely on a company not to change its mind. One parallel: GIF and the UNISYS patent.

  • Don't you think that as long as there are no products like Creative Jukebox [creative.com] or the Rio players [riohome.com] that play Ogg-Vorbis files, this format is going to have a really tough time gaining wide-spread use? Why would I want to store my music in two formats: Ogg-Vorbis at home because its cool, and MP3 because it's the only way to listen to it on the road? (Sure the manufacturers all promise support of future audio-formats, but will these include Ogg-Vorbis?)
    --
  • by jcr (53032)
    So, what does this give us that MP3 doesn't? Better audio quality? (If it doesn't beat Ogg Vorbis at every bitrate, then why bother?) I find I'm not really able to get excited about their claim that they're as good as the windoze AUdio 8 format. -jcr
  • Yes, I'm interested. Is it possible to do this without running afoul of Barnsley's patents?

    -jcr
  • by jcr (53032) <jcr.mac@com> on Friday June 15, 2001 @02:47AM (#149241) Journal
    FYI, I've been involved in signal processing for a *long* time, (around 20 years now) and I certainly *will* brush off a proprietary encoding scheme in favor of an open one.

    Here's an object lesson: look up fractal image compression, invented by Michael Barnsley in the 1980's. It's a hell of a lot better than the DCT approach we use in JPEG, and better even than the wavelet technique used in JPEG-2000, but since Barnsley apparently has NO business sense, (insisting that he MUST get paid each and every time someone uses his compressor) the only place you'll see fractal compression is in things like the MicroSquish Encarta encyclopedia, NOT saving us all about 40% of the bandwidth wasted on P0rn every day.

    So, even if the MicroSquish audio compression format were significantly better than Vorbis (which it isn't, I've listened to them both), I'd still dismiss it out of hand.

    -jcr
  • >if it's so easy to halve the file size ("An MP3pro recording uses two tracks, one like the old MP3 and another just for high-frequency sounds"), why don't they halve it now to 32kbs, and again have the edge over msft?

    Shhhh!

    You'll let the secret of MP3Pro+ out! That's not slated for release until next year!

    I wonder if "near-CD-quality" at 128 is the same "near-CD-quality" at 64? Betcha if I tested on some early synthesizers that are basically square waves and sine waves, I could get "near-CD-quality" at 32. Or if I were to do classical music only, with a few megs of ROM space, I could get "near-CD-quality" with a MIDI file.

    At least for marketing purposes.

    Sorry, Thompson, but taking a wild-ass guess at the frequences above 10K sounds like a neat idea that might work for some tracks, but it sounds like s recipe for disaster on much of what I listen to. It may not be much worse than MP3 at 128, but I'll be comparing against my CDs and MP3s at 160, 192, and up.

    My ears will be the judge. Not your marketroids.

    Diskspace is cheap. Never underestimate the bandwidth of a 30G drive in a FedEx 747. But sound quality is something that, once lost through overcompression and/or a poor codec, can never be recovered.

  • what about MP3Enterprise or MP3Datacenter...?
  • by Bilestoad (60385) on Friday June 15, 2001 @02:30AM (#149246)
    MP3 is not MP3 - you can make good ones and bad ones, and it's easier to make a bad one than a good one, especially if you use many of the commercial all-in-one ripper/encoders. r3mix.net [r3mix.net] (http://www.r3mix.net if you like cut & paste) has some very interesting analyses of various MP3 codecs, and a link to a series of tests conducted by German magazine C't involving 300 listeners. Bottom line is, at high-enough bitrates most people can't hear the difference between CD and MP3. Now imagine how often people will pick the difference

    - in less than ideal listening conditions - like through a Soundblaster card, or even the best "PC Speakers"
    - using better options with better encoders (like LAME [sulaco.org]) (Fraunhofer "high quality" settings can be worse than "low quality"!)
    - using the newer "Pro" standard

    "But I can always tell the difference!"

    Sure you can? Have you had someone prepare good MP3s for you and done a real blind test? Until then you only think you can tell. This is the point where fools stop reading - that is, "audiophiles" who think they know everything. As the Insanely Audiophile story showed, some people just like to spend money regardless of necessity.

    "Ogg is better because..."

    Great, choose it for your own recordings. The rest of the world, including me, will use what works everywhere - I won't be throwing away my mp3-only portable. I don't actually care how idealogically pure a codec is. Nobody says content protection is to come, only that it is possible. And even if it becomes possible that doesn't mean every MP3 (pro or otherwise) will become protected, only the ones you get from certain sources. If you're interested in creating copies of CDs you own, no problem. If you want to be a pirate, you're SOL and I have no sympathy. Enjoy your Ogg.

    Once you accept the quality is there, you may as well make archival-quality MP3s of every CD you have and store those CDs somewhere where they won't take up so much space. Or, keep the CDs close by your CD player and enjoy great sound at work too.
  • Is "MP3" trademarked? If not, the scope is there to use a confusingly similar name to refer to Ogg Vorbis. Something like "MP3Ultra", perhaps.

  • You and I both know that MP refers to MPEG. Most consumers do not. Naming something based on MP3 but not on MPEG may not be a violation.

  • What's the problem, though? Do you think your music is going to crash?

    Ogg works fine now. Go ahead and use it.
    --
  • by psergiu (67614) on Friday June 15, 2001 @01:10AM (#149250)
    Anyone remember VQF - the copyrighted and patented audio compression format that was supossed to bury MP3 ?

    Nobody remembers it ?

    I tought so...

    --
  • Then why compress at all? Why not just use the WAV files?

    But of course it is important. It is always good to be able to store twice as much music on whatever device. Since the solid-state players still don't have more than 256MB usually, it would still mean an increase from 2 to 4 hours of music to take with you, quite significant IMO.

  • by D. Mann (86819)
    Actually, VQF has disappeared because it wasn't all that great. I decided to give it a test recently, and encoded a couple of my favorite MP3s. There was significant, prolonged distortion in places in each one. I'm not an audiophile, nor am I musically inclined, so I couldn't describe what the distortion was or where it came from... all I know is that it made my Aphex Twin and Autechre MP3s sound horrible.
  • MP3Pro is limited to 10Khz, and can replicate
    the sounds up to 15Khz. A cd is 22Khz and the
    human ear can go to 19Khz for a normal healty
    person. This means that you LOSE over half
    the spectrum.
    This statement is somewhat disingenuous. If you consider the audible range to be 20-20000Hz, then there are 10 octaves in this band, and losing 10-20kHz is just one octave (10% of the total range-logarithmic). In addition, this last octave generally contains little musical power, which is why it can be omitted without immediate notice to most listeners.

    While I'm not saying chopping off this octave is a good thing, I think that the psycoacoustic modeling used can be even more detrimental to the sound quality. What I notice most about MP3s is not the loss of clarity in the high end but the lack of definition in soft passages. (presumably because music content is being guessed to be subaudible when it isn't)
  • because on my 7000Mhz win2k laptop, playing MP3s kills my compile times.
  • LAME used to be "Lame Ain't an MP3 Encoder" for precisely the reason you mentioned. It's been more than half a year since that was true. LAME included a completely open, patent-free, license-free codec. While we're at it, it's content-protection free too, because you can rip/encode your own CDs.

    ____________________
  • MP3Pro files will work on all old MP3 players, just that the quality won't be as good as MP3Pro.
    --
  • by bencc99 (100555) on Thursday June 14, 2001 @11:51PM (#149263) Homepage
    ...it's horribly patent encumbered, and even more expensive than MP3 to license. At least we have Ogg Vorbis [vorbis.com] to make up for it. Sure, it may not be quite so small, but at least it's completely *free*, and storage isn't so much of an issue these days...
  • by JohnnyBolla (102737) on Thursday June 14, 2001 @11:54PM (#149265) Homepage
    So what if it's windows only right now? It's supposed to be half the size of regular mp3, if it's any good it will get adopted as a standard and the open source community will figure out a way to use it. People on this board are too quick to condemn progress because it's on the "wrong" platform. Progress is good, regardless of who it benefits.
  • Adding 'pro' to a name like that sounds really silly if you ask me, I cant think of many other cases at the moment but I know there are pleanty of such names... Im sure you all can name a few more...
  • Is "MP3" trademarked?

    Go to TESS [uspto.gov] and look for trademark serial numbers 78063353 (automobiles and parts, registered to Mazda), 75634171 (clothing), 74126256 (air compressor microcontroller), and 78023779 (a top level domain). MP3+ is 76172490. MP3PRO is 76185872. MP3 CAT (no connection to cuecat) is 75723781 and 75722814. Note that in the registration for the official MP3 Logo (75856706), Thomson makes no claim to "MP3" apart from the logo.

    If not, the scope is there to use a confusingly similar name to refer to Ogg Vorbis.

    However, the "MP" in MP3 refers to the standardization of it in a Motion Picture codec from MPEG. (The video portion of MPEG is largely JPEG-like with motion compensation at the 16x16 pixel tile level.) The first popular version of MPEG used MPEG layer 2 ("MP2") audio (at 256 kbps, it sounds like a 160 kbps MP3). Because OggVorbis is not an MPEG standard, it shouldn't be called MPEG. The MPEG LA might have something to say in that regard.

  • Not to mention, I didn't find any easy Windows software to decode Ogg - just encoding

    AOL's Winamp, the most popular audio player for Windows, can decode and play Ogg Vorbis content with a plugin [vorbis.com]. To decode to .wav instead of to the speaker, simply open Preferences, set the output plugin to Disk Writer, tell it where to stash the .wav files, and then play your .ogg/.mp3 playlist. (Set it back to waveOut to play them.) Use an audio editor to touch up the files, and burn away.

  • by Agthorr (135998) on Friday June 15, 2001 @04:00AM (#149285) Homepage
    Sadly, you are incorrect. From the article: "An MP3pro file carries near CD-quality sound recorded at 64Kbps".

    -- Agthorr

  • The flipside of this for commercial vendors though is that Ogg Vorbis is horribly GPL encumbered

    Actually, it's only slightly encumbered, rather than horribly so. To quote the xiph.org website:

    The encoders, decoders, plugins, and tools at vorbis.com are under the GPL (GNU Public License) and the libraries are under the business-friendly BSD license.

    I agree that under pure GPL, ogg would be a commercial non-starter, and therefore would probably never build up sufficient volume of encoded material to make an impact. But it looks like the Xiph team are way ahead of us here...

    TomV

  • Not to consider people using portable players without 40gb hard drives...

    i.e. flash
  • I booted into windows so I could try this out. On the "demo" download you can't encode at a bitrate better than 64Kbps. I tried it and ... well, it sounded like a 96Kbps mp3--that is, like crap. There is no guarantee that this format's slim advantage at low bitrates will stay when the bitrate is something more reasonable like 192. Maybe dividing up the signal will introduce distortion that LAME can avoid.

    If I wanted my MP3s to sound like shit I'd download them.

  • Maybe they mean that Open Source stifles their profits...?

    Yup. One more strong reason to go for open source :)

  • by Woefdram (143784) on Friday June 15, 2001 @12:33AM (#149296) Homepage
    Real state-of-the-art quality will never come from a compressed file (see Insanely Audiophile [slashdot.org] here on /. yesterday). MP3 is not used for it's quality, but for its convenience: don't have to change CDs every hour, don't have to look them up, don't even have to go out and buy them. If you really want good quality, buy a decent audio installation and good CDs.

    So I don't see huge benifits in MP3pro just because it's smaller and slightly better. I do however see a disadvantage: the content protection that is to come. That would take away a lot of its convenience. I'd say let's go for Ogg.

  • Actually, they said half of the MP3Pro stream would play on MP3 players. So, I think saying that the quality won't be as good is understating it. The quality will be piss-poor.

  • If the one stream is "basically a standard mp3", then the filesize wouldn't be reduced by half. At any rate, since my post that you replied to I have found out that MP3Pro is essentially a normal MP3 with a filter placed on it eliminated frequencies above 10 or 15kHz (I can't remember which), and an "exciter" that simulates frequencies above that point.

  • From the Ogg Vorbis [xiph.org] - www site.


    ---
    Decoder 1.0 release candidate 1 (1.0rc1) scheduledfor June 17th, 2001

    With good fortune, the fully completed 1.0 decoderwill be in CVS this weekend. This represents completion of the final decoding features missing in beta release 4 that are needed for 1.0. Specifically, this decoder release includes cascading, channel coupling, and sparse codebook support. Aside from bugfixes, no additional changes will be made to decoding through 1.0. This decoder implements all Vorbis 1.0 specification features.
    ---
    :)
    Keep up the good work Monty and the rest of the crew!

  • Thanks I didn't know this one existed. But ehm.. activity: 0%, and only 3 developers.. not good.

  • by andr0meda (167375) on Friday June 15, 2001 @12:53AM (#149304) Homepage Journal

    Right, .wma is seldomly used, as mp3 has the obvious advantage of playing everywhere AND carrying the main trade sticker people are looking for. So all Fraunhofer institute could do (and what MS couldn't do) is to change the cargo under the label and hope everyone will update their codecs. This way, they are now getting the attention of RIAA etc. back, which means they're in business. Maybe. Atleast it gives them an edge again.

    If someone writes a decent OggVorbis codec for windows' MP and others start dealing .ogg's I think Ogg Vorbis might stand a chance. If people get better compression for equal quality, they won't have to wonder why the hell they should swithc to a new format. In a sense because they won't switch alltogether, mp3 is just fine, but some people might very well be open to the notion of patent free software and music formats. After the Napster thing(tm), everybody is a bit educated in what free software and free music is all about, and Ogg Vorbis could very well cash in on that, but then I'm afraid it needs to deliver much faster, while people are making choicesin the post-Napster thing(tm). Anyway, that's a lot of IF's for Ogg Vorbis.

    Cheers,
    Ignace
  • Correct link here [technologyreview.com].
  • Many readers are taking pot shots at the SBR technology used with MP3Pro. However, the comments are along the lines of 'it must sound horrible, becuase they throw away all everything over 10K'.

    The folks making these statement obviously don't understand that existing compression schemes already make good use of 'throwing away' lots of info...but that's the entire idea of a perceptual audio codec, isn't it...

    I've worked with and have conducted many listening tests with SBR-based CODECs, and personally I think it works great for many types of audio, including music.

    If you really want 'perfect' audio, however, you should stay away from lossy compression to start with...(and, of course, you need to use LP's, tube amps, etc.)

  • by Skuto (171945) on Friday June 15, 2001 @02:15AM (#149311) Homepage
    If you like your records, MP3Pro is something to
    stay away from.

    It attains such a high compression by using a
    technique of constructing the higher frequencies
    by _guessing_ what the ones that the compression
    left out where, based on the lower frequencies,
    and amplifying the rest.

    You could compare this to saying that a cassette
    sounds just as good as a CD if you just use
    Dobly B/C. Not.

    MP3Pro is limited to 10Khz, and can replicate
    the sounds up to 15Khz. A cd is 22Khz and the
    human ear can go to 19Khz for a normal healty
    person. This means that you LOSE over half
    the spectrum. Sure, you may not notice it
    immediately because of the 'guessing' and the
    'replictation', but if will be gruesome when
    compared to the original CD.

    Face it, you can't do wonders AND stay compatible
    with old mp3 players.

    Sure, it's a nice trick for streaming if 64Kbps
    is all you have, but it's not fundamentally
    different from the old mp3 format and using an
    exciter plugin. The utility is severly limited.

    That said, just use Ogg. It works. Yes, I really
    mean that. The sound quality is great, the tools
    are stable enough (beta4), and plugins are available
    for most importants apps.

    All it's missing is an ACM plugin for Windows so
    non-Ogg-aware can deal with it too. Not that there
    are many left. All serious sound editing packages
    have native support now. And yes, it's being worked
    on.

    --
    GCP
  • by Skuto (171945) on Friday June 15, 2001 @03:08AM (#149312) Homepage
    >CDs are sampled at 128Kbit

    Err, hate to tell you this, but you're just plain wrong.

    44100 samples/second x 16 bits/sample x 2 channels = 1411200 bits per second

    CD's are sampled at 1378 Kbps.

    MP3/OGG/WMA can get it down to 128Kbps because
    of the compression.

    --
    GCP
  • Listen to the bass line. Compression works reasonably well for mid-range instruments, but a stringed bass instrument (acoustic or electric) gets a lot of its personality from overtones that are also up into the mid-range of pitch. Most all of these overtones are thrown out by the psycho-acoustic compression algorithms, which tend to see them as noise you won't notice as missing behind the mid-range instruments.

    Of course, most people don't consciously listen to the bass line, so most don't notice the difference. But if you do, it's easy to spot compressed music on any system with good enough fidelity to hear the bass as more than a thumping to begin with.
  • Real state-of-the-art quality will never come from a compressed file

    It is quite simple to compress and decompress, in real time, audio that is identical bit-for-bit with the original.

    It's called lossless compression -- I'm tired of people equating compression with data loss. Think of run-length encoding, Lempel-Ziv (PKZIP), etc. and you're on the right track.

    Now, you're going to have a devil of a time compressing digital audio 10:1 without loss. Impossible? Not sure, but it hasn't been done yet. And the real-time requirement makes it harder.

    Anyway, back to your original claim... hand me your favorite, highest quality CD WAV file and I can hand it back to you, compressed along with a codec that will replay it identically to the original, bit for bit. It's a start, but it ain't gonna be anywhere near 10:1... :-)
  • MP3pro.com is already taken

    There goes my chance to create a massive "independent" distribution channel and lawsuit target for the RIAA. I never get to have any fun.
  • I've never even heard of "Ogg Vorbis" (it's like all those naysayers that say "Amiga" had such a "wonderful GUI",

    Ignorance is no excuse.
  • Yep, what you describe is "brand recognition"....and to keep a certain market (if you can call compressed music a "market" of course *grin*) you need brand recognition. Nearly everyone from 12 to 45 knows what MP3 is. So actually, releasing something that is called MP3Pro, well...sound like the same thing, people will buy it.

    To make my point, some days ago my sister came along to ask what to do with a WMA file. She plays MP3s all day, but WMA? What is WMA? (yes, I know what it is and I told her) The same would happen for OGG files, I'm sure. MP3Pro will be accepted for the name and not the merits.
    Besides, brand recognition is something Mircosoft has a big advantage over Linux...ask you Joe Sixpack about Linux and he'll give you a strange look. (Best luck with girls, they often know Tux or the BSD Deamon because they are cute, but not for what they represent)

  • Bah, you know very well that it is not the encoding that takes time. (tough, I tried it with the original Fraunhofer IIS encoder and that was sloooow) I have the most problems with ripping itself: That takes time due to changing disk, even at 10x it takes 6 minutes to rip one CD. I wanted to rip all my Pink Floyd CDs (I've got about 23) and I gave up after 5 albums.
    Besides, anybody know a good free (GNU) ripper? If it works on both Win and Lin it's a plus. :-)
  • better not play it out of an good quality analog port and record on another sound card as a wav, compressed to mp3
  • On a related theme, microsoft is now trying to tie music to windows. In this wired story [wired.com], it is explained that they trie to convince music publishers to release the music in their wma audio format. They also have a deal with upcoming music service from sony / universal.
    Do you also feel that we'll soon have microsoft music ?
    See also : http://www.strom.com/awards/210.html
  • by kubla2000 (218039) on Friday June 15, 2001 @01:01AM (#149340) Homepage
    Progress is good, regardless of who it benefits.

    Surely you don't mean that.

    There's a point to ethical business practices and consumer protection agencies. While I agree that business cannot and should not be over-regulated precisely because of the danger of stifling innovation, an attitude that defends progress inspite of who benefits from it is almost equally dangerous.

    GM foods are one good example where innovation has been allowed to go unchecked with little thought of knock-on effect. Broader environmental issues are another good example. If it were not for a consideration of net benefit, we'd still have unrestricted nuclear testing.

    This is a long way from MP3s, I'll give you that; however, part of the 'battle' being fought by the Open Source community is precisely to establish ethics in the computing industry. Why should we pay (with our time) to re-engineer an open standard to something which should have been made open in the first place? Why should we cow-tow to an organisation which is using its market dominance to entrench a set of standards that haven't been through the testing and innovation and imagination offered by the Open Source community?

    As long as attitudes like the one you have flipped-off in your comments pervade the computing sector, we'll all be forced to 'make do' with shoddy / poorly designed and implemented products.

  • Ironically it is an open standard - "Open" does mean things outside of "Open Source" and was being used long before it to describe exactly this kind of thing (which is why The Open Group gets away with calling itself that) - the algorithms are published for anyone to see, and anyone can put together an encoder or decoder for any purpose as long as they're willing to pay the licence fees, which for free decoders is $0.

    Fraunhofer and Thompson can't afford to make it more controlled, if they were to do so the MPEG group would drop their standards, which would mean, effectively, that they'd fade into obscurity.

    This is in stark contrast to MP3Pro's biggest rival, Microsoft's WMA family of codecs. If you can find the actual algorithm (as opposed to the techniques, published in their patents) published anywhere, I'd be enormously surprised. And if you did attempt to licence the codecs from Microsoft, they would be highly unlikely to let you use their technologies to produce a Linux/BSD/etc anything.

    This is not to suggest that MP3/MP3Pro wouldn't be a whole lot better without the Fraunhofer patents for the free software and open source software communities, but Thompson and Fraunhofer aren't as closed as they're being made out to be.

    They just want to be paid, and have chosen a method which doesn't help us very much.
    --

  • Damn clipboard. I meant: http://sourceforge.net/projects/vorbisacm/ [sourceforge.net], sorry.
  • ...[MP3Pro]'s horribly patent encumbered

    The flipside of this for commercial vendors though is that Ogg Vorbis is horribly GPL encumbered. Namely they can't use it in a commercial product without either A) violating the GPL and using the code anyway, or B) GPLing their work where required by the GPL. They don't want the potential legal issues of "A", are uncomfortable with "B", and so they opt instead for "C" and pay a license fee to use proprietary code because that is the devil they know. It's because of Option #C that MP3 has mutated into MP3Pro; technology has moved on and there is a market for updated proprietary code licenses.

    This seems to be the prevalent attitude of too many companies these days, they seem quite happy to pay big license fees and ste^H^H^H use BSD licensed code but not the GPL. All it all, it would seem that Richard Stallman et al have some GPL evangelising to go yet...

  • > storage isn't so much of an issue these days...

    Mebbe not, but download time is. Some of us are still on dialup y'know, and the download costs add up pretty quickly.
    --
    "I'm not downloaded, I'm just loaded and down"

  • I never understood those things... why on earth would I want a portable mp3 player when I'm sitting in front a computer for > 12 hours a day?
    --
    "I'm not downloaded, I'm just loaded and down"
  • by Rogerborg (306625) on Friday June 15, 2001 @03:49AM (#149361) Homepage
    • If it doesn't beat Ogg Vorbis at every bitrate, then why bother

    Remind me, where can I buy an Ogg Vorbis portable player? ;p

  • I have listened to it, and on good equipment (M-audio 24-bit soundcard, B&W 601S2s and Sennheiser 580s). My subjective listening test put it is better than MP3 in some ways, worse in others, but the 64k the test software allowed me to create was certianly not equal in quality ot the 128k MP3 I created with LAME. The MP3Pro sounded decidedly more washed out and there was very audible distortion on the high end. The MP3 sounded a little muffeled as compared to the orignal 16-bit audio, but far more accurate than the MP3Pro. Now I'm not arguing that MP3Pro sounds better on a per bit basis than MP3, but it isn't twice the quality.
  • I know plenty about SPA. It's not around now so no problems. Also, to get it to happen they have to get the soundcard manufacturers to cooperate. I can already tell you my pro card manufacturer won't. And, if worse comes to worse, you just do an analogue phase. With hish quality 24-bit converters the loss won't be audible.
  • Ok, you don't seem to understand. At this point, SPA isn't live. The infastructure may be there, but it is not Live. Neither of my soundcard drivers comply with SPA (I have an SBLive and an M-Audio). Also no, Windows will NOT disable my pro card, SPA songs just won't play through it. Also please don't think that SPA is uncrackable. Software companies have been using hardware level challenge/response tricks for ever and the crackers have been releasing patches to disable it.
  • by Sycraft-fu (314770) on Friday June 15, 2001 @03:39AM (#149366)
    It's supposed to be half the size of regular mp3

    Supposed to, but aint'. Come one, this is known as marketing BS. This is akin to MS's claims that WMA acheives CD quality at 64kbits. Sure, on the couple of test sampels it sounded ok, though it was clearly o less quality than a CD, but give it anything hard and it choked. By the same token MPPro does not sound the same at half the size.

  • by Sycraft-fu (314770) on Friday June 15, 2001 @03:44AM (#149367)
    So suppose MS releases a whole album in WMA format. Joe D. Windowsuser downloads the whole thing, and digitally rerecords it and recompressess it as MP3, then puts it up on Gnutella. Now anyone who wants it in MP3 can get it and redistribute it. Soon (if it is an indemand album) it's all over the internet.
  • Fractal image compression, as implemented, sucks ass. First of all, the encoder is brute force so it takes forever to encode. This can easily be fixed by using a hash lookup based on steerable filter responses, but no one seems to have clued in to that! (??)

    Now, even assuming someone gets a clue and makes the fast version, the quality still sucks in general. Have a look at Waterloo's BragZone, which compares these things:

    http://links.uwaterloo.ca/bragzone.base.html

    Of course, given the hash-based fast version, we can exploit more automorphisms than before because it's faster. So we might get better quality after all. However, the same hashed automorphisms can be used as predictors instead of as a dictionary, allowing us to encode one pixel at a time like LOCO-I, with the same theoretical compression ratio as the fractal method. Further, if we use a pyramid ordering for the pixels, we still get resolution independance. Finally, it is expected that using several weighted predictors will actually outperform the dictionary method.

    So, long story short, we can make a kick-ass compressor using steerable filter responses (and several other invariants) to construct predictors, and using the predictors in the most state-of-the-art prediction-based framework. This compressor would kick nearly everything's ass.

    Anyone want to code it? I have more details if you're interested :)

  • by SilentChris (452960) on Friday June 15, 2001 @12:51AM (#149380) Homepage
    Compression formats mean absolutely *nothing*. Bitrate performance means absolutely *nothing*. If this was the case, WMA would have beat MP3 out more than a year ago.

    The point in all of this is that if a new MP3 standard is raised, with mass media participation, it will supercede the previous MP3 standard and give better audio quality at a lower bandwidth cost to all. Try as I might, I've never even heard of "Ogg Vorbis" (it's like all those naysayers that say "Amiga" had such a "wonderful GUI", when only a small percentage played with it -- whatever), but if you asked the average teenager on the street, most would identify the term "MP3". And if they noticed their MP3's taking up less room (perhaps after a download on the scale of Napster) they would be much happier.

  • OK, so Fraunhoffer / Thomson have released it as Windows only for now, but it's like the original MP3 in that decoding is free for non-commercial use.
    I expect XMMS to include a plug-in for it within a week, and for T0rd to have bladeencPro written real soon now.

  • > I'd say let's go for Ogg.

    I agree. Go for Ogg. Maybe it could get the same success in the compressed audio field that Apache has in the Web Server one.

    Open Source is good, because you can see how the software works, if you want.

    Microsofts claim that Open Source stifles innovation is ludicrous. Look at the success of Apache, PHP, MySQL... the list goes on and on.

    Maybe they mean that Open Source stifles their profits...?
  • There are times when you just can't fix something because it isn't broken. MP3 is one of those things, and some people should just leave it alone.

    Compared to each other, MP3Pro is no major enhancement. In fact - it's crap. The sound quality is sub-par (even for a 128kbps MP3), the encoding time is slow (even on a PIII 933) and its inability to playback properly on normal MP3 players (I know -- new format) makes me give it a double thumbs-down (gets off soapbox).

    I encoded a jazz song (for frequency range) with Audiocatalyst at 128kbps which took about 34 seconds while ripping from CD. I then ripped the file from CD to WAV and encoded it with the MP3Pro encoder (same bitrate, took 56 seconds). Tested side-by-side (for 5 playbacks) MP3 was the clear winner. MP3Pro sounded flat and dead, while the normal MP3 had bright, clear horns and a solid bassline.

    I can only hope that MP3-hardware manufacturers aren't planning on implementing MP3Pro codecs into their systems anytime soon - might hurt their business for good.

If a 6600 used paper tape instead of core memory, it would use up tape at about 30 miles/second. -- Grishman, Assembly Language Programming

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