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Vorbis And Musepack Win 128kbps Multiformat Test 272

Posted by timothy
from the wax-removal-makes-music-sound-better dept.
technology is sexy writes "After 11 days of collecting results Roberto Amorim today announced the results of his 2nd Multi-Format listening test: Vorbis fork AoTuV scored the highest and ranks as the winner together with open source contender Musepack closely followed by Apple's AAC implementation and LAME MP3, which improved markably since last year thanks to further tunings of its VBR model done by Gabriel Bouvigne. Sony's ATRAC3 format ranks last after WMA on the third place. The suprising success of AoTuV (compared to last year's performance of Xiph.org's reference implementation) shows the potential of Vorbis and possible room for further tuning and improvments. Take a look at the detailed results and their discussion at Hydrogenaudio.org."
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Vorbis And Musepack Win 128kbps Multiformat Test

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  • by MrIrwin (761231) on Monday May 24, 2004 @08:02AM (#9236410) Journal
    So given Microsofts stated goal to bring us innovative technology, they should throw in the towel and ship OggVorbis and derivatives with Windows, right?
    • So given Microsofts stated goal to bring us innovative technology, they should throw in the towel and ship OggVorbis and derivatives with Windows, right?

      Microsoft will never. They will take the code from the #1, put a DRM to it and ship it as the next version of WMA. If they can't make the best they buy or take the best and make it their own. (with some tweaking of course)
    • No (Score:5, Insightful)

      by RAMMS+EIN (578166) on Monday May 24, 2004 @08:38AM (#9236659) Homepage Journal
      No, they won't. Their definition of innovation is making the same thing in an incompatible way.
    • by Anonymous Coward on Monday May 24, 2004 @08:39AM (#9236674)
      its important to point out two things especially:
      WMA brought clearly worse quality than (good old) MP3 at 128kbps

      itunes AAC brought clearly better quality than WMA at 128kbps

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

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


        Illegal?? How is ripping my own CD's to MP3 illegal?

        I have ripped all of my CD's to 320k max VBR MP3's using LAME (with EAC as a front-end). There's nothing illegal about this, and based on this listening test I'm quite confident that all of my music sounds at least as good, and probably better (in some cases probably significantly better) than if I'd re-purchased those same songs through iTune
    • by Anonymous Coward on Monday May 24, 2004 @08:53AM (#9236768)
      The Microsoft-published PC version of Halo uses Ogg Vorbis for all of its audio - so it's not as if there hasn't been a precendent. :-)
  • by Gothmolly (148874) on Monday May 24, 2004 @08:02AM (#9236412)
    When everyone gets an iPod, dood, or the WinFooTunes player that you get with your Dell only works with WMA, or your in-dash CD player only groks 128kbps MP3s, whats the practical application of the other codecs? It's nice that we propeller-heads on Slashdot can smirk while we rip everything to FLAC and write custom Perl apps to transcode-on-the-fly to our wireless enabled MythTV box, but for John Q. Drone^H^H^H^H^HConsumer, none of this matters.

    So how do we get the word out? How do we start the revolution? Open-Source hardware?
    • by Liquid-Gecka (319494) on Monday May 24, 2004 @08:11AM (#9236475)
      I don't think we have to "get the word out." Most cool tech innovations make it into the mainstream if they are really good enough. I remember buying a CD-RW (4x2x2) for $400. Everybody thought I was stupid for spending so much on a piece of hardware. Later I spend $300 on a 64MB MP3 player. The guy at the desk told me that I shouldn't get a MP3 player because changing the media was really hard. Yet most people now have both of these gadgets. If Vorbis is license free and simple enough to put on a hardware chip then it will slowly gain support and slowly people will begin to see it.
      • by millahtime (710421) on Monday May 24, 2004 @08:14AM (#9236490) Homepage Journal
        There is a difference to this. At the time there was no alternative to the CD-RW. There are many compressed sound types that are being marketed.
        • At the time there where many large format media types available. Tape, Jazz, Zip, portable HD all where in there prime. CD-RW discs couldn't be read in most CD-R drives and most earlier audio systems wouldn't read CD-R discs. There wasn't a big advantage to buying a CD-RW drive over other solutions. Zip drives where $100 and the discs where $2, when I bought my CD-RW discs where like $20 and CD-R discs where $.50, or $1.25 with a jewel.
    • by mukund (163654) on Monday May 24, 2004 @08:13AM (#9236485) Homepage
      You have a point. There are devices however such as from iRiver [iriver.com] which can play Ogg Vorbis and the winning encoder/codec in the Slashdot story AoTuV seems to be just an encoder fork which is bitstream compatible with Ogg Vorbis.
      • by D. Book (534411) on Monday May 24, 2004 @02:15PM (#9239854)
        There are devices however such as from iRiver which can play Ogg Vorbis

        I was one of those nincompoops who rushed out and bought one the moment I read the words "iRiver" and "Ogg" in the same sentence, but when I updated its firmware the latest version with Ogg Vorbis support, I found that many of my files wouldn't play.

        It turns out that most of the iRiver players with Ogg support added have a half-baked implementation and support only a limited range of bit-rates and frequencies. The iFP-300 series, to which my player belongs, only supports 96Kbps - 360Kbps (if it's a VBR file and the bitrate drops above or below that, distortion occurs), and also has trouble with files encoded in less commonly used frequences (i.e. lower than 44.1KHz).

        In case anyone like me thought iRiver was committed to improving their Ogg support, their latest iFP series players are even more limited, supporting only 96Kbps - 225Kbps at 44.1KHz. Their new iDP series doesn't support Ogg at all. And owners of the iMP have been waiting months for Ogg support which still has not materialised.

        Only the H series supports a decent range of Ogg Vorbis bitrates, but even it only officially supports one frequency (44.1KHz).
    • What we need is open source marketing. The open source community may be great at producing programs but at marketing them, well that's another story. We need open source marketing.
    • by turnstyle (588788) on Monday May 24, 2004 @08:50AM (#9236745) Homepage
      Of course it matters! I took a quick look, but I didn't seem to find anything describing how the tests were performed.

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

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

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

      • by cgenman (325138) on Monday May 24, 2004 @09:22AM (#9236986) Homepage
        If a sound was perfectly accurate except for an instantaneous annoying pop every few seconds, it would probably average as the best codec, but it would be useless as a consumer standard. I remember a codec shootout years ago where Mp3Pro sounded "tinny," WMA sounded "flat," and MP3 sounded "fuzzy." Was being objectively closer to the source material more important than the type of distortion introduced? Not at all.

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

      • The tests are blind. (Score:3, Informative)

        by nbanman (657477)
        The testing is ABX. I am not a scientist, but the methodology looks pretty good. The only thing that might be suspect is that the subjects could send in false reports after the testing was done.

        The way it works is, you listen to a given music clip. You have three streams to choose from. One is the uncompressed .wav, and is labeled as such. The other two are not identified, and consist of the compressed source and the original source. You then rate the two unidentified sources based on how closely th

  • by Random Web Developer (776291) on Monday May 24, 2004 @08:02AM (#9236414) Homepage
    No matter what researchers find the best format, the best format for users is what they can doubleclick to play, use on their el-cheapo portable mp3 player or whatever music device they own.

    This might be of interest to musicians but the proverbial "jane doe" will keep using mp3 for quite a while
    • by Roland Piquepaille (780675) on Monday May 24, 2004 @08:17AM (#9236507)
      This might be of interest to musicians but the proverbial "jane doe" will keep using mp3 for quite a while

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

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

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

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

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

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

      So yes, you're right, MP3 will stay around for a long time. I certainly won't convert my collection anytime soon...
      • are you kidding? i can click a button on itunes and remove all DRM from the music. It is called burning to CD...
        • What you're describing isn't "click a button on itunes and remove all DRM from the music". It's more like:

          1) Make a playlist
          2) Burn playlist to CD
          3) Rip playlist from CD
          4) Reorganize your ripped files

          You also pay a price in quality by re-encoding a low bitrate file on ripping. That said, there's always PlayFair [slashdot.org] to get rid of that pesky DRM in one nice step, not a click though.
      • ``2 - It's an open-source format, i.e. it reeks of piracy and hackers in the minds of music player manufacturers and of the public''

        And you think they care? These are the people who get all upset when someone sues them for stealing music, and the people who write the software used to play stolen music. Believe me, the public does not have an aversion of piracy, nor of open source. They just don't know it, and it's the fear of the unknown that keeps them away.
      • by Zilch (138261) on Monday May 24, 2004 @09:27AM (#9237015)
        2 - It's an open-source format, i.e. it reeks of piracy and hackers in the minds of music player manufacturers and of the public

        Yeah - because piracy and hackers didn't have a hand in making MP3 popular.

        Zilch

      • Reason 2 is bogus. (Score:5, Insightful)

        by anti-NAT (709310) on Monday May 24, 2004 @10:12AM (#9237422) Homepage
        2 - It's an open-source format, i.e. it reeks of piracy and hackers in the minds of music player manufacturers and of the public

        I think you are way off here.

        Firstly, a number of portable players support Ogg Vorbis. There is a list of four here [wikipedia.org], I'm sure the number will increase.

        Secondly, I'd doubt that many of the public know about Ogg Vorbis, let alone consider it to "reek[s] of piracy and hackers".

        Furthermore, the "success" of P2P music sharing indicates that the public are the last group of people to have morals about the source or the format of the music they listen to.

        Ogg isn't as widely used by the public, because it is not known by the public, it is as simple as that. That will change, as more and more players support it, and the public find out that it is a DRM free alternative to the flexibility restricted formats such as AAC.

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

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

      The whole MP3 vs. Ogg conversation reminds me of VHS vs. Beta vs. V-2000. Which o
    • ...closely followed by Apple's AAC implementation and LAME MP3, which improved markably since last year thanks to further tunings of its VBR model done by Gabriel Bouvigne.
      You see? The benchmarking has already resulted in better mp3 encoding, which is still compatible with all those devices people own. So even if mp3 can't be dethroned, these tests benefit everybody.
  • by millahtime (710421) on Monday May 24, 2004 @08:05AM (#9236428) Homepage Journal
    The open source ones don't have the big push amungst the general population. So, number 3 on the list Apple (ACC) can say in independent tests ACC scored higher than WMA or MP3. The top 2 don't have the marketing push to get out and be popular in the general population.

    This does give more fuel to Apple. Although I'm not complaining about them having fuel over Microsoft.
    • by Anonymous Coward
      "The open source ones don't have the big push amungst the general population."

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

      Since Ogg is open source though I encode only in that format. If more people were to do this it would catch on.
    • Well, to be fair, both WMA and AAC were slightly ripped off on bitrate since they stuck excactly to the required bitrate.

      Average Bitrates
      128 AAC
      136 MPC
      135 Vorbis
      134 Lame
      128 WMA
      132 Atrac3

      It may not be by much, but also the rating differences between AAC, Vorbis, Lame, and MPC were not all that much either.
  • Good. (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Cyno01 (573917) <Cyno01@hotmail.com> on Monday May 24, 2004 @08:06AM (#9236442) Homepage
    Good to know MP3 is still improving. Yes vorbis and others are great, but i know every software and hardware player out there plays MP3. I'll be ripping all my cds to high quality MP3 befor i go to college, not because its the absolute best, but because its a standard. Standards aren't always the most efficient, but their strength lies that you cant change them on a week to week basis. Whatever hologrphic storage based finger sized half terabyte 24th generation iPod i buy ten years from now will probably still play my 128 and 256 MP3s.
    • by Malc (1751)
      If you can play back Vorbis, then why would you care if your collection doesn't meet the most common standard? I bought an iHP-120 and I don't care if anybody else can listen to my tracks or not because I can hear them fine. If I'm listening on my computer, then I have the choice of any number of players that support it. In fact, I used EAC + Mario and I've been ripping my CDs to FLAC at the same time and I still have no problems with playback on the PC. If I even need my CDs in a different format, I ca
      • Re:Good. (Score:4, Insightful)

        by DrEldarion (114072) on Monday May 24, 2004 @08:36AM (#9236643)
        I think he was getting at the fact that MP3 is pretty future-proof. Sure, maybe a couple portable players support OGG and FLAC right now, but people who look for that feature are RARE. If the product doesn't do well and the company sees that that feature isn't something people want, they won't use it in their products in the future. MP3, however, is pretty much guaranteed to be around for a loooooooooong time.

        Would you want to be stuck using a 10-year-old OGG player in the future when the awesome 300GB new-tech MP3 players built into your watch are out?
        • Re:Good. (Score:3, Interesting)

          by Malc (1751)
          I can't say that I'm that worried about it. It's just a matter writing a short script to iterate over my FLAC archive and re-encode. I anticipate doing that anyway as encoders improve at the same bit-rate. In fact, I'm already thinking of doing that with anyway to change some of my options...
          • Re:Good. (Score:3, Insightful)

            by 13Echo (209846)
            Yeah. I think that there will always be some sort of player that supports the most common lossless format out there. If FLAC gets overthrown by some other format (which is unlikely), it's just a matter of running a script to convert the files to another lossless format.

            Meanwhile, I'm probably going to buy a RIO Karma to play my FLAC library on the road.
            • by Malc (1751)
              Think about that a bit more. I have about a quarter of my CDs ripped so far (80 of them) and that requires nearly 27GB. I also looked at the Karma, but was worried about it only coming with a 90 day warranty - not long for a portable with a hard drive. Then again, I may be over-blowing it and being unduly paranoid. I'm still weighing up Vorbis vs MP3 on my iHP-120. It's coming down to battery life vs. storage requirements. The .OGGs take less space but they seem to burn through the battery in 2/3 - 3/
              • Trust me. If I purchased a Karma, I'd be damn sure to buy a Best Buy replacement plan. Those Karmas have bad karma, and conk out pretty easily from the reviews I've read. They are really cool devices though, when they last.
    • Re:Good. (Score:5, Interesting)

      by m0rbidini (559360) on Monday May 24, 2004 @08:29AM (#9236587)
      OK, you have a point. But check VorbisHardware [xiph.org] for hardware with Ogg Vorbis support. Also, though Lame did well, MP3 is known to have some limitations. But if you have to use MP3, experiment --alt-preset standard in Lame. It was made to offer very good sound quality in bitrates that average below 200 kbps in most cases.

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

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

      People interested in lossy audio encoding should also try Musepack (file extension .mpc). It is considered by many of the hydrogenaudio enthusiasts as the best format at medium/high bitrates, offering transparency with bitrates normally lower (with standard preset ~170 kbps, typical 142 ... 184 kbps) than what is possible with other formats/codecs. It's now open source (LGPL, iirc). Its biggest disadvantage is the lack of support in portable players (though decoding musepack is faster than decoding the other formats in this test). There are plugins for almost every software player and foobar2000 [foobar2000.org] (which I consider the best one) has native support for it
    • Re:Good. (Score:2, Interesting)

      by Ploum (632141)
      IMHO, you are wrong.

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

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

      If you convert all your music to Ogg Vorbis (like I do and there's more and more Ogg Vorbis compatible player), you can be sure that in 100 years you will be able to play your music leg
  • best vs popular (Score:5, Interesting)

    by trs9000 (73898) <trs9000.gmail@com> on Monday May 24, 2004 @08:11AM (#9236473)
    i realize the geeks of the populace want the highest quality encoding to win. naturally. and it helps when something such as vorbis is rated so highly; it gives it even more geek cred.

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

    i apologize for rambling, this is what im arriving at:
    despite early adoption influence etc that geeks hold, how much does all of this really matter. most people dont care what format its in as long as they can listen to it. and often they cant discern loss of quality unless its extreme. so while i applaud these efforts, im simply wondering if -- aside from research -- they arent futile.
    • by 0x0d0a (568518) on Monday May 24, 2004 @08:51AM (#9236753) Journal
      It could also be marketing.

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

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

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

      I'd also like to point out that:

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

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

        Ever heard of --alt-preset-extreme?

        Sure.. stuff I download will continue to sound crappy (I don't even keep anything below 192kbit anymore).. but stuff I encode myself sounds quite good. I'm not audiophile, but I cannot tell the difference between an --alt-preset-extreme'd recording and the original.
      • The DAC in the iPod is fairly high quality. It is not unreasonable for someone to simply encode their CDs using Apple's lossless codec and put them on the iPod. With a 40G model around 60 albums (assuming an average size of 650M) could be stored losslessy in WAV; a few more using Apple's lossless encoder. It would be like turning your 40G iPod into a 5G iPod and swapping music around but such is life.

        It becomes more realistic when you have 80G and 100G drives in your player; in a few months the Neuros [neurosaudio.com] is supposed to have 80G backpacks available (right now up to 40G are available and a few online stores are advertising the availability of the 80G model early) and you can order an 80G backpack right now from Cool4u2View [cool4u2view.com]. The Neuros doesn't support any lossless codecs except for WAV right now (although there is support for WMA I have never used it and do not know if it supports WMA lossless or even if WMA lossless is anything more than tagged WAV). 80G is still around 110 albums. The Neuros IIRC uses the same DAC as the iPod so the quality of the sound would be excellent.

        For me -b 160kbps Vorbis files are good enough; I plan to re-encode my collection to FLAC when I get a larger HD for music (right now it is a poor little 20G that only has 4G free) as well as Vorbis (abcde makes it easy to encode to more than one format and put them in different directories) -q5 (for my Neuros).

        So your last comment still applies to most people. Not everyone though.

        • I don't know if it's of any interrest to you, but since vorbis-tools-1.0.1 oggenc can take flac input, so you really only need to encode to flac and then you can very easily reencode these to vorbis (tags preserved!) when you need it.
      • CBR is for one thing: streaming
        If you have a CD with lots of tracks that run into each other, CBR is required [in LAME at least] if you want to do gapless encoding.
    • Re:best vs popular (Score:3, Informative)

      by Vellmont (569020)
      I listened to many of the blind tests. I have a decent sound card (Nvidia n-force), a high quality receiver, and decent, but not excellent quality speakers (i.e. $200 bookshelf speakers I bought a few years ago). I had a very hard time telling most of the samples from the reference implementation. Even the ones I thought I could tell a difference I wasn't sure.

      I do remember a few years ago listening to really crappy implementations of mp3 codecs and hearing seriously awful artifacts. Considering that m
  • by lotsofno (733224) on Monday May 24, 2004 @08:14AM (#9236493)
    It is interesting that the note that they used the AAC encoder in iTunes 4.2 instead of the newer 4.5 because of "quality" concerns.

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

    Better stick to something else for now, if planning to rip to AAC.
  • by DrewBeavis (686624) on Monday May 24, 2004 @08:16AM (#9236502)
    I read some of the results, and I'm not a Vorbis hater or anything, but how much of this is open source fans voting for their favorite codec? I looked at the test just now, but can't tell if it was blind or not.
    • It was a double blind test (ABC/HR) adhering to ITU-R BS.1116-1 [itu.int]. Read more about the methodology in the initial announcement [slashdot.org].
      In addition to being double blind results were also encrypted so manipulation is very unlikely.
    • I conducted a double-blind test on my own, unrelated to this test, between MP3 (VBR, LAME) and Vorbis. This was about a year ago.

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

      However, the Vorbis artifacts didn't make the music sound unpleasant to listen to. MP3 artifacts sound *awful*, turning cymbals into swoos
      • by 13Echo (209846) on Monday May 24, 2004 @09:08AM (#9236866) Homepage Journal
        I was always fond of LAME encodings in a high quality VBR mode. It was always my favorite method of storing my music on my hard drive, since the quality was quite good. Over time, I decided that I would really start comparing it to some other formats for long-term archiving. I wanted to settle with one format, once and for all. I had originally been a BladeEnc user, but LAME seemed far superior to me.

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

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

        If quality is a concern, maybe LAME MP3/AAC/Ogg Vorbis aren't the the right choices. Hard drive limitations aren't so much of an issue anymore. I guess that I cna see a point in having lower quality files for easy web transmission and low storage capacity, but the quality difference is just too noticable for me to ignore, when comparing any of these formats to a lossless format like FLAC. That's also one of the reasons that I like Magnatune so much, since I can buy music online that is already compressed in lossless FLAC format.
  • by eatmadust (740035) on Monday May 24, 2004 @08:18AM (#9236513)
    it isn't everything. Microsoft still has enough cash to fight this. Our local radio (Switzerland) still broadcasts in .asx. I sent them an e-mail asking them why. They said because their server is sponsored by Microsoft. Now I listen to virgin radio, they broadcast in broadband ogg [virginradio.co.uk]
  • Quoting post on second page of discussion:
    This particular test should be called, "The 128 kbps test for iTunes/WMA, and the low-130 test for AC3 and LAME, and the close-to-160 test for MPC/Vorbious.

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

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

    • Those numbers are wrong. The real average bitrates are:
      iTunes MPC Vorbis Lame WMA Atrac3
      128 136 135 134 128 132
      Take your time to look at the detailed results [rjamorim.com] yourself next time.
      • The numbers you quote are the listed average bitrates for all of the songs togeather, the grandparrent seemed to be talking about the bitrates for one particular song/test. He wasn't wrong, but the average numbers you give are certainly more interesting to most of us.

        The problem is your average numbers don't add up. If you look at the WMA column in the chart you got those average bitrates from, you'll see only 2 numbers under 128k. That fits better with an average bitrate of 129k for WMA unless you just
    • by 13Echo (209846) on Monday May 24, 2004 @09:21AM (#9236965) Homepage Journal
      128 / 149 = 86%

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

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

      I don't doubt that Vorbis would still beat WMA if the bitrates were 100% even, to be honest with you. It's just not that simple to get it directly on the nose. It would have been interesting to see the results of Vorbis on a quality level that is a notch lower, so that we could see how much variance there is between each level.
  • by danormsby (529805) on Monday May 24, 2004 @08:21AM (#9236532) Homepage
    Compare this with radio. There are a lot of popular AM and LW radio stations here in the UK even though FM is a superior format. MP3 will be around for almost ever due to the popularity and level of takeup.
    • by MrIrwin (761231)
      Well that is a nice quaint british thing, aint it!

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

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

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

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

        Headphones...?

        :-)

      • I thought SW had a better range. Didn't they used bounce it off one of the upper levels of the atmosphere to get it in to eastern bloc countries?
        • SW is bounced of the ionosphere. The 'angle' of bounce depends on the frequency, but the height of the ionosphere changes throughout the day (depends on sunlight). This means to broadcast via 'bounce' you must be using the right frequency at the right time. SW is **still** widely used for "state broadcast stations", if you listen to them you will hear that the "program guide" is mostly concerned with which frequencies they will be using to transmit to which areas at which times.

          LW, by contrast, hugs the g

  • by mojo17 (607881) on Monday May 24, 2004 @08:34AM (#9236631)
    One way I see Vorbis making it into the mainstream is if there were high availability of Vorbis content on the net. This includes P2P channels as well. If music releasers in the underworld start adopting vorbis, then Joe 'I own the original CD' Downloader will get a far wider familiarity with the codec, same as to what happened IMHO with xvid. More content will eventually lead consumers to start demanding vorbis compatibility in their hardware.
  • Control (Score:3, Insightful)

    by vossman77 (300689) on Monday May 24, 2004 @08:45AM (#9236715) Homepage
    It would have been nice to have an original unencoded piece and rate it against the masses. That way we'd be sure the listeners weren't picking up on a mastering problem that is muffled by an encoder.
  • by tiger_omega (704487) on Monday May 24, 2004 @09:06AM (#9236851)
    Having designed and written a mp3 decoder and now working on a vorbis decoder I can't say I'm that suprised by vorbis coming out on top.

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

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

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

    Believe me! Coming from me that is very rare praise.
  • by QuantumKnot (779700) on Monday May 24, 2004 @09:22AM (#9236987)
    Well, I can only comment from a technical point of view, but firstly it is very good news that we are progressing in the right direction in terms of quality. Secondly, compared with the other codecs (esp. the proprietary ones), Vorbis is quite simple and minimalistic and lacks a lot of advanced tools and profiles, yet we've been able to extract quite competitive performance from some adjustments here and there. There is more to do in Vorbis and Monty has some new ideas that he wants to implement in the next major version like a better stereo model, noise normalization (which in its current form is mostly experimental), and support for 5.1 stereo. Given the success of aoTuV and the fact that Monty is fully aware of these third-party tunings, I think Vorbis development is looking ever-more exciting. :) (Note I don't work for Xiph.Org but just one of those third party Vorbis tuners)
  • by hkfczrqj (671146) on Monday May 24, 2004 @10:03AM (#9237332)
    Quoting a couple of posts in Hydrogenaudio:

    a post [hydrogenaudio.org]:
    What about all the /.ers?
    Seems they were just interested in wasting bandwidth after all
    the reply [hydrogenaudio.org]:
    More than 500 people downloaded the samples through bittorrent only - not counting HTTP downloads! :B

    I won't ever understand these people.
    Disclaimer: I am NOT new here :)
  • by mcg1969 (237263) on Monday May 24, 2004 @10:41AM (#9237726)
    The MPC codec was neck-and-neck with Vorbis most of the time, except for one song by Debussy. What is interesting though is that it only encoded at 91kbps for that song---suggesting that perhaps if it were forced to use more bits it might have scored higher. It seems the heuristics it uses to determine how many bits it needs didn't quite work for that song.
  • by xiphmont (80732) on Monday May 24, 2004 @04:54PM (#9241587) Homepage
    It's odd to keep hearing this code referred to as a 'fork'. Yes, it's based on our reference code while doing further tuning just like all the free MP3 encoders are based off of the original dist8 or dist10.

    Fork seems to imply that they're trying to make something incompatible or doing it without our blessing. Neither is true! We never wanted to have *the* only encoder. Nor did we want to be the only people trying to improve Vorbis's encoding.

    AoTuV is a 100% real Vorbis encoder and the results of the test speak for themselves. Aoyumi and crew deserve kudos, and I'm glad to see them working on improving Vorbis encoding.

    Monty

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