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Music Hardware

Ogg Vorbis Gaining Industry Support 235

Posted by kdawson
from the chicken-or-the-ogg dept.
An anonymous reader writes "While Ogg Vorbis format has not gained much adoption in music sales and portable players, it is not an unsupported format in the industry. Toy manufacturers (e.g. speaking dolls), voice warning systems, and reactive audio devices exploit Ogg Vorbis for its good quality at small bit-rates. As a sign of this, VLSI Solution Oy has just announced VS1000, the first 16 bits DSP device for playing Ogg Vorbis on low-power and high-volume products. Earlier Ogg Vorbis chips use 32 bits for decoding, which consumes more energy than a 16-bit device does. See the Xiph wiki page for a list of Ogg Vorbis chips."
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Ogg Vorbis Gaining Industry Support

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  • by 2.7182 (819680) on Tuesday February 06, 2007 @08:53PM (#17914790)
    Ogg Vorbis is:

    o An invading species
    o The best audio format
    o Can be bought at Ikea
    • by cepler (21753) on Tuesday February 06, 2007 @08:57PM (#17914826) Homepage Journal
      An invading species of audio format sold by Ikea!

      No wonder it's not used in many audio players!

      Run away! Run away!!!! :-P
    • by straponego (521991) on Tuesday February 06, 2007 @09:04PM (#17914898)
      They're characters in Pratchett books. Okay, they claim that Ogg was from Netrek.
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by delire (809063)
      While the name is memorable, it does pose problems where 'branding' is concerned. I've heard people refer to it as "Ogg", "Egg", "Vorbis" and "Egg Vorbis".

      IMHO they should drop the 'Vorbis' (clearly the despotic leader of the gentle Ogg race) and just go for 'Ogg'. This would also tie it neatly into the .ogg extension, which is of course the primary contact people have with the format itself.

      The maddening problem of Ogg Theora having a .ogg extension also is, of course, another conversation altogether..
      • by mrchaotica (681592) * on Tuesday February 06, 2007 @09:53PM (#17915346)

        Well, the problem is that you don't understand what "Ogg" and "Vorbis" (and "Theora") actually are. There's actually two different things here: codecs and container formats. "Ogg" refers to the container format; it's comparable to Quicktime, AVI, or Matroska. "Vorbis" and "Theora" refer to codecs (audio and video respectively); Vorbis is comparable to MPEG 1 layer 3 (aka MP3) or Advanced Audio Codec (AAC) and Theora is comparable to MPEG 2, DivX or H.264.

        So, when people say "Ogg Vorbis" what they're actually referring to is a Vorbis audio stream inside an Ogg container. Presumably, it's possible to have a file with a raw Vorbis bitstream (without the Ogg container), and it's certainly possible to have an Ogg container without a Vorbis bitstream. This is also why Ogg Theora files have an .ogg extension; they're actually files with a Theora video stream and (probably) Vorbis audio stream, inside an Ogg container.

        • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

          by karnal (22275)
          And this explanation above is exactly why the common consumer could give a shit about .ogg

          When someone talks about YouTube at work, I know they don't care about the codec or container. That's why ogg needs to be simpler name-wise.

          Seriously though, I understand that it has it's uses, but for the "present time", mp3 is where it's at. Hopefully this chip makes a dent, but I'd bet money that mp3 will remain the name of the game for music for the masses for years to come.
          • by arodland (127775)

            Seriously though, I understand that it has it's uses, but for the "present time", mp3 is where it's at.
            If by "the present time" you mean 1995, then maybe. :)
            • by toleraen (831634) on Tuesday February 06, 2007 @11:04PM (#17915886)
              Can you name a portable music player (generally referred to as an "mp3 player") that doesn't play mp3s? Even if it isn't superior in every way, it is where it's at. And that's the problem.
              • by maeglin (23145) on Tuesday February 06, 2007 @11:22PM (#17916038)
                > generally referred to as an "mp3 player"

                MP3 player? What's that? Is that like an iPod or something?
          • by cduffy (652) <charles+slashdot@dyfis.net> on Tuesday February 06, 2007 @11:37PM (#17916154)
            AVI is a container format; you can have any number of codecs stored within an AVI file. Same thing for WAV.

            Why is this a problem for Ogg but not AVI?
            • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

              by jZnat (793348) *
              It's the same problem for Ogg (commonly associated with Vorbis), AVI (ass. with DivX and Xvid), WMV (different versions of WMV, WMA, MS-MPEG4, etc.), QuickTime (ass. with Sorenson and now H.264/AAC), and pretty much any other container that holds more than one type of audio and video codec. The non audio/video geeks rarely if ever understand the difference, and the only time it hits them is when they get example files and can't play some of them due to a lack of codecs or software.
              • by k8to (9046) on Wednesday February 07, 2007 @12:49AM (#17916626) Homepage
                And you blame this on the existence of container formats?

                Blame the user interfaces of the toosl and shells for being so unhelpful that users are forced to rely on extensions to guess what files contain.

                Oh my god, zip files can contain *anything*!
            • by evilviper (135110)

              Why is this a problem for Ogg but not AVI?
              Because nobody ever puts just audio into an AVI. It always has a video stream.
          • Ogg needs to be simpler name-wise. Right. And MP3 inspired the idea of "Compressed Music on My Computer" the first time you heard about it on IRC.

            Give me a fucking break.

            Advocacy and industry exposure is the only way to turn Vorbis from "zuh" into the next "google".

        • by iabervon (1971) on Tuesday February 06, 2007 @10:39PM (#17915688) Homepage Journal
          The real issue is that people use extensions based on the container format, which is totally irrelevant to anything. Why would you ever care that your file uses the Ogg container, but not care what codec it uses or even what sort of media is encoded in it? I give all of my Ogg Vorbis files the extension ".audio", same as my mp3 files. Any software that's likely to be able to play them is going to be able to tell from the file contents what container format it uses. But it's useful to me to know whether I should be playing a file with a music player or a video player.

          Of course, I think most people would be more comfortable giving their Ogg Vorbis files the extension ".mp3", since that's commonly and unambiguously used for files containing only audio.
          • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

            by zsau (266209)
            Why bother with extensions at all? On my Linux computer, I have all my Ogg Vorbis music with filenames like "Nochnye Snajpery/2004 - SMS/16. 1/2 chasa na vojnu", and my filemanager and music player work out from the contents that it's an Ogg Vorbis player. Same deal occurs with my movies, so I have a video clip named "Nochnye Snajpery/2002 - Ty darila mne rozy". I don't know and don't care what format it's in, ROX-Filer works out it's a movie, and mplayer works out the format...

            For my part, I only choose to
        • call it og3 (Score:2, Insightful)

          by chrwei (771689)
          .avi and .mpg have the same problem. avi and mpeg are also the containers that can contain many different codecs; like XViD, DivX, raw DV, MPEG version 1, 2, and 4, motion JPEG and many others; some are somewhat compatible like XViD, DivX, and Mpeg4, some not. the containers have their own ways of allowing a player to know what codec is in the file so that it can be played.

          Hell, .mp3 is an mpeg as well, they(0) just gave it a different extension so as to not confuse people. Why not do the same thing wi
        • Not all audio players can handle video. Not all video players are any good for audio.

          If the user clicks on something.ogg, should they get an audio player or a video player?

          What kind of icon should the file get? Does it get an audio icon, or a video icon?

          If the user does "file - open" in an audio app, should they see the *.ogg files? Some may be video, which makes them unsuitable choices.

          Ogg Theora is stillborn of course, so this question is moot. The *.ogg files are audio.
          • Well, if the application can handle Ogg files at all, then it can figure out what kinds of streams exist in the file and open the ones it understands while ignoring the rest.

            • "open the ones it understands while ignoring the rest"

              I browse to the file in any of GNOME, Windows XP, Vista, KDE, or MacOS X. I click or double-click on the icon for that file, as is appropriate for my OS. The OS runs the app associated with ogg files. The app does not understand the file.

              So you think the app should then IGNORE the file? Woah. I click and nothing happens. Sweet. That's a user experience all right!

              The use of ogg for audio helps to make Ogg Theora unviable, because clicking on an ogg file w
              • I browse to the file in any of GNOME, Windows XP, Vista, KDE, or MacOS X. I click or double-click on the icon for that file, as is appropriate for my OS. The OS runs the app associated with ogg files. The app does not understand the file.

                Ah, but how does that app become associated with ogg files in the first place? The answer is, it registers the file association with the OS during the app's installation. This process is controlled by the developer of the app (specifically, the person who wrote the instal

          • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

            by cduffy (652)
            What kind of idiot OS uses file extensions for application association? That means you can't convert a file to a different format without renaming it (and breaking all external links/shortcuts/references) -- stupid! And why should the filename (which is fully user-modifiable even for my grandma^WCEO) be lumped in with the type metadata (which should be user-modifiable only by people who know what they're doing)?

            Linux has magic (and xattr support, perfect for storing MIME types); MacOS has had filesystem-lev
            • The old way is still supported on Apple-specific filesystems, but Apple has learned to deal with the non-Apple world. Apple even ships MacOS X with many files being single-fork (data only) with file extensions, where formerly this was not done. An example is fonts, many of which now bear .otf extensions.

              Windows shares, FAT-formatted media, and Joliet (Windows CD-ROM format) media are all common.

              As for Linux, both magic and xattr are lame. They both cause extra disk seeks. At 5 ms per seek, a directory with
        • by SeaFox (739806)

          So, when people say "Ogg Vorbis" what they're actually referring to is a Vorbis audio stream inside an Ogg container. Presumably, it's possible to have a file with a raw Vorbis bitstream (without the Ogg container), and it's certainly possible to have an Ogg container without a Vorbis bitstream. This is also why Ogg Theora files have an .ogg extension; they're actually files with a Theora video stream and (probably) Vorbis audio stream, inside an Ogg container.

          So is the only difference between an Ogg Theor

          • So is the only difference between an Ogg Theora and a .OGM file that .OGM doesn't use Theora for its video streams? Why is the extension different when they're both Ogg containers?

            Oddly enough, I actually know the answer to that question! (Note that I'm not an expert on media formats, nor am I affiliated with Xiph.org.) I just happened to read about that on Wikipedia the other day.

            Basically, the difference is that .OGM isn't actually an Ogg file. That extension indicates an "Ogg Media" file, which is a c

        • by evilviper (135110)

          "Ogg" refers to the container format; it's comparable to Quicktime, AVI, or Matroska.

          No, it isn't comparable, because you'll probably NEVER see a MOV, AVI, or MKV file that is audio-only. This makes Ogg a pain to deal with in most file managers. I just rename any oggs with video to ogm. It's absolutely idiotic not to have separate extensions, ala wma/wmv. How would you feel if people starting renaming AVIs to .mp3, or putting video in a WAV container?

          Ogg is also deeply tied into any codecs which it sup

      • The maddening problem of Ogg Theora having a .ogg extension also is, of course, another conversation altogether..
        OK, I'll bite... Vorbis is the name of the actual codec [vorbis.com], Ogg is the name of the file container. Microsoft do the same thing with ASF, and Apple with Quicktime files. AVI and MP4 are some more examples of codec-independent container files too.
  • MP3 License (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Agent_Eight (237857) on Tuesday February 06, 2007 @09:02PM (#17914876) Homepage
    If you look at the price list for this chip it states that "Prices include MP3 license of Thomson Multimedia."

    Wasn't the point of Ogg Vorbis to have a codec free of licensing?
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by mrchaotica (681592) *

      Perhaps the chip can decode both Vorbis and MP3.

      • Re:MP3 License (Score:5, Insightful)

        by MBCook (132727) <foobarsoft@foobarsoft.com> on Tuesday February 06, 2007 @09:38PM (#17915238) Homepage

        I think this is the whole reason. If someone is looking for a chip that does Ogg, they can choose this one. If they are looking for a chip that does MP3, they can choose this one.

        Business wise, which is better? Selling an MP3 decoder chip for $0.10 each (just a guess), or selling an MP3/Ogg decoder chip for $0.10 each? Since there are no patents, adding Ogg support is free, but adds value. Lots of people may want chips that can play MP3s (GPS, Cell Phones, MP3 players, calculators, EVERYTHING plays MP3s), but how many would buy a chip that only did Ogg? I doubt that market is nearly as large. Added value.

        That's my guess. Your product (possibly with a little bit of extra programming) could even use both. MP3 for things you want at a higher quality, Ogg for things less important. Maybe you are upgrading your old product. You can keep all the old samples MP3 and just add the new samples as Ogg. Who knows.

        • Re:MP3 License (Score:5, Informative)

          by mrchaotica (681592) * on Tuesday February 06, 2007 @09:45PM (#17915300)

          MP3 for things you want at a higher quality, Ogg for things less important.

          You've got that backwards. Vorbis is a better codec (in terms of sound quality at a given level of compression) than MP3.

          • by MBCook (132727)

            I was wondering about that. I've never used it.

            Perhaps Ogg for all internal sounds to a device, and the MP3 capability for sounds the user wants to add so they don't have to use a "weird custom proprietary" format (despite the the fact it's not).

            • Re:MP3 License (Score:5, Interesting)

              by mrchaotica (681592) * on Tuesday February 06, 2007 @10:01PM (#17915408)

              I was wondering about that. I've never used it.

              Unless I'm mistaken, just about everything (e.g. Windows Media Audio, AAC, Vorbis) is better than MP3. What's debatable is how the former three compare to each other.

              Perhaps Ogg for all internal sounds to a device, and the MP3 capability for sounds the user wants to add so they don't have to use a "weird custom proprietary" format (despite the the fact it's not).

              That makes sense, since even if the user has heard of Vorbis he doesn't necessarily want to re-encode (and certainly doesn't want to transcode, as the resulting file would sound worse because the previous encoding to MP3 would have thrown away information that Vorbis would need).

              • Re:MP3 License (Score:5, Interesting)

                by k8to (9046) on Wednesday February 07, 2007 @01:13AM (#17916768) Homepage
                It all depends upon the bitrates and the application. Also mp3 is not as static a target as you might think, with the advancements in lame over time.

                If you believe the folks on hydrogen audio, when strong music fidelity is a concern, WMA has unpleasant artifacts at most bitrates, save the very high where even still mp3 is probably your best bet for transparent lossy compression. Well, maybe wavepack if you're really hardcore, but mp3 seems "good enough" for most ears, while wma does not.

                At lower bitrates (128kbs down to 40kbps or so) mp3 isn't as competitive, and the winners at different bitrates seem to be AAC and Vorbis AoTuV. This is really impressive for Vorbis because it is a _much_ simpler format, without various special tweaks and features to help out at certain format ranges. The specialized features of AAC help it hit certain windows, but also cost overall in format complexity, which has a minor effect on size overall, and a major effect on implementability. Vorbis by contrast is much simpler and therefore re-implementable, although market forces have not pushed as hard for tuned implementations.

                Once you start heading south of 40kbps, you probably aren't really so interested in music anymore, and other more focused audio codecs, probably for speech, are what you'll want to look at.

                But the point is mp3 still has some application domains (~200-300kbps, full spectrum music) where it is probably the best format in terms of fidelity and certainly implementatability, primarily because of the maturity of the encoder sourcebase. Surprising, but true.

                Personally, for portable music replay, I use Vorbis AoTuV at around 160kbps, because while in testing on my portable player I could often tell the difference, the differences were never offensive. It's possible that some form of aac encoder could achieve this as well for me, but FAAC could not, and I am not willing to pirate and run windows or mac binaries just to encode music in formats that aren't broadly supported anyway on current devices (especially mine). WMA had an unpalatable flat quality at all rates I tested. Maybe it's improved but I was really testing for novelty. That format is even worse than AAC, which at least has an open specification.
          • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

            by maeka (518272)
            Repeated double-blind listening tests performed at/by HydrogenAudio show that Vorbis and MP3 achieve [i]transparency[/i] at about the same bitrate.
            Vorbis and AAC are both superior formats when compared to MP3 on their technical merits. LAME, however, is the leveler.

            Never underestimate the impact of a mature encoder when it comes to lossy codecs.
    • If you look at the price list, you'll see that this chip is simply not listed at all (yet, I assume). Therefore the notice that the MP3 license is included in the price does not apply to this chip.
    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by Myopic (18616)
      That price list is for lots and lots of different chips and packages. Presumably, some of them (maybe many or most, I don't know the company, I just looked at the price list because of your comment) have MP3 capability. Also presumably, from what I know of Ogg Vorbis, the license cost would not apply to the Ogg-only chip(s).
    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by Rufus211 (221883)

      If you look at the price list for this chip it states that "Prices include MP3 license of Thomson Multimedia."
      If you actually read the price list, you'll see that the VS1000 isn't included on there. All the other chips they produce are MP3 playback, so have to pay the MP3 license. Presumably when they update the price list to include the VS1000, they'll modify the wording.
      • by Trogre (513942)
        I thought it was perhaps a VS1000 series, encompassing model numbers from VS1001 to VS1999 would. Note that all those chips are VS10xx. That's pretty common in manufacturing AFAIK.

        *shrugs* just a thought.

        It would be nice though to see a full feature set for what's on that price list to see which ones (if not all) do have the dreaded Thompson Tax.

        Does anyone know if these guys do samples?

  • Toys are a bit of a climb down from the vastly profitable market they were looking at. Still a few quid there though.
    • Toys are a bit of a climb down from the vastly profitable market they were looking at.

      Thanks to a small legal reversal [theregister.co.uk] Ogg may get in more than toys. We shall see if the total M$ industry screw the recent change in DRM scheme will bring OGG to the prominence it deserves.

  • by StaticEngine (135635) on Tuesday February 06, 2007 @09:05PM (#17914910) Homepage
    OGG Vorbis is used all over the place in the Video Game Industry, since it's free, well documented, sounds great, and has source code available. I think MP3 is only in the forefront of people's minds because the news media coopted the name of that format to encompass all lossy compressed audio schemes, the way "Kleenex" is used by some people to refer to generic facial tissues.

    That said, I've used Vorbis playback in an audio library I wrote, and thought it was probably the easiest part of the whole project.
    • by acidrain (35064) on Tuesday February 06, 2007 @09:15PM (#17915018)
      I mentioned ogg to the lead sound programmer at the last games company I worked at and they started using it at their generic format. It still had to be converted to a console specific format for the runtime, because the hardware was designed to handle certain types of streams, and audio isn't cheap to transform cpu-wise. Of course that was ps2/xbox/gc and I'm under the impression that they were able to do a lot more runtime processing of the audio on the "next gen" consoles, but I don't know what role ogg played. Certainly the memory bandwidth savings off ogg in the runtime may outweigh the cpu costs, but again, that's probably something most companies are still working out and I don't know from experience.
      • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday February 06, 2007 @09:28PM (#17915146)
        Another advantage with ogg over mp3 is that it supports more than 2 channels. The video game industry, especially those doing dev on next-gen consoles, are quite aware of this.
      • by Dutch Gun (899105) on Tuesday February 06, 2007 @09:40PM (#17915256)
        Consoles have hardware-accelerated ADPCM compression for normal sfx, but audio streams can certainly be compressed with Vorbis. All the commercial audio libraries support it at this point, or else it's easy enough to add the support yourself. The next-gen engines have plenty of horsepower to spare for vorbis decoders - it's really not that expensive as long as you don't go too crazy with simultaneous decodes.

        Our company is switching from mp3 to vorbis for our upcoming projects - it's definitely a better format for a closed system such as games. As is oft-mentioned here, it's a better-sounding codec at lower bitrates, which is important for MMOs, since occasional updates are expected - and saving bandwidth wherever possible certainly matters. And, it has a few technical benefits such as sample-accurate decoding (MP3 decodes in blocks, so you have to write additional kludges to get around this), which is helpful for loops.

        It's nice to hear the format is picking up a bit of steam. I've had my eye on it for a long time, and have been impressed with the steady progress that has been made.
    • by ewhac (5844) on Tuesday February 06, 2007 @09:35PM (#17915202) Homepage Journal
      Also, Ogg Vorbis is much more predictable.

      Apparently, you can't take apart an MP3 in a deterministic way. That is, if you hand a compressed block to the MP3 decoder, you could get back an uncompressed block of any size, and it's not possible to determine this size ahead of time. You can partially decode blocks ("Decompress in to this buffer up to a maximum of N bytes,"), but then you can't restart the decoder from exactly where you left off. This means you have to either re-decode the entire block and throw away what you've already used, or blindly move on to the next block and hope no one notices the pop. This sort of sloppiness is generally frowned upon in game programming circles.

      Vorbis apparently doesn't suffer from these shortcomings. And it sounds better.

      This imparted to me by an experienced console game programmer, as relayed through my highly imperfect memory.

      Schwab

      • by CryoPenguin (242131) on Tuesday February 06, 2007 @10:02PM (#17915418)
        There's no problem with decoding MP3 in a fixed buffer size. Each frame contains exactly 1152 audio samples.

        The MP3 problem you might be thinking of is the bit reservoir: Constant bitrate MP3 only pretends to be constant bitrate. If you look at the spacing between MP3 frame headers it looks like each frame is exactly the same size. But they're really not: frames can borrow bits from nearby frames, so the compressed data at one place in the stream doesn't necessarily decode to the decompressed samples that nominally correspond with that frame. Thus it's tricky to determine where you have to start decoding if you want to seek to a given sample number, and the naive seeking method could be off by about +/- 0.25 seconds.

        That problem is specific to MP3; I don't know of any other audio format that suffers from it. All Vorbis had to do to fix it was be logical and put each bit in the frame it's supposed to be in, not in some random other frame.
        • "That is, if you hand a compressed block to the MP3 decoder, you could get back an uncompressed block of any size, "

          What he said was correct. You just went on to babble about how what he said was correct. I guess it could depend on what he meant by 'block', did he mean frame, or did he mean chunk of x bytes? I think you know and I know that he meant chunk of x bytes.
    • The Janus, "Plays for Sure" DRM license forbade OGG [theregister.co.uk] and that is a big reason there are not more players on the market. As newer players on the market show, the technical arguments given were pure bullshit and PR on M$'s part. They are fighting free software every dirty way they can.

    • by dave420 (699308)
      Naah, it's not a media conspiracy. MP3 software was everywhere when OGG started up. Many people didn't want to convert from one lossy format to another, or have a media library of mixed formats, or both. Those "many people" turned out to be "most people", and so MP3 stayed, and OGG slipped off into the realm of those distributing playing software with the OGGs, such as the game developers you speak of. Everyone has an mp3 player. Everyone has had one on their computer since the late 90s. I still don't
  • by EmbeddedJanitor (597831) on Tuesday February 06, 2007 @09:08PM (#17914938)
    There will always be some sort of trade off between cost effectiveness of storage vs processing and cost effectiveness. There are no obvious winners, and the best solution will change as the memory vs micro prices change.

    Many voice mail systems only use 32kbps sampling and achieve fine results for that purpose, and the algorithms are easy enough to render on a 8-bit micro costing 50c.

    When it comes to medium quality sound then there are basically two routes you can take: 8 bit micro (or even some dumb logic)running less fancy algorithms and a bit more flash/rom to store more verbose sound data; or more compressed sound and a flashier micro to run a heavier algorithm. You can now get 32-bit ARM micros for less than $1 making the second option reasonably feasible at low cost.

    However flash is very cheap. NAND flash only costs approx 2c per MB (for multi-MB chips, so small chips are going to cost more per MB). You can fit a lot of "mama" phrases in a couple of MB. As a result you don't want to spend too much money on micros to save on flash.

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by mrchaotica (681592) *

      Many voice mail systems only use 32kbps sampling and achieve fine results for that purpose, and the algorithms are easy enough to render on a 8-bit micro costing 50c.

      I'm not sure exactly how lightweight the algorithm is, but Speex [speex.org] would be more appropriate for that than a general-purpose audio codec, and has the same "no license fees" advantage as Vorbis. I wonder how Speex is doing in "the industry?"

      • by jbn-o (555068)
        Quite well as far as I'm concerned; Speex is useful with Asterisk [asterisk.org] (a popular and extensible open source telephone system), I use it to make high-quality low-bandwidth encodings of talk shows I work with, and a lot of players play it (including VideoLAN Client [videolan.org] which works on many operating systems). I never have to worry about patent hassles, proprietary software hassles, or losing control of my audio to digital restrictions management.
      • by evilviper (135110)

        but Speex [speex.org] would be more appropriate for that than a general-purpose audio codec,
        Speex is only slightly better at encoding voice than general-purpose codecs like MP3 and Vorbis.

        With a hardware implementation, it's quite likely the larger volume possible with a more general codec would outweigh the small bitrate advantages.
  • money talks (Score:5, Insightful)

    by joe_bruin (266648) on Tuesday February 06, 2007 @09:09PM (#17914942) Homepage Journal
    Ogg Vorbis is gaining popularity mostly because of the price per unit. When you make millions of dolls a year and you have to pay a $0.10 licensing fee per unit if it plays voice prompts in MP3 format, that starts to get pretty expensive. If WMA, AAC, MP3, or any other codec was cheaper and did not require significanly more flash memory to store, they'd be using that instead.
    • Re:money talks (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Technician (215283) on Tuesday February 06, 2007 @09:22PM (#17915084)
      It is no longer a dime anymore. The IC prices are not listed online, but the per device prices are for hardware items.

      http://www.mp3licensing.com/royalty/hardware.html [mp3licensing.com]

      At the bottom of the page is tha item that unless you buy chips with the license, the minimum for doing it yourself is $15,000 USD. If you are making a limited quanity of an item, the minimum can be a showstopper unless you buy chips from someone else, which may also be a little expensive. Dropping MP3 can save a chunk of change since a free alternative exists.

      It's the PNG/GIF thing all over again.
      • by twitter (104583) on Tuesday February 06, 2007 @11:21PM (#17916032) Homepage Journal

        It's the PNG/GIF thing all over again.

        Except in this case M$ gave music player makers a choice: our way or the highway. The Janus DRM license actually forbade the use of ogg. Though this was shot down by the EU [theregister.co.uk], you might imagine the pressure is still there. Well, it was until M$ hosed every one of them over by dumping the former "Plays for Sure" for whatever their new "service" is. You would think they would revolt given they can't win in the M$ world.

        • Clarification is in order.

          The Janus DRM license actually forbade the use of ogg.

          MS did not single out ogg.

          wrote an offensive license forbidding non-MS media formats on portable devices

          MS had to back peddle on that one.

          This is a clear violation of the wrist-slapping that Judge CKK had administered at the conclusion of the company's anti-trust lawsuit, which she oversaw.

          MS explination of the reason for that in the license

          Microsoft legal beagle Rick Rule explained that a "lower-level business person," ignoran
      • by imsabbel (611519)
        Read closer.
        There is also a minimum number of devices. If you stay below that (its like 50k), royalities are free.
  • See the Xiph wiki page for a list of Ogg Vorbis chips."

    Also see the page for a list of consumer products supporting the Ogg format. :)
  • by headkase (533448) on Tuesday February 06, 2007 @09:27PM (#17915144)
    This highlights the reasoning that large corporations such as IBM, Novell, and Sun have adopted open source methods: it lowers their bottom line. They pay programmers to work on open-source projects and they more than recoup the costs through savings in other areas such as interoperability. Open-source breeds open-standards and when basic infrastructure such as audio support is basically "free" then costs are lowered more by using common-infrastructure between manufacturers vs. constantly reinventing-the-wheel or developing your own library of common code/components. Reiterating simply, it's cheaper to pay programmers to develop free infrastructure code and give it away to reap higher profits from reduced costs in other areas such as interoperability.
  • by markdavis (642305) on Tuesday February 06, 2007 @09:28PM (#17915150)
    The "article" (actually the spec page) shows the device is much more that just a chip for toys. Otherwise, they would not have tone controls, stereo output, customizable firmware, "spacial processing", and most especially a FULL SPEED USB interface!

    The unit looks like something that is much more useful as something like an iPod shuffle (since there is no display controller). And in reasonable quantity- the sucker only costs $4! Add a several more dollars of flash, battery, case, connectors, and buttons, and "ta da", you have a reasonable, cheap, portable audio stereo device.
    • To quote Vizzini, "You fell victim to one of the classic blunders..."

      When speaking of USB (2.0), "Full-Speed" means 12 Mbit/s, while "Hi-Speed" means 480 Mbit/s.
      • by markdavis (642305)
        UG! Don't you *HATE* marketing crappola???

        Guess that does put a dent in it being a really useful portable media device and relegates it to kind of a toy player :(

        One has to wonder why for all the other features, then.
        • by imsabbel (611519)
          A well, it kinda made sense with usb 1.1, where they had "low speed" and "full speed", irc 1.5 or so and 12 mbit/s.
          Well, witht he introduction of usb2.0, "full" wasnt available anymore, so they decieded on "hi" as the name.

      • When speaking of USB (2.0), "Full-Speed" means 12 Mbit/s, while "Hi-Speed" means 480 Mbit/s.

        Then why didn't USB Implementers Forum [usb.org] standardize on something similar to the "X" notation popularized by CD-ROM, -R, and -RW? Here, "1X" is 1.5 Mbit/s, enough to transmit 150 KiB per second of mode 1 CD-ROM along with protocol overhead. This would make a "full speed" device up to 8X, while a "hi-speed" device goes up to 320X.

  • Change the name (Score:2, Insightful)

    Not to be trite, but the very name of the format is a hindrance to adoption. The pronunciation is not immediately obvious, it's hard to spell correctly unless you stare at it for a while, and it doesn't seem to be related to audio, music, compression, or any other earthly topic.

    Okay, sure they probably gave it a weird name on purpose, but maybe it's just time to not be weird any more.

    • by lachlan76 (770870)

      The pronunciation is not immediately obvious, it's hard to spell correctly unless you stare at it for a while
      Not immediately obvious? How much more unambiguous can you get?
    • by xilmaril (573709)
      ogg vorbis is unpronouncable? It seems obvious to me. Whereas mpeg, wmv, avi all have varied pronounciations. how many ways can you say "ogg"?
  • Ogg Vorbis (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Nonillion (266505)
    I have been encoding my music CD collection in (DRM free)Ogg Vorbis for years. The audio quality is noticeably better than mp3 encoded at the same bitrate. When I give a demonstration to my friends they even say it (Ogg Vorbis) is better sounding than mp3 (most notably, the absence of compression artifacts, you know, that fluttery metallic sound in the high frequency content). It's nice to see a superior and free audio format actually making inroads to AAC, WMA and mp3.
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by dave420 (699308)
      I haven't heard those artifacts with MP3s since Xing fell into the dust and people started using the LAME encoder. I don't care about formats too much, so I keep my music in MP3. I like to choose my player for my media, not have my media choose my player. iTunes is pretty good.
  • flash support (Score:3, Interesting)

    by bcrowell (177657) on Tuesday February 06, 2007 @11:31PM (#17916106) Homepage
    It would be really nice if Adobe would support ogg in the next version of flash player. Currently the only audio codec supported is mp3, which helps to make flash a more closed platform.
  • by pyite69 (463042) on Tuesday February 06, 2007 @11:40PM (#17916170)
    I was researching mp3 players, and I was pleasantly surprised to see Ogg listed as a format that the Stiletto can use.

  • Ah yes, Vorbis (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Trogre (513942) on Tuesday February 06, 2007 @11:50PM (#17916250) Homepage
    Ogg Vorbis is a wonderful format with lots of nifty features. My little Samsung YP-U1 plays my oggs perfectly well, but my Pioneer car stereo won't.

    Does anyone here remember back in 2001 when Ogg Vorbis proponents were touting Bitrate Peeling as a big must-have feature? Well it's 2007 and I'm still waiting to see a single workable implementation of it.

    • It makes the original stream much larger, and peeled copies don't sound as good as the "real thing" encoded directly at the bitrate.

      It's only useful if for some reason you have a broadcast system where you have a live source and need to trunk into multiple bitrate at some processing stage.

      The situation is unlikely... most people would rather just run seperate streams since computing power is plentiful now.

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