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New Lossless MP3 Format Explained 346

Posted by timothy
from the see-it's-like-mp3-but-lossless dept.
CNETNate writes "Thomson, the company that licenses the MP3 patent, has released a new lossless MP3 format called mp3HD. It utilises both lossless and lossy audio contained inside a single .mp3 file, and the files will play on all existing MP3 players. The idea is simple: lossless files on your desktop that can be transferred without conversion to iPods and MP3 players. The issue, it transpires, is that although the full lossless/lossy hybrid MP3 file is transferred to players, only the lossy element can be played back. A command line encoder can be found on Thomson's Web site."
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New Lossless MP3 Format Explained

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  • by gapagos (1264716) on Tuesday March 24, 2009 @06:54PM (#27320943)

    Everything HAS to play MP3s now. [youtube.com]
    Except MP3 players, which now plays MP4s.

  • why? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Reality Master 201 (578873) on Tuesday March 24, 2009 @06:55PM (#27320953) Journal

    So, it's a container format with two different data streams in it, and you can stuff massively oversized files on your portable player, only you can only play the itty bity portion of that file that's the lossy one.

    And the use case for this is?

    • Re:why? (Score:5, Funny)

      by MightyMartian (840721) on Tuesday March 24, 2009 @07:02PM (#27321105) Journal

      So let's see. It's like a car with helicopter blades, except the helicopter blades don't turn, but now you take up both lanes of traffic.

      • Re:why? (Score:5, Funny)

        by fm6 (162816) on Tuesday March 24, 2009 @07:23PM (#27321497) Homepage Journal

        I think a better comparison would be a helicopter that can also drive down the street. As if the convenience of not having to switch to a car outweighed the risk of accidentally decapitating pedestrians.

        • Re:why? (Score:5, Funny)

          by Chyeld (713439) <chyeldNO@SPAMgmail.com> on Tuesday March 24, 2009 @07:48PM (#27321997)

          As if the convenience of not having to switch to a car outweighed the risk of accidentally decapitating pedestrians.

          Accidentally?

        • Re:why? (Score:5, Interesting)

          by brianosaurus (48471) on Tuesday March 24, 2009 @08:00PM (#27322175) Homepage

          I think an even better comparison would be a car with a helicopter stapled to the trunk. That's not even right, since the car & helicopter are more analogous to the ipod and computer. This is more like everything you would put in your car has a 10:1 scale model of itself attached to it.

          Its like every shirt in Arizona having a winter coat sewn to the back of it. Closets hold 1/10 as many clothes, but big closets are getting cheaper every day. The largest suitcases barely hold enough for a weekend trip. Everyone ends up dragging around winter coats like tails, even though they rarely ever need them.

          My analogy is bad, but not as bad as this hybrid mp3 format. I suppose the format is OK for archival storage, but copying the huge files to a portable device with limited space is just stupid.

          • by AHuxley (892839)
            Its like a truck with a car in the back. When needed you lower a ramp and drive the car around the tight city streets.
            Later you can enjoy the space and carrying options the truck gives you.
            Or a bike on a RV.
          • Re:why? (Score:5, Insightful)

            by JoeMerchant (803320) on Tuesday March 24, 2009 @08:38PM (#27322709) Homepage

            ...copying the huge files to a portable device with limited space is just stupid.

            Unless you sell flash memory.

          • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

            by taucross (1330311)
            I think an even better comparison would be a car analogy, with seventeen discrete car analogies attached below it.
          • Re:why? (Score:4, Informative)

            by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday March 24, 2009 @09:02PM (#27323025)

            In case it isn't bleeding obvious (apparently it isn't): The key to good compression is prediction. If you can predict the signal to within a small margin of error, then you only need to encode a small error correction stream. In this case, the MP3 signal serves as the prediction and the remaining data is the correction stream. This concept requires that the prediction is stable, and since the prediction isn't an algorithm but based on actual data, that data has to be delivered with the correction stream. So this isn't so much MP3 with additional information as it's a lossless format which happens to use an MP3 stream as a component and is formatted such that MP3 players recognize just that stream.

            • Re:why? (Score:5, Informative)

              by 1u3hr (530656) on Wednesday March 25, 2009 @02:23AM (#27325613)
              So this isn't so much MP3 with additional information as it's a lossless format which happens to use an MP3 stream as a component and is formatted such that MP3 players recognize just that stream.

              I've seen some comparisons at another site [videohelp.com]. A 41 MB wave file gives a 20 MB FLAC, and 22 MB MP3HD. So if the MP3 was indeed a skeleton of the lossless portion, it isn't very efficient. It's the same size as a normal lossless format + a separate MP3, stuffed into the same file. Actually, I doubt the MP3 has any use at all in the lossless playback, but I am ready to be corrected if anyone can cite something and not just speculate.

          • Re:why? (Score:5, Informative)

            by petermgreen (876956) <plugwashNO@SPAMp10link.net> on Tuesday March 24, 2009 @11:18PM (#27324397) Homepage

            The only use case can see is if you own a mp3 player with large storage that doesn't support playback of a proper lossless format.

            With this you can keep and listen to the files on your mp3 player while also being able to decode them losslessly when you plug that player into a computer.

            also given the filesize stats in the article it appears they aren't just bundling together a lossy and lossless format but actually making the lossless format build on the lossy format (either that or they have a lossless format that is considerablly better than flac).

    • Re:why? (Score:5, Insightful)

      by aliquis (678370) <dospam@gmail.com> on Tuesday March 24, 2009 @07:15PM (#27321333) Homepage

      And why put the MP3 part there at all? Why would you need it if you already have a lossless file?

      If you transfer it to a player not capable of playing the lossless file it doesn't make sense to store it all over there, so converting it to a lossy only file is the way to do it, and well, you can do that while transferring the file ... ... but then using "MP3" and their technology doesn't make sense at all since there already exist plenty of lossless formats and one compressed one would be enough.

      It would had been enough if they had made an app which hooked into Windows file copying to UMS devices and encoded any lossless formats into MP3 during the transfer.

      All in all, yes, it's useless, and a stupid idea.
      (And if you already have a lossless file while not convert to something like AAC or OGG instead?)

      • by Kagura (843695)

        And why put the MP3 part there at all? Why would you need it if you already have a lossless file?

        Because the MP3 player can't play the lossless part.

        Hey, I'm not the one who came up with the idea.

    • Re:why? (Score:5, Insightful)

      by TheGratefulNet (143330) on Tuesday March 24, 2009 @07:24PM (#27321521)

      the use-case is probably some kind of lock-in, either now or later. or licensing fees. or NEW fees.

      yup, sounds like container when a container is NOT needed. keeping dual copies makes sense (I do this, I have mp3 and flac of the same file but in diff subdirs) and when I'm home, I play from ./flac and when I'm away, I copied files from ./mp3 to the device. time to encode is still slow so I keep pre-encoded copies on my farm.

      but putting flac in a portable and not being able to use it.

      dumb. really dumb.

      no, no use case. not for us, anyway. there might be a use-case for people making money from this, but not for us users.

      • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

        by Threni (635302)

        Couldn't you have both versions (lossy & lossless) in the same file, but strip the lossless upon copying to the mp3 player (ie by iTunes on an iPod)?

      • Re:why? (Score:5, Insightful)

        by tobiasly (524456) on Tuesday March 24, 2009 @11:38PM (#27324541) Homepage

        the use-case is probably some kind of lock-in, either now or later. or licensing fees. or NEW fees.

        Lock-in? New fees? C'mon, let's get serious. They're giving away the encoder for free on their website! Do you really think that the company that owns the MP3 format would just let this new format, crappy though it is, be used by enough people so that it becomes a de-facto standard and then decide to start enforcing their IP and try to wring money out of something that already has numerous superior free implementations?

        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by Chyeld (713439)

          Lock-in? New fees? C'mon, let's get serious. They're giving away the encoder for free on their website! Do you really think that the company that owns the MP3 format would just let this new format, crappy though it is, be used by enough people so that it becomes a de-facto standard and then decide to start enforcing their IP and try to wring money out of something that already has numerous superior free implementations?

          At the risk of getting a *whoosh* directed at me, isn't that exactly what they did with t

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by drolli (522659)

      selling music and getting rid of the "which is the right format for you?" question, which would end up in support costs.

      • So its a new music format for idiots, basically. No advantages for non-idiots that know the difference between a MP3, AAC, OGG, and raw 44Khz files. And how to convert between them with Free software.

        • by samkass (174571)

          I can't tell if you're being sarcastic or not. If not, that explains why Free software advocates have trouble selling a free product...

        • Re:why? (Score:5, Insightful)

          by drolli (522659) on Tuesday March 24, 2009 @08:09PM (#27322313) Journal

          Exactly.

          which fraction of the population are non-idiots, according to your definition?

          • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

            by Schemat1c (464768)

            which fraction of the population are non-idiots, according to your definition?

            Think of how stupid the average person is, and realize half of them are stupider than that.
              - George Carlin

    • by 0xygen (595606)

      I imagine it contains the significantly smaller deltas between the output of the lossy codec and the the exact audio data?

      The use case is presumably to not require 2 copies of the same data to maintain backwards compatibility.

    • by GooberToo (74388)

      Ya! My 200G ipod can hold three songs now!

    • Re:why? (Score:4, Insightful)

      by niko9 (315647) on Tuesday March 24, 2009 @07:46PM (#27321955)

      Would have been smarter to have the MP3 player know to only download the lossy part of the file and metadata. I'm sure someone
      can figure out how to do this with the FLAC container, i.e., the FLAC file would have a .flac and a lossy .ogg, and a program like gtkpod would know
      to only import the lossy .ogg.

    • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

      by kpainter (901021)
      It is like these guys are trying to patent strcat
    • Re:why? (Score:5, Insightful)

      by wiredlogic (135348) on Tuesday March 24, 2009 @07:56PM (#27322125)

      MP3 by itself is not a container format. It is a raw data stream designed for handling realtime audio processing. It sounds like this is more like a "hacked" MP3 with special invalid frames tacked on to the end with difference data, similar to the way ID3v2 tags and album art are embedded.

    • Re:why? (Score:5, Interesting)

      by hairyfeet (841228) <bassbeast1968@gma i l . com> on Tuesday March 24, 2009 @08:58PM (#27322971) Journal

      Not to mention there is a REASON why they are coming out with this now, and it AIN'T because they want you to have high fi MP3s. It is because the MP3 patents [wikipedia.org] expire in Dec 2012 so they are hoping to get all the MP3 makers and home users switched over so they can keep drawing a check.

      And the simple fact is thanks to the loudness war [wikipedia.org] trying to come up with high fi MP3 is about as pointless as coming up with a super polished turd. The extra bitrate will NOT be any better than the 320k we have now, simply because the source material is so shitty. In fact most folks I know use 128K VBR because they can't tell the difference. So don't be fooled, this is NOT to make your music sound better. It is so they can keep MP3 compression under patents for another 20+ years. I don't know about you but I would rather stick to good old MP3 and wait to see what kind of cool new gadgets come out in 2013 when the patents pass. Plus having legal Linux support is a nice bonus too.

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by SirSlud (67381)

        Somebody at some point should really rally an army to go around and destroy every compressor and compressor plugin on this stupid planet.

        I got nothing against compressing for effect, but the abuse it suffers in the mastering process is heinous. It is hilarious to hear the 'quiet' part of a song be just as loud as the 'loud' part. It's like somebody whispering to you at the top of their lungs.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by JohnBailey (1092697)

      So, it's a container format with two different data streams in it, and you can stuff massively oversized files on your portable player, only you can only play the itty bity portion of that file that's the lossy one. And the use case for this is?

      Isn't the MP3 patent(s) about to run out in a year or two? In which case, would this be a significant enough modification to qualify for a new patent or an extension?

    • Re:why? (Score:4, Insightful)

      by mibus (26291) on Wednesday March 25, 2009 @12:22AM (#27324891) Homepage

      Why is it that the software copying the "MP3" over, can't strip out the ID3(v2?) tag containing the extra info, and just save out the "normal" MP3 to the portable device?

      Surely that would be a reasonably small change, and solve half of the complaints against the format?

  • The obvious problem (Score:5, Informative)

    by pxc (938367) on Tuesday March 24, 2009 @06:56PM (#27320987)

    that you probably thought of when you read the summary ("So now I get a larger-than-FLAC sized file on my portable player so I can get 128kbps?") is acknowledged in TFA.

    The problems

    At face value it's remarkably convenient, like a car that doubles up as a plane. But like your aeromobile, there are problems for the average consumer. Firstly, file size. A normal 320Kbps MP3 of the same Pink Floyd song was just 14.6MB, and 320Kbps is all you'll hear if you listen to an mp3HD track on your iPod.

    But the lossless audio stored in the file will be stored on your iPod nevertheless, taking up precious storage space. (Although we should point out to audiophiles that the hybrid files are smaller than the combined size of a FLAC and 320Kbps MP3, although are less efficient to encode than FLAC.)

    I don't really see to whom this will be a valuable technology--audiophiles will probably have a large enough music collection that they don't see the benefit in taking up 10x as much space on their portable device, and are probably capable of reencoding when they transfer (some media players can do this automatically). Most everyone else just listens to low quality Limewire rips on their PC anyway.

    Anyone here think they would really want to use this format? (genuine question)

    • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

      by PayPaI (733999)
      Besides, the iPod can already play lossless audio. I encode everything in Apple Lossless already. Space is cheap, there's no reason not to.
      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by Taikutusu (1479335)
        There are other players out there than iPods. I'm sure if you're an audiophile, you've done your research and decided to buy a player which supports (or can be flahsed to support) FLAC. I get the feeling this technology will be DOA. There's simply no market for it.
        • by PayPaI (733999)
          Yes, but the GP (quoting the article) specifically mentions iPods, and my point is if you're going to take up the space for a lossless file on the iPod you may as well encode in a lossless format that it can play back.
      • by jandrese (485) <kensama@vt.edu> on Tuesday March 24, 2009 @08:24PM (#27322521) Homepage Journal
        Space isn't so cheap when you're buying it from Apple.
        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by PayPaI (733999)
          Indeed, a 120GB Zune can be had for $234 [newegg.com] where a 120GB iPod Classic can be had for $249. I'm sure the $15 price difference is the difference between paying your rent on time or not.
    • by westlake (615356)
      Anyone here think they would really want to use this format? (genuine question)

      Is storage space really that "precious" anymore?

      Genuine question.

      The decoder is first generation.

      I'd like the option of spinning off an occasional low-fi copy.

      But as I grow older, I've find myself less willing to accept the second-rate.

      I find that my time has become precious. That I am no longer willing to invest it in nursing P2P downloads that are not worth saving.

      • by Chyeld (713439)

        At the 'home station'? No. On the portable? Yes.

        Cheap storage is not exactly portable yet, and portable storage isn't exactly cheap.

        • The smallest iPod you can get is 80 gigs.

          A full CD-length album, encoded to Flac, comes to around 350 megs.

          So you can fit 228 full albums on a basic iPod. You'll just need something like RockBox to play the Flac (assuming it can).

          I realize I'm probably behind the curve here, but I simply don't have that many albums in a lossless format.

          • by Chyeld (713439) <chyeldNO@SPAMgmail.com> on Tuesday March 24, 2009 @09:52PM (#27323581)

            Actually the smallest iPod you can get is 4G.

            The smallest iPod classic, now considered a clunky dinosaur by Apple, is 120G.

            A 4G iPod can hold 11 CD's of your 350mb Flac variety.

            But that doesn't matter. Because the point was, a 120G iPod classic costs $250. I can walk into Best Buy, that overpriced mecca of electronic goods, and buy a terabyte USB drive for $150. And the classic is the iPod with the best 'storage vs cost' ratio.

            That 4G shuffle costs $79 and it's nearest cousins, the 8G iPods cost $150.

            At the same price: 8G vs 1000G (round about) Or in other words: 22 CDs vs just under 3,000 CDs

            Portable storage is expensive. Home storage is cheap.

            Wasting portable storage on something that would only be used at home, is pointless to the extreme.

      • Is storage space really that "precious" anymore?

        Perhaps not on a desktop (or even laptop) machine. But on a (physically) small portable device with permanently installed non-upgradeable storage, I think it probably still is.

        And the right solution (for non-idiots) is to have larger high quality files (where available) on their home/'base' machine, and then encode smaller lower quality files for said portable device(s).

      • by mctk (840035)
        Luckily, as you grow older, you soon won't be able to hear the difference!
  • This is useless. (Score:5, Insightful)

    by twitchingbug (701187) on Tuesday March 24, 2009 @06:57PM (#27320991)

    Great. I'll have 80% of the capacity of my MP3 player used up by bits I will never access. Great job solving the problem fellas.

    • by m0rbidini (559360) on Tuesday March 24, 2009 @07:32PM (#27321677)
      No really. It is useless and a lousy hack. It's just a way for Thomson and FhG to further milk the mp3 buzzword, one more time.

      Useless format:
              * The lossless part is stored in ID3v2 tags.
              * Size of ID3v2 tags is limited to 256MB by specifications; as a result, lossless part of an mp3hd file can't be larger than 256MB.

      Addendum:
      Current tagging software isn't prepared to deal with this kind of situation, so you're going to see various disturbing behaviors such as:
              * Very slow tag updates (near-full-file-rewrite with each edit).
              * Heavy memory usage of tag editors.
              * Retagging stripping correction data.
              * Tag editing or even reading failures when approaching the 256MB limit because software will try to put each ID3v2 frame in a single memory block and allocating a single block of such size is likely to fail in 32-bit address space because of fragmentation issues.

      From: http://www.hydrogenaudio.org/forums/index.php?showtopic=70548
      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by philipgar (595691)

        * Tag editing or even reading failures when approaching the 256MB limit because software will try to put each ID3v2 frame in a single memory block and allocating a single block of such size is likely to fail in 32-bit address space because of fragmentation issues.

        What the hell are you talking about here? It might fail to allocate a 256 MB block if the machine doesn't have enough memory, or if the program decoding the module is running in the kernel and using kmalloc, but for the most part, applications do

      • Considering most people use a sync suite to manage their MP3 player couldn't this be part of the sync system?

        If the container allows for easy dropping of the uncompressed bit you could have both in one file but at sync time tell itunes/zune etc to just strip the lossless version on the way out the door.

        That way you dont' have to keep track of two files on your computer BUT you can also use the low quality version on iZune.

        That sounds both convenient and useful.

        • Considering most people use a sync suite to manage their MP3 player couldn't this be part of the sync system?

          Well, couldn't re-encoding be part of the sync system, too? Store flacs, and re-encode to mp3s on sync? Amarok can do exactly that.

          The only advantage is, re-encoding is time consuming, so it's nice if you only have to do it once, and then you store both versions on the desktop. And apparently, the lossless format is storing some sort of delta from the lossy version -- the combined file is bigger than a flac, but smaller than the space required for both a flac and an mp3.

          But honestly, this doesn't seem to ma

    • by Spasmodeus (940657) on Tuesday March 24, 2009 @10:16PM (#27323821)
      ...is MP3FS [sourceforge.net], a virtual file system that transcodes your FLAC files to MP3 on the fly (including metadata).

      Just keep all your FLAC files on PC or NAS, and when you want to load them on a player, copy them from the MP3FS directory.

      You don't need to keep duplicate lossy files around, and you don't have huge chunks of lossless music taking up space on a player that can't play them anyway.

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by pyite (140350)

        ...is MP3FS, a virtual file system that transcodes your FLAC files to MP3 on the fly (including metadata).

        Thank you for the link. This seems like a sane solution to an annoying problem.

      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by SimplePaul (807846)

        Good call. I was about to suggest this myself.

        I have used MP3FS and it worked perfectly.

        It's *the* ideal solution for people like me who like to have high quality audio on their computer but are limited to MP3 on their MP3 player.

      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by TheRaven64 (641858)
        Not just for Linux; as a FUSE filesystem, it also works on OS X, FreeBSD, NetBSD and OpenSolaris.
  • Is it actually FLAC, and do nightingales have it built in? [slashdot.org]

  • Loudness war (Score:2, Insightful)

    by BrookHarty (9119)

    Good idea, but with music being recorded with horrible loudness levels, its a waste. But I do like being able to not use something other than MP3, and burning back to a CD anytime I want.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Loudness_war [wikipedia.org]

  • by Per Wigren (5315) on Tuesday March 24, 2009 @07:06PM (#27321167) Homepage

    Basically it's a standard MP3 with correction delta as a binary blob in the ID3-tag. Was it really that hard to make it interleaved? Even having the correction data as a separate file, like Wavpack does it in its hybrid mode, would be better as it would make it much easier to add the files to MP3-players without using extra tools. This is just stupid. You won't be able to stream it as it's not interleaved and ID3 tags are limited to 256 MB so you can't have a MP3HD-file longer than 35 minutes or so.

  • All we need... (Score:4, Insightful)

    by mister_playboy (1474163) on Tuesday March 24, 2009 @07:10PM (#27321243)
    is more FLAC support in portables. Problem solved more elegantly and without yet more proprietary codecs.
    • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

      by twitchingbug (701187)

      While I don't disagree you there. More codec support is always welcome. I think there are some advantages to running lossy codecs on portable players.

      1) Capacity
      2) Battery Life

      Capacity isn't quite where we need to be for the average person to use lossless all the time. Assuming people have roughly 1700 songs [timesonline.co.uk] on it (A reference on Slashdot! woot!). If each mp3 song is 5megs you need an 8gig player to hold that. The lossless copy, is what? 30megs? You'd need about 50gigs to hold that same data, which is arou

    • by yuna49 (905461)

      Here you go: http://www.cowonamerica.com/products/ [cowonamerica.com]

  • I imagine the lower quality audio reduces the amount of battery required to process and play the audio. I'm not too sure about this though. Anyone know about this?

    For example, does the audio processor on a portable mp3 player draw more power for higher bitrate files than lower bitrate files?
    • Nevermind, I read the actual article (wow), and the version played on the mp3 player is 320kbps...

      I could see a use for this if they have a version that is lossless with a low quality version (say, 160 or 192kbps). The process of transferring the file to the portable mp3 player would extract the lower quality version and only store that data on the player (thus allowing the lossless data on the desktop, and the low quality space saving version on the player).

      I'm guessing the format can't really do tha
  • by sammydee (930754) <{seivadmas+slashdot} {at} {gmail.com}> on Tuesday March 24, 2009 @07:15PM (#27321345) Homepage

    Relevant hydrogenaudio thread: http://www.hydrogenaudio.org/forums/index.php?s=55b656dc8cdb3b97da794e936b2a9b1d&showtopic=70548 [hydrogenaudio.org]

    In summary, it seems like a fairly useless and poorly thought out format. To be clear, this WILL NOT play losslessly in a standard mp3 player, you must use a special decoder to get the lossless bit. It will only play the lossy component in a normal mp3 player.

    Lossless information stored in id3v2 tags? Bad hack that will break just about every tagging program out there. File sizes much larger than real lossless codecs and encoding/decoding speed is much slower than flac. Also you can't have tracks longer than about an hour due to id3v2 size limits. Additionally, a full size flac file and 256kbit mp3 often comes in at a SMALLER size than this one monolithic hacked up mp3.

    Nothing to see here people, this is a waste of time. Something like lossy/lossless wavpack hybrid is a much better solution.

    Sam

  • by Volanin (935080) on Tuesday March 24, 2009 @07:20PM (#27321439)

    I dare say that this insistence on backward compatibility is going to kill this format.

    If anyone still remembers, many years ago Thomson released the mp3PRO format.
    It was a low bitrate MP3 with some added spectral band data that could recreate the original
    music sound quality. So in theory, you could have the same quality for half the bitrate/size.

    To my decaying ears, it sounded really good at the time... if played on the supported players.
    But when you played these files in any unsupported player, which happened to be all of them
    except for the Thomson's Player or the Thomson's Winamp Plugin, you ended up listening to
    a HORRIBLE low bitrate sound quality, since the extra mp3PRO information was ignored.

    And even worse: you had no way of telling if a file being downloaded was an original mp3 file
    or a new mp3PRO file, since they both used the same file extension. Maybe if they had renamed
    the extension to .mp3pro or something like that, the mp3PRO format might have had some chance...

    Years pass... and now they are doing the same thing again.

    Instead of focusing on a lossless mp3 codec for a specific kind of market/enthusiast, they are
    insisting in keeping backward compatibility with players using the same method as mp3PRO did.
    And once more the files are going to have the same extension as the original ones, instead
    of .mp3hd or something similar.

    I hope I am wrong, but this surely spells doom to me.

  • bad idea (Score:3, Interesting)

    by frovingslosh (582462) on Tuesday March 24, 2009 @07:24PM (#27321529)

    Well, the good thing about this would be that if someone actually buys a MP3 encoded this way they wouldn't be paying prime dollars for low quality lossy audio like they do now. But the bad news is that all mp3 appliances, as well as any current mp3 player that you have on your computer, will only play the low quality sound, the lossless track is rather hidden. And if you copy these mp3 files to your mp3 player, they end up wasting most of the space for something that will not be heard.

    And, of course, this just muddies the waters. Some people may come to think that mp3 is decent quality (a few tracks might be), and then unknowingly buy low quality mp3 files without the extra hidden high quality track.

    A far better "fix" to the problem would simply be to sell tracks in a high quality format, perhaps including a lower quality mp3 file with a lossless copy, although even if the mp3 were not included it should be able to be created as long as objectionable DRM were not part of the deal. There just seems to be no justification to packing both copies of the audio into the same file. Except, of course, as a marketing point. Lets take care of marketing right after we deal with the lawyers and politicians.

    • by PopeRatzo (965947) *

      if someone actually buys a MP3 encoded this way...

      People actually buy mp3s? Are you sure? Why?

  • what about (Score:3, Funny)

    by gEvil (beta) (945888) on Tuesday March 24, 2009 @07:28PM (#27321605)
    Does this mean that they're abandoning the mp3pro format? And just as it was about to finally catch on, too....
  • Why exactly do I want a hybrid file with twice the data on my MP3 player. I may not care about space on my computer hard drive as much but every song transfered to the MP3 player that's twice the size it needs to be pushes out another song that I could have taken with me.

    Converting on the fly (if you value space more), or storing 2 versions and only uploading the right one to your player (if you value time more) seems like a much better solution.

  • I'd be listening to FLAC on my iPod except that storage space is an issue. The entire point is that you're willing to trade-off lower sound quality for more space - on your portable player.

    This just takes up more space. You're unable to play the higher-quality audio on your mp3 player (that's why you have the low-bitrate in the first place)... but you're still taking up space with it... I know! To get that space back, I'll just split the lossless audio from the 120kbps audio...

    This is useless. Is there even

  • by ray_mccrae (78654) on Tuesday March 24, 2009 @07:37PM (#27321767)

    I predict this will be a raging success on the scale of JPEG2000

  • Why? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by ColaMan (37550) on Tuesday March 24, 2009 @07:37PM (#27321775) Homepage Journal

    My P-133 could do better than real time encoding of .wav -> .mp3

    So why, when computers are now routinely 50 or 60 times faster than that, would I bother with two separate file formats crammed into one blob on the relatively tiny memory of my portable device?

    Why, when disk space is now so cheap on my pc, can't I have a simple background process converting .flac into.mp3, to be stored separately for transfer to my portable device?

    Why would I suddenly want to put up with 9/10th's of the storage capacity of my portable device being used for useless data?

    In short, what the fuck were they thinking?

    • Re:Why? (Score:4, Insightful)

      by BigBuckHunter (722855) on Tuesday March 24, 2009 @08:39PM (#27322741)

      In short, what the fuck were they thinking?

      "I wonder if this cow has any milk left in it?"

      They're seeing if they can extract more $ for mp3 IP licenses.

    • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

      by Anonymous Coward

      > My P-133 could do better than real time encoding of .wav -> .mp3

      That's odd, since l3enc on my P133 ran at a very small fraction of real-time. Heck, it took 1/4 of the cpu just to do real-time playback.

  • Give me lossless! (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Godji (957148) on Tuesday March 24, 2009 @07:41PM (#27321861) Homepage
    This is completely dumb, but if it finally makes LOSSLESS digital music stores a reality (that have no DRM and are not watermarked), I'm all for it!

    Didn't RTFA (duh), but I wonder what codec they use for the lossless part? Not that I care, since I would transcode that to FLAC before I even played it.
  • Too Porky (Score:2, Interesting)

    by JackSpratts (660957)

    flac is of course lossless, and by definition reproduces a clone of source. it is also becomming ubiquitous. among those who care about quality or who swap bootlegs penetration is near 100%. it's a great format for these reasons. the problem is size. it's huge, on average nearly 2/3 that of a wav file. apes are slightly better, shrinking wavs to about half their size, but still quite large. really, if anything is going to unseat either flac or ape it's not going to be something even larger. it sounds as if

  • Another extension (Score:4, Insightful)

    by icebike (68054) on Tuesday March 24, 2009 @08:00PM (#27322171)

    Oh, yes, lets tweak this patent just a tad and see if we can extend it for another 20 years.

  • Evergreening (Score:4, Informative)

    by giorgist (1208992) on Tuesday March 24, 2009 @08:55PM (#27322941)

    Sounds like evergreening to me

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Evergreening [wikipedia.org]

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

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