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Ogg The Conqueror? RC2 Is Out 329

jonathan_ingram writes: "There has been a lot of discussion recently in Slashdot about sound compression formats. Much has been focused on Ogg Vorbis, but the most recent version available has been a beta released in Feburary. Today, RC2 of Vorbis has been released. The most important of the many changes is channel coupling, which means that Vorbis can now encode bitsteams at a much lower bitrate than before. Try it out today!"
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Ogg The Conqueror? RC2 Is Out

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  • by bani ( 467531 ) on Monday August 13, 2001 @03:10PM (#2115090)
    If your apathy leads you down the path of least resistance (mp3, microsoft windows, insert-proprietary-patented-method-here), you are doing your part to ensure the dominance of bad companies and bad patents.

    Think of it like voting. Your apathy will cost you your freedom.
  • by SirSlud ( 67381 ) on Monday August 13, 2001 @02:52PM (#2119533) Homepage
    I see alot of posts basically asking the question:

    "I don't think Ogg is as good as compression X, so why use it?"


    - You don't have to use it. Just support it. Be aware of it's existance. One day, it may be better than compression X.

    - Should MP3 technology get hijacked by the corperate world (more so than it is today), we have an alternative that works, even if you feel it isn't the best sound in the world.

    - Two researchers working on the same goal in different streams and parts of the world is a Good Thing (tm). Prevents information hoarding and management on bahalf of corperate interests.

    (going off memory for the rest of this, maybe I'm wrong in some claims)

    Interestingly enough, XP includes an mp3 encoder, but it only encodes up to some stupidly low bitrate (128? 64?). Since many people won't go out looking for another encoder, they will blindly encode at low bitrates.

    Ironically, in the long run, I think mp3s popularity will help Ogg .. if people are unhappy with mp3s (they'll be unhappy with the low bitrate in the XP-bundled encoder, but same difference to the average Joe), they will search for an alternative. Hark! Ogg to the rescue!

    People will always look at the "is X better than Y" when comparing technologies. What they are missing is that many, many industries are as far ahead as they are right now due to competing projects by seperate scientific/mathematical efforts. Finally, seperate projects also allow for validation of efforts. If, in some far off evil world, mp3s patent owner X says, "I can't improve sound quality, because that would break this and that.", a seperate camp of researchers can say, "bullshit! you're just saying that because MS is paying to help drive users to windows media". Or whatever the case may be.

    The value of parallel research is almost always more than the sum of the parts.
    • by rweir ( 96112 )
      OT, but...
      I don't think that MS artificially limiting the encoder bitrate will help Ogg at all. Rather, it will encourage XP users to use wma, which, conveniently, is installed right along side the mp3 encoder.
      Can you imagine your (mother|father|grandparents|dog) saying "Hmm...this mp3 sounds shoddy, I think I'll go install this complete other encoder that I've never heard of that none of my friends use", rather than "Hmm...this mp3 sounds shoddy, I think I'll use this other encode that's right here, endorsed by MS and compatible with 90% of the PCs bought in the past two years"?[1]
      The way that I'm trying to help Ogg amongst my friends is by encoding all my CDs in Ogg format, and sharing them around. If anyone wants to listen to them, they have to go and get the Winamp (or Sonique, etc...) plugin to listen to it. This way, a whole lot of my friends have been exposed to this new format. A few of them have liked the quality enough to try to figure out how to encode their own CDs in this format.

      [1]True, I can't see anyone I know saying either, but this is Slashdot; don't let the facts get in the way of a good point, right?
    • by ergo98 ( 9391 )

      Throughout the history of time people have brought up an alternative to entrenched products, and naturally people ask the same question "Why should I switch?" While it's often seems like a no-brainer for the "salesperson", it really is a completely valid question that deserves a valid answer. If product A & B are functionally equal and today I am use to product A and product B's only advantage is that it's not product A, well then most people will say "thanks but no thanks". This is the problem that Linux faces on the desktop, and the simple reality is that saying that Microsoft might request the organs of your firstborn at some future point isn't enough to push most people to adopt something new.

      This same opposition to change is the reason why Windows Media's format hasn't taken off: People are use to MP3s, and they already have their collection. Even with MS saying it's 1/2 the size for the same quality level, to most users that's barely adequate to make it worthwhile to change.

    • Actually, XP won't ship with a default MP3 encoder at all. The basic >64bit encoder the beta had was only for testing purposes.

      And none of that prevents you from installing additional codecs, as always.
  • Just FYI -

    Don't know if it's online, too, but there's a nice piece of page 1, Section B on Ogg V. and C. Montgomerey.

    • I ran across that story after a 36 hour sleepless (well, ok, a :20 nap) hacking session pushing out rc2. Gah. Nasty.

      I was kinda surprised that it was Ogg that drove away my wife (here I thought it was my awful personality. What a relief),that I've been habitually unemployed, destitute, and that I don't even own a proper desk. Ah-heh.

      Unfortunately, the green shag carpeting part is completely true. Damn you, the 1970's! Will you never die?!


      (Oh well, at least it seemed to be positive on Ogg)
  • by ergo98 ( 9391 ) on Monday August 13, 2001 @02:37PM (#2119772) Homepage Journal

    Congratulations to the OV team. While I haven't used it for a while, when I did it seemed quite nice.

    Having said that what I currently use, which is MP3s, sound great and they work great, so why should I as Joe Consumer care about OV? What sort of license fees does the MP3 patent owner (Fraunhofer?) put on companies such as Winamp, or do they only charge MP3 ripper type products?

    I guess my question is this: If I don't have a religious problem with patents, why should I care about alternatives if they're only as good as MP3?

    • There are no patent royalties for software MP3 decoders. Software encoders, and hardware decoders and encoders have royalties of a few dollars / unit. MP3Pro is (IIRC) about twice the money.

      So, the people that really care at this point are A) people who want a free encoder to rip their CDs without violating any patents, and B) manufacturers of (especially) low cost hardware MP3 players.

      Ogg also theoretically can be a lot smaller than an MP3 of comprable bitrate. Again, this really is a very good thing when you are trying to store as much as you can on a 32 MB compact flash card.

      End users will care about it when they get hardware that supports Ogg and they want to use the same files with Winamp and their new Rio player.
  • I wish Apple's iTunes supported Ogg Vorbis.

    • I wish people wouldn't support proprietary software companies. I don't see why people bitch about Microsoft and then think Apple should get a free ride.
      • If free software did what I wanted, I'd use free software.

        I don't have a problem with companies keeping their source closed. I don't see how anyone could afford to do what Apple's doing while giving their source away, and I like what Apple's doing. My problems with Microsoft go far beyond closed vs. open source.

        YMM, of course, V.
    • Quicktime component (Score:4, Interesting)

      by mbrubeck ( 73587 ) on Monday August 13, 2001 @04:08PM (#2118847) Homepage
      Vorbis developer Nick D'Amato has a working Quicktime component that lets Quicktime Player, the Quicktime plugin, iTunes, and any other QT app play vorbis files. See this thread [] from vorbis-dev for details, and download the plugin [] to help test it out.
      • Is this a Carbon version or a Classic version?

        BTW, thanks for the information, this is good to know.
      • WOOHOO! "Wilbur I think it worked"! This is a milestone for me and my studio, and I am honestly very excited. I'm going to go hunt down some ogg files on, which lets people use 'em for downloads. Soon I should be able to have a serious mastering-engineer-type opinion on some of the sound issues I've been hearing about.

        That said... AAAIGHGGGHHHH!! F**KING HELL! I am beginning to hate DropOgg with a passion! This is because nobody at Xiph is deigning to support pre-Carbon MacOS8 (bad oversight!) and _I_ am not good enough to do so and the only people who _are_ making encoders aren't good enough either! They're all writing for 8.6 and up and Carbon. And that's bad! There's a lot of people out there with _hardware_ that won't accomodate the microsoft-style upgrade treadmill. I'm downloading OggDrop (like DropOgg, only backwards) and the N2MP3 demo, those being the ONLY options available- and N2MP3 cooperates with and is strictly commercialware _and_ is bloated and, if I remember correctly, wants to operate as a big system extension (nooooo!).

        *quiver, wring hands* dammit.

        So this time I'm gonna post this _before_ daring to try and run these damn things, seeing as DropOgg still has the capacity to lock the system up so tight you can't even drop into Macsbug (how the hell does it manage that?)- and, Nick D'Amato, first of all bless you and second of all, seeing as your 'alpha-quality hack' performs flawlessly where NOTHING else does, can you do another alpha-quality hack as a Quicktime export filter? Your alpha-hacks might be all I'll ever need...

        -Chris Johnson

        • by Chris Johnson ( 580 ) on Monday August 13, 2001 @06:14PM (#2143365) Homepage Journal
          And the wonder instant follow-up...

          Nick D'Amato strikes again- turns out OggDrop _is_ his doing. It does need CarbonLib but seems to not explode when operated, even so.

          This is in contrast to the commercial product N2MP3, which faw down go SPLAT! Complete failure in proprietary land. Go get a newer computer, kid. (Yeah right...)

          And as a result I have, for the first time, encoded several files into Ogg Vorbis and been able to play them back on a proper set of mastering-ready speakers in an acoustically suitable room... sorta. So, here's my observations so far- some good and some 'whoa! what the heck is that?'.

          First of all- Ogg Vorbis DOES NOT lack bass. Trust me on this one. I have some projects being worked on that used my GPLed mastering software to fill in extremely low bass, and I used that to audition Ogg Vorbis. The highs are pleasingly uncolored, a bit 'whiter' than the original recording but it actually seems to help synthetic cymbals. Bright recordings lose absolutely nothing, it's quite impressive really. The lows go down forever, I'm speculating that people are used to some type of midbass wooliness that you get with mp3s? I flat guarantee that the _extreme_ lows get through uninhibited. Almost to a fault...

          Here's the joker in the deck: every tune I encoded and played back was somewhat choppy- and VARI-SPEEDED.

          I can't begin to imagine what would be causing that. It's really being done pretty damn well! It sounds very, very much like the original recording, with a bit of interference and choppiness, except the tempo is _significantly_ slower. Like more than 10 bpm slower. This is a pretty serious problem... and I don't believe it can be part of Quicktime because Quicktime has been able to avoid that sort of thing for many, many years.

          A 300mhz G3 machine with 128M of RAM ought to be able to deal with this- if Ogg Vorbis is truly that processor-destructive that's a serious objection to it. It'll never work in embedded apps or portable players if it has to eat that much CPU. I'm hoping it's a bug. Actually I _know_ it is a bug, because dropouts are one thing with inadequate (ha!) CPU, but _varispeed_ should not be happening. There's no excuse for that as a reaction to inadequate CPU.

          So, all told, I am delighted with what I've learned. And even with the problems I encountered, I can confirm that Ogg Vorbis _does_ have bass, deep bass, and that its tonal character, even at 128K, is quite impressive. If I was mastering for it I'd master stuff for soundstage depth knowing it would drag all the highs and lows out that it could, that it would make things 'whiter' and zippier kind of like Fraunhofer MP3 encoders, but in a less intrusive yet more effective way.

          At the same time, this port of it is still 'freaky bizarre demo' quality and could not be used professionally. I'd love to know if this varispeed is happening strictly on playback- that would mean I had a commercial-quality free Nick D. _encoder_ and just didn't have a playback mechanism that worked properly.

          Believe me, guys, I'm rooting for you. But I can't do this work for you, because I'm not a C-slinging programmer gunslinger. If I was, I'd have been trying to help out loooooong ago. Best I can do for now is state unequivocally: yes, Ogg sounds better than MP3 if you like clarity and wide-range frequency response. I look forward to when it grows up and can support platforms such as mine. I can't really give it a full-on audition, or include it in the mp3 study I did, because it's just plain not ready and not working reliably, but finally, at long last, it's working unreliably and that is enough to give me a taste. And I like where it's heading.

          -Chris Johnson

          • Chris -

            If you follow the discussion links posted earlier in this thread the development of OV4QT (my lazy acronym) is fairly well documented.

            From as far as I've gotten it appears there's an issue (and it may have been resolved - I'm still reading through July and am in way above my head) that OV-compressed material isn't strictly linear but instead information can be spread out within the stream. Thus there's a certian amount of read-ahead/reassemble/playback that's still a bit dodgy implementing in the QT environment. This may be the source of the discrepancy you're noting. Or I could be (likely) completely off.

            Anyway the developer discussion makes for interesting reading and I expect that investing the 45 minutes or so to go through it and catch up would be time well invested, particularly if you're looking to really understand and take advantage of OV4QT.

            -- Michael

          • So, Monty: why would Ogg be playing back at the proper pitch but slower _tempo_? Have we got any hope of a fix for this, and have you seen it in any other circumstances? Or perhaps it's specific to the Quicktime input filter?
      • Does Nick's QT component use Altivec?

        There's a shocking difference in CPU loading between altivec and non-altivec versions of MP3 decoders, (like, 30% versus 4% CPU usage IIRC) and I wonder how much Vorbis would benefit from the array processor.

    • I agree. But don't wish: write to them and ask them to. This is a nice program that would only benefit from ogg support. (Yeah, I know, not OSS, yadda yadda. It's the most user-friendly oen I've seen.)
    • I wish Apple's iTunes supported Ogg Vorbis.

      Well I'm sure somebody will hack it together soon... All they have to do is download the source co.... Oh yeah. Guess you're SOL.

      • Re:iTunes (Score:3, Informative)

        by maggard ( 5579 )
        Since QuickTime is a well documented, widely used, open-ended architecture and is so pervasively supported in MacOS making Ogg Vorbis availiable in iTunes (or anywhere else in the MacOS & it's applications) shouldn't be difficult.

        See [] for details. Indeed Apple even has a program where they'll put you on their updates system and as an at-need component download. With that in place simply sending someone an Ogg Vorbis-encoded file would trigger their getting the codec automagically.

  • by xiphmont ( 80732 ) on Monday August 13, 2001 @04:26PM (#2121919) Homepage
    OK, since only about half of the mail we get is about the name 'Ogg Vorbis', it's clearly time to karma-whore a popular subject and open this can of worms one more time.

    Our "The Name Sucks!"/"The name Rulez!" mail ratio is about 50/50. Some of you have threatened to kill us if we change the name, some of you have threatened to kill us if we don't. So you're gonna hear what I think about it. I'm not going to waste the opportunity my minor fame gives me for a healthy round of peer-mockery.

    I Like The Name. I Wrote the Software. The Name Stays. </neener-neener>

    But there's more to this story than 'nyah nyah'. The 'rename Ogg!' forces have provided me with some of my favorite mail ever. I recall fondly the guy who went on, in great detail, why 'Ogg Vorbis' sucks, and that I must adopt 'a cutting edge, truly kick-ass name like "FreeMP3"!!!!!'

    As for 'Ogg Vorbis', I hadn't really meant the 'Vorbis' part to get tacked on. The name of the format is Ogg. Just Ogg. Vorbis happens to be the first codec. Had 'Vorbis' been perhaps one more syllable (like, say 'Sorensen'), we wouldn't have this problem. People would just call it 'Ogg' like God (that's me) intended. Of course, particularly obsessive people *do* occasionally say 'QuickTime Sorensen', but they don't get invited to parties much, and when invited, they are shunned. 'Course they're usually just arguing with the punch bowl so shunning is easy.

    I don't want my users to be shunned at parties, so I'm gonna help you out here. Just call it 'Ogg'. Ogg is a good, simple, very satisfying word.

    It makes a good noun, a better verb and can even be used effectively in a curse. It is a real word and contains no numbers. It has only two unique characters, making it simpler than mp3. It is only one syllable, making it shorter to say than mp3. If you still can't handle it, try reboot-reinstall.


  • by Skuto ( 171945 ) on Monday August 13, 2001 @03:07PM (#2122043) Homepage
    Unfortunately the poster didn't mention this, so I will.

    This is a tuning release. Although all infrastructure like channel coupling is in place, the encoder itself is not ideally tuned yet. One of the goals of this release is to get people to test the new modes and report possible problems (samples were it goofs up). If you do this, be sure to try a blind test. Your mind _will_ play tricks on you otherwise.

    Two known problems currently are pre/postecho on some really hard samples, and occasional 'hissing' in the low bitrate modes (< 160).

    Both are known and will be fixed in the very near future. RC3 is already expected next week.

  • by jawad ( 15611 ) on Monday August 13, 2001 @02:32PM (#2124964)
    Ogg the Conqueror?

    Close. It's Oog the Caveman. But nice try.
  • What about... (Score:3, Interesting)

    by swordboy ( 472941 ) on Monday August 13, 2001 @02:26PM (#2125902) Journal
    What is currently being done in the matter of multi-channel compressed audio? At this point, all of these formats seem to support stereo only. It doesn't seem like it would be that hard to implement a Dolby Digital compression algorithm. There is currently limited support for the format outside of DVDs but the music that is out there is impressive. Perhaps the OV guys could put something together after they finalize this format?
    • Is patented. So is THX. I don't think there are any un-patented 5.1 channel codecs around. Maybe the DVD-Audio. But I don't think the OV guys will be doing it.
      • Re:Dolby Digital (Score:1, Informative)

        by Anonymous Coward
        uhh, THX isn't any kind of sound format (such as DD 5.1, DTS, etc)'s just a certification for quality...ya monkey...
      • Re:Dolby Digital (Score:5, Informative)

        by marm ( 144733 ) on Monday August 13, 2001 @04:09PM (#2145617)

        I don't think there are any un-patented 5.1 channel codecs around.

        Actually, if you look at the last answer on the Vorbis FAQ [] you'll see that Ogg Vorbis already supports encoding of up to 255 channels per stream, so, theoretically at least, it ought to be a cinch to use Vorbis for 5.1 audio.

        This could be a real opportunity for Ogg to become the first mainstream audio codec to support 5.1 explicitly. It would be a real leg-up for Ogg's chances if it gets accepted as the choice of audiophiles, and having 5.1 supported before MP3 and WMA can only help with that. Those who have experimented with DVD Audio would finally have a format worth considering for ripping purposes, and it helps that Vorbis sounds very musical.

    • Re:What about... (Score:3, Informative)

      by Skuto ( 171945 )
      Vorbis supports up to 255 fully coupled channels

      So basically this is already done.

  • by Anonymous Coward
    You all should be aware that Ogg Vorbis was created due to the fact that MP3 contains patented tech. You probably already know, but let's look a little further.

    You own a patent, you get the tech. to become widely accepted then you crack down by sending nasty letters to everyone.

    Don't think it could happen. Humm, the DMCA is a law created to make sure it does. Corporate interests are suddenly creating the future, not the acedemics and scientists. No, like Professor Felten, they are threatened.

    So, support Ogg, GNU and everyone else who is protecting your Freedom. There is a larger purpose to their work which most people are just discovering.

    Freedom you say? Yes, Freedom, look at Dmitry Sklyarov -- he sat in jail...

    Pay-per-view books? []

  • Not yet slashdotted... []

  • by sultanoslack ( 320583 ) on Monday August 13, 2001 @02:32PM (#2138319)
    I'd love to use Ogg Vorbis and be a good little Free Software guy, but I tried using it this morning and was disappointed.

    I compared an Ogg (uning the encoder that came out today) file with a 128KB/s mp3 and a medium quality VBR mp3 (both made with Lame) and I just didn't think the Ogg file was quite there. I was using the same file for all of the tests (Mahler's 9th Symphony).

    Also, on my Athlon 900 Oggenc went at 0.6x encoding speed. I usually get 5-8x with 128KB/s mp3s.

    I ended up settling on going a little bigger and using a 192KB/s MP3, which I'd say is still the best option.

    Best wishes to the Ogg Vorbis team. I hope that I can eventually ditch my mp3s.
    • Hmm, I'll have to give it a try myself and see how it does. After the recent discussion on Ogg vs. MP3, I was all set to encode my CDs to Ogg. I'm on my third time re-encoding my CDs (first time was crappy with bladeenc at 128kbs, second time with VBR LAME, third time with the latest LAME beta, creating a high quality version for listening at home and a lower quality for the MP3-CD player in the car for each track). I was only about 10% through my 300 CDs and figured it would be easy to scrap that and start again. I was going to make the high quality files Ogg and keep the lower quality MP3 for the car player.

      One problem I've had with MP3 is that I have yet to find any player that will play consecutive MP3 files with absolutely no break in the audio stream between files. It seems that every one of them has to close the old file, open the new file, read some information, then finally start decoding. In the meantime, there's been a split second break in audio output. Not good for live CDs or any time two tracks continuously merge together. I looked at the API for decoding Ogg to raw audio and it looked perfect to write my own simple player to solve this. I could simply buffer enough audio data that there would be no "skip" in output when switching input files. Perfect.

      Then I did some comparisons with sound quality. With Ogg RC1, I encoded part of Mussorgsky's Pictures At An Exhibition to both Ogg and MP3 at around 200kbs VBR. The MP3 sounded perfect but the Ogg had audible clicks and pops. Sorry, but that just wasn't acceptable. So I scrapped that idea and went back to MP3, continuing what I had started. I would have to look into another solution to solve the break-between-tracks problem.

      I'm now about 2/3 done with the encoding and this happens? ;-) Honestly I'm not sure whether I want the quality to be improved... If it is, I'll be tempted to start over, which is a lot of work. If it isn't, I don't get the benefits of Ogg... Hmmm. I'll give it a try and see what happens, though.

    • Are you sure that you're using an up to date version of Oggenc? I know that my old version (beta1, IIRC) was painfully slow, but that a newer one (beta4) was about as fast as lame (about 2.5x on my PIII 500) and produces good sound quality at 128 kbit/s. This is confirmed by what they say on theirweb site. They made substantial progress with beta4 and strongly reccomend that you upgrade if you're using anything older than that.

    • I don't know what you've done, but Oggenc should run at 4x _at least_ on your system.

      The 128kbps mode is not ideally tuned (IMHO), but the problems are known. 160kbps is already a lot better.

    • For all of the replies to this:

      1) I'm doing encoding on Mahler's Symphony No. 9 because I'd like to have a copy at work too (without leaving my CD up here). The idea is that even though I'm using lossy compression to not be able to notice it. Also, classical is much more demanding on an encoder so I thought it would be a better test. I also feel compelled to point out that CDs are a lossy format. Heck, why record anything, you're always losing data. ;-)

      2) I'm listening through pretty high end headphones, Sony MDR-V600 ($120 at Best Buy), so sometimes I can notice things that others can't.

      3) Yes, I'm sure I'm using the current version of Ogg. I'm on the devel mailing list (I'm planning on adding Ogg support to the MP3 Tagging software that I wrote, QTagger.) and saw the annoucement come out and installed the RPMs this morning. I upgraded from Beta 4 which came with Redhat 7.1.

      So what are the differences?

      *) The sound on Ogg files sounds clunky as it changes bitrates. This was especially noticeable on the recording I was compressing since it was originally analog and had a constant (though slight) background hiss. The noticeable changes in what should be a constant sound were quite distracting.

      *)To Ogg's credit, they don't have as noticeably the fluttery sound of compression artifacts that you sometimes notice in MP3s. Lame is a nice encoder though, so with the -h switch these normally aren't too bad. I don't hear them at all in 192 KB/s MP3s, which I reencoded all of my classical in today. I use 128KB/s for rock and jazz. It would be interesting to go back and repeat my test with something idiomatic from those genres.

      *)I thought Lame's VBR did sounded better than Ogg Vorbis and they seem to be similar schemes. There was a noticeable squeaking sound in the background on the MP3, but it was still clearer than the Ogg file.

      For summary, since I'm listening on pretty hi-fi stuff, I can hear all of the little background-ish type things. I prefer these to be constant as opposed to variable. If there's analog hiss, it should sound uniform across the recording.

      I'll repeat, I'm glad Ogg's around and I hope it improves, but I'm just not ready to switch yet.
      • You said it only rips at 0.6x. I ripped many classical, metal, electronic, etc, CDs using GRIP and the oggenc that comes with Slackware. On a TBird 1Ghz. I get a min 2.5x. At max, I see as high as 3.5-4x.

        You must be doing something very wrong, or you're lieing.
      • Since it seems I'm not the only one facing the problem of deciding what format to use and yet wanting to avoid ever having to re-rip an entire CD collection, I'm going to ask if anyone's already solved this the obvious way:

        A few Assumptions/Observations:

        1) Every CD ripper (at least internally, if not as an explicit step) rips to WAV first, and then encodes to whatever compressed format is desired.

        2) Hard disks are getting so big and cheap that it's now possible to contemplate storing the raw WAV or CDA files (BTW: Is the difference in these two? Only the header?)

        3) Compatibility with various players (whether home component players like the Audiotron or portable MP3/WMA players) is required, but this is where it's hard to make a call as to what we'll want in the future.

        Proposed/Possible Solution:

        It seems then, that the "obvious" solution is to store the audio on disk in WMA format (remember #2 above - size has been declared irrelevant by fiat!), and filter/encode/convert it on the fly into other formats as needed by the varios player software and hardware.

        On Unix-based systems, this could be easily done with a minor addition to a jukebox program that in addition to creating and managing the real WMA files would also create and manage symbolic links that pointed to a named pipe or a program that checks its $0 to see what it should grab and how it should massage it. (For instance, any unmodified app reading "Buffett-Volcano.mp3" would actually be reading the output of something that worked like "wav2mp3So, does anyone know of an audio management app that takes this approach to things? Other than the fact that it uses more space (see #2 above *again*), this seems like the most flexible way to future-proof an audio library. This sort of thing would make it possible to simultaneously support audio hw/sw that uses common (MP3 and WMA(yeck)) or not-yet-common (Ogg, etc.) without having to go re-rip hundreds of CDs from scratch every six months to support a new format or version.
        • Grrrr... bloody Slashdot content mangling...
          I meant, of course:

          For instance, any unmodified app reading "Buffett-Volcano.mp3" would actually be reading the output of something that worked like "wav2mp3<Buffet-Volcano.wav"
        • Please tell me you meant " the audio on disk in WAV format..." and not " the audio on disk in WMA format..."!

          If you want the best audio quality, then forget about lossy compression, and get one of the lossless compressors (FLAC for example) which can compress WAVs into about 50% of normal size -- about equivalent to a 700 kpbs file.

          Yes, disc space is much cheaper now: cheap enough that I can affort to set aside about 15 Gig for my music collection. If I stored my CDs completely uncompressed, I would be able to fit about 25 CDs in that space, 30 if I losslessly compress them. Using Vorbis at a bitrate which isn't transparent, but good enough that my ears don't hurt when I listen to the music (anything from 96 to 160 depending on the type of music, although I've not found anything I can distingush 128 and 160 between on my speakers yet), I can fit 300 CDs.
  • From the paper on coupled-channel encoding:

    "Eliminating Trigonometry and Rounding"

    Man, I wish they had thought of that sooner - That would have my Pre-Calc grade soooo much.
  • Ogg Vorbis Quality (Score:4, Informative)

    by chrysrobyn ( 106763 ) on Monday August 13, 2001 @02:32PM (#2142877)
    I know I need to post this to the authors, but... It is my goal to replace my wife's and my CD collection of 400-500 discs with a hard drive. We'd like to be able to put the CDs in a closet and reclaim some living room space. So, I ripped 10 or so titles and compared them to the original. The rip quality was 256kb/sec. I'm not exactly an audiophile, but I won't tolerate noise, so maybe a lossy compression isn't right for me. I didn't notice any high end problems or artifacts like MP3. Stereo seperation was excellent. The only difference was that the low end was less impressive on the OGG than the CD. I put on a few songs and started them simultanously and switched the amp from CD to cassette in (which happened to be my computer). Although it is possible that the casette input amp is less accurate near the low end than the CD input amp, I doubt it. The speakers used were Bose 501s. Conclusion: at 256k/sec, OGG was fine at the high end, but strangely enough, not good enough at the low end. If the low end can be clarified / amplified (hard to tell, psychoacoustics are strange), I'll be OGGing away for a good long time.
    • by Anonymous Coward on Monday August 13, 2001 @03:08PM (#2121484)
      first time I read your comment as:

      It is my goal to replace my wife and my CD collection of 400-500 discs ...

      Current version of Ogg Vorbis can only do the later :-)

    • by IronChef ( 164482 )

      FYI, I have been using this for my MP3 jukebox:

      I looked at a couple hundred jukebox projects and this was the one that met my needs best. It even lets you play the files ON the file server, if it has a sound card... so my jukebox is a P200 hidden behind the stereo. Webplay can do simultaneous streams to other computers on your LAN too, if you want. Cool stuff.
    • by spektr ( 466069 ) on Monday August 13, 2001 @03:44PM (#2129313)
      The only difference was that the low end was less impressive on the OGG than the CD. I put on a few songs and started them simultanously and switched the amp from CD to cassette in (which happened to be my computer). Although it is possible that the casette input amp is less accurate near the low end than the CD input amp, I doubt it. The speakers used were Bose 501s. Conclusion: at 256k/sec, OGG was fine at the high end, but strangely enough, not good enough at the low end.

      You are comaring:

      a) OGG -- decoded stream -- soundcard -- casette input -- amp -- speakers
      b) CD -- decoded stream -- CD-D/A-converter -- CD-input -- amp -- speakers

      If alternative a doesn't sound as good as b, this doesn't say anything about the ogg-encoding, because it isn't the only variable. Maybe the difference is caused by the different audio-characteristics of soundcard and CD-D/A-converter.

      To get a valid comparison, rip the content of the CD as WAV. Then compare the WAV and the OGG, using the same soundcard and the same amp-input. Everything else is totally meaningless.

      But even with this setting, there remains one additional variable: your psyche. If ogg and wav were bit-per-bit equal you will still recognize a difference when you know which one of the two you are hearing. So if you want to get meaningful results, you have to make a double-blind-test.

      It's really sad how easy it is for the marketing guys to convince people that alternative codecs are inferior, because 95% don't understand anything about scientific methods or statistics. And they will do that, because they have the budget and we have not.

    • by bentini ( 161979 )
      FYI: flac ( is a free lossless audio compression. What this means is that you might only halve the size, but it's a PERFECT reproduction. I'm not sure if any players support it, but a shell script or somesuch could probably decrompress it right before you wanted to play it.

      The code quality is horrible, but that might not matter.


    • I would recommend the widely-used Shorten format. There are encoding tools for both Windows and Linux and plugins for both WinAmp and XMMS. Compression is usually around 50%.

      If you want more information, a good place to look is [].
  • by FreeUser ( 11483 ) on Monday August 13, 2001 @02:28PM (#2144636)
    Quoting the Ogg Vorbis [] website:

    Ogg Vorbis is a completely open, patent-free, professional audio encoding and streaming technology with all the benefits of Open Source.

    So, why is this article listed under the "patents pending" topic again?
  • I understand the philosophical arguments for using an open source standard instead of MP3s, but I have a hard time imagining that Ogg Vorbis will win out. MP3s are easy to use, easy to create (from existing CDs, at least), etc. I don't see the big motivating factor for people to go to Ogg Vorbis. The future seems to be divided up between MP3 and copy-protected formats provided by companies like Microsoft.

    What am I missing? What is going to motivate anyone but idealogically motivated open source advocates to switch to Ogg Vorbis?

    • (everybody loves oversimplification)

      Ogg Vorbis's popularity will be proportional to the enforcement of the MP3 patent(s?).

      It doesn't have to be popular to serve a purpose. The mere threat of a completely free format waiting in the wings could just mean that MP3 is effectively free, aside from a few particularly litigation-sensitive companies paying patent royalties.

      I'm sure more than one group has replied to UNISYS intimidation with, "We could be using PNG tomorrow."
    • Ogg Vorbis doesn't really need to win from MP3s, it needs to be the format people go looking for if they want something better than MP3s.

      All those MP3 files aren't going to disappear of course but as Ogg Vorbis is free software (licensed under the BSD license) a lot of players are going to build in support for it, preparing it to replace MP3 in the long term (internet time, I suppose).

    • MP3s are easy to use, easy to create (from existing CDs, at least),

      These are phantom advantages. Oggs are just as easy to use and just as easy to create from CDs. If, on your particular platform/OS, you are experiencing a difference, it has nothing to do with the qualities of the file format and encoder, and everything to do with whatever particular applications that you have chosen to run.

      The only serious advantage MP3 has right now, is that hardware Ogg players aren't on the market yet.

      Once that advantage goes away (and it will), there won't be any significant reasons to use one format over the other, except for performance/quality reasons. And if it ever comes down to that, then Ogg will rip MP3's head off.

    • by Sc00ter ( 99550 ) on Monday August 13, 2001 @02:33PM (#2137722) Homepage
      It's really not harder to make an ogg file over an mp3, as long as you get the right software. Also, most players will play ogg and if they don't, there's probably a plugin so you can. For me, I use mp3.. Why? because I have a portable mp3 player, and a car mp3 player that won't play ogg files.. plus, I don't feel the need to convert the 200 or so CDs of mp3 that I converted when I made them into mp3s..

      • And there we have the reason that Ogg Vorbis will not gain broad-based acceptance for a long time.

        MP3 has mind-share with the public
        MP3 has a huge installed base of players and devices
        Users have no reason to stop using MP3

        Unless Ogg Vorbis can demonstrate massive storage space savings/technical advantages or MP3 is made completely unusable, users have no reason to switch, and users aren't going to switch without a reason. It's new, it's nifty, it's innovative, it's interesting to us, but like many other open-source initiatives, until it gives Average Computer User a real reason to change their habits, it's just an intresting niche.

        • Here are two reasons why some users will want to switch to Ogg Vorbis:

          • It's free. (Game developers won't have to pay patent license fees to use Ogg Vorbis in their games.)
          • It sounds considerably better than MP3 at the same bitrate.

          For me, the second one was the killer. Try it yourself! Pick a challenging piece, and encode it with LAME [] and Ogg Vorbis [] at the same bitrate, listen to both files, and see which sounds better.

        • Smaller files because of lower bitrates possible.
          Same or better quality for those smaller files.
          Many (unfortunately, not all) of the better MP3 players (Such as the EMPEG player) are totally firmware upgradable and they've already implemented versions of Ogg Vorbis players or are in the process of doing so...
    • that is not the problem that Ogg's have to face.

      What Ogg's have to overcome is the myriad of mp3 dedicated hardware out there. My Diamond RIO, My audiotron, my Kenwood MP3 car stareo, my daughters MP3 capable cd player....

      Unless I want to go back to the musical dark ages, I will not drop MP3's for Ogg's. What they need to do now is get manufacturers to start making flash files to upgrade this hardware outthere to start using the nice ogg files.

      until then It's an mp3 from 5 years ago... a toy for the geek.

      I really hope that it takes off as the standard though.
    • by Cardhore ( 216574 ) on Monday August 13, 2001 @03:15PM (#2153934) Homepage Journal

      In most cases, a 60kbps OGG file sounds as good as an 128k mp3. An 80k OGG is as good as 160k mp3 and half the size.

      If you are serving audio streams, you can actually strip away parts of the files to make lower bitrate streams--without re-coding. (wow!) MP3 can't.

      You can have more than 2 audio channels. MP3 can't.

      The comment fields are well defined and you can have whatever attributes you want, with strings as long as necessary. ID3 for mp3s is a hack; string lengths are limited and you can't add easily add your own fields.

      If you have a portable player, you would appreciate the smaller size with high quality.

      In the future, you can select how you want stereo coupling done (not in this release). (Mp3 can.)

      If you make computer games, you have a high quality free way of adding a lot of music to your games. (possibly patents for mp3)

      You can do 44.1khz and 48 khz audio.

      You can concatenate multiple streams together to make one file, and it will play correctly. You can also cut portions out and paste them together without re-encoding.

      Ogg's are exactly the same length as the original WAVs--something MP3 lacks--so that when you make recordings of live shows, gaps don't appear in you r audio.

      The encoder sounds good by default, so music traded on file sharing systems sounds good (unlike all those terrible 128k mp3s encoded by anything that isn't LAME).

  • by orbital3 ( 153855 ) on Monday August 13, 2001 @03:26PM (#2145474)
    I've noticed most of the posts here are saying how awful Vorbis sounds... I've been using it for quite a while now, and have done pretty extensive testing myself as well as reading what alot of other people have had to say. I don't have "Golden Ears" or $10k worth of stereo equipment, just a decent pair of headphones, but it's ALWAYS been my opinion that ogg sounds better than mp3. I sent one to a friend once, and his first reaction was, "WOW! This is ALOT better than mp3!". And that was with the beta 4 encoder. Even those crazy guys over on the forums [] have lots of praise for Ogg Vorbis.

    Like the topic says, I haven't been able to get to RC2 yet, thanks to it being slashdotted, but I seriously doubt RC2 sounds worse than beta 4, and while encode times _are_ slower than mp3, they're nowhere near as slow as some people are saying. (I get about 3x speed on my Duron 850 with b4). Clicks and pops are likely a cause of a bad rip from the CD, not the encoder.

    I've been using nothing but Ogg for my CDs for a while now, and have encouraged many friends to do the same. People really need to give Ogg a fair, unbiased try before they go saying it sucks, because it's most definitely at the very least, better than mp3 at the same bitrate. Check out PCABX [] for info on how to do a good double-blind listening test.

    Congrats to Monty and the rest of the Ogg Vorbis team. Keep up the good work.
    • Quick follow-up: I've gotten RC2 and with a couple quick, preliminary tests, the quality is at least the same as b4, if not better (putting it far ahead of mp3), and the encoding speed is the same (55 seconds to encode a 3:01 .wav on my Duron 850). Ogg Vorbis has definitely been worth the wait, considering there are even further improvements to be made.
  • by Bonker ( 243350 ) on Monday August 13, 2001 @03:32PM (#2145723)
    Despite having their funding cave almost all the way in, the good folks at Xiphonious have gone ahead and pounded out the format that will kill Mpeg-based audio. It will be the most decisive victory of Open Source Software over propriety formats, even moreso than the Linux/Windows competition.

    While this is strictly my opinion, these are the reasons I beleive this:

    1. Xiph has spent a great deal of time on the niceties of the format. As much, or moreso than the format itself. They've made sure that anyone can encode high-quality OGGs with both a command line and a 'droplet' style encoder. They've also made sure that anyone can play oggs with plugins for all the most popular MP3 players. Their player libraries are all LGPL'd, making it so that anyone else can include OGG functionality in plugin-style to their application.
    2. Because of the LGPL'd libraries, developers and publishers can use OGG format audio for free, rather than paying a patent-fee to the Fraunhoeffer institue. This is a pretty major thing, since it deducts five dollars from the cost of any given software distribution. Not a lot for a single game, but think of the money that a popular company like Verant would save by distributing their next game with an Ogg-based soundtrack. Ogg translates directly to monetary savings!

    3. MP3 is compatiable with Stereo CD streams. That's great, but you really can't encode Dolby 5.1 audio without sacrificing quality. Ogg can do 255 channels, making it 'Dolby 5.1' ready. DVD Audio ain't gonna stay copy-protected for long, and when it's protection goes, you can be sure that the people encoding it will use Ogg instead of mp3 so that there is no quality loss.

    4. MP3 is a dirty word if you work for an RIAA company. There are now dozens of firms who work to track down file-traders on P2P networks, IRC, Websites, and FTP sites. They aren't searching for Ogg's yet. As it becomes more and more difficult to trade MP3's, people will turn to Ogg like people who used Napster turned to Bearshear and other Gnutella clients.

    5. Ogg offers significant quality improvements over MP3. Windows Media offers these same kind of improvements, but they come at the cost of restrictive Microsoft policy such as limited bit rates and 'digital rights management' schemes. Since Ogg format doesn't even contain hooks for digital rights, I think I know where the majority of Audiophiles are going to be looking for their online audio fixes.

    6. The Vorbig Fishy ROCKS!

    Like I said, just my opinions...
  • by Dr. Spork ( 142693 ) on Tuesday August 14, 2001 @12:55AM (#2146734)
    I'm sick of seeing these obviously flawed "listening tests" that everyone is writing about. If you want to be taken seriously, here's what you do.

    Encode MP3s, RC2-OGGs, and whatever else you like, at all the bitrates you are interested in. I recommend doing this for many different types of music you like.


    Once they're on your computer, decompress them back into a .WAV file. Make sure you keep track of which .wav came from which compressed file. If you tested both MP3 and OGG at 3 different bitrates each, you will have 6 .WAV files for each song, plus the original .WAV (don't delete it). Then cut out relevant passages from each of the songs, maybe a minute each, with a wav editor.


    Once you have these wav files on your hard drive, tell your roommate to burn them on a CD, in an order that he will write down but not reveal to you. Then put the CD into your stereo and get a good paid of headphones. Crank it up, and take notes on which versions of the passages sound the best and why. See how successful you are in identifying the original wav file when you don't know which it is. See if there is any pattern to your responses.

    Until you do a double-blind test like this (come on, it's not difficult) you really shouldn't be shooting your mouth off about which format sounds better.

"If it's not loud, it doesn't work!" -- Blank Reg, from "Max Headroom"