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posted by martyb on Thursday May 04, @01:52AM   Printer-friendly
from the lets-party-like-its-1999 dept.

MP3 decoding was already free and got recently included in Fedora. But now, encoding is also free according to Fraunhofer Institute for Integrated Circuits IIS: "On April 23, 2017, Technicolor's mp3 licensing program for certain mp3 related patents and software of Technicolor and Fraunhofer IIS has been terminated." The Wikipedia MP3 article confirms that.

So, do you still use an MP3 library or have you switched to another format or means of listening to music such as (spying built-in) streaming services?


Original Submission

Related Stories

Fedora Linux to Support MP3 Encoding 6 comments

Fedora Magazine reports:

[...] a few days ago Red Hat Legal provided the permission to ship MP3 encoding in Fedora. [...] it will soon be possible to convert physical media or other formats to MP3 in Fedora without 3rd party repositories.

Previous stories:
The MP3 Format is now Patent Free
0-Days Hitting Fedora and Ubuntu Open Desktops to a World of Hurt


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  • (Score: 5, Interesting) by Snotnose on Thursday May 04, @01:58AM (24 children)

    by Snotnose (1623) on Thursday May 04, @01:58AM (#504107)

    Some, jeez, 17 years ago I encoded my CDs with ogg. Couldn't find a player to support it.

    Some, jeez, 10 years ago got a huge hard drive and encoded my CDs with flac. Couldn't find a player to support it.

    Now, I just use MP3. Yeah, I can use flacsquish or somesuch to convert flac to MP3, but fark it. I just save everything as 320 VBS and burn stuff to a USB drive when I want to listen to it. I listen to most of my music either driving or riding my bike (phone playing MP3).

    • (Score: 3, Insightful) by epitaxial on Thursday May 04, @03:25AM (18 children)

      by epitaxial (3165) on Thursday May 04, @03:25AM (#504143)

      9 out of 10 people can't tell 192kbps mp3 from straight .wav files.

      • (Score: 5, Informative) by Anonymous Coward on Thursday May 04, @03:31AM (16 children)

        by Anonymous Coward on Thursday May 04, @03:31AM (#504147)

        Stop this nonsense. It depends on the type of music. If it's rich music with lots of harmonics and overtones, more of its details are removed when compressed, and the discrepancy becomes more noticeable.

        • (Score: 2, Informative) by Anonymous Coward on Thursday May 04, @05:42AM (14 children)

          by Anonymous Coward on Thursday May 04, @05:42AM (#504204)
          Stop this nonsense. Double blind ABX tests using various types of music have conclusively shown that just about no one can really tell the difference between a 256kbps MP3 and the original uncompressed music.
          • (Score: 3, Insightful) by KiloByte on Thursday May 04, @06:37AM (13 children)

            by KiloByte (375) on Thursday May 04, @06:37AM (#504221)

            Stop this nonsense. Double blind ABX tests using various types of music have conclusively shown that just about no one can really tell the difference between a 256kbps MP3 and the original uncompressed music.

            Stop this nonsense, even I, with my no-longer-young ears, on shitty gear, can ABX 320kbps MP3 on some specific samples, and there are people who on good gear can find passages they can ABX in an arbitrary long enough sample from certain genres of music (obviously, no one can do so for most of modern pop that's serfed (I refuse to call that "mastered") with 4 or less bits of dynamic range).

            No other popular music format (OGG, AAC, Opus) suffers from degenerate cases on real-world sound. Especially Opus is fully transparent for most people at 96kbps and for trained listeners on good gear in a quiet room at 128kbps.

            MP3 is a shit format that needs to die. Use Opus, screw the rest, although if you're stuck with a crap proprietary player, OGG and AAC are good enough.

            --
            Ceterum censeo systemd esse delendam.
            • (Score: 5, Interesting) by Zyx Abacab on Thursday May 04, @07:31AM (8 children)

              by Zyx Abacab (3701) on Thursday May 04, @07:31AM (#504233)

              Two words: MP3 Sizzle.

              The clash of hi-hats, and the roar of applause, and the sound of rushing water are all hell to encode lossily. All sound rather close to noise—without actually being noise—and, as such, are very difficult to profile correctly in an encoder.

              MP3 just can't pull it off; and better formats, like Opus, have been able to for several years now.

              • (Score: 2) by bob_super on Thursday May 04, @05:08PM (7 children)

                by bob_super (1357) on Thursday May 04, @05:08PM (#504402)

                And since over 95% of people listen to their music collection on the go (car, gym, run, work), and on basic playback devices, it doesn't freaking matter...

                You can keep spouting nonsense about what perfect people with perfect hears in perfect listening situations might be able to distinguish, or just realize that most "music" and listening situations make every codec sound identical, but only MP3 is universally supported.
                Convenience over perfection, people ... Can't you learn from Apple's success?

                • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Thursday May 04, @05:47PM (6 children)

                  by Anonymous Coward on Thursday May 04, @05:47PM (#504431)

                  Nobody is talking about "perfection". And what the hell does Apple has got to do with anything here?

                  Some of us care that lossy compression degrades audio quality, and we would like to strike a decent bargain between file size and audio quality.

                  If you don't care, then be happy and kindly bug off.

                  • (Score: 2) by bob_super on Thursday May 04, @06:01PM (5 children)

                    by bob_super (1357) on Thursday May 04, @06:01PM (#504445)

                    Did you read the first two posts of the thread, or was your Monster Oxygen-free-silver triple-shielded directional audio cable in the way?

                    • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Thursday May 04, @08:03PM (4 children)

                      by Anonymous Coward on Thursday May 04, @08:03PM (#504506)

                      Go learn something about information theory and signal processing. Maybe then you won't come across like an ignint knucklehead.

                      • (Score: 2) by bob_super on Thursday May 04, @09:46PM (3 children)

                        by bob_super (1357) on Thursday May 04, @09:46PM (#504549)

                        ... the god of irony is having a good day, as most of my screen real estate is code and debug for my real-time JPEG2000 decoder, including PSNR measurements.

                        When I point out that nitpicking about barely audible compression differences is absurd, because very few people could potentially notice in their daily listening (which cannot be contested), assuming that I don't know what I'm talking about is both an absurd jump, and a good reflection on your own narrow-minded approach to the question. Did I trigger you?

                        • (Score: 2) by Zyx Abacab on Friday May 05, @03:54AM (2 children)

                          by Zyx Abacab (3701) on Friday May 05, @03:54AM (#504667)

                          I hate to interrupt the bitch-slapping festival, but there is a lot of [coresv.net] actual [hydrogenaud.io] data [ietf.org] on this subject.

                          Opus - and several other modern codecs - perform measurably better than MP3, end of story. Even if MP3 is somehow "good enough", the alternatives are still demonstrably superior according to hard data.

                          And, of those alternatives, at least Opus and Vorbis are unencumbered by patents.

                          This is a technical discussion site, for god's sake. Shame on you both.

                          • (Score: 2) by bob_super on Friday May 05, @06:08AM (1 child)

                            by bob_super (1357) on Friday May 05, @06:08AM (#504707)

                            Why shame on me?
                            up the thread:
                            epitaxial: 9 out of 10 people can't tell 192kbps mp3 from straight .wav files.
                            bob_super, concurring: most people are not listening in conditions where codec differences are noticeable.

                            Those docs you link: those curves are all pretty darn close at 192kHz and above. Thank you for supporting our point.

                            • (Score: 2) by Zyx Abacab on Saturday May 06, @01:33AM

                              by Zyx Abacab (3701) on Saturday May 06, @01:33AM (#505262)

                              The AC was certainly more belligerent, and said some nasty shit, that's true.

                              But saying things like:

                              [W]as your Monster Oxygen-free-silver triple-shielded directional audio cable in the way?

                              isn't exactly becoming of a constructive discussion, no matter how much of a jerk he or she may be.

                              Calling the AC narrow-minded—after he or she says that, if MP3 is good enough, you should be happy and not complain about what other people choose to do—is not called-for, either.

                              If I can hear compression artifacts in the sound of a hi-hat (or applause) on consumer-level equipment, in a double-blind test, having used the best-available MP3 encoders, then the format really does matter to me. Evidently it matters to AC too—whether or not we're in a 5% minority.

                              MP3 works for you, and that's great! If I don't dismiss your situation, will you do me the kindness of not dismissing mine?

                              [I]t doesn't freaking matter... [y]ou can keep spouting nonsense...

            • (Score: 3, Informative) by Anonymous Coward on Thursday May 04, @09:17AM (3 children)

              by Anonymous Coward on Thursday May 04, @09:17AM (#504251)

              You sure about that? Because according to Opus developers themselves, beyond 128 Kbps there's almost no difference between codecs so an MP3 at 192Kbps should be indistinguishable from the original. See this graph [opus-codec.org].

              • (Score: 1, Insightful) by Anonymous Coward on Thursday May 04, @05:38PM

                by Anonymous Coward on Thursday May 04, @05:38PM (#504420)

                Well, as always it depends on the quality of the encoder. "192 kbit/s" simply refers to file size, and is not a measure of encoding quality. A bad encoder can certainly produce poor-sounding results that take up lots of space.

              • (Score: 2) by KiloByte on Thursday May 04, @08:02PM

                by KiloByte (375) on Thursday May 04, @08:02PM (#504505)

                That's for typical non-"degenerate" passages rather than hard to encode pieces. Unfortunately, for MP3 a lot of cases it can't handle pop up in normal usage.

                --
                Ceterum censeo systemd esse delendam.
              • (Score: 2) by kaszz on Friday May 05, @12:18AM

                by kaszz (4211) on Friday May 05, @12:18AM (#504608) Journal

                Jean-Michel Jarre have some music that won't encode right using mp3 joint-stereo at anything below 256 kbit/s. I think the Chronologie album is one of them. (no 4?)

        • (Score: 2) by linuxrocks123 on Tuesday May 09, @05:25AM

          by linuxrocks123 (2557) on Tuesday May 09, @05:25AM (#506760) Journal

          Are you this guy: https://www.audioasylum.com/messages/pcaudio/119979/ [audioasylum.com]

      • (Score: 2) by darkfeline on Friday May 05, @03:47AM

        by darkfeline (1030) on Friday May 05, @03:47AM (#504665) Homepage

        If you keep the lossless originals, you can reencode them as lossy compression algorithms improve. Remember how JPEG compression was optimized by 35% a few months ago? If that happens to MP3, I can reencode my music because I still have lossless versions. Sucks to be the guy that only saves MP3.

        You also need lossless versions if you want to mix them. I guess that's not relevant if you're a mindless consumer type.

    • (Score: 4, Informative) by bzipitidoo on Thursday May 04, @08:20AM (1 child)

      by bzipitidoo (4388) Subscriber Badge on Thursday May 04, @08:20AM (#504238) Journal

      Microsoft tried to kill all other lossy compression methods for music. They couldn't destroy mp3 because it was too well known, but they had much better luck killing Ogg Vorbis. That's why it's crazy hard to find a music player in the US that supports Ogg Vorbis. Car radios also tend not to support Ogg Vorbis. You'll have better luck in Europe. But there are several ways around MS's attempt to ban all formats other than WMA/WMV.

      Get a music player that can run Rockbox. https://www.Rockbox.org [rockbox.org] . It's not too difficult to install.

      Another way is to buy a player that is sold in both Europe and America. Then, flash the device you bought in America with the European ROM. That worked for the Samsung Yepp.

      • (Score: 3, Informative) by Nerdfest on Thursday May 04, @09:51AM

        by Nerdfest (80) Subscriber Badge on Thursday May 04, @09:51AM (#504258)

        Very much second RockBox if you have an old MP3 player around that you still use. I have a couple of SanDisk players around that I use for exercising, etc, and RockBox not only adds support for more formats, better EQ options, ReplayGain, etc, but also reduces the startup time with a large from minutes to pretty much instantaneous. I think it's very cool that SanDisk also plays nice with RockBox. Of course, pretty much everyone uses smartphones now, but there are still spots where it's handy to have one of these tiny players.

    • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Thursday May 04, @03:43PM

      by Anonymous Coward on Thursday May 04, @03:43PM (#504354)

      If you could write your own software for the players, then you'd have OGG and FLAC support (even if that means less battery life while playing them).

    • (Score: 2) by mcgrew on Thursday May 04, @07:09PM

      by mcgrew (701) <publish@mcgrewbooks.com> on Thursday May 04, @07:09PM (#504482) Homepage Journal

      I switched to Ogg fifteen or more years ago. Winamp played them. My new TV won't, but will play MP3s. It doesn't matter, I play music from the computer, ran through the stereo system.

      --
      Free Martian whores! [mcgrewbooks.com]
    • (Score: 2) by Wootery on Tuesday May 09, @09:36AM

      by Wootery (2341) on Tuesday May 09, @09:36AM (#506807)

      But OGG/Vorbis support is now widespread, no?

      And there are even better formats like Opus. With a good smartphone that shouldn't be a problem (if that's a practical choice of playback-device).

  • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Thursday May 04, @02:05AM (6 children)

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday May 04, @02:05AM (#504109)

    Third Fraunhofer FA in one day! This has to be some kind of record! Should we celebrate, or have we been boughtened?

    • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Thursday May 04, @02:20AM (5 children)

      by Anonymous Coward on Thursday May 04, @02:20AM (#504117)

      Those wacky Germans. What will they patent next?

      • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Thursday May 04, @04:53AM (1 child)

        by Anonymous Coward on Thursday May 04, @04:53AM (#504187)

        Patent DE 438818 has also expired...

        • (Score: 2) by kaszz on Friday May 05, @12:28AM

          by kaszz (4211) on Friday May 05, @12:28AM (#504610) Journal

          Patent DE 438818
          Method for Pest control
          Priority date: Jun 19, 1922
          Publication date: Dec 27, 1926

          Named after something that rotates around a center..

      • (Score: 2) by Soylentbob on Thursday May 04, @06:03AM (2 children)

        by Soylentbob (6519) Subscriber Badge on Thursday May 04, @06:03AM (#504213)

        Those wacky Germans. What will they invent next?

        Ftfy :-)

        • (Score: -1, Offtopic) by aristarchus on Thursday May 04, @06:40AM (1 child)

          by aristarchus (2645) on Thursday May 04, @06:40AM (#504224) Journal

          Death to Fraunhofer, or Fraunhopper. Did I not just read, that the largest Hooters has been shut down? And I asked my self, first, how could you have a restaurant that only appealed to suckling youth, and then I thought, how could the largest Hooters be of interest, but then I discovered both the Wall Street Journal, and Big Boobs and Tits, (limited). Of course, as all Americans know from South Park, Germans are not only into Fine Articles on SoylentNews, but this is the time on SPROCKETs when we dance. [cue, the ogre dude, you know, layers, onions, with the donkey friend: Shrek.)

          --
          came from aris5tarcfhus..; wee probably shouldn't run it
          • (Score: 2, Interesting) by cafebabe on Thursday May 04, @02:06PM

            by cafebabe (894) on Thursday May 04, @02:06PM (#504316) Journal

            how could you have a restaurant that only appealed to suckling youth

            The corkage fee makes it quite profitable.

            --
            Now is a good time to clear your cookies.
  • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Thursday May 04, @02:05AM (5 children)

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday May 04, @02:05AM (#504110)

    Pandora uses M4A audio/mp4. I don't listen to Pandora myself. Everyone except me listens to Pandora. Pandora is to streaming music as Xerox is to photocopying.

    • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Thursday May 04, @02:06AM (1 child)

      by Anonymous Coward on Thursday May 04, @02:06AM (#504111)

      Amazon Alexa is the new Pandora.

      • (Score: 1, Interesting) by Anonymous Coward on Thursday May 04, @02:13AM

        by Anonymous Coward on Thursday May 04, @02:13AM (#504114)

        Except when I visit small businesses I don't hear shopkeepers asking Alexa to play music for the customers. I do hear ads for Pandora between tracks.

    • (Score: 2) by deimios on Thursday May 04, @05:10AM (2 children)

      by deimios (201) on Thursday May 04, @05:10AM (#504192) Journal
      From the Pandora site:

      Pandora is only available in the U.S., Australia, and New Zealand right now – but we are working on bringing our music service to other parts of the world

      What are you talking about? 0.5 billion out of 7 billion have access to it. Not even startup level coverage.

      • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Thursday May 04, @06:36AM (1 child)

        by Anonymous Coward on Thursday May 04, @06:36AM (#504220)

        It's called exaggeration, but since you insist upon pedantry, Pandora streams songs with English vocals. There are 467,182,551 people who speak English. That's your 0.5 billion right there, and the rest of the world don't want to hear what Pandora offers.

        • (Score: 2) by Nerdfest on Thursday May 04, @09:54AM

          by Nerdfest (80) Subscriber Badge on Thursday May 04, @09:54AM (#504259)

          Hi there, Canadian here.

          We actually *used* to have access to Pandora when it started up, but then ... lawyers.

  • (Score: 2) by Grishnakh on Thursday May 04, @02:18AM (8 children)

    by Grishnakh (2831) Subscriber Badge on Thursday May 04, @02:18AM (#504116)

    I encoded all my stuff to 160kbps Ogg Vorbis long ago, and stuck with it.

    Unlike some other people who say they "can't find a player for it", I never had that problem.
    I use Linux on my desktop, so playing Oggs has never been a problem there.
    I have an Android phone. It plays Oggs just fine.
    I bought a Mazda that plays music from a USB thumb drive. It plays Oggs just fine too.

    Hard drive space is much cheaper now than it was 10-15 years ago, and USB thumb drives are rather large too, so I plan to re-rip all my CDs soon into FLAC format as well as 192kbps Vorbis to make sure nothing's lost to failed CDs. I wouldn't mind switching to Opus but I'm not sure my phone and car support that, but I'll check first.

    • (Score: 2) by kaszz on Thursday May 04, @02:36AM (4 children)

      by kaszz (4211) on Thursday May 04, @02:36AM (#504124) Journal

      Why use Opus? It's designed to "efficiently code speech and general audio in a single format, while remaining low-latency enough for real-time interactive communication". Ie not optimized for audio quality so FLAC seems like a much better choice.

      As for players. You know how popular a codec is once you try to implement it on a embedded microcontroller that lack any kind of multiprocess environment with MMU.

      • (Score: 2) by Grishnakh on Thursday May 04, @03:00AM (2 children)

        by Grishnakh (2831) Subscriber Badge on Thursday May 04, @03:00AM (#504131)

        Opus replaces Vorbis. From Wikipedia: "Opus replaces both Vorbis and Speex for new applications, and several blind listening tests have ranked it higher-quality than any other standard audio format at any given bitrate until transparency is reached, including MP3, AAC, and HE-AAC." FLAC has very large file sizes. Thumb drives aren't that big yet (i.e., my music collection will not fit on a 64GB microSD card or USB drive in FLAC format; when 256GB microSD cards are the norm, this will be different.).

        Why the hell would I care about embedded microcontrollers without MMUs or muliprocessing environments? This isn't the late 90s any more. Anything you're going to be listening to music on these days is going to be running Linux or similar, and will have a CPU more than capable of decoding any audio codec you like. (Android phone - Linux kernel; Car infotainment system - Linux)

        • (Score: 2) by Nerdfest on Thursday May 04, @09:57AM (1 child)

          by Nerdfest (80) Subscriber Badge on Thursday May 04, @09:57AM (#504260)

          Battery life.

          • (Score: 2) by Wootery on Tuesday May 09, @09:39AM

            by Wootery (2341) on Tuesday May 09, @09:39AM (#506808)

            Is software-decoded audio really a battery drain? Certainly true of video, but, audio?

      • (Score: 2, Interesting) by Anonymous Coward on Thursday May 04, @03:01AM

        by Anonymous Coward on Thursday May 04, @03:01AM (#504132)

        Actually Opus is designed to scale.
        From low bitrate (speex can actually do ULTRA-LOW bitrate, like 8 kbps or something, Opus is limited to 16 or 32+ from a modified version of the speex codec) speech to mid to high bitrate lossy audio, Opus is actually designed to unify the audio technologies of all of those.

        I haven't checked to see how it actually compares to speex/vorbis/etc, since nowadays I would just rip anything I need into flac and call it a day, but if you DO need lossy/low space media, it is another tool in your repetoire, assuming your devices support it.

    • (Score: 2) by el_oscuro on Thursday May 04, @04:18AM

      by el_oscuro (1711) Subscriber Badge on Thursday May 04, @04:18AM (#504175)

      You can get VLC for IOS too. Plays OGG just fine

      --
      SoylentNews is Bacon! [nueskes.com]
    • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Thursday May 04, @09:14AM (1 child)

      by Anonymous Coward on Thursday May 04, @09:14AM (#504249)

      If you're planning to rip to FLAC and Vob, you would do well to do the following:

      1. Rip to single-file FLAC per-CD, so you maintain the cuesheet information. For most CDs this doesn't matter much, but if you want a proper archive this is the way to go. Many players will handle these files and show them as separate tracks fine.

      2. Script the conversion from FLAC to Vob, rather than ripping twice. This way, if you end up deciding to have mp3 instead/as well (as I have had to do for my car), you can just run the conversion overnight for your music collection.

      • (Score: 2) by Unixnut on Thursday May 04, @03:02PM

        by Unixnut (5779) on Thursday May 04, @03:02PM (#504346)

        > 2. Script the conversion from FLAC to Vob, rather than ripping twice. This way, if you end up deciding to have mp3 instead/as well (as I have had to do for my car), you can just run the conversion overnight for your music collection.

        To save anyone the hassle of scripting it, systems already exist to do this for you. I use this one: https://github.com/ZivaVatra/flac2all [github.com]

        It converts flac to mp3/aac/vorbis/opus/flac, with tagging, and supports multiple processes, so I can hammer my 12 core machine with batch conversion of my FLAC Collection when needed.

  • (Score: 3, Interesting) by kaszz on Thursday May 04, @02:27AM (14 children)

    by kaszz (4211) on Thursday May 04, @02:27AM (#504120) Journal

    One aspect that may have importance is if there's a free source code available to implement a decoder for embedded platforms like ARM Cortex or MIPS, even better with encoding too. Sometimes machine code optimizations are needed which is not something most people can muster. Embedded platforms enables portable players without dependence on benevolent Appoogle.

    There are some standalone mp3 decode/encode chips like VS1011 [spurtikus.de] which now can be freely used. Ie no-one can claim patent on the format of your sound library.

    • (Score: 2) by Grishnakh on Thursday May 04, @03:03AM (13 children)

      by Grishnakh (2831) Subscriber Badge on Thursday May 04, @03:03AM (#504133)

      You're living in the past. Standalone MP3 decoder chips have long been obsolete. Any decent phone these days has a CPU running Linux and doesn't need or use special decoders for audio.

      • (Score: 2) by kaszz on Thursday May 04, @03:14AM (10 children)

        by kaszz (4211) on Thursday May 04, @03:14AM (#504138) Journal

        You don't own any phone, your government and operator just let you physically posses it. There's a untrusted operating system and radiomodem so there are issues with those devices. Another one is ultra low power use for long trips.

        • (Score: 1, Touché) by Anonymous Coward on Thursday May 04, @03:46AM (1 child)

          by Anonymous Coward on Thursday May 04, @03:46AM (#504155)

          You don't own land either. You pay rent in the form of property tax and the government can evict you by eminent domain.

          • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Thursday May 04, @04:43AM

            by Anonymous Coward on Thursday May 04, @04:43AM (#504183)

            Tell it, bro! All government is theft!

        • (Score: 3, Informative) by Grishnakh on Thursday May 04, @04:32AM (7 children)

          by Grishnakh (2831) Subscriber Badge on Thursday May 04, @04:32AM (#504178)

          What in the hell are you ranting about? We're talking about audio codecs here, not some insane conspiracy theory BS. The government doesn't care what songs you listen to. Modern devices do not use dedicated MP3 decoder chips any more; those chips were always problematic and didn't play a lot of MP3 files. You can get embedded micros these days for next to nothing that run full Linux distros: see the Raspberry Pi.

          • (Score: 2) by kaszz on Thursday May 04, @04:44AM (6 children)

            by kaszz (4211) on Thursday May 04, @04:44AM (#504184) Journal

            There is a lot of other issues than song playing going on in a smartphone. You do know about Snowden?

            Most embedded micros don't support MMU which result in a hard limit on what OS you can run. This means that source code for the codec becomes important to actually make the device play. And more complicated processors with MMU requires usually chips that are messy to handle in comparison. Power usage also goes up.

            • (Score: 5, Informative) by Grishnakh on Thursday May 04, @05:32AM (5 children)

              by Grishnakh (2831) Subscriber Badge on Thursday May 04, @05:32AM (#504200)

              You're still missing the fact that no one uses any such devices in 2017. You're talking about ancient circa-2000 MP3 players that use such hardware. No one cares about non-MMU micros any more. No one uses those to play MP3s. There are no devices on sale now like this which have any significant sales volume.

              • (Score: 2) by cafebabe on Thursday May 04, @04:14PM (4 children)

                by cafebabe (894) on Thursday May 04, @04:14PM (#504369) Journal

                I agree that a general purpose CPU with MMU is useful or even beneficial for playing audio from one or more compressed formats. I also agree that alternatives don't have significant sales volume. However, some of the audiophile equipment currently available is instructive. For example, 7.1 surround sound digital speakers would benefit from the barest and most timing-accurate CPU. This gets particularly important if 22.2 surround sound or Sennheiser's 25 speaker arrangement are considered. This isn't mainstream at present but current assumptions could limit wider adoption.

                --
                Now is a good time to clear your cookies.
                • (Score: 2) by Grishnakh on Thursday May 04, @04:27PM (3 children)

                  by Grishnakh (2831) Subscriber Badge on Thursday May 04, @04:27PM (#504376)

                  I'm sorry, I still don't see what you're getting at. No one is going to go back to MP3 decoder ASICs when you can get general-purpose CPUs for so little money that have no trouble running a software decoder. And audiophile stuff is really irrelevant to the larger music market; if it weren't, the Apple store wouldn't exist and no one would be buying 320k MP3s online. Instead, everyone is now either buying MP3s, Apple music, or using a streaming service which is even worse quality than those two. CD sales have gotten rather poor in the face of these newer alternatives.

                  Digital speakers don't need a lossy codec decoder at all; that's just a good way to introduce more latency into the system, which with a multi-speaker setup is going to sound audibly bad. It'd make much more sense to do the decoding and signal processing in a single unit, then send the decoded audio data (as PCM) to each speaker separately along with a timing signal so all the speakers can be synchronized.

                  • (Score: 3, Interesting) by cafebabe on Thursday May 04, @05:22PM (2 children)

                    by cafebabe (894) on Thursday May 04, @05:22PM (#504411) Journal

                    I'm envisioning a semi-hypothetical system which is base on Meridian Audio's digital speakers. Each speaker recieves a serial stream and contains its own amplifier(s). The traditional hi-fi selector/amplifier unit is relegated to a selector/sampler/transcoder/expander/reverb for eight or more speakers. It would be convenient if the intermediate format to the speakers was sigma-delta format rather than PCM because this would provide the best dynamic range for analog sources, such as vinyl records, cassette tape and radio. Sigma-delta format is hugely verbose and uncompressible when used as a music storage format. (See Super Audio Compact Disc.) However, it works very well between "amp" and speakers. Within each speaker, the process is to decode received bits sequentially where zero means decrement by one voltage level and one means increment by one voltage level. This incurs the obvious problem that there is a maximum gradient which can be encoded accurately but this is functionally equivalent to the maximum swing voltage of operational amplifiers or suchlike.

                    The speaker requires minimal processing power to maintain a running total. The most advanced part of the speaker is dropping the running total into a one bit DAC which is likely to operate above 1GHz and may utilize Chinese Remainder Theorem to count accurately at this speed.

                    You are correct to be concerned about phasing. When this was first described to me by one of Meridian's engineers, I was concerned that crystals being out of phase would lead to soundstage rotation. This is true but rotation is extremely small and therefore completely inperceptible. Headphones are an entirely different matter and that discussion led to a job offer.

                    --
                    Now is a good time to clear your cookies.
                    • (Score: 2) by Grishnakh on Friday May 05, @12:07AM (1 child)

                      by Grishnakh (2831) Subscriber Badge on Friday May 05, @12:07AM (#504598)

                      So what does all this have to do with whether it's viable to encode your music library with something other than MP3?

                      • (Score: 2) by cafebabe on Friday May 05, @03:03AM

                        by cafebabe (894) on Friday May 05, @03:03AM (#504655) Journal

                        Your position was that the majority of compressed audio is decoded using a CPU with an MMU. I concur. However, if maximum quality is desired and the number of audio channels is large (5.1 surround, 7.1 surround, 22.2 surround) then the use of CPUs without MMU becomes increasingly cost effective.

                        --
                        Now is a good time to clear your cookies.
      • (Score: 2) by tonyPick on Thursday May 04, @06:07AM

        by tonyPick (1237) on Thursday May 04, @06:07AM (#504215) Homepage Journal

        doesn't need or use special decoders for audio

        A Very Minor Nitpick - most will contain specialised HW to support audio & multimedia decoding, and specific codec libraries to exploit that are fairly common - https://developer.arm.com/technologies/dsp [arm.com]

        You're completely right in your point though: This is generalised HW acceleration, and not tied to a specific codec...

      • (Score: 2) by TheRaven on Thursday May 04, @09:26AM

        by TheRaven (270) on Thursday May 04, @09:26AM (#504254) Journal
        As the other poster pointed out, you're not quite right. We haven't needed dedicated MP3 decoders for a long time (even the original iPad didn't have one) for performance, but you really don't want to be doing audio playback on a general-purpose ARM core if you value your battery. When a phone is playing music, it typically wakes up the CPU, loads a track into RAM, kicks the DSP and then sends the CPU back to sleep. The DSP uses around 10% of the power of the CPU to decode the audio and will stream it from RAM to the ADC or Bluetooth device.
        --
        sudo mod me up
  • (Score: 2) by Celestial on Thursday May 04, @02:45AM (1 child)

    by Celestial (4891) Subscriber Badge on Thursday May 04, @02:45AM (#504128) Homepage Journal

    I buy the vast majority of my music now on Google Play Music, which uses constant 320kbps MP3s. The rest I buy on Bandcamp, which I download using constant 320kbps MP3s.

    I'd use Ogg Vorbis at q 10, but that would require buying physical CDs and then ripping and encoding them. No thanks.

    • (Score: 2) by Wootery on Tuesday May 09, @09:42AM

      by Wootery (2341) on Tuesday May 09, @09:42AM (#506811)

      As others have said: if you have your pick of lossy codecs, Opus wins, not Ogg/Vorbis.

  • (Score: 4, Interesting) by urza9814 on Thursday May 04, @03:03AM (10 children)

    by urza9814 (3954) Subscriber Badge on Thursday May 04, @03:03AM (#504134) Journal

    Basically every album I've acquired in the past 5 years has come from one of two places: Amazon or Bandcamp. The bandcamp stuff sometimes has a nice variety of formats, though I usually do 320kbps MP3. Amazon just gives me an MP3, probably 192kbps but I don't think I've ever even checked.

    I've got a couple oggs in my collection, they mix right in with the MP3s, but there's not many of 'em. MP3 has always been the least common denominator, and at this point what the hell am I gonna do, take MP3s that I'm getting from other sites and convert them to a FLAC? What would be the point? I look at purchasing a CD the same way I look at buying a poster or a T-Shirt. It's nice to support the band with a physical product, but I'm not gonna listen to the damn thing. I actually might listen to a vinyl, but not a CD. The CD is just to support the band while I go download the copy I'm actually gonna listen to. If I like the band enough I'll buy that album three times -- a vinyl that hangs on the wall and gets played occasionally as an experience, a CD that mostly just sits on the shelf, and a download that actually gets played. Fuck, I really need to stop buying CDs...

    I spent a long time pirating a lot of music, but sometime around college I realized it was becoming easier to buy the stuff legally than to pirate it, and it was cheap enough that it was worth paying twice even just to avoid the hassle of ripping a CD. Not that I even bother buying the CDs unless I just feel like giving money away...but even if I've already got the CD, I'd rather re-buy the album than go find it. It's probably gonna be all scratched up anyway...

    That's not to say that I want my music "in the cloud" though. I love Amazon/Bandcamp downloads, because I can download to my PC, I can download to my phone, and I can then do whatever I want with that MP3. If I lose my collection, I can always re-download those tracks. If Amazon goes dark, I still have my music. Best of both worlds.

    • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Thursday May 04, @03:15AM (1 child)

      by Anonymous Coward on Thursday May 04, @03:15AM (#504139)

      I spent a long time pirating a lot of music, but sometime around college I realized it was becoming easier to buy the stuff legally than to pirate it

      Radical, dude. Have you noticed how having money inclines you toward spending money? It's uncanny how that happens. Since I'm a temporarily embarrassed billionaire at the moment, I'm not even paying the internet bill to post this comment. I figure I'll start paying for internet again right around the same time as I start paying taxes again, when Trumpland becomes great for me.

      • (Score: 2) by urza9814 on Friday May 05, @07:20PM

        by urza9814 (3954) Subscriber Badge on Friday May 05, @07:20PM (#505096) Journal

        Radical, dude. Have you noticed how having money inclines you toward spending money? It's uncanny how that happens. Since I'm a temporarily embarrassed billionaire at the moment, I'm not even paying the internet bill to post this comment. I figure I'll start paying for internet again right around the same time as I start paying taxes again, when Trumpland becomes great for me.

        Well, that's certainly part of it, but the death of DRM in music was around the same time, along with price cuts in the average cost of an album. I'm sure as shit not buying files that will only play on one device or that require an internet connection to validate no matter what the price is. I'm not gonna pay for a streaming service where I still have to deal with "BUFFERING..." trying to listen in my car and re-purchasing the same songs every single month. I'm not gonna pay twenty bucks to download a few megabytes. But when I started to see *reasonable* offers, I took them.

        These are the same reasons I don't often buy or go to theaters to see movies. It's not worth the price for something two hours long that I'll only ever watch once, and even if the content was worth the price it's rendered nearly worthless with DRM and other restrictions. I could afford to go to the theater a few times a week if I wanted to; I've actually gone twice in the past five years. I could afford to buy or rent a DVD whenever I want, but I honestly don't think I've ever done that in my life. I can probably afford to watch as many movies as I want, but instead I watch hours and hours of YouTube because it's easier to get and it's generally got higher quality content anyway. Doesn't matter how much money you've got if the products they're producing just aren't worth buying.

    • (Score: 2, Insightful) by Roger Murdock on Thursday May 04, @03:26AM (5 children)

      by Roger Murdock (4897) on Thursday May 04, @03:26AM (#504144)

      sometime around college I realized it was becoming easier to buy the stuff legally than to pirate it

      Usually around once per day I read something on the internet that makes me feel old. Today this is it.

      • (Score: 1, Funny) by Anonymous Coward on Thursday May 04, @03:43AM (3 children)

        by Anonymous Coward on Thursday May 04, @03:43AM (#504151)

        I stopped buying movie tickets when I finally got tired of the same old routine of walking to the same old theater, buying the same old bag of popcorn, and listening to the young people talk through the movie. I was getting older every year but the young people were always the same age. Now I stay home and pirate everything instead. It helps that I have no friends which explains my complete lack of peer pressure to stop watching movies targeted at millennials. Also I only listen to all of today's teen music. I'm sure my own cohort considers me a traitor, but I don't talk to people so I don't care.

        • (Score: 4, Funny) by Anonymous Coward on Thursday May 04, @03:58AM (2 children)

          by Anonymous Coward on Thursday May 04, @03:58AM (#504163)

          I'd like to buy the rights to your life story to write a script for a major motion picture.

          • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Thursday May 04, @04:48AM (1 child)

            by Anonymous Coward on Thursday May 04, @04:48AM (#504185)

            Thank you for not pirating.

            • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Thursday May 04, @07:01AM

              by Anonymous Coward on Thursday May 04, @07:01AM (#504230)

              OK, we will take that as a go ahead to publish the whole thing, with your permission, whoever you are. My God Copyright Holders are such push-overs! "You will give me credit?" "Well, it is your work." OK, whore me to the extent the even some dweed in San Diego will know who I am! "Are you willing to show him your armpits? That seems to be the thing for him. No actual physical contact necessary. Seriously.

      • (Score: 1) by toddestan on Friday May 05, @02:41AM

        by toddestan (4982) on Friday May 05, @02:41AM (#504651)

        I tell ya, kids these days. Back in the day you couldn't buy music online even if you wanted to, downloading a new song took considerably longer than it took to play it. Oh, and playing a MP3 slammed my Cyrix 6x86 with it's weak-sauce FPU so hard you really couldn't do anything else while listening to your newly pirated MP3.

        A bit later we got MP3.com and I got a K6 and life was much better.

    • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Thursday May 04, @06:52AM (1 child)

      by Anonymous Coward on Thursday May 04, @06:52AM (#504228)

      I spent a long time pirating a lot of music, but sometime around college I realized it was becoming easier to buy the stuff legally than to pirate it,

      I wish it was that easy with ebooks... I have an ebook-reder which displays e-pub format. It's a book to me, so I won't connect it to WLan, I won't let it submit any statistic about my reading-habits, list of books stored on my reader or spy on me in any other way.

      Now I wanted to buy an ebook (the InterWorld novels from Neil Gaiman). It was available as e-pub in several book-stores, after registration, but always DRM-crippled, and therefore required Adobe reader (not available for Linux) or a smartphone reader app or a registered e-book, usually with wifi access. The app doesn't help me, since I don't want to read a whole book on anything but e-paper.
      I do have a Windows VM for some work-related occasions, and I know that there is some way to use Acrobat reader there, afterwards open the book in Calibre, export it, convert it to epub, and finally put it on the reader. But that is out of question, because once I bought the book there is no guarantee that this process will still work with latest Adobe reader and latest encrypted ebook, and I assume not way to return the book if the process doesn't work.

      Seriously: Searching for a downloadable, unencrypted version [that is, pirated] usually takes about half an hour, sometimes longer, of suffering terribly bad ads, attack attempts from rouge websites and such. I can't do that at work in my lunch break due to the enourmeous legal risk, I wouldn't do this on my phone since I consider phones inherently person-bound (as in, at least Google knows exactly who did what). Therefore I'd have to start my laptop at home and waste my precous leasure-time. I'd equal that effort to $15, absolute minimum, probably doubling or trippling this would be fair. So, even without any moral consideration it would be an obvious choice to buy it for $7,99 instead within 5 minutes, especially since buying it in a well-sorted online catalogue would be a pleasure, probably enticing me to buy a couple of more books.

      From a moral point of view I'd also be very willing to pay for the book. I know that some authors earn really big, knowledge should be free and all that, but entertainment is not knowledge, and while I support demands for drastically shortened copyright periods, I don't see a problem in entertainment costing money, and I'm pretty sure I'd still buy the newest sequel of a good book instead of waiting even 5 years for the copyright to expire.

      I really wonder if the book-industry will ever catch up with the music industry, and understand that they will sell much more if they skip this DRM bullshit and just sell their books.

      On topic: Yes, I also buy mp3. Usually at Amazon, occasionally elsewhere.

      • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Thursday May 04, @02:27PM

        by Anonymous Coward on Thursday May 04, @02:27PM (#504325)

        The music industry is run by some of the sharpest businessmen around, and yet even they got played for fools by Steve Jobs when he negotiated rights for the iTunes Music Store. He was an awful human being, but he is also the sole reason why music and (only music! no other media) was available DRM-free for a while.

        You can be damn sure that the other media industries took note, and are never going to allow un-DRMed distribution channels to gain a foothold ever again.

  • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Thursday May 04, @03:06AM

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday May 04, @03:06AM (#504135)

    Jango radio serves anything recent or popular as 64kbps m4a. Old unpopular music is still 128kbps mp3.

  • (Score: 2, Interesting) by pr on Thursday May 04, @05:46AM

    by pr (5942) on Thursday May 04, @05:46AM (#504206)

    Currently you have to jump through some slightly annoying hoops to get the LAME mp3 export library installed. I don't mind too much personally but it's not so easy to explain to less technical users, and especially since the links in the software lead to sites with instructions written exclusively in English...

    Presumably this will not be enough to unencumber ffmpeg though...

    Pr

  • (Score: 1) by pTamok on Thursday May 04, @07:06AM (2 children)

    by pTamok (3042) on Thursday May 04, @07:06AM (#504231)

    Market segmentation is one reason what more than one audio format survives. An organisation supplying audio streams will want to minimise bandwidth costs, so will use a format that is just good enough to retain enough of its customers. This means that a better format can be sold at a price premium: which is what you get - see Tidal.

    From a practical point of view, as the cost of storage drops, it makes sense to store uncompressed audio - especially as you don't have to use cpu cycles and power to de-compress it. I suspect that a future audio format will actually be expanded relative to the source, by the addition of error-correcting codes. This would ensure that the data stored remains stable, and bit rot can be mitigated. This is already done transparently on CDs - they do not store WAVs, they use Reed-Solomon error-correcting codes (out of necessity) to allow the audio data to be stored 'losslessly' on CD media. Anyone with an old CD collection knows how well, or not, that works - errors are hidden until they can't be any more, when suddenly everything collapses.

    - Explanation of Reed-Solomon: https://www.usna.edu/Users/math/wdj/_files/documents/reed-sol.htm [usna.edu]
    - Some background on error correction an CD-ripping http://docs.linn.co.uk/wiki/index.php/CD_Ripping_Terminology#Is_the_CIRC_error_detection.2Fcorrection_process_perfect.3F [linn.co.uk]

    • (Score: 2) by Aiwendil on Thursday May 04, @09:13AM (1 child)

      by Aiwendil (531) on Thursday May 04, @09:13AM (#504248) Journal

      I suspect that a future audio format will actually be expanded relative to the source, by the addition of error-correcting codes.

      The future is old news [wikipedia.org]
      But yeah, I also expect that to become standard in the future and not just for those of us into long-term archival

      • (Score: 1) by pTamok on Thursday May 04, @01:16PM

        by pTamok (3042) on Thursday May 04, @01:16PM (#504306)

        Well, kind-of.

        I wasn't explicitly thinking of PAR (which I knew about), but rather something more like a raptor code ( https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Raptor_code [wikipedia.org] ). I don't know if it is possible, but it would be good if you could preserve the characteristic of being able to recover a full copy of a file from any (sufficiently large) subset of the encoded blocks AND make the recovery probability 1 if you have more than a certain size subset. At the moment, recovery appears to be to be probabilistic, so by using a raptor code, you can only minimise the probability of unrecoverable error, not make it zero for a reasonable subset.

        What appeals to me about raptor codes is that the error-correcting redundancy is encoded into the totality of the blocks - there isn't a separate parity file (just like Reed-Solomon doesn't have a separate parity file). This makes the encoding robust in the face of a single loss of a set of adjacent blocks, or a loss of a random scattering of blocks throughout the file's structure, which I think is useful.

  • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Thursday May 04, @09:12AM (2 children)

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday May 04, @09:12AM (#504247)

    Another good news, the last patents of Dolby AC3 have also expired in March. See ac3freedomday on archive.org [archive.org].

    • (Score: 5, Informative) by TheRaven on Thursday May 04, @09:32AM (1 child)

      by TheRaven (270) on Thursday May 04, @09:32AM (#504257) Journal
      These are both strong evidence that patent terms are too long. The AC-3 FAQ is amusing in the 'Should I use AC-3?' answer: No, of course not, it's 25 years old, there are much better formats available now! A term of 3-5 years for a patent covering something like AC-3 or MP3 would give the inventor a big first-mover advantage, but still allow others to benefit from the work. Now, techniques are not coming out of patent until they're painfully obsolete. MP3 was superseded by AAC 20 years ago and then by HE-AAC in 2003.
      --
      sudo mod me up
      • (Score: 2) by mcgrew on Thursday May 04, @07:19PM

        by mcgrew (701) <publish@mcgrewbooks.com> on Thursday May 04, @07:19PM (#504491) Homepage Journal

        Imagine how technical innovation would suffer if patents lasted as long as copyrights? Like science and technology, the arts are suffering far worse from copyright than tech is from patents. So don't talk too loud about patent length, the bastards might just triple it.

        --
        Free Martian whores! [mcgrewbooks.com]
  • (Score: 1) by jpkunst on Saturday May 06, @10:06AM (1 child)

    by jpkunst (2310) on Saturday May 06, @10:06AM (#505378)

    I store all my music ass lossless audio files, either ripped from cd's, purchased online, or as analog recordings from vinyl/tape.
    That way I don't have to worry about bitrates or which lossy audio codec is the best. And I can convert my music to any new format that comes along without degradating it.

    • (Score: 1) by jpkunst on Saturday May 06, @10:08AM

      by jpkunst (2310) on Saturday May 06, @10:08AM (#505380)

      Excuse me, "as" lossless audio files. Sigh...

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