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Why is WMA so bad?, Why don't people seem to like WMA?
tsioc
post Jul 22 2005, 00:13
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I keep hearing that WMA is a bad codec... how true is this? Why?

Does it matter if I'm aiming at 160 - 200 bitrates?
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dreamliner77
post Jul 22 2005, 00:25
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People are gonna chime in with a lot of answers, but alot of has to do with bad marketing by MS. Basically making claims of "CD Quality at 64kbps."

Another reason is format portability and closed source.


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Triza
post Jul 22 2005, 00:27
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- It is not very good a lower bitrates. Just look at the various listening tests conduced here (which are blind). Maybe your bitrate is OK, but people over here generally want lower rate for obvious reasons.

- Not open source

- Not cross-platform. No binaries for Linux or Mac

- You are at a whim of Microsoft

A bit of search would answer this and probably more.
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rjamorim
post Jul 22 2005, 00:48
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QUOTE (Triza @ Jul 21 2005, 08:27 PM)
No binaries for [...] Mac
*


vevy wrong


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ezra2323
post Jul 22 2005, 00:54
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Nothing is wrong with WMA if you like WMP 10 and use a "Plays for Sure" portable. It's quality is very similar to MP3 at 128 although slightly behind the best implementation of LAME with the V5 preset. It is also slightly inferior to AAC and OGG per Roberto's listening test.

At 192 and above, unless you have trained ears or great hearing , you are not likely to notice artifacts.

Having said that, people here do not like it becuase it's Microsoft. They view WMA acceptance as M$ eventually squashing digital audio.

Why not use MP3 though? WMA has no advantage over MP3
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tsioc
post Jul 22 2005, 01:08
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QUOTE
Why not use MP3 though? WMA has no advantage over MP3



I was just looking for a codec that would give the same quality as the lame -aps but at a lower bitrate. I was under the impression that wma was better than mp3...

I like ogg, but it's not as compatible, and tends to wear my battery out more quickly.

I'd try AAC, but my player doesn't support it.

all I really care about is the sound quality/bitrate and compatibility, not who makes it.

but all advice and info is welcome. I did try searching, but all I found was people talking about lower bitrates (below 128) and the fact that it is M$.

This post has been edited by tsioc: Jul 22 2005, 01:11
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HbG
post Jul 22 2005, 01:10
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For a user WMA really doesn't offer anything that MP3 doesn't, apart from perhaps acceptable quality at sub-128 bitrates.

And, besides Triza's excellent list of arguments, i don't think it's been publicly tested as extensively as LAME and the other common formats on HA have been. So at a bitrate of 192 you can't be as sure of how your encode will sound as you could be with Lame 3.90 for example. Not that it is very likely WMA has severe flaws or weak points, but still.

Does anyone know if WMA is gapless? I don't expect it to and it is probably a moot point if your player doesn't support it. I couldn't find the information in the wiki. Tagging WMA's may not be as easy as tagging the other formats, too.

Try testing OGG at various bitrates and pick the lowest that still sounds good to you. Besides more capacity lower bitrates also tend to increase battery life.

This post has been edited by HbG: Jul 22 2005, 01:15


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kwanbis
post Jul 22 2005, 01:34
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The thing is ... why would i use it? it would have ti give such a better experience, when compared with MP3 (the general standard), or AAC (MP4, iTunes Standard). Problem is:

- Is not better than MP3/AAC, not even by a thin marging
- The implementation is closed
- Microsoft is bad for competition

so, then again, why would people us it?

- cause it is included by default in WMP, and people tend to use whatever cames with their PCs.


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Cygnus X1
post Jul 22 2005, 04:32
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WMA, by virtue of its imprecise tuning and annoying manner of artifacting, probably never reaches a "safe" level of perceptual transparency like MPC or AAC. That's why I dislike it. When I was on Windows and had a flash player, I tried playing around with WMA9, both CBR and VBR, and couldn't get rid of annoying ringing artifacts on a handful of songs, even at high bitrates! WMA Pro seems to scale better, but it's not supported by any portable that I know of.
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danchr
post Jul 22 2005, 04:44
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QUOTE (rjamorim @ Jul 22 2005, 01:48 AM)
QUOTE (Triza @ Jul 21 2005, 08:27 PM)
No binaries for [...] Mac
*

vevy wrong
*


Indeed. Windows Media Player is available for Macs, and there are third party solutions which allow you to export from QuickTime to Windows Media formats. However Windows Media DRM doesn't work in the Mac port.
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Digisurfer
post Jul 22 2005, 10:41
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I don't like WMA because it was easy to ABX vbr encodings at all but the highest level the encoder would go. If it can't do high bitrates very well, there is little hope for low bitrates. I ended up going with OGG for my portable and am very happy with the quality.
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bond
post Jul 22 2005, 11:32
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QUOTE (tsioc @ Jul 22 2005, 01:13 AM)
I keep hearing that WMA is a bad codec... how true is this? 

rjamorim's 128kbps comparison results:



does anyone need to say more? wink.gif

This post has been edited by bond: Jul 22 2005, 11:33


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tsioc
post Jul 22 2005, 11:38
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that about sums it up.

thanks!
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Latexxx
post Jul 22 2005, 12:12
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QUOTE (bond @ Jul 22 2005, 12:32 PM)
does anyone need to say more?  wink.gif
*

All codecs except wma have evolved since that test.
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LMS
post Jul 22 2005, 14:35
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QUOTE
All codecs except wma have evolved since that test.


Well, that test used WMA 9.0 and MS claims to have done some tuning on the "noise measurement" for version 9.1. See this thread:

http://www.hydrogenaudio.org/forums/index....037&mode=linear
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Jojo
post Jul 22 2005, 15:16
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I think WMA Pro is the true competitor from Microsoft. It's just too bad that there's no portable player support (yet).


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AtaqueEG
post Jul 22 2005, 16:31
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QUOTE (Jojo @ Jul 22 2005, 08:16 AM)
I think WMA Pro is the true competitor from Microsoft. It's just too bad that there's no portable player support (yet).
*


I still would never use a closed-implementation codec. And I think most people here wouldn't also.

That is what is so wrong about WMA.
It could even achieve perceptual transparency at 64k, but I would never use it for serious archiving.

So I think WMA Pro will suffer the same fate.

BTW, does WMA support ReplayGain tags on foobar2000? (Just curious)


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Dibrom
post Jul 22 2005, 18:01
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QUOTE (danchr @ Jul 21 2005, 07:44 PM)
QUOTE (rjamorim @ Jul 22 2005, 01:48 AM)
QUOTE (Triza @ Jul 21 2005, 08:27 PM)
No binaries for [...] Mac
*

vevy wrong
*


Indeed. Windows Media Player is available for Macs, and there are third party solutions which allow you to export from QuickTime to Windows Media formats. However Windows Media DRM doesn't work in the Mac port.
*



And not only that, but WMP is not so great on OS X, from the non-standard installer, to the ugly UI, to the bugginess.

But more the point, why I think WMA is "so bad," or at least why it has never been promoted heavily on these forums, and why I originally never saw fit to make a forum for it:

- It was never a format that people initially discussed around here much. There wasn't much community interest from the initial regulars.

- Player support has always been a bit shaky when not using Microsoft products. I'd venture to guess that WMP is not the most popular player with the people on these forums. (This is a little different on DAP's, since standard WMA has good support there for the most part, but DAP users represent probably still the minority of the people on HA).

- It has not had a very good track record for portability (though this may have been changing with 3rd party playback libraries becoming available).

- It has never had the most compelling sound quality (WMA Pro is a bit different, but suffers from most of the other points to an even higher degree -- i.e., it's less accessible)

- There's never been serious interaction with the HA community from a WMA developer. Just about every other format promoted here has had this, and this characteristic is a rather integral part of what makes HA unique.

- The tie WMA has to DRM scares many people away from the format here. Many of the people on HA like to have flexibility with their audio files, including copying them to different machines and being able to process them with a variety of different tools. They want to be able to do this without the kind of restriction that DRM brings with it. Of course other formats like MP4 can have DRM too (see iTMS), but in the overall scheme it seems to be less of an issue in these other cases since there is no single company (a company which, I might add, many people are suspicious of) in charge of the way in which the DRM is handled. Furthermore, there have been at least a handful of posts by users on HA over the years that have managed to lock themselves out of their collection by not being careful about WMA DRM.

- The format is not well documented in comparison to the others, which makes creating 3rd party utilities to process it much more difficult. Maybe this is a little bit different now that a 3rd party playback library has been created, but even so, the format is not open in a way that makes it accessible to developers that do not either license technology from Microsoft, or rely on Microsoft provided libraries (which are usually non-portable and not open for modification).

If you ask me, WMA simply isn't a format that sits well with the spirit of HA given the above disadvantages. Does that make it "so bad"? Well, it depends. It makes it not very good as a format for HA to promote. But on an individual basis, if someone just wants a format to encode their files to so they can upload to their DAP, well, then no it doesn't necessarily make it "so bad." But depending on the aim of the person (say quality), it still might not be their best choice (assuming they have other options).
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ezra2323
post Jul 22 2005, 23:38
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Well said, Dibrom. a fair and objective response.
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Borisz
post Jul 23 2005, 01:33
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QUOTE (AtaqueEG @ Jul 22 2005, 07:31 AM)
BTW, does WMA support ReplayGain tags on foobar2000? (Just curious)
*


CODE
E:\Zenék\mp3\ui.wma

samplerate = 44100
channels = 2
codec = Windows Media Audio V7/V8
bitrate = 64
replaygain_track_gain = -1.51 dB
replaygain_track_peak = 0.975769
----------
10026091 samples @ 44100Hz
File size: 1 842 060 bytes


That's the only wma file on my computer, and I could replaygain it without any problem with Foobar.

Of course RG is just a metadata field like TITLE or ARTIST, so practically every format that supports some way of tagging can use it with Foobar, even formats that natively do not support it.


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jorsol
post Jul 23 2005, 02:03
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Like all other said
WMA is a bad codec because:

- The implementation is closed.
- No Cross-platform.
- Is NOT better than MP3.
- It supports DRM.
- Claim something that is not true: "64kbps = CD quality".
- And my favorite is because is from Micro$oft.

If you donīt care that is from M$ and the only thing you care is find a codec that is better than MP3, well WMA is NOT that codec...
if your DAP donīt support Ogg Vorbis or AAC then use MP3... because WMA is not a good choice for all that reasons.

Edit: Bad performance.

This post has been edited by jorsol: Jul 30 2005, 10:59


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rjamorim
post Jul 23 2005, 02:44
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OK, just to balance some of the obvious bias against WMA in this thread (and the painful displays of childness with writings of "Micro$oft" and "M$"), here's an advantage of WMA over MP3: Native gapless support.


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LMS
post Jul 23 2005, 02:48
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QUOTE (jorsol @ Jul 22 2005, 07:03 PM)
- Bad performance, even at high bitrate (compared with other codecs).

*

The OP asked about 160-200 kbps range. Are you aware of some tests that prove that WMA is bad "even at high bitrate"? If so, please share with the group.
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Acid8000
post Jul 23 2005, 04:12
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Unfortunately I've had issues with multiple artists and WMA files in Foobar after editing tags. Otherwise WMA ain't so bad, I guess.


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Cygnus X1
post Jul 23 2005, 07:02
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QUOTE (rjamorim @ Jul 22 2005, 08:44 PM)
OK, just to balance some of the obvious bias against WMA in this thread (and the painful displays of childness with writings of "Micro$oft" and "M$"), here's an advantage of WMA over MP3: Native gapless support.
*


Perhaps, but few software players and even fewer (if any?) hardware players can play back WMA gaplessly. With most hardware players, it doesn't matter what format you feed it; there will be gaps regardless.
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