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Ogg Vorbis in The Guardian (UK)
Tomb
post Apr 19 2007, 18:18
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I, like many, use the ogg vorbis encoder. This article in today's Guardian (UK) may be of interest. In summary the writer states that ogg is a music file format without support or hope. Any thoughts?
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naylor83
post Apr 19 2007, 18:22
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QUOTE (Tomb @ Apr 19 2007, 19:18) *
Any thoughts?


I just got my iAudio D2 smile.gif

QUOTE
Indeed, Ogg is still a long way behind other formats I left out, such as Real Audio and Sony's Atrac. These have millions of users, but now look doomed.


The difference being that Ogg is on its way up and Atrac and Real Audio are stagnant or going down.

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Remedial Sound
post Apr 19 2007, 19:20
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I also don't agree with the quote (millions of users of atrac & real? yeahright.gif ), but I don't agree that vorbis is on its way up either.

MP3 is going to be around for a long while thanks to its foothold, and there probably will be a gradual increase in the prevalence of AAC & AAC-compatable players with the advent of non-DRM iTunes.

Where does this leave vorbis? What exactly does vorbis have going for it that'll increase its popularity/usage? That it's free and open source? The general public is oblivious to this, as MP3 and AAC are effectively "free" to the end user anyway. The aoTuv builds perform great, particularly at lower bitrates, but nobody outside of HA knows/cares how well it did in a 128kbps listening test.

I'm not bashing vorbis, in fact I quite like it. It just looks to me like it'll eventually go the way of musepack.

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LANjackal
post Apr 19 2007, 19:34
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QUOTE
If you look at the Top Ten Reviews list of portable audio players, 10 out of 10 play MP3 files out of the box, nine play WMA and only one plays Ogg: the Cowan iAudio X5. (The iRiver H10 has dropped Ogg support.) Of course, only two of these devices play AAC files, but one of those is the Apple iPod, which has the majority of the market.

It would be nice if all those crooning about the impending death of MP3 and WMA did not blatantly ignore the above fact. They both have wider support than anything else. MP3 isn't going away due to AAC or WMA any more than .txt files will disappear due to ODF/MS's Office formats.

QUOTE
However, Ogg still carries potential risks, because there is no guarantee that it doesn't infringe someone's patents.

True, but if that's really the case, how is it that FLAC is the most widely supported lossless format without any patent/IP issues? Or is that because its development predates that of formats from incumbents (WMA Lossless, ALAC)?

I have nothing against Ogg, the tests clearly show it's an excellent format. Unfortunately, achieving widespread support is more than a simple academic exercise that produces the best quality output (a point lost on many developers). From my viewpoint, FLAC rose to the top in the lossless category primarily because it was actively developed and promoted before similar incumbent projects (until just recently, lossless was pretty much ignored by MS and Apple, MS had a format in name only).

Ogg, on the other hand, is "just another" (in the marketing sense) lossy format competing against strongly entrenched MP3, WMA and AAC which are natively supported by the 2 primary preinstalled media players on the market. Neither of those 2 natively support Ogg, and they're unlikely ever to, either. The average user has to go pretty far out of his way to use the format, relative to the Big 3 codecs. I won't even get into the tagging/frontend issues, since the average person investigating the format probably wouldn't get that far.

As harsh as it may seem, while the codec will continue to exist and (sporadically, it seems) developed, I can't say I see much hope for it becoming mainstream either. However, I don't think it will suffer the same fate of being consigned to the abyss like MPC (those who say otherwise are just in denial), RealAudio, and ATRAC3

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Nick E
post Apr 19 2007, 19:44
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QUOTE (Remedial Sound @ Apr 19 2007, 12:20) *
Where does this leave vorbis? What exactly does vorbis have going for it that'll increase its popularity/usage? That it's free and open source?


What you mean that the software that uses the format is open source?

So is LAME, for example:

http://lame.sourceforge.net/license.txt

Not that it makes much difference to anyone who doesn't want to modify the code, or doesn't like to compile from source for whatever reason, anyway. But insofar as anyone would want that some software using MP3 is distributed under open source licences, too.
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ChesterB
post Apr 19 2007, 20:27
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Sorry for the off-topic, but why do you guys talk about Musepack as if it is a dead format. Yes, it has poor hardware support, but is perfect for PC playback. And yes, it wasn't updated for sometime (since 2005), but now development is going on. mppenc 1.16 & libmpcdec 1.2.3 were released, fixing the seeking issues, and now we are waiting for SV8. Just take a look here http://trac.musepack.net/trac/timeline
Once again: Musepack is NOT dead!

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LANjackal
post Apr 19 2007, 20:32
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QUOTE (Nick E @ Apr 19 2007, 14:44) *
QUOTE (Remedial Sound @ Apr 19 2007, 12:20) *

Where does this leave vorbis? What exactly does vorbis have going for it that'll increase its popularity/usage? That it's free and open source?


What you mean that the software that uses the format is open source?

So is LAME, for example:

http://lame.sourceforge.net/license.txt

Not that it makes much difference to anyone who doesn't want to modify the code, or doesn't like to compile from source for whatever reason, anyway. But insofar as anyone would want that some software using MP3 is distributed under open source licences, too.
The wide popularity of LAME-encoded files is due more to the fact that it's practically the official audio encoder for scene releases than because the majority of users employ it for their personal rips. Were it not for the scene, I daresay LAME itself (not the MP3 format, assuming the scene just used a different MP3 encoder) would be in practically the same position as OGG.

QUOTE (ChesterB @ Apr 19 2007, 15:27) *
Once again: Musepack is NOT dead!
Compare MPC's current status (support, popularity, usage, development, etc.) with that of OGG. I think you'd be hard pressed to say it's better overall (or more precisely but less tactfully, not worse). Technically speaking, any open source format is never fully dead, since anyone can jump on it at any time. But for all intents and purposes relative to the Big 3 and even OGG...

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gameplaya15143
post Apr 19 2007, 22:15
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QUOTE (Tomb @ Apr 19 2007, 13:18) *
ogg is a music file format without support or hope. Any thoughts?
What a load....

Can't expect a journalist to really understand that people use what they are forced to use (who uses REAL or ATRAC by choice?) ...and citing his son as a 'credible' source laugh.gif sorry, but he is not into 'this sort of thing' if he's never heard of ogg vorbis.


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naylor83
post Apr 19 2007, 22:16
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Well, I guess, for me all that matters is that there is one good player with Vorbis support. That's all I need to be happy. Can't say I care if the rest of the world fumbles in the dark. smile.gif

Apples upcoming AAC 256 kbps songs will do nicely for transcoding to Vorbis Q4.

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LANjackal
post Apr 19 2007, 22:51
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QUOTE (gameplaya15143 @ Apr 19 2007, 17:15) *
people use what they are forced to use (who uses REAL or ATRAC by choice?)
No, buddy - the average user doesn't explicitly "choose" a format. But neither are they "forced" into using a particular format. They just rip into whichever their current media player offers by default, or offers in the options. For iTunes and WMP, OGG's not one of those options. As a result, for example, there are LOT of unwitting AAC users out there who have no idea what AAC or M4A are, or even that they're using the format. Sad but true.

QUOTE (gameplaya15143 @ Apr 19 2007, 17:15) *
and citing his son as a 'credible' source
His son is a member of a group known as "the average users," the most powerful usage "bloc" in the world whose actions have a lot more bearing on the success of a codec than the expertise of people such as us. The average user has NEVER heard of OGG. But as I said before, they could be using AAC unknowingly also. Usage is determined not by raw knowledge, but a combo of what's easily available and what works for the average user. Right now, relatively speaking, OGG fits neither of the above categories.

QUOTE (gameplaya15143 @ Apr 19 2007, 17:15) *
sorry, but he is not into 'this sort of thing' if he's never heard of ogg vorbis.
The point is that he's a heavy music user (DJ) and he's never heard of it. That's a problem (for OGG). Codec expertise isn't necessary for one to be a music fan. And even if he did know, there are plenty of people who know and still don't use OGG for a variety of reasons. I'm one of them. Yes, it's the best. No, it doesn't fit my purposes, setup, or current hardware/software ecosystem.

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rjamorim
post Apr 19 2007, 22:58
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QUOTE (LANjackal @ Apr 19 2007, 15:34) *
True, but if that's really the case, how is it that FLAC is the most widely supported lossless format without any patent/IP issues?


Maybe because it didn't become mainstream enough yet for interested (mischievous?) people to try to find patents inside it?

And if someone already found a patent he owns, he might be waiting for larger market acceptance. If he sued now, he would probably be able to catch nullsoft and a couple other big fish. He should at least until Apple includes it in Leopard, if he really wants profit.

If only the patent world was that linear and predictable as you paint it sad.gif

QUOTE (ChesterB @ Apr 19 2007, 16:27) *
and now we are waiting for SV8. Just take a look here http://trac.musepack.net/trac/timeline


We are waiting for SV8 since 2000.

But it wouldn't make any difference if it arrived now, anyway. Musepack stagnated while all other formats improved by leaps and bounds. It's no longer the undisputed champion at either quality or encoding speed. It's just an obscure format with shitty support.

QUOTE
but is perfect for PC playback


...just like any other format out there. Yes, it is faster, but that should only be noticeable if your computer is 10 years old or older.

Besides, it's not that perfect for PC playback. If I take MPC files to a friend's computer, we'll have to start by hunting software that supports it, since chances are nearly 100% that his software won't. If I take MP3s, chances are nearly 100% that we'll start enjoying music right away.

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rjamorim
post Apr 20 2007, 00:02
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QUOTE (gameplaya15143 @ Apr 19 2007, 18:15) *
Can't expect a journalist to really understand that people use what they are forced to use (who uses REAL or ATRAC by choice?) ...and citing his son as a 'credible' source laugh.gif sorry, but he is not into 'this sort of thing' if he's never heard of ogg vorbis.


Honestly, if given the chance, I would probably write an article with quite similar opinions. The fact that people are "forced" to use this or that format isn't going to make Vorbis look any better when numbers are thrown at the table. And yes, I know several people that are very much into music but don't know what vorbis is, or know because I mentioned it at some point.

Also, most of my friends that have iPods don't even know about AAC either. They just rip into whatever format iTunes rips by default, and just suppose it is MP3. In case you didn't realize yet, the actual compression algorithms being employed are absolutely meaningless to the vast majority of people out there.


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Silversight
post Apr 20 2007, 00:12
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QUOTE
An industry giant could drive support for Ogg, but why would they bother? What's the profit margin on free?

I think that's more or less the whole problem for Vorbis. Music stores want to maximize their profits by using DRM, and Ogg Vorbis doesn't support it. On the other side, DRM-less music doesn't really need another format, as MP3 has proven to be good enough and free for most people, thanks to LAME.

With the companies not using it and Average Joe not using it (or not even being able to use it), that leaves only the enthusiasts. Sad as it is, things would look quite different IMO if Xiph.org implemented a DRM mechanism into the Ogg container. The fact that it wants to be free all the way is its greatest disadvantage. I love it anyway.


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jcoalson
post Apr 20 2007, 01:21
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QUOTE (rjamorim @ Apr 19 2007, 16:58) *
QUOTE (LANjackal @ Apr 19 2007, 15:34) *
True, but if that's really the case, how is it that FLAC is the most widely supported lossless format without any patent/IP issues?

Maybe because it didn't become mainstream enough yet for interested (mischievous?) people to try to find patents inside it?

And if someone already found a patent he owns, he might be waiting for larger market acceptance. If he sued now, he would probably be able to catch nullsoft and a couple other big fish. He should at least until Apple includes it in Leopard, if he really wants profit.

practically every method in FLAC is also in ALAC, which FLAC predates by several years. so if anyone is submarining then even Apple is not a big enough fish.
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Maurits
post Apr 20 2007, 01:31
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QUOTE (Silversight @ Apr 19 2007, 23:12) *
QUOTE
An industry giant could drive support for Ogg, but why would they bother? What's the profit margin on free?

I think that's more or less the whole problem for Vorbis. Music stores want to maximize their profits by using DRM, and Ogg Vorbis doesn't support it. On the other side, DRM-less music doesn't really need another format, as MP3 has proven to be good enough and free for most people, thanks to LAME.

DRM has nothing to do with it. AAC doesn't support DRM either, that is why Apple had to create their own wrapper (FairPlay) around AAC to make it work for the iTunes Store. They could have done that with Vorbis or any other codec if they wanted. There were clearly other reasons to chose AAC over Vorbis.

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LANjackal
post Apr 20 2007, 03:17
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QUOTE (Maurits @ Apr 19 2007, 20:31) *
There were clearly other reasons to chose AAC over Vorbis.
I'm guessing the fact that AAC is an MPEG standard played a large role in that decision...

QUOTE (jcoalson @ Apr 19 2007, 20:21) *
practically every method in FLAC is also in ALAC, which FLAC predates by several years. so if anyone is submarining then even Apple is not a big enough fish.
... and you don't have any issue with these similarities? I'm just asking.

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PatchWorKs
post Apr 20 2007, 10:32
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QUOTE (Silversight @ Apr 20 2007, 01:12) *
Music stores want to maximize their profits by using DRM, and Ogg Vorbis doesn't support it.


Uhmmm... are you sure ?

http://www.sidespace.com/products/medias/

cool.gif

You, as old-economy industries managers, understimate the power of open sourceness: you can do whatever you want (or, better, whatever license allows). shifty.gif
That's the reason 'cause they're blowing out like brown leaves by the autumn winds. ph34r.gif


Some examples:

http://sourceforge.net/projects/kamiariduki/
http://sourceforge.net/projects/frm/
http://sourceforge.net/projects/odrm/
http://sourceforge.net/projects/distdrm/
http://sourceforge.net/projects/cctvdrm/
http://sourceforge.net/projects/authena/

...do you be a part of the revolution or just sit back on your a** ?
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rjamorim
post Apr 20 2007, 10:55
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QUOTE (PatchWorKs @ Apr 20 2007, 06:32) *


Could you point to a single project which is past the "Planning" phase?

QUOTE
...do you be a part of the revolution or just sit back on your a** ?


I will join the revolution when it is past the hype phase and actually starts happening - if ever - thankyouverymuch.


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niktheblak
post Apr 20 2007, 11:46
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QUOTE (rjamorim @ Apr 20 2007, 12:55) *
Could you point to a single project which is past the "Planning" phase?

One of these projects even says on the title page

QUOTE
DRM (Degital Rights Management) for people

Degital. Now that's a good start.
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Squeller
post Apr 22 2007, 11:58
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QUOTE (rjamorim @ Apr 19 2007, 15:02) *
In case you didn't realize yet, the actual compression algorithms being employed are absolutely meaningless to the vast majority of people out there.
Sad but true, I have to agree. mpc does not play any role amongst most of the geeks. Vorbis does, but the hype around it is way not enough to have it play a role amongst the average users. And I think it's role is decreasing. A living codec needs the average user base in order to survive. This is not because of lack of drm... The codec needs a "critical mass" of users which it hasn't... Geeks are not enough.
We have to face the truth again and again: real life differs from what we see in our small HA world.

[nostradamus mode]Neither vorbis nor musepack will play any role in future. Vorbis will die. Musepack is dead anyway, apart from the 42 users out there in the world, who regularly use the codec. AAC will survive.[/nostradamus mode]

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damaki
post Apr 22 2007, 12:52
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QUOTE (Squeller @ Apr 22 2007, 11:58) *
The codec needs a "critical mass" of users which it hasn't... Geeks are not enough.

Well it's not geeks, the followers are geeks that prioritize filesize over battery time (for portable use) It reduces further the targeted market.


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maikmerten
post Apr 22 2007, 14:38
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Well, actually I think such DAP centric discussion won't spawn anything new and interesting. Hardware support for Ogg is pretty low - partly because manufacturers don't care, partly because the Vorbis spec isn't exactly that friendly to players with little memory (albeit that species will finally die out thanks to the move to fancy GUIs and video playback - but back in the "critical" early 2000s that did matter).

However, there are niches where Ogg has absolutely no competition. On Linux it is what Windows Media is for Windows: The only thing shipping with encoders and decoders by default. Incidentially that's the world I am living in, so any thought of "has Ogg a future?" for me has a clear "not as a dominant format, but heck, yes" answer attached to it. It's the only viable solution in free (speech) environments. You could just as well ask "has Linux a future". It's a quite small niche, but it is a livable one.

In other news:

There'll be a <video> tag in "HTML5" that is thought to enable video playback without any external plugins ( http://www.whatwg.org/specs/web-apps/current-work/#video ). Opera recently released an experimental build with Ogg Vorbis/Theora built in (go to http://labs.opera.com and download it there) and Mozilla also seems to opt for Ogg Vorbis/Theora ( http://developer.mozilla.org/presentations...7/the_open_web/ ).

They don't choose Ogg because they're loving "tree hugger formats" or because they don't like the technology behind the MPEG standards, but because there is no way to distribute free (speech) software with MPEG codecs (or something from Microsoft) and still keep the software globally distributable. That in effect means we may begin to see some Ogg in the web (most likely with Flash video as a fallback).

To put it into a nutshell: There is a *need* for Ogg in some environments (no alternatives currently in sight) while other environments (with the majority of people living in) just don't care for whatever format is used. The former means Ogg won't go away, the latter means Ogg most likely won't "replace" MP3 or MPEG video (actually I don't see AAC replacing MP3 either, but that is a different story).

If you're not a mad scientist or a dictator world domination shouldn't matter to you anyway - it certainly doesn't for me. Lately I was carrying some Ogg files to a friend of mine and we had no problem playing them back on his Windows and his Apple machine. That's all what matters to me. And as long as the big music stores wrap their files in DRM containers consumers couldn't care less what format is used: Before decryption it's all looking like digital noise, no matter what format was encrypted wink.gif

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rjamorim
post Apr 23 2007, 11:54
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QUOTE (jcoalson @ Apr 19 2007, 21:21) *
QUOTE (rjamorim @ Apr 19 2007, 16:58) *
QUOTE (LANjackal @ Apr 19 2007, 15:34) *
True, but if that's really the case, how is it that FLAC is the most widely supported lossless format without any patent/IP issues?

Maybe because it didn't become mainstream enough yet for interested (mischievous?) people to try to find patents inside it?

And if someone already found a patent he owns, he might be waiting for larger market acceptance. If he sued now, he would probably be able to catch nullsoft and a couple other big fish. He should at least until Apple includes it in Leopard, if he really wants profit.

practically every method in FLAC is also in ALAC, which FLAC predates by several years. so if anyone is submarining then even Apple is not a big enough fish.


Yeah, yeah. The difference is that Apple never released source code or specifications on ALAC. For someone to create a case against it, he'll either have to subpoena Apple into showing him the sources, or base his allegations on a reverse engineered decoder.


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Rio
post Apr 23 2007, 12:05
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Vorbis has just added one follower, and that's me.

Having Ubuntu in my laptop and vorbis as lossy codec (flac as lossless) I have become more interested in using vorbis.

I even bought a 1 Gb Chinese Ipod Nano, just to have my vorbis files on a portable!

We just have to spread the word, that vorbis files are very efficient than your mainstream format.


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LANjackal
post Apr 23 2007, 13:10
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QUOTE (rjamorim @ Apr 23 2007, 06:54) *
Yeah, yeah. The difference is that Apple never released source code or specifications on ALAC. For someone to create a case against it, he'll either have to subpoena Apple into showing him the sources, or base his allegations on a reverse engineered decoder.
Thanks for the explanation.

QUOTE (Rio @ Apr 23 2007, 07:05) *
We just have to spread the word, that vorbis files are very efficient than your mainstream format.
If you're talking about grassroots promotion, that's already been/being done with little effect.

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