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Evolution of Audio CODECs

post #1 of 3
Thread Starter 

I've been a fan of OGG Vorbis against its major contenders being AAC and LAME mp3. It seems to be the best at bass quality for the bit rate and can impressively reduce file sizes without being slow at encoding. However I heard good things about Musepack and looked into it compared to AAC and Vorbis.


People seemed to like Musepack more in general. However, I realized that everything I was reading about it was quite old, even as far back as 2004. Musepack doesn't seem to have gained a lot of popularity or compatibility. Did it die or is it still being improved? Did AAC and Vorbis improve far past it? Or did very little change at all and its popularity and compatibility is being more affected by things other than its efficiency?


I've also heard that Opus surpasses Vorbis and AAC but don't hear as much about it as those two. Could it be a great CODEC but factors have prevented it from gaining popularity? Can anyone tell me if Musepack and Opus are good options to consider ahead of AAC and OGG Vorbis?

post #2 of 3

Unfortunately I've not heard much of Musepack these days although it seems that their latest commit was about 9 months ago. This level of activity is a far cry from what Opus sees but I've seen quieter projects.


I had written quite a bit on the technical comparisons between Ogg Vorbis and Ogg Opus and was intending to post it but did not have the foresight to do it in a text editor. Poof. All gone :( Hopefully this wiki entry will help supplement what was to be a very long post.


Essentially Opus is very exciting as the practical applications will be very useful as adoption grows. For our purposes - i.e. music playback, Vorbis and Opus seem to be audibly transparent to me at around roughly the same bitrates (192 kbps) so if you're really invested into Vorbis there really isn't any reason to switch at this point.


However I just found it extremely interesting so out of sheer curiosity I made the switch - most of my rips are now encoded to Opus. I had some tagging issues at first but this was mitigated by adapting the encoding script I use for Vorbis (which tags as well) to Opus. I then had some issues with Rockbox on my Clip Zip reading Opus tags but using a development build fixed that as well. Now even the stable builds seem to work well with tags.


I feel that commercial adoption is only limited by the fact that a lot of the current tools lacked support for Opus but the situation seems to be much better as of recent. Mutagen, Easytag, foobar, etc, gained support. When more DAPs start carrying Opus as they did with Vorbis I'm sure its time in the music playback world will come. Of course support seems to be very active on the web-streaming front as that has been the most compelling reason for its existence thus far.

post #3 of 3
Thread Starter 

Thanks for the informative post. At first I believed Opus was targeted to be good for extremely low bitrates, and might not be as great at higher ones, but it looks like a very interesting CODEC. I'll keep using Vorbis probably, but will see if Opus starts getting more compatibility in the future.

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