Best Low Bit Rate Audio Compression

Topics: Vorbis, Ogg, Data compression Pages: 8 (2519 words) Published: May 22, 2008
The Best Low Bit Rate Audio Compression Algorithm
Best Compressed Audio Format
The “best” audio format depends on your needs. To balance download speed and hard drive space against quality, this page looks to chronicle some of the tests that have been done around the Internet. While not all are up-to-date, they do provide a good swath of audio formats available. As a result of these tests, this document assumes that Ogg Vorbis is the best so-far in audio compression, based on tests listed. There are exceptions to OGG's superiority, including on portable devices where OGG is not commonly available. MP3 size-quality performance is among the worst but it's quality is still considered adequate. Ogg Vorbis

A free audio compression technology and software growing quickly in use. It's open-source audio encoder and audio streaming system is an excellent alternative to MP3 both in terms of better sound quality and its nature as a patent-free software with no license restrictions. MP3 and other systems have a variety of restrictions.

OGG is best

According to most tests, Ogg Vorbis is the Best Compressed Audio Format and for most applications/music types. It is under continual development and future versions are expected to continue to improve sound quality to file size ratio. Many other services have been criticized for producing a great format and then sitting on it.

However, OGG may not be the best choice in every circumstance. For instance, it is not very good at encoding low-bitrate audio.

Ogg Vorbis can encode files at a wide variety of bitrates from sub-16kbps to 256kbps, and in stereo, mono, or 5.1 surround sound. This includes both Variable and Fixed Bitrate compression for streaming.

What play .OGG files
Winamp, XMMS, RealPlayer, Itunes, Windows Media Player

Ogg Vorbis is a good choice because the sound quality is among the best of the newest formats out there. Recent double-blind listening tests put Ogg Vorbis among the highest quality of all the “second-generation” compressed audio codecs. This means you either save space and get the same quality, get higher quality for the same requirements, or a combination of both(little smaller and a little better-sounding).

Secondly, Ogg Vorbis is not only Open Source (BSD license), but is completely patent-free. This means that hardware manufacturers wanting to support Ogg Vorbis in their portable music players can do so without paying license fees, unlike most other formats. Software developers can use the Ogg Vorbis format for music/sounds in their games without having to get permission from some powerful company and without paying royalities. And the open nature of the code for the format means that many people have the freedom to port the tools to many other systems to add features, fix bugs and improve the code if they so desire. In fact, the BSD license allows for developers to modify their code to suit their own needs, and they don’t even have to publish their changes! Most other formats are heavily patented and tightly controlled.

Finally, the format is well-designed to have several features some of the others don’t. Those familiar with id3 tags for mp3 files will be well aware of their limitations, Ogg Vorbis features a flexible tagging standard which allows complete customization of tags for a given file, including user-defined tags (like “remixed by” or whatever you like).

Ogg Vorbis files also potentially support “bitrate peeling”, which means you could produce a lower bitrate file from a higher bitrate file without re-encoding and at the same quality as if you’d encoded the file directly into the lower bitrate from the original file. No other lossy audio codec currently supports this. (N.B. Current files are peelable, but not very well. Good peeling support requires the encoder to be redesigned to store data in a more peeler-friendly (but still backwards-compatible) format. This is being worked on, slowly, but isn’t currently a high...
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