Alternatives to mp3 have got me intrigued... anyone have any links to articles discussing the pros and cons?

Mucman

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Oct 10, 1999
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My CD collection has been in mp3 format for the longest time... mostly because mp3 was the only compressed format that I knew at the time... My mp3 collection is for my personal use only. I don't have it open for everyone so having it in mp3 format doesn't make much sense.

What I need is a format the is as close to lossless compression as it gets, so it has great sound quality even on hi-fi systems. I also want the format to be playable on BSD and windows platforms.

I really care about my music so I am all ears (I love puns) to any suggestions :)
 

Workin'

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Jan 10, 2000
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Hmm, your BSD requirement limits your choices.

For Windows (and maybe soon Linux) the best choice would be Monkey's Audio, which is a LOSSLESS compression scheme. But .ape files are only 60% of the size of the original, whereas MP3 and others can be 10-25% of the original size. So it depends if you have disk space to burn.

I think your only choice for lossy compression besides MP3 on BSD is Ogg Vorbis, some people say it sounds better than MP3 but a properly encoded MP3 is indistinguishable from the CD source so unless you are improperly encoding your MP3's I don't know if there is anything to gain.
 

Mucman

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Oct 10, 1999
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Thanks! That MonkeyAudio site is really good... too bad it would take 190GB to store my cd collection... I think I may migrate to it when I have more money to spend on storage. All my mp3s were ripped and encoded using CDEx. I used the Lame codec, and VBR on the high quality setting, where the bitrate never went below 160.

I didn't really bother with Ogg, because I think I made my mp3s pretty good quality and the only step up for me is a lossless compression... ripping 500cds takes a while :)
 

mk

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Apr 26, 2000
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Originally posted by: Mucman
My CD collection has been in mp3 format for the longest time... mostly because mp3 was the only compressed format that I knew at the time... My mp3 collection is for my personal use only. I don't have it open for everyone so having it in mp3 format doesn't make much sense.

What I need is a format the is as close to lossless compression as it gets, so it has great sound quality even on hi-fi systems. I also want the format to be playable on BSD and windows platforms.

When it comes to preserving the original information you only have two choices: lossless and lossy, unfortunately there's nothing in between.

With the available lossless formats you can expect compression to around 60% (classical music is usually a little lower, pop/rock usually higher) of the original filesize, the differences between them lie primarily in functionality (seeking, tagging, compression speed etc.). There isn't likely to be any major breakthroughs in compression efficency in the near future.

(Un)fortunately, depending on how you want to look at it, there are quite a few lossy formats to choose from. Sadly there's also much misinformation and ignorance around which leads to people making bad choices when choosing a method of compressing their CD's (it isn't a big deal if you don't care but the truth is that most of the audio that's distributed around the net sounds like crap).

IMO there isn't a single reason to use mp3 if you want to compress your CD's for listening on a computer only (naturally it's the only option if you want to use a portable mp3 player). It was originally "developed" to provide listenable audio at dual ISDN bitrates (128 kbps), not to produce files indistinguishable from the original. The LAME developers and Dibrom with the --alt-presets and the accompanying code modifications have managed to push the quality near the limits of the format but mp3 still loses to other formats in sound quality at all bitrates, to wma, mp3pro, ogg, realaudio and possibly aac below 100 kbps and to mpc, ogg and (PsyTEL) aac at higher bitrates (don't get me wrong, mp3 can sound quite good on most music but it generally needs very high bitrates to do so and it still fails on some difficult signals).

If you are interested in a lossy compression format with the best quality currently available for high bitrates (>160 kbps) you should try Musepack (mpc).

Official developer page
Software
Musepack.org
AQuAudio
Some really useful links

The best place to find about things related to audio compression is Hydrogen Audio. :)