Ogg Vorbis and Variable MP3s

NastyNate

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Hi All,
I don't know if I should get a iRiver IHP-120, or a IPOD (G3 20GB) or a Rio Karma. The IHP and the Karma support Ogg Vorbis but I am kinda confused about it.
1) I was wondering what the difference between Ogg Vorbis and Variable MP3s are.
2) Does Ogg Vorbis have its own tag?
3) Should my MP3 player support this (is it necissary)
4) How popular is Ogg Vorbis?
5) If my MP3 player doesn't support Ogg Vorbis can I still play variable MP3s?
I don't know that much about Mp3s so if you guys could answer a few questions for me I'd be very grateful.

Thanks A LOT guys.
 

alltaken

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MP3's are whats called a lossey audio codec. just the same as vorbis is.

this means that they compress the music but LOSE sound quality in doing so



there are a few differences between the two.

i will talk about each and you can make up your mind.

---------
MP3. this is a popular format that is very mainstream, it is suported by almost everything and has been around for a long time.

however encoding to Mp3 is often either SLOW, due to speed ripping restrictions. expensive (as it requires a license fee), or illegal (if you have downloaded an encoder like LAME )

you see MP3 is a patented technology.


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Vorbis AKA Ogg. this is also a mainstream format that has been growing in popularity recently.

it is opensource meaning you are allowed full speed rips for free, and you don't need to pay for an encodeder to encode from cd's.

also Ogg files that are under 192Kbps are noticably better than Mp3s of a simialr quality. so with this said you can fit more Ogg files on your player for the same quality, or have better sounding files for the same number.

ogg is a more advanced format and can theoretically hold as many channels as you want rather than the 2 channels that MP3 is limited to. (and video, which is named as an .Ogm file)




Mp3's and Ogg's are totally different. the only similaritys are the similar sizes and functions. e.g. they both are music files.




VBR is another thing all together

there are two technologys. one is CBR (constant bit rate) and VBR (variable bit rate)

CBR is based on a set bitrate e.g. 128Kbps which means ever second there is exactly 128Kb of music sorted.

VBR is based on a set quality e.g. 7 which means that if the song is silent at the time it will drop the bitrate to a few Kbps. and if it gets rather noisey it will increase the bitrate to acount for this.

basicly VBR is the best way to encode as it will give better file sizes for the quality.

CBR is rather old and mainly unused now.





basicly an Ogg file with VBR is the best way to go for a portable if you are ripping your own CD's and/or downlaoding Ogg files.

and a player that does them both is good because you could use either Mp3 and Ogg whichever you download or rip.


personally i use a Minidisc palyer, and rip all my CD's to a lossless codec (meaning 100% cd quality). but thast just me :p


Alltaken

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NastyNate

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Thank You Soo Much.
Now I know What MP3 PLayer to buy. I will prolly get the iRiver iHP-120, because it supports the most file types and it has some very nice features.
Thanks Again for taking the time to answer my questions.
Bye
 

The_I

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'Or illegal (if you have downloaded an encoder like LAME)'

Why the heck is LAME illegal? Never heard of that - I have used LAME since reading the rj3mix.net-page (which is gone now) and it made a point of not wanting to promote anything illegal.

And now that I am at it: As said I read the rj3mix-page, it is basically a manual on how to make mp3s with a loss of quality inaudible by the human ear. I do realize that mp3 is loss full compression, but the point of rj3mix work is that CD-quality simply is so high that the human ear can't catch it all; rj3mix simply cuts out what we can't hear. The set of settings (to be used with LAME) includes variable bit rates, tinkering with the low pass, and some other things that I do not remember, at least on the sides I have read no-one can hear any difference.
But what I wanted to hear was whether something new has come up since rj3mix (the page pretty much shut down in 2001). Are there newer and better encoders than LAME (and once again, why is it illegal? `), other formats, like the Ogg Vorbis, that beats mp3 when what I want is maximum quality and so on? - I would really like to have a link if someone knows a serious side dealing with high-quality compression.<P ID="edit"><FONT SIZE=-1><EM>Edited by The_I on 11/23/03 02:59 PM.</EM></FONT></P>
 

alltaken

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Ugggg

you are saying a lot of stuff in this post.

A) who/what the hell is rj3mix??? and who really cares.

it doesn't sound like the number one authority on music to me.

B)your statement of "CD-quality simply is so high that the human ear can't catch it all" is absolute BS.

yes each individual ear is not necisarily going to get all the sounds. however the CD was a step back from the record in frequency and the 44.1Khz range was only choosen becasue of the CD media format. if you havn't noticed DVD's use a 96Khz frequency meaning that acording to you they are just wasting more and more space :p (either that or you are wrong)

you think that MP3s can have a "loss of quality inaudible by the human ear". well whos ear are you refering to?? not mine obviously. perhaps 80% of the public who doesn't really care anyway, but not to people that listen closely.

"inaudiable to the human ear" has become a catch frase just as "cd quality has" for a 192Kbps rip. but honestly it means NOTHING at all, its like saying that a bag of sugar is 99% fat free.

C)LAME is an open source project (this doesn't make it legal, all it means is that its source code is available to the public), however encoding using LAME without first having a licence to do so from The Fraunhoffer Institute, who owns the MP3 Patent is illegal.

its like owning a gun in teh US is not illegal but shooting someone is. its a very complex issue and one that many companys offering ripping avoid by not suplying LAME with their official software but leeking links to patches or plugins through developers personal posts in message boards or webisites that have nothign to do with the company.

Nullsoft is one example (they make winamp)

also EAC (exact audio copy) provides easy intergration to LAME, but doesn't provide it with it or anything.

it is a legal issue that you don't understand, it doesn't mean its not illegal. the fact is that you should be paying for a license, the reality is that most people DON'T.


you want a serious website for high quality compression. here have a look at this.

<A HREF="http://flac.sourceforge.net/comparison.html" target="_new">http://flac.sourceforge.net/comparison.html</A>

but what i think you ment is "LOW QUALITY COMPRESSION"
which is Mp3 Ogg Wma etc... look at this

<A HREF="http://www.xiph.org/ogg/vorbis/listen.html" target="_new">http://www.xiph.org/ogg/vorbis/listen.html</A>

but if you want an informative site about the differences etc... (this is probably the most usefull page for you since you are trying to argue with me without knowing anything)

then look at this


<A HREF="http://mp3.radified.com/lossless.htm" target="_new">http://mp3.radified.com/lossless.htm</A>

anyway don't look for arguments


Alltaken


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netphreak

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Not trying to argue but i think you will find that the RJ3MIX set up was designed to give equivalent quality to a track encoded at 256kps using the Fraunhoffer encoder, and outputing a variable bit rate file which would be small as possible and give as high a quality as possible.

Also you say about lossless compression and i think you stated you use mini disc so that would be ATRAC compression then. That is indeed a different system altogether and infact that codec has the possibility of having higher quality than that of CD. But of course if your source is CD then how can the output have higher quality... Unfortunatly ATRAC's problem is infact Sony's reluctance to lience the technology for audio encoding outside of mini players.
Personally i prefer VBR rj3mix mp3's to ATRAC but mainly due to handyness and also the quality difference is not noticable.
 

alltaken

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Yes i use ATRAC on my minidisc player. i don't mind suffering a quality loss when recording to a portable media such as MD. but yes i do notice it.

personally i have never heard of RJ3MIX.

is it an MP3 encoder, a WEBSITE, an Open source codec project, or some other kind of thing??

a google search comes up with nothing about it

from the sounds of your post its an MP3 codec, but the last guy made it sound like a website, and the name makes it sound like a 12 year old geek was playing with his computer late at night (ha ha ha ha just kidding)


my personal view is that encoders are ok when space is an absolute necesity, e.g. in a portable, or for saving bandwidth via the internet etc...

but compressors are the only way to go when space is not so important. e.g. personal use on your computer, cd backups, using for encoding to other formats later.

i don't know if only sony owns the MD/ATRAC rights, i was thinking it might have been another sony/philips type deal like with CD's.

but anyway c ya round.


Alltaken

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The_I

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b)
I admit it, my knowledge is not great in this field, it is greatly based at rj3mix and yes, it may be wrong, that is why I ask on this forum, I need to update my knowledge.

I found the rj3mix page from a Danish it forum this summer, looking for someone who knew what they were talking about when it came to how to store my audio. The rj3mix page seemed a good page, the author is convincing and objective in his writings and the project was convincing in it's professionalism - only disadvantage I could find was the fact that the page hadn't been updated a while (but if it worked two years ago, why shouldn't it work now?).

The author's arguments for encoders were based on the CDs being built with some 'headroom' so quality was ensured. He stated that the CDs theoretically produced sound detailed enough to register the MOVEMENT OF AIR inside the studio, and the bottleneck therefore logically was the microphones, not the digital media (and therefore he logically didn't support anything like DVD-audio). It is in this headroom and whatever else you don’t hear you save some bits – according to rj3mix.

And I can understand why firms would launch DVD-audio, even if you gained nothing from the higher bit-rates. Higher bit-rates logically mean it is harder to copy the stuff without loosing quality, which they obviously like. Now I am saying that it wouldn’t be completely illogical for the audio-companies to launch a new media even if it didn’t mean higher quality, not that it doesn’t offer this higher quality, I would like to be proven wrong, but I won’t buy ‘why would they make it if it didn’t improve quality’, link me to a test or something.

Supporting the mp3 format he referred to a listening test for some magazine. Some audiophiles blind-tested three formats, mp3 128 kbps CBR, mp3 256 kbps VBR and WAW, of course through the optimal equipment. Of course they could hear what the 128 kbps mp3 was, but they couldn't distinct between the 256 kbps mp3s and the WAW-files. And as Netphreak what rj3mix wanted to do was to match the quality of 256 kbps CBR with a VBR as low as possible without audible difference.

As said I am no expert into audio, but what I read on the site seemed well-researched and convincing. Anyway, if you can show me some tests proving the opposite I should be glad to be enlightened.

And thanks for the links by the way, I have read some of the radified guide and it seems quite good, after reading the one page you linked to I still don’t find myself proven wrong, it pretty much agrees with what I’ve learned from rj3mix, that you will be able to save many bits because your ear represents a bottleneck – according to this you should have VERY good ears and equipment if you should be able to distinct between mp3s and CD-audio. But once again, prove me wrong.

I can understand why would use lossless compression ‘just to be certain’, but as I will soon have 25 CDs to rip and encode/compress it will matter whether it will take up ~15 GB or >5 GB. It is for storage on my computer by the way.

c) Hmm, to bad. It seems – also from what I’ve read on your links – that lame is still one of the best encoders around, so it’s a shame that it’s illegal to use. Is it possible to buy such a license to use it? It didn’t seem so from the Fraunhoffer Institute website, I would like to use LAME, but as I actually pay several hundred dollars to buy my CDs I would like to rip and encode them legally as well, if I can.

d) Do you have to be condescending? – I am just an armature PC-user trying to figure out how things work and ‘dare’ speak out what I’ve learned until now. It isn’t exactly like it makes me take you more seriously, which is probably a shame.

The I
 

alltaken

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LOL The_I

i wasn't trying to be condisending. i just got annoyed after i wrote a pretty indepth pice in which you disagreed with parts stating things that were not factual such as CD's having too mcuh info in them.

my opriginal post actually said lossy codecs are fine, such as LAME, Vorbis etc...



if you have purchased MP3 ripping software then you pretty much have a licence for encoding MP3's using any encoder.

however although in techniqual terms LAME is illegal to use without a licence, nobody is ever gonna come after you and nobody is going to care. its widly used and widly accepted. heck even i have encoded in it and i have never downlaoded an illegal music track. i am not feeling any moral obligation to not use LAME.

but its somthing that people might want to know. for instance a lot of people think downloading music off kazza is legal. onyl because some people don't realise that its not. its one of those things you don't know till you are told :) so jsut saying so you can make up you own mind. but IMO keep ripping with it and do it without paying. i don't suport the person getting so much money from the patent on the technology.




if you are using your music "only on your computer" then VBR MP3's are not the way to go. a 192Kbps (or smaller) VBR Ogg file will beat an equivalent MP3 file. and a (i'm not 100% sure on this as i don't use them but i have read a lot on them) either 96 or 64 Kbps Ogg file will be equivalent to a 128Kbps Mp3 (the VBR rates are equally better in Ogg than Mp3)


as i said earlier MP3 is only good for compatiblity. and if thats important stick to it.

and in my PERSONAL OPINION. i will choose not to use lossy codecs. i agree that lossy codecs have their place in this world for many applications that require their advantages.

so if they work better for you then yes thats good and i won't disagree.

i do however have opinions on some people who say that lossless formats are useless and a waste of space.


and to tell you a funny story i just realised that about 100 songs in my collection of 1200 were in MP3 format.

the thing is, no i didn't notice that they were MP3's untill i was baffled why they played in WMP (which i didn't think played flac files) anyway i found out they were 320Kbps MP3 files and though DAMN.

so i re-ripped them all as flacs (my personal preference) and they sound great (maybe placebo effect)

but considering i had never listened to the cd before ripping them i had no comparison, and therefore neer noticed that they were MP3 files :p

ha ha ha anyway i have noticed through personal experience that a lossless file will sound softer e.g. a small amount of white noise type sound (but not the same- i'm tlaking small noises that you don't hear directly but that are there) and makes it sound more real. but with the lossy compressions i notice that with these so-called useless sounds choped out they sound a bit awkward.

but thats my opinion.


for you i would sugest looking at Ogg a bit. i don't know how much you know about it, but i figure you might be interested in learning about it, maybe i gave you a link to their site in the last one or earlier on i don't know.

<A HREF="http://www.xiph.org/ogg/vorbis/" target="_new">http://www.xiph.org/ogg/vorbis/</A>

its widly suported now and played by default by nearly all applications .

oh and coment on the DVD audio thingy LOL yeah maybe they are trying to sell us extra stuff and make it hard to copy :) , its entirly possible given the power of capitalism on morals. but i have talked to a few people who record in DVD quality and they say yeah it is much better and yeah they can hear it. but like me these people are picky :p

anyway good luck with all your music related stuff.

off to fix up all my playlists that have links to the deleted MP3's on them :p

Alltaken

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The_I

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Ok, glad we got things straightened out.

I had misunderstood a few things when writing CDs had too much quality, what I really meant was that you could take away some of it in a way that tricked the human ear into not noticing.

That said I have actually chosen that I will use a lossless compressor anyway. Three reasons:

1) Even if there was no difference, when I hear an mp3 I start hearing something resembling a difference - a bit like the noise thing you mentioned - then I start focusing at that and get annoyed. It's probably all in my mind and I'd probably not be able to hear a difference if there was (considering ears and equipment). But even if the 'higher quality' of lossless compressors is all placebo, I'll enjoy it just the same.

2) Compressing my rips losslessly I can always make another decision later, changing to another compressor or encoder, my rips won't loose quality by being compressed and decompressed.
I actually just found about 15 GB of WAWs on my hard-drive! Most of it is voice that I can discard or convert to a low-quality format, the rest is simply the original wave-file of my first generation rips, didn't trust the mp3s enough to erase them until I had taken a final decision. This way I won't have to keep WAW-files, and I've obviously found the space I needed :)

3) I remembered how dirt-cheap hard-disk space is! I can get hard-disks with 160-200 GB of space at a price that equals less than a dollar per gigabyte! If I use a compressor I can have at least two CDs per gigabyte, so my storage cost per CD will be 50 cents, tops, I think I can manage that!

So I’ll probably FLAC or APE my files, at least for now. I might have to take a decision on some kind of encoder when I get a car-stereo or an mp3-player.

Reading the pages you linked (finished the radified guide) I figure my using EAC is a correct enough choice for ripping. But what about playing, until now I’ve actually used windows media, but I figure something else would be more optimal, radified links to some Winamp plug-ins hinting that is the program to use, but what about the version? I’ve heard that the winamp 3 versions are bad.

As for RJ3MIX it is a set of settings for the lame encoder
--nspsytune --vbr-mtrh -V1 -mj -h -b96 --lowpass 19.5 --athtype 3 --ns-sfb21 2 -Z --scale 0.98 -X0
To be correct. It’s mentioned on the radified guide.

The_I
 

alltaken

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LOL

ok for flac there is a download and exe file that should install all the right plugins etc..

as for Winamp3 yeah it was a flop. its actually an old version, they continued developing winamp 2

so winamp 2.91 is what they are up too and winamp 3 was released ages before winamp 2.91 came out. (yeah stupid i know LOL)

now they have winamp 5 which is coming out very very soon.

it gets the best from winamp 3 (which was a flop) and puts it into the smaller faster winamp 2 code making it a bit of both.

so its called winamp 5 (2+3)

damn confusing if you ask me but hey. (it is actually winamp 2 but witha name change :p)



but yes it is very very good for flac (i guess its also good with .APE and other lossless ones) i have had no problems with it, the winamp 5 version is probably the best to get but thats a little while.

winamp 2 currently isn't as good as WMP 9 i don't think (from what i hear) but i hear that winamp 5 will be.

chistmas time i guess.


LOL to be honest i never read all the radified guide (ha ha ha) i read about 1 page worth and it looked like they knew what they were talking about and were rather unbiased e.g. didn't favour compression or encoding particulaly. so i gave you the link. i might go back and have a read because obviously i don't know everything about MP3 encoding or ogg encoding settings etc... LOL

oh if its possible to do i sugest you encode a flac and an MP3 or whatever you normally would.

then you put them in a playlist and close your eyes then just click the next button heaps and heaps so you don't know which is which then listen to the first 10 secs of each and try and guess which is which then open your eyes.

:)


anyway good luck with it all.

Alltaken

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BunnyStroker

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Why the heck is LAME illegal?
I believe that the MP3 format was patented by the Frauenhofer Institute, who invented the format. They have argued that encoders like LAME impinge on their patent. Nothing, as far as I know, has come of it - and at this point I doubt anything ever will.

Back in the day - r3mix.net was the <b>absolute best</b> webpage for newbies looking for info on how to make the best MP3s at reasonable bitrates. I really miss it - it was always an interetsing read.

Anyways - if you know what you are doing, Ogg has a slight quality advantage (at a given file size, and really only at low bitrates) over MP3, but MP3 enjoys far greater compatability.

I should note, however, that OGG is capable of playing consecutive tracks with no gap, as is common with many electronic/techno/dance albums. MP3 is not - the best that can be done is a fairly intelligent player that does a good short crossfade job.



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