MP3 contributor ends format's licensing program as patents expire, but what does this...

By midian182 ยท 7 replies
May 15, 2017
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  1. First published in 1993, MP3 development began at the Friedrich-Alexander University of Erlangen-Nuremberg in the late 1980s. Those of a certain age may nostalgically recall the days of dial-up internet when downloading a single MP3 track took what felt like an eternity on that 56K modem.

    Such was the popularity of the file format that many non-technical individuals knew it by name. At the end of the nineties and the start of the following decade, the public profile of MP3s had risen even higher, helped partly by the Napster controversy.

    The Fraunhofer Institute for Integrated Circuits, a German organization that was a major contributor in the development of the MP3 music compression format, announced this week it's terminated licensing for certain MP3-related patents. Though as misleading as this may sound, it has nothing to do with the validity or usage of the file format, but simply that they are no longer able to collect royalties on it.

    “MP3 is still very popular amongst consumers. However, most state-of-the-art media services such as streaming or TV and radio broadcasting use modern ISO-MPEG codecs such as the AAC family or in the future MPEG-H. Those can deliver more features and a higher audio quality at much lower bitrates compared to mp3,” reads the statement.

    The Advanced Audio Codec family, also known as AAC, is being touted as the “de facto standard" for music and mobile video by Fraunhofer who were also involved in AAC's development. However no doubt this has more to do with the fact that AAC is newer and thus can still be monetized.

    Many consumers still enjoy MP3s and now that developers can use the format in projects without having to pay royalties, thereby making it open for use to everyone, it could see a surge in popularity again.

    Permalink to story.

  2. Theinsanegamer

    Theinsanegamer TS Evangelist Posts: 720   +712

    MP3 is "good enough" for most people.
  3. mbrowne5061

    mbrowne5061 TS Evangelist Posts: 688   +305

    Most people care about file size over audio quality (they don't notice low quality until someone else points it out - and even then, they might not be able to tell). The advantage AAC has here is staggering.

    I use to run the entire technical side of my college's radio station, including internet streaming. The station director was adamant about maintaining stream quality, and he could tell when it dipped. He wouldn't settle for less than 128-bit mp3 - and that was after I fought him down from 256-bit. He would have made it 320-bit if we had the budget for the bandwidth. Trouble is stream bandwidth scales linearly with listener count+1 (the +1 being the originating stream from the studio). I spent weeks trying to convince him that we should switch to 64-bit AAC to both save bandwidth and improve stream quality. He refused. So I built a second 64-bit AAC stream, and had it go to the new web player we were planning on rolling out soon, gave him a link, and waited. I didn't tell him about the different format, but his first comment was "can we afford to stream this with this much quality? Almost sounds like you switched us to 256-bit". That's when I let him in on the secret.

    AAC is far superior in terms of both compressed file size and audio quality.
    Reehahs likes this.
  4. TheBigFatClown

    TheBigFatClown TS Guru Posts: 675   +248

    This is very interesting what you say. I've always been happy with the quality of .MP3 files but I always play them locally. I'm not much for streaming anything just because of the "potential" for network issues. Maybe it's a psychological thing where people are happy with what they have until they get a taste of something better. However, if I could get just "at least the same" quality in AAC files with smaller file sizes as compared to .MP3 files that would alone would justify the change, I think. .MP3 has incredible compression ratios from what I've heard. Which brings up a question, now that I think about this? AAC files are surely based on bit-rates as well are they not? So at what bit-rate encoding are .AAC files at the same quality of encoding as an .MP3? I think this issue may be more complicated than you have suggested. Unless, your whole point was based upon the quality of streaming alone.
    Reehahs and Theinsanegamer like this.
  5. Abraka

    Abraka TS Rookie Posts: 16   +8

    They are not retiring the format. They'd be happy to milk this patent-protected format for many many years in the future. Unfortunately for them (and fortunately for us) MP3 has become FREE.

    Patents have expired and software developers don't have to pay royalties to Fraunhoffer. This is why they "terminated" the licenses. They didn't. Licenses have been terminated by the expiration of patent. But TechSpot, just like most of other quazi-media (which includes CNN, CNBC and 95% of other media) don't want to tell the truth to the audience.

    We didn't need MP3 and we don't need AAC. Both were (MP3) or still are (AAC) heavily patented formats. OGG (or Ogg Vorbis) was a better format that MP3.

    OPUS is a better format than AAC. Producing smaller files with higher quality. So the reason Fraunhoffer announced that "MP3 is dead" is because they want us to use AAC, where they still earn a lot of money, along with Apple and a few others. Why would we?

    If we made a mistake of not using OGG, which was for decades better than MP3, now it's time to start using OPUS and boycott the patented and closed AAC.
    Reehahs likes this.
  6. mbrowne5061

    mbrowne5061 TS Evangelist Posts: 688   +305

    My whole point was quality during streaming alone. I'm not sure what the bitrate:quality relationships between MP3 and AAC would be exactly, I just know we got clearer sound from a lower bitrate when we finally switched from 128-bit MP3 to 64-bit AAC.
  7. spydercanopus

    spydercanopus TS Evangelist Posts: 847   +108

    I run an FM station with nothing but 320kbps MP3's and we sound great.

    Most automation software only supports WAVE and MP3, anyway.
  8. mbrowne5061

    mbrowne5061 TS Evangelist Posts: 688   +305

    our files on the computer were all 320 MP3s (or better, some DJs snuck some FLAC files in). But our internet stream was not set for that much. Broadcasting in 320kbps gets really expensive, really quickly.

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