AfterDawn: Glossary

ATRAC

ATRAC stands for Adaptive Transform Acoustic Coding. It represents proprietary compression algorithms created by Sony Corp. and used with many of its digital audio electronics including MiniDisc and up until recently, it's web-based music download services. A family of different types of ATRAC exists now, with its first use being with the MiniDisc back in 1992. As with other lossy audio compression systems, ATRAC first received praise for its ability to provide audio quality that was comparable and sometimes perceptually indifferent to the CD-Audio format while using much smaller data rates and in the case of MiniDisc, much small physical media.

ATRAC has transformed and evolved through the years to deal with the change in how consumers have been enjoying digital audio. Once used primarily with the MiniDisc, ATRAC is now supported by many Sony Walkman branded gadgets and other audio electronic hardware sold by the company. In 1999, ATRAC3 improved upon the original ATRAC codec and was followed in 2002 by ATRAC3plus. In 2006, ATRAC Advanced Lossless surfaced, a lossless version of ATRAC that can provide compression of CD-Audio from anywhere between 30 percent and 80 percent, depending on the content, with no quality loss at all.

Sony is not the only manufacturer to support ATRAC in its products; Sharp and Panasonic are two examples of others who implemented the technology into their products. In August 2007, Sony announced that its Connect Music Service would dump the ATRAC format and the company would provide encoding tools to its customers to convert to a different audio format.

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Some interesting ATRAC-related articles from the AfterDawn archives include..

Sony to dump Connect music service - (August 31st, 2007)
Sony acknowledged that its proprietary ATRAC music format was a market flop by shutting down all its Connect music stores and making its devices compatible with other formats.

Sony kills off ATRAC and SonicStage with latest MP3 player - (April 28th, 2007)
The Sony B100 series of portable MP3 players killed off the ATRAC format.

Sony admits ATRAC was a mistake - (January 23rd, 2005)
Ken Kutaragi has stated that Sony has missed out on the sales of MP3 players and other gadgets by sticking to proprietary formats such as ATRAC.

Sony to add MP3 support to its portable music players - (September 23rd, 2004)
Sony confirmed plans to add MP3 support to its players, loosening its reliance on the proprietary ATRAC format.

Sony Connect music service launched - (May 5th, 2004)
Sony opened its Connect music service which used the ATRAC format for downloadable music files.

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