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mp3HD lossless codec arrives

Written by Andre Yoskowitz (Google+) @ 21 Mar 2009 13:04 User comments (20)

mp3HD lossless codec arrives All4MP3 has announced the launch of their new mp3HD codec which promises to keep "100% bit-exact replica of CD tracks" when ripping from a physical audio CD.
According to the official site, mp3HD offers the following:

* mp3HD is a lossless audio codec (100% bit-exact replica of CD tracks)
* Backward Compatible to mp3
* File extension .mp3
* Bitrates for music approximately 500 to 900 kbps rates (similar to other lossless codecs), depending on genre
* Embedded mp3 track and the mp3HD file share the same id3 metadata
* Encoding parameters (e.g. bit rate), ancillary data and meta data of embedded mp3 track are under control

The group also says the average mp3HD bit rate for an everyday "top 40" pop song is 876 kbit/s, for a filesize of about 26 MB for a 4 minute track.

Audiophiles should be very excited for this new codec, as most mp3 players, especially the Apple iPod line, does not allow playback of lossless formats such as FLAC.

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20 user comments

121.3.2009 13:42

We'll see if this'll eventually replace FLAC

And what do you mean by:

Quote:
Backward Compatible to mp3

221.3.2009 13:43

26mbs for 4 minutes is pretty big for the average mp3... If I had all my music in that format I'm sure it all wouldn't fit on my 30GB iPod Video... Guess it's time for an upgrade...

321.3.2009 13:57

This is rather interesting, however the file size leaves something to be desired. I'm fine 128 kpbs at least tht way the file size isn't as big and it's decent enough to listen to. Maybe when portable players start to have 30gb as a size standard in the 100$ range it'll be more sutible.

421.3.2009 14:02

I for one can't stand mp3 audio, friends of mine burn mp3 cd's or plug their mp3 players into stereos/home theaters and it sounds terrible. It almost always sounds like someone tapped Styrofoam cups over the speakers and the electronic background noise is quite audible. I've always chosen quality over quantity, but if these claims turn out to be true I might be able to get a balanced mix of both.

521.3.2009 14:50

why do we keep coming out with all these new formats? I will tell you--MONEY!

The industry finally woke up and realized that they could sell format after format of the exact same song. That is why they are saying goodbye to CD's.

Sorry, but any idiot who buys a .99 song online and then pays the exact same amount or even more two years later because of a new format, is just that--an idiot.

In five years, this format will be the old school since it was made for "CD quality" and we will have the Super Duper Even Higher Definition Audio Lossless format for DVD Audio, followed by who knows what.

No wonder we are being called the Lost Generation. In 30 years, with no hard copies, all these pictures on JPEG and songs on MP3 will be nonreadable.

621.3.2009 15:39
varnull
Inactive

This isn't going to "replace" flac.. honestly.. closed proprietary patented junk vs free established open standard.. another epic fail.. just looking to see if $ony have anything to do with it.

721.3.2009 17:20
david89
Inactive

this is good news to a point the thing i like is where it say Backward Compatible to mp3 that means mp3 players etc should be able to play them. somebody here that has a high quality stereos/home theaters do a few test for us and see if they really think it sound better then the old mp3 format and see how it stack up against flac.

This message has been edited since its posting. Latest edit was made on 21 Mar 2009 @ 17:21

821.3.2009 20:34

The average consumer doesn't care about open, non-proprietary software. They want convenience. That's why MP3 is popular and OGG isn't. And if mp3HD can play on mp3-supported devices, it will be convenient for those who want acceptable quality for home stereo/theater use. There is no benefit to using lossless audio on a portable audio/media player however and that will effect mp3HD's acceptance. Unless maybe you have really good head/earphones. I'm a big supporter of free software and I like having lossless audio so I rip all my CDs to FLAC and download FLAC whenever possible. But my cheap little MP3 player doesn't support OGG or FLAC, I still rip to/download MP3 for portable listening.

Btw I find it amusing that the mp3 guys are coming out with lossless CD-quality audio NOW when FLAC has already moved on to 96/24 HD audio support. I've been enjoying FLAC since 2003 but unfortunately, it hasn't received the same type of hardware support in the audio realm that Xvid has in the video realm.

921.3.2009 22:32

Originally posted by inagasake:
But my cheap little MP3 player doesn't support OGG or FLAC . . .
That's why many people RockBox their units (like old Sansas).

1022.3.2009 10:58

Originally posted by varnull:
This isn't going to "replace" flac.. honestly.. closed proprietary patented junk vs free established open standard.. another epic fail.. just looking to see if $ony have anything to do with it.
I think you are spot on there.

I use flac to archive all of my music and also to listen to on my computer and media player. It can also be easily and quickly converted to any other format to play in mp3 players or car stereo.

Flac is open source, non restricted, lossles and free.

What more could you ask for?

1122.3.2009 11:02

im sorry but isn't iPod already can play FLAC by installing Rockbox?

long time ago i installed rockbox on my friend iPod and if i remember correctly, it can play FLAC.

and the installation process is very easy to do. the iPod also easier to transfer files. it become just like USB Flash disk. no need iTunes.

1222.3.2009 11:56
gogochar
Inactive

And if you have a Zune, you can already listen to CD-quality music. It's called WAV (lossless):
http://i152.photobucket.com/albums/s197/redcup21/1-44.jpg

1322.3.2009 12:17

Originally posted by redux79:
I for one can't stand mp3 audio, friends of mine burn mp3 cd's or plug their mp3 players into stereos/home theaters and it sounds terrible. It almost always sounds like someone tapped Styrofoam cups over the speakers and the electronic background noise is quite audible. I've always chosen quality over quantity, but if these claims turn out to be true I might be able to get a balanced mix of both.
Hence, this is a lossless codec. Unless you think the straight-up WAV files off a CD sound like listening through styrofoam cups too.

1422.3.2009 13:36

Originally posted by ROMaster2:
We'll see if this'll eventually replace FLAC

And what do you mean by:

Quote:
Backward Compatible to mp3

It may replace FLAC but I personally don't think it will.

In regards to the "Backwards Compatibility" that simply means (as far as I know) that you can play MP3HD files on any MP3 player.

Originally posted by gogochar:
And if you have a Zune, you can already listen to CD-quality music. It's called WAV (lossless):
http://i152.photobucket.com/albums/s197/redcup21/1-44.jpg


While this is true, WAV files are huge especially compared to FLAC files and this new MP3 format.

The biggest problem I see with this MP3 format is that you can't tell a difference between regular MP3s and these simply by looking at the file, other than the size of course.

1522.3.2009 19:29
atomicxl
Inactive

I think 26MB for CD quality is a bit overkill. 192k is good enough imo. I'd like to specify a real deal 192. Not one of those things where you go online and download something thats like 320kb, but the idiot ripped it in mono or somehow managed to reduce the samplerate to something worthless. or where it sounds like he recorded from an analog source and had the volume up too high so it's a distorted mess.

But a real deal 192k mp3 basically sounds like a CD. WMA is even better imo since it supports 5.1 audio, 96 kHZ, 24-bit, lossless and has done such since like 2001.

Also, wasn't MP4/AAC supposed to be the next thing with MP3? With support for 96kHZ/24-bit and all that good stuff.

1623.3.2009 1:08

I do not know how they could have backward compatibility with MP3. Does this mean that these files are playable on any player today that plays MP3s? That is what it is made to sound like.

That, however, is not very likely. If you program any audio system to read compressed audio (MP3, OGG, etc), generally you give it a buffer between 4-128 MB (128 MB for things like FL Studio, etc). And for a PC, this is fine. This is also fine for uncompressed audio, where uncompressed is preferred of course.

However, a typical portable device has between ~1 MB and ~32 MB of RAM. So sure, again 4 MB buffer is probably fine for compressed and uncompressed audio on a device with 32 MB of RAM. With the 32 KB case, it's not so simple. Optimise all you want, but I can easily imagine those (cheap) players skipping when playing an mp3HD file, or any uncompressed audio for that matter. Cheap devices are not going to play these files well, if at all.

I'd like to see the exact specifications of the codec though. It's probably a hack of DEFLATE compression for every 4 MB or so of audio, with a special encoding so it still looks like an MP3 to the decoder.

1723.3.2009 11:43

For portable audio, I think 192 kbps is probably indistinguishable from lossless CD quality unless you have a killer headphone set maybe and great hearing. I mainly listen to music on $20 headphones on the go or on my computer and I'm not even sure I can tell the difference between 128kbps/44hz and CD quality. I think you need a good stereo/home theatre system in order to tell the difference between 192 kbps and CD quality. Even with a subwoofer, 192kbps sounds great.

I've ripped my CDs and FLACs to 320 kbps for portable listening and I've been told that this is way overkill, especially on my crappy 512 MB old MP3 player. I really have to get a new portable audio player. lol. Probably might get a 8GB Sansa Clip since it has OGG support, should fit my entire music library (hopefully. lol) and is suitable for exercising. I rip FLAC for archiving and listening on my computer but it would be overkill on a portable player.

This message has been edited since its posting. Latest edit was made on 23 Mar 2009 @ 11:52

1824.3.2009 23:32

Originally posted by atomicxl:
I think 26MB for CD quality is a bit overkill. 192k is good enough imo. I'd like to specify a real deal 192. Not one of those things where you go online and download something thats like 320kb, but the idiot ripped it in mono or somehow managed to reduce the samplerate to something worthless. or where it sounds like he recorded from an analog source and had the volume up too high so it's a distorted mess.

But a real deal 192k mp3 basically sounds like a CD. WMA is even better imo since it supports 5.1 audio, 96 kHZ, 24-bit, lossless and has done such since like 2001.

Also, wasn't MP4/AAC supposed to be the next thing with MP3? With support for 96kHZ/24-bit and all that good stuff.

WMA is closed source but. MP3 at least is on all music devices. And while it may be copyrighted like DVDs, you can edit it, convert to and from MP3 and other formats, etc. WMA is quite reasonable quality but it's too closed to be of any use.

I download music but buy the cd, limited/collectors edition if possible, asap if I like it. Then I rip my own music. 320kbps MP3 in WMP11 sounds alright. And there is a difference between 128kbps and 320kbps. My fav example is a coldplay song. Any, though Talk is a good one. Get your portable music player, then listen to it at any volume above 25%. 128kbps sucks. Really, really badly. Or well, depending on how you look at it. I can tell and I game quite a bit, listen to music at loud volumes, etc. My ears aren't the best but.. No way I'm going to be listening to 128kbps ever again.

And this could very well replace FLAC. For the simple reason that mp3 is the most popular format around. Nothing else gets near. AAC is the format of choice for ipods but mp3 still rules. If MP3HD has the same usage rights as mp3, then it will replace FLAC overnight.

Also, the second reason MP3HD would gain popularity, is that there is a lot more memory available than before. My first MP3 player was 128MB a few years back. 5 or so? Something like that. The one I have now is 2GB. 1.92 after formatting and such. Ipods are 120GB. "Nettops" have 120GB flash HDDs. Memory is getting cheaper so the amount of 128kbps songs you had on a 128MB MP3 player way back when will be comparable to the amount you have on a 876kbps 2GB MP3HD player. Or HDD music player like Ipods, Zens, etc.

1928.3.2009 5:32
leady
Inactive

this is a interesting thing. But it is too late and not so many advand flashing points.

This message has been edited since its posting. Latest edit was made on 28 Mar 2009 @ 5:35

204.4.2009 4:14

See http://www.hydrogenaudio.org/forums/index.php?showtopic=70565 for further discussion. Note you need a special decoder to read these files. Official site offers a WinAmp plugin only. I don't think flac needs to lose any sleep over this one.

This message has been edited since its posting. Latest edit was made on 04 Apr 2009 @ 4:16

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