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Lossy Audio Compression => MP3 => MP3 - General => Topic started by: polemon on 2015-05-14 04:38:22

Title: Lots of patents expiring in 2015 - how relevant is MP3 still?
Post by: polemon on 2015-05-14 04:38:22
So, it's 2015, and many of the MP3 patents expire this year. According to http://www.tunequest.org/a-big-list-of-mp3-patents/20070226/ (http://www.tunequest.org/a-big-list-of-mp3-patents/20070226/), it'll be another two years, until the problems with MP3 and patents become a thing of the past.

Although, how relevant is MP3 these days? I don't use them anymore, really, except for one use case: My car. The car stereo will read MP3 CDs, but nothing else (aside from regular red book audio CDs, of course).
Another use case, is an old and aging DJ-spec CD player, which would also read MP3s off CDs.
And the third use case is online streaming. Back when I was involved with online streaming, streaming MP3 was pretty important, because it's something the listeners trusted. There were competing codecs at that time, too, but MP3 was still the most used, because people could understand it.

How are things now though? (I stopped being involved with online radio in ~2012 or something)
Title: Lots of patents expiring in 2015 - how relevant is MP3 still?
Post by: KozmoNaut on 2015-05-14 08:57:28
MP3 is still relevant, since it is by far the most widely supported compressed audio format that also delivers good fidelity, at a reasonably good quality:size ratio.

AAC, Ogg Vorbis etc. are technically better formats, but it's hard to compete when there are millions of legacy devices out there that support MP3 and nothing else. It's also a matter of perception. To many people "MP3" = "compressed music", as in a lot of people will call their portable media player an "MP3 player", even if they don't actually use the MP3 format itself.

MP3 is ubiquitous and well-known. You can't say the same for the competing formats, outside of technical circles. Apple has done its fair share to increase AAC marketshare, but to a lot of people, they still "download MP3s from iTunes".
Title: Lots of patents expiring in 2015 - how relevant is MP3 still?
Post by: pdq on 2015-05-14 13:30:47
For awhile there was some incentive to create new formats that encoded high quality in less space and bandwidth than mp3, but since space and bandwidth have become much less important, the need for other formats has pretty much disappeared. In fact, the trend is now toward lossless compression.
Title: Lots of patents expiring in 2015 - how relevant is MP3 still?
Post by: polemon on 2015-05-14 17:17:41
To many people "MP3" = "compressed music", as in a lot of people will call their portable media player an "MP3 player", even if they don't actually use the MP3 format itself.


Hmm, this might be a regional thing, but it seems people start "forgetting" about MP3s in general.
Here (Germany), streamed music is just "music off of iTunes" or whatever streaming platform they use, such as Spotify.

I concur, that "MP3" is still used as a synonym for "compressed music" though. Sometimes not just "compressed music", but "music file" in general.

As a compression format though, is it still really all that relevant? I mean, legacy players, sure. It seems that people replace those playback devices faster and faster. With cellphones having a lifespan of around two years, people seem to go to the next iteration of playback devices quite quickly. Also, it seems the #1 portable audio players, or audio players in general, are smartphones these days.

People that actually care about music quality, that's a different story. Those people usually switch to FLAC (or other lossless codecs) pretty quickly, and never look back.

For the average market, I'm not so sure, though. Most audio streaming providers (i.e. Radio stations with a website that streams their music online), MP3 is just gone. They use web players with AAC and that's it. Online radio that has been around for around ten years or so, will provide a small number of MP3 streaming slots to appeal to an audience that is "stuck in MP3". In general though, MP3 seems to be gone from online streaming, for the most part.

Music collections. I don't see the relevance there. Most people seem to either not have a music collection as such anymore - having moved everything to streaming services and keep their "collection" there, on-demand.
Others seem to move everything to FLAC (which totally makes sense, of course).

It may be me getting older, but for some reason, I have a similar sentiment to MP3s, as I have to Vinyl. It seems "a thing of the past", and the audible artifacts remind me of the crappy music quality I had to endure, when using it from online resources at the end of the 90's and the early 2000's.

I don't really see people /asking/ for MP3s anymore. Granted, MP3 is probably gonna be the codec that'll work most probably, given a random playback device. I haven't heard of things, capable of playing back AAC, Opus, Vorbis, etc. but /not/ MP3. It seems to me though, that while MP3 isn't becoming completely irrelevant, it's kinda put into a niche. It used to be the standard, now it's not.
Title: Lots of patents expiring in 2015 - how relevant is MP3 still?
Post by: Aleron Ives on 2015-05-14 18:52:30
All lossy formats can have audible artifacts, as all encoders have killer samples. Similarly, all lossy formats can be transparent, provided you're using a competently written encoder (excluding obscure formats with no good encoders). MP3 is older than AAC, but since both can achieve transparency at relatively similar bitrates, MP3 is hardly irrelevant, and its wider compatibility leads me to assert that it is not only still standard but more standard than AAC. Compatibility is an important factor in determining the relevance of codecs.
Title: Lots of patents expiring in 2015 - how relevant is MP3 still?
Post by: DonP on 2015-05-14 21:34:35
How are things now though? (I stopped being involved with online radio in ~2012 or something)


Most podcasts, and lots of on-line outlets and cloud services are still mp3-centric:
Amazon
Google music
emusic
Title: Lots of patents expiring in 2015 - how relevant is MP3 still?
Post by: Porcus on 2015-05-14 23:15:36
Although, how relevant is MP3 these days?


It is supported more or less everywhere, and it will stay relevant as long as there is sufficient interest in the files that have already been encoded. They are many, and not all can be replaced.

I assume it is easier to get rid of both FLAC and ALAC, since one can migrate without quality loss. Of course one can do that with mp3s too - just decode them and store as e.g. FLAC. Nonsense thing to do, and even though storage is getting cheaper, I assume nobody benefits from stuffing such a solution down the users' throats.
Title: Lots of patents expiring in 2015 - how relevant is MP3 still?
Post by: andy o on 2015-05-15 07:56:17
Google Play Music has basically taken me back to MP3 from AAC. I used to use an iPod for music, now I just use any of my devices and stream what I uploaded to GPM for free (20,000 songs limit). It has its drawbacks especially compared to a mature system like iOS/iTunes music playing (although in general Google has been going into the trend of fewer options, more "smart" which is sometimes irritating), but the convenience is just too much to pass. T-mobile doesn't even count the data towards my limit so I can stream however much I want on the smartphone at the best quality.

GPM only takes MP3, and will convert anything else to MP3, so I just upload MP3 to prevent transcoding.
Title: Lots of patents expiring in 2015 - how relevant is MP3 still?
Post by: washu on 2015-05-15 14:03:13
There are lots of new, current devices that support MP3 as their only relevant format: Stock car stereos.  I have a car that is less than 8 months old and it only supports MP3, WMA and WAV.  As WMA and WAV are out, MP3 is the only real choice.  It's not only one manufacturer, I've seen several other makes of new cars with the same limitations.
Title: Lots of patents expiring in 2015 - how relevant is MP3 still?
Post by: KozmoNaut on 2015-05-15 14:05:11
There are lots of new, current devices that support MP3 as their only relevant format: Stock car stereos.  I have a car that is less than 8 months old and it only supports MP3, WMA and WAV.  As WMA and WAV are out, MP3 is the only real choice.  It's not only one manufacturer, I've seen several other makes of new cars with the same limitations.


That is precisely why I started using MP3 again as my lossy compression format, after using Ogg Vorbis for a while. Hardware support is absolutely limited if you use anything else.
Title: Lots of patents expiring in 2015 - how relevant is MP3 still?
Post by: IgorC on 2015-05-15 14:05:56
BTW there is a poll of different formats http://www.hydrogenaud.io/forums/index.php...108125&st=0 (http://www.hydrogenaud.io/forums/index.php?showtopic=108125&st=0)

It indicates that hydrogenaudio members start to prefer another formats.
(http://s17.postimg.org/h5dut9tq7/lossy.png)
Title: Lots of patents expiring in 2015 - how relevant is MP3 still?
Post by: 2tec on 2015-05-15 15:22:09
Ahhh yes, mp3s, I may not like them, but inevitably, I have to deal with them. ;~)

from my perspective, the mp3 patents demonstrate just how flawed the software patent concept is, to me, it seems like an unsuccessful attempt to garner excessive profits which was successfully circumvented by some ethical software developers, all thanks be to them and LAME

Title: Lots of patents expiring in 2015 - how relevant is MP3 still?
Post by: s3n0 on 2015-05-15 16:18:58
Grrrr... and where is FLAC audio file format ? Without restrictions from MP3 format :-) Because MP3 standard has many restrictions from upper limit: 320kbps bitrate and 48kHz samplerate :-(

96kHz samplerate; 900kbit/s bitrate; 24bit depth for one channel - is normal usage in FLAC encoding configurations (if u have good audio source as BlueRay or DVD) ;-)
Title: Lots of patents expiring in 2015 - how relevant is MP3 still?
Post by: IgorC on 2015-05-15 16:32:46
FLAC has its own limitations. It doesn't support DSD512.
Title: Lots of patents expiring in 2015 - how relevant is MP3 still?
Post by: s3n0 on 2015-05-15 16:56:45
What's this DSD512 ? :-) DSD uses pulse density modulation ? It's a special format the same as many other formats and it's useless by normal users. DSD will be used in professional audio branch maybe (Holywood ?). But not by my home theater for example and/or in my "DJing" work ;-) This FLAC with 50% lossless "WAV compression" is fully sufficient for all semi-professional usage I think ^^.
Title: Lots of patents expiring in 2015 - how relevant is MP3 still?
Post by: andy o on 2015-05-16 07:32:09
I think he was kidding. Maybe making a point how support for "96kHz samplerate; 900kbit/s bitrate; 24bit depth for one channel" doesn't really matter for consumer audio?
Title: Lots of patents expiring in 2015 - how relevant is MP3 still?
Post by: Nimos on 2015-05-16 08:01:01
FLAC has limited features - upto 32 bit, no floating point, upto 8 channels only.
This sounds reasonable?
Title: Lots of patents expiring in 2015 - how relevant is MP3 still?
Post by: RonaldDumsfeld on 2015-05-16 19:04:55
Quote
This FLAC with 50% lossless "WAV compression" is fully sufficient for all semi-professional usage I think ^^


Not always. You cannot DJ, even semi professionally,  with FLAC files. Or any other Lossless compressed format either.

The digital successor to the ubiquitous Technics SL1210 II has become the Pioneer CDJ-2000.

CDJ NEXUS (http://www.pioneer.eu/uk/products/44/106/462/CDJ-2000NXS/page.html)

These digital players only accept MP3 or WAV (+ Apple equivalents AAC and AIFF).

You can see the logic - if you want to be able to jump instantly to any part of a track it's an inconvenience having to decode it first - but it does seem silly because you would have thought it would be trivial for the designers to convert/uncompress all data on load. They haven't though and it doesn't look like they will. So if you want to carry around music for public consumption it has to be MP3 or AIFF.
Title: Lots of patents expiring in 2015 - how relevant is MP3 still?
Post by: mjb2006 on 2015-05-16 23:33:54
You cannot DJ, even semi professionally,  with FLAC files. Or any other Lossless compressed format either.


Eh? Traktor supports ALAC (now on Mac only) and FLAC (formerly on Windows only, but I think now on Mac too). I've DJ'd with it at house parties. FLACs worked just as well as MP3s and WAVs.
Title: Lots of patents expiring in 2015 - how relevant is MP3 still?
Post by: audiophool on 2015-05-17 08:29:48
Only the CDJs (and Denon SCxxxx) don't play FLACs, everyone else in the industry supports the format (NI, Serato, Virtual DJ, etc.)

EDIT: I guess Beatport is another notable exception. Those goofs stick to MP3, WAV, and AIFF.
Title: Lots of patents expiring in 2015 - how relevant is MP3 still?
Post by: apastuszak on 2015-06-01 03:01:10
I wonder what the licensing fees are for AAC vs MP3.  My understanding is that Apple used AAC originally because it produced a superior file at 128 kbps.  With bandwidth and storage being far less of an issue these days, I don't know if there is a compelling reason to use another format, especially when it's not as universal as MP3 seems to be.  Google Play is selling 320K MP3s, which is as big as you can get for MP3.

Though newer formats such as Opus, AAC and Ogg Vorbis can probably achieve transparency at a lower bitrate, the average consumer is not going to pay for a 192K Opus file when Google is selling a 320K MP3.  Bigger is better, isn't it?
Title: Lots of patents expiring in 2015 - how relevant is MP3 still?
Post by: lamedude on 2015-06-01 13:37:39
AAC (http://www.vialicensing.com/licensing/aac-fees.aspx)
MP3 (http://mp3licensing.com/royalty)
AAC only charges for the encoder/decoder whereas MP3 wants a cut if you sell them.
Title: Lots of patents expiring in 2015 - how relevant is MP3 still?
Post by: 2Bdecided on 2015-06-01 14:07:48
...successfully circumvented by some ethical software developers...
Interesting use of the term "ethical". In food supply, "ethical" usually means giving more money to the source (i.e. those who actually grow the food), but you think in the world of software "ethical" means giving less money to the source (i.e. those who actually invent the idea)? (Yes, I'm being intentionally provocative  )


I agree though that mp3 provides a great case study in how well (or otherwise) "software" patents work. There must be whole PhDs waiting to be written on that one. My bet would be that patents increase revenue for those who hold them (duh!) but in some circumstances the revenue is maximised by making parts of the chain available freely to certain user bases. In other circumstances I bet revenue is maximised by milking all parts of the chain, in as much as possible while abiding by FRAND and open-standards rules of various industry groups which are the gatekeepers to success in certain markets.

Cheers,
David.
Title: Lots of patents expiring in 2015 - how relevant is MP3 still?
Post by: andy o on 2015-06-04 06:38:39
I think the comparison would be more apt and direct with GM patents, if you're talking about food.
Title: Lots of patents expiring in 2015 - how relevant is MP3 still?
Post by: Thad E Ginathom on 2015-06-04 13:51:38
...successfully circumvented by some ethical software developers...
Interesting use of the term "ethical". In food supply, "ethical" usually means giving more money to the source (i.e. those who actually grow the food), but you think in the world of software "ethical" means giving less money to the source (i.e. those who actually invent the idea)? (Yes, I'm being intentionally provocative  )


I agree though that mp3 provides a great case study in how well (or otherwise) "software" patents work. There must be whole PhDs waiting to be written on that one. My bet would be that patents increase revenue for those who hold them (duh!) but in some circumstances the revenue is maximised by making parts of the chain available freely to certain user bases. In other circumstances I bet revenue is maximised by milking all parts of the chain, in as much as possible while abiding by FRAND and open-standards rules of various industry groups which are the gatekeepers to success in certain markets.

Cheers,
David.


I think... maybe it means... Giving money to the source, if it is a guy in a shed, is ethical; if it is a multinational company, then not so ethical.
Title: Lots of patents expiring in 2015 - how relevant is MP3 still?
Post by: 2tec on 2015-06-05 01:49:45
...successfully circumvented by some ethical software developers...
Interesting use of the term "ethical". In food supply, "ethical" usually means giving more money to the source (i.e. those who actually grow the food), but you think in the world of software "ethical" means giving less money to the source

Ethical as in fair and generous economic activity. It is not, in my opinion, ethical for patent holders to use any means in seeking unreasonable returns. It is however ethical to contribute something back when provided with so much. However it's phrased, I believe taking advantage of others is fundamentally unethical, and in the end, counter-productive. :-)
Title: Lots of patents expiring in 2015 - how relevant is MP3 still?
Post by: Palladium on 2015-07-12 07:31:06
So, it's 2015, and many of the MP3 patents expire this year. According to http://www.tunequest.org/a-big-list-of-mp3-patents/20070226/ (http://www.tunequest.org/a-big-list-of-mp3-patents/20070226/), it'll be another two years, until the problems with MP3 and patents become a thing of the past.

Although, how relevant is MP3 these days? I don't use them anymore, really, except for one use case: My car. The car stereo will read MP3 CDs, but nothing else (aside from regular red book audio CDs, of course).
Another use case, is an old and aging DJ-spec CD player, which would also read MP3s off CDs.
And the third use case is online streaming. Back when I was involved with online streaming, streaming MP3 was pretty important, because it's something the listeners trusted. There were competing codecs at that time, too, but MP3 was still the most used, because people could understand it.

How are things now though? (I stopped being involved with online radio in ~2012 or something)


Consumer tech always followed the same evolution: once the quality of commoditized products reaches a good enough level for the mass market, cost and convenience becomes the overriding decision factor. Which explains why standalone cameras, standalone portable media players, high-end Android handsets, traditional audio systems and HDTV sales are a dying market.

Current state of MP3 is already way into the good enough quality category and the convenience is unmatched by any other codec, I bet it will still be in widespread use at least 10 years into the future.
Title: Lots of patents expiring in 2015 - how relevant is MP3 still?
Post by: teh roxxors on 2015-08-01 14:21:53
Can you download a FLAC from Amazon? iTunes?

The cork sniffing has to stop.

The industry clearly wants to monetize the FLAC file, as media players that supported FLAC due to customer request disappear from the marketplace, and "new" FLAC players appear with inflated prices. But the MP3 is ubiquitous, too ubiquitous to allow FLAC a measurable foothold.

So, where the argument against FLAC used to be size, it is now size AND cost. That's a damn shame. If ever Amazon starts making FLAC files available, they'll charge more for them. Might as well buy a damn CD and make your own.

But what will you listen to them on? A little overpriced FLAC player? Not your car's USB port. Again, we're talking about a ubiquity that's greater than Windows at it's highest point. There's no easy way to get past that. You have to listen to FLAC files on a PC or little media player. Granted, you could connect your little Neil Young Pono to the AUX port of your car's audio system, but you're in a car. With car speakers. And acoustics. You'll look pretty damn silly cork sniffing in your Hyundai, trying desperately to convince yourself that you can hear the quality.

I'm not downplaying the superior dynamics of the FLAC format—any fool with a good set of headphones or sweet audio setup can hear it. But most of the time, it won't matter. Most of the time, you won't be able to detect a difference between a FLAC and a 320kbps MP3. And once you get old enough, the fancy headphones and audio gear won't highlight the difference, either.

How relevant is MP3? How relevant is oxygen? You're trying to dismiss something that is everywhere, while most people have never heard of a FLAC file. What patents are you talking about? When MP3 patents expire, the format will only enjoy MORE popularity. FLAC is open source, so licensing isn't holding it back. The other formats?—they are even less popular, no matter that any handful of supporters may think of them. When their patents expire, it won't matter, because the MP3 format is ubiquitous. There's always that.

The best thing that can happen for all of this is for people to start buying CDs again. The conversion of CD audio to computer and player formats is what made all of this possible and exciting. Without CD audio, we'll be regulating ourselves to whatever crap gets streamed and YouTubed. All the fancy headphones in the world won't matter then.
Title: Lots of patents expiring in 2015 - how relevant is MP3 still?
Post by: 2tec on 2015-08-02 00:33:24
The best thing that can happen for all of this is for people to start buying CDs again.

True, and fortunately the Discogs marketplace (http://www.discogs.com/sell/list) is thriving. ;-)
Title: Lots of patents expiring in 2015 - how relevant is MP3 still?
Post by: Porcus on 2015-08-02 11:00:49
Can you download a FLAC from Amazon? iTunes?


Can you download mp3 from iTunes?

It is the wrong question though. Although Apple has succeeded where Microsoft failed, at pushing a different format, they have not and will not succeed at killing mp3.
They have not succeeded at killing FLAC either, which should be much easier, as a lossless format can be losslessly transcoded.  (ALAC is technically inferior, but what do Apple customers care?)
Title: Lots of patents expiring in 2015 - how relevant is MP3 still?
Post by: 2tec on 2015-08-02 13:06:52
They have not succeeded at killing FLAC either, which should be much easier, as a lossless format can be losslessly transcoded.  (ALAC is technically inferior, but what do Apple customers care?)

Personally, I also no longer care because Foobar is capable of handling almost any format I've encountered. I've become unconcerned about containers. ;~)
Title: Lots of patents expiring in 2015 - how relevant is MP3 still?
Post by: Porcus on 2015-08-02 16:27:29
I've become unconcerned about containers. ;~)


I've learnt that some formats aren't do not even support error detection ...
Title: Lots of patents expiring in 2015 - how relevant is MP3 still?
Post by: teh roxxors on 2015-08-04 22:16:58
The best thing that can happen for all of this is for people to start buying CDs again.

True, and fortunately the Discogs marketplace (http://www.discogs.com/sell/list) is thriving. ;-)


Thank you so much for putting up that link. It's a relief and concern to find so many titles priced at $5 (I stopped buying CDs a few years ago). I find the price on older titles more reasonable, though I fear it only heralds shortages and price gouging. Still, I've bought more CDs in the past two weeks than in the past four years.

Great to have another source.
Title: Lots of patents expiring in 2015 - how relevant is MP3 still?
Post by: AshenTech on 2015-08-05 03:43:10
mp3 will remain relevant till car stereos shift to ogg or opus or flac or or or....being supported.

I am slowly making the move to OPUS though my cowon devices still get ogg vorbis as, its quality to size ratio is FAR better then MP3 for audio books if not music(though, personally i find the rare vorbis audio artifact less....irritating then mp3 artifacts....but thats just me being weird i think....

Opus is replacing ogg now that the decoders for mobile devices are decent....(not up to the optimization level of vorbis but...better then they where by far.

also thanks for the link to that site, im sharing it with a few friends....excellent....i got a feeling a few friends over seas may buy some music and have me rip it for them...LOL....
Title: Lots of patents expiring in 2015 - how relevant is MP3 still?
Post by: polemon on 2015-08-05 11:09:48
AAC (http://www.vialicensing.com/licensing/aac-fees.aspx)
MP3 (http://mp3licensing.com/royalty)
AAC only charges for the encoder/decoder whereas MP3 wants a cut if you sell them.

Just for clarity: They kinda have to stop charging for license fees, once the patents expire, correct? I mean, after that, MP3 virtually becomes public domain, doesn't it?
Title: Lots of patents expiring in 2015 - how relevant is MP3 still?
Post by: polemon on 2015-08-05 11:28:03
mp3 will remain relevant till car stereos shift to ogg or opus or flac or or or....being supported.

So it seems the general idea is car stereo systems, at least that's what most people seem to bring up here.
It seems to me though, that people kinda not really care about their car stereo player anymore. People seem to be much more concerned to have an AUX-in port.

I am slowly making the move to OPUS though my cowon devices still get ogg vorbis as, its quality to size ratio is FAR better then MP3 for audio books if not music(though, personally i find the rare vorbis audio artifact less....irritating then mp3 artifacts....but thats just me being weird i think....

Opus is replacing ogg now that the decoders for mobile devices are decent....(not up to the optimization level of vorbis but...better then they where by far.

also thanks for the link to that site, im sharing it with a few friends....excellent....i got a feeling a few friends over seas may buy some music and have me rip it for them...LOL....

I never really moved from one lossy format to another. I pretty much only encoded them when I needed them in the then-most-popular format. When I get a new device to play music from, I'd just re-encode from whatever lossless source I have.

I'm using Opus more or less as standard in my projects. To me, licensing issues are the most horrible thing to have to deal with. Usually, the legal department of the institute I work at needs quite a bit of time, to check whether this sort of things don't cause problems down the road. There is a standing guideline to use "unproblematic" libraries and technologies wherever possible.
Opus is simple to use from a programming perspective. But once the MP3 patents expire, will MP3 be as unproblematic as Opus is now?

There is one rather uncomfortable aspect of using Opus for the kind of projects I work on: "Why not just use MP3, or something?" - I often feel my eyes kinda glaze involuntarily whenever I hear this question. I've given the explanation to that at least a million times.

I won't change to using MP3 after the patents will expire. It wouldn't make any sense whatsoever to refactor a project just to switch to another codec, for something that's only used internally.

But what I kinda want, is the freedom to chose it.
Title: Lots of patents expiring in 2015 - how relevant is MP3 still?
Post by: shadowking on 2015-08-05 13:53:22
So after all the years of hard work of various people they just deprecate Vorbis in favour of Opus  ? What was wrong ? Typical open source :

Does Opus make all those other lossy codecs obsolete?

Theoretically, yes.

From a technical point of view (loss, delay, bitrates, ...) it should replace both Vorbis and Speex, and the common proprietary codecs too.


Thats just great for hardware vendors who invested time in vorbis (google and others). It certainly will not replace mp3 / mp4 . At least with MPEG theres backwards compatibility respect.  MP3 while old and somewhat limited is widely supported . Its easier to deal with the cost , patents etc than incompatibility.
Title: Lots of patents expiring in 2015 - how relevant is MP3 still?
Post by: lamedude on 2015-08-05 14:00:07
Just for clarity: They kinda have to stop charging for license fees, once the patents expire, correct? I mean, after that, MP3 virtually becomes public domain, doesn't it?
Yes as is already the case in countries that don't recognize software patents.
Title: Lots of patents expiring in 2015 - how relevant is MP3 still?
Post by: bmcelvan on 2015-08-05 16:49:28
For awhile there was some incentive to create new formats that encoded high quality in less space and bandwidth than mp3, but since space and bandwidth have become much less important, the need for other formats has pretty much disappeared. In fact, the trend is now toward lossless compression.
Agreed - for me it's mp3 (because of ease) and FLAC (because of ease). Don't really need anything else anymore. Space isn't as expensive as it used to be. My cell phone has a 128GB chip in it for $70. Seriously, think about that 5 years ago even!

...They have not succeeded at killing FLAC either, which should be much easier, as a lossless format can be losslessly transcoded.  (ALAC is technically inferior, but what do Apple customers care?)
Apple customers do what they are told to do...by Apple...because Apple knows all and is god

Which is why I will never buy Apple stuff. Good quality but I hate their arrogance!

The best thing that can happen for all of this is for people to start buying CDs again.

True, and fortunately the Discogs marketplace (http://www.discogs.com/sell/list) is thriving. ;-)

Thank you so much for putting up that link. It's a relief and concern to find so many titles priced at $5 (I stopped buying CDs a few years ago). I find the price on older titles more reasonable, though I fear it only heralds shortages and price gouging. Still, I've bought more CDs in the past two weeks than in the past four years.

Great to have another source.
What, you don't want to spend $20-30 for the new amazing (and completely BS and not worth it - http://people.xiph.org/~xiphmont/demo/neil-young.html (http://people.xiph.org/~xiphmont/demo/neil-young.html) Hi-Res files when you can get excellent and all you'll ever need lossless cds for $5

Or how about $1 per song, in a lossy format when you have a bunch of songs in Hi-Res audio for $5
Title: Lots of patents expiring in 2015 - how relevant is MP3 still?
Post by: bmcelvan on 2015-08-05 16:55:56
.
Title: Lots of patents expiring in 2015 - how relevant is MP3 still?
Post by: DVDdoug on 2015-08-05 18:41:01
Quote
I'm using Opus more or less as standard in my projects. To me, licensing issues are the most horrible thing to have to deal with. Usually, the legal department of the institute I work at needs quite a bit of time, to check whether this sort of things don't cause problems down the road...

...There is one rather uncomfortable aspect of using Opus for the kind of projects I work on: "Why not just use MP3, or something?" - I often feel my eyes kinda glaze involuntarily whenever I hear this question. I've given the explanation to that at least a million times.
If you are a non-profit or you're not selling the MP3s (or only selling a few), licensing shouldn't be an issue.

MP3licensing.com (http://mp3licensing.com/royalty/emd.html) says:
Quote
Note: No license is needed for private, non-commercial activities... not generating revenues or consideration of any kind or entities with associated annual gross revenue of less than US$ 100,000.00



That ONLY applies to MP3 program material.  There is no similar exception for distribution of MP3 encoders/decoders.  It probably would be a good idea to buy a copy of dBpoweramp or otherwise obtain a fully-licensed copy of LAME (or other MP3 encoder).
Title: Lots of patents expiring in 2015 - how relevant is MP3 still?
Post by: Andvari on 2015-08-06 02:58:33
MP3 will be like the XP of Music Formats. There are so many legacy devices as mentioned and even I use it to encode alot of my stuff I do use FLAC sometimes since my S5 can play it. I don't or at least hope MP3 won't be going away anytime soon.
Title: Lots of patents expiring in 2015 - how relevant is MP3 still?
Post by: polemon on 2015-08-06 09:18:28
So after all the years of hard work of various people they just deprecate Vorbis in favour of Opus  ? What was wrong ? Typical open source :

Does Opus make all those other lossy codecs obsolete?

Theoretically, yes.

From a technical point of view (loss, delay, bitrates, ...) it should replace both Vorbis and Speex, and the common proprietary codecs too.


Thats just great for hardware vendors who invested time in vorbis (google and others). It certainly will not replace mp3 / mp4 . At least with MPEG there's backwards compatibility respect.  MP3 while old and somewhat limited is widely supported . Its easier to deal with the cost , patents etc than incompatibility.

Well, on one hand you're correct. But on the other hand, Opus was never intended as a codec fo embedded stuff as such. As a low-latency codec, it was supposed to replace things like SILC/CELT for low latency needs - things like online telephony, etc. It's just that it turned out to be so good, that it might as well replace AAC.

Now "replacing" is somewhat of a misnomer. Within XIPH, it definitely was basically considered a "replacement" for Vorbis, but that doesn't mean that Vorbis encoders are dropped, and nobody works on them anymore. It's just that the focus shifted elsewhere.

Looking at audio codecs in general, there isn't much "replacing" going on. I think it would be incorrect to think that Opus is a "replacement" for AAC or MP3. It's "competition" at best.

Computational complexity is still a factor on mobile devices though, and is likely to stay one for quite some time. The constraint is not memory or speed, but power consumption.

There seems to be another driving force behind "mobile class" devices for audio playback: cloud storage. On one hand you want your files compressed, so they can be transferred quickly, on the other hand transparent compression should be able to handle that. As soon as lossy compression is needed, things get irrelevant quickly.

One might argue, that the only class of devices that still need lossy compression at all, are use cases with live audio streaming. Things like broadcasts, but also telephony, etc.

The reason why things don't catch on quicker are not really the technical constraints, but people getting used to one thing, and unwilling to switch.

Also, from a developer's standpoint working in for a public institute, I can assure you it's not at all simply to deal with patents and licenses. These kind of things need to be checked and re-checked go through various offices and departments - most importantly the legal department. I have been asked several times: "Can't you just use something else?".
Title: Lots of patents expiring in 2015 - how relevant is MP3 still?
Post by: polemon on 2015-08-06 12:10:56
MP3 will be like the XP of Music Formats. There are so many legacy devices as mentioned and even I use it to encode alot of my stuff I do use FLAC sometimes since my S5 can play it. I don't or at least hope MP3 won't be going away anytime soon.

I don't really see why anyone should drop MP3 support.
If anything, I hope MP3 support will be added to things like Fedora, where they don't include MP3 support because of legal reasons. The same thing was happening with GIF, where support for it was "avoided" while it was still under patent protection. Once they've expired, GIF support was put (sometimes even put back) into various libraries.

I wouldn't compare it to WinXP, though. I think it's much more similar to things like LZ compression, which kinda still is the bog-standard DEFLATE compression for arbitrary data (text compresses best with it).

Sure, we have things like LZMA2 by now, which also is in wide use, but I don't see why anyone would drop LZ support (or any of its more direct descendants, like LZW, LZO, etc.).
Title: Re: Lots of patents expiring in 2015 - how relevant is MP3 still?
Post by: SokilOff on 2017-04-21 20:38:08
According to this page (https://madfileformatscience.garymcgath.com/2017/04/20/mp3-april-23/) (it's author contacted mp3 Licensing and asked about official patents expiration date) mp3 licensing program should officially end in a couple of days - on April 23, 2017.
Title: Re: Lots of patents expiring in 2015 - how relevant is MP3 still?
Post by: Palladium on 2017-04-24 05:08:22
MP3 is the poster child for a "more than good enough" technology with no real drawbacks for its intended purpose.  I don't see how patents or not is going to change usage rates anytime soon.
Title: Re: Lots of patents expiring in 2015 - how relevant is MP3 still?
Post by: Signal Lost on 2017-09-19 00:46:51
I'm a big fan of AAC and Opus, but my Volkswagen stereo (2013) and friends cars stereos think otherwise :)
Seriously though, I'm happy with mp3 and see no reasons to drop it. At average bit rates of 190-200 (lame V2) it sounds transparent to me. Yes, Opus can do it with a bit rate of 100 (or even less) but I'm fine with the size of mp3, especially with today's cheap memory.
Title: Re: Lots of patents expiring in 2015 - how relevant is MP3 still?
Post by: eahm on 2017-09-19 01:11:59
MP3 is the poster child for a "more than good enough" technology with no real drawbacks for its intended purpose.  I don't see how patents or not is going to change usage rates anytime soon.
It's not that relevant for the user but it's finally a big deal for companies and mostly for open source companies, they will finally be able to add MP3 to their software, see Audacity, Mixxx (if they didn't have it already) etc.
Title: Re: Lots of patents expiring in 2015 - how relevant is MP3 still?
Post by: IgorC on 2017-09-19 01:33:32
I'm a big fan of AAC and Opus, but my Volkswagen stereo (2013) and friends cars stereos think otherwise :)
And I'm waiting for my new VW  ... and it supports Spotify :D http://www.volkswagen.com.ar/es/modelos/nuevo-gol1/nuevo-gol.html
It's not matter of codec anymore.
Title: Re: Lots of patents expiring in 2015 - how relevant is MP3 still?
Post by: polemon on 2017-09-19 03:49:05
People don't seem to use media with their cars anymore. Or at least, much less than it was the case even three years ago.

People seem to care much more, whether they can pair their car with their cellphone. And if that's not the case, how they can play back music from their cellphone through the car's stereo via a cable. I don't mind that at all, it's the next logical step.

I wonder when we start seeing wireless charger in cars, actually. There's no reason why a more or less dedicated cellphone cubbyhole cannot have Qi and NFC connectivity in its walls (similar to how some cup holders have cooling).
Title: Re: Lots of patents expiring in 2015 - how relevant is MP3 still?
Post by: kode54 on 2017-09-19 04:05:22
There already are cars that integrate Qi charging surfaces, and for those that don't integrate it, there already are accessories for adding wireless chargers to your car.

And guess which Fruit Company finally jumped on the Qi train?
Title: Re: Lots of patents expiring in 2015 - how relevant is MP3 still?
Post by: polemon on 2017-09-19 04:09:29
Yeah, most aftermarket charging surface are shit, though. I had a couple and they're crap. My newer car has a charging area in a slim cubbyhole under the infotainment system. Phone goes in there, connects to the car via bluetooth when it senses the NFC chip and charges via Qi.

What I meant was, seeing Qi chargers as more or less standard in cars.
Title: Re: Lots of patents expiring in 2015 - how relevant is MP3 still?
Post by: Signal Lost on 2017-09-19 14:13:23
People don't seem to use media with their cars anymore. Or at least, much less than it was the case even three years ago.

People seem to care much more, whether they can pair their car with their cellphone. And if that's not the case, how they can play back music from their cellphone through the car's stereo via a cable. I don't mind that at all, it's the next logical step.

I generally agree, however, I still find that simply plugging in a SD card or USB stick with MP3 into a car stereo is more convenient then placing a smartphone into the holder, organizing it's power supply, connections, wiring etc. Also, the audio controls on the wheel itself are very ergonomic. I have a blue tooth option (at least it says so on the screen), but could not pair my Xperia Z3 for some reason.

I was really hoping that AAC will make any other formats obsolete for me (including FLAC or other lossless), but when dealing with an older car stereos I still use mp3 and actually, don't mind it at all.
Title: Re: Lots of patents expiring in 2015 - how relevant is MP3 still?
Post by: IgorC on 2017-09-19 15:08:13
Yep, there is nothing wrong with MP3. All right, it needs more bitrate but transparent point at ~170-192 kbps (LAME V3-V2) isn't that high price to pay for compatibility with certain hardware. 
Title: Re: Lots of patents expiring in 2015 - how relevant is MP3 still?
Post by: Zarggg on 2017-09-20 23:07:45
People don't seem to use media with their cars anymore. Or at least, much less than it was the case even three years ago.

People seem to care much more, whether they can pair their car with their cellphone. And if that's not the case, how they can play back music from their cellphone through the car's stereo via a cable. I don't mind that at all, it's the next logical step.
I must be one of those old-fashioned people who still uses a line-out from my iPod to my car's stereo. :P
Title: Re: Lots of patents expiring in 2015 - how relevant is MP3 still?
Post by: eahm on 2017-09-20 23:23:09
I must be one of those old-fashioned people who still uses a line-out from my iPod to my car's stereo. :P
I have an old Mustang and I still use this: (https://erpimgs.idealhere.com/ImageFormal/39/2d/00/392d0021-0b05-434a-9706-2dfa8369230b/descriptions/C93199B2-03CA-4770-910E-1CF865418509.jpg) and I love it :) I don't like technology like I used to, I like invisible and convenient technology, not necessarily new technology. This is funny because I moved to USA from Italy to work in IT and I have two IT companies that provide new technologies of backup/networking for companies and new ideas of apps for mobile devices.
Title: Re: Lots of patents expiring in 2015 - how relevant is MP3 still?
Post by: spaceship9876 on 2017-12-11 20:49:50
does anyone know when the last AAC patent expires?
Title: Re: Lots of patents expiring in 2015 - how relevant is MP3 still?
Post by: IgorC on 2017-12-12 16:29:14
AAC is a family of formats (LC-AAC, HE-AAC, HE-AACv2)

It's not clear when AAC patents expire.
But some estimations can be done.
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/MPEG-2
http://www.osnews.com/story/24954/US_Patent_Expiration_for_MP3_MPEG-2_H_264/

LC-AAC's patents will expire first.  MPEG2 video format will have its patents expired in 2018. LC-AAC's patents are 1 year younger.
So it's a reasonable estimation that LC-AAC's patents will expire somewhere in 2019. 

HE-AAC and HE-AACv2 have more recent dates (+6-7 years  comparing to LC-AAC) so don't expect to see them patent free until 2025-2026

PS. Related topic https://hydrogenaud.io/index.php/topic,94049.msg789998.html#msg789998
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