Hydrogenaudio Forums

Lossless Audio Compression => Lossless / Other Codecs => Topic started by: ted on 2005-03-13 13:10:29

Title: Lossless Audio standard
Post by: ted on 2005-03-13 13:10:29
hi, this is my first post

your probably gonna shoot me for this question...

oh wel

Is there at this moment in time, some form of Lossless Audio standard for releasing, like there is for mp3?

thx
Title: Lossless Audio standard
Post by: WILU on 2005-03-13 13:37:19
Quote
hi, this is my first post

your probably gonna shoot me for this question...

oh wel

Is there at this moment in time, some form of Lossless Audio standard for releasing, like there is for mp3?

thx
[a href="index.php?act=findpost&pid=281778"][{POST_SNAPBACK}][/a]


There is no one official standard. Since lossless is lossless you are always on the safe side - if there will be codec which supports better compression or other useful features, you can just transcode to other format.

BTW, what do you mean "for releasing"? Releasing in P2P networks? Then APE is most used codec...
Title: Lossless Audio standard
Post by: ted on 2005-03-13 14:00:19
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There is no one official standard. Since lossless is lossless you are always on the safe side - if there will be codec which supports better compression or other useful features, you can just transcode to other format.

BTW, what do you mean "for releasing"? Releasing in P2P networks? Then APE is most used codec...
[a href="index.php?act=findpost&pid=281783"][{POST_SNAPBACK}][/a]


yes i understand

this issue isnt about quality i think, but most of all compression and, very important, compatability. If lossless audio will become a standard in sharing and backing up your audio (imo it will 'cause of the still increasing capacities of harddisks and faster internet connections), it is important to be early in setting a standard, so both soft- and hardware developers and end users will be working on the same level.
mp3 works so well because it is fully integrated in all both soft and hardware mediaplayers, and because of its standard everybody from age 4+ can now easily rip, compress and use mp3 in various ways.

if lossless audio will become a standard, there should be picked one format, so lay people will get as used to it as they are to mp3 currently

anyone still with me?
Title: Lossless Audio standard
Post by: guest0101 on 2005-03-13 14:42:40
This is the state of lossless audio currently:

1. There are many competing lossless formats: FLAC, Apple Lossless, RealAudio Lossless, WMA (Microsoft) Lossless, WavPack, APE and many others.

2. There has been an effort underway for lossless audio to be an International Standardization format for several years which was commissioned by MPEG 4 Audio group, called ALS. Unfortunately, it has not yet been approved, nor has there been any source code released yet to implement it. See more about MPEG 4 ALS lossless at:  http://www.nue.tu-berlin.de/research/proje...ess/mp4als.html (http://www.nue.tu-berlin.de/research/projects/lossless/mp4als.html)

3. FLAC and Apple Lossless appear to be the 2 most popular lossless formats currently (with WMA Lossless ranking high up there also). FLAC is popular for distributing lossless files on the Net, while Apple Lossless is popular among iTunes/iPod users for archiving their own music collections. Hopefully iTunes 5/QuickTime 7 that should be released soon will support importiing FLAC files to make switching from FLAC to Apple Lossless less painless.

Size wize comparison: smallest/ most compressed lossless files (still theoretical as no widely released encoder/decoder) is MPEG 4 Lossess (ALS), FLAC medium file size, Apple Lossless (bigger file sizes).

Best tagging support:  Apple Lossless (for iTunes/iPod compatibility) or WMA Lossless, FLAC somewhat less (not Apple iTunes or iPod compatible natively). For Mac users, Apple Lossless is supported by more audio apps. For PC, FLAC is gaining in app support, Apple Lossless is not widely supported in audio apps (except for DbPowerAmp or the new open source decoder).

So to sum up, currently, you can convert between lossless formats using various converter software. There is no universal tagging standard for all lossless codecs. Sometimes tags are lost in the conversion process. It would be nice for one standard (like FLAC, ALAC or ALS), but so far the "big boys" have decided to splinter/fracture the lossless market with their own "standards" and have not embraced open standards like FLAC universally in their software/hardware.

Once Apple embraces FLAC this should be a moot point, but until/if then, we have all these lossless standards to deal with. But as previous posters mentioned, you can convert between various lossless formats.

But for the moment, there is no MP3 (in popularity and universal acceptance) equivalent for lossless audio (yet).

FLAC is currently the leader for cross platform compatability, but MPEG 4 ALS might be the eventual winner for universal software/hardware support (if it is ever is released). Time will tell. But no universal "winner" yet. Remember it took the MP3 format (which came out around 1997) a good 4 or 5 years before everyone embraced it in their various software/hardware apps.

My suggestion: Use FLAC or Apple Lossless for now, then convert to the new universal standard which is widely adopted in a few years time.

Of course, you could always use WAV or AIFF uncompressed lossless formats, but they are awful with tagging support between applications and operating systems, not to mention the much larger file sizes.
Title: Lossless Audio standard
Post by: Garf on 2005-03-13 15:11:40
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2. There has been an effort underway for lossless audio to be an International Standardization format for several years which was commissioned by MPEG 4 Audio group, called ALS. Unfortunately, it has not yet been approved, nor has there been any source code released yet to implement it. See more about MPEG 4 ALS lossless at:  http://www.nue.tu-berlin.de/research/proje...ess/mp4als.html (http://www.nue.tu-berlin.de/research/projects/lossless/mp4als.html)


Wrong on several accounts.

There are *two* efforts, MPEG4 SLS and MPEG4 ALS. ALS is a pure lossless codec, SLS is a hybrid codec based on AAC. They seem to be very close in compression performance right now.

There have been source code releases at least for MPEG4 ALS.
Title: Lossless Audio standard
Post by: guest0101 on 2005-03-13 15:18:09
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Wrong on several accounts.

There are *two* efforts, MPEG4 SLS and MPEG4 ALS. ALS is a pure lossless codec, SLS is a hybrid codec based on AAC. They seem to be very close in compression performance right now.

There have been source code releases at least for MPEG4 ALS.
[a href="index.php?act=findpost&pid=281802"][{POST_SNAPBACK}][/a]


If there has been MPEG 4 ALS source code released, that is news to me. If this is true, where are apps supporting this lossless codec?
Title: Lossless Audio standard
Post by: DonP on 2005-03-13 16:06:29
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BTW, what do you mean "for releasing"? Releasing in P2P networks? Then APE is most used codec...
[a href="index.php?act=findpost&pid=281783"][{POST_SNAPBACK}][/a]


We must look in different places.  I've seen Shorten, gradually giving way to Flac,  but have never seen Ape in a p2p or download setting. 

I have mostly flac, but feel no need to convert the ape files I do have as they play just as well on programs I use.  Shorten (.shn) files I do convert to allow tags and decent seek performance.

guest0101:
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Best tagging support: Apple Lossless (for iTunes/iPod compatibility) or WMA Lossless, FLAC somewhat less (not Apple iTunes or iPod compatible natively).


"best tagging support" means a proprietary format works with the particular application it was written for?  How about working with different platforms and programs?  Both programs that create (rippers and retaggers) and read tags (players & cd burners).  Apple and wma lossless both fall down there.

Flac has an edge over Ape once you get away from Windows especially dedicated fixed location players like the new squeezebox and a few models of portable.
Title: Lossless Audio standard
Post by: Busemann on 2005-03-13 16:07:50
I think lossless will be widely used with high resolution multichannel audio, since this is an area where uncompressed takes a lot of space. So codecs that don't support this don't have much of a future IMHO.

MPEG4 SLS sounds really cool as it could replace the need for separate lossy / lossless codecs since it is backwards compatible with AAC.
Title: Lossless Audio standard
Post by: m0rbidini on 2005-03-14 10:23:32
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3. FLAC and Apple Lossless appear to be the 2 most popular lossless formats currently (with WMA Lossless ranking high up there also). FLAC is popular for distributing lossless files on the Net, while Apple Lossless is popular among iTunes/iPod users for archiving their own music collections. Hopefully iTunes 5/QuickTime 7 that should be released soon will support importiing FLAC files to make switching from FLAC to Apple Lossless less painless.


I don't think ALAC is one of the most popular lossless audio formats. I don't have data to prove my impression, but according to my experience FLAC, APE, Shorten, WavPack and WMA Lossless (no particular order) are all more popular than ALAC.

Cya

edit: typo.
Title: Lossless Audio standard
Post by: danchr on 2005-03-14 10:46:25
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I don't think ALAC is one of the most popular lossless audio formats. I don't have data to prove my impression, but according to my experience FLAC, APE, Shorten, WavPack and WMA Lossless (no particular order) are all more popular than ALAC.
[a href="index.php?act=findpost&pid=282021"][{POST_SNAPBACK}][/a]

If you look at mass market penetration, ie. what Joe User uses for archival, I seriously doubt that APE, Shorten and Wavpack have a particularly large user base. FLAC is available by default in many open source players, WMA is available by default in all Windows Media-based players and ALAC is available by default in all QuickTime-based players.

I believe the three most popular players are Winamp, Windows Media Player and iTunes. AFAICT none of these support FLAC, APE, Shorten or WavPack out of the box, and most ordinary users won't be bothered to go downloading extensions or plugins, unless forced to.

Being popular in <insert small community here> doesn't necessarily mean that a codec has any widespread appeal.
Title: Lossless Audio standard
Post by: m0rbidini on 2005-03-14 10:57:31
Being available by default doesn't make automatically very used and it's not sufficient to de-bunk the daily experiences with communities that total millions of users, such as p2p communities.

If that was the case then WMA would be the most used lossy audio codec (now it's possible to use WMP to rip to mp3, but there were times this wasn't possible with the out-of-the-box WMP). Most "Joe Users" don't care about lossless to begin with and ALAC has very limited software support and is still very recent, compared to APE, FLAC and others. No way I believe it's widely used. Plus, ALAC isn't even a great lossless format compared to FLAC or WavPack.
Title: Lossless Audio standard
Post by: Supacon on 2005-03-14 11:22:31
Some interesting stuff brought up here.  MPEG4 SLS/ALS sound interesting, and this is the first time I've heard of either.

As for the most popular codecs, I had thought that it was definitely FLAC, as that is the only codec that really seems to have good multiplatform and hardware support.  I have seen mainly APEs on the ED2K p2p network, and some flac files.

Personally I think FLAC is the best codec, because it is open source, and widely available and supported.  I have been using APE more, however, because it achieves better compression.  Aside from the greater support of FLAC, the chief benefits of it over APE (Monkey's Audio Codec) are:

1. It decompresses much faster, which is relevant if you plan on encoding to other formats later on.

2. It is streamable.  (Although I'm not sure when and where you'd stream it, but in the future this may be more relevant.)

I'd say that if in doubt, go with flac. Again, the main reason I use APE is because it just turns out that you can fit 9 74 minute CDs on a DVD in APE format, and usually only 8 with flac (at least with pop type music).  So the media savings justified the slightly more compressed codec.
Title: Lossless Audio standard
Post by: spoon on 2005-03-14 11:44:50
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If there has been MPEG 4 ALS source code released, that is news to me. If this is true, where are apps supporting this lossless codec?
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I am guessing it is encumbered by Patents, why rush to adopt that when you are going to have to pay $x.xx per unit shipped, which for something like Lossless (just needs 2:1 compression to get away with it) is silly, that is why Apple made their own.
Title: Lossless Audio standard
Post by: SirGrey on 2005-03-14 13:57:29
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If there has been MPEG 4 ALS source code released, that is news to me. If this is true, where are apps supporting this lossless codec?

As I uderstand, specs are not approved yet...
Title: Lossless Audio standard
Post by: GeSomeone on 2005-03-14 14:11:01
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See more about MPEG 4 ALS lossless at:  http://www.nue.tu-berlin.de/research/proje...ess/mp4als.html (http://www.nue.tu-berlin.de/research/projects/lossless/mp4als.html)
[{POST_SNAPBACK}][/a] (http://index.php?act=findpost&pid=281797")

For what it's worth, MPEG 4 ALS was based on [a href="http://www.nue.tu-berlin.de/wer/liebchen/lpac.html]LPAC, another lossless codec[/url]
Title: Lossless Audio standard
Post by: guest0101 on 2005-03-14 15:56:40
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Quote
See more about MPEG 4 ALS lossless at:  http://www.nue.tu-berlin.de/research/proje...ess/mp4als.html (http://www.nue.tu-berlin.de/research/projects/lossless/mp4als.html)
[{POST_SNAPBACK}][/a] (http://index.php?act=findpost&pid=281797")

For what it's worth, MPEG 4 ALS was based on [a href="http://www.nue.tu-berlin.de/wer/liebchen/lpac.html]LPAC, another lossless codec[/url]
[a href="index.php?act=findpost&pid=282082"][{POST_SNAPBACK}][/a]


Yes, LPAC was the original submitted basis codec that was selected to be the foundation for the MPEG 4 ALS lossless standard.

Also note that on his LPAC page, Mr. Liebchen, the author of LPAC and most of the MPEG 4 ALS code, states:

"Another good news is that the MPEG-4 ALS format specification as well as reference encoder and decoder software will be publicly available, providing an opportunity for everyone to use this new standard."

This implies to me that there will be not be patent issues and that anyone can freely use the reference MPEG 4 ALS lossless code in their software/hardware products. Also I have received several E-mails from Mr. Liebchen, and I believe this is what he envisions (open standard for MPEG 4 ALS that anyone can freely use).
Title: Lossless Audio standard
Post by: Supacon on 2005-03-14 21:47:54
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...anyone can freely use the reference MPEG 4 ALS lossless code in their software/hardware products. Also I have received several E-mails from Mr. Liebchen, and I believe this is what he envisions (open standard for MPEG 4 ALS that anyone can freely use).


Here's to that!  The world needs more open standards... even if it's controlled by one particular organization, if it's an open and freely available standard, that makes it a heck of a lot more widely implementable.

How the heck are you supposed to get ALAC working, as an example, in XMMS?
Title: Lossless Audio standard
Post by: DonP on 2005-03-15 13:32:43
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  Aside from the greater support of FLAC, the chief benefits of it over APE (Monkey's Audio Codec) are:

1. It decompresses much faster, which is relevant if you plan on encoding to other formats later on.

2. It is streamable.  (Although I'm not sure when and where you'd stream it, but in the future this may be more relevant.)
[a href="index.php?act=findpost&pid=282028"][{POST_SNAPBACK}][/a]


It also compresses very quickly (at least in a medium setting).

I've never heard of an internet radio or music site streaming flac, but at least a couple of those diskless DAP's that get their music from a host PC support streaming flac:
Rio Receiver (with trio firmware) and squeezebox2.
Title: Lossless Audio standard
Post by: rjamorim on 2005-03-15 15:44:49
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"Another good news is that the MPEG-4 ALS format specification as well as reference encoder and decoder software will be publicly available, providing an opportunity for everyone to use this new standard."[a href="index.php?act=findpost&pid=282105"][{POST_SNAPBACK}][/a]


Reference encoder and decoder software is available for pretty much all MPEG technologies, if not all of them. That doesn't mean they aren't patented...

Now, as I understand it, Liebchen wowed to never patent the technologies he put in ALS. But you gotta consider other companies are adding their technologies to the standard, like Real Networks. If they don't ask for licensing fees, all the better, but you can never be sure...
Title: Lossless Audio standard
Post by: Polar on 2005-03-15 21:50:37
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FLAC and Apple Lossless appear to be the 2 most popular lossless formats currently (with WMA Lossless ranking high up there also). FLAC is popular for distributing lossless files on the Net, ...[{POST_SNAPBACK}][/a] (http://index.php?act=findpost&pid=281797")
I'm curious to know what you base you impression on. [a href="http://www.hydrogenaudio.org/forums/index.php?showtopic=24921]This poll[/url] certainly tells a different story. Although Apple Lossless (or ALAC) may be a rising star, it's still far from being the - or one of the two - most popular lossless codecs. I think (IRL, outside Hydrogenaudio) the podium is still shared by FLAC, Monkey's Audio and perhaps Shorten. The latter has definitely been the most widely used lossless format among sharing communities, and it perhaps still is.

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Size wize comparison: smallest/ most compressed lossless files (still theoretical as no widely released encoder/decoder) is MPEG 4 Lossess (ALS), FLAC medium file size, Apple Lossless (bigger file sizes).[a href="index.php?act=findpost&pid=281797"][{POST_SNAPBACK}][/a]
Wrong again. Countless tests have shown La and OptimFROG to yield the top compression ratios. And there are loads of codecs producing even higher bitrates than FLAC and ALAC, Shorten being one of them.

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Best tagging support:  Apple Lossless (for iTunes/iPod compatibility) or WMA Lossless, FLAC somewhat less (not Apple iTunes or iPod compatible natively).[a href="index.php?act=findpost&pid=281797"][{POST_SNAPBACK}][/a]
I can't help but once again remarking that you appear to have a very personal understanding of what is considered good (let alone best) tagging support.
Title: Lossless Audio standard
Post by: Lyx on 2005-03-15 22:11:17
The short version: If you're looking for some kind of "established" format like MP3 - then FLAC comes most close to it.

Other reasons why you may want to choose FLAC is because there are decoders available for most operating systems and players - if i remember right, flac is also the format which is supported best by portables (the number of players which support it is still low, but other formats are even worse in that department).

So, there currently isn't something like a lossless standard-format - but FLAC should currently your safest bet.

- Lyx
Title: Lossless Audio standard
Post by: rjamorim on 2005-03-15 22:27:40
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I'm curious to know what you base you impression on. This poll (http://www.hydrogenaudio.org/forums/index.php?showtopic=24921) certainly tells a different story.


Heh, if HA polls had any relation to reality, MPC would be one of the most popular formats and nearly noone would be using WMA.

HA polls should be taken for what they are worth: a measure of format popularity inside the forums. Trying to extrapolate this measure to the external world is not only a bad idea, it's misleading.

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I think (IRL, outside Hydrogenaudio) the podium is still shared by FLAC, Monkey's Audio and perhaps Shorten.


Where did you get that data from?

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Wrong again. Countless tests have shown La and OptimFROG to yield the top compression ratios.


Erm.. I suspect guest0101 was only comparing those three codecs. He didn't even mention Monkeys, that compresses obviously better that them.

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I can't help but once again remarking that you appear to have a very personal understanding of what is considered good (let alone best) tagging support.
[a href="index.php?act=findpost&pid=282525"][{POST_SNAPBACK}][/a]


I agree with guest0101. In ALAC and WMAL, you can easily include and display information about album art in your files. Is there any FLAC player displaying embedded album art? Even if there is, it's not a format native feature.

Sure, FLAC supports (crippled) CUE sheets, MD5, etc. But average users couldn't care less about these features. Album art is something that appeals much more to them, albeit being pretty much useless.
Title: Lossless Audio standard
Post by: m0rbidini on 2005-03-16 01:43:35
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Heh, if HA polls had any relation to reality, MPC would be one of the most popular formats and nearly noone would be using WMA.

HA polls should be taken for what they are worth: a measure of format popularity inside the forums. Trying to extrapolate this measure to the external world is not only a bad idea, it's misleading.


That poll may not be representative of the real world, but Polar didn't say it was. He specifically distinguished the results of that poll and his opinion of the situation in real life. He (like me) would like to know where did guest0101 get that impression from (wouldn't you also like to know?). I still don't understand how can someone claim that ALAC is among the 2 most popular lossless formats. It makes no sense whatsoever for me, according to my experience and according to anything reasonable I can think of.

Cya
Title: Lossless Audio standard
Post by: rjamorim on 2005-03-16 01:59:29
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That poll may not be representative of the real world, but Polar didn't say it was.


He didn't say it, but definitely implied. Here, take a look:

1. Guest0101 says: "FLAC and Apple Lossless appear to be the 2 most popular lossless formats currently (with WMA Lossless ranking high up there also)."

Notice that guest didn't specify where these formats are most popular, so one can expect he's talking about the "big picture"

2. Polar quotes guest0101 and writes: "This poll certainly tells a different story."

Therefore, while guest0101 was talking about the real world, Polar replied with numbers taken out from a very limited and specific group.

So, if Polar wasn't talking about the real world when he pointed out to that poll, he must have misunderstood what guest0101 was referring to.

Also, it's worth mentioning Polar made the same mistake here (http://www.hydrogenaudio.org/forums/index.php?showtopic=24921&view=findpost&p=259398)

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I still don't understand how can someone claim that ALAC is among the 2 most popular lossless formats. It makes no sense whatsoever for me, according to my experience and according to anything reasonable I can think of.
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Well, there is the point that Apple Lossless is supported in what is the, by far, most popular DAP. I guess that accounts to something. So, while it might be wrong, at least, to me, it makes sense. About FLAC being the first place, it's pretty much a no-brainer.
Title: Lossless Audio standard
Post by: guest0101 on 2005-03-16 02:16:43
To answer polar's questions about what I meant in my previous posting:

I was referring to the "general universe" of users. Most of these people have access to apps with FLAC, ALAC (Apple Lossless) or WMA Lossless support.

There are no exact stats available that I know of, but almost all Windows users have access to Windows Media Player. Many MAC and PC users have access/installed Quicktime and iTunes, which have built-in support for reading, tagging and encoding ALAC (Apple Lossless) format files. With over 10 million iPods sold, plus a copy of QuickTime, iTunes installed on every consumer HP PC, plus other bundling deals, Apple surely has a lot of exposure. FLAC is open-source and supported by some (but not yet all audio apps). Unfortunately Cool Edit/Adobe Audition doesn't natively suppport FLAC encoding/reading yet (without a third party plug-in).

On a MAC, like myself, almost all audio apps only support Quicktime supported formats (like ALAC for lossless), but not FLAC.  I have been lobbying apps authors to add native FLAC support to MAC audio apps (such a Bias Peak). Only Hairersoft took my suggestions and recently added FLAC support to their Amadeus II audio editor. And then tags are lost when converting between audio formats using Amadeus and other popular FLAC conversion apps on the Mac.

So FLAC, ALAC and WMA Lossless are the "big three" (in mass user use) lossless codecs as I can see it. Therefore I didn't go into detail about APE, Shorten and other lossless formats with less mass user appeal/support.

Taggingwise, FLAC has shortcomings (see rjamorim's post above detailing it). Also software developers have told me they have had a hard time with the cumbersome/confusing programming interface for FLAC. I have found at least 4 audio apps that had broken FLAC support, where the author had to be contacted with a bug report before they fixed their FLAC calling code "bugs".

Both ALAC and WMA Lossless are the 2 best in my opinion for tagging preservation when converting from one lossless format to another from what I've read and experienced.

If FLAC support was wider (such as in commercial audio apps like iTunes, native WinAmp, Windows Media Player) and tag support in all audio apps enhanced/added, then FLAC would be much better supported and would be the top lossless format overall in my opinion. Until then, I must use Apple Lossless myself to use iTunes and MAC audio editor apps.
Title: Lossless Audio standard
Post by: m0rbidini on 2005-03-16 04:17:20
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He didn't say it, but definitely implied.

He implied? Like I said, his words specifically deny that. He just took that as an example that contradicts guest0101's claim, not as an some kind of counter-evidence.

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Well, there is the point that Apple Lossless is supported in what is the, by far, most popular DAP. I guess that accounts to something. So, while it might be wrong, at least, to me, it makes sense. About FLAC being the first place, it's pretty much a no-brainer.

When estimating the popularity of a lossless codec, what do you think it's more important? How long does it exist, software support and features OR DAP support?

- FLAC, Shorten, Monkey's Audio, Wavpack, LA, Optimfrog have been around for 3-5 years (Shorten since 1993), while ALAC is not even 1 year old.

- Software support for FLAC, Shorten, Monkey's Audio, Wavpack is better than ALAC's software support. Regarding this, isn't iTunes a lot less popular than Winamp or WMP (except among Apple users, but they represent ~3% of computer users)? If so, then I don't think that can be an argument, especially since most users don't care about lossless. And most Windows users that installed QuickTime did it because of video playing support and don't even know QuickTime can encode audio.

- According to your table, ALAC isn't even a great format. Error handling is an unknown. Its compression ratio is only a bit better than FLAC's. All the others I mentioned in the previous point are better, except Shorten (which is understandable).

Regarding iPod support: iPod and iTunes users summed together are a minority of all digital audio users. Assuming that the use percentage of lossless in both sets is similar, I see no point in using this as a decisive argument.

None of the lossless users I know outside HA even know ALAC (I asked a few). I have no problem listing thousands of lossless rips in p2p networks but I never saw a single ALAC rip (and I searched in several networks and forums/sites when writing this post). Maybe they exist, but that's not the point.

Lame disclaimer: I tried not making this post a rational construct to justify my opinion.
Title: Lossless Audio standard
Post by: rjamorim on 2005-03-16 09:58:19
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When estimating the popularity of a lossless codec, what do you think it's more important? How long does it exist, software support and features OR DAP support?


When that DAP is the iPod, probably the biggest commercial phenomenon in the last 10 years, I would say it is DAP support.

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- FLAC, Shorten, Monkey's Audio, Wavpack, LA, Optimfrog have been around for 3-5 years (Shorten since 1993), while ALAC is not even 1 year old.


Age doesn't really matter. AAC has been around for about 10 years, but it only became really popular outside the enlightened halls of HA after iTunes/iPod started supporting it.

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- Software support for FLAC, Shorten, Monkey's Audio, Wavpack is better than ALAC's software support. Regarding this, isn't iTunes a lot less popular than Winamp or WMP (except among Apple users, but they represent ~3% of computer users)?


They are popular among iPod users, and they represent some 50% of DAP users.

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And most Windows users that installed QuickTime did it because of video playing support and don't even know QuickTime can encode audio.


Again, QuickTime doesn't matter. iTunes does.

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- According to your table, ALAC isn't even a great format. Error handling is an unknown. Its compression ratio is only a bit better than FLAC's. All the others I mentioned in the previous point are better, except Shorten (which is understandable).


Yees, as if end users cared about CUE sheets, high resolution support and RIFF parsing :B

That table is for people that want to take the most out of their losslessly encoded files, not for people that just bought an iPod and want to listen to some lossless tunes.

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Regarding iPod support: iPod and iTunes users summed together are a minority of all digital audio users. Assuming that the use percentage of lossless in both sets is similar, I see no point in using this as a decisive argument.


They are a minority indeed. But bigger than any group of users using a DAP or software that supports other lossless formats. And I disagree with your assumption. Apple actively promotes lossless support in iPod as a feature, so many people are aware of it.

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None of the lossless users I know outside HA even know ALAC (I asked a few). I have no problem listing thousands of lossless rips in p2p networks but I never saw a single ALAC rip (and I searched in several networks and forums/sites when writing this post). Maybe they exist, but that's not the point.


If you are going to take p2p as parameter, MPC is a much more popular format than WMA.
Title: Lossless Audio standard
Post by: Busemann on 2005-03-16 10:53:46
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None of the lossless users I know outside HA even know ALAC (I asked a few). I have no problem listing thousands of lossless rips in p2p networks but I never saw a single ALAC rip (and I searched in several networks and forums/sites when writing this post). Maybe they exist, but that's not the point.
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Search for "alac" and you won't find any - search for "aac lossless" and you'll see it is second only to FLAC in popularity (this on the biggest BitTorrent music tracker around).


Or so I heard 
Title: Lossless Audio standard
Post by: spoon on 2005-03-16 13:38:00
A very large proportion confuse AAC (tracks that are bought from iMS) with lossless, because you have m4a lossless (ALAC) they assume AAC is lossless.

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On another note, why is RIFF support important? you can embed data chunks of a program defined type, what uses those? The only time I have ever seen a RIFF chunk (of the type this is not commonly used: ie DATA and fmt) is a LIST in a Microsoft supplied wave file, this just contained their copywrite.

By the same note you could embed the same data into an Ape2 tag (using the data rather than text specifier, but nothing seems to use that).

Perhaps some highend audio editors, or mastering software? (Radio stations use a DALET type chunk), pretty freaky no?
Title: Lossless Audio standard
Post by: m0rbidini on 2005-03-16 14:42:11
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When that DAP is the iPod, probably the biggest commercial phenomenon in the last 10 years, I would say it is DAP support.
Why?

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Age doesn't really matter. AAC has been around for about 10 years, but it only became really popular outside the enlightened halls of HA after iTunes/iPod started supporting it.
AAC wasn't usable (quality wise) until the last 3/4 years. Besides, AAC had a great opponent: MP3. That example is worth zero, imo.

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They are popular among iPod users, and they represent some 50% of DAP users.
50%? That's US stats, not world stats (http://www.theregister.co.uk/2004/10/12/ipod_us_share/). Worldwise, iPod represents ~28% of the total HDD based DAPs. ALAC is popular among iPod users? Do you have any data to prove that lossless is more popular among iPod users? I browsed the ipodlounge.com forums and there's very few topics discussing ALAC, less than here. Plus, there were reports of glitchs at the end of tracks while playing ALAC on the iPod and it drains the battery much faster than lossy formats. Why do you think DAP is a decisive factor, when iPod users account for only a fraction of the total digital audio users?

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Again, QuickTime doesn't matter. iTunes does.
Do you have any stats regarding iTunes penetration on the desktop?

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Yees, as if end users cared about CUE sheets, high resolution support and RIFF parsing :B

That table is for people that want to take the most out of their losslessly encoded files, not for people that just bought an iPod and want to listen to some lossless tunes.
Don't users care about encoding speed too? And once again, iPod users are a very small minority of the total digital audio users.

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They are a minority indeed. But bigger than any group of users using a DAP or software that supports other lossless formats. And I disagree with your assumption. Apple actively promotes lossless support in iPod as a feature, so many people are aware of it.
Do you really think that just listing ALAC on the list of supported formats is "active promotion"? I would agree with that in the case of the Karma and FLAC.

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If you are going to take p2p as parameter, MPC is a much more popular format than WMA.
Erm, is MPC more available in p2p networks than WMA? Where did you get that data from? It surely contradicts my experience in fasttrack ed2k, gnutella and overnet.

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Search for "alac" and you won't find any - search for "aac lossless" and you'll see it is second only to FLAC in popularity (this on the biggest BitTorrent music tracker around).
I tried searching ed2k, fasttrack, gnutella and overnet for ALAC or "aac lossless" and didn't come up with anything... I would really like to see that (unless it's a Mac BT site).


Cya
Title: Lossless Audio standard
Post by: Busemann on 2005-03-16 14:47:01
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Worldwise, iPod represents ~28% of the total HDD based DAPs.


Title: Lossless Audio standard
Post by: m0rbidini on 2005-03-16 14:49:13
Busemann: do you have any data regarding world market share that supports what you're laughing of?
Title: Lossless Audio standard
Post by: Busemann on 2005-03-16 15:14:02
Use some common sense, man. Since there is no data for consumer electronics sold in Asia (excluding Japan), It'd be nice to see which players that supposedly hold the remaining 72% worldwide. To say it has 23% of the HDD market in either Japan, Europe or the US is ridiculous.


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I tried searching ed2k, fasttrack, gnutella and overnet for ALAC or "aac lossless" and didn't come up with anything...


No one names their actual files as either ALAC or "aac lossless", so your results aren't very surprising. I was just quickly searching through the lossless category of a BT-tracker earlier this morning and was surprised by the amount of alac torrents available. Definitely a distant second to FLAC there.

In any case, it is impossible to get exact usage stats to any format in the real world..
Title: Lossless Audio standard
Post by: m0rbidini on 2005-03-16 15:17:42
My common sense and real life experience (in Portugal) doesn't tell me that the iPod has a market share of 50% on HDD based DAPs. Much less than that. Oh, and common sense can mistake you a lot.

I search for "aac lossless" because that's what you told me to do. And I would still like to know what BT site was that.
Title: Lossless Audio standard
Post by: guest0101 on 2005-03-16 15:23:54
m0rbodini,

Please let's not get into a "this lossless codec" is better than that one contest in this thread. I was simply giving my advice to a newbie who started this thread. You may want to argue about market penetration of iTunes, etc. but this is pointless and just serves to inflame this thread with off-topic rhetoric.

We know iTunes is included with every iPod sold and every new HP consumer PC, plus is pre-loaded on many other PCs. Also, with over 10 million iPods sold (according to Steve Jobs at the latest MacWorld presentation this past January), you can't deny that there are many millions of iTunes users out there on both the PC and Mac platform. I too wish that Apple had chosen FLAC as their default lossless codec, but for whatever reasons they didn't, so we are now stuck with ALAC being out there for users to use. It is a real pain for me to switch between FLAC and ALAC for my different audio editng apps and archiving. If only FLAC were more widely supported by commercial audio players and audio editing software "out of the box" and if only they could do all the tag editing/tagging preservation stuff that both ALAC and WMA Lossless can currently do.

But until the time that every audio player on both Mac and Windows platforms natively supports FLAC, the average "Joe user" who doesn't know how to find, download and install third-party plug-ins will be without adequate FLAC playback or encoding support. This is FLAC's real Achilles heel.

Josh has done wonders in developing FLAC, but I believe he is not the world's best marketer, especially due to his Linux (and not Mac or Windows) development environment that he personally uses. Josh Coalson also wasn't aware when the MPEG 4 Lossless standard was requesting calls for submissions, and that is why FLAC wasn't even submitted or considered by MPEG and was awarded to another party from Germany. This would have likely cemented FLAC as a worldwide standard, but now it is anyone's guess if that will happen or not.

It seems like WinAmp and MusicMatch are no longer "cutting edge" on supporting newer audio codecs, and Apple is really the only one out there setting new audio standards for the masses of general users. Microsoft isn't likely to add FLAC or AAC/AACPlus support to WMP any time soon.

We need better app support on Mac and Windows and native application FLAC support included in WinAmp, MusicMatch, iTunes, Nero, Adobe Audition, Easy CD Creator and others, including full tagging preservation support when converting between codecs.

So to answer the newbie's question that started this thread, there is not yet any universal standard for lossless encoding. You can choose to use FLAC, Apple Lossless (ALAC) or WMA Lossless, or another like Shorten or APE, but until all programs that most people use (the average computer user) support one or the other, there will be no universal "standard" comparable with the popularity now of the MP3 lossy format.
Title: Lossless Audio standard
Post by: m0rbidini on 2005-03-16 15:27:43
I'm not arguing about which lossless format is best. I'm just arguing about your claim that ALAC is one of the two most popular lossless formats.

edited: I mistakingly pressed edit insted of post. corrected.
Title: Lossless Audio standard
Post by: Busemann on 2005-03-16 15:29:56
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My common sense and real life experience (in Portugal) doesn't tell me that the iPod has a market share of 50% on HDD based DAPs. Much less than that. Oh, and common sense can mistake you a lot.
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Proof of concept right there 

I don't know what you have against alac, but it really isn't much more than a lossless codec for personal use. Use it if you want, don't if you don't
Title: Lossless Audio standard
Post by: guest0101 on 2005-03-16 15:30:20
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I'm not arguing about which lossless format is best. I'm just arguing about your claim that ALAC is one of the two most popular lossless formats.
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I believe I said it was one of the 3 most popular lossless codecs among general users. I did mention WMA lossless in the bunch, but regardless, you can't ignore Apple's presence in the portable digital audio player market. Whether it is 70% in the U.S. as many news articles claim or some other figure, Apple is a large player in the DAP market and the PC/Mac software audio player market.
Title: Lossless Audio standard
Post by: rjamorim on 2005-03-16 15:46:36
I won't reply to m0rbidini any more, and I suggest you guys let him alone as well. Let his delusions take the better of him.
Title: Lossless Audio standard
Post by: m0rbidini on 2005-03-16 15:54:44
guest0101: I'm not ignoring Apple's presence in the portable digital audio player market, although I have a feeling it is overestimated by some. But this alone isn't enough (imo) to claim that ALAC is one of 2 most used lossless formats (maybe I jumped a bit harshly on that, if so sorry). Can we ever reach an answer regarding this? Maybe not. But if not, your claim is worth as much as my claims. I never posted in this thread with a "confrontational sounding rhetoric". I only tried to argue what you claimed. And I have as right to do it as you.

Regarding this being offtopic: I wouldn't mind if someone splitted this, although I have a feeling ted's original post was all about what was discussed here.

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Proof of concept right there
My point exactly. That's why I used a source not based on "common sense".

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I won't reply to m0rbidini any more, and I suggest you guys let him alone as well. Let his delusions take the better of him.


That's ok. Could we please this conversation in private, then? I'd like to know why I'm being delusional and you're not.
Title: Lossless Audio standard
Post by: jcoalson on 2005-03-16 16:17:25
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But until the time that every audio player on both Mac and Windows platforms natively supports FLAC, the average "Joe user" who doesn't know how to find, download and install third-party plug-ins will be without adequate FLAC playback or encoding support. This is FLAC's real Achilles heel.

the problem is that when most people mean "every audio player on both Mac and Windows" they mean itunes and WMP.  and it is not possible for anyone but apple and MS to add full support for codecs to those.

sure, in itunes you can make a qt component and import, but you can not tie it in to all the features that the native codecs have.  a user cannot even tell from the gui that the codec support exists.  same with WMP, you can make a directshow filter but you can't get the metadata or anything else WMA has without MS.

it is not possible for a free non-proprietary codec to compete because it's not a level playing field.  the general user base has no will to fight lock-in so codecs like FLAC/wavpack/MPC/vorbis/etc will always be in a different niche.

Josh

p.s. I find m0rbidini more convincing, the # of ipods means nothing to ALAC popularity if no one is using it.
Title: Lossless Audio standard
Post by: dev0 on 2005-03-16 17:37:44
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On another note, why is RIFF support important? you can embed data chunks of a program defined type, what uses those? The only time I have ever seen a RIFF chunk (of the type this is not commonly used: ie DATA and fmt) is a LIST in a Microsoft supplied wave file, this just contained their copywrite.

By the same note you could embed the same data into an Ape2 tag (using the data rather than text specifier, but nothing seems to use that).

Perhaps some highend audio editors, or mastering software? (Radio stations use a DALET type chunk), pretty freaky no?
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I don't know if you consider Adobe Audition high end, but it uses riff chunks quite extensively to save cuesheets, metadata etc.
Title: Lossless Audio standard
Post by: guest0101 on 2005-03-17 01:37:02
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But until the time that every audio player on both Mac and Windows platforms natively supports FLAC, the average "Joe user" who doesn't know how to find, download and install third-party plug-ins will be without adequate FLAC playback or encoding support. This is FLAC's real Achilles heel.

the problem is that when most people mean "every audio player on both Mac and Windows" they mean itunes and WMP.  and it is not possible for anyone but apple and MS to add full support for codecs to those.

sure, in itunes you can make a qt component and import, but you can not tie it in to all the features that the native codecs have.  a user cannot even tell from the gui that the codec support exists.  same with WMP, you can make a directshow filter but you can't get the metadata or anything else WMA has without MS.

it is not possible for a free non-proprietary codec to compete because it's not a level playing field.  the general user base has no will to fight lock-in so codecs like FLAC/wavpack/MPC/vorbis/etc will always be in a different niche.

Josh

p.s. I find m0rbidini more convincing, the # of ipods means nothing to ALAC popularity if no one is using it.
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Josh,

It is true many may not be using ALAC in iTunes, but we have no way of gauging that use anymore than we know the number of FLAC or WMA Lossless users.

Josh, I love your FLAC format, I was just pointing out that it is not *yet* universally used in all major audio apps on both the PC and Mac. I mean audio editors like Bias Peak on Mac and both Adobe Audition (formerly Cool Edit Pro) and Sony Audio Editor (formerly SoundForge). Without high end apps allowing native saving and reading of FLAC, audiophiles have to resort to third part conversion apps which can be cumbersome. Also WinAmp should have natively supported FLAC a long time ago. They seem to be dragging their heels. Nero still doesn't support FLAC natively to the best of my knowledge.  What about FLAC support for Sonic/Adaptec for their Easy CD/DVD Creator burnning software line?

Of course, Apple iTunes and Microsoft WMP don't support FLAC natively yet (and may never), but have you worked to approach both Apple and Microsoft so they are aware they can use your FLAC source code? I have never heard you talk about your efforts to "market" FLAC to the "big boys", like Adobe, MS, Apple, WinAmp, etc. If you have and they have refused, great, but if you have not yet talked to their head audio developers, then maybe you should.
Title: Lossless Audio standard
Post by: Supacon on 2005-03-17 04:36:51
Maybe this would seem like a silly question, but can anyone lay out for me what the vested interest corporations like Microsoft, Apple, Sony, Dolby, etc. would have in developing new codecs and attempting to urge users to use it?  It seems to me that the benefits to them are somewhat intangible (pride?).

I'm guessing that they figure somehow that it will help them sell more product, and act as a way to brand and advertise their name.

Ideas?
Title: Lossless Audio standard
Post by: jcoalson on 2005-03-17 22:25:48
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Josh, I love your FLAC format, I was just pointing out that it is not *yet* universally used in all major audio apps on both the PC and Mac. I mean audio editors like Bias Peak on Mac and both Adobe Audition (formerly Cool Edit Pro) and Sony Audio Editor (formerly SoundForge). Without high end apps allowing native saving and reading of FLAC, audiophiles have to resort to third part conversion apps which can be cumbersome. Also WinAmp should have natively supported FLAC a long time ago. They seem to be dragging their heels. Nero still doesn't support FLAC natively to the best of my knowledge.  What about FLAC support for Sonic/Adaptec for their Easy CD/DVD Creator burnning software line?

I know, my point was that all those programs you mentioned are closed source so there is nothing we can do about them except add pressure to the authors.  some apps will throw the 'plugin' bone and there are FLAC plugins for most of these already (there's a cool_flac filter floating around, not sure if it works with audition).

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Of course, Apple iTunes and Microsoft WMP don't support FLAC natively yet (and may never), but have you worked to approach both Apple and Microsoft so they are aware they can use your FLAC source code? I have never heard you talk about your efforts to "market" FLAC to the "big boys", like Adobe, MS, Apple, WinAmp, etc. If you have and they have refused, great, but if you have not yet talked to their head audio developers, then maybe you should.

I think it's safe to say there's no point talking to MS.

with apple I imagine it will go like vorbis, first there needs to be a working QT component (so far so good), then a lot of people have to pressure them to recognize FLAC files in itunes.  but apple has no incentive to do extra work to add other codecs now that they have ALAC, there is nothing in it for them.  anyway, I don't know who to talk to there but I'm pretty sure they were aware of being able to use FLAC, it's clear from the ALAC design that they studied FLAC.

as for the others, again, I don't know who to talk to, but it's going to take the demands of a lot of users, not just me, to get them to move.  if anyone has contacts and wants to set me up then I will be happy to talk.

Josh
Title: Lossless Audio standard
Post by: Busemann on 2005-03-17 22:52:55
just drop () a mail. If you write a well-written message, it will be forwarded to the right folks and you'll get a serious response.
Title: Lossless Audio standard
Post by: spoon on 2005-03-17 22:58:19
I also have the feeling that Apple might have reverse engineered WMA Lossless, 2 reasons:

No where in iTunes it talks about licensing Microsoft code (it even talks about licensing Amazon 1 click crap!).

Microsofts SDK license specifically disallows transcoding of WMA (personally I have just ignored that, click through SDKs are non binding in my mind, I don't think Apple would).
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