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Lossless Audio standard

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
how much is the fish?

Lossless Audio standard

Reply #1
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...

Lossless Audio standard

Reply #2
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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?
how much is the fish?

Lossless Audio standard

Reply #3
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

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.

Lossless Audio standard

Reply #4
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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


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.

Lossless Audio standard

Reply #5
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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?

Lossless Audio standard

Reply #6
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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.

Lossless Audio standard

Reply #7
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.

Lossless Audio standard

Reply #8
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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.

Lossless Audio standard

Reply #9
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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.

Lossless Audio standard

Reply #10
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.

Lossless Audio standard

Reply #11
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.

Lossless Audio standard

Reply #12
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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?
[a href="index.php?act=findpost&pid=281803"][{POST_SNAPBACK}][/a]


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.

Lossless Audio standard

Reply #13
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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...


Lossless Audio standard

Reply #15
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See more about MPEG 4 ALS lossless at:  http://www.nue.tu-berlin.de/research/proje...ess/mp4als.html
[{POST_SNAPBACK}][/a]

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).

Lossless Audio standard

Reply #16
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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?

Lossless Audio standard

Reply #17
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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.

Lossless Audio standard

Reply #18
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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...

Lossless Audio standard

Reply #19
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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]
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.

Lossless Audio standard

Reply #20
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
I am arrogant and I can afford it because I deliver.

Lossless Audio standard

Reply #21
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I'm curious to know what you base you impression on. This poll 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.

Lossless Audio standard

Reply #22
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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

Lossless Audio standard

Reply #23
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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

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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.
[a href="index.php?act=findpost&pid=282582"][{POST_SNAPBACK}][/a]


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.

Lossless Audio standard

Reply #24
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.

 
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