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Lossless Audio standard

Reply #25
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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.

Lossless Audio standard

Reply #26
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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.

Lossless Audio standard

Reply #27
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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 

Lossless Audio standard

Reply #28
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?

Lossless Audio standard

Reply #29
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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. 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

Lossless Audio standard

Reply #30
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Worldwise, iPod represents ~28% of the total HDD based DAPs.



Lossless Audio standard

Reply #31
Busemann: do you have any data regarding world market share that supports what you're laughing of?

Lossless Audio standard

Reply #32
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..

Lossless Audio standard

Reply #33
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.

Lossless Audio standard

Reply #34
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.

Lossless Audio standard

Reply #35
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.

Lossless Audio standard

Reply #36
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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

Lossless Audio standard

Reply #37
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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.

 

Lossless Audio standard

Reply #38
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.

Lossless Audio standard

Reply #39
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.

Lossless Audio standard

Reply #40
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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.

Lossless Audio standard

Reply #41
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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.
"To understand me, you'll have to swallow a world." Or maybe your words.

Lossless Audio standard

Reply #42
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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.

Lossless Audio standard

Reply #43
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?

Lossless Audio standard

Reply #44
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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

Lossless Audio standard

Reply #45
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.

Lossless Audio standard

Reply #46
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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