New High-Quality MP3 format debuts...
June 14, 2001 7:27 AM   Subscribe

New High-Quality MP3 format debuts... What do the tech-savants think about this? Is this something we really need, or are Thomson Multimedia and the Fraunhofer Institute gettin' all proprietary on our asses? Will "mp3pro" and Microsoft's upcoming attempt (in XP) to restrict users to Windows Media cause trouble for the useful, universal mp3 format? Now that all the majors are getting in the game (late, late, late), what's the next step for free music lovers?
posted by preguicoso (13 comments total)
My guess is that if Windows XP restricts the use of mp3's, you'll find alot of people sticking with their current version of windows. I for one would be one of those people.

As far as the new mp3 format goes, if it compresses better (like the article says it will) and there isn't a noticable performance loss, then I say bring it on.
posted by howa2396 at 7:40 AM on June 14, 2001

The article seems to suggest that the old mp3 format will sound crappy on the new players, though, right?
posted by preguicoso at 7:46 AM on June 14, 2001

Stop spreading FUD. XP will not encode MP3 out of the box, but it will be able to read them.
posted by owillis at 7:48 AM on June 14, 2001

Stop spreading annoying acronyms. It was my understanding that the XP media player would play MP3's, but at degraded quality (relative to windows media player).
posted by preguicoso at 7:56 AM on June 14, 2001

preguicoso - no, what they're saying is that MP3Pro will play on existing players, but at reduced quality, while old-school MP3s will play normally on an MP3Pro-enabled player.
posted by pascal at 8:24 AM on June 14, 2001

As much as I like to demonize MS, it must be mentioned that XP doesn't exist yet. Just because the latest beta seed doesn't have an encoder doesn't mean that the RTM won't have it. If you read Owliss' link, it makes it clear that if they do have a MP3 encoder in XP, it will only do a low bit-rate (probably 96 kbs) due to the exorbitant licensing costs of the MP3 codec.
posted by machaus at 8:28 AM on June 14, 2001

Don't forget about Ogg Vorbis, "a completely open, patent-free, professional audio encoding and streaming technology with all the benefits of Open Source."
posted by jeb at 8:36 AM on June 14, 2001

MP3'll be around as long as LAME is.
posted by darukaru at 8:44 AM on June 14, 2001

Even if XP restricts .mp3s, I have no doubt that someone will program a work-around.
posted by Pinwiz at 9:37 AM on June 14, 2001

Microsoft is going to be removing mp3 ripping altogether from their release of XP. That doesn't mean you won't be able to rip songs, it just wont be able to out of the box. You'll have to get and external encoder. Microsoft included basic mp3 ripping functionality in their beta just so they knew it would work.

As far as mp3 playing goes, I imagine the windows media player will playback at whatever bitrate the song is encoded at. If for some reason they do degrade the audio quality, you'll probably just have to grab another player and/or a different version of the codec.
posted by dave at 12:33 PM on June 14, 2001

The companies haven't said who has agreed to use the technology, which will be about 50 percent more expensive to license than MP3. That means any company using Fraunhofer's encoder, whether in a hardware device or a software program, will have to pay about $7.50 per unit they distribute, Linde said.

From what I understand, this is the one main reason for the move by ThompsonMult/Fraunhofer: To rectify their previous serious licensing gaffe.

Someone here probably knows more than I and can correct me, but I seem to remember something about Fraunhofer not collecting licensing fees from the ripping companies at first. As popularity skyrocketed, they suddenly became very interested in making serious cash, but couldn't for some reason. Don't know whether it was statute of limitations thing, or an international law thing or what.

Either way, you can bet that they'll collect their license fees upfront this time. Not surprisingly the prices is higher. Averaging it out I suppose...

The ironic thing is that at $5.00/unit, there would have been almost no one giving away the ripper. The free versions of Musicmatch, RealJukebox et al can all encode. Without a free ripper, MP3's would have never taken off.

Because of the cost, no one will be giving an MP3Pro ripper away for free. If no one's giving it away free, will their ever be a lot of content in the format? If there's not a lot of content in the format, will there be many devices and software which supports it?

I think this will only increase the popularity of things like Vorbis and LAME....
posted by fooljay at 4:38 PM on June 14, 2001

Even if XP restricts .mp3s, I have no doubt that someone will program a work-around maybe....winamp?

You people don't actually use media player do you?

posted by jaded at 9:16 PM on June 14, 2001

If no one's giving [the ripper] away free, will their ever be a lot of content in the format?

I think the whole point of MP3Pro is that it won't be a technology that the unwashed masses can get their hands on easily, thus cutting down on the amount of unauthorized content out there. It's an attempt to shift the control back to the content providers.
posted by darukaru at 9:20 PM on June 14, 2001

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