2007-07-17

MP3 or OGG?

If you have a digital music player, chances are that you use mp3 files.

Because I use Linux, virtually everything is geared instead towards ogg files. Ogg is a very similar form of software except that it is patent and copyright-free. The mp3 filetype is not.

Wikipedia uses ogg files instead of mp3s for the simple reason that mp3 is not an open standard while ogg is. The creators of ogg (Xiph) also maintain that ogg sounds better.

In the last few weeks I have been experimenting with the creation of mp3 files - especially ones with a low bitrate to reduce the file size. As a result I can tell you quite firmly and confidently that, especially at lower bitrates, ogg files are far superior in sound quality to mp3.

For example, I ripped a Led Zeppelin track into a 64kps mp3 file. I also ripped it into a 42kps ogg file. The mp3 file is 1.5mb while the ogg file is 0.98mb (1004kb). At such a low bitrate, listening to the mp3 file was like listening to a tinny AM radio, while the smaller ogg files sounded more like a bad FM station. In other words, the ogg file sounded much better (though still limited) than the higher bitrate mp3 file.

I therefore recommend anyone who wishes to rip their CD collection onto their hard drive use ogg instead of mp3. There are plenty of players you can download for Windows that can play ogg files. Media players capable of playing oggs are hard to find, but the iRiver T30 series is one that can (I use it and am happy with it generally).

And, of course, ogg filetypes are open source.


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