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Author Topic: At last: MP3 Lossless!!!  (Read 20735 times)
Curt
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« on: October 06, 2009, 07:18:55 AM »

MP3 was a revolution when it entered the audiophile world. Not entirely a good revolution, in my opinion, but nevertheless something that changed the world of sound. Because of MP3's obvious lack of quality, other formats have been developed, but... well..., apart from WMA, not with too much commercial success. This has left the vast majority of consumers in a dark corner: Either settle with low quality, or purchase the original recording (if you can find it). Now this may change!

MP3HD is a lossless compression of an ingenious kind. It consists of two layers. The top layer is a normal lossy MP3 layer, and the bottom layer contains all the missing details. Meaning that MP3HD can be played on all MP3 players, but only the lossless details will come forth via a new MP3HD player. That is SMART! :-)

Average bit-rate will typical be between 475 and 875 kbit/s

Quote
mp3HD Overview

    * mp3HD is a lossless audio codec (100% bit-exact replica of CD tracks)
    * Backward Compatible to mp3
    * File extension .mp3
    * Bitrates for music approximately 500 to 900 kbps rates (similar to other lossless codecs), depending on genre
    * Embedded mp3 track and the mp3HD file share the same id3 metadata
    * Encoding parameters (e.g. bit rate), ancillary data and meta data of embedded mp3 track are under control



You can get the de- & encoder, and 'toolkit' via http://www.all4mp3.com/Learn_mp3_hd_1.aspx at http://www.all4mp3.com/SoftwareHD.aspx


For 32-bits Mac, Linux, and Windows,  
- but 64 bits and Windows 7 (Seven) are not listed!




Quote
The following tools are available immediately for your tests:

    * Encoding
          o Command-line encoder
    * Decoding (to wav)
          o Command-line decoder
    * Playing
          o Plug-in for Winamp (for Winamp 5.5 and above)
    * Platforms
          o Win32 (Microsoft Windows XP, 2000, NT 4, Me/98), Vista
          o Linux32
          o Mac OS X
    * Support
          o CD audio (PCM): 44.1, 48 kHz sampling rate, 16 bit/sample

This page also has a few audio files with the new encoding
- average download speed: 370 KB/s
« Last Edit: October 06, 2009, 07:36:25 AM by Curt » Logged
EĆ³in
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« Reply #1 on: October 06, 2009, 07:37:11 AM »

You're right, that is very smart. Wonder what the audiophiles will have to say.
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f0dder
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« Reply #2 on: October 06, 2009, 08:24:58 AM »

I don't care much for the format - players have starting adopting FLAC... and for low-capacity players, probably not supporting FLAC, something like 370kbps is too big smiley

The idea is smart though, I guess.
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40hz
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« Reply #3 on: October 06, 2009, 08:56:03 AM »

Sounds something like an Encapsulated PostScript or EPS** file.

It's a great idea if you only want to support a single file format for your music files.  Thmbsup

But it's still a bit of a kludge. I would have liked it more if it were able to retain the old MP3 file sizes and still be lossless. Now that would have been the absolute killer format.

Thanks for the heads up Curt! I'm definitely going to be keeping an eye on this one.

(But in the mean time, I'm still gonna stick with FLAC for hi-def.)

-----
** (EPS basically embedded a low resolution "preview" graphic image in a regular PS file. Since most machines didn't have the memory or power to render a PS file directly, EPS allowed you to see what your file looked like before you sent it to a laser imaging device. Before most of the printing industry switched over to using PDFs for 'direct to plate' pre-press, EPS ruled the world. Quark Xpress and the Adobe product family were the driving forces behind the EPS format.)

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« Reply #4 on: October 06, 2009, 09:42:07 AM »

I think 40hz is right: it's useful if you want only one version of the music files. However, the idea of having extra space on my cell phone/mp3 player taken by sound that I can't hear isn't that great.
I think I'll keep my regular mp3, I don't have earphones or sound card good enough to notice any difference anyways tongue
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Curt
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« Reply #5 on: October 06, 2009, 10:11:46 AM »

Oh, you are all such a bunch of square minded wankers, afraid of any improvements not coming from your favourites! Your arguments are soo...., welll, I better shut up.
 tongue 

Sorry!

Of course this format is not perfect, but neither are any other formats! MP3HD is of course technical superior to FLAC (which is not a common format) because the compression makes the MP3HD file at least 30 percent smaller than a FLAC file, while the quality of the MP3HD sound fully will match the FLAC. The download links also offer a converter, so if you think the MP3HD file still is too large for your sister's portable player or your kitchen speakers, you may convert it into a normally sized MP3 file. But you still have the lossless file for your hi-fi set-up.

FYI: the new format is displayed the normal way: MP3 (not 'MP3HD').

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f0dder
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« Reply #6 on: October 06, 2009, 10:21:18 AM »

Of course this format is not perfect, but neither are any other formats! MP3HD is of course technical superior to FLAC (which is not a common format) because the compression makes the MP3HD file at least 30 percent smaller than a FLAC file, while the quality of the MP3HD sound fully will match the FLAC.
11-Pink Floyd-High Hopes.flac - 46.1MB
11-Pink Floyd-High Hopes.mp3 - 48.6MB

And that's sticking to 192kbps MP3 quality for the non-lossless format undecided

...I think I'll keep my FLACs. It also kinda feels nice to be using an open format and all, and the encode time is faster.
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Curt
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« Reply #7 on: October 06, 2009, 10:30:03 AM »

11-Pink Floyd-High Hopes.flac - 46.1MB
11-Pink Floyd-High Hopes.mp3 - 48.6MB

- quite a surprise, and not in line with what I've read.

But as I said, I'll shut up.
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f0dder
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« Reply #8 on: October 06, 2009, 10:43:28 AM »

11-Pink Floyd-High Hopes.flac - 46.1MB
11-Pink Floyd-High Hopes.mp3 - 48.6MB

- quite a surprise, and not in line with what I've read.
It's going to depend on the type of the music - perhaps FLAC is just better at encoding stuff that has high dynamic range than mp3hd? Only tried that one track, and can't be bothered with some evil range-compressed industrial right now smiley (gotta head off for work in ~30min).

But as I said, I'll shut up.
Please don't, it's always interesting to hear about new stuff, even if I'm not going to be a fan of it smiley
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Curt
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« Reply #9 on: October 06, 2009, 11:26:46 AM »

- okay, at least I will talk long enough to tell that there are 38 more HD music files to get, one at a time, from http://www.all4mp3.com/Listenmp3HD.aspx

Also I should say that half of the files listed at the previous link, are surround files!

Finally, if some of you didn't follow any of the links, I should tell that there is a plugin for WinAmp (Windows only).
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Hirudin
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« Reply #10 on: October 07, 2009, 02:48:09 AM »

...
11-Pink Floyd-High Hopes.mp3 - 48.6MB

And that's sticking to 192kbps MP3 quality for the non-lossless format undecided
...
I wonder if increasing the bitrate of the traditional MP3 portion of the file will produce a larger or smaller MP3HD file. It would be interesting to see a 32 vs. 320 kbps comparison.

I'm still on the fence about this idea. I guess to me it probably boils down to how well they work with tagging programs. Encoding/decoding time will also probably play a large part in whether it's adopted or not.

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skwire
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« Reply #11 on: October 07, 2009, 03:07:58 AM »

I'm still on the fence about this idea. I guess to me it probably boils down to how well they work with tagging programs. Encoding/decoding time will also probably play a large part in whether it's adopted or not.

Get this...the lossless part of this new format is stored in ID3v2 tags.  Can you believe that?  So, the short answer is that current tag editors are not going to be able to handle this new format very well.  The problem is that, by spec, an ID3v2 tag can be up to 256 megs.  Yes, megabytes.  In other words, the tag editor will have to rewrite all the lossless data on tag changes since ID3v2 tags are stored at the start of a file (yes, I know about padding).  Crazy design decision, methinks.
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f0dder
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« Reply #12 on: October 07, 2009, 03:09:38 AM »

skwire: that's (a few steps beyond) borderline insanity O_o
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« Reply #13 on: October 07, 2009, 03:23:41 AM »

Yeah, no kidding.  Can you imagine the potential memory usage of a tag editor at that point?  I could be mistaken, however, but that's how I interpreted all the specs I could find on this format.
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Curt
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« Reply #14 on: October 07, 2009, 03:31:21 AM »

The format is still beta'ish; one would expect the tagging-thing to be dealt with at some point in time.

About the size of the outcome; yes it surely relates to the music:

GenreHD Bit-rateFile-Size
Pop,Rock,Folk876 kbits/s26 MB
Jazz786 kbits/s23.5 MB
Classical605 kbits/s18 MB
Audio-Books474 kbits/s14 MB

So my guess is that MP3HD will excel with Classical music, as an example, but not with Rock.

Other than that, the example is plain stupid; any classical concert contains tons more dynamic tunes than any rock music concert ever, and should therefore also take up much more bits, I would imagine.
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f0dder
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« Reply #15 on: October 07, 2009, 03:56:35 AM »

The format is still beta'ish; one would expect the tagging-thing to be dealt with at some point in time.
This wouldn't solve the fundamental problem (if skwire understood the specs properly), though - that a lot of existing programs would possibly have to be updated in order to not crash / eat up memory like crazy when dealing with mp3hd files.

So my guess is that MP3HD will excel with Classical music, as an example, but not with Rock.
All variable-bitrate compression formats depend on the input in one way or another - either by having a constant output filesize (and trying to "spend less bits on less active passages") or achieving different output filesize depending on the input.

Other than that, the example is plain stupid; any classical concert contains tons more dynamic tunes than any rock music concert ever, and should therefore also take up much more bits, I would imagine.
Don't know about that, but I expect it to depend very much on the compression algorithm. As I understand it, MP3 works by doing frequency analysis, and discarding frequencies we don't pay as much attention to, in order to achieve better bitrate for the more interesting frequencies... lossless codecs obviously cannot do this, so they work differently smiley - I would expect classical music to achieve relatively small filesizes because there's silent passages and slow progressions, whereas rock, industrial, etc is often full-volume-all-the-time and has a lot of "harsh" sounds (shredding guitars, noise, whatever) that I would guess results in a larger bitrate requirement.

But I'm pretty much a layman when it comes to audio and audio compression, so I could be totally wrong smiley
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Curt
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« Reply #16 on: October 07, 2009, 04:16:30 AM »

- you're of course right, f0dder - I was thinking 'dynamic range' rather than 'dynamic average'. Classical music concerts have an extreme dynamic range, but a low dynamic average, so to speak.
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« Reply #17 on: October 07, 2009, 05:52:57 AM »

This concept isnt entirely new... check out WavPack (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/WavPack).  They use two files to store the data.  Notice I'm not saying one method is better or worse, just giving another example!
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40hz
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« Reply #18 on: October 07, 2009, 06:49:15 AM »

But as I said, I'll shut up.
Please don't, it's always interesting to hear about new stuff, even if I'm not going to be a fan of it smiley

@Curt - Yeah, seriously. Don't.

I've read many of your other posts.

You always find neat stuff I'd never know about if you didn't bring it to our attention. Thmbsup

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« Reply #19 on: October 07, 2009, 07:26:28 AM »

Also I should say that half of the files listed at the previous link, are surround files!

MP3 Surround isn't really new, it's been around since 2004 as a standard, see here.

And I used to use the Aud-X MP3 Surround VirtualDubMod 1.6.0.0 and codec 2 or 3 years ago.
« Last Edit: October 07, 2009, 07:28:05 AM by 4wd » Logged

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Curt
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« Reply #20 on: October 07, 2009, 04:31:12 PM »

You always find neat stuff I'd never know about if you didn't bring it to our attention.

- that has been my excuse for a couple years!  mrgreen
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« Reply #21 on: October 07, 2009, 05:09:24 PM »

FYI: the new format is displayed the normal way: MP3 (not 'MP3HD').

This is bound to be awfully confusing for a while. Until now, there was a clear distinction: mp3 small and lossy, fast to download and good for portables. FLAC - lossless and big, so schedule your downloads for the night, and double-check your player can play it.

Without this distinction, everyone will always have to explain: download as mp3 here (old-style, small, lossy), or download as mp3 there (new lossless format, size XXL). I think it's a bad call. The difference is substantial enough to have warranted a dedicated file extension.
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Curt
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« Reply #22 on: October 07, 2009, 05:50:35 PM »

but still, it is not certain that anyone but Thomson will ever use the (MP3)HD format...
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« Reply #23 on: November 07, 2009, 11:51:16 AM »

I made the GUI that you download for windows  smiley
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« Reply #24 on: November 07, 2009, 11:56:29 AM »

Am I the only one who thinks MP3 should've died a slow death by now?
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