MP3 losing to AAC and WMA | iLounge News


MP3 losing to AAC and WMA

MacMinute reports “The MP3 music format is losing ground to rival technologies backed by Apple and Microsoft, according to researchers at the NPD Group’s MusicWatch Digital who track the contents of people’s hard drives. The researchers said that the percentage of MP3s in digital music collections has steadily declined in recent months, down to 72 percent of collections from 82 percent a year ago. The AAC (Advanced Audio Codec) format, which Apple’s iTunes Music Store uses, and Microsoft’s WMA (Windows Media Audio) format has each gained about 5 percent of the ‘hard-drive share’ in the past year.”

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I like the AAC format just fine at 128K it sounds great way better than mp3 and wma wma sounds so flat and akward even at 192k sounds crapy.  I use 128k AAC throughout my library for consistancy and that works for me.  I’ve convert some mp3 128k’s to AAC 128k’s and I don’t see much lose but the 192k wma sounds like crap before and after conversion.  Microsoft should quit being so proprietary and at least adopt the AAC format and use there own DRM

Posted by Jonathans on October 16, 2004 at 12:41 PM (CDT)


i like mp3. i use LAME to encode at 192 kbps vbr. sounds great. plays on anything. i don’t see mp3 going away anytime soon. i think it will go away when hd space increases to such a point that it would be feasable to have a lossless collection the size of today’s current mp3 collections.

Posted by anonymous on October 16, 2004 at 1:11 PM (CDT)


All PC’s and Mac’s running iTunes can play AAC.  That’s quite a few devices in the world.

Posted by sk on October 16, 2004 at 1:45 PM (CDT)


“All PC’s and Mac’s running iTunes can play AAC. That’s quite a few devices in the world.”

And so can’t all PCs and Macs play MPC, APE, OGG, & just about any other codec that exists. That means next to nothing since it’s portable devices that most of us coming to a site called “iPodlounge” care about and, to date, manufacturers, even those obviously targeting the iPod audience, have shown no support for.

Posted by Code Monkey on October 16, 2004 at 1:54 PM (CDT)


I can’t believe some people actually prefer MP3 over current generation codecs, that’s insane. MP3 is an obsolete codec from the 80s, there are hundreds of better formats out there.

Posted by Shinglor on October 16, 2004 at 3:03 PM (CDT)


The fact is that we’re going to re-rip from our CD’s at some point in the future when you get true CD quality sound in a 128kps (or lower) codec. AAC or WMA does lock you into a certain HDD market for the next few years, but at some point there will be a seachange that turns the current choices on thier ears.

Pick the codec you like best and enjoy!

Posted by texex on October 16, 2004 at 3:31 PM (CDT)


I wonder what effect online music stores and management software has on those numbers.  Neither iTunes nor Widoze Media Player defaults to MP3.  Most online music stores want DRM which means they’re not using MP3, either.

Posted by Alec Lee on October 16, 2004 at 4:53 PM (CDT)


What texex said.

I use 128kps AAC, ‘cause it sounds good to me now. In a couple of years, when codecs are more sophisticated and DAP’s have higher data capacity, I’ll re-rip my CD-collection.

I wonder if people will ever get nostalgic over 128kps MP3’s the way they do over 78rpm records now… Ah, those old 128’s, at least they let the music breathe etc. etc.

Posted by A. on October 16, 2004 at 5:07 PM (CDT)


how do they know what format the music on our hard drives is??????

Posted by Landon on October 16, 2004 at 6:03 PM (CDT)


*SIGH* This is just more spin / filler for the DRM makers.

‘Market Research’ financed by who? This article has no bearing on the real world, and when I hear the word ‘research’ I start gripping my wallet and/or cross referencing.

MP3 is the JPEG of the sound file world. In the image file world, the big companies would LOVE for you to move to RAW so that you can spend more money on a file format that demands more removeable media, new camera, etc etc. Not to mention the SOFTWARE needed to now process a new file format into something you can use on the web, etc. Money, money money you have to spend, all for the same functionality you had 2 years ago, with no additional return on investment. Don’t get me wrong, RAW is useful for the pros.

AAC and WMV really aren’t that much more useful to the consumer than MP3 -is-, except for the fact that they can be DRM’d.  The big guys and those racketeers from the RIAA / MPAA wait with bated breath as to whether enough of the sheep, err, consumers will believe articles like this one and drop mp3 so that they can proceed with ‘securing’ music formats and rake in more $$$$. Does this benefit you the consumer? Nah. Do they care? Nah.

The -real- audio guys who care about quality will go for the lossless formats that were outlined above. The rest of you sheep can either drink the Kool Aid of this article or do what the rest of the world does and use either iTunes MP3 or LAME.

So, in conclusion, thanks for the FILLER ARTICLE attributed from another FILLER ARTICLE at Macminute, iPodLounge. Now get us some REAL NEWS and not this tripe.

Posted by leoofborg on October 16, 2004 at 6:27 PM (CDT)


“I can’t believe some people actually prefer MP3 over current generation codecs, that’s insane. MP3 is an obsolete codec from the 80s, there are hundreds of better formats out there.”

Which part of the test did you above did you miss? In double-blind listening tests people rank 128 Kbps AAC and Lame VBR MP3 as equal, which is not surprising seeing as how they both use the same basic VBR and spectral technologies. There is a *world* of difference between—alt preset standard Lame MP3s and your grandmother’s old CBR MP3s.

Posted by run aac run on October 16, 2004 at 9:17 PM (CDT)


“Which part of the test did you above did you miss?”

I just want to see him try to name the *hundreds* of better formats ;-)

Posted by Code Monkey on October 16, 2004 at 10:09 PM (CDT)


“LAME MP3 VBR represents nearly 15 years of mp3 development. It’s best of breed and equal to or superior to AAC at low (128-192 Kbps) bitrates.”

I disagree. I purchased tracks from eMusic (LAME, VBR), ripped the same tracks using iTunes at 192 AAC, and compared them to the CD. AAC in a large number of cases sounded better. I then compared MP3s ripped with iTunes at 224 and 224 AAC, and the difference between them was hard to discern.

Even so, eMusic is a good deal because the price ends up around .25 a track. For a dollar a track, it seems that 224 (either MP3 or AAC) should be the minimum.

All this being said, if AAC is even equal to LAME MP3 at lower bitrates (I think it is better), then for the sake of convenience, it is an easy choice if you use iTunes.

Posted by Questioner on October 16, 2004 at 10:42 PM (CDT)







Posted by Big Sid on October 16, 2004 at 11:31 PM (CDT)


Interesting discussion.

I am about to embark on ripping my hundreds of CD albums (remember those - ha!)

For someone *new* to the world of digital music, what do you advise? I do plan on buying an iPod.

Are people just saying to use MP3 because most of their old music is MP3?

Posted by Ooberdave on October 17, 2004 at 1:30 AM (CDT)


“Are people just saying to use MP3 because most of their old music is MP3?”

No, we’re saying to use MP3 because a properly encoded MP3 is just as good as either AAC or WMA (in fact the Hydrogen Audio test would say *better* than WMA) and WMA/AAC are only promoted because each is the respective format of two corporations who are (or at least want to be) big players in the digital music market. As an end user you are never going to gain a single thing by ripping to either WMA or AAC except the potential to one day see support for the DRM-free MP3 be dropped from mainstream players. Personally, I have no interest in seeing corporations control how I use my music.

Posted by Code Monkey on October 17, 2004 at 4:46 AM (CDT)


The three lossy codecs might sound just as good at 192 and over but for listening on the go less than 192 kbs is ideal. This is for two reasons: first, at the lower setting more music can fit into the hard drive of the digital music player and second, smaller files require less reading from the hard drive to copy into memory, thus saving battery. The iPod may be compatible with lossless and uncompressed formats but it performs better with low bit-rate lossy codecs. 160 kbs AAC is my ideal setting for ripping audio CDs.

Posted by Sol on October 17, 2004 at 4:47 AM (CDT)


“The three lossy codecs might sound just as good at 192 and over but for listening on the go less than 192 kbs is ideal.”

Very subjective. Yes, if maximizing battery life and storage is your goal the smaller the file the better. However, the battery hit is not all that significant and unless you’re one of those “must carry EVERYTHING” types, size isn’t either. My collection is well over 100 GB, average bit rate is over 200 kbps, and I’ve got a mini that gets about 6-7 hours of battery life. I am not about to sacrifice sound quality to eek out another 60-90 minutes of battery life and capacity means nothing with a DAP if you know how to manage a collection with smartlists.

Posted by Code Monkey on October 17, 2004 at 6:23 AM (CDT)


“I am about to embark on ripping my hundreds of CD albums (remember those - ha!)

For someone *new* to the world of digital music, what do you advise? I do plan on buying an iPod.”

That’s easy. Hard disk space these days is ridiculously cheap - you can get 250GB for around $100.

Rip all your music in a lossless format: AAC Lossless, WMA Lossless, SHN, FLAC, whatever.

The difference in space and CPU demands for the lossless codecs is only around 20% between the best and the worst.

Then you have a permanent digital archive of tunes in as high a fidelity as the original source CD.

Then use some advanced jukebox software to transcode the lossless source files into whatever particular lossy format your preferred playback device uses - AAC for iPods, WMA for Windows, MP3 for either.

Advanced jukebox software like Media Center will use device profiles to invisibly and on-demand transcode source files (if not previously transcoded) into a designated lossy format and bitrate for a specific device.

Transcoding leaves your original source files untouched. That way you can get the highest-quality playback on home stereos, and lower quality on portable audio devices.

My system automatically transcodes music down to 160 Kbps VBR MP3 for the iPod or Archos when I do a synch. However, Iif I am going to use the tiny iRiver flash memory player, then the same tunes get transcoded down to 96 Kbps so more songs fit within its 256MB.

Posted by lossless on October 17, 2004 at 11:41 AM (CDT)



Lossless gave some good advice, but it may be a bit more than you want to do.

I would recommend ripping your CDs to MP3 192 (or higher, or VBR if your prefer).  192k is what I’ve done and I’ve seen no drawback.  The files sound good, they are reasonably sized and they will play on any player you can name.

The choice to go with AAC or WMA is a big mistake.  A mistake that I made in the past and had to rip all my CDs (1,200 total) again.  I ripped all my CDs to WMA, but then got an iPod and had to rip again for them to work with the iPod…I made the choice of MP3 so I would never be in that situation again.

Of course some people will say they demand higher fidelity and that’s their perogative.  Do a sound comaprision for yourself if you feel the need to know if you can hear the difference in the formats, but weigh the fact that MP3 is completely universal into your decision making process.

You probably have an iPod or are planning to get an iPod, so your choice is narrowed to AAC or MP3.  AAC will do fine or your iPod but nothing else.  MP3 will do fine on your iPod and EVERYTHING else.

Some people will say they went with AAC because they’ll never want anything other than an iPod…those are shortsighted fools.  Ask them if five years ago they thought the would be paying more for water than they do for gas nowadays.  Well, the reality of our times is that Evian bottled water is more than gas right now (and gas ain’t cheap right now).

Evian ~ $1.25 per liter (that’s $5.00 per gallon).

Gas ~ $2.70 per gallon (in Los Angeles).

Go with MP3 and play it safe.

Posted by Big Sid on October 17, 2004 at 8:53 PM (CDT)

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