The digital audio format war - who will win? | iLounge News


The digital audio format war - who will win?

“An emerging version of this conflict is being fought out now over standards for music purchased online. It boils down to this: will Apple support Microsoft’s “Windows Media Audio” (WMA) format for purchased music on the iPod music player? Or has the Apple-preferred (but not Apple-owned) “Advanced Audio Codec” (AAC) format that it uses through its own iTunes Music Store become a de facto standard that others - including Microsoft - will have to adjust to?”

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that’s like asking which of my craps smells the nicest.

Posted by name in Irvine, CA on February 3, 2004 at 5:05 PM (CST)


make love, not (codec) war.

Posted by dethbrakr in Irvine, CA on February 3, 2004 at 5:10 PM (CST)


who says one codec has to win? it doesn’t seem to be that hard for companies to create players that support more than one codec.

Posted by wfbberzerker in Irvine, CA on February 3, 2004 at 5:28 PM (CST)


it’s doubtful that AAC will ever become the standard everyone will use.  Although WMA’s quality isn’t up to par w/ other codecs, it does have a lot more push.  Hopefully OGG/FLAC/SHN will get more support in future devices.

Posted by tetro in Irvine, CA on February 3, 2004 at 5:29 PM (CST)


It would be great if AAC was supported by other hardware like car/home cd/hd players. The iPod might be the best option in the portable player market but outside of that you still can’t use AAC.

I hope AAC beats WMA otherwise we will all be paying Microsoft tax for our cd players and car stereos.

Posted by dave in Irvine, CA on February 3, 2004 at 5:48 PM (CST)


I think in the end, it will come down to which is the most common for consumers.  Despite which standard is better, it’ll be the popularist vote that wins this battle.
If AAC wants to get more widely recognised, it needs to do some serious lobbying to hardware makers to include it in their equipment! How many music devices other than an iPod support AAC? Now compare that to WMA.. even though it’s licencing sucks!

Posted by camson in Irvine, CA on February 3, 2004 at 6:10 PM (CST)


It’s like hillbillies arguing Ford vs. Chevy.

Posted by Ron in Irvine, CA on February 3, 2004 at 6:18 PM (CST)


I say with growing HD space that Lossless codecs are the only way to go. Some of the AAC on the iTUnes store sound bad it hurts. Paying money to rent these sub-par bad quality tracks is foolish.

Here’s a comparison of lossless formats - FLAC beats WMA Lossless by a mile.

Still, even though by necessity the size of the compressed data are similar, I find it amazing that the range of compression ratios for the lossless formats varies from 55.5—63.7.

Some of these formats are quite inefficient in their bit padding.

Posted by Lossless in Irvine, CA on February 3, 2004 at 7:14 PM (CST)


I put my money on AAC.  Besides isn’t AAC or MP4 the new and improved MP3?  ITs a really good article tho.  But I look at it like this, the iPod isn’t slowing down and its doing extremely well WITHOUT WMA.  It already OWNS the leagal download market and the highend level of mp3 players.  THe mini will show how well it does in the low end.  I think Jobs has hit the nail right on the head.  And if you think about how everyone hates the M$ monopoly, that in itself is enuff to turn anybody against them.  Shoot the iPod makes me want a Mac and I’ve always had a pc.

Posted by Mr94supra in Irvine, CA on February 3, 2004 at 7:18 PM (CST)


Why don’t the players just support different formats, isn’t that much much easier then defining what we should or shouldn’t use?

Posted by Adam in Irvine, CA on February 3, 2004 at 7:23 PM (CST)


And without wanting to start a silly shouting match, the Rio Karma supports Ogg Vorbis and FLAC, no Shorten though. If Rio can do it then so could Apple. I know the iPod supports AIFF but that’s uncompressed and eats battery and space.

If you don’t know the difference between formats, try this.

Shorten is a huge deal for some because there is a largecommunity exchanging live performance recordings using this lossless format.

Posted by Lossless in Irvine, CA on February 3, 2004 at 7:26 PM (CST)


these are the situations that apple always makes the wrong moves.

Posted by Chris in Irvine, CA on February 3, 2004 at 9:01 PM (CST)


AAC will come out as the winner of the format wars, for the fact that it sounds almost or even exactly the same as an uncompressed song. I’ve tried serveral tests and AAc at 128 kbps always comes out the winner.

Posted by Adam in Irvine, CA on February 3, 2004 at 10:15 PM (CST)


Personally I love AAC.  I think it is a near perfect balance of sound quality and file size.  When I get the chance, I’m going to re-rip all of my cd’s to AAC.  I have zero files encoded with WMA because the sound quality is poor.
Another thing to consider is how the recording industry will factor into the fight.  They may end up prefering one over the other based on digital rights management and stuff like that.  Hopefully AAC will come out on top.  It is a shame that other players don’t support AAC.  AAC was something that I specifically was looking for in a player.

Posted by m in Irvine, CA on February 4, 2004 at 12:41 AM (CST)


You will all hate me for this but here goes anyway.

Face facts - best format has nothing to do with which format will win.  It all comes down to 1 simple matter.

WMA - more players support it and to make all of them compatible only 1 company needs to change and that is apple.

AAC - Only one company uses it and when it comes to making a standard one vs many is a losing argument.

So if the industry is to force a standard it seems apple will either conform or be left behind.

I do own an iPod and love it but they need to add wma if they want to continue into the future.

Posted by Bruce in Irvine, CA on February 4, 2004 at 8:07 AM (CST)


the article from a UK based paper is basically all hype and speculation from a tech (?) journalist with nothing better to write about.  It’s as plain as the nose on one’s face that MP3 is the defacto standard, not aac or wma. All digital players support mp3, see how many you’d sell not supporting it.

As for having iTunes on a pc and a non-iPod player and wanting to use it duh, excuse me hello, Itunes music store is provided for iPod users, why should Apple open it up so that all all and sundry players (even though cheap and nasty $100 one’s) can use it. 


Posted by glad1959 in Irvine, CA on February 4, 2004 at 9:39 AM (CST)


Who will win?  Hopefully the consumer.  But with two commercial giants fighting for dominance, I fear the consumer may end up being the loser.

Posted by Mountain Man in Irvine, CA on February 4, 2004 at 11:40 AM (CST)


None of the formats will win. In fact, THEY WILL ALL LOSE!

Posted by David Bunghole in Irvine, CA on February 4, 2004 at 12:07 PM (CST)


I don’t understand why they call AAC by the name AAC.  If they called it MP4, I bet more people would be willing to use it.  Because don’t forget, your average person is a moron.  They’ll say “hey, I like MP3 and it’s really cool.  MP4 is one more.  It must be better!” and that kind of marketing would help it gain acceptance.

Posted by people are dumb in Irvine, CA on February 4, 2004 at 1:08 PM (CST)


mp4 already exists…

Posted by heh in Irvine, CA on February 4, 2004 at 7:42 PM (CST)

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