OGG

Vorbis is lossless audio compression. I'm told that's a good thing


Microsoft’s claims about the quality of WMA files have been a bit fishy

Have you heard of Vorbis? Well, probably not. Although Windows Media Audio and MP3 are everyday audio formats in the world of digital music, Vorbis remains a relatively unknown entity when exploring that realm. Like its competitors, Vorbis uses lossy compression to shrink audio files down to a downloadable size. However, does it effectively take advantage of the technology? Can it match the big boys you've probably become much more acquainted with in your file-sharing travels?

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You may not have heard of Vorbis for the simple reason that this audio codec is rather new in comparison to the competition. Although the MP3 (nee Mpeg) format has existed, on some level, since the mid-1970s, Vorbis was announcedless than a decade ago, in September of 1998. Fostered by a German development team and the American Christopher "Monty" Montgomery, Vorbis was repeatedly refined until its stable state was released in July of 2002.

The inherent advantage of the Vorbis codec lies in its open source structure. The patent-less system it adheres to gives legitimate and wannabe developers the ability to edit and manipulate their music without creating massive and unmanageable files.

How does this show in testing? Guinea pig listeners have revealed that at 128 kb/s the sound quality of .ogg files does not diminish from the quality of the initial product. If you've been paying attention, that's exactly what "lossless" technology seeks to do, and is essentially the advantage in seeking out the lesser-known .ogg codec. Additionally, at lower kb/s bitrates, such as 96 kb/s, Vorbis reportedly emitted better sound quality than its "lossy" competition -- those losers.

Like any relatively unknown codec, the problem with .ogg files is that they are not as widely accepted by popular platforms. In this regard, many consumers and the devices they use continue to follow the mantra, "don't talk to strangers." But, what if he has candy? Vorbis does have candy and it comes in the form of better sound quality.

Despite its limited use, the problem with .ogg compatibility is easily resolved. While the mega-popular Apple iTunes platform does not natively support Vorbis, a Quicktime component from Xiph.org can change this. For running the codec in Windows, DirectShow filters are out there so that the user can use Vorbis in the popular Windows Media Player.