Tuesday, January 23, 2007

What is ogg vorbis?

I'm glad that you asked. Ogg Vorbis is a format for music files like MP3. In many ways, I think that Ogg Vorbis is better. It produces higher quality output at a lower bit rate than MP3's. This means Ogg Vorbis files sound better and are smaller than MP3 files. In addition, Ogg Vobis is an open format and it uses open source software. This means that if you wanted to create an Ogg Vorbis player, or write a program that uses Ogg Vorbis, you don't need to pay any licensing fees on the technology. The MP3 format is patented by a German company (Fraunhofer Society) and they charge licensing fees to use it.

So, why isn't it more popular you may ask? I think it all comes down to timing. Ogg Vorbis was introduced much later than MP3, and several MP3 codecs have been released as free software for individual use. I'm hoping that Ogg Vorbis will gain momentum and eventually win out.

If you are interested in free and open audio compression you might also want to check out the Free Lossless Audio Codec (FLAC). The is no degradation to the quality of the sound and it is free and open like Ogg Vorbis.


Unknown said...

I've noticed that Ogg Vorbis has gained some traction in the gaming industry. For example, Epic uses Vorbis files for the background music in Unreal Tournament 2k3 and later. I bet that the choice for Vorbis was simple given the free licensing terms (versus having to shell out for a license for an MP3 decoder from RAD Game tools) and high quality.

Jeff Scudder said...

Very cool! This is the kind of thing that makes open standards and formats so great. When software developers have acess to free (as in free speech and free as in beer) tools of high quality, they can focus on other parts of their software.