It’s the end of the road for the mp3

1 min read
9

Mp3

The humble mp3 file format has been around for nearly 25 years now. The compressed, lossy audio codec is responsible for a boom in music sharing – being one of the first widely adopted formats that allowed for small file sizes with an acceptable audio quality. It saw the rise and fall of services like Napster, Kazaa, Limewire and a million other illicit ways of downloading music.

It was also used incredibly well for legal music downloads, with Apple’s iTunes and its then ubiquitous iPod at the forefront of portable digital music.

Now, its time has come. The company that owns the format, the Fraunhofer Institute for Integrated Circuits, has announced that it’s no longer supporting the format and will stop licensing it.

“The development of mp3 started in the late 80s at Fraunhofer IIS, based on previous development results at the University Erlangen-Nuremberg. Although there are more efficient audio codecs with advanced features available today, mp3 is still very popular amongst consumers. However, most state-of-the-art media services such as streaming or TV and radio broadcasting use modern ISO-MPEG codecs such as the AAC family or in the future MPEG-H. Those can deliver more features and a higher audio quality at much lower bitrates compared to mp3.”

Essentially, as technology has progressed, there are far more efficient ways of digitally storing audio, with other formats able to offer higher quality sound with smaller file sizes. The institute now says that the Advanced Audio Coding (AAC) format has become the “de facto standard for music download and videos on mobile phones.” (via Engadget)

Last Updated: May 15, 2017

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Geoffrey Tim

I'm old, grumpy and more than just a little cynical. One day, I found myself in possession of a NES, and a copy of Super Mario Bros 3. It was that game that made me realise that games were more than just toys to idly while away time - they were capable of being masterpieces. I'm here now, looking for more of those masterpieces.

  • MonsterCheddar

    LOL. Napster Bad…Beer Good.

    • HvR

      Sue the fans!!!!

  • Admiral Chief

    25 years…………………….
    Thanks for making me feel old AF Oddsock

    • Zomby2D

      I remember how impressed I was with Soundtracker’s .mod files back in the day. We’ve come a long way since.

  • Admiral Chief

    Hah, back in the day, making a single .mp3 took forever

    • HvR

      At least it kicked the llama’s ass

      • Admiral Chief

        WHIPPED

        • schitsophrenic-toothbrush

          First mp3 I ever downloaded (via Kazaa) was Muse – Bliss. Took me 3.5 hours to download the stupid thing on my 33kb modem.

  • Zex Konjina

    What a bunch of lies. Is it a coincidence that last Fraunhoffer’s patent on MP3 expired on April 16th 2017? Just a moth ago. And now they are spreading lies “we are terminating the licenses”.

    You’re not terminating the licenses. The licenses have been terminated automatically by the expiration of this unfairly long patent. 20 years have you been ripping the users and destroying good and honest competition. But you can’t earn anything on MP3 anymore. All of your licenses are expired and terminated automatically. As Arnie said in Terminator 3, “You have been terminated, bitch!”

    However, the bastards will continue to rip off the users, because now they and Apple are pushing another heavily patented format – AAC. Not because it’s better (it is, but they don’t care about quality), but because it’s heavily patented and earns them a lot of money.

    If they were worried about quality, for a very long time there are excellent free formats that beat both MP3 and AAC. For a few decades there’s a free open-source format called OGG (actually Ogg Vorbis). It produced better quality audio and smaller files. Better for streaming and downloading. But Fraunhoffer, Thomson CSF and other bastards made a pressure on the industry not to use it. Because it was good and free. So no car stereo ever supported OGG.

    Then in 2012 another format came, called OPUS. It beats AAC. But unlike AAC it’s completely free and open. Anyone can implement it in their software or their hardware without paying to Apple, Fraunhoffer or other patent holders. When Google decided to use this open source format, everyone attacked him. And especially Apple and Fraunhoffer. Because they are earning sick amounts of money from charging for AAC.

    It looks free to you, but a lot of software and infrastructure had to pay royalties. Which means either some good software had to become more expensive, or your car stereo is more expensive. Or the site you’re visiting must bother you with more commercials to pay for the royalties. In the end, it’s you who pay for the shitty AAC instead of using the free and excellent OPUS.

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