You are here

Log in or register to post comments
Elk
Elk's picture
Offline
Last seen: 2 months 3 weeks ago
Joined: Dec 26 2006 - 6:32am
Will MP3s Die Out?

MP3's originated as a way to transmit and store compressed files when transmission bandwidth and storage were both expensive. The compromise in sound was well known, but was determined by many to be a reasonable tradeoff.

Now that bandwidth and storage are no longer an issue, will uncompressed sound files make a resurgence? Everyone for whom I have demonstrated the difference can readily hear the better sound and prefers it. The only objection to listening to full resolution files is that they have already ripped and tagged their music and don't want to do it again.

Are we too far down the MP3 ripping and tagging path to return from the dark side, or will enough people convert to uncompressed and lossless formats such as FLAC?

Will Sound be Saved?

Discuss.

CharlyD
CharlyD's picture
Offline
Last seen: 3 years 5 days ago
Joined: Jul 20 2006 - 4:01pm
Re: Will MP3s Die Out?

Even the hard core audiophiles likely consume music on a wide range of platforms from ring tones on their cell to the altar of their main music system. There will always be a place for content that has been somewhat comprimised for the sake of convenience. What really frightens me though is a maketplace that includes only these compromised recordings assuming that they're close enough for the masses. I want the option to purchase my music in a range of formats from studio master equivalents to 64 kbps mp3's for ringtones.

Buddha
Buddha's picture
Offline
Last seen: 2 years 8 months ago
Joined: Sep 8 2005 - 10:24am
Re: Will MP3s Die Out?

All music formats "die out." It's inevitable. Technology and the music companies' desire to re-sell the same music conspire to drive us ever forward into better better best.

The only ones that haven't faded out are the ones that happen to be current. We could probably calculate a life expectancy based on the life cycle of previous playback media.

Very similar to one's love life, at any given moment, all previous "formats" except the current one are dust in the wind.

There will be a fading away of MP3's as lossless / higher resolution storage takes over. I do not foresee a golden age of MP3's and MP3 players like we have seen with LP. With MP3, dead will be dead.

aangen
aangen's picture
Offline
Last seen: Never ago
Joined: Jan 9 2008 - 4:40pm
Re: Will MP3s Die Out?

Each has a purpose in my opinion. On my iRiver IHP-40 (40 GB HD portable) I use LAME encoded mp3 files encoded in "extreme" mode. Sounds fine for the intended purpose. In my homes I have all my music on HD ripped via EAC in Secure Mode to FLAC. I either listen directly at my computer via a USB to external DAC to the stereo system, or in the main listening room via Squeezebox with external DAC. Would I choose to use FLAC on my portable if it could hold the same amount of music? Perhaps. But one benefit of smaller files is lower power consumption. When using a portable, that can be a concern.

Will MP3 fade away? I wouldn't bet on it.
Having said that, I wouldn't miss it that much if it did.

dbowker
dbowker's picture
Offline
Last seen: 2 weeks 3 days ago
Joined: May 8 2007 - 6:37am
Re: Will MP3s Die Out?

We can only hope... I take my son to a music class (it's just for fun since all the kids are under 2) and one day I immediately noticed a marked drop in what was pretty lame quality to begin with. I looked over and saw the teacher had replaced her CD player with one of those mini ipod players. Bleh! That thing was tinny and strident - like musical nails on the chalkboard. And to think, this was a music vocals coach! A couple of weeks later I noticed she had switched back so I can imagine (or hope) she might have decided that it didn't sound so great either.

MP3s are the worst thing that ever happened to music. I'm not against digital (though prefer analogue), and not against music servers either (I have a bunch of CDs losslessly ripped to my laptop to play through an Airport/DAC combo for parties and background listening), but MP3s are like the first generation of digital camera pictures- grainy, hard and flat. I hope the format dies out as soon as possible...

bobedaone
bobedaone's picture
Offline
Last seen: 5 months 2 weeks ago
Joined: Feb 1 2007 - 12:27am
Re: Will MP3s Die Out?

People are lazy; I've ripped all my music three times. (First to 192, then to 320, then to ALAC). Granted, I only have a bit over 100 CDs, but still.

As to MP3 dying out in the near future, I say don't count on it. Though computer storage is more affordable, portable players haven't quite caught up. You can get a 160GB iPod, but $350 is pricey. Also, portability is an issue. The players that are small enough to be convenient or sporty typically have flash memory, which is much smaller, but holds less than a HDD.

jazzfan
jazzfan's picture
Offline
Last seen: 1 month 2 weeks ago
Joined: Sep 8 2005 - 8:55am
Re: Will MP3s Die Out?

I don't think that mp3s will fade away or die out but I'm pretty sure that if Apple would issue a firmware update for the iPod which enabled the iPod to play FLAC files several hundred nails would be in the coffin. And if Apple would also add digital output to that "dream" firmware update, yet even more nails would go into the mp3 coffin.

A 180GB iPod can hold quite a bit quite a bit of losslessly compressed music.

Elk
Elk's picture
Offline
Last seen: 2 months 3 weeks ago
Joined: Dec 26 2006 - 6:32am
Re: Will MP3s Die Out?


Quote:
People are lazy; I've ripped all my music three times. (First to 192, then to 320, then to ALAC). Granted, I only have a bit over 100 CDs, but still.


Color me impressed!

I've ripped a number of CDs twice - first to MP3 for a portable player, then to FLAC for my music server. There is no way I would do it a third time. It is a tedious process. Plus, the tagging of classical recordings is inconsistent and makes the process that much more annoying. Pop/Rock/Jazz is much easier.

BlackstoneJD
BlackstoneJD's picture
Offline
Last seen: Never ago
Joined: Dec 26 2007 - 11:25pm
Re: Will MP3s Die Out?

Inevitably. I predict that as the cost of hard drive storage per megabyte continues to decrease, and broadband penetration and speed increases (my cable modem service downloads at 2x the speed it did when I originally signed up), there will be less need for compression, even on portable players. A 750GB harddrive can be had now for around $150.

Further, as the online music download market becomes more competitive, it is only a matter of time before vendors begin trying to distinguish themselves by making the claim that their downloads sound better.

I think the MP3 revolution has been misinterpreted as being some sort of cultural/generational thing. I think what really happened is that we discovered the portability and conveniance of the hard drive, with iPod, at a time when hard drives were not mature enough to really replace the CD.

But inevitably, Apple is going to want to take advantage of cheaper and better storage technology and sell more iPods, and Walmart, Apple, Amazon and the other online download vendors are going to want to sell you "HD" iPods and "HD" music files. At a certain point it will become so cheap for the vendors to host and store the higher quality files that the vendors won't be able to resist slapping an "HD" label on them and trying to sell them to you.

I see an HD iPod in the near future. The smaller profile hard drives always lag behind the desktop sized drives but they catch up. It is only a matter of time.

aangen
aangen's picture
Offline
Last seen: Never ago
Joined: Jan 9 2008 - 4:40pm
Re: Will MP3s Die Out?

It sure will be sweet when we can buy 24/96 recordings with artwork and liner notes all downloaded from a site like Amazon. I'd love to be able to eliminate the 16/44.1 glass disc aspect of the process. It will happen, just not soon enough for me.

millermax10
millermax10's picture
Offline
Last seen: 3 years 6 months ago
Joined: Dec 1 2010 - 9:36am
Really I think sound will

Really I think sound will just continue to evolve. Now we get ringtones on our cell phones playing our favorite hits just like we used to on the radio. For some places like that you need the smaller file, although I could see uncompressed sound making some kind of a comeback on the Internet.

JIMV
JIMV's picture
Offline
Last seen: 7 months 3 weeks ago
Joined: Jan 31 2008 - 1:46pm
More Power
aangen wrote:

Each has a purpose in my opinion. On my iRiver IHP-40 (40 GB HD portable) I use LAME encoded mp3 files encoded in "extreme" mode. Sounds fine for the intended purpose. In my homes I have all my music on HD ripped via EAC in Secure Mode to FLAC. I either listen directly at my computer via a USB to external DAC to the stereo system, or in the main listening room via Squeezebox with external DAC. Would I choose to use FLAC on my portable if it could hold the same amount of music? Perhaps. But one benefit of smaller files is lower power consumption. When using a portable, that can be a concern.

Will MP3 fade away? I wouldn't bet on it.
Having said that, I wouldn't miss it that much if it did.

Are you saying it takes a more power to play a WAV file on an iPOD than a MP3? That is news to me

BillB
BillB's picture
Offline
Last seen: 2 years 1 month ago
Joined: Aug 15 2007 - 2:04pm
Clarify?

"I'm not against digital (though prefer analogue), and not against music servers either (I have a bunch of CDs losslessly ripped to my laptop to play through an Airport/DAC combo for parties and background listening)..."

Dbowker,
CD's losslessly ripped, transmitted, external DAC, etc, is a fine hi-quality way to listen, I think. Your point about parties/background listening confuses me a bit. Do you mean that for serious listening, you just do analog? (Not criticism, just wondering)

j_j
j_j's picture
Offline
Last seen: 2 years 1 month ago
Joined: Mar 13 2009 - 4:22pm
MP3 or bust? No.
Elk wrote:

MP3's originated as a way to transmit and store compressed files when transmission bandwidth and storage were both expensive. The compromise in sound was well known, but was determined by many to be a reasonable tradeoff.

Yep. And a tutorial I gave on the subject before we even developed MPEG-1 Audio Layer 3 (that's what MP3 is), said, as its last slide, "Finally: Perceptual coding of audio is a very powerful technique for the final delivery of audio signals in situations where the delivery bit rate is limited, and/or when the storage space is small."

Toi answer the OP question, I hope so. It's obsolete even as a lossy codec. DTS or AAC are much better alternatives.

See www.aes.org/sections/pnw/ppt/jj/perceptual_coding.ppt
for more than you ever wanted to know.

Drtrey3
Drtrey3's picture
Offline
Last seen: 1 month 3 weeks ago
Joined: Aug 17 2008 - 2:52pm
well . .

I like mp3s in the right context. I have some full res files on my iPod classic, but less than 10% because I do not have room for them all. And, listening to the iPod is VERY different for me than listening to my stereo. My iPod is for music on the go, my hard drive contains the serious stuff.

I realized these things last night as I was cleaning up the Beatles on my iPod. I have ripped a lot of the records at 256, then the mono cds and the great flac files at 320. I was listening to the differing versions, well not the mono since I KNEW I was keeping all those, and I would choose the best sounding file of each song to keep.

Sometimes there was enough of a difference to keep both a vinyl and a flac sourced version. Other times, it was not the 320 files that sounded the best but the 256. I only kept a few of the ALC files and I was listening for quality differences.

I think our problem is that we listen alone by and large. We treat audio as a guilty pleasure when it is really a joy we should share. Mp3s are great in their place. Just not when I am in the mood to listen.

Tery

Pinback
Pinback's picture
Offline
Last seen: 3 years 5 months ago
Joined: Jan 30 2011 - 9:06pm
format wars

anyone remember Beta? The worse quality VHS format won because the tapes held more minutes of programming. At much worse quality. Convenience wins over quality, unfortunately.
Personally, I tried a portable player. Mp3 sounded terrible. Flac, which should have sounded better, sounded like crap too. Blah.

Drtrey3
Drtrey3's picture
Offline
Last seen: 1 month 3 weeks ago
Joined: Aug 17 2008 - 2:52pm
I get your point but

the same thing does not hold true with tv. EVERYONE wants a better screen, but not many of us want better sound. That puzzles me. In our house, it is the soundtrack and such that give the movies their slam and excitement. Back before the flood, when I had an outlaw subwoofer, the rumble through the house when the sub really kicked in was something you could not ignore.

And when friends come over and listen, they LOVE the way the music sounds. So I am a bit flumoxed as to why the public accepts aural poverty when they seek visual riches.

Trey

Pinback
Pinback's picture
Offline
Last seen: 3 years 5 months ago
Joined: Jan 30 2011 - 9:06pm
aural povert

maybe people accept crap sound today because they are accustomed to listening through 20cent earbuds.

j_j
j_j's picture
Offline
Last seen: 2 years 1 month ago
Joined: Mar 13 2009 - 4:22pm
Useless Subject Goes Here
Pinback wrote:

maybe people accept crap sound today because they are accustomed to listening through 20cent earbuds.

I think there might be something there, but I also think it might be related to the issue of environmental noise.

When you're listening in a noisy environment, your ablity to hera things like reverberation tails, spatial effects involving depth, and dynamic range are reduced or eliminated. In such settings, all you can get is articulation, which is to say 'hear the idea that was supposed to get across, not the whole thing'.

Such is what earbuds, by and large, give you.

But I would never call it HiFi. It may be, though, that we've got two generations now who are trained to value articulation more than accuracy or spacial effects.

  • X
    Enter your Stereophile.com username.
    Enter the password that accompanies your username.
    Loading