Ogg Vorbis, the open source community version of MP3, reached release candidate 2 stage this week, and is considered by many to be a superior compression format.
Based on true the open source ethic, Ogg Vorbis started as a hobby but has become a recognised contender for the MP3 throne.
The first thing it's got going for it is that it's free. Companies releasing products that make use of the popular MP3 codec, such as software jukeboxes that rip CDs to MP3 format, must pay a $7.50 royalty fee for each device to Thomson Multimedia and the Fraunhofer Institute, the developers of MP3.
Vorbis also claims better sound quality. Stereo channel coupling, a new feature in the RC2 version, allows music to be compressed at a lower bit rate for almost CD-quality sound. Vorbis files also typically take up nearly 40 per cent less space than MP3 files, which is an important consideration for music fans.
But competition in the digital music arena is tough. A revised version of MP3, called MP3Pro, was released last month and other companies such as Microsoft are touting their own technologies, such as WMA.
However, these companies are also putting the emphasis on copyright protection. The MP3 fiasco has pushed companies such as Napster, MP3Pro and WMA towards certification systems to protect artists' rights.
Ogg Vorbis, it seems, is planning to make a move into this area as a free, user friendly alternative, and it already has the backing of mainstream music development companies such as Sonic Foundry, Sonique and WinAmp. More info can be found here.
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