Sci-tech

MP3 format is 'killed off' as founders terminate licensing

MP3 format is 'killed off' as founders terminate licensing

Although you'll still be able to listen to and create MP3 files for the foreseeable future, this announcement is being interpreted by many commentators as the beginning of the end of the format. AAC - or "Advanced Audio Coding", - was developed in part by the Fraunhofer Institute and is considered the standard today. That's right, the Fraunhofer Institute for Integrated Circuits has officially terminated its licencing program for the format meaning that MP3s are no more, apparently. However the MP3 codec is less featured and less efficient than many a rival codec available to those encoding music nowadays.

The popularity of music streaming and the demand for higher quality audio, even on mobile devices, require the use of better formats with better algorithms and features.

Consumers have never had to pay to use any of these formats, so, from where we sit, AAC or MP3 or WMA, it doesn't matter too much. Additionally due to its small size and compatibility with all mainstream audio software, this is the format of choice. But MP3 deserves its place in history for enabling casual users to experience for the first time the internet's true (if dubiously legal) potential for exchanging data. According to Fraunhofer's Bernhard Grill, AAC is "more efficient than MP3 and offers a lot more functionality".

In many ways MP3 is already well and truly gone.

But those patents were filed decades ago, and after declining in value in the new age of streaming, the last of them expired this year. Since it can still license AAC, it's very much in the FIIC's interest for the world to become convinced that the MP3 is dead. However, this move is symbolic and is in favor of superior audio formats. The results of free MP3 file sharing sites like mp3.com and Napster were financially devastating for the music industry.

MP3 files shot to fame because they were easier to download, consuming less space on the bandwidth as well as your device's memory. However, the compression also erases most of the details from the tracks, thus reducing the audio quality drastically.


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