I downloaded a Winamp plugin that rips CDs into .ogg files. What is OGG? It’s an open source music file format, sort of like mp3, aac, m4a, etc. It is gaining popularity in many areas. For exmaple, Epic Games (the makers of Unreal Tournament have used ogg vorbis in their games ever since releasing Unreal Tournament 2003 to compress game music without having per-game mp3 license fees taken from every game sold.
So whats the big deal? I just realized how amazing ogg files are. For example, if you want a high quality sounding mp3, the minimum bitrate you can rip the song at is 128KBPS. Anything lower that 128kbps sounds flat and digital-like. So I took a cd and ripped an ogg at 48 KBPS. An mp3 at that bitrate would sound terrible, however, the ogg was crystal clear. I bet no one would be able to tell the difference (except Dannyrob, who thinks it sounds crappy. But maybe the fact that he does not hve a sound card doesn’t help). Decide for yourself with the examples in the table below. Ogg files can be played on Winamp. To rip CDs to ogg, download this Winamp plugin.
And now… Test it for yourself. I compiled a zip file with the same sound clip in the following formats: 128kbps MP3, 48kbps MP3, 44kbps OGG, 64kbps OGG and 112kbps OGG. Download it here (3MB). Also you need to do is download it, unzip it and read the readme (basically just click the playlist) and then listen in order. Use winamp to play the ogg files (by opening the playlist from winamp).
Finally, my conclusions. The 128kbps mp3 is excellent. The 48kbps mp3 is muffled and bad. I can’t tell the difference between the 48kbps ogg, 64kbpsogg and 112kbps ogg from the 128kbps mp3. Therefore, ogg sounds exactly the same as 128kbps mp3s at lower rates and smaller file sizes.
Cons of ogg vobis: 1) No mp3 players support it. 2) It’s not popular, so I can’t slap oggs on my site and expect everyone to know what to do with them. 3) It’s a pain to rip songs to ogg –> they must be from a CD: you can’t convert mp3s to ogg vorbis.