There’s a shiny new awesome, high-quality, and legally-free audio standard out now called Opus. Opus audio quality is even better than the already-very-good legally-free Vorbis codec that is widely supported (if not widely promoted) these days, and seems to also beat the proprietary “HE-AAC” codec. Needless to say, it makes ancient mp3 shrivel up with shame.
Having only just been finalized, it’s currently supported in Firefox 15 already on all platforms, including Android. It appears to also be supported in most recent browsers on Linux if they use the “gstreamer” framework for multimedia, and rumor has it that full support on other operating systems will be appearing for Opera and Google Chrome in the relatively near future. Support should be showing up in the next version (probably 2.0.4, I’m guessing) of VLC on all platforms, in the next release of Rockbox for various media players and (hypothetically) Android devices, the next release of the Mumble voice chat system, and probably quite a few others very quickly. Heck, even Microsoft (or at least their Skype division) has been involved in the development of Opus, and the group working out the “WebRTC” standard for web-based voice chat (including Microsoft, apparently) voted to support Opus as “Mandatory to Implement”, so anything that ends up supporting the WebRTC standard will support Opus, so there’s even a chance we might see a rare case of Microsoft Internet Exploder actually supporting a really good media format that everyone is allowed to use sometime relatively soon.
Anyway, the point is that Opus is friggin’ awesome especially for audio downloaded from the internet and everyone should be using it. Well, that’s ONE point – the other is that I plan to do it here, too.
I’ve got a couple of bits of audio that I’ll actually be ready to record and post pretty soon: a year-overdue contribution for Hacker Public Radio (Opus version to be posted to http://hpr.dogphilosophy.net which I set up specifically for my Hacker Public Radio efforts) which just happens to be about media – especially audio – on the internet, and a bit about New England’s “You can’t get there from here” schtick and how it maligns the Booming Metropolis of Millinocket, Maine. (Hey, everybody knows that “all trails lead to Millinocket“, right?) I’ve also got three topics queued up for my “Stir-Fried Stochasticity” science-paper audio project (an 11-paper science monstrosity show on the topic of the Gram Stain, a show on several papers discussing “shinrin-yoku” in honor of the new arboreally-enhanced location here where the Asylum for the Sufficiently Nerdy has moved, and one on a couple of garbage papers). All will be posted in high-quality Opus format, along with modern Ogg Vorbis and possibly crappy-old-mp3 for “legacy” purposes for now.
Incidentally, I updated my HTML5 Web Browser Audio Test page so that it now also has FLAC and, of course, Opus audio samples, so if you go there you can test which audio formats your browser supports (and which one it selects by default if it supports more than one format). As a bonus, the audio samples are all explanations of their formats (for example, the .mp3 format audio sample is a bit of audio talking about the .mp3 format), so it’s educational and stuff, too.
Anyway, test your browser there, and please start leaving comments pestering me – my regular duties in my new profession keep me pretty busy, but I can make more time for audio projects as long as people are interested (and the more interest I hear, the more time I’ll set aside for it and start getting things posted).
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