Opus for audio compression – there IS a great, free alternative

There’s a new audio compression algorithm (codec) called Opus that has just been approved for publication by the IETF, and it’s awesome.  It matches or outperforms other codecs at the vast majority of bitrates and audio bandwidths (narrowband to fullband, 6-512 kb/s, mono, stereo, speech, music, fixed and variable bitrates, variable frame sizes) and can seamlessly switch between modes during a session or call.

Opus was designed to work well for interactive applications (like VoIP and videoconferencing) as well as for streaming applications.  What’s more, it can pretty much replace ALL proprietary codecs.  Right now, the minimum set of proprietary codecs you’d need to cover most of the application space Opus covers is AMR-NB, AMB-WB, AAC-LD, AAC-LC, and HE-AAC — and Opus beats them all.

Oh, and it’s completely free and open-source compatible.  Check out: https://hacks.mozilla.org/2012/07/firefox-beta-15-supports-the-new-opus-audio-format/ for a detailed explanation by Tim Terriberry, Jean-Marc Valin, and Ralph Giles – Opus authors and fellow Mozillians.

Opus files can play in Firefox Beta (Firefox 15) today, and Opus was just adopted on Monday as the mandatory-to-implement audio codec by the rtcweb working group at IETF (the IETF folks charged with figuring out how WebRTC, the new standard for real-time communications like VoIP and videoconferencing, should work).

Opus provides a clearly state-of-the-art audio codec that is compatible with open-source projects, and we hope that Opus gets used more and more as the word gets out that is freely available and awesome.  So, please help spread the word!

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