Is the MP3 format going to oblivion?
Revolutionary for its time, MP3 seems to be becoming a relic of the past and repeats the fate of vinyl records, audio cassettes, and CDs. The streaming service Qobuz, which is gaining popularity in the West, has decided to say goodbye to the most popular format.
The platform offers users to listen to lossless music in CD and Hi-Res. According to the representative of the service, MP3 harms both listeners and artists. And Qobuz stands for the development of audio culture and offers subscribers 40 million CD tracks and more than 200 thousand hi-res albums. To date, this is the most extensive music library for true connoisseurs.
The platform is currently only available in Europe and America. Subscriptions are paid. Users can now enjoy unlimited access to their music collection in sound quality with the new Studio Premier offering. Until early spring, the subscription price is $14.99 per month.
From the history of MP3
The development of the format began in the late 80s. The main part of the work was carried out by employees of the Fraunhofer Institute. The development was based on the experimental ASPEC codec. The first program to convert music to MP3 is L3Enc, which appeared in 1993. And already in 1994, the Winplay-3 MP3 player became available to users.
The creation was based on the idea of maintaining the quality of the recording while significantly reducing the amount of recording. Uncompressed CD files "weigh" 10 times more than MP3. Yes, the format "compresses" information with losses. But thanks to him, there was no need to use uncomfortable disks for storing music. Sound with the advent of MP3 became free.
The format was created not for connoisseurs with a unique ear, but for the mass user. That is, for people who prefer to listen to music on conventional car radios, stereos, players, etc. On such devices, the loss of quality is practically not noticeable. Hearing the difference between MP3 and CD is possible only on expensive, high-quality equipment.
The first signal of the "death" of the format
In 2017, it was reported that MP3 patents were no longer valid. Users misinterpreted the message and felt that the format was being eliminated and everyone urgently needed to switch to AAC.
However, it was only about the fact that companies and individuals can use MP3 for any purpose without any problems and they will not get anything for it. Until that time, the patents in question were the property of several companies. Using the format without special permission and, accordingly, without deductions, entailed major troubles.
So, for example, Microsoft, by a court decision, paid Alcatel-Lucent, which has a patent, $ 1.5 billion.
Patent holders have received royalties for more than 20 years. The main beneficiary was the same Fraunhofer Institute. It turns out that since they have abandoned huge incomes, the era of MP3 is over. And Qobuz's statement, coupled with the proposal to listen to music in studio quality, is a test shot.
However, "the patient is more alive than dead." Yes, the trend towards music lovers increasingly preferring music on streaming services is an undeniable fact. But society is not yet ready to pay for this, just like, for example, for utilities or for mobile communications, not only in our country, but also in the West.
MP3 remains the most popular and most supported format: the files can be listened to on all modern and legacy devices. The format that causes the least playback problems.