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From MP3 to Ogg and back again

When I first bought my Cowon iAudio 7, I was excited at the prospect of finally moving to Ogg from MP3. It was a nice sentiment to be moving in the more open direction for music file formats. Sadly, I have switched back to MP3 for several reasons:

  • While it’s easy to switch from .doc to .odt or IE settings to Firefox settings without losing data, you cannot do the same for MP3 to Ogg, as they are both lossy compression formats. So I would have to re-rip (and some of the CDs are not available to me now) my entire huge collection into Ogg or suffer even more loss of listening quality by converting from MP3 to Ogg. If I can’t have my whole collection in Ogg, there’s not really a point in having a portion of it be that way.
  • It’s nice to have an MP3 player myself that can play Ogg music files, but if I ever want to share my music with my wife, I’d have to get her to use something other than iTunes on her Mac and then install Rockbox on her iPod Nano. I don’t think she’d go for that.
  • The five free music downloads I got from Amazon for buying an iAudio were ironically MP3s, which—like the MP3s I already have—would suffer in quality if I converted them to Ogg.
  • And, more importantly and again ironically, I found that Ubuntu’s Free software tools work better with MP3s (provided you install the necessary multimedia packages). With Ogg or Flac (which I also avoided, because it makes huge files), I can’t use TagTool or Rhythmbox to edit the ID3 tags post-rip!

Richard Stallman would not approve, of course, but I am supporting a manufacturer (Cowon) who supports Linux, I am using an open source operating system, and I’m trying to support freedom. Sometimes you have to live in “the real world” and pay your dues to “the man.”

0 replies on “From MP3 to Ogg and back again”

I feel your pain. However, what is nice about having a Cowon player is you can mix and match file types. Before I switched to Linux, I had a collection of MP3s. After I switched, I started ripping new CDs to OGG. Some albums that my dad ripped for me are in WMA. Ideologically, I wanted to convert everything to .ogg, but why? All the files play flawlessly in Amarok, all play flawlessly in Cowon. (Install the ogg codec, and all play flawlessly in WMP as well.) I found a freedom in not worrying about what format my music was in. For instance, a friend emailed me a .aac, that my brother using Windows couldn’t play, but I could without worrying. Operating systems and media players that support every format free you from having to think about formats; I simply think about the music now. :-)

(DRM being an exception. I still think about DRM and it creates ill feelings in my gut!)

Now, if we could only have AAC DRM to OGG and back again :). I have a huge collection of music I bought off of iTunes Music Store, and I have to burn a disc in order to get it onto my laptop…

Pain. Just painful.

I guess I’m an audiophile, since I spent a lot of time learning the inner-workings of LAME and all the switches for encoding. I consistently rip to MP3 192kbps VBR because it’s the best middle-ground for lossy compression. MP3 is supported in every digital music player on the planet, while OGG is supported by a select few. And while that may make me detrimental to the open-source cause, it makes my music sound better and my file archives consistent, and I can listen to those files on almost anything. :p

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