OGG Vorbis a new open standard completely free of patents and royalties. It is similar to MP3s in that encoded files are small and sound quality is high. The MPEG 1, layer 3 encoding and decoding algorithms are pattented by Frauhaufer GmbH which charges royalties for each program capable of encoding MP3s. Ogg Vorbis files, on the other hand, have no such royalties the source code (programming code) for both encoding and decoding is freely available and distributable for anyone anywhere. This means that any programmer can make their own encoder (recorder) and decoder (player) free of royalties and without having to worry about paying anyone for the right to use that code. What does this mean for the average user? Lower cost, or free Ogg Vorbis encoders and players, and, potentially, a wider variety of encoders/decoders to choose from.
Pease read more about the Ogg Vorbis movement at http://www.vorbis.com/. You can find links to encoders (recorders) and decoders (players) at that site as well.
A 128 kbps Ogg Vorbis file is anywhere from 5 to 15 percent smaller than a 128 kbps MP3 file. That same Ogg Vorbis file has better sound quality than its MP3 cousin of the same bit rate, especially with complex and high-frequency sounds. In addition, Ogg Vorbis files are capable of containing (but usually don't) surround sound channels in addition to the standard 2 stereo channels. This is not possible with MP3 files.
The primary disadvantage is that there are only a few Ogg Vorbis encoders and decoders available. This number is rapidly growing however. In fact, most main-stream MP3 players can at least play Ogg Vorbis files (files that end in .ogg). Such popular programs as WinAMP and FreeAMP for Windows, and Audion 2 and MacAMP for Mac OS (as well as a number of MP3 players for UNIX systems) can play Ogg Vorbis files.
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