In 2001 Thomson announced the arrival of mp3PRO, the next generation of mp3.
mp3PRO offers two key advantages: enhanced sound quality and improved
compression. It provides 128 kbps (kilo bits per second) performance at a 64
kbps encoding rate, thereby bringing genuine CD quality and enabling Internet
broadcasters to lower their bandwidth costs.
The new technology has been brought in by Swedish partner Coding Technologies,
who initially developed it when researching a hearing device for the deaf. It
involves taking the high-quality parts from the lower frequency range of a
music file and replicating them up to higher frequencies. Coding Technologies
has combined its work with Thomson and Fraunhofer's pioneering work in audio
coding, and the result is mp3PRO, which makes it possible to download and store
24 albums on a single CD-ROM.
Using advanced psychoacoustics techniques and music structure analysis, mp3PRO
creates files that are more compact than original mp3 files, with equal or
better sound quality and complete backwards and forwards compatibility.
Existing mp3 files will play completely normal on a new mp3PRO player. New
mp3PRO files will play on existing mp3 players, but without the dramatic mp3PRO
improvements. Of course, new mp3PRO files played on a new mp3PRO decoder will
provide the optimal listening experience!
When making an mp3PRO file, the new mp3PRO encoder splits audio recordings into
two parts. One part analyzes the low frequency band information and encodes it
into a normal mp3 stream. This allows the encoder to concentrate on less
information and allows it to do a better job of encoding. This also maintains
complete compatibility to existing mp3 players. The second part analyzes the
high frequency band information and encodes it into a part of the mp3 stream
that is normally ignored by existing mp3 decoders. New or upgraded mp3PRO
decoders will tap into this part of the stream and put the two bands back
together, resulting in the full audio bandwidth.
Offering 128 kbps performance at a 64 kbps encoding rate, mp3PRO doubles the
digital music capacity of flash memory and compact discs. For example,
traditional audio CDs hold about 15 songs, whereas an mp3 CD can hold 150 or
more songs encoded at 128 kbps. In the near future, when mp3 CD players
incorporate the mp3PRO decoder, consumers will be able to store over 300 songs
on an mp3PRO-encoded compact disc.
A recently completed "Subjective Listening Tests on Low Bitrate Audio Codecs"
conducted by the European Broadcasting Union (EBU), the largest professional
association of national broadcasters in the world, has given mp3PRO high marks
in the areas of audio quality and consistent performance.
Codecs tested included mp3, mp3PRO, MPEG-2 AAC, AAC+SBR, Microsoft Windows
Media 8, AMR Wide Band, RealNetworks RealAudio 8, and RealNetworks G2.
mp3PRO came out on top at 64 kbps with a quality rated as "excellent" for most
test items. At a bit rate of 48 kbps, the report cited the two open MPEG
formats combined with Coding Technologies' SBR (Spectral Band Replication)
technology, mp3PRO and AAC+SBR, as the most superior codecs and mp3PRO was
judged to offer the most balance and reliability, ahead of the proprietary
audio codecs WMA, RealNetworks RealAudio 8 and RealNetworks G2. In addition,
the report also compared mp3 - the forerunner to mp3PRO - favorably to rivals
WMA and RealNetworks, with mp3 outperforming WMA for almost all items included
in the test.
MUSICMATCH, the global leader in personalized music software and services,
adapted mp3PRO as the codec standard of choice for RadioMX, probably the
world's most actively used internet radio service. MUSICMATCH Jukebox is the
first digital music player to deliver the new mp3PRO audio format, providing
music fans the highest quality recording and playback in any digital music
In addition, Thomson and Gracenote joined forces to launch a one-stop digital
music solution that combines mp3PRO and the Gracenote CDDB Music Recognition
Service, giving software and hardware developers simple, streamlined access to
the newest generations of the world's most popular digital audio codec and
music recognition service. The solution gives the more than 2,000 commercial
CDDB media-player developers streamlined access to mp3PRO encoding and
decoding. Gracenote is offering an integrated CDDB/mp3PRO encoding license and
SDK, and will facilitate incremental upgrades for licensed applications.
Additionally, Gracenote and Thomson are offering unprecedented pricing to all
developers. Non-commercial software developers can license a CDDB/mp3PRO
decoding/mp3-encoding package on a royalty-free basis, and commercial
applications will have access to royalty-free mp3PRO decoding.
Coding Technologies - mp3PRO Zone