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The mp3 format is officially dead

After 25 long years of success, the mp3 file format has officially been discontinued this week. The music format first hit the big time during the heyday of the iPod and rival mp3 players. Since then however, the format has slowly been replaced by formats like AAC, which offer superior quality.

The Fraunhofer Institute was the main organisation behind the mp3 format and was in charge of licensing the encoders and decoders. However, as OS News reports, the last of its patents have now expired, so the institute has ceased licensing the format.

Of course, Fraunhofer’s explanation was a little different than that, though it still holds some truth. While the mp3 patents have now expired, the Fraunhofer Institute wanted to focus on the fact that most media services these days have adopted new formats, which have more features and can deliver higher quality audio at lower bitrates:

“The development of mp3 started in the late 80s at Fraunhofer IIS, based on previous development results at the University Erlangen-Nuremberg. Although there are more efficient audio codecs with advanced features available today, mp3 is still very popular amongst consumers. However, most state-of-the-art media services such as streaming or TV and radio broadcasting use modern ISO-MPEG codecs such as the AAC family or in the future MPEG-H. Those can deliver more features and a higher audio quality at much lower bitrates compared to mp3.”

KitGuru Says: I remember continuing to download mp3’s right up until I went to college to study music technology. After that, I was swiftly onto lossless formats but for many, mp3 still remains a popular choice. Do any of you still download mp3’s? Are you surprised to hear that the format is now technically considered obsolete?

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  • Per Wigren

    Quite the opposite. The expired patent means that the MP3 format just came alive!

  • BlackBoxProject

    quite a suprise here… most anyone would stil raise eyebrows when they see audio formats that aren’t mp3. add to that the fact that most music players still aren’t very fast with adopting newer and better audio formats.

    so now that mp3 is kinda obsolete, which audio formats should we watch out for that will be the next standard?

  • Nikolas Karampelas

    well mp3 is just you know… they way you are used to and you believe is fine, but one day you listen your music on a better format and you realize that “holy crap, my speakers are not crap, my mp3s are”…

  • Ricardo Dupree

    Depends hugely on used MP3 encoder and settings. Basically everything done at 192(-)kbps CBR with either the reference or Xiph encoder should be deleted and redownloaded on the spot. Everything done with the LAME encoder on higher settings (192+ kbps) CBR or VBR should be still OK. However, if given the option of OGG, AAC or FLAC encoded tracks, go with that, preferably FLAC.

  • Ariel Jersey Jr.

    Well all of my music library format is M4A anyway because of Apple.

  • r1c0

    Just because the patent has expired the format is not dead.

  • N H

    Terrible title, the format isn’t dead, the company that invented it just can’t charge for it anymore.

    It’s still the most common music file format, everything plays it. try finding a car that plays flac files

  • Selena

    Well MP3 is not dead. Most of us will still use it in the next few years. But it is true that MP3 is at disadvantage comparing with AAC. Audios in MP3 is larger and the quality is compromised. If you are afaid that MP3 will be discared, you can convert MP3 to AAC with some video converter like HandBrake, macx video converter pro, freemake, etc.