What is Ogg Vorbis?

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Ogg Vorbis is a fully open, non-proprietary, patent-and-royalty-free, general-purpose compressed audio format for mid to high quality audio. It is in the same class as the MPEG-4 (AAC) compression scheme but it is in the public domain and completely free for commercial or noncommercial use.

Did you know that if you use the MP3 format to sell your music, you must pay the Fraunhofer Institute a percentage of each sale because you are using their patents? With Vorbis, you don’t. So it’s a great way for game developers, webmasters, bands and music listeners to get their audio product out there, at high quality, without owing a cent to anyone. Right now Vorbis is used in games such as 007: Nightfire, Black & White 2, Crashday, DEFCON and Deus Ex: Invisible War. It’s also used in hardware such as Pinnacle Audio’s Athenaeum, Nokia/Philips/Sagem DBox2, Microsoft Xbox and Sony Playstation 2.

It operates from 8kHz to 48kHz, 16-bit, at fixed and variable bitrates from 16 to 128 kbps/channel which means you can scale it for a variety of uses. For instance, if you’re just compressing the spoken word for the internet, you can scale it down so the file is small and easily streamed. On the other hand, if you’re compressing a mix for approval and sending it via ftp or disc, you can up the quality appropriately.

If you’d like to hear comparisons between different competing compression schemes, go to the Vorbis website and try their Dare to Compare test.

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