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Vorbis is a free software
Free software
Free software, software libre or libre software is software that can be used, studied, and modified without restriction, and which can be copied and redistributed in modified or unmodified form either without restriction, or with restrictions that only ensure that further recipients can also do...

 / open source
Open source
The term open source describes practices in production and development that promote access to the end product's source materials. Some consider open source a philosophy, others consider it a pragmatic methodology...

 project headed by the Xiph.Org Foundation
Xiph.Org Foundation
Xiph.Org Foundation is a non-profit organizationthat produces free multimedia formats and software tools. It focuses on the Ogg family of formats, the most successful of which has been Vorbis, an open and freely licensed audio format and codec designed to compete with the patented MP3 and AAC...

 (formerly Xiphophorus company). The project produces an audio format specification and software implementation (codec
Codec
A codec is a device or computer program capable of encoding or decoding a digital data stream or signal. The word codec is a portmanteau of "compressor-decompressor" or, more commonly, "coder-decoder"...

) for lossy audio compression. Vorbis is most commonly used in conjunction with the Ogg
Ogg
Ogg is a free, open container format maintained by the Xiph.Org Foundation. The creators of the Ogg format state that it is unrestricted by software patents and is designed to provide for efficient streaming and manipulation of high quality digital multimedia.The Ogg container format can multiplex...

 container format and it is therefore often referred to as Ogg Vorbis.

Vorbis is a continuation of audio compression development started in 1993 by Chris Montgomery
Chris Montgomery
Christopher “Monty” Montgomery is the creator of the Ogg Free Software container format and Vorbis audio codec and others, and the founder of The Xiph Foundation which promotes public domain multimedia Codecs...

. Intensive development began following a September 1998 letter from the Fraunhofer Society
Fraunhofer Society
The Fraunhofer Society is a German research organization with 60 institutes spread throughout Germany, each focusing on different fields of applied science . It employs around 18,000, mainly scientists and engineers, with an annual research budget of about €1.65 billion...

 announcing plans to charge licensing fees for the MP3 audio format
MP3
MPEG-1 or MPEG-2 Audio Layer III, more commonly referred to as MP3, is a patented digital audio encoding format using a form of lossy data compression...

. Vorbis project started as part of the Xiphophorus company's Ogg project (also known as OggSquish multimedia project). Chris Montgomery began work on the project and was assisted by a growing number of other developers. They continued refining the source code
Source code
In computer science, source code is text written using the format and syntax of the programming language that it is being written in. Such a language is specially designed to facilitate the work of computer programmers, who specify the actions to be performed by a computer mostly by writing source...

 until the Vorbis file format was frozen for 1.0 in May 2000 and a stable version (1.0) of the reference software was released on July 19, 2002.

The Xiph.Org Foundation maintains a reference implementation, libvorbis, the latest official version of which is 1.3.2, released on November 1, 2010. There are also some fine-tuned forks
Fork (software development)
In software engineering, a project fork happens when developers take a legal copy of source code from one software package and start independent development on it, creating a distinct piece of software...

, most notably aoTuV, that offer better audio quality, particularly at low bitrates. These improvements are periodically merged back into the reference codebase.

Name


"Vorbis" is named after a Discworld
Discworld
Discworld is a comic fantasy book series by English author Sir Terry Pratchett, set on the Discworld, a flat world balanced on the backs of four elephants which, in turn, stand on the back of a giant turtle, Great A'Tuin. The books frequently parody, or at least take inspiration from, J. R. R....

character, Exquisitor Vorbis in Small Gods
Small Gods
Small Gods is the thirteenth of Terry Pratchett's Discworld novels, published in 1992. It tells the origin of the god Om, and his relations with his prophet, the reformer Brutha...

by Terry Pratchett
Terry Pratchett
Sir Terence David John "Terry" Pratchett, OBE is an English novelist, known for his frequently comical work in the fantasy genre. He is best known for his popular and long-running Discworld series of comic fantasy novels...

. The Ogg
Ogg
Ogg is a free, open container format maintained by the Xiph.Org Foundation. The creators of the Ogg format state that it is unrestricted by software patents and is designed to provide for efficient streaming and manipulation of high quality digital multimedia.The Ogg container format can multiplex...

 format, however, is not named for Nanny Ogg
Nanny Ogg
Gytha Ogg is a character from Terry Pratchett's Discworld series. She is a witch and member of the Lancre coven.- Personality :The character of Nanny Ogg is based on the Mother stereotype of the Triple Goddess myth...

, another Discworld character; the name is in fact derived from ogging
Ogging
Ogging is term for a tactic developed for the online multiplayer game Netrek. This game was among the very first multiplayer Internet based games, and was most popular in the 1990s on university Unix systems used for internet access, and is still played today, having been later adapted to Windows...

, jargon
Jargon
Jargon is terminology which is especially defined in relationship to a specific activity, profession, group, or event. The philosophe Condillac observed in 1782 that "Every science requires a special language because every science has its own ideas." As a rationalist member of the Enlightenment he...

 that arose in the computer game Netrek
Netrek
Netrek is an Internet game for up to 16 players, written almost entirely in cross-platform open source software. It combines features of multi-directional shooters and team-based real-time strategy games...

.

Usage


The Vorbis format has proven popular among supporters of free software
Free software
Free software, software libre or libre software is software that can be used, studied, and modified without restriction, and which can be copied and redistributed in modified or unmodified form either without restriction, or with restrictions that only ensure that further recipients can also do...

. They argue that its higher fidelity and completely free nature, unencumbered by patents, make it a well-suited replacement for patented and restricted formats like MP3
MP3
MPEG-1 or MPEG-2 Audio Layer III, more commonly referred to as MP3, is a patented digital audio encoding format using a form of lossy data compression...

.
Vorbis has different uses for consumer products. Many video game titles such as 18 Wheels of Steel
18 Wheels of Steel
18 Wheels of Steel is a series of trucking simulators published by ValuSoft and developed by SCS Software. The series currently has 8 installments...

, Halo
Halo (series)
Halo is a multi-million dollar science fiction video game franchise created by Bungie and now managed by 343 Industries and owned by Microsoft Studios. The series centers on an interstellar war between humanity and a theocratic alliance of aliens known as the Covenant...

, Unreal Tournament 2004
Unreal Tournament 2004
Unreal Tournament 2004, also known as UT2K4 and UT2004, is a futuristic first-person shooter computer game developed by Epic Games and Digital Extremes...

, Unreal Tournament 3, Mafia: The City of Lost Heaven
Mafia: The City of Lost Heaven
Mafia is a third-person shooter video game initially made for Microsoft Windows in . It was developed by Czech company Illusion Softworks and published by Gathering of Developers...

, Jets 'n' guns, Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas
Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas
Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas is a 2004 open world action video game developed by British games developer Rockstar North and published by Rockstar Games. It is the third 3D game in the Grand Theft Auto video game franchise, the fifth original console release and eighth game overall...

, Crimsonland, Devil May Cry 3, Live For Speed
Live for Speed
Live for Speed is a racing simulator developed by a three person team comprising Scawen Roberts, Eric Bailey, and Victor van Vlaardingen. The main focus is to provide a realistic racing experience for the online multiplayer game and to allow single player races against AI cars...

 and Guitar Hero: On Tour store in-game audio as Vorbis. Popular software players support Vorbis playback either natively or through an external plugin. A number of Web sites, including Wikipedia
Wikipedia
Wikipedia is a free, web-based, collaborative, multilingual encyclopedia project supported by the non-profit Wikimedia Foundation. Its 20 million articles have been written collaboratively by volunteers around the world. Almost all of its articles can be edited by anyone with access to the site,...

, use it. Others include Jamendo
Jamendo
Jamendo is a music website and a community of music authors. It bills itself as "the world's #1 platform for free and legal music downloads under Creative Commons licenses."...

 and Mindawn, as well as several national radio stations like JazzRadio, Absolute Radio, NPR
NPR
NPR, formerly National Public Radio, is a privately and publicly funded non-profit membership media organization that serves as a national syndicator to a network of 900 public radio stations in the United States. NPR was created in 1970, following congressional passage of the Public Broadcasting...

, Radio New Zealand
Radio New Zealand
Radio New Zealand is a New Zealand public service radio broadcaster and Crown entity formed by the Radio New Zealand Act 1995. It operates news, current affairs and arts network Radio New Zealand National and classical music and jazz network Radio New Zealand Concert with full government funding...

 and Deutschlandradio
Deutschlandradio
Deutschlandradio is a national German public broadcasting radio broadcaster. It operates four national networks, Deutschlandfunk, Deutschlandradio Kultur, Dokumente und Debatten and DRadio Wissen....

. The Spotify
Spotify
Spotify is a Swedish-founded, UK-headquartered DRM-based music streaming service offering streaming of selected music from a range of major and independent record labels, including Sony, EMI, Warner Music Group, and Universal. Launched in October 2008 by Swedish startup Spotify AB, the service had...

 audio streaming service uses Vorbis for its audio streams.

Quality: Codec comparisons


Vorbis had been shown to perform significantly better than many other lossy audio formats in the past in that it produced smaller files at equivalent or higher quality while retaining computational complexity comparable to other MDCT
Modified discrete cosine transform
The modified discrete cosine transform is a Fourier-related transform based on the type-IV discrete cosine transform , with the additional property of being lapped: it is designed to be performed on consecutive blocks of a larger dataset,...

 formats such as AAC
Advanced Audio Coding
Advanced Audio Coding is a standardized, lossy compression and encoding scheme for digital audio. Designed to be the successor of the MP3 format, AAC generally achieves better sound quality than MP3 at similar bit rates....

 or Windows Media Audio
Windows Media Audio
Windows Media Audio is an audio data compression technology developed by Microsoft. The name can be used to refer to its audio file format or its audio codecs. It is a proprietary technology that forms part of the Windows Media framework. WMA consists of four distinct codecs...

. However, there have not been many significant tests run in recent years.
Listening tests have attempted to find the best quality lossy audio codecs at certain bitrate
Bitrate
In telecommunications and computing, bit rate is the number of bits that are conveyed or processed per unit of time....

s. Some conclusions made by listening tests:
  • Low bitrate (less than 64 kbit/s): the most recent (2007) public multiformat test at 48 kbit/s showed that aoTuV Vorbis had a better quality than WMA
    Windows Media Audio
    Windows Media Audio is an audio data compression technology developed by Microsoft. The name can be used to refer to its audio file format or its audio codecs. It is a proprietary technology that forms part of the Windows Media framework. WMA consists of four distinct codecs...

     and LC-AAC
    Advanced Audio Coding
    Advanced Audio Coding is a standardized, lossy compression and encoding scheme for digital audio. Designed to be the successor of the MP3 format, AAC generally achieves better sound quality than MP3 at similar bit rates....

    , the same quality as WMA Professional
    Windows Media Audio
    Windows Media Audio is an audio data compression technology developed by Microsoft. The name can be used to refer to its audio file format or its audio codecs. It is a proprietary technology that forms part of the Windows Media framework. WMA consists of four distinct codecs...

    , and a lower quality than HE-AAC
    HE-AAC
    High-Efficiency Advanced Audio Coding is a lossy data compression scheme for digital audio defined as a MPEG-4 Audio profile in ISO/IEC 14496-3. It is an extension of Low Complexity AAC optimized for low-bitrate applications such as streaming audio...

    .
  • Mid to low bitrates (less than 128 kbit/s down to 64 kbit/s): private tests in 2005 at 80 kbit/s and 96 kbit/s showed that aoTuV Vorbis had a better quality than other lossy audio formats (LC-AAC, HE-AAC
    HE-AAC
    High-Efficiency Advanced Audio Coding is a lossy data compression scheme for digital audio defined as a MPEG-4 Audio profile in ISO/IEC 14496-3. It is an extension of Low Complexity AAC optimized for low-bitrate applications such as streaming audio...

    , MP3
    MP3
    MPEG-1 or MPEG-2 Audio Layer III, more commonly referred to as MP3, is a patented digital audio encoding format using a form of lossy data compression...

    , MPC
    Musepack
    Musepack or MPC is an open source lossy audio codec, specifically optimized for transparent compression of stereo audio at bitrates of 160–180 kbit/s...

    , WMA
    Windows Media Audio
    Windows Media Audio is an audio data compression technology developed by Microsoft. The name can be used to refer to its audio file format or its audio codecs. It is a proprietary technology that forms part of the Windows Media framework. WMA consists of four distinct codecs...

    ).
  • High bitrates (more than 128 kbit/s): most people do not hear significant differences. However, trained listeners can often hear significant differences between codecs at identical bitrates, and aoTuV Vorbis performed better than LC-AAC, MP3, and MPC.


Due to the ever-evolving nature of audio codecs, the results of many of these tests have become outdated.

Listening tests



Listening tests are normally carried out as ABX test
ABX test
An ABX test is a method of comparing two kinds of sensory stimuli to identify detectable differences. A subject is presented with two known samples , and one unknown sample X, for three samples total. X is randomly selected from A and B, and the subject identifies X as being either A or B...

s, i.e., the listener has to identify an unknown sample X as being A or B, with A (the original) and B (the encoded version) available for reference. The outcome of a test must be statistically significant. This setup ensures that the listener is not biased by his/her expectations, and that the outcome is very unlikely to be the result of chance. If sample X can be identified reliably, the listener can assign a score as a subjective judgement of the quality. Otherwise, the encoded version is considered to be transparent. Below are links to several listening test results.
  • 2005, July comparison - AAC vs MP3 vs Vorbis vs WMA at 80 kbit/s. States that aoTuV beta 4 is the best encoder for either classical or various music in this bitrate, and that its quality is comparable to the LAME
    LAME
    LAME is a free software codec used to encode/compress audio into the lossy MP3 file format.-History:The name LAME is a recursive acronym for "LAME Ain't an MP3 Encoder". Around mid-1998, Mike Cheng created LAME 1.0 as a set of modifications against the "8Hz-MP3" encoder source code...

     ABR MP3 at 128 kbit/s.
  • 2005, August comparison - AAC vs MP3 vs Vorbis vs WMA at 96 kbit/s. States that aoTuV beta 4 and AAC are tied as the best encoders for classical music in this bitrate, while aoTuV beta 4 is the best encoder for pop music, even better than LAME at 128 kbit/s.
  • 2005, August comparison - MPC vs Vorbis vs MP3 vs AAC at 180 kbit/s. An audiophile
    Audiophile
    An audiophile is a person who enjoys listening to recorded music, usually in a home. Some audiophiles are more interested in collecting and listening to music, while others are more interested in collecting and listening to audio components, whose "sound quality" they consider as important as the...

     listening test, which states that, for classical music, aoTuV beta 4 has 93% percent probability of being the best encoder, tied with MPC. MPC is tied with both Vorbis, in the first place, and LAME in the second.
  • 2011, April comparison by Hydrogenaudio - LC-AAC vs Vorbis vs HE-AAC vs Opus
    CELT
    Constrained Energy Lapped Transform is an open, royalty-free audio compression format and a free software codec with especially low algorithmic delay for use in low-latency audio communication. It is a lossy codec, meaning quality is permanently degraded to reduce file size.The algorithms are...

     at 48 kbit/s. Vorbis was on average between LC-AAC and HE-AAC, while the upcoming Opus (by Xiph, previously known as CELT) was best.

Audio quality: Characteristic artifacts


As with most modern formats, the most consistently cited problem with Vorbis is pre-echo
Pre-echo
Pre-echo is a digital audio compression artifact where a sound is heard before it occurs . It is most noticeable in impulsive sounds from percussion instruments such as castanets or cymbals....

, a faint copy of a sharp attack that occurs just before the actual sound (the sound of castanets is commonly cited as causing this effect).

When the bitrate is too low to encode the audio without perceptible loss, Vorbis exhibits an analog noise-like failure mode, which can be described as reverberations in a room or amphitheater. Vorbis's behavior is due to the noise floor
Noise floor
In signal theory, the noise floor is the measure of the signal created from the sum of all the noise sources and unwanted signals within a measurement system, where the noise is defined as any signal other than the one being monitored....

 approach to encoding; see technical details.

Technical details

Vorbis nominal bitrate at quality levels for 44.1 kHz stereo input. The new libvorbis v1.2 usually compress better than these values (effective bitrate may vary).
Quality Nominal Bitrate
Official Xiph.Org Foundation Vorbis aoTuV beta 3 and later
-q-2 not available 32 kbit/s
-q-1 45 kbit/s 48 kbit/s
-q0 64 kbit/s
-q1 80 kbit/s
-q2 96 kbit/s
-q3 112 kbit/s
-q4 128 kbit/s
-q5 160 kbit/s
-q6 192 kbit/s
-q7 224 kbit/s
-q8 256 kbit/s
-q9 320 kbit/s
-q10 500 kbit/s

Vorbis is intended for sample rates from 8 kHz telephony to 192 kHz digital masters and a range of channel representations (monaural, polyphonic, stereo, quadraphonic, 5.1, ambisonic, or up to 255 discrete channels).
Given 44.1 kHz (standard CD
Compact Disc
The Compact Disc is an optical disc used to store digital data. It was originally developed to store and playback sound recordings exclusively, but later expanded to encompass data storage , write-once audio and data storage , rewritable media , Video Compact Discs , Super Video Compact Discs ,...

 audio sampling frequency) stereo input, the encoder will produce output from roughly 45 to 500 kbit/s (32 to 500 kbit/s for aoTuV tunings) depending on the specified quality setting. Quality setting goes from -0.1 to 1.0 for the Xiph library and -0.2 to 1.0 for aoTuV. Encoding front-ends map these values to an integer-based quality setting that goes from -1 to 10 for the Xiph library and -2 to 10 for aoTuV. Files encoded with a given quality setting should have the same quality of sound in all versions of the encoder, but newer versions should be able to achieve that quality with a lower bitrate. The bit rates mentioned above are only approximate; Vorbis is inherently variable-bitrate (VBR), so bitrate may vary considerably from sample to sample. (It is a free-form variable-bitrate codec and packets have no minimum size, maximum size, or fixed/expected size.)

Vorbis aims to be more efficient than MP3, with data compression transparency
Transparency (data compression)
In data compression or psychoacoustics, transparency is the ideal result of lossy data compression. If a lossy compressed result is perceptually indistinguishable from the uncompressed input, then the compression can be declared to be transparent...

being available at lower bitrates.

Outline of coder algorithm


Vorbis I is a forward-adaptive monolithic transform codec based on the modified discrete cosine transform
Modified discrete cosine transform
The modified discrete cosine transform is a Fourier-related transform based on the type-IV discrete cosine transform , with the additional property of being lapped: it is designed to be performed on consecutive blocks of a larger dataset,...

 (MDCT). Vorbis uses the modified discrete cosine transform for converting sound data from the time domain
Time domain
Time domain is a term used to describe the analysis of mathematical functions, physical signals or time series of economic or environmental data, with respect to time. In the time domain, the signal or function's value is known for all real numbers, for the case of continuous time, or at various...

 to the frequency domain
Frequency domain
In electronics, control systems engineering, and statistics, frequency domain is a term used to describe the domain for analysis of mathematical functions or signals with respect to frequency, rather than time....

. The resulting frequency-domain data is broken into noise floor
Noise floor
In signal theory, the noise floor is the measure of the signal created from the sum of all the noise sources and unwanted signals within a measurement system, where the noise is defined as any signal other than the one being monitored....

 and residue components, and then quantized
Quantization (signal processing)
Quantization, in mathematics and digital signal processing, is the process of mapping a large set of input values to a smaller set – such as rounding values to some unit of precision. A device or algorithmic function that performs quantization is called a quantizer. The error introduced by...

 and entropy coded using a codebook
Codebook
A codebook is a type of document used for gathering and storing codes. Originally codebooks were often literally books, but today codebook is a byword for the complete record of a series of codes, regardless of physical format.-Cryptography:...

-based vector quantization
Vector quantization
Vector quantization is a classical quantization technique from signal processing which allows the modeling of probability density functions by the distribution of prototype vectors. It was originally used for data compression. It works by dividing a large set of points into groups having...

 algorithm. The decompression algorithm reverses these stages. The noise floor approach gives Vorbis its characteristic analog noise-like failure mode when the bitrate is too low to encode the audio without perceptible loss. The sound of compression artifacts at low bitrates can be perhaps described as reverberations in an amphitheater or a room.

Tuned versions


Various tuned versions of the encoder (Garf, aoTuV or MegaMix) attempt to provide better sound at a specified quality setting, usually by dealing with certain problematic waveforms by temporarily increasing the bitrate. The most consistently cited problem with Vorbis is pre-echo
Pre-echo
Pre-echo is a digital audio compression artifact where a sound is heard before it occurs . It is most noticeable in impulsive sounds from percussion instruments such as castanets or cymbals....

, a faint copy of a sharp attack that occurs just before the actual sound (the sound of castanet
Castanet
Castanets are a percussion instrument , used in Moorish, Ottoman, ancient Roman, Italian, Spanish, Sephardic Music, and Portuguese music. The instrument consists of a pair of concave shells joined on one edge by a string. They are held in the hand and used to produce clicks for rhythmic accents or...

s is commonly cited as causing this effect). Most of the tuned versions of Vorbis attempt to fix this problem and to increase the sound quality of lower quality settings (-q-2 through -q4). Some tuning suggestions created by the Vorbis user community (especially the aoTuV beta 2 tunings) have been incorporated into the 1.1.0 release.

Bitrate peeling


The Vorbis format supports bitrate peeling
Bitrate peeling
Bitrate Peeling is a technique used in Ogg Vorbis audio encoded streams, wherein a stream can be encoded at one bitrate but can be served at that or any lower bitrate....

 for reducing the bitrate of already encoded files without re-encoding, and several experimental implementations exist. However, the quality is "unusable", and markedly inferior to decoding and re-encoding.

The reason that peeling programs degrade quality so severely is that the format does not specify the relative importance of signal data, nor do existing encoders order the data in order of importance, hence peelers cannot easily determine if data is important or not.

Container formats



Vorbis streams can be encapsulated in other media container formats besides Ogg. A commonly used alternative is Matroska
Matroska
The Matroska Multimedia Container is an open standard free container format, a file format that can hold an unlimited number of video, audio, picture or subtitle tracks in one file. It is intended to serve as a universal format for storing common multimedia content, like movies or TV shows...

. It is also used in WebM
WebM
WebM is an audio-video format designed to provide a royalty-free, open video compression format for use with HTML5 video. The project's development is sponsored by Google....

, a container format based on a subset of Matroska.
Vorbis streams can also be encapsulated in an RTP
Real-time Transport Protocol
The Real-time Transport Protocol defines a standardized packet format for delivering audio and video over IP networks. RTP is used extensively in communication and entertainment systems that involve streaming media, such as telephony, video teleconference applications, television services and...

 payload format.

Metadata


Vorbis metadata
Metadata
The term metadata is an ambiguous term which is used for two fundamentally different concepts . Although the expression "data about data" is often used, it does not apply to both in the same way. Structural metadata, the design and specification of data structures, cannot be about data, because at...

, called Vorbis comment
Vorbis comment
A Vorbis comment is a metadata container used in the Vorbis, FLAC, Theora and Speex file formats. It allows information such as the title, artist, album, track number or other information about the file to be added to the file itself. However, as the official Ogg Vorbis documentation notes:- Format...

s, supports metadata tags similar to those implemented in the ID3
ID3
ID3 is a metadata container most often used in conjunction with the MP3 audio file format. It allows information such as the title, artist, album, track number, and other information about the file to be stored in the file itself....

 standard for MP3. The metadata is stored in a vector of eight-bit-clean
8-bit clean
8-bit clean describes a computer system that correctly handles 8-bit character sets, such as the ISO 8859 series and the UTF-8 encoding of Unicode.- History :...

 strings of arbitrary length and size. The size of the vector and the size of each string in bytes is limited to 232-1 (about 4.3 billion
1000000000 (number)
1,000,000,000 is the natural number following 999,999,999 and preceding 1,000,000,001.In scientific notation, it is written as 109....

, or any positive integer that can be expressed in 32 bits). This vector is stored in the second header packet that begins a Vorbis bitstream.

The strings are assumed to be encoded as UTF-8
UTF-8
UTF-8 is a multibyte character encoding for Unicode. Like UTF-16 and UTF-32, UTF-8 can represent every character in the Unicode character set. Unlike them, it is backward-compatible with ASCII and avoids the complications of endianness and byte order marks...

. Music tags are typically implemented as strings of the form "[TAG]=[VALUE]", for instance, "ARTIST=The John Smith Band". The tags are case-insensitive, thus typing "ARTIST=The John Smith Band" would be the same as "artist=The John Smith Band". Like the current version of ID3, users and encoding software are free to use whichever tags are appropriate for the content. For example, an encoder could use localized tag labels, live music tracks might contain a "Venue=" tag or files could have multiple genre definitions. Most applications also support common de facto standards such as discnumber and ReplayGain information.

Licensing


Knowledge of Vorbis' specifications is in the public domain
Public domain
Works are in the public domain if the intellectual property rights have expired, if the intellectual property rights are forfeited, or if they are not covered by intellectual property rights at all...

. Concerning the specification itself, the Xiph.Org Foundation reserves the right to set the Vorbis specification and certify compliance. Its libraries are released under the revised 3-clause BSD license and its tools are released under the GNU General Public License
GNU General Public License
The GNU General Public License is the most widely used free software license, originally written by Richard Stallman for the GNU Project....

. The libraries were originally released under the GNU Lesser General Public Licence, but a BSD license was later chosen with the endorsement of Richard Stallman
Richard Stallman
Richard Matthew Stallman , often shortened to rms,"'Richard Stallman' is just my mundane name; you can call me 'rms'"|last= Stallman|first= Richard|date= N.D.|work=Richard Stallman's homepage...

. The Xiph.Org Foundation
Xiph.Org Foundation
Xiph.Org Foundation is a non-profit organizationthat produces free multimedia formats and software tools. It focuses on the Ogg family of formats, the most successful of which has been Vorbis, an open and freely licensed audio format and codec designed to compete with the patented MP3 and AAC...

 states that Vorbis, like all its developments, is completely free from the licensing or patent
Software patent
Software patent does not have a universally accepted definition. One definition suggested by the Foundation for a Free Information Infrastructure is that a software patent is a "patent on any performance of a computer realised by means of a computer program".In 2005, the European Patent Office...

 issues raised by other proprietary
Proprietary software
Proprietary software is computer software licensed under exclusive legal right of the copyright holder. The licensee is given the right to use the software under certain conditions, while restricted from other uses, such as modification, further distribution, or reverse engineering.Complementary...

 formats such as MP3
MP3
MPEG-1 or MPEG-2 Audio Layer III, more commonly referred to as MP3, is a patented digital audio encoding format using a form of lossy data compression...

. Although the Xiph.Org Foundation states it has conducted a patent search that supports its claims, outside parties (notably engineers working on rival formats) have expressed doubt that Vorbis is free of patented technology.

The Xiph.Org Foundation has not released an official statement on the patent status of Vorbis, pointing out that such a statement is technically impossible due to the number and scope of patents in existence and the questionable validity of many of them. Such issues cannot be resolved outside of a court of law.

Vorbis is supported by several large digital audio player manufacturers such as Samsung
Samsung
The Samsung Group is a South Korean multinational conglomerate corporation headquartered in Samsung Town, Seoul, South Korea...

, SanDisk
SanDisk
SanDisk Corporation is an American multinational corporation that designs, develops and manufactures data storage solutions in a range of form factors using the flash memory, controller and firmware technologies. It was founded in 1988 by Dr. Eli Harari and Sanjay Mehrotra, non-volatile memory...

, Rio
Rio (digital audio players)
Rio was the brand name of a line of digital audio players, best known for producing the "Diamond Rio" model that was the impetus for a lawsuit in 1998 by the Recording Industry Association of America...

, Neuros Technology
Neuros Technology
Neuros Technology is a Chicago, Illinois-based company that produces a number of audio and video devices with the brand name Neuros. Founded by Joe Born in 2001 as a division of Digital Innovations and previously operated under the name Neuros Audio...

, Cowon
Cowon
Cowon Systems, Inc. is a South Korean electronics company. Established in 1995, the company's initial focus was software development. In 2000, with the introduction of the CW100, Cowon expanded their business to the portable digital audio player industry....

, and iriver
Iriver
iriver is a consumer electronics company headquartered in South Korea and widely known for its digital audio players and other portable media devices....

.

Hardware


Tremor
Tremor (software)
Tremor by the Xiph.Org Foundation is a fixed-point version of the Vorbis decoder for those platforms without floating point operations.It is a software library that decodes the Vorbis audio format. It is free software released under the New BSD license...

, a version of the Vorbis decoder which uses fixed-point arithmetic
Fixed-point arithmetic
In computing, a fixed-point number representation is a real data type for a number that has a fixed number of digits after the radix point...

 (rather than floating point
Floating point
In computing, floating point describes a method of representing real numbers in a way that can support a wide range of values. Numbers are, in general, represented approximately to a fixed number of significant digits and scaled using an exponent. The base for the scaling is normally 2, 10 or 16...

), was made available to the public on September 2, 2002 (also under a BSD-style license). Tremor, or platform specific versions based on it, is more suited to implementation on the limited facilities available in commercial portable players. A number of versions that make adjustments for specific platforms and include customized optimizations for given embedded microprocessors have been produced. Several hardware manufacturers have expressed intentions to produce Vorbis-compliant devices and new Vorbis devices seem to be appearing at a steady rate.
  • Openmoko Neo 1973 and Neo Freerunner
  • Devices based on Google's
    Google
    Google Inc. is an American multinational public corporation invested in Internet search, cloud computing, and advertising technologies. Google hosts and develops a number of Internet-based services and products, and generates profit primarily from advertising through its AdWords program...

     Android platform support Ogg Vorbis media files.
  • Digital audio players such as Cowon
    Cowon
    Cowon Systems, Inc. is a South Korean electronics company. Established in 1995, the company's initial focus was software development. In 2000, with the introduction of the CW100, Cowon expanded their business to the portable digital audio player industry....

    's D2
    Cowon D2
    The Cowon D2 is a portable media player with touch screen interface designed and marketed by Cowon Systems Inc. Cowon updated the D2 as the D2+ featuring BBE+ sound enhancement and a plastic casing.- Specifications :- Features :...

     and iAudio X5  ship with Ogg Vorbis support.
  • Samsung YP series of digital audio players ships with Ogg Vorbis support.
  • The majority of iriver
    Iriver
    iriver is a consumer electronics company headquartered in South Korea and widely known for its digital audio players and other portable media devices....

     devices provide Ogg Vorbis support up to Q10 bitrates. (as July 2008)
  • Cowon C2 (Ogg and FLAC support)
  • Sandisk added Vorbis capability to the 1.01.29 firmware for the Sansa Clip player. (added in May 2008)
  • Sandisk added Vorbis capability for the Sansa Fuze player in the 1.01.15 firmware update. (added October 3, 2008)
  • Sandisk Sansa Clip+
  • Sandisk Sansa Fuze+
  • Meizu's M6 and M3 Digital Audio Players
  • Elta 8844 MPEG4 DVD/DivX player can play music files in both MP3 or Ogg Vorbis format
  • Vedia A10 plays Ogg Vorbis and FLAC in addition to MP3, AAC and other formats
  • S1 MP3 Player
    S1 MP3 Player
    S1 MP3 players are a type of digital audio players based on many different kinds of chipsets. The popular ones include Actions and ALI chipsets...

    s Ogg Vorbis also supported since at least 2006, though this is not typically listed on the player's packaging.
  • GamePark Holding's Linux based portable gaming consoles (GP32, GP2X F100-F200, GP2X Wiz) officially support Ogg Vorbis.
  • Pioneer XW-NAV1K
  • RIM BlackBerry 9800 "Torch" and 9670 "Style"
  • VDO Dayton CD1737X car radio supports 8-192kbps Ogg Vorbis files
  • HP TouchPad was given support for Ogg Vorbis with the webOS 3.0.4 update


Apple's iPod
IPod
iPod is a line of portable media players created and marketed by Apple Inc. The product line-up currently consists of the hard drive-based iPod Classic, the touchscreen iPod Touch, the compact iPod Nano, and the ultra-compact iPod Shuffle...

 does not natively support Vorbis but through the use of Rockbox
Rockbox
Rockbox is a replacement for the standard firmware in various forms of digital audio players . It offers an alternative to the player's operating system, in many cases without removing the original firmware, which provides a plug-in architecture for adding various enhancements and functions...

, an open-source firmware project, is capable of decoding Vorbis files. Similar statements apply to other devices capable of running Rockbox, as well. The Xiph.Org Foundation wiki has an up-to-date list of Vorbis-supporting hardware, such as portables, PDAs, and microchips. Also see Internet radio device
Internet radio device
An Internet radio device, also called network music player is a hardware device that is capable of receiving and playing streamed media from either Internet radio stations or a home network.-Background:...

 for an overview.

Application software


Software supporting Vorbis exists for many platforms. The multi-platform open-source VLC media player
VLC media player
VLC media player is a free and open source media player and multimedia framework written by the VideoLAN project.VLC is a portable multimedia player, encoder, and streamer supporting many audio and video codecs and file formats as well as DVDs, VCDs, and various streaming protocols. It is able to...

 and MPlayer
MPlayer
MPlayer is a free and open source media player. The program is available for all major operating systems, including Linux and other Unix-like systems, Microsoft Windows and Mac OS X. Versions for OS/2, Syllable, AmigaOS and MorphOS are also available. The Windows version works, with some minor...

 can play ".ogg" vorbis files, as can Winamp
Winamp
Winamp is a media player for Windows-based PCs and Android devices, written by Nullsoft, now a subsidiary of AOL. It is proprietary freeware/shareware, multi-format, extensible with plug-ins and skins, and is noted for its graphical sound visualization, playlist, and media library features.Winamp...

 and foobar2000
Foobar2000
foobar2000 is a freeware audio player for Windows developed by Peter Pawlowski, a former freelance contractor for Nullsoft. It is known for its highly modular design and extensive SDK which allows third-party developers to do such things as completely replace the interface...

. Although Apple
Apple Computer
Apple Inc. is an American multinational corporation that designs and markets consumer electronics, computer software, and personal computers. The company's best-known hardware products include the Macintosh line of computers, the iPod, the iPhone and the iPad...

 iTunes
ITunes
iTunes is a media player computer program, used for playing, downloading, and organizing digital music and video files on desktop computers. It can also manage contents on iPod, iPhone, iPod Touch and iPad....

 does not natively support Vorbis, the Xiph.Org Foundation provides a QuickTime component which can be used in iTunes and QuickTime on both Microsoft Windows
Microsoft Windows
Microsoft Windows is a series of operating systems produced by Microsoft.Microsoft introduced an operating environment named Windows on November 20, 1985 as an add-on to MS-DOS in response to the growing interest in graphical user interfaces . Microsoft Windows came to dominate the world's personal...

 and Mac OS
Mac OS
Mac OS is a series of graphical user interface-based operating systems developed by Apple Inc. for their Macintosh line of computer systems. The Macintosh user experience is credited with popularizing the graphical user interface...

. Windows Media Player
Windows Media Player
Windows Media Player is a media player and media library application developed by Microsoft that is used for playing audio, video and viewing images on personal computers running the Microsoft Windows operating system, as well as on Pocket PC and Windows Mobile-based devices...

 also does not natively support Vorbis; however, DirectShow filters exist to decode Vorbis in Windows Media Player and other Windows multimedia players that support DirectShow
DirectShow
DirectShow , codename Quartz, is a multimedia framework and API produced by Microsoft for software developers to perform various operations with media files or streams. It is the replacement for Microsoft's earlier Video for Windows technology...

. Vorbis is also supported in the multi-platform audio editing software Audacity
Audacity
Audacity is a free software, cross-platform digital audio editor and recording application. It is available for Windows, Mac OS X, Linux and BSD.Audacity was created by Dominic Mazzoni while he was a graduate student at Carnegie Mellon University...

, in the multi-platform multimedia framework
Multimedia framework
A multimedia framework is a software framework that handles media on a computer and through a network. A good multimedia framework offers an intuitive API and a modular architecture to easily add support for new audio, video and container formats and transmission protocols...

s FFmpeg
FFmpeg
FFmpeg is a free software project that produces libraries and programs for handling multimedia data. The most notable parts of FFmpeg are libavcodec, an audio/video codec library used by several other projects, libavformat, an audio/video container mux and demux library, and the ffmpeg command line...

, GStreamer
GStreamer
GStreamer is a pipeline-based multimedia framework written in the C programming language with the type system based on GObject.GStreamer allows a programmer to create a variety of media-handling components, including simple audio playback, audio and video playback, recording, streaming and editing...

 and Helix DNA
Helix (project)
Helix DNA is a project to produce software that can play audio and video media in various formats, aid in producing such media, and serve them over a network. It is intended as a largely free and open source digital media framework that runs on numerous operating systems and processors and was...

. Vorbis is well-supported on the Linux
Linux
Linux is a Unix-like computer operating system assembled under the model of free and open source software development and distribution. The defining component of any Linux system is the Linux kernel, an operating system kernel first released October 5, 1991 by Linus Torvalds...

 platform in programs like XMMS
XMMS
The X Multimedia System is a free audio player for Unix-like systems.-History:XMMS was originally written as X11Amp by Peter and Mikael Alm in November 1997. The player was made to resemble Winamp, which was first released in May that year. As such, XMMS has supported Winamp 2 "classic" skins...

, xine
Xine
xine is a multimedia playback engine for Unix-like operating systems released under the GNU General Public License. xine is built around a shared library that supports different frontend player applications. Another important feature of xine is the ability to manually correct the synchronization...

, Amarok and many more. A list of Vorbis-supporting software can be found at the Xiph.Org Foundation wiki and Vorbis.com website. For more information about support in software media players look at comparison of media players. Users can test these programs using the list of Vorbis audio streams available on the same wiki.

Some newer Ubisoft
Ubisoft
Ubisoft Entertainment S.A. is a major French video game publisher and developer, with headquarters in Montreuil, France. The company has a worldwide presence with 25 studios in 17 countries and subsidiaries in 26 countries....

 games use Vorbis files renamed with the filename extension
Filename extension
A filename extension is a suffix to the name of a computer file applied to indicate the encoding of its contents or usage....

 .sb0. It can therefore be played using a compatible player, although sometimes one must force a different sampling rate
Sampling rate
The sampling rate, sample rate, or sampling frequency defines the number of samples per unit of time taken from a continuous signal to make a discrete signal. For time-domain signals, the unit for sampling rate is hertz , sometimes noted as Sa/s...

 to hear it correctly. A number of tools are available for extracting sound from archived files
File archiver
A file archiver is a computer program that combines a number of files together into one archive file, or a series of archive files, for easier transportation or storage...

 such as the .m4b of Myst IV: Revelation
Myst IV: Revelation
Myst IV: Revelation is the fourth installment in the Myst computer game series, developed and published by Ubisoft. Revelation was the first game in the series released exclusively on a DVD-ROM format; a multiple CD-ROM version was not produced as it would have taken twelve compact discs to fit all...

.

As originally recommended by HTML 5
HTML 5
HTML5 is a language for structuring and presenting content for the World Wide Web, and is a core technology of the Internet originally proposed by Opera Software. It is the fifth revision of the HTML standard and is still under development...

, these web browser
Web browser
A web browser is a software application for retrieving, presenting, and traversing information resources on the World Wide Web. An information resource is identified by a Uniform Resource Identifier and may be a web page, image, video, or other piece of content...

s natively support Vorbis audio (without a plug-in) using the element: Mozilla Firefox 3.5
Mozilla Firefox 3.5
Mozilla Firefox 3.5 is a version of the Firefox web browser released in June 2009, adding a variety of new features to Firefox. Version 3.5 was touted as being twice as fast as 3.0...

 (and later versions), Google Chrome
Google Chrome
Google Chrome is a web browser developed by Google that uses the WebKit layout engine. It was first released as a beta version for Microsoft Windows on September 2, 2008, and the public stable release was on December 11, 2008. The name is derived from the graphical user interface frame, or...

 (as of version 3.0.182.2), SeaMonkey
SeaMonkey
SeaMonkey is a free and open source cross-platform Internet suite. It is the continuation of the former Mozilla Application Suite, based on the same source code...

 (as of version 2.0). Opera
Opera (web browser)
Opera is a web browser and Internet suite developed by Opera Software with over 200 million users worldwide. The browser handles common Internet-related tasks such as displaying web sites, sending and receiving e-mail messages, managing contacts, chatting on IRC, downloading files via BitTorrent,...

 9.5 experimental video builds released in 2007 and 2008 have only support and play back Vorbis audio included in Ogg video files. Opera 10.5
Opera 10
Opera 10 is a version of the Opera web browser. The initial version, 10.00, was released in September 2009.This release added a variety of new features, a new skin designed by Jon Hicks, increased standards support, and a new application icon to Opera...

 browser has support for Vorbis audio, WAVE PCM
WAV
Waveform Audio File Format , is a Microsoft and IBM audio file format standard for storing an audio bitstream on PCs...

 audio and Theora
Theora
Theora is a free lossy video compression format. It is developed by the Xiph.Org Foundation and distributed without licensing fees alongside their other free and open media projects, including the Vorbis audio format and the Ogg container....

 video.

Other implementations


The Xiph.Org Foundation's reference implementation is free and open sourced and it is dual-licensed under the BSD License and the GNU Lesser General Public License (LGPL).
There are no restriction to other developers for writing compliant encoders and decoders.

aoTuV


aoTuV is a modified version of the reference encoder created by a Japanese developer named Aoyumi (aoTuV stands for Aoyumi Tuned Vorbis), which improves its quality, especially at lower bitrates. Initially built upon Vorbis 1.0, the improvements of aoTuV Beta2 were merged back into Vorbis 1.1. Further improvements were released, the current Beta 6.03 version (released on April 25, 2011) is an improvement of libvorbis 1.3.2.

Lancer


Lancer is a modified version of aoTuV which keeps the quality of aoTuV and significantly improves its encoding speed, using architecture-specific SIMD
SIMD
Single instruction, multiple data , is a class of parallel computers in Flynn's taxonomy. It describes computers with multiple processing elements that perform the same operation on multiple data simultaneously...

 instructions instead of floating-point instructions. The last version is based on aoTuV Beta 5 (released on November 11, 2006).

Tremor



Tremor is an implementation of a Vorbis decoder using fixed-point arithmetic. It is intended for environments when a floating-point arithmetic unit is unavailable. The Xiph.Org Foundation has expressed interest in modifying Tremor into a floating-point version, which would replace the current floating-point reference decoder.

FFmpeg



The libavcodec
Libavcodec
libavcodec is a free software/open source LGPL-licensed library of codecs for encoding and decoding video and audio data. Same name but incompatible libraries are provided from both FFmpeg project and Libav project....

 library contains an LGPL-licensed Vorbis decoder that is faster than the reference implementation.

stb_vorbis


stb_vorbis is a C implementation of an Ogg Vorbis decoder placed in the public domain. It lacks some minor features present in the reference implementation (notably seeking), but it claims to be fully compliant with the format specification.

See also



  • Comparison of audio codecs
    Comparison of audio codecs
    The following tables compare general and technical information for a variety of audio formats and audio compression formats. For listening tests comparing the perceived audio quality of audio formats and codecs, see the article Codec listening test....

  • FreeCast
    FreeCast
    FreeCast is a free software application which allows peer-to-peer streaming, sometimes called peercasting. It makes possible an audio or video stream broadcast to a large number of listeners from a simple DSL connection....

    , peer-to-peer Vorbis streaming
  • Juce
    Juce
    JUCE is a free software, cross-platform C++ application framework, used for the development of GUI applications and plug-ins.The aim of JUCE is to allow software to be written such that the same source code will compile and run identically on Windows, Mac OS X and Linux platforms...

    , cross-platform C++ toolkit with embedded Vorbis support
  • Ogg
    Ogg
    Ogg is a free, open container format maintained by the Xiph.Org Foundation. The creators of the Ogg format state that it is unrestricted by software patents and is designed to provide for efficient streaming and manipulation of high quality digital multimedia.The Ogg container format can multiplex...

     bitstream format
  • Vorbis comment
    Vorbis comment
    A Vorbis comment is a metadata container used in the Vorbis, FLAC, Theora and Speex file formats. It allows information such as the title, artist, album, track number or other information about the file to be added to the file itself. However, as the official Ogg Vorbis documentation notes:- Format...

    , metadata format used by Vorbis
  • XSPF
    XSPF
    XML Shareable Playlist Format , pronounced spiff, is an XML-based playlist format for digital media, sponsored by the Xiph.Org Foundation....

    , playlist
    Playlist
    In its most general form, a playlist is simply a list of songs. They can be played in sequential or shuffled order. The term has several specialized meanings in the realms of radio broadcasting and personal computers.-In radio:...

     format
  • Xiph QuickTime Components
    Xiph QuickTime Components
    The Xiph QuickTime Components are Xiph.org's implementation of the Ogg container along with the Speex, Theora, FLAC and Vorbis codecs for QuickTime...

    , official QuickTime implementation

External links