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Do you aacPlus ?! December 28, 2006

Posted by oktyabr in audio, opinions, software.
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You know in these days where over half of the modern world now connects by “broadband” as opposed to dialup I find it particularly interesting when technology not only increases our bandwidth but rather improves how we use it. aacPlus aka AAC+ aka HE-AAC is just one such improvement, especially if you listen to as much streaming music as I do!

“aacPlus” as it is commonly known is a lossy encoding method that is relatively new to the MPEG4 standard.

“AAC” means “Advanced Audio Coding” and the “Plus” part is an encoding composite featuring Spectral Band Replication (SBR), Parametric Stereo (PS) on top of the original “AAC” encoding format. It specializes in streaming internet audio offering exceptional quality in exchange for an extremely low bandwidth overhead.

Some say that a 48 kbs AAC+ stream provides a higher quality playback than the same audio encoded as a 128kbs MP3 stream, at roughly a third of the bandwidth! No conclusive evidence backs these claims up so I think everyone should give a listen for themselves!

A great place to try this out is SomaFM. SomaFM offers several streaming channels in both 128kbs MP3 and 48kbs AAC+. Give them a go over some really good headphones or stereo speakers and see what you think.

Need a client?

In Windows I’m told Winamp does a fine job, at least a current version.

VLC should also support AAC+ (what DOESN’T it support?!?!) and is crossplatform as well!

In linux I’ve found a recent version of Amarok to be just what the DJ ordered although it might require full Gstreamer libraries since Amarok has no built in decoding!

Anyone spotted an AAC+ plugin for XMMS or BMP yet?

I think most of the AAC+ streams I’ve listened to are easily superior, at least when comparing 48kbs to 128kbs MP3. Even lower bitrates (24kbs, etc.) are a great improvement over what was out there a few years ago and should be quite nice even for those of you still using dialup.

What do you think?

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