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Why you should switch from mp3 to Opus codec

Opus is an advanced and free audio codec, first released in September 2012. It’s now almost 4 years old and I’m astonished, that so few people know about it.

In a nutshell

Opus is much better than mp3 and you should switch to it as fast as possible

  • OPUS offers better sound quality than mp3
  • OPUS makes the same audio files smaller than mp3
  • You can already use it on most of your devices

There is no reason at all you should still use mp3 and not move to Opus (or ogg Vorbis). Both are generally better in terms of audio quality and compression rate. If you convert your existing library to opus, the audio quality probably remains the same though.

Opus - Some details

Opus is offering a significantly better audio quality compared to mp3 and even OGG Vorbis. In reality, there is no reason to still stuck with the old mp3 audio format. It was the thing of our generation to have music in a quite reliable, small data format on different devices, but it has become old and obsolete. There is no reason at all to stick to mp3, even OGG Vorbis is significantly better in compression rate, audio quality and it’s a free codec, whereas mp3 is a non-free codec witch means, that every Software and device is charged some license fees in order you can use it.

According to a listening test the audio quality of OPUS is much better than mp3 and compares to HE-AAC (still lossy format).

Can I already use it?

Probably yes.

Opus is build-in in most modern Browsers. It has build-in support in Firefox and Chrome, and also Edge is about to include it. VLC supports opus. In the Play store there are some Apps that support Opus as well.

In Linux it is available as opus package which ships with most distros.

How to convert files from mp3 to Opus

Linux

opusenc input.wav output.opus

To convert an mp3 on-the fly use the following snipped, and modify the bitrate to your needs

avconv -i input.mp3 -f wav - | opusenc --bitrate 256 - output.opus

Windows

I’ve not found a suitable tool for the conversion of OPUS (when I was writing this post - this is going to change for sure).

But if you trust online services, you can use freac to convert your stuff to ogg vorbis. Also: Don’t trust online services, just because they are convenient.

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