It's the end of an era - MP3 format has been 'discontinued'

It's the end of an era - MP3 format has been 'discontinued'
Like Monica said in Friends – ‘This is the end of an era!’ Fraunhofer Institute for Integrated Circuits, a German agency that was behind the conception of MP3 encoding, has officially announced that it has terminated its patent licensing of MP3 tech and software. In plain words – MP3 format support in devices will progressively seize, MP3 files will be fewer, and will give way to newer, better audio encoding technologies.

So, instead of getting an MP3 player for next Christmas, you may likely be getting an AAC player. Ok, this just sounds wrong…

When MP3s came out, following the age of pencil-rewinding audiocassettes and ceiling-high CD stacking, they brought never seen before freedom in how we obtain music. Music suddenly became widely available and easily attainable via the Internet, thanks to the compression format. Psychologically, this has marked us to a point where we are likely to continue to call future portable music devices by the name of ‘MP3 player’, long after such devices have cut their support for the format. It has turned into a sentiment and a widely recognizable abbreviature for many of us, who were born when MP3 came about.

But it only makes sense, folks. Even though MP3 is still the most widely recognized and supported audio encoding tech, alternative formats have steadily gained ground over the years, for some of them offer much better audio quality at lower bit rates. AAC encoding, for example, performs better in audio tests, compared to MP3, and is the main format for the second largest online music vendor - Apple Music. It also produces files with smaller size than MP3 encoding. Whether AAC has the ability to become as popular as its counterpart is something that only time will tell.

Furthermore, the vast expansion of music streaming massively reduced the amount of MP3s people download in general. Most of the music we listen to nowadays is contained and organised in virtual libraries, where files are compressed in better than MP3 formats. What the future holds in the post-MP3 era will certainly bring users better audio experience, as we move on to Internet-based music services. In any case, we’d suggest that you put your old MP3 players somewhere safe, as they now virtually have historical value.

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22 Comments

1. Rampage_Taco

Posts: 970; Member since: Jan 17, 2017

That's some crazy news, never thought I'd see that happen. I usually convert my Music Files into WMA. Yes I know its a sad format, but My car audio system is powered by Microsoft and it's the only format that doesn't give issue on play back :/

9. kent-gaga

Posts: 609; Member since: Apr 10, 2012

Damn It's been years since I the last time I saw "WMA" haha

11. Rampage_Taco

Posts: 970; Member since: Jan 17, 2017

tell me about it. I use a Flash Drive to play music in my car because it's the most affordable option. But when my entire library was still mp3, my car only recognized 30%. Converted to WMA and works flawlessly. So now I have 2 libraries of my music, 1 MP3 and 1 WMA. And what's worse is I like everything sorted(put in folders) by Artist, but not Album/Genre. So I resort to using Windows Explorer to adjust everything

2. buccob

Posts: 2942; Member since: Jun 19, 2012

I suggest everyone reading the more logical GSMArena article about this news.... http://www.gsmarena.com/rip_mp3_not_so_fast_this_old_gal_isnt_going_away_yet-news-25021.php Yes, the licensing program was killed... but that also the patents for encoding expired and this means that MP3s now are free to produce... This will make MP3s more popular than ever. The same thing happened to "GIF" in the image world...

4. Settings

Posts: 2940; Member since: Jul 02, 2014

AAC and MP3 quality difference is small when you are just a casual listener. Audiophiles however prefer AAC quality because of high quality at a smaller file size.

16. vincelongman

Posts: 5555; Member since: Feb 10, 2013

Yep, IMO we may as well skip AAC and go to Opus Although we need better hardware acceleration for Opus

17. vincelongman

Posts: 5555; Member since: Feb 10, 2013

For those who haven't heard of Opus Opus is the successor to Vorbis and Speex, basically has the best of each together. It offers better quality than AAC and even HE-AAC It's going to be used along with the next gen AV1 video codec, backed by Amazon, Cisco, Google, Intel, Microsoft, Mozilla, Netflix, ARM, AMD, NVIDIA, ...

22. Krjal

Posts: 397; Member since: Dec 19, 2013

If audiophiles are looking for a compressed format they'll use FLAC.

7. GoGoGalaxyNexus

Posts: 80; Member since: Nov 01, 2013

Great article from GSM!!

19. kevin91202

Posts: 637; Member since: Jun 08, 2014

Thanks, but whoever wrote that GSMArena article hasn't fully grasped the English language.

3. threed61

Posts: 259; Member since: May 27, 2011

In reality, their patents expired, so they want to move on to supporting things still under patent. MP3 will be fine.

5. piyath

Posts: 2443; Member since: Mar 23, 2012

There also Apple is ahead of the game...yay AAC is the future.

6. MrElectrifyer

Posts: 3960; Member since: Oct 21, 2014

Lol, apple presstitutes at their finest. The patents for MP3 format is what has expired, meaning it'll now be free for anyone to create MP3s. The era of MP3 is far from its end. That said, there's no MP3 in my media library. Coming from over half a decade of using only jailbroken iPhones, and given that Android/Windows are very well compatible with the AAC M4A format, I've just kept all my media library that way.

8. xtradax

Posts: 18; Member since: Dec 13, 2014

I believe MP3 and AAC will survive for a long time due to their popularity and compatibility, If there will be a new king in Audio codecs I think it will be OPUS because it is the most efficient in Quality/FileSize, and Google is going to fully support it in VPx projects.

10. epdm2be

Posts: 811; Member since: Apr 20, 2012

"...officially announced that it has terminated its patent licensing..." This doesn't mean that the format itself will cease to exist? It only means that it is now a fully public domain format for anyone to encode and decode.

12. Darkerm

Posts: 319; Member since: Jan 31, 2012

Yes, the licensing program was killed... but that also the patents for encoding expired and this means that MP3s now are free to produce... This will make MP3s more popular than ever. The same thing happened to "GIF" in the image world

13. Godfather

Posts: 68; Member since: Oct 31, 2012

FLAC > ALAC > AAC and nothing else. I have been re-downloading my entire music collection in those particular formats. I do realize a 320kbps MP3 still sounds as good but I rather have an AAC file with proper ID3tag song rating in iTunes. I convert all my FLAC to ALAC and have all supporting ID3tag showing properly in iTunes as well (OSD Kicking in) Hi Fi audio is the new "IT" format and should be the standard pretty soon.

18. vincelongman

Posts: 5555; Member since: Feb 10, 2013

Correction, Opus > AAC > Vorbis Opus is the successor to Vorbis and Speex, basically has the best of each together. It offers better quality than AAC and even HE-AAC It's going to be used along with the next gen AV1 video codec, backed by Amazon, Cisco, Google, Intel, Microsoft, Mozilla, Netflix, ARM, AMD, NVIDIA, ...

14. trojan_horse

Posts: 5868; Member since: May 06, 2016

The MP3 format isn't dead at all, it's just become fully public due to it's patents for encoding and decoding have expired. MP3 will become even more popular.

15. Tziggy14

Posts: 611; Member since: Sep 02, 2014

It's not going away. YouTube converter software depends too much on mp3.

20. kevin91202

Posts: 637; Member since: Jun 08, 2014

MP3 discontinued? Did you even bother reading the original article that you copied from? Another poorly written article by a novice PA writer. No surprise...

21. DavidDau

Posts: 29; Member since: Oct 24, 2016

No MP3, no WMA, no ACC! Opus or Ogg are my choices.

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