Hexzenn: “MP3 is a terribly outdated format […] If you’re not a brainless twit, you’re encoding with either OGG Vorbis or AAC. I prefer Vorbis because it’s unencumbered by inane patents and slightly edges out AAC in listening tests, but all you gullible consumers that bought crap like iPods are stuck with either MP3 or AAC […] I find most stuff to sound transparent to the original source at -q3 (112kbps), so I encode at -q4 (128kbps) to give myself a quality margin.”
Reasons this is stupid and wrong:
MP3 is old, but age of formats isn’t extremely relevant. MP3 is only 3 years older than JPEG, and TIFF beats them both by a decade. All are still in heavy use for good reasons.
Nothing’s particularly wrong with properly encoded MP3s (especially VBR encoded with LAME). In blind tests, they’re transparent between 160 kbps and 256 kbps, depending on the content.
Vorbis is extremely similar to MP3 and has most of the same benefits and limitations. It’s slightly better and slightly smaller, but not enough to justify the lack of good tools and device support.
AAC is slightly better than both of them, but isn’t magical. AAC at 128 kbps has similar quality as MP3 at around 160 kbps.
No audio format gives transparency at 112-128 kbps for all music types.
Fortunately, it doesn’t really matter. Lossy audio compression is about convenience, and most people can’t detect (and don’t care about) the quality difference for well-encoded files with any codec. What we certainly can detect are full hard drives and files that won’t play on our iPods.