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Why do people use WMA? How does it compare to other codecs? etc., [split from “Windows Media Player 12 VBR Codec?”, thread 99192]
eahm
post Jan 31 2013, 18:44
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Pardon my ignorance and please, this is a real question: why people use WMA? I've hear many people using it and I didn't used once.
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TheSeven
post Jan 31 2013, 18:56
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QUOTE (eahm @ Jan 31 2013, 11:44) *
Pardon my ignorance and please, this is a real question: why people use WMA? I've hear many people using it and I didn't used once.


Why not? It's compatibility and support is 2nd only to MP3 (really, nearly universal), it's player is embedded on every Windows based computer, and at high bitrates (200 kbps +), it's as transparent as MP3. I use all Windows software, have a Windows phone, and am thinking about a Surface. Why don't you try it and see? I think you might like it.
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eahm
post Jan 31 2013, 19:05
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QUOTE (TheSeven @ Jan 31 2013, 10:56) *
Why not? It's compatibility and support is 2nd only to MP3 (really, nearly universal), it's player is embedded on every Windows based computer, and at high bitrates (200 kbps +), it's as transparent as MP3. I use all Windows software, have a Windows phone, and am thinking about a Surface. Why don't you try it and see? I think you might like it.

I switched to FLAC/AAC long ago but thanks for the reply.

This post has been edited by eahm: Jan 31 2013, 19:07
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pdq
post Jan 31 2013, 19:05
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QUOTE (eahm @ Jan 31 2013, 12:44) *
Pardon my ignorance and please, this is a real question: why people use WMA? I've hear many people using it and I didn't used once.

Most of the time people use it because it is the default codec on whatever platform/software they are using. If you take a serious look at it compared to other codecs then you will probably not choose it.
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TheSeven
post Jan 31 2013, 19:15
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QUOTE (pdq @ Jan 31 2013, 12:05) *
QUOTE (eahm @ Jan 31 2013, 12:44) *
Pardon my ignorance and please, this is a real question: why people use WMA? I've hear many people using it and I didn't used once.

Most of the time people use it because it is the default codec on whatever platform/software they are using. If you take a serious look at it compared to other codecs then you will probably not choose it.

Most people would probably want to take a serious listen as well, before they decide. It isn't well-liked around here for some reason, but I know alot of people who seem to get a lot of enjoyment from their portable music, even though it's ripped with WMA.
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mixminus1
post Jan 31 2013, 19:16
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QUOTE (TheSeven @ Jan 31 2013, 10:56) *
It's compatibility and support is 2nd only to MP3 (really, nearly universal)

500 million iOS devices beg to differ.


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TheSeven
post Jan 31 2013, 19:21
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QUOTE (mixminus1 @ Jan 31 2013, 12:16) *
QUOTE (TheSeven @ Jan 31 2013, 10:56) *
It's compatibility and support is 2nd only to MP3 (really, nearly universal)

500 million iOS devices beg to differ.

Well, there are approximately 6 billion cell phones in existence right now, so non-compatibility with 8% of the market doesn't seem grossly off-putting to me. But thanks for pointing that out.
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db1989
post Jan 31 2013, 19:42
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QUOTE (TheSeven @ Jan 31 2013, 18:15) *
Most people would probably want to take a serious listen as well, before they decide. It isn't well-liked around here for some reason, but I know alot of people who seem to get a lot of enjoyment from their portable music, even though it's ripped with WMA.
Listening is irrelevant at bitrates that provide transparency across the board, and by that point, users are free to choose a codec based on the many other criteria and may well prefer something else.
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DonP
post Jan 31 2013, 19:50
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QUOTE (TheSeven @ Jan 31 2013, 12:56) *
Why not? It's compatibility and support is 2nd only to MP3 (really, nearly universal), it's player is embedded on every Windows based computer, and at high bitrates (200 kbps +), it's as transparent as MP3. I use all Windows software, have a Windows phone, and am thinking about a Surface. Why don't you try it and see? I think you might like it.


Over the range of platforms I use (windows, linux, various portables), vorbis plays on everything, mp3 doesn't play on linux out of the box, but is easy to fix, and WMA plays only on windows PC's and some portables.

I'd guess it is also way behind aac in terms of compatibility.

If you are in a totally Windows world, and never expect to leave, then go for it.

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mixminus1
post Jan 31 2013, 20:03
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And what percentage of those "6 billion cell phones" actually support WMA, as well as online music stores (iTunes + Amazon account for over 80%, not much WMA there), etc. etc. etc.

Anyway...

Point being: WMA is a closed, proprietary format owned by one company - a company who, evidently, hasn't updated their audio codec in quite some time. Is *9.2* still being used by WMP *12*? And why *is* it so difficult to confirm that, even with Microsoft's own Windows Media Player?

As for how to change that - well, it's Microsoft's own codec and software, so if it doesn't happen by default, I don't think you're going to have much luck improving the situation (for instance, remuxing the .wma file with...?). This is just one reason of many that WMA does not get much use or discussion around here.

AAC and MP3, OTOH, are well-documented standards that are supported by a large number of devices and programs (at least all of those "6 billion cell phones", and many more). iTunes, for instance, will read the TOOL and VERSION strings from the tags of MP3 and AAC files, and report the software and version used to encode those files, even if they were created with something other than iTunes.

This post has been edited by mixminus1: Jan 31 2013, 20:05


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Neuron
post Jan 31 2013, 20:40
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QUOTE (TheSeven @ Jan 31 2013, 19:15) *
QUOTE (pdq @ Jan 31 2013, 12:05) *
QUOTE (eahm @ Jan 31 2013, 12:44) *
Pardon my ignorance and please, this is a real question: why people use WMA? I've hear many people using it and I didn't used once.

Most of the time people use it because it is the default codec on whatever platform/software they are using. If you take a serious look at it compared to other codecs then you will probably not choose it.

Most people would probably want to take a serious listen as well, before they decide. It isn't well-liked around here for some reason, but I know alot of people who seem to get a lot of enjoyment from their portable music, even though it's ripped with WMA.


http://www.hydrogenaudio.org/forums/index....c=98841&hl=

Man, WMA 9 sounds like Blade at 128 kbps. And a bad codec at medium bitrates is usually bad on higher as well. Windows Media Player has an untuned, old encoder and even Microsoft pretty much silently abandoned the format. I gave WMA a chance and my ears responded "no!".
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Neuron
post Jan 31 2013, 20:43
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QUOTE (TheSeven @ Jan 31 2013, 19:21) *
Well, there are approximately 6 billion cell phones in existence right now, so non-compatibility with 8% of the market doesn't seem grossly off-putting to me. But thanks for pointing that out.


Yes, and most of those phones probably have no mp3 or wma or m4a capability, because people in the third world generally use older/simpler cellphones for economy reasons. No WMA playback on those ones, WAV 16 Khz sampling rate ADPCM at best.
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TheSeven
post Feb 1 2013, 04:22
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QUOTE
http://www.hydrogenaudio.org/forums/index....c=98841&hl=

Man, WMA 9 sounds like Blade at 128 kbps. And a bad codec at medium bitrates is usually bad on higher as well. Windows Media Player has an untuned, old encoder and even Microsoft pretty much silently abandoned the format. I gave WMA a chance and my ears responded "no!".


I'm not trying to start a war here. You're entitled to your preference for a codec. But Stevie Wonder could probably ABX a 128 kbps lossy file against any lossless codec as well as you did.
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Soap
post Feb 1 2013, 04:27
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QUOTE (TheSeven @ Jan 31 2013, 22:22) *
But Stevie Wonder could probably ABX a 128 kbps lossy file against any lossless codec as well as you did.


huh.gif


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Engelsstaub
post Feb 1 2013, 05:36
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I used to use WMA Lossless when I had a Zune. I eventually gave the Zune HD to my daughter when I realized support for it was shit even then. Microsoft really knocked that one out of the park. "Let's launch an 'iPod Killer!' and not market it in Europe and barely market it in North America!" ...it was a decent device IMO.

Later I just bought my daughter an iDevice and got rid of the 80 Gb Zune and the Zune HD (which had crap for apps) when I realized it was going the way of all their other self-induced failures.

...my point really is that Windows Media Audio, to me, is just more abandoned Microsoft technology. There's no point in using it unless you have a Windows Phone...and then there's still no point. You can just use LAME MP3 or AAC on that too (I think. The Zune supported both and wisely added AAC support knowing that iTunes is the biggest retailer of digitally downloaded music.)


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saratoga
post Feb 1 2013, 07:20
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QUOTE (TheSeven @ Jan 31 2013, 22:22) *
But Stevie Wonder could probably ABX a 128 kbps lossy file against any lossless codec as well as you did.


Can't decide if this is a complement or a mixed metaphor.
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greynol
post Feb 1 2013, 07:25
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It's about as well thought-out as choosing wma as you primary lossy encoder.


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probedb
post Feb 1 2013, 12:51
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QUOTE (eahm @ Jan 31 2013, 17:44) *
Pardon my ignorance and please, this is a real question: why people use WMA? I've hear many people using it and I didn't used once.


At a guess it's because WMP is the default audio player for many versions of Windows, if not it's the first thing people see to download. Remember many people are not technical and don't care about their audio, they just want to listen to it on their PC. On Windows, they put a CD in, Windows rips it so it's wma.
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JunkieXL
post Feb 1 2013, 21:30
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Nevermind. My response was stated above.

I too started using it as my first codec because Windows Media Player came pre-installed with my OS and WMA was one of the only free audio codecs that came with it. This is back in 1996 or so though. You had to purchase a codec package from Microsoft in order to make mp3s at the time.
JXL

This post has been edited by JunkieXL: Feb 1 2013, 21:33
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Porcus
post Feb 2 2013, 05:17
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I guess that WMA was part of Microsoft's futile attempt at becoming what the fruitcake company is today.

One should have in mind what was going on back then. The press was writing about how Fraunhofer was about to pull the "first needle free and then you're hooked" trick and cash in on MP3. It didn't turn out that way, and it might not have been so much of a real threat as the press would have it, but
- it might have been a strategy against being vulnerable to royalty claims.
- it was anyway at a time when Microsoft was really building their own of everything, whether they screwed over any and every standard or just had their own format
- Microsoft was in the market for portable playback devices
- and, not to forget: Microsoft was going for DRM big time, and needed a format which in the very least offered that @£¤%& stuff. Microsoft was positioning themselves at the monopoly on locking digital music into the computer in a way that the consumers couldn't get their hands on it.

Luckily the DRM bandwagon flopped (throwing out the reason to launch the OS that later became the quite pointless Vista), and there is simply no use for the WMA formats anymore. Honestly, what is there to it? Except it isn't as bad as Real Audio?


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Mach-X
post Feb 2 2013, 06:42
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QUOTE (greynol @ Feb 1 2013, 01:25) *
It's about as well thought-out as choosing wma as you primary lossy encoder.

Ahem. While WMA Standard hasn't been updated in ages, wma pro is fully competitive with any modern codec for file size/transparency. Without providing actual results of extensive listening tests, it outperformed lame, autov vorbis and fhg aac at quality level 50. A user who tends to reside within the microsoft ecosystem would benefit greatly with wma pro as it plays on any zune device, xbox, windows phone or windows pc. It's not a horrible codec to utilize at all. It would seem as though we've exposed a chink in your bipartisan armour?
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Engelsstaub
post Feb 2 2013, 07:13
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QUOTE (Mach-X @ Feb 1 2013, 23:42) *
...wma pro...plays on any zune device, xbox, windows phone or windows pc. It's not a horrible codec to utilize at all. It would seem as though we've exposed a chink in your bipartisan armour?


All of those devices you've mentioned also support industry-standard codecs like MP3 and AAC. I *believe* the reasons why WMA is unpopular is twofold:

1. Many don't trust using WMA because of Microsoft's track-record of supporting and updating their audio products.

2. iDevices and Android phones are the majority of the market for such codec use. Neither natively supports WMA but both support MP3 and AAC out of the box. (BTW regarding "bipartisan:" greynol is a known user of Windows and, based on previous comments I've read, does not have a lot of love for Apple. Just saying...)

This post has been edited by Engelsstaub: Feb 2 2013, 07:15


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Mach-X
post Feb 2 2013, 07:52
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I never accused him of loving apple. In fact, from my experience, he's the most impartial mod here. His comment was the first i've ever seen from him suggesting impartiality, I was rather surprised. As far as your claim about idevices and android, I didn't once claim wma pro was the most universal. I use aac myself, however, for users that are primarily microsoft ecosystem users (last I checked they are welcome at HA), wma pro is useful and competitive with any modern codec.
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greynol
post Feb 2 2013, 08:24
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My post was in reference to how incredibly stupid and in poor taste that Stevie Wonder comment was.


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Banned
post Feb 2 2013, 08:27
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QUOTE (DonP @ Jan 31 2013, 19:50) *
Over the range of platforms I use (windows, linux, various portables), vorbis plays on everything, mp3 doesn't play on linux out of the box, but is easy to fix, and WMA plays only on windows PC's and some portables.

I'd guess it is also way behind aac in terms of compatibility.

If you are in a totally Windows world, and never expect to leave, then go for it.
FFmpeg can decode WMA.
Unless you're using Debian stable, perharps.

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