Thomson, a well-known maker of various consumer electronics, has introduced mp3HD, the latest addition to the mp3 family. The new mp3HD format allows mathematically lossless compression of audio material while preserving backward compatibility to the mp3 standard. But while the format promises ultimate quality, it remains to be seen whether it is adopted by hardware makers and content vendors.
“Over the past years, most of the music download services have adopted mp3 as their format of choice. By introducing this new mp3HD format, Thomson enables users and content providers to enjoy ultimate audio quality while preserving the convenience of the mp3 format,” said Rocky Caldwell, general manager, mp3 and audio licensing for Thomson.
mp3HD is a lossless audio codec with bitrates for music approximately 500Kb/s to 900Kb/s that is backward compatible with mp3 since the standard presupposes embedding of standard-definition mp3 track in the same mp3 container that contains mp3HD track.
While the transition to high-definition video and audio will indisputably spur interest towards lossless audio, it remains to be seen whether content vendors and hardware/software vendors embrace the new format. For instance, Junodownload.com store sells lossless music in FLAC and WAV formats, but does not support APE or other lossless audio formats.
Compatibility with existing MP3 equipment should help the format to get more widespread. However, since an average 4 minute track with 876Kb/s bitrate in mp3HD format requires 26MB of storage space, usage of mp3HD on mainstream mp3 players will hardly be widespread due to limited storage space.
mp3HD technology is now available to both software and hardware manufacturers for licensing.