Ogg vs MP3: Can You Hear the Difference?

Posted by Dave Henry on Aug 13,2020 5:18 PM.
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ogg vs mp3

Have you ever noticed that there’re differences when you listen to the same song on different platforms, media players, or devices? Actually there’re lots of potential variables that make a difference in the quality of every song. If you have ever got around to do some research on how a song is made and how it is brought to you, you’ll know that the song has gone through many processes that can possibly change how it sounds. And one of the major processes is encoding.

The audio world used to be the reign of MP3, which is a coding format defined as the third audio format of the MPEG-1. But with the rise of online music streaming platform Spotify, Ogg becomes the hotspot of the audio industry.

In this passage, I’ll talk about the differences between Ogg and MP3, as well as how to choose the one that caters to your needs.

How Did MP3 Become So Popular?

mp3

Before MP3 was created, music distributors earned a profit by storing music in a CD and selling those CDs to music lovers. Music stored in CD is uncompressed and with high resolution. But there’s a problem with it. CD takes up a huge space to retain the music in high quality, a 3-minute long song consumes about 32 megabytes of space. Downloading a song could take up to 2 hours.

Later MP3 was invented, it uses lossy data compression to encode data using inexact approximation and the partial discarding of data, which means it largely reduces the file size compared to uncompressed audio. With MP3, a 32-megabyte song on CD can be compressed down to 3 MB. This is why people usually MP3 changed the music industry. It allows people to download songs more quickly and store more songs on the computer and phone.

What is Ogg Format?

ogg

Ogg is a bitstream container format for efficient streaming and file compression. It’s an open-source lossy format that created in the process of developing a set of components for the coding and decoding of multimedia content which could be both freely available and freely re-implementable in software.

When encoding in MP3 format, there’re actually will be a very small amount of silence at the beginning and end of the song. So when people loop the tracks, there’s be a pause when a track ends and the other track starts. And Ogg format can make the audio completely gapless. And so it becomes more widely accepted among video and audio editing software platforms.

But with the fact that Ogg is not supported natively on most devices, so it’s not widely used among ordinary listeners. However, Spotify has adopted the Ogg Vorbis format for its streaming services. And so if you’re a musician and want to know how your songs will sound on Spotify, it’d be better to encode your song in Ogg format.

Ogg or MP3: Which One is Better?

Before we get to the topic, let’s take a listening test of a song in Ogg and MP3. Both of them are streamed in 320kbps. See if you can tell the difference.

Spotify Ogg in 320kbps

MP3 in 320kbps(scroll down to play)

Lossy Compression

Both Ogg and MP3 use lossy compression, but would it cost the loss of quality?

The fact is there’re sounds that the human ear cannot hear. When the music is complicated, we tend to notice the louder one and neglect the quieter one. And the lossy compression works to throw away those information we might not notice or we cannot hear and output the file with a smaller size.

Ogg Vorbis vs MP3 in Sound Quality

Since the encoding in Ogg Vorbis is more efficient than MP3, generally Ogg Vorbis sounds better than MP3. But there’s a sweet spot in MP3 which is about 128 kbps and it almost sounds the same as Ogg Vorbis at this bit rate.

Compatibility

You can play MP3 almost everywhere, but you can’t with Ogg Vorbis. You can play MP3 on your phone, computer, receiver and super old player, but in most cases, they’re not compatible with Ogg Vorbis. Let’s say you download a song from Spotify which is in Ogg format and you want to play it on a device that doesn’t have a Spotify app, you cannot play the song on it because the song is exclusive for Spotify. But you can actually play the song by converting it into MP3 with the TunesKit Spotify Music Converter.

Ogg or MP3: Which to choose?

If you want to choose a format between Ogg and MP3, it depends on how you’re going to use the audio file.

If you want to keep the file size small, then both Ogg and MP3 can meet your need.

There’re some areas that Ogg is better at like the sound quality, open-source characteristics and changeable bit rate.

While for MP3, it’s almost like a universal format in the audio industry, it is far more popular and compatible than Ogg. MP3 will be the best choice for scenarios like sharing music to your friends or upload your music to social platforms.

So in conclusion, there’s no certain answer to which format to choose. The choice still should be based on your personal preference. But always keep in mind that the file should be compatible with your operating system and it’s better to prepare enough space for your files.

author

is a long-time TunesKiter who loves all technological things. In his free time, he likes reading about science and technology, writing for his blog, watching sci-fi films, and meditating.

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