The MP3 format will not be further developed or updated. Too old ? More up to date? Still, for thousands, even tens of thousands of people, it represents a certain idea of the music that has accompanied us for many years. If it still dominates the market, its disappearance is only a matter of time. The AAC format should probably replace it. We take a look at the pros and cons of each.
Why the end of MP3?
The disappearance of the MP3 is the end of an era. From the MP3 player, to the dematerialization of music with streaming, it has accompanied a real transformation of musical technologies. But it is now over, it will no longer be updated and should gradually disappear by being replaced.
Last May, the Fraunhofer Institute IIS has therefore announced the end of the updates. “There are other more efficient audio codecs with more advanced features today, although MP3 is very popular among consumers. However, most media services like radio, TV or streaming will use ISO-MPEG codecs like AAC family or MPEG-H in the future. These offer more features, better audio quality and a much lower sample rate than MP3s.”
But the Institute is not abandoning its ambitions, quite the contrary. Their efforts will now focus on the AAC format which is also an internal creation. Already present on many platforms and devices, he still suffers from a certain lack of recognition. So he has the shoulders cut to take over from a legend.
AAC better than MP3
More recently, the AAC format has of course serious advantages over MP3. Even if it is paradoxically there for a while already (only 4 years younger than MP3), he remained in the shadow of his big brother. It's its ever-increasing rollout by Apple that has helped popularize it recently.
On the side of its strong points, we find first of all the storage space. On average, an AAC file will only take up 80% of the space needed for an MP3 file. If the difference may seem small for a single file, on a large library it starts to represent a significant difference. Despite this lower weight, it offers superior quality! It also accepts frequencies above 16 Hz without any problem.
Problems with compatibility
Given its two essential advantages in dematerialized music, why hasn't AAC replaced MP3 yet? This is because of a defect that is set to disappear: the lack of compatibility. MP3 can still work on 99% of devices today, services and software. It is therefore the ideal format for both music production and listening.
However, if for the moment, we mainly use the AAC at Apple, this change of direction of the Institute should eventually push manufacturers to follow in the footsteps of the apple brand. Difficult to continue using the MP3 if it is no longer updated. Users will also claim to be able to read AAC files massively. In short, it is a result that seems inexorable even if it could still take time, especially for the renewal of equipment.
What are the other alternatives?
Of course, there is no guarantee that AAC, which is in fact the successor to MP3, will be the dominant format. Other alternatives exist that may well seize the opportunity. Many music streaming services like Deezer already offers listening in FLAC format. The logic is the same on the side of audio headsets with the search for optimal quality. It is this format that currently seems best placed to compete with AAC.
Moreover, Apple has understood this since FLAC format is available on iPhone and iPad since the beginning of June. This novelty shortly after the decision of the Fraunhofer Institute IIS could very well be fortuitous. The timing is however indicative of a certain trend.
However, it is important to remember that unless you are a purist or are equipped with very high quality equipment, you will probably not even realize the difference from a sound point of view. The decisive criterion could therefore well be that of storage. Unless we are witnessing a new musical revolution in the coming years...
And what is your favorite music format? How are you going to replace the MP3? Tell us everything in the comments!