Friday, 21 May 2010

Switch to Ogg Vorbis

Everybody with a PC on the planet has heard of MP3. Some may know a little about wav and wmv but very few people have heard of the Ogg Vorbis file format (commonly refered to as Oggs).

You may ask why should I care? I have used MP3s for ages and I'm happy with them. Well you have the right to ask that and if anybody is going to convert from any form of media or software that works for them, then they will need a bit of convincing. People are not going to simply stop using one form of music file and switch to another over night.

The main selling point of Oggs is their free and openness. Should you choose to purchase a song from itunes, Napster or any other online music store then it may come with something called DRM (Digital Rights Management) this stops you from playing the file on another PC, MP3 player and can also stop the file being burnt onto CD; a bit unfair for something you purchased, right? Ogg files are DRM free due to their open nature; when you download an Ogg file you can burn it to CD, play it on as many PCs and media players as you wish.

OK then you may respond "I don't buy MP3s so this does not affect me." Well the other main point without getting too technical is that Oggs are smaller file sizes than their MP3 equivalents. Which means that you can get more music files onto your media player. Of course not all media players play Ogg Vorbis yet, a list of players that play Ogg natively can be found here.

CDs can be ripped directly to Ogg using a variety of software. If you run a Linux distro then the standard CD ripping software should convert your CDs to Ogg files by default. For a Windows platform then there a variety of packages that can do this, the Free Software Foundation recommend CDex. Music Man can be used to rip Ogg using a Mac platform.

One piece of advice I would give any users changing from MP3 to Ogg is not to convert the software; rip from a CD when possible. Why? Well both MP3 and Ogg are known as 'lossy' which means that every time you convert a file to them you lose a bit of quality. There are plenty of MP3 to Ogg converters available, but I would only recommend this as a last resort, for best results rip from a CD.

Most media players will play Ogg files with a bit of tweaking, but I would personally recommend VLC player. This is cross platform and plays Oggs 'out of the box'.

I personally use my GP2X Wiz and my Android phone, both of which play Ogg without any modifications. I've also been recommended Sansa Clip by gadgetwisdom on, but I have no personal experience with this player.

The link earlier in the post gave a list of media players that currently play Ogg. I am aware that the Ipod is probably the biggest selling MP3 player and it's not on the list. This is not a problem, I have an Ipod Classic and it runs Ogg fine with a wee bit of fine tuning, watch the video below for more information:

Check out the Rockbox site if your MP3 player is not listed as compatible, it may be able to allow your MP3 player to run Ogg Vorbis.

Now that you know what it is spread the word: the Free Software Foundation have a pre-written email available for copying here.



  1. i offen convert amr files (voice clips from my mobile)
    to oggs, not for reason but just because opensource is fun

  2. spread the word bro, open source is fun and promotes community. The world could learn a lot from the open source philosophy :)