Likelihood of mp4 / aac support?

Any chance of a firmware upgrade to provide support for mp4?  I have quite a bit of music in mp4 format; it’s OK to convert to mp3 before dumping onto the clip+, but it would be nice to be able to avoid that step.  And it’s not as if mp4 / aac is some obscure format known only to a handful of audio-geeks…

Mike

The speculation is that SanDisk didn’t offer aac support originally because of the aac license fee.  If that’s the case and absent a freeware alternative, is it likely that SanDisk would offer this as a firmware upgrade? 

I think having aac support could bring a fair number of iPod users over to the Clips; but seemingly, SanDisk doesn’t agree that it would be a winning financial position.  I would think, just charge $1 more per unit–it’s not as if the Clip price is even close to that of any of the iPods …

I agree.  If SanDisk could tell me who to pay the extra $1 for aac support, I’d do that now.  In fact, I’d pay $10 to cover the licence fee for myself and 9 other users who don’t want or need aac support.

I can’t believe that the aac licence fee wouldn’t be more than offset by an increase in sales for SanDisk.

I would pay extra for AAC support…but only if the player could handle at least AAC-HEv1 files (SBR) like the recent iPods do. If the player is only capable of playing LC files then I don’t think it’s worth it.

AAC comes in three profiles: LC, HEv1 and HEv2. LC (low complexity) is good for higher bitrates but is unsuitable below say 96kbps. HEv1 uses a compression technique callled spectral band replication which lets you get good output from 56-96kbps. HEv2 uses an additional technique called parametric stereo which lets you get listenable (streaming-like) output from 32-56kbps.

@black_cat wrote:

I would pay extra for AAC support…but only if the player could handle at least AAC-HEv1 files (SBR) like the recent iPods do. If the player is only capable of playing LC files then I don’t think it’s worth it.

 

AAC comes in three profiles: LC, HEv1 and HEv2. LC (low complexity) is good for higher bitrates but is unsuitable below say 96kbps. HEv1 uses a compression technique callled spectral band replication which lets you get good output from 56-96kbps. HEv2 uses an additional technique called parametric stereo which lets you get listenable (streaming-like) output from 32-56kbps.

 

SBR is useful, but 96k is a bit high for it.  I think both Nero and iTunes cap it at 80k for quality reasons, and even then its toss up if it actually beats LC.  IMO it works best below 70kbps or so.  

 But fwiw this won’t happen.  The cost of adding it to a firmware and supporting would not be offset by the small number of people technical enough to purchase an updated firmware.

Miikerman wrote:

I think having aac support could bring a fair number of iPod users over to the Clips; but seemingly, SanDisk doesn’t agree that it would be a winning financial position.

Well, the iPods are not the only players that support AAC , you know. Microsoft Zune, Sony Walkman, and some of the Creative players play AAC files right out of the box…in addition to anything capable of running Rockbox. So there are already alternatives out there, which may be why SanDisk has continued on this path.

I looked into aac licensing yesterday and decoder licensing charges start at just under US$1 per unit for up to 500,000 consumer device units per year; there is a downward sliding scale beyond that.  (Wouldn’t you just love to be the owner of the patent rights?!)

What I didn’t see in a quick look is how a freeware like Rockbox manages this situation–it certainly isn’t paying the licensing fee (and is careful not to misuse others’ intellectual property rights).  Perhaps it simply makes use of the codec already included in players (in which case, the licensing fee already has been paid by the player’s manufacturer)?  I looked to see if a freeware “version” of aac decoders exists (thinking that, SanDisk could make use of that), but didn’t see anything. 

Marvin_Martian wrote:


Miikerman wrote:

I think having aac support could bring a fair number of iPod users over to the Clips; but seemingly, SanDisk doesn’t agree that it would be a winning financial position.


Well, the iPods are not the only players that support AAC , you know. Microsoft Zune, Sony Walkman, and some of the Creative players play AAC files right out of the box…in addition to anything capable of running Rockbox. So there are already alternatives out there, which may be why SanDisk has continued on this path.

My thought was, given that the fruit company players default to aac, and given that the fruit company players have, what is it, 80% of the market or something similarly high (not sure if this is U.S. or worldwide; at the very least, it’s a majority of the market), being able to tap into that market with a player that the fruit company doesn’t have an equivalent of could be lucrative.  Making it easy for the fruit company customers to transfer their music easily would be a key for that, for many of the customers. 

Miikerman wrote:


Marvin_Martian wrote:


Miikerman wrote:

I think having aac support could bring a fair number of iPod users over to the Clips; but seemingly, SanDisk doesn’t agree that it would be a winning financial position.


Well, the iPods are not the only players that support AAC , you know. Microsoft Zune, Sony Walkman, and some of the Creative players play AAC files right out of the box…in addition to anything capable of running Rockbox. So there are already alternatives out there, which may be why SanDisk has continued on this path.


 

My thought was, given that the fruit company players default to aac, and given that the fruit company players have, what is it, 80% of the market or something similarly high (not sure if this is U.S. or worldwide; at the very least, it’s a majority of the market), being able to tap into that market with a player that the fruit company doesn’t have an equivalent of could be lucrative.  Making it easy for the fruit company customers to transfer their music easily would be a key for that, for many of the customers. 

Given their statement about not adjusting the pitch issue because they are selling “value” players, I don’t expect to see them adding any  new feature that adds cost, unfortunately:cry:

@miikerman wrote:

I looked into aac licensing yesterday and decoder licensing charges start at just under US$1 per unit for up to 500,000 consumer device units per year; there is a downward sliding scale beyond that.  (Wouldn’t you just love to be the owner of the patent rights?!)

 

What I didn’t see in a quick look is how a freeware like Rockbox manages this situation–it certainly isn’t paying the licensing fee (and is careful not to misuse others’ intellectual property rights).  Perhaps it simply makes use of the codec already included in players (in which case, the licensing fee already has been paid by the player’s manufacturer)?  I looked to see if a freeware “version” of aac decoders exists (thinking that, SanDisk could make use of that), but didn’t see anything. 

Software patents work differently in Europe, so rockbox isn’t directly responsible for the US license fees.  In theory we might still have to pay something, but the MPEG people don’t go after free decoders anymore, since they realized it just discouraged people from using their standards (the vorbis codec largely resulted from an attempt to collect licensing fees on open source mp3 software).  

A lot of people with ipods are unable to understand the concept of using anything other than itunes to transfer music.  Dragging and dropping is even beyond some (I’m serious, I am unfortunately a lot of people’s first call when they have any kind of technology problem).  So I think the ipod vs sansa issue goes well beyond aac support.  I honestly think most people that rip in aac just do it because it’s the default in itunes and they don’t even think of changing it, or even know how to.

Obviously there will be people that this doesn’t apply to, just my experience.

iPod does seem to be becoming the generic term for mp3 players, which I really don’t like.   However, in terms of ease of use, the ipod is still something I recommend to people who aren’t intuitive with computers/devices.  So while I more than likely wouldn’t buy another one myself (but would by another sandisk product), I think there is a lot more to winning over ipod users than just aac support.

I actually think that the Clip goes part of the way there, with a form factor that the fruit company doesn’t offer:  a Shuffle-sized player that has good function.  Add aac support to that and I could see many iPod owners adopting the Clip.

@miikerman wrote:
I actually think that the Clip goes part of the way there, with a form factor that the fruit company doesn’t offer:  a Shuffle-sized player that has good function.  Add aac support to that and I could see many iPod owners adopting the Clip.

Everybody wants different things in a player.  While the Clip+ is a good (not great) little player, it isn’t for everyone.  Of all the players I own it is my least used; and not because it lacks mp4/aac support.

The form factor is almost too small to be useful to me and the battery life is less than stellar.  They got a good start on a great player, but there is lots to be done to be in the class of great.

My point being that Apple hasn’t filled the niche (I don’t include a display-less Shuffle as filling a niche–rather, creating one).  Leading to opportunity.  Adding aac support no doubt would encourage Apple users over.

Miikerman wrote:
My point being that Apple hasn’t filled the niche (I don’t include a display-less Shuffle as filling a niche–rather, creating one).  Leading to opportunity.  Adding aac support no doubt would encourage Apple users over.

Maybe a few…until they realized they couldn’t use iTunes to sync…then we would get a bunch of posts about “why doesn’t this thing work???” and they would go back to their iPods. :wink:

When people choose a format for ripping their CDs, the longevity of the chosen format is crucial. Nobody wants to choose a dead-end format. So, I reckon many would choose mp4 not because they have an ipod, but because *of* the ipod. With so many aac/mp4 files floating around because of the ipod, it’s not a format that is about to wither and die. Never mind that mp4 is better than mp3. For these people, who have masses of mp4 music, which player is going to be more attractive: a Sansa without mp4 support, or a Samsung with? Basic point is that it’s not necessarily your average ipod user who would be attracted to the Sansa if only it had mp4 support.