OGG Vorbis Support?

I just updated to the latest firmare v. 1.01.11a and still no OGG support.  Anybody have any headsup when Sansa is getting with it?  I sent a feature request support.  No word as of yet.  Will post more info when it comes available. 

I seriously doubt that there are enough people out there that know what OGG is, much less wish to use it over the widely popular *.mp3 format. It seems pointless to waste memory space on a file format that’s on the fringe, similar to FLAC… Also known as FL"We don’t even know what we are"AC.

Thanks for your response. Though I agree that MP3 is popular, the fact remains that MP3 as a format has the following limitations:

  1. Time resolution can be too low for highly transient signals, may cause some smearing of percussive sounds.
  2. Due to the tree structure of the filter bank, pre-echo issues are made worse, as the combined impulse response of the two filter banks does not, and can not, provide an optimum solution in time/frequency resolution.
  3. The combination of the two filter banks creates aliasing issues that must be handled partially by the “aliasing compensation” stage, but that create excess energy to be coded in the frequency domain, thereby decreasing coding efficiency
  4. Frequency resolution is limited by the small long block window size, decreasing coding efficiency
  5. No scale factor band for frequencies above 15.5/15.8 kHz
  6. Joint stereo is done only on a frame-to-frame basis
  7. Internal handling of the bit reservoir increases encoding delay
  8. Encoder/decoder overall delay is not defined, which means lack of official provision for gapless playback. However, some encoders such as LAME can attach additional metadata that will allow players that are aware of it to deliver seamless playback.

OGG Vorbis doesn’t share these limitations. Also there are legal implications such as the fact that a large number of different organizations have claimed ownership of patents necessary to implement MP3 (decoding and/or encoding). These different claims have led to a number of legal actions, and legal threats, from a variety of sources, resulting in uncertainty about what is necessary to legally create products with MP3 support in countries where those patents are valid. The various patents claimed to cover MP3 by different patent-holders have many different expiration dates, ranging from 2007 to 2017 in the U.S. The license for these patents adds to the price of the end product which is passed onto us the consumer.

Whereas OGG Vorbis is a free and open source, lossy audio codec project headed by the Xiph.Org Foundation and intended to serve as a replacement for MP3 and is also in the public domain. I think citing the reasons above it is a vaild format for Sansa to consider for implementation into it’s products. You can find out more about MP3 and OGG Vorbis on their respective Wikipedia Articles: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ogg_vorbis and http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mp3

That’s a nice list, but my point still stands. I personally don’t care if my sound is a little “smeared” or has some small issues that I’d need the hearing equivilant of a microscope to point out.

Though OGG is definitely possible, I question whether there would be enough popularity to justify it.  Take, for example, the uber popular MP3 file.  Where does one browse the catalog du OGG??

One must rip thine own OGGage from CD, yes?  Transcoding…what is that word…sucks!  Not to mention that the OGG format is pretty clean indeed.  I know it’s popular among the Linux crowd.

To add OGG might mean having to sacrifice other popular functions, though I like the idea of having an alternate choice of firmware.  The downside of doing so can be readily conceived, as confused users load the wrong version.

Well, I have ideas of how to limit that problem too, but that’s another subject entirely.

Bob  :wink:

That’s a good point, bob.  Here is a site where you may browse free audio books in the public domain in OGG, Speex, or MP3:  http://www.gutenberg.org/browse/categories/1 .

Also, I think that many end users are familiar with ‘ripping’ CDs for their PCs and devices.  Though it may ‘suck’ to some, it’s a necessary step that most are more than willing to learn, even as far as importing from analog sources such as tapes and LPs. All the tools for encoding into OGG format are freely available. 

As for loss of functionality if you look at competitors to the Sansa lineup of products such as the Samsung U3, Insignia Pilot, iRiver Clix, among others, have been able to incorporate the technology without any perceivable detriment to the product or it’s further development, which is why I referred in the original post as incorporating such a function as ‘getting with it’. 

I would like to hear you elaborate on the negative aspects of such an addition.  I appreciate the perspectives that have been brought up so far, yet popularity seems to be the main justification.  I think the FUZE is a great product and want to see it succeed which is the reason for proposing this addition to its further development, which wouldn’t seem to cost very much in terms of programmer time and effort.  To clarify, I wasn’t proposing an alternate firmware but to add the functionality in a future firmware update which should eliminate any confusion.   

That’s a great point to bring up, A-Killer. Why not add FLAC functionality? Having an option to go lossless would only add to the value of Sansa’s product lineup.

Message Edited by sol6 on 04-30-2008 07:53 AM

As much as I would love to see Sansa add better codecs, I don’t think it’s ever going to happen.  MP3 is just too ubiquitous (especially with Amazon and others now offering high-bitrate DRM free MP3s) and US consumers are in general extremely ignorant when it comes to codecs.

Ogg is great and infinitely preferable to MP3 & WMA, but without support from online services will never gain much tracktion in the market.  I think there might actually be a stronger argument for FLAC as it is the preferred format for archiving CDs on the computer.  But FLAC file size is really too big for most flash players.  I think you need to get to 32GB+ before it becomes realistic.

Personally, my library is 100% FLAC and I use Winamp to automatically transcode to MP3 when syncing to portables.  When first filling up a player it takes a long time, but after that it’s pretty quick to sync changes.

While I understand why it’s not a priority for Sansa, it is kind of depressing that virually every player coming out of Korea, no matter how cheap, supports Ogg and FLAC, but pretty much none of the major players in the US market do.

it is possible that sansa is going to support aac and ogg. think of this … . if they supported aac, these players get on par with ipods. . . and if they support ogg, they would be one step above ipods! this opens possibly more consumers for them. sansa has to be at least considering about offering these support! we can only wait and see if it happens, but I believe it will happen soon . . . hoping. . . maybe. . . yes?

I would consider AAC support to be much more marketable than ogg. The iPod has a huge chunk of the MP3 player market, and winning that market long-term means getting iPod users over to Sansa. iPod users pretty much have to use iTunes, and the default iTunes encoder (for ripping CDs) is AAC. Consequently, many iPod users have large AAC libraries. iTunes (by far the largest reseller of legal music downloads) also sells some albums in unencrypted AAC, which works on a Zune (and others) but not on a Sansa. A lot more music is also showing up on the (illegal) download sites in AAC format. The Ogg user base is very vocal but still relatively small.

I went from an iPod to a Sansa, and I have to say one of the big drawbacks is the lack of AAC support. Even my car stereo and DVD player support AAC. None of them support Ogg.

I sent in a question to Sansa Tech Support the other day and this is the response I received this morning:

"Dear Sol,
Thanks for contacting SanDisk Technical Support. It is our goal to make sure you have all the resources you need to get the most from your product.
We do appreciate your good words about our player.

Unfortunately, at the present time SanDisk does not plan to implement Ogg-Vorbis support into future firmware.
Thank you for your kind understanding of this issue.

Please feel free to contact us at anytime via email or by phone at (866)726-3475 Eastern Time 7AM - 1AM
Open 7 days a week, except for major Holidays.

Best Regards,
Maksym M.
SanDisk Technical Support"

Whereas I responded:

"Dear Sir,

I find this decision very disappointing as a new Sansa customer. The benefits of OGG Vorbis support have already been embraced by your competitors Samsung, iRiver, Insignia, among others.
As a technology consultant and media professional, it seems Sansa may never compete significantly in the market without meeting or surpassing the functionality offered by the competition.
This is very disconcerting and forces me to refer clients, friends, and co-workers to the purchase of other products for their needs.
At current, it is common practice for our company to steer our clients clear of iPods due to Apple’s totalitarian and proprietary practices that impose unnecessary limitations on the customer. Including, but not limited to, the use of iTunes for basic device functionality.
The new product lineup of Sansa product seemed very exciting but without a possibility of further inclusion of formats such as OGG-Vorbis, AAC, and/or FLAC I can only see investment in the products as a short term, limited investment.
I hope that Sansa will reconsider and if there are proactive measures one can make in feature requests to the development team could you please inform me of them? Thank you for your time."

I agree with Thoma that they should be open to the idea for other formats.

It could be possible that with enough of a ruckus they will reconsider. I, for one, am neither a subscriber to Rhapsody or a user of Windows Media software so where they seem to be focusing their development toward subscription services has no benefit to me or my clients. If this remains the state of things, it seems that Sansa will continually be a marginal player in the market relying on partnership gimmicks such as Rhapsody, Napster, or whomever. :cry:

Perhaps OGG could be in the future, but SanDisk is looking at the overall marketability equation, I assure you.

I wouldn’t exactly call the Rhapsody partnership (both the original Sansa Rhapsody, and the current Rhapsody PFS compatibility) a “gimmick”.  It’s a sound marketing choice, especially when compared against iTunes.

One of the appealing features of the sansa is that it does work with the RealNetworks service, as well as other systems using the WMDRM / Janus DRM protocol, despite its quirks.  The addition of multiple platform compatibility in the form of MSC mode is a major selling point.

Bob  :smileyvery-happy: 

I agree that AAC support should now be a standard. Sony, Creative and even newer music capable cell phones support AAC. Come on SanDisk, catch up!

I agree that AAC support should be included.  I have sent a message inquiring whether this will be included in future firmware upgrades.  Hopefully it will be.  In the meantime I would suggest sending a feature submission to Sandisk Support at  support@sandisk.com. Of if you have the time you can also call them at (866) 726-3475. 

I, myself, havent been able to determine a way to submit a feature request other than talking to support.  If you have any updates then please share it.  Great idea!  :smileyvery-happy:

I received the following message today concerning AAC:

“Dear Sol,

Thanks for contacting SanDisk Technical Support. It is our goal to make sure you have all the resources you need to get the most from your product.

As a matter of fact, all new Sansa Players (View, Fuze, e&c200 v.2) - do support AAC and mpeg4 audio, but the problem is, that iTunes will not synchronize AAC or mpeg4 to Sansa players, as long as it is copyright-protected.

Thank you for kind understanding of this issue.

You can also call us at 866)726-3475 Eastern Time 7AM - 1AM
Open 7 days a week, except for major Holidays and talk to our tech support in person.

Best Regards,
Maksym M.
SanDisk Technical Support” 

Now if we could only get OGG Vorbis and FLAC on board then that’d make FUZE and Co. quite the Ipod Killers! :smileyvery-happy: 

sorry but tech support is wrong. the sansa view is the only product in the sansa line that supports drm free .aac files. the only reason the view supports this is because the .aac codec is used in one of the supported video codecs. this functionality is not advertised.

I’ve sent a feature request for AAC as well. Perhaps it’ll be a greater consideration if they get more requests. I never realized how many m4a files I had until I got the Fuze!

So just a heads up, Sansa Clip’s newest firmware supports OGG, which means we can more reasonably expect future sansa products to support OGG. Quite possibly the Fuze’s next firmware may do so? One good step for Sansa.

That’s excellent news!  Has there been any progress on AAC compatibility in terms of the firmware update?  I’ll try to look up the specs and post them.  Thanks for the heads up!

I’m afraid that we can forget OGG/FLAC support for Fuze and any other current Sansa model (except Clips OGG). Here you can read another technical support response (to my yesterday mail):

“As of now, we do not have an MP3 player that supports FLAC format and we do not have any update information that will allow the player to recognize this format. About the OGG only the Sansa Clip is the one that can support this file and we do not have update information as well if there will be any firmware to allow the sansa Fuze to recognize and play this file.”

OGG/FLAC supporting Fuze was probably only a (still alive!) rumor… which is bad… and sad…