Are all MP3 patents now expired?

According to Wikipedia, MP3 patents have expired as of April 2017:

Did I understand that right? What does this mean for MP3 support in open source software? I know, ogg vorbis is great, and in fact I actually prefer it, but when it comes to sharing music with friends, most people look at me a little weird if I even mention ogg, unless they’re a software freedom nutcase like me.

Are there any plans to directly support MP3 exports from Ardour?

While waiting for official mp3 export I use a script in Ardour export that runs as an additional step after exporting to flac and creates a mp3 - version of the exported file. It’s quite easy to setup and works perfectly.

There are no plans to directly support mp3 im/export in Ardour. If at all this needs to go into libsndfile, which Ardour uses for file i/o.

Interesting. I’m not the only one with a strong desire to see mp3 import/export.
If libsndfile got this feature then Ardour would be able to consider this feature also?

+1 from me if it is at all possible. I’m used to not having this option in most software I use but it sure would be handy to have.

For those that wants this functionality now, it can be done like this:

  • Install lame
  • Open The Export window in Ardour and edit your export preset.
  • At the bottom of the export preset edit window these is a box that says: “Command to run after post-export”.
  • To the post - export command write this: lame -b 160 -ms --quiet %f

Done :slight_smile: Now when you export using this preset it first exports in the format you chose in the preset and then creates an additional mp3 version of the exported file.

Adjust lame options to your liking :slight_smile:

1 Like

Thanks for the workaround mhartzel :D. This will be very useful to me but I still really want this feature so less savvy/experienced users don’t give up.

Thanks mhartzel! I had been using Audacity to convert my exports to MP3 format, but automating it as you suggest will be better.

+1 for MP3 support in Ardour/libsndfile :slight_smile:

I’m coming in from the radio broadcast production / Voiceover side of things. With a lot of folks in my industry taking note of the MP3 patent expiration, many of them are shifting gears to AAC; quite simply because a 20+ year-old compression scheme had to have been improved upon by now, they never really were happy with it, and MP3 has become more of a convention and a convenience than a relevant useful tool today. I am routinely sent MP3 files which were horribly recorded and encoded.

AAC may be encumbered by patents, licensing and other legal nonsense, but it is emerging as a qualified successor. I’m anxious to make the move to keep up with my professional brethren, but really should wait for Libavcodec to get better.

See also and the upstream libsndfile ticket:

The quality you get depends on how big bit rate you can afford. Mp3 and aac can both sound quite good with high bitrates, but uncompressed audio is still unbeatable when it comes to quality. So if you need the best quality you won’t get it with bit reduction formats like mp3 and aac. In the end one doesn’t sound better than the other, aac only makes the result smaller than mp3. The main use cases for bit reduction formats like aac and mp3 are situations where you can’t afford high bit rates like for example when bitrate of the transmission channel is very limited or expensive.

If you just save songs on a hard disk or transfer those over the internet then aac has lost it’s main competitive edge over mp3 because of the hard disk sizes and internet speeds we have today. The format really doesn’t matter anymore. 24 years ago when mp3 was created it was a completely different story.

Just my 2 cents here :slight_smile:

Near-total agreement here, MH. For the best overall quality and ease of editing and manipulation, uncompressed is definitely better and is more desirable. But many in my industry cannot wean themselves off delivering audio as MP3 (and MP2) files. They’ve just done it for so long, its in their DNA.

Can’t agree with you though on the notion that one scheme does not sound better than the other. With AAC, they’ve rethought the whole perceptual coding thing to sound a lot better and clearer (not as much dependence on masking), and you could really swing low on the allowable sample rates and still come away with decent (admittedly not pristine) audio. While I personally cannot hear it, its good to know its there.

There’s also more to it than music storage or Internet transfer. Limited-capacity portable mediums with multichannel audio (such as 5.1 on a DVD) depend on MP4 and AAC to fit all that magic into a tiny little space. MP3 wont give you that.

I’ll continue to use MP3 because that is what is expected in my industry, and you deserve an official AP Tip of the Hat for your LAME workaround – simple and brilliant, and Im going to use it here and at the day job. I just know that, at least for radio broadcast and voiceover files, its time to leap ahead.

We should be persuading the audio industry to switch to Opus if anything. Better than MP3 and AAC in all respects, completely free and precisely defined and standardized (

Admittedly the biggest benefits of Opus are the quality in low bit-rate encoding and low latency, neither of which are particularly important to a typical Ardour user, but the quality is at least as good as AAC at high bit rates too.

Interesting to hear about Opus. I haven’t come across that before.