Several companies cooperated and contributed to the development of an audio coding standard for lossy digital audio compression to replace the MP3 standard. These include Bell Labs, Dolby Laboratories, LG Electronics, and Sony, among others. The result of their partnership was the introduction of the Advanced Audio Coding or AAC standard in 1997.
The Pros: Advantages of the AAC Standard
Remember that the AAC standard was developed and introduced as a successor to the MP3 standard. The goal was to provide a higher quality audio experience than MP3 at the same bit rate while providing more efficient compression.
The standard uses different advanced audio coding techniques to provide improved audio quality while maintaining a similar or smaller file size. These include temporal noise shaping, spectral band replication, and psychoacoustic modeling.
Below are the advantages of this audio coding standard:
• High-Quality Audio: Remember that this audio coding standard used advanced coding and compression techniques. It is considered to be more advanced than MP3 because of its better sound quality and wider frequency response.
• Relatively Small File Size: Another advantage of AAC is that it procures audio files with sizes that are considerably smaller than other audio formats such as WAV and AIFF. This makes them ideal for storage and sharing.
• Wide Compatibility: It is also similar to MP3 in terms of compatibility. It is the standard audio format in Apple devices such as iPhone and iPad, Android devices, Apple Music, Spotify, YouTube Music, Nintendo 3DS, and PlayStation 4.
• For Sharing and Streaming: The small file size and high audio quality of this standard also makes it ideal for sharing on online platforms. Examples include streaming music and podcasts or distributing content such as music and audiobooks.
• Low Complexity Version: Note that the AAC-LCV or AAC Low Complexity Version is used in MP4 format, M4A audio format, and 3GP format containers. It is also used in streaming protocols such as HLS and DASH over HTTP.
• Rights Management: Audio files that are encoded using this audio coding standard can be included with Digital Rights Management or DRM to prevent unauthorized sharing. This makes it ideal for selling audio content online.
The Cons: Disadvantages of the AAC Standard
AAC is versatile. Its applications range from using it as an actual audio file format to using it as a standard for other audio file containers and streaming protocols. The high-quality audio that it produces at a small file size makes it suitable for sharing.
However, considering the fact that it is not a lossless standard, it also suffers from notable drawbacks. It is also worth mentioning that MP3 remains more popular for the simplest reason that it came earlier and has relished widespread adoption.
Below are the disadvantages of this audio coding standard:
• Lossy Audio Compression: One of the disadvantages of AAC is that it is a coding standard for lossy audio compression. This means that the original data of encoded audio files are not preserved rendering them unideal for multiple edits.
• Processing Requirements: Audio files based on this standard also requires more processing power to be decoded and played. This can be an issue for older devices or computers running on limited hardware resources.
• Compatibility Issues: Remember that it has wider compatibility. However, considering that it is a newer standard, it can still suffer from compatibility issues with older devices and systems such as outdated car audio systems.
• Relativeness of Quality: Another disadvantage of AAC is that its quality is not absolute and guaranteed. The audio quality depends on several factors including the settings used, the quality of the source file, and the encoder.
• Patented Audio Standard: Using the AAC standard is not free in certain applications. The developers of this audio coding standard require device manufacturers and developers of AAC codecs to secure a patent license.
• Editing Software Issue: The fact that it is not free to use means that not all audio and video editing software applications support it. This is true for unpopular and free-to-use software or those developed by an open-source community.