Follow Slashdot stories on Twitter

 



Forgot your password?
typodupeerror
Check out the new SourceForge HTML5 internet speed test! No Flash necessary and runs on all devices. ×
Announcements

Speex Joins Xiph To Bring Free VOIP To The Masses 133

xercist writes "Xiph.org has added a new project to their plate of goodies- Speex. Speex is an audio codec specifically for, you guessed it, voice. It has integration with Xiph's OGG container, but is mainly being used right now for VOIP. There is currently an XMMS plugin available, and is also supported by LinPhone, OpenH323, and GnomeMeeting. Asterisk PBX is working on adding support. This is not a new project -- Jean-Marc Valin has been hard at work writing the codec for quite a while now. However, Jean-Marc is now a full-fledged member or the Xiph.org team, and in celebration, Speex beta one is being released. Xiph.org has brought you (or is currently working on bringing you) Vorbis, Tremor, Theora, Tarkin, Icecast2, cdparanoia, now Speex, and, of course, the Moaning Goat Meter. This is a LOT to do, so please donate to show your support."
This discussion has been archived. No new comments can be posted.

Speex Joins Xiph To Bring Free VOIP To The Masses

Comments Filter:
  • Great thing (Score:3, Insightful)

    by PinkX ( 607183 ) on Sunday October 13, 2002 @03:37AM (#4439909) Homepage
    It's good to see the xiph people to bring to the masses such advanced projects - and under a free fashion. I hope the big companies start to take seriously all the Xiph's work by supporting their projects into commercial products, such as hardware OGG players and such.
    • Xiph is great (Score:3, Interesting)

      by 0x0d0a ( 568518 )
      I didn't even know that Monty had also done cdparanoia until recently. Great coder.

      Here's to Xiph -- singlehandledly taking on the tech-media companies (Real/Apple/MS and tons of failed companies) and steadily gaining ground.

      We've had propriatary media formats for a long time. (Incidently, propriatary file formats are one of the strongest weapons incumbents have against upstart open source projects). This is a big movement that's starting to cascade, with more companies joining the Xiph bandwagon daily (and little interest in the MPEG4 people).
      • He also wrote LibAO, a library that makes it easy to impliment cross platform sound in your application
        LibAO adds output support for OSS, ESD, ALSA, aRTs, Solaris, and Irix.
        LibAO makes it so much nicer for the user so they don't have to use some flakey OSS wrapper to get to their prefered audio method.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday October 13, 2002 @03:38AM (#4439911)
    With VOIP I can connect to my dialup ISP from out of town without paying long distance fees.
  • But... (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Junky191 ( 549088 )
    Why does everyone insist we need to do absoultely everything over TCP/IP? We already have this interesting thing called the telephone network that works quite well at this very thing. Sorry for the trollish retort, but it seems like we should solve other very real *problems* with software, instead of going out of the way to propose yet another trendy TCP/IP enabled whatever.
    • Re:But... (Score:4, Insightful)

      by PinkX ( 607183 ) on Sunday October 13, 2002 @03:48AM (#4439929) Homepage
      does *costs* means anything to you? Seriously, long distance calls can be very expensive, even more for people who must make them frequently (think foreign students, etc). Having the voice calls being transported over TCP/IP, using an already proven technology which covers almost the whole globe (and to some extent outside of it) reduces these costs to nearly 0, except for the VoIP hardware (gateways and such) needed, now think of the advantages to be able to do phone calls from your linux box using *free* software to anywhere in the world, for just the cost of your net link, which most of the time is flat-rated.
    • Re:But... (Score:4, Funny)

      by Quirk ( 36086 ) on Sunday October 13, 2002 @03:57AM (#4439951) Homepage Journal
      It's late and I'm too stoned to be posting but isn't the migration of every electronic form of communication a good thang? Then comes mythical intuitive GUIs, and finally integration in cross-realtional dbs.
    • Re:But... (Score:2, Insightful)

      by woobieman29 ( 593880 )

      One benefit that you might not be considering is that for a large organization such as a company, campus or government office having all traffic run over ONE network is much cheaper and easier to maintain. Especially for entities that will have a metropolitan area network linking satellite offices - your long distance costs are cut dramatically.

      Plus think about how much easier it is to manage your voicemail and email all from the same tool on your desktop, or over the internet from a remote client.

      • "One benefit that you might not be considering is that for a large organization such as a company, campus or government office having all traffic run over ONE network is much cheaper and easier to maintain."

        Right up until a backhoe digs up the cable.

        Seriously -

        Where I live there are power outages fairly often - at least 3 or 4 times per year. When that happens, all of the VOIP stuff is dead. It is just too expensive to provide decent battery backup for every device in the chain. (Same goes for the office PBX systems, too.)

        However an old style phone - the ones with just a number pad & no need to plug into the wall - draws so little power that the telco's battery backup can keep entire neighborhoods running through very long power outages. You can still communicate, which is handy.

        There are certain advantages to keeping older technology around on seperate networks.
    • Re:But... (Score:2, Informative)

      TCP/IP? That's wasteful...afaik most VoIP use UDP, as TCP carries a much alrger overhead and there's no harm if some UDP packets are lost (hey, you missed 1/50 of voice data. doesn't matter). regarding why internet is preferable, I think it's already been answered...
      • Re:But... (Score:3, Informative)

        by PinkX ( 607183 )
        TCP/IP is not referred as just TCP, it's the name given to the suit of protocols that makes the Internet happen, namely TCP and UDP, and IP, ICMP and others on different layers.
        • Re:But... (Score:1, Informative)

          by Anonymous Coward
          Yes your right, Transmision Control Proticol isn't Transmision Control Proticol over Internet Proticol.

          User datagram proticol is definatly NOT Transmision control proticol, no matter what it's running over. They have wildly diffrent end goals and thus look nothing alike on the wire.

          In the future, if you want to say "Must everything run over the internet" say so, because quite a few TCP networks aern't the "internet". Using a single network for all data has several advantages (especailly when that network is redundantly failsafe, and already built)
    • Re:But... (Score:5, Informative)

      by lpontiac ( 173839 ) on Sunday October 13, 2002 @04:45AM (#4440031)
      Why does everyone insist we need to do absoultely everything over TCP/IP?

      Voice over IP doesn't send voice data over TCP, it uses UDP. UDP isn't complicated at all - it just gives you a way to uniquely identify a machine and say "send this data to it." It doesn't even guarantee delivery of the data. It's probably the best, most accepted way of sending addressed, digital data over wires.

      Now, imagine you're a company that's just put an office up. Would you rather install two sets of wires to each desk (ethernet and phone network), one of which requires you to get a licensed contractor in if you need work done on it? Or a single set of wires which can be maintained by the people who run your computers?

      • Re:But... (Score:3, Insightful)

        by Anonymous Coward
        It doesn't even guarantee delivery of the data.

        I believe it says it all when it comes to the difference between VOIP and real telephone service, which usually has a guaranteed below 10^-4 failure rate on a fixed line.

        If my life depended on it, I wouldn't trust VOIP.
      • Re:But... (Score:4, Insightful)

        by cerenyx ( 250774 ) on Sunday October 13, 2002 @06:37AM (#4440145) Journal
        If I'm not wrong (and I may be), reliability is still an issue with VoIP: and taking the hypothetical company -- the question is whether, taking long-distance conference calls and otherwise using the telephone lines extensively for critical purposes, the company would feel more "secure" using the tried and tested analog telephone lines, as opposed to VoIP.
      • While udp certainly is the right choice for transmitting the actual audio data (low latency etc.) this alone doesn't make a complete telephony protocol.

        One standard used often today for call management (listen for incoming calls, register possible recipients etc.) is H323, the one netmeeting and gnomemeeting, among many others, use. Unfortunately H323 does a very bad job when it comes to transmitting data through firewalls, nat-gateways or proxies (typical environment in many companies today) since it contains parts which choose arbitrary high ports for connection. You can work around this by installing e.g. OpenH323 Proxy on your gateway, but usually you'll need your systems administrator to do that - and it is pretty likely that he/she will refuse to do that for security reasons or simply because it can become quite tricky to set up a stable working H323 proxy/gateway (lots of configuration work).

        BTW i've heard that some firewall constructors have basically given up on that matter and simply open all ports when they detect some client intends to do netmeeting.

        • FTP chooses arbitrary inbound ports for non-passive data connections as well, and just about every firewall sold today supports stateful packet inspection to open up the TCP (src,port,dest,port) quad for the duration of the transfer.

          "Professional" firewalls support the same kind of sniffing for H.323, according to a quick survey I did last year, and it's easy to set up. The biggest difference in deployment is that we already have a high degree of trust/dependence on TCP through firewalls, and much less warm fuzzy feelings about UDP.

          Just remember: it doesn't matter whether it's secure; you have to convince other people that it's secure.
      • What Junky191 probably meant is TCP/IP as a protocol suite.

        The entire suite of IP, UDP and TCP protocols were collectively named as TCP/IP by its designers. So when you say VOIP over TCP/IP, it just means that VOIP uses protocols in the TCP/IP suite as opposed to say X.25 or ATM or IBM SNA.
        • So when you say VOIP over TCP/IP, it just means that VOIP uses protocols in the TCP/IP suite as opposed to say X.25 or ATM or IBM SNA.

          Makes sense I suppose. It sounded like the parent was criticising the use of TCP/IP as a silly, buzzword-happy solution (let's transmit voice using XML next!), while my point was that (a) it makes sense to send voice over a packet network and (b) if you're going to be doing that, it makes sense to use IP.

      • Is does use UDP, but you forogt to mention that UDP doesn't have built in mechanisms for ordering packets if they travel different routes through the net, which almost always happens... You bundle the UDP paylod into and RTP/RTCP packets, then send those out. Other wise, when you say : "Hi, How are you?" You would get : "You how,!are." w/o no sequence and correction. VoIP is a very nice service, I have very little problems with the box that I maintain for the ISP.
    • Re:But... (Score:1, Informative)

      by Anonymous Coward
      Why does everyone insist we need to do absoultely everything over TCP/IP?

      Because it allows telcos to switch from circuit switched technology to packet switching. Circuit switching is expensive and complicated; for example, trying to mux/demux multiple channels on a circuit switched line requires some very funky hardware. You can easily mux multiple IP streams with a switch, and route thousands of calls with a single router. Whats not to like about that?

      Having said that, most current networks (E.g. the Internet) are built on top of....circuit switched networks. E.g. IP over SONET/SDH. Ah well.
    • One thing that Speex can do that you can't do with telephone is transmit wideband (50-7000 Hz frequency band) speech. This allows much better quality and intelligibility. Once you try it, you can't go back to narrowband. Unfortunately the current VoIP apps that use Speex are narrowband-only for now, but that may change in the future.
    • The main problem of free VoIP is that the person you are calling is waiting by her computer to receive your call. She has a normal landline, mobile or even satellite phone. The operator terminating the call will want to get paid for this service. By convention the originating party pays for the call. This means that you will have to pay for the call - even if you are using IP as the networking layer for the first leg of your voice call.

      In contrast the cost of Internet traffic is by convention shared between the sender of the data and the receiver (Each pays a MByte charge for sending and receiving data). Residential customers often have flatrate contracts that limit usage of the line (no commercial traffic, no line sharing plus no servers). So even if you have a flatrate Internet account it doesn't mean that traffic is free - it just mean that the traffic cost is shared between you and other customers with similar usage patterns.

      In other words - if everybody is using long distance VoIP 24x7, the cost of flatrate access will most likely increase.

      Besides the above I am a strong believer of VoIP. Eventially it will provide hifi quality voice calls with multimedia integration and sophisticated call control features. We need however to improve the horrific realtime support of the Internet. Furthermore the failure rate of data networks is two orders of magnitude worse than telephony networks: My phone line always works - even during power failures!

      jj

      PS: Telephony tarifs are strongly government regulated with artificially low prices for line rental and local calls, and exorbiant prices for long distance calls. The whole idea being that poor people should be able to afford a telephone line. This has been exploited by dial up ISP - in effect causing long distance phone calls to subsidize Internet access.
      • The main problem of free VoIP is that the person you are calling is waiting by her computer to receive your call. She has a normal landline, mobile or even satellite phone. The operator terminating the call will want to get paid for this service.

        True, but there's another flat-rate communication channel - SMS. On my bill they appear to be 10p each, whether locally (to the UK) or to Hungary. So I can text-message my friend in Budapest and have her move to the nearest connected computer.

        And the next stage? My ADSL connection is scheduled to come on Tuesday, so after that it's just a wireless LAN card for the Zaurus (and a spare battery and charger, I suspect).
  • "To the masses"? (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Wakko Warner ( 324 ) on Sunday October 13, 2002 @03:43AM (#4439919) Homepage Journal
    Not to discourage, but it won't really matter to the masses until there's a native, easy-to-use Windows client.

    - A.P.
    • You've got a point there, but take a look at Ogg Vorbis... hardly anyone I know knows about Ogg Vorbis, and OggDragXP *is* a very handy Windows utility for it ...

      It's all about the marketing I guess ...
      • Re:"To the masses"? (Score:2, Informative)

        by ergonal ( 609484 )
        CDex [sourceforge.net] is also very good. It rips from CD directly to OGG, and has all the cool features of other CD rippers. You can create OGG albums with literally one click of a button. Did I mention it's an Open Source windows client? What more could you ask for?
    • I wouldn't be worried about a win** client not here yet. This is not a final release, and as with Vorbis, i'm sure there'll be broad support from windows clients to this technology (vorbis support is included in winamp by default now). Anyways, we're just not talking about desktop computers running GNU/Linux (or your favorite *nix flavor for that matter) being able to support this software. This is a free implementation for already existing (or in progress) standards, and it being opensourced means that anyone can adopt it. And the Linux market is not reduced to just some desktop stations, its big potential is on embedded devices - media boxes, net kiosks, etc. - we already have Tremor, an integer only vorbis decoder libreary aimed at being used in such devices.
    • Re:"To the masses"? (Score:2, Informative)

      by Sneftel ( 15416 )
      IIRC, NetMeeting allows you to plug in extra codecs. So it shouldn't be too hard to get this working under windows.
      • IIRC, NetMeeting allows you to plug in extra codecs.

        Do plug-in codecs have to be signed by Windows Hardware Qualification Labs in order not to bark at the user for using a "potentially unreliable codec"?

    • Not to discourage, but it won't really matter to the masses until there's a native, easy-to-use Windows client.

      AIM has a voice-over-IP feature. What I would REALLY like is a voice-over-IP app that works properly even if both sides of the party are behind a NAT box.
    • by CondeZer0 ( 158969 ) on Sunday October 13, 2002 @08:06AM (#4440244) Homepage
      It matters to me, and I couldn't care less about the masses or ease of use. I
      care about something that works for me, and that is free of patents and other
      traps.

      I'm sick of people that think that "masses" are all that matters, if that was
      the case we would be all running Windows, listening to boys/girls bands,
      looking TV, drinking coca-cola and living in a big city.

      Whatever the masses do, OGG is one of the most important projects out there to
      protect my freedom of using a hight quality audio format, if you don't like it,
      unlike with some other "DRM enabled" formats, you wont be obligated to use it
      any time soon.

      For all that I care you and all your masses can go use WMA and all it's DRM
      trash, browsing AOL, listening Britney(sp?), going to the cinema to see (checks
      warnerbros.com) Harry Potter, running Windows XP on your palladium enabled
      Pentium 5 and living in NewYork.

      I will continue using ogg, browsing the web with Mozilla, listening to
      Einsturzende Neubauten and Chopin(two examples of things I have been listening
      to today), looking Clockwork Orange, Cube and Totoro, running FreeBSD on my AMD
      Duron, and Plan9 in my old broken Thinkpad; and living in some lost place in
      the North of Sweden.

      Hope you are happy living your prefabricated life in your plastic world. Hurry
      or you are going to miss your daily brainwashing 4 hour sesion of TV. And don't
      forget to stay well away from any book, you may learn something from them!

      *sigh*

      \\Uriel
      • hey! I drink coke...
        • > hey! I drink coke...

          And I also do it some times, but personally I prefer plain water or tea, just
          some times seems easier to buy a coke than find drinkable water *sigh*

          Any way, the point wasn't that drinking coke or living in NewYork is bad, just
          that not everybody does it, and there are people that prefer other things, and
          that doesn't mean that they dont matter.

          BTW: Apologies to anyone from NewYork that felt offended, it was just the frist
          big city that came to my mind, I'm sure there are many good reasons to live
          there, I just, personally, don't like big cities.

          Best wishes

          \\Uriel
          • just some times seems easier to buy a coke than find drinkable water

            In North America it is often easier and cheaper to buy a bottle of Coke then a bottle of water. I think this is a sad statement of our society.
        • You don't really want to know this, I'm sure, but the amount of sugar in coke, or any soda, has a number of bad effects on your body, most of which have to do with the sudden spike in your blood sugar level which it causes. It raises your triglyceride levels, which is implicated in heart disease (think of it as a cousin of cholesterol). It increases oxidation, causing cell damage and aging, including potential skin damage (per recent dermatologist findings).

          If you must drink soda, do it along with a meal. But don't drink it all the time. Wean yourself off it - sugary things are for children, so unless you still qualify, you should be developing an adult palate. Yeah, it's difficult to do that, in the U.S...


      • It matters to me, and I couldn't care less about the masses or ease of use. I
        care about something that works for me, and that is free of patents and other
        traps.

        I'm sick of people that think that "masses" are all that matters, if that was
        the case we would be all running Windows, listening to boys/girls bands,
        looking TV, drinking coca-cola and living in a big city.

        Whatever the masses do, OGG is one of the most important projects out there to
        protect my freedom of using a hight quality audio format, if you don't like it,
        unlike with some other "DRM enabled" formats, you wont be obligated to use it
        any time soon.

        Note to moderators: this is the most insightful part of posting. The rest of the ranty nonsense, please change it.
        • Yea, it's a rant, so what? now one can't even rant on /.?? Could you just post
          what is wrong with my post(sure something is wrong with it, but I would like to know
          what it is) just saying: "This is a rant, mod it down" isn't very constructive
          *sigh*

          \\Uriel
        • Well, for starters, most people do not live in a big city.

          It should be "watching TV" ... not "looking TV." Of course, I would be pleased if I could write Swedish as well as you write English. For reference sake, I can speak a little Hungarian ... a terribly useful skill here in New York.

          If I recall correctly, the average American with at least one TV in the household watches an average of two hours of TV per day. Of course, I'm sure that number varies wildly from study to study. I would trust it about as much as "The average American eats two donuts per day."

          And have you tried Phoenix yet? Using Mozilla may put you amongst the "masses" in a few years.

          -- jetlag --
      • It matters to me, and I couldn't care less about the masses or ease of use.

        Whatever the masses do, OGG is one of the most important projects out there to
        protect my freedom of using a hight quality audio format, if you don't like it,
        unlike with some other "DRM enabled" formats, you wont be obligated to use it
        any time soon.


        unless the 'masses' begin to prefer ogg and its assorted codecs and whatnots, we will probably never see many portable players for ogg. hardware manufacturers do not give away hardware; they sell it. if the 'masses' prefer a certain format, the hardware will follow. do i care if my neighbor uses windows or wma? no, i do not. would i rather he run linux and a vorbis player? yes, i would. i want hardware that will play the formats i prefer based on quality and *freedom*. the masses may never be concerned with the freedom ogg offers, but i am. i want the masses to prefer ogg so i can buy hardware that will play ogg.
      • Wow. You added me as a foe because of this? True slashbot to the core, there, sir.

        I still stand by my assessment: until it works on windows, it won't be popular with the rest of the world. Had you read the title of the article, you'd have realized this is what I meant when I said it wasn't exactly "for the masses" yet. It doesn't particularly matter if it works for you.

        If you want to go off on another half-page rant about the rest of the world's computer users, who are all clearly Windows users who all live in New Yock in the little world your mind has created for you, please feel free. Just stop doing it in fixed-width font.

        - A.P.
    • Re:"To the masses"? (Score:5, Informative)

      by jmv ( 93421 ) on Sunday October 13, 2002 @10:07AM (#4440461) Homepage
      (I am the Speex author) There are already at least two Windows front-ends: here [wanadoo.nl] and here [inf.ufpr.br]. There may be others I'm not aware of. Note that I haven't developed of tested any of these since I don't use Windows.
      • That's pretty cool. I didn't see them linked from either slashdot or the Speex page, though. More people might become interested in the project if they knew about those; I (like most others, I imagine) simply assumed none existed.

        - A.P.
  • Speex sounds nice (Score:5, Informative)

    by deathcubek ( 11766 ) on Sunday October 13, 2002 @03:50AM (#4439933)
    I've been playing around with speex when i was working on an audio conferencing. It's a simple api, and the audio quality comes out okay for voice too. (unless you try sending music through, then it really just craps out)

    If only I could get the windows side of the cross-platform audio caputre stuff so nice.
    • It's a simple api, and the audio quality comes out okay for voice too. (unless you try sending music through, then it really just craps out)

      It is indeed really easy to use. But one thing I've noticed is the encoder uses a *LOT* of CPU time. My P3/800 was maxed out while encoding.

      Perhaps this is just something I've done. What kinda processing power did your own project need? (While encoding)
    • Hey, I guess no waiting music over a tech-support-line-hastily-hacked-to-support-VoIP.
    • Perhaps you could set up a quality test where if the Speex stream drops to crappification, you can fall back on 64-bit ogg?
  • Remember those Free VOIP Dot-com Bomb company??????? They Spent and wasted Mils of VC Dollars in R&D trying to produce the Technology for VOIP and all of these companies Failed went Down under!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Once again Open Source to the Recue!!!!
  • donations (Score:3, Interesting)

    by jadavis ( 473492 ) on Sunday October 13, 2002 @04:05AM (#4439967)
    I already donated US$7.50 to xiph (10 times the price of an mp3 decoder). It's really not much, but it seemed about right in proportion to the other software I use (especially since I only use xiph's products for my desktop, not servers). I know xiph is working hard, but I feel more of a debt to the creators of linux, gnu, postgres, apache, exim, debian, python, perl, openbsd (I only use their openssh, but that's important), and all the other great projects I didn't mention (and those aren't necessarily in order).
  • by Gizzmonic ( 412910 ) on Sunday October 13, 2002 @04:08AM (#4439971) Homepage Journal
    it's some advice:

    Get some better names for your projects! If a 12 year old is embarrassed to say "OGG Tarkin" aloud, then you're not going to sell it outside of the hardcore open source geek community. And I know, you're not trying to make money, but I'm betting you'd even win some mindshare if you were willing to, say:

    1. Give the "OGG" media layer a little class. Call it something the boys in marketing would like, such as "SimpleDirectQuickWebLayer."
    2. Vorbis could be known as "I Can't Believe it's not MP3!" and if you still wanted to use a geeky name, just refer to the acronym, ICBITNMP3, pronounced as "Ich-Bittin-emm pee 3."

    I'm hoping someone else will be kind enough to hire a professional web designer for Xiph, and maybe even a domain name that people could pronounce or remember. Dig deep, folks. I know it's a recession, but every little bit helps.

  • Next step for UT2k3? (Score:3, Interesting)

    by SexyKellyOsbourne ( 606860 ) on Sunday October 13, 2002 @05:15AM (#4440058) Journal
    The badly dated Half-Life engine still has one feature that is more powerful than anything in UT2k3: and that's voice over ip, in-game, mostly used in Counter-Strike.

    UT2k3 already uses OGG for its music -- and I recall reading a UT2k3 developer plan file that states the wish for voice-over-ip, but basically they were waiting for someone in the open-source world to do all the work.

    Why just hit a few buttons to say, "Ownage!" when they can hear your true compressed, overly nasal-sounding voice say it -- or perhaps more insulting, filthier things?
    • I agree completely. I don't understand why this hasn't become a standard for any game that has a team-based mode.

      I'd like to say things like, "Hey, jackass. When you pick-up the ball, head towards the other person's base."

      -prator
  • by GoRK ( 10018 ) on Sunday October 13, 2002 @05:18AM (#4440063) Homepage Journal
    This is never going to amount to a mass of anything (save vapor) if it's not applied as a standard and supported in hardware. G.721, G.729, GSM, and aLaw and uLaw are pretty established codec's that in supporting, you can communicate with probalby 99% of VoIP equipment out there....

    It's very sad that speex will never make it as a viable codec for VoIP. Perhaps it would be beneficial for an orginasation such as the FSF to support these open sourc codec's efforts to lobby and apply for standards support so that future products might actually use them one day -- epseically in an application such as VoIP where interoperability is often the number one concern in establishing large scale acceptance.

    ~GoRK

    • I've had major problems just in getting good sound into a computer. The environment is too electrically noisy just to connect a microphone. It is better if the digitizing is done outside the general purpose computer.

      Also, I've found no good applications for recording sound to a disk file.
    • (From Speex author) We're currently developing ways to integrate with standards like H323 and SIP. The idea is to make VoIP apps use Speex in a standard way so they can all communicate using Speex. It doesn't matter is Speex itself is a (ITU-T/IETF/ETSI/name it) standard.
      • G.721 and G.729 are CODECs, not VOIP protocols. g.729 came out of the cellphone arena, and 721 is the standard for logarithmic bit-encoding used for T1, etc.

        The problem is that as a company, I can't go out and buy a Ogg codec chip. I CAN with g.721/729. When drawing up circuits, I can place a black box in my diagrams and label it "coding happens here." Until that's available for Ogg, AND you can convince large telcos to switch to it, it won't take off.
  • by MegaFur ( 79453 ) <wyrd0@@@komy...zzn...com> on Sunday October 13, 2002 @08:03AM (#4440240) Journal
    "Speex Joins Xiph To Bring Free VOIP To The Masses"

    --is a little hard to read. It looks like a line from Jabberwocky.
  • Speex and TAPR (Score:4, Informative)

    by wowbagger ( 69688 ) on Sunday October 13, 2002 @09:47AM (#4440402) Homepage Journal
    I love the fact that a good, Free Software voice codec is out there, and here are my reasons:

    1) Ham Radio. The Tucson Amateur Packet Radio [tapr.org] organization is working on experimental digitized voice over amateur radio applications, and a couple of venders (mostly Kenwood) are offering radios that have this ability. Right now, TAPR are looking at using DVSI's [dvsinc.com] IMBE vocoder, which is QUITE expensive and VERY not-Free. The availability of a Free codec would greatly improve the availabilty of this protocol.
    2) Currently, The Association of Public-Safety Officials (APCO) [apcointl.org] (the folks who define the specs for the radios used by police, fire, and government) have defined the current digital trunked radio standard, APCO Project 25 as using DVSI's IMBE vocoder. While this is licensed under a Reasonable And Non-Discrimitory license, if you want to license the IMBE vocoder for a P-25 project, you will cough up US$100,000.00 for the privilege (I know firsthand, as the company I work for [ifrsys.com] has done this [p25.com]). Uniden, Radio Shack, and other scanner companies are looking into putting this into their scanners, so they have had to cough it up as well. A Free vocoder would allow anybody to build a product with this capability in it - you could even use a scanner and your sound card to decode the Phase 1 C4FM format signals.

    Like so many other things, a Free Software tool to do these things would greatly accelerate the industry. I hope Xiph does well.
    • Note that there is still some work to do for bringing Speex to wireless communications. Speex is designed to be robust to packet loss but not bit corruption. Some layer would likely be needed for that...
      • That's why the transport layer should incorporate forward error correction.

        I don't know about what TAPR is doing, but I do know that in APCO-25, there's about as much FEC as there is voice data - just about 1 bit of error correction for every bit of voice data.

        And with all the block convolution and CRC and so on, you pretty much have to chuck a bus through the signal before it starts to cough.
  • by Spunk ( 83964 ) <sq75b5402@sneakemail.com> on Sunday October 13, 2002 @10:42AM (#4440547) Homepage
    In related news, Qwixm released Zblik today, the latest server in the Foogark series, designed to smoothly integrate with the operating systems Njiimakiwup, Ueltwvom, and GNU/Zzyzx.
  • by cullenfluffyjennings ( 138377 ) <c.jennings@ieee.org> on Sunday October 13, 2002 @12:32PM (#4440899) Homepage
    There is open source code for tons of the traditionally G.7xx CODECs around. The issues many of them require licensing various peoples patents. A casual look at speex would make me think that it is quite likely to infringe someone's CELP patents. Does anyone have any thoughts on this? It's really cool to see something like speex happening but there are a few other things that you might want to think about.

    Global IP Sound put out a codec for voice called iLBC. It is specifically designed to avoid infringing known patents. It's sound quality vs. packet loss is very good for IP systems. This is being standardized by the IETF. All the source code is open source and in the draft which you can find at http://www.ietf.org/internet-drafts/draft-ietf-avt -ilbc-codec-00.txt [ietf.org].

    Sun has a free implementation of CCITT compression types G.711, G.721 and G.723 at ftp://ftp.cwi.nl/pub/audio/ccitt-adpcm.tar.gz [ftp.cwi.nl]. This is just a free implementation - it does not give you a license to the patents.

    Various people including Cisco have been working with the license holders of G.729 IPR to make it available for "pre-commercial" systems, developers, and education. http://www.vovida.org/applications/downloads/G729A / [vovida.org]
    • (From Speex author) The problem with iLBC is that AFAIK, it is patented. They give access to their patents as long as you're using it in iLBC. That requirement is AFAIK incompatible with the GPL and requirements of most open-source licenses. Also, the quality is good at high packet loss, but for reasonnable operation (2-5%), the Speex quality is (to my ear better). Last thing: the CELP patent is expired and I have been careful not to include things like ACELP and other patented algorithms.
      • [one of the IETF's iLBC draft authors - just to avoid confusion that might be caused for people that are not yet familiar with iLBC]

        >They give access to their patents as long as you're using it in iLBC.

        Right, and iLBC is an IETF draft = anyone can contribute to it and use it. Getting the freeware codec standard this way, it is easier to achieve outcome result being royalty free, which IMHO I find very grim for anything what is CELP based (+600 patents associated with CELP - source of info = delphion patent dbase, colleagues coauthors of the draft with +50 years of speech coding experience - authors/coauthors of a number of existing speech coding stds).

        >but for reasonnable operation (2-5%), the Speex quality is (to my ear better).

        Interesting observation. So far, we were getting from different users/communities contrary results, which IMHO I find coherent due to CELP's inter-packet memory dependency, where when losing one packet You are losing properties of the packets that are following, propagating error ... and where iLBC scores better (for those PL values as well) then other CELP based coders in tests done by recognized independent labs (Dynastat) ...

        >CELP patent is expired and I have been careful not to include things like ACELP and other patented algorithms.

        Please see above.

        Best regards,
        Alan Duric
        • For the patent issue, I mean that as far as I understand, I'm (e.g.) not allowed to use in Speex a patent that's found in iLBC. That AFAIK, makes iLBC incompatible with the GPL and most open-source software. A (irrevocable) statement saying "our patents may be used freely in any open-source software", would be great and (I think) help iLBC gain ground in the open-source community.

          As for quality, don't get me wrong, I find the idea behind iLBC very interesting, and BTW, the "less than" before "2-5%" got stripped while posting. Anyway, what I mean is that at low (or no) packet loss, I consider the Speex quality to be better, e.g. to my ear (which I agree may be biased becaused I'm used to hearing Speex), Speex at 11 kbps is equal (or slightly better) in quality to iLBC at 14 kbps. Of course, I expect the situation to reverse when packet loss gets in the 10-30% range. I've been told that this doesn't happen often, but I'm not a network expert.
        • Concerning my approach on CELP and patents... My idea was to use "old" stuff: I'm using algorithms that are either not patented or for which the patents have expired. I've read lots of early 80's papers for that... I've kept away from "clever tricks" (e.g. ACELP) and for that reason I know Speex is sub-optimal. However, with proper tuning, I get not too far from heavily patented standards (sometimes with a bit more complexity though) such as G.729 and still much better than GSM-FR.
  • I have tried to donate some money to Xiph.org before using Paypal. But it seems that Paypal did not want me to donate to Xiph. I kept getting hit by blank pages when I submitted forms. I tried on different days, but same problems.

    Maybe many others too experienced the same problems and eventually gave up.
  • by Dr.Dubious DDQ ( 11968 ) on Sunday October 13, 2002 @05:55PM (#4442172) Homepage

    ...or is Xiph spreading itself rather thinly these days?

    Ogg Vorbis got out the door, and then it was Tarkin/Icecast2/Theora/Helix and now Speex.

    They're committed to so many projects right now I wonder if any of them will be completed in the next 5 years...

    Theora (my particular favorite) got announced at the beginning of July. The Theora mailing lists' traffic is still made up mostly of people wanting to ask about using VP3 with Microsoft(tm) Windows(tm) Directshow(tm) and such, with only a few brief (but informative) bursts of discussion actually relevant to Ogg Theora. After nearly 3 months of near-silence (not counting the non-Theora related VP3 questions) on the mailing lists and CVS repository, the first Alpha release of Ogg Theora popped up out of nowhere (not even MENTIONED on the mailing lists!)...and quickly returned to silence again. I've actually played with the Alpha code, and it makes me very hopeful for the final product - it's currently unoptimized, but even so its current speed seems about comparable with mjpegtools mpeg2 encoder, and the quality seems quite good at e.g. 300kbps/640x480/29.97fps. With all of the other projects being collected under the Xiph umbrella right now, though, I wonder how much developer time and attention will be available to keep it going...

    (It MAY be that, with both codecs involved in Theora being essentially finished, they figure all they really need to do is finalize the specifications, and then spend a little time doing some optimization and they're done, and since there's almost 9 months to go until their projected 1.0 release date that it can wait...Judging by the quality of the first alpha [and thanks go to Monty at Xiph.org and Dan Miller of On2 for getting things that far along!], they may be right...provided there's time to come back and finish up between the other projects...)

    I'm strongly in favor of every one of the projects they've taken on so far, I just wish it didn't seem like new projects were being added faster than existing ones are being worked on...

    Okay, enough whining from me. I'll go back to quietly waiting impatiently again now...

    • Well (at least in case of Speex), it's not really "more projects for the same decelopers", but "more projects with more developers". I started Speex without being associated to Xiph. Now we join Xiph and project is already beta), so we're adding to the manpower, not diluting it.
      • [...]it's not really "more projects for the same developers", but "more projects with more developers".

        Oh, well, then, never mind. Just that pesky knee of mine jerking again...

        Thanks, also, in general for being online here - I see you've been posting information elsewhere in the discussion as well, which is always nice to see.

  • Destiny is a good thing to accept when it's going your way. When it isn't,
    don't call it destiny; call it injustice, treachery, or simple bad luck.
    -- Joseph Heller, "God Knows"

    - this post brought to you by the Automated Last Post Generator...

How many surrealists does it take to screw in a lightbulb? One to hold the giraffe and one to fill the bathtub with brightly colored power tools.

Working...