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TwinVQ (transform-domain weighted interleaved vector quantization) is an audio compression technique developed by Nippon Telegraph and Telephone Corporation (NTT). The compression technique has been used in both standardized and proprietary designs.

Contents

TwinVQ in MPEG-4

In the context of the MPEG-4 Audio (MPEG-4 Part 3), TwinVQ is an audio codec optimized for audio coding at ultra low bitrates around 8 kbit/s.

TwinVQ is one of the object types defined in MPEG-4 Audio, published as subpart 4 of ISO/IEC 14496-3 (for the first time in 1999 - a.k.a. MPEG-4 Audio version 1).[1][2 ][3][4][5] This object type is based on a general audio transform coding scheme which is integrated with the AAC coding frame work, a spectral flattening module, and a weighted interleave vector quantization module. This scheme reportedly has high coding gain for low bit rate and potential robustness against channel errors and packet loss, since it does not use any variable length coding and adaptive bit allocation. It supports bitrate scalability, both by means of layered TwinVQ coding and in combination with the scalable AAC.

Note that some commercialized products such as Metasound (Voxware)[6][7], SoundVQ (Yamaha)[8][9], and SolidAudio (Hagiwara) are also based on the TwinVQ technology, but the configurations are different from the MPEG-4 TwinVQ.[2 ]

TwinVQ as a proprietary audio format

A proprietary audio compression format called TwinVQ was developed by Nippon Telegraph and Telephone Corporation (NTT) and marketed by Yamaha under the name SoundVQ. The NTT also offered a TwinVQ demonstration software for non-commercial purposes - NTT TwinVQ Encoder and TwinVQ Player, encoder API, decoder API and header file format.[10][11] The filename extension is .vqf.

TwinVQ uses Twin vector quantization. The proprietary TwinVQ codec supports constant bit rate encoding at 80, 96, 112, 128, 160 and 192 kbit/s. It was claimed that TwinVQ files are about 30 to 35% smaller than MP3 files of adequate quality. For example, a 96 kbit/s TwinVQ file allegedly has roughly the same quality as a 128 kbit/s MP3 file. The higher quality is achieved at the cost of higher processor usage.

Yamaha marketed TwinVQ as an alternative to MP3, but the format never became very popular. This could be attributed to the proprietary nature of the format -- third party software was scarce and there was no hardware support. Also the encoding was extremely slow and there was not much music available in TwinVQ format. As other MP3 alternatives emerged, TwinVQ quickly became obsolete.

The proprietary version of TwinVQ can be also used for speech compression. Compression technology specifically designed to handle voice compression was published by NTT. The NTT TwinVQ implementation supported sampling frequencies from 8 kHz or 11.025 kHz and bit rate from 8 kbit/s.[9][12][13]

Software support

The format was reverse-engineered in 2009 by the FFmpeg project and decoding of vqf files is supported by the open-source libavcodec library[14]. NTT offered on its website its own player and encoder for download, old versions of Nero Burning ROM were able to encode to TwinVQ, and Winamp supports TwinVQ playback via a plugin[1]. Some other software that supports TwinVQ but no longer is maintained includes Yamaha's encoder and player and K-Jöfol audio player.

For users of GNU/Linux or similar systems, there is an XMMS plugin.

Some CD-ripping software also supports encoding .vqf files, for instance Audio Converter Plus! and FairStars CD Ripper.

External links

References

  1. ^ ISO (1999). "ISO/IEC 14496-3:1999 - Information technology -- Coding of audio-visual objects -- Part 3: Audio". ISO. http://www.iso.org/iso/iso_catalogue/catalogue_ics/catalogue_detail_ics.htm?csnumber=25035. Retrieved 2009-10-09.  
  2. ^ a b D. Thom, H. Purnhagen, and the MPEG Audio Subgroup (1998-10). "MPEG Audio FAQ Version 9 - MPEG-4 - an introduction to MPEG-4 Audio". chiariglione.org. http://www.chiariglione.org/mpeg/faq/mp4-aud/mp4-aud.htm#56. Retrieved 2009-10-06.  
  3. ^ ISO/IEC JTC 1/SC 29/WG 11 (1999-07) (PDF), ISO/IEC 14496-3:/Amd.1 - Final Commitee Draft - MPEG-4 Audio Version 2, ftp://ftp.tnt.uni-hannover.de/pub/MPEG/audio/mpeg4/documents/w2803/w2803_n.pdf, retrieved 2009-10-07  
  4. ^ Heiko Purnhagen (2001-06-01). "The MPEG-4 Audio Standard: Overview and Applications". Heiko Purnhagen. http://140.130.175.70/html/mpeg4/sound.media.mit.edu/mpeg4/audio/general/index.html#aes106. Retrieved 2009-10-07.  
  5. ^ ISO/IEC JTC1/SC29/WG11 N2203 (1998-03). "MPEG-4 Audio (Final Committee Draft 14496-3)". Heiko Purnhagen. http://140.130.175.70/html/mpeg4/sound.media.mit.edu/mpeg4/audio/documents/index.html. Retrieved 2009-10-07.  
  6. ^ Business Wire (1996-12-11). "Voxware expands technology offerings & signs licensing agreement with NTT.". The Free Library. http://www.thefreelibrary.com/Voxware+expands+technology+offerings+%26+signs+licensing+agreement+with+...-a018934846. Retrieved 2009-10-06.  
  7. ^ Business Wire (1997-05-13). "IBM Licenses Voxware's MetaSound Technology for Use in Multimedia Products.". The Free Library. http://www.thefreelibrary.com/IBM+Licenses+Voxware's+MetaSound+Technology+for+Use+in+Multimedia+...-a019397989. Retrieved 2009-10-06.  
  8. ^ YAMAHA CORPORATION (2000). "Yamaha SoundVQ". Archive.org. http://web.archive.org/web/20030227050257/yamaha-xg.com/soundvq/ready/index.html. Retrieved 2009-10-06.  
  9. ^ a b NTT-East Multimedia Business Department (2000-03-31). "About TwinVQ". Archive.org. http://web.archive.org/web/20000817044612/sound.splab.ecl.ntt.co.jp/twinvq-e/about-e.html. Retrieved 2009-10-06.  
  10. ^ NTT-East Multimedia Business Department (2008). "TwinVQ Software". Archive.org. http://web.archive.org/web/20080419065202/www.twinvq.org/english/down.html. Retrieved 2009-10-07.  
  11. ^ NTT-East Multimedia Business Department (2002). "TwinVQ - libraries and sample programs". Archive.org. http://web.archive.org/web/20021227051714/www.twinvq.org/english/kaihatsu_en.html. Retrieved 2009-10-07.  
  12. ^ NTT-East Multimedia Business Department (2000). "TwinVQ F.A.Q.". Archive.org. http://web.archive.org/web/20000819023521/sound.splab.ecl.ntt.co.jp/twinvq-e/faq-e.html. Retrieved 2009-10-06.  
  13. ^ MultimediaWiki (2009). "VQF". MultimediaWiki. http://wiki.multimedia.cx/index.php?title=VQF. Retrieved 2009-10-07.  
  14. ^ "TwinVQ decoder source-code". http://git.ffmpeg.org/?p=ffmpeg;a=blob;f=libavcodec/twinvq.c;hb=HEAD. Retrieved 2009-08-23.  
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