What Is VQF?

VQF is a new audio compression format. It is similar to MP3 (Mpeg Layer 3) in one regard: it takes large sound files, and compresses them down to very small (it's all relative :) files. However, it does its job much better than MP3s. There are three important aspects to sound encoding:

1. File size:

VQF files are approximately 30-35% smaller than MP3 files. Example: You have a 5 minute song, on CD. The WAV file you would rip would be ~50MB. The MP3 file, and 128kbps and 44kHz, would be about 4.5MB, with some sound quality loss. The VQF file, at 44kHz, and 96kbps (an 80kbps VQF is about the same as a 128kbps MP3), is about 3.5MB!

2. Sound quality:

As I have already touched on, the sound quality of VQFs is much better than MP3s; they are almost as good as the original WAV files. A 80kbps VQF is as good as a 128kbps MP3 file. A 96kbps VQF has quality almost as good as that of a 256kbps MP3 (and is one quarter of the size).

3. CPU usage:

This is the one area where VQFs are more cumbersome than MP3s. However, they were meant to be so. When MP3s were developed, Pentiums were king. Nowadays, with Pentium IIs, and other multimedia enhanced computers, the load can be handled by most people. This is what allows it to pack as much (or more) sound data into a 30% smaller file!! Example: CPU usage playing 128kbps MP3 on my computer: about 15-20%. A VQF is about 30%. Not that much of a difference, if you really think about it!


So what are the drawbacks:

1. Not many files out there yet

This file format is brand spanking new!!! While you can find thousands and thousands of MP3s out there, the number of VQFs is comparatively tiny. But this is only a matter of time. Once people begin to realize how incredible these are, their popularity will skyrocket.

2. Encoding is relatively slow

I believe this to be a combination of two factors: 1) Better compression ratios mean more thinking time on the encoder's part. This is pretty simple: if it's gonna pack as much stuff into less space, it has to think harder, thus taking more time. 2) The encoder is new, as well. I'm certain that Yamaha has not spent the time necessary to fine tune the encoder. Once they take the time to optimize it, I'm certain it will be much better.

Just for clarification: A 50MB wav file takes about 10-15 minutes to encode on my K6-233 if I set the priority up to 'high'. However, you can run multiple instances of the encoder at any given time (good for encoding over night or while you're at work/school). And now, starting with version 2.50b1 of the Yamaha encoder, you can encode files in batches. That is, you can get a group of wav files, and set up the encoder to encode one file after another.


System Requirements

  • Windows 95 or NT 40.
  • For encoding:
    • Pentium 66 miniumum, 200MMX recommended
    • 16MB RAM minimum, 32 or more recommended
  • For quality playback:
    • Pentium 90 minimum (75 will run, however), 200MMX recommended
    • 16MB RAM.

Rule of thumb: If your computer can play MP3s smoothly and you can do other things while playing them, it should handle VQFs. If it struggled with MP3s, VQFs will most likely not work.


Portions of the FAQ taken from Magnetix's VQF FAQ.

 

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