Advanced Audio Codings
.m4a, .m4b, .m4p, .m4v, .m4r, .3gp, .mp4, .aac
|Internet media type
audio/aac, audio/aacp, audio/3gpp, audio/3gpp2, audio/mp4, audio/MP4A-LATM, audio/mpeg4-generic
|Type of format
||Audio compression format, Lossy compression
||MPEG-4 Part 14, 3GP and 3G2, ISO base media file format and Audio Data Interchange Format (ADIF)
Advanced Audio Coding (AAC) is a standardized, lossy compression and encoding scheme for digital audio. Designed to be the successor of the MP3 format, AAC generally achieves better sound quality than MP3 at similar bit rates.
AAC has been standardized by ISO and IEC, as part of the MPEG-2 and MPEG-4 specifications. Part of the AAC known as High-Efficiency Advanced Audio Coding (HE-AAC) which is part of MPEG-4 Audio is also adopted into digital radio standards like DAB+ and Digital Radio Mondiale, as well as mobile television standards DVB-H and ATSC-M/H.
AAC supports inclusion of 48 full-bandwidth (up to 96 kHz) audio channels in one stream plus 16 low frequency effects (LFE, limited to 120 Hz) channels, up to 16 "coupling" or dialog channels, and up to 16 data streams. The quality for stereo is satisfactory to modest requirements at 96 kbit/s in joint stereo mode; however, hi-fi transparency demands data rates of at least 128 kbit/s (VBR). The MPEG-2 audio tests showed that AAC meets the requirements referred to as "transparent" for the ITU at 128 kbit/s for stereo, and 320 kbit/s for 5.1 audio.
AAC is also the default or standard audio format for YouTube, iPhone, iPod, iPad, Nintendo DSi, iTunes, DivX Plus Web Player and PlayStation 3. It is supported on PlayStation Portable, Wii (with the Photo Channel 1.1 update installed), Sony Walkman MP3 series and later, Sony Ericsson; Nokia, Android, BlackBerry, and webOS-based mobile phones, with the use of a converter. AAC has also seen some adoption on in-dash car audio especially on high-end units such as the Pioneer AVIC series.
AAC was developed with the cooperation and contributions of companies including AT&T Bell Laboratories, Fraunhofer IIS, Dolby Laboratories, Sony Corporation and Nokia. It was officially declared an international standard by the Moving Picture Experts Group in April 1997. It is specified both as Part 7 of the MPEG-2 standard, and Subpart 4 in Part 3 of the MPEG-4 standard.
In 1997, AAC was first introduced as MPEG-2 Part 7, formally known as ISO/IEC 13818-7:1997. This part of MPEG-2 was a new part, since MPEG-2 already included MPEG-2 Part 3, formally known as ISO/IEC 13818-3: MPEG-2 BC (Backwards Compatible). Therefore, MPEG-2 Part 7 is also known as MPEG-2 NBC (Non-Backward Compatible), because it is not compatible with the MPEG-1 audio formats (MP1, MP2 and MP3).
MPEG-2 Part 7 defined three profiles: Low-Complexity profile (AAC-LC / LC-AAC), Main profile (AAC Main) and Scalable Sampling Rate profile (AAC-SSR). AAC-LC profile consists of a base format very much like AT&T's Perceptual Audio Coding (PAC) coding format, with the addition of temporal noise shaping (TNS), the Dolby Kaiser Window (described below), a nonuniform quantizer, and a reworking of the bitstream format to handle up to 16 stereo channels, 16 mono channels, 16 low-frequency effect (LFE) channels and 16 commentary channels in one bitstream. The Main profile adds a set of recursive predictors that are calculated on each tap of the filterbank. The SSR uses a 4-band PQMF filterbank, with four shorter filterbanks following, in order to allow for scalable sampling rates.
In 1999, MPEG-2 Part 7 was updated and included in the MPEG-4 family of standard and became known as MPEG-4 Part 3, MPEG-4 Audio or ISO/IEC 14496-3:1999. This update included several improvements. One of these improvements was the addition of Audio Object Types which are used to allow interoperability with a diverse range of other audio formats such as TwinVQ, CELP, HVXC, Text-To-Speech Interface and MPEG-4 Structured Audio. Another notable addition in this version of the AAC standard is Perceptual Noise Substitution (PNS). In that regard, the AAC profiles (AAC-LC, AAC Main and AAC-SSR profiles) are combined with perceptual noise substitution and are defined in the MPEG-4 audio standard as Audio Object Types. MPEG-4 Audio Object Types are combined in four MPEG-4 Audio profiles: Main (which includes most of the MPEG-4 Audio Object Types), Scalable (AAC LC, AAC LTP, CELP, HVXC, TwinVQ, Wavetable Synthesis, TTSI), Speech (CELP, HVXC, TTSI) and Low Rate Synthesis (Wavetable Synthesis, TTSI).
The reference software for MPEG-4 Part 3 is specified in MPEG-4 Part 5 and the conformance bit-streams are specified in MPEG-4 Part 4. MPEG-4 Audio remains backward-compatible with MPEG-2 Part 7.
The MPEG-4 Audio Version 2 (ISO/IEC 14496-3:1999/Amd 1:2000) defined new audio object types: the low delay AAC (AAC-LD) object type, bit-sliced arithmetic coding (BSAC) object type, parametric audio coding using harmonic and individual line plus noise and error resilient (ER) versions of object types. It also defined four new audio profiles: High Quality Audio Profile, Low Delay Audio Profile, Natural Audio Profile and Mobile Audio Internetworking Profile.
The HE-AAC Profile (AAC LC with SBR) and AAC Profile (AAC LC) were first standardized in ISO/IEC 14496-3:2001/Amd 1:2003. The HE-AAC v2 Profile (AAC LC with SBR and Parametric Stereo) was first specified in ISO/IEC 14496-3:2005/Amd 2:2006. The Parametric Stereo audio object type used in HE-AAC v2 was first defined in ISO/IEC 14496-3:2001/Amd 2:2004.
The current version of the AAC standard is defined in ISO/IEC 14496-3:2009.
AAC+ v2 is also standardized by ETSI (European Telecommunications Standards Institute) as TS 102005.
The MPEG-4 Part 3 standard also contains other ways of compressing sound. These include lossless compression formats, synthetic audio and low bit-rate compression formats generally used for speech.
AAC's improvements over MP3
Advanced Audio Coding is designed to be the successor of the MPEG-1 Audio Layer 3, known as MP3 format, which was specified by ISO/IEC in 11172-3 (MPEG-1 Audio) and 13818-3 (MPEG-2 Audio).
Blind tests show that AAC demonstrates greater sound quality and transparency than MP3 for files coded at the same bit rate.
- More sample frequencies (from 8 to 96 kHz) than MP3 (16 to 48 kHz)
- Up to 48 channels (MP3 supports up to two channels in MPEG-1 mode and up to 5.1 channels in MPEG-2 mode)
- Arbitrary bit-rates and variable frame length. Standardized constant bit rate with bit reservoir.
- Higher efficiency and simpler filterbank (rather than MP3's hybrid coding, AAC uses a pure MDCT)
- Higher coding efficiency for stationary signals (AAC uses a blocksize of 1024 or 960 samples, allowing more efficient coding than MP3's 576 sample blocks)
- Higher coding accuracy for transient signals (AAC uses a blocksize of 128 or 120 samples, allowing more accurate coding than MP3's 192 sample blocks)
- Can use Kaiser-Bessel derived window function to eliminate spectral leakage at the expense of widening the main lobe
- Much better handling of audio frequencies above 16 kHz
- More flexible joint stereo (different methods can be used in different frequency ranges)
- Adds additional modules (tools) to increase compression efficiency: TNS, Backwards Prediction, PNS etc... These modules can be combined to constitute different encoding profiles.
Overall, the AAC format allows developers more flexibility to design codecs than MP3 does, and corrects many of the design choices made in the original MPEG-1 audio specification. This increased flexibility often leads to more concurrent encoding strategies and, as a result, to more efficient compression. However, in terms of whether AAC is better than MP3, the advantages of AAC are not entirely decisive, and the MP3 specification, although antiquated, has proven surprisingly robust in spite of considerable flaws. AAC and HE-AAC are better than MP3 at low bit rates (typically less than 128 kilobits per second). This is especially true at very low bit rates where the superior stereo coding, pure MDCT, and better transform window sizes leave MP3 unable to compete.
While the MP3 format has near-universal hardware and software support, primarily due to MP3 being the format of choice during the crucial first few years of widespread music file-sharing/distribution over the internet, AAC is a strong contender due to some unwavering industry support.
How AAC works
AAC is a wideband audio coding algorithm that exploits two primary coding strategies to dramatically reduce the amount of data needed to represent high-quality digital audio.
- Signal components that are perceptually irrelevant are discarded;
- Redundancies in the coded audio signal are eliminated.
The actual encoding process consists of the following steps:
- The signal is converted from time-domain to frequency-domain using forward modified discrete cosine transform (MDCT). This is done by using filter banks that take an appropriate number of time samples and convert them to frequency samples.
- The frequency domain signal is quantized based on a psychoacoustic model and encoded.
- Internal error correction codes are added;
- The signal is stored or transmitted.
- In order to prevent corrupt samples, a modern implementation of the Luhn mod N algorithm is applied to each frame
The MPEG-4 audio standard does not define a single or small set of highly efficient compression schemes but rather a complex toolbox to perform a wide range of operations from low bitrate speech coding to high-quality audio coding and music synthesis.
- The MPEG-4 audio coding algorithm family spans the range from low bitrate speech encoding (down to 2 kbit/s) to high-quality audio coding (at 64 kbit/s per channel and higher).
- AAC offers sampling frequencies between 8 kHz and 96 kHz and any number of channels between 1 and 48.
- In contrast to MP3's hybrid filter bank, AAC uses the modified discrete cosine transform (MDCT) together with the increased window lengths of 1024 or 960 points.
AAC encoders can switch dynamically between a single MDCT block of length 1024 points or 8 blocks of 128 points (or between 960 points and 120 points, respectively).
- If a signal change or a transient occurs, 8 shorter windows of 128/120 points each are chosen for their better temporal resolution.
- By default, the longer 1024-point/960-point window is otherwise used because the increased frequency resolution allows for a more sophisticated psychoacoustic model, resulting in improved coding efficiency.
AAC takes a modular approach to encoding. Depending on the complexity of the bitstream to be encoded, the desired performance and the acceptable output, implementers may create profiles to define which of a specific set of tools they want to use for a particular application.
The MPEG-2 Part 7 standard (Advanced Audio Coding) was first published in 1997 and offers three default profiles:
- Low Complexity (LC) – the simplest and most widely used and supported;
- Main Profile (Main) – like the LC profile, with the addition of backwards prediction;
- Scalable Sample Rate (SSR) (MPEG-4 AAC-SSR) – a.k.a. Sample-Rate Scalable (SRS);
The MPEG-4 Part 3 standard (MPEG-4 Audio) defined various new compression tools (a.k.a. Audio Object Types) and their usage in brand new profiles. AAC is not used in some of the MPEG-4 Audio profiles. The MPEG-2 Part 7 AAC LC profile, AAC Main profile and AAC SSR profile are combined with Perceptual Noise Substitution and defined in the MPEG-4 Audio standard as Audio Object Types (under the name AAC LC, AAC Main and AAC SSR). These are combined with other Object Types in MPEG-4 Audio profiles. Here is a list of some audio profiles defined in the MPEG-4 standard:
- Main Audio Profile – defined in 1999, uses most of the MPEG-4 Audio Object Types (AAC Main, AAC-LC, AAC-SSR, AAC-LTP, AAC Scalable, TwinVQ, CELP, HVXC, TTSI, Main synthesis)
- Scalable Audio Profile – defined in 1999, uses AAC-LC, AAC-LTP, AAC Scalable, TwinVQ, CELP, HVXC, TTSI
- Speech Audio Profile – defined in 1999, uses CELP, HVXC, TTSI
- Synthetic Audio Profile – defined in 1999, TTSI, Main synthesis
- High Quality Audio Profile – defined in 2000, uses AAC-LC, AAC-LTP, AAC Scalable, CELP, ER-AAC-LC, ER-AAC-LTP, ER-AAC Scalable, ER-CELP
- Low Delay Audio Profile – defined in 2000, uses CELP, HVXC, TTSI, ER-AAC-LD, ER-CELP, ER-HVXC
- Mobile Audio Internetworking Profile – defined in 2000, uses ER-AAC-LC, ER-AAC-Scalable, ER-TwinVQ, ER-BSAC, ER-AAC-LD
- AAC Profile – defined in 2003, uses AAC-LC
- High Efficiency AAC Profile – defined in 2003, uses AAC-LC, SBR
- High Efficiency AAC v2 Profile – defined in 2006, uses AAC-LC, SBR, PS
(One of many improvements in MPEG-4 Audio is the Object Type - Long Term Prediction (LTP), which is an improvement of the Main profile using a forward predictor with lower computational complexity.)
Depending on the AAC profile and the MP3 encoder, 96 kbit/s AAC can give nearly the same or better perceptual quality as 128 kbit/s MP3.
AAC error protection toolkit
Applying error protection enables error correction up to a certain extent. Error correcting codes are usually applied equally to the whole payload. However, since different parts of an AAC payload show different sensitivity to transmission errors, this would not be a very efficient approach.
The AAC payload can be subdivided into parts with different error sensitivities.
- Independent error correcting codes can be applied to any of these parts using the Error Protection (EP) tool defined in MPEG-4 Audio standard.
- This toolkit provides the error correcting capability to the most sensitive parts of the payload in order to keep the additional overhead low.
- The toolkit is backwardly compatible with simpler and pre-existing AAC decoders. A great deal of the tool kit's error correction functions are based around spreading information about the audio signal more evenly in the datastream.
Error Resilient (ER) AAC
Error Resilience (ER) techniques can be used to make the coding scheme itself more robust against errors.
For AAC, three custom-tailored methods were developed and defined in MPEG-4 Audio
- Huffman Codeword Reordering (HCR) to avoid error propagation within spectral data;
- Virtual Codebooks (VCB11) to detect serious errors within spectral data;
- Reversible Variable Length Code (RVLC) to reduce error propagation within scale factor data.
AAC Low Delay
The MPEG-4 Low Delay Audio Coder (AAC-LD) is designed to combine the advantages of perceptual audio coding with the low delay necessary for two-way communication. It is closely derived from the MPEG-2 Advanced Audio Coding (AAC) format.
Licensing and patents
No licenses or payments are required to be able to stream or distribute content in AAC format. This reason alone makes AAC a much more attractive format to distribute content than MP3, particularly for streaming content (such as Internet radio).
However, a patent license is required for all manufacturers or developers of AAC codecs. For this reason FOSS implementations such as FFmpeg and FAAC may be distributed in source form only, in order to avoid patent infringement. (See below under Products that support AAC, Software.)
Extensions and improvements
Some extensions have been added to the first AAC standard (defined in MPEG-2 Part 7 in 1997):
- Perceptual Noise Substitution (PNS), added in MPEG-4 in 1999. It allows the coding of noise as pseudorandom data;
- Long Term Predictor (LTP), added in MPEG-4 in 1999. It is a forward predictor with lower computational complexity.
- Error Resilience (ER), added in MPEG-4 Audio version 2 in 2000, used for transport over error prone channels;
- AAC-LD (Low Delay), defined in 2000, used for real-time conversation applications;
- High Efficiency AAC (HE-AAC), a.k.a. aacPlus v1 or AAC+, the combination of SBR (Spectral Band Replication) and AAC LC; used for low bitrates; defined in 2003;
- HE-AAC v2, a.k.a. aacPlus v2 or eAAC+, the combination of Parametric Stereo (PS) and HE-AAC; used for even lower bitrates; defined in 2004 and 2006;
- MPEG-4 Scalable To Lossless (SLS), defined in 2006, can supplement an AAC stream to provide a lossless decoding option, such as in Fraunhofer IIS's "HD-AAC" product;
In addition to the MP4, 3GP and other ISO base media file format-based container formats for storage, AAC audio data may be packaged in a more basic format called Audio Data Interchange Format (ADIF), consisting of a single header followed by the raw AAC audio data blocks. Alternatively, it may be packaged in a streaming format called Audio Data Transport Stream (ADTS), consisting of a series of frames, each frame having a header followed by the AAC audio data. Both formats are defined in MPEG-2 Part 7, but are only considered informative by MPEG-4, so an MPEG-4 decoder does not need to support either format. These containers, as well as a raw AAC stream, may bear the .aac file extension. Two more formats are defined in MPEG-4 Part 3: Low-overhead MPEG-4 Audio Transport Multiplex (LATM), which provides a way to combine separate audio payloads, and Low Overhead Audio Stream (LOAS), a self-synchronizing streaming format.
Products that support AAC
In December 2003, Japan started broadcasting terrestrial DTV ISDB-T standard that implements MPEG-2 video and MPEG-2 AAC audio. In April 2006 Japan started broadcasting the ISDB-T mobile sub-program, called 1seg, that was the first implementation of video H.264/AVC with audio HE-AAC in Terrestrial HDTV broadcasting service on the planet.
In December 2007, Brazil started broadcasting terrestrial DTV standard called International ISDB-Tb that implements video coding H.264/AVC with audio AAC-LC on main program (single or multi) and video H.264/AVC with audio HE-AACv2 in the 1seg mobile sub-program.
The ETSI, the standards governing body for the DVB suite, supports AAC, HE-AAC and HE-AAC v2 audio coding in DVB applications since at least 2004. DVB broadcasts which use the H.264 compression for video normally use HE-AAC for audio.
iTunes and iPod
In April 2003, Apple brought mainstream attention to AAC by announcing that its iTunes and iPod products would support songs in MPEG-4 AAC format (via a firmware update for older iPods). Customers could download music in a closed-source Digital Rights Management (DRM)-restricted form of AAC (see FairPlay) via the iTunes Store or create files without DRM from their own CDs using iTunes. In later years, Apple began offering music videos and movies, which also use AAC for audio encoding.
On May 29, 2007, Apple began selling songs and music videos free of DRM from participating record labels. These files mostly adhere to the AAC standard and are playable on many non-Apple products but they do include custom iTunes information such as album artwork and a purchase receipt, so as to identify the customer in case the file is leaked out onto peer-to-peer networks. It is possible, however, to remove these custom tags to restore interoperability with players that conform strictly to the AAC specification. As of January 6, 2009, nearly all music on the iTunes Store became DRM-free, with the remainder becoming DRM-free by the end of March 2009.
iTunes supports a "Variable bit rate" (VBR) encoding option which encodes AAC tracks in an "Average bit rate" (ABR) scheme. As of September 2009, Apple has added support for HE-AAC (which is fully part of the MP4 standard) only for radio streams, not file playback, and iTunes still lacks support for true VBR encoding. The underlying QuickTime API does offer a true VBR encoding profile however.
Other portable players
For a number of years, many mobile phones from manufacturers such as Nokia, Motorola, Samsung, Sony Ericsson, BenQ-Siemens and Philips have supported AAC playback. The first such phone was the Nokia 5510 released in 2002 which also plays MP3s. However, this phone was a commercial failure and such phones with integrated music players did not gain mainstream popularity until 2005 when the trend of having AAC as well as MP3 support continued. Most new smartphones and music-themed phones support playback of these formats.
- Sony Ericsson phones support various AAC formats in MP4 container. AAC-LC is supported in all phones beginning with K700, phones beginning with W550 have support of HE-AAC. The latest devices such as the P990, K610, W890i and later support HE-AAC v2.
- Nokia XpressMusic and other new generation Nokia multimedia phones like N- and E-Series: also support AAC format in LC, HE, M4A and HEv2 profiles
- BlackBerry: RIM's latest series of Smartphones such as the 8100 ("Pearl"), 9500 ("Storm") and 8800 support AAC.
- Apple's iPhone supports AAC and FairPlay protected AAC files formerly used as the default encoding format in the iTunes store until the removal of DRM restrictions in March 2009.
- All recent Android phones support AAC-LC, HE-AAC and HE-AAC v2 in MP4 or M4A containers along with several other audio formats. From Android 3.1 also raw ADTS files are supported. Android 4.0 can also encode these kind of files.
- The HTC Dream (Also known as the T-Mobile G1) is described as supporting certain subset of the full AAC format. As of 2009-04-13 at least several forms of AAC files played while others did not play.
- WebOS by HP/Palm supports AAC, AAC+, eAAC+, and .m4a containers in its native music player as well as several third-party players. However, it does not support Apple's FairPlay DRM files downloaded from iTunes.
- Windows Phone 7: WP7's Silverlight runtime supports AAC-LC, HE-AAC and HE-AAC v2 decoding.
- Apple's iPad: Supports AAC and FairPlay protected AAC files used as the default encoding format in the iTunes store.
- Palm OS PDAs: Many Palm OS based PDAs and smartphones can play AAC and HE-AAC with the 3rd party software Pocket Tunes. Version 4.0, released in December 2006, added support for native AAC and HE-AAC files. The AAC codec for TCPMP, a popular video player, was withdrawn after version 0.66 due to patent issues, but can still be downloaded from sites other than corecodec.org. CorePlayer, the commercial follow-on to TCPMP, includes AAC support. Other PalmOS programs supporting AAC include Kinoma Player and AeroPlayer.
- Microsoft Windows Mobile platforms support AAC either by the native Windows Media Player or by third-party products (TCPMP, CorePlayer)
- Epson supports AAC playback in the P-2000 and P-4000 Multimedia/Photo Storage Viewers. This support is not available with their older models, however.
- The Sony Reader portable eBook plays M4A files containing AAC, and displays metadata created by iTunes. Other Sony products, including the A and E series Network Walkmans, support AAC with firmware updates (released May 2006) while the S series supports it out of the box.
- Nearly every major car stereo manufacturer offers models that will play back .m4a files recorded onto CD in a data format. This includes Pioneer, Sony, Alpine, Kenwood, Clarion, Panasonic, and JVC.
- The Sonos Digital Media Player supports playback of AAC files.
- The Barnes & Noble Nook Color electronic-book reader supports playback of AAC encoded files.
- The Roku SoundBridge network audio player supports playback of AAC encoded files.
- The Squeezebox network audio player (made by Slim Devices, a Logitech company) supports playback of AAC files.
- The PlayStation 3 supports encoding and decoding of AAC files.
- The Xbox 360 supports streaming of AAC through the Zune software, and of supported iPods connected through the USB port
- The Wii video game console supports AAC files through version 1.1 of the Photo Channel as of December 11, 2007. All AAC profiles and bitrates are supported as long as it is in the.m4a file extension. This update removed MP3 compatibility, but users who have installed this may freely downgrade to the old version if they wish.
- The Livescribe Pulse and Echo Smartpens record and store audio in AAC format. The audio files can be replayed using the pen's integrated speaker, attached headphones, or on a computer using the Livescribe Desktop software. The AAC files are stored in the user's "My Documents" folder of the Windows OS and can be distributed and played without specialized hardware or software from Livescribe.
A very common program supporting AAC playback is Flash Player, version 9, update 3 and above. Since Flash Player is also a browser plugin, it can play AAC files through a browser as well.
The Rockbox open source firmware (available for multiple portable players) also offers support for AAC to varying degrees, depending on the model of player and the AAC profile.
Optional iPod support (playback of unprotected AAC files) for the Xbox 360 is available as a free download from Xbox Live.
Other software media players
Almost all current computer media players include built-in decoders for AAC, or can utilize a library to decode it. On Microsoft Windows, DirectShow can be used this way with the corresponding filters to enable AAC playback in any DirectShow based player. Mac OS X supports AAC via the QuickTime libraries.
Software player applications of particular note include:
- 3ivx MPEG-4 - A suite of DirectShow and QuickTime plugins which support AAC encoding and/or AAC/ HE-AAC decoding in any DirectShow application
- CorePlayer also supports LC and HE AAC.
- Easy CD-DA Extractor for Windows, CD Ripper and audio converter, which includes an AAC encoder that supports LC and HE AAC.
- ffdshow is a free open source DirectShow filter for Microsoft Windows operating systems that uses FAAD2 to support AAC decoding.
- foobar2000 is a freeware audio player for Windows that supports LC and HE AAC.
- JAAD is an open-source decoder written in Java.
- K-Multimedia Player also supports AAC.
- KSP Sound Player also supports AAC.
- Media Player Classic Home Cinema
- MPlayer or xine are often used as AAC decoders on Linux or Macintosh.
- RealPlayer includes RealNetworks' RealAudio 10 AAC encoder.
- Songbird for Windows, Linux and Mac OS X supports AAC, including the DRM rights management encoding used for purchased music from the iTunes Store, with a plug-in.
- Sony SonicStage also support AAC.
- VLC media player supports playback and encoding of MP4 and AAC files.
- Winamp for Windows, which includes an AAC encoder that supports LC and HE AAC;
- Windows Media Player 12, released with Windows 7, supports playback of AAC files natively.
- Another Real product, Rhapsody supports the RealAudio AAC codec, in addition to offering subscription tracks encoded with AAC.
- XBMC (XBox Media Center) supports both AAC (LC and HE) on modified Xbox game-consoles.
- XMMS supports mp4 playback using a plugin provided by the faad2 library.
Some of these players (e.g., foobar2000, Winamp, and VLC) also support the decoding of ADTS (Audio Data Transport Stream) or MP4-contained AAC streamed over HTTP using the SHOUTcast protocol. Plug-ins for Winamp and foobar2000 enable the creation of such streams.
Nero Digital Audio
In May 2006, Nero AG released an AAC encoding tool free of charge, Nero Digital Audio (Nero AAC Codec), which is capable of encoding LC-AAC, HE-AAC and HE-AAC v2 streams. The tool is a Command Line Interface tool only. A separate utility is also included to decode to PCM WAV.
Various tools including the foobar2000 audio player, MediaCoder, MeGUI encoding front end and dBpoweramp can provide a GUI for this encoder.
FAAC and FAAD2
FAAC and FAAD2 stand for Freeware Advanced Audio Coder and Decoder 2 respectively. FAAC supports audio object types LC, Main and LTP. FAAD2 supports audio object types LC, Main, LTP, SBR and PS. Although FAAD2 is free software, FAAC is not free software.
FFmpeg's libavcodec library contains free software codecs for both encoding and decoding AAC (encoding is experimental).
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