Best Audio Codecs for Live Video Streaming

Best Audio Codecs for Live Video Streaming

Lossy and Lossless Compression

Lossless compression occurs when the data is compacted without any information being discarded. A trusty ZIP file does just this, allowing us to cram a bunch of information into a small amount of space while preserving data integrity.

  1. Drop all data that would go undetected by the human ear
  2. Reduce the quality of hard-to-hear sounds
  3. Quickly compress all remaining data

Audio Codecs for Live Streaming

Trying to pick the best audio codec for your live streams? Below is our list of the top choices based on quality and compatibility.

1. AAC: Advanced Audio Coding

Defined by MPEG-4, AAC is the most common audio codec. It improved upon the MP3 codec by offering the same audio quality at a lower bitrate. As long as you aren’t looking for an exact replication, AAC works great. This widely supported standard is used by YouTube, Android, iOS, and iTunes.

2. MP3: MPEF-1 Audio Layer III

The MP3 codec revolutionized music consumption in the 1990s, prompting millennials near and far to swap their CD players for iPods. Nearly every audio-supported digital device in the world can play back the MP3 format, making it a viable option for live streaming. But because AAC offers superior compression, we’d recommend going with that.

3. Opus

Developed by the Xiph.Org foundation, Opus provides higher quality audio than any other lossy audio format. It’s open-source and royalty-free, but has yet to be widely adopted.

4. Vorbis

Also a non-proprietary alternative, Vorbis was designed to compete against closed codecs like AAC. Again, this codec lacks native support across devices. And because Opus outperforms Vorbis as far as quality goes, there’s no benefit to taking this route.

5. Speex

The Xiph.Org foundation designed this patent-free codec as an alternative to proprietary speech codecs. Like Vorbis, though, the Speex codec has been made obsolete by Opus.

6. G.711

G.711 was first released back in 1972. The codec works fine for real-time communication, but it isn’t exactly broadcast-quality.

7. AC-3 and E-AC-3: Dolby Digital and Dolby Digital Plus

The AC-3 and E-AC-3 formats are less advanced than AAC. The only benefit of these audio codecs is backwards compatibility on Dolby Digital equipment.

Multi-Codec Video Delivery

For compatibility and quality, your best bet is AAC. But because proprietary codecs and video containers exist, it can be helpful to deliver multiple different versions of your live streams to viewers.

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