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Sony to support MP3 - shock

Bell tolls for ATRAC codec

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Sony Electronics has indicated that some of its portable music hardware will support the MP3 format in the future, in preference to its own proprietary ATRAC (Adaptive Transform Acoustic Coding) codec.

Solid state players based on flash memory will be the first to support MP3, and Sony has also said that some existing devices will be upgradeable to play MP3 files too. The company says it will continue to support ATRAC, but in reality it's being dispatched to the Homophone section of the Dead Format Museum, where it will join RCA's 8-track cartridge. Sony's ATRAC typically requires special software and an extra conversion step, leading to lower sound quality.

The codec made its debut in 1992 on Sony's first MiniDisk player. Although widely supported - Sharp and Panasonic have their own interoperable codecs - only Sony has stubbornly kept it as the default compression codec on its media players.

Support could come early next year, a spokesperson said. ®

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