Ogg Vorbis utilities

Command Line – Ogg Vorbis

© Photo by neil thomas on Unsplash

© Photo by neil thomas on Unsplash

Article from Issue 213/2018

With the addition of its supporting utilities, Ogg Vorbis competes with other free audio formats.

Support for the free Ogg Vorbis audio format [1] is included by default in most Linux distributions. However, if you want to do more than play an Ogg file or rip a CD to the format using a desktop application, you need more than the Ogg codec. Although all-purpose tools are available for audio files, the most convenient tools for manipulating Ogg files are the format's supporting utilities, most of which are contained in the vorbis-tools package [2]. With these utilities, you can convert, play, and edit Ogg files and their meta-comments from the command line.

Ogg Vorbis is an audio format that uses lossy compression, like MP3. Unlike FLAC, Xiph.Org's other free format that is popular with audiophiles for its high sound quality, Ogg has never been particularly popular. Many music players do not support it at all. Moreover, now that the MP3 format no longer has a restricted license, there is less reason for advocates of software freedom to use Ogg – although old habits die hard. However, there are still occasions where the smaller files created by lossy compression are useful, such as when using a player with limited memory, and at an equivalent sampling rate and file size, Ogg files offer higher sound quality than MP3s. Especially at their highest settings, Ogg files remain a reasonable compromise between file size and quality. By using the available utilities, you can get the most out of this often under-rated audio format.


The basic command-line tool for making that conversion from .raw, .wav, .aiff, or even .flac is oggenc (Figure 1). Ordinarily, .flac would be preferable to .ogg in terms of sound quality, but you might choose to create an .ogg file to produce a smaller file, especially one intended to be played where high sound quality would be wasted, such as on a bus or downtown.


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