Music 2.0 player from Audizen
By Cho Jin-seo
If you are a serious guitar-master wannabe and you want to focus on the tune of Brian May's guitar and don't want to hear Freddie Mercury's voice and Roger Tailor drumming in Queen songs, then this may be what you have been looking for.
Korean computer engineers are introducing a new digital music format that has separate controls on the sound volume for each musical instrument, such as guitar, drum, base and voice -- an ideal tool for music lovers of different tastes as well as karaoke fans.
The new format, which has a file extension format of MT9 and a commercial title of Music 2.0, is poised to replace the popular MP3 file format as the de facto standard of the digital music source, its inventors say.
The MT9 technology was first conceived by Electronics and Telecommunications Research Institute (ETRI) and is being shaped into commercial use by venture company Audizen. It was selected as a candidate item for the new digital music standard at a regular meeting of Motion Picture Experts Group (MPEG), the international body of the digital music and video industry, held in France late April.
``We made presentations to the participants and they were all surprised to see it. They immediately voted to make it a candidate for the digital music standard,'' said Ham Seung-chul, chief of Audizen. He is expecting it will be formerly selected as an international standard in the MPEG forum's next meeting to be held in Germany June.
The distinctive feature of MT9 format is that it has a six-channel audio equalizer, with each channel dedicated to voice, chorus, piano, guitar, base and drum. For example, if a user turns off the voice channel, it becomes a karaoke player. Or one can turn off all the instruments and concentrate on the voice of the main singer as if he or she is singing a cappella.
Ham says that the music industry should change its attitude to the market as music is becoming a digital service, rather than a physical product. MT9 is the ideal fit for the next generation of music business because it can be used for multiple services and products, such as iPhones, PCs, mobile phones and karaoke bars, he says.
Samsung Electronics and LG Electronics are both interested in equipping their mobile phones with an MT9 player and their first commercial products are likely to debut early next year, he said.
If selected as an international format, the MT9 technology can earn big for both Audizen and ETRI, a governmental research institute. ETRI said that it holds three international and six domestic patents for the technology and is planning to file two more this year.
The MT9 files are served in an album package. Audizen is currently selling a limited choice of albums at 2,000 won to 3,000 won on its Web site. More albums are being recorded in the format and even very old albums, such as Queen's or Deulgookhwa's, can be made into MT9 files if they have a digitally re-mastered music source, Ham said.
Unlike other digital formats exclusively used by big companies such as SK Telecom, Audizen allows users to copy the MT9 files, making it a more attractive format. ``It's like having a CD or cassette tape. Once you buy it, you can lend it to your friends. We don't want to be too fussy about DRM (digital right management),'' he said.