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[Proposal] Increase average bitrate limitation from 192kbs to 320kbs.

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Topic Starter
Chanci
General Formatting and Clarification
This would modify one of the rules in the Audio section of the global ranking criteria that applies to all modes.
Current Rule: "A beatmapset's audio file must use the .mp3 file format and have an average bit rate no greater than 192kbps."
Proposed Rule: A beatmapset's audio file must use the .mp3 file format and have an average bit rate no greater than 320kbps."

Reasoning
There are 2 common justifications for why this rules remains the way that it currently is. (from what I've seen)

1. File size is increased. This is likely the biggest one and there are many rules in favor of optimizing file size out there. However, semi-recently mappers have been afforded the option of using backgrounds of up to 2560x1440 as long as they do not exceed 2.5mb. This is good, but the song is what the actual beatmap is based around, and therefore I don't see a reason to not allow the song to be of higher quality if something purely aesthetic like a background is allowed. Another point I ought to bring up is depending on the length of the song that you're mapping, the file size may be drastically larger than a normal song despite only being 192kbs. For example, The Sun, The Moon, The Star (Mapped by SILENCE PLAYER a.k.a. ItsWinter). This mp3 alone is 26.3mb. Now if you look at something more typical for osu... a TV Size anime opening... DROPOUT!? (Mapped by Sotarks) the mp3 is only 2.63mb. These mp3s are different by a factor of 10, but because they're both 192kbs the size doesn't matter. Bigger files and bigger downloads will exist regardless on osu, and I don't think the line needs to be drawn at quality when it doesn't even make that huge of a difference in file size in the first place. It's not like we're asking to use .flac or anything.

2. Featured artist songs are 192kbs. I saw this mentioned in a thread from 2018 in which pishifat says
- considering featured artist songs are available at a max of 192kbps, the rc should stick to that as a max despite the sound quality concern.
While I understand the sentiment, I don't think the featured artist's quality deviation from the maximum would matter. The main reason that 99% of maps nowadays use the maximum 192kbs is because anything lower actually has a drop in sound quality to the point where to most, it sounds bad. If the maximum was 320kbs, nothing would be stopping people from using the good old 192kbs. 192kbs would be considered average, and average is perfectly acceptable. 320kbs would just be an optional higher value that you can use if you want to be cool. Evidence for this can be pulled directly from osu, and how when the rule about background dimensions changed. Despite the new maximum being 2560x1440, it's extremely common for mappers to continue using 1920x1080 or 1920x1200 backgrounds. If the featured artist songs must be the maximum size (for some reason), the 192kbs mp3s on the site can always be replaced with higher quality version with the offset of the timing point(s) adjusted. The timing itself wouldn't actually change so it wouldn't be a big deal.

Conclusion
I'm very interesting in other reasonings for and against this change, and as someone who constantly maps and mods, I hope to see some progress made in this field.
ts8zs
Real reason is:
Don't make copyright problems bigger.
320kbps will do more harm on copyright than 192kbps.
Topic Starter
Chanci
I don't think we should make rules based around how close we can tap dance to copyright infringement. If you don't want copyright infringement to be an issue then crack down on copyright infringement instead of allowing it the most that you can without getting caught. It's even part of the osu! copyright policy.

Edit: And if someone IS causing issues with copyright by using 320kbs, then just don't use 320kbs for that map. It's the maximum bitrate, not the required bitrate.
-Keitaro
Relevant:
community/forums/posts/7120591
https://www.reddit.com/r/osugame/comments/3elyfk/why_doesnt_osu_support_320kbps/ctgh3vn?utm_medium=android_app&utm_source=share
https://twitter.com/ephemeralis/status/818459900925779969

I personally don't see any strong reason as to why 320kbps would have to be available, not much ppl have the hearing ability up to those crisp frequencies anyway.

Well, except maybe for FA song where we actually licensed the song itself.

320kbps is too high quality for the nature of osu! and if they really want that crisp audio quality, then they could just get the file and replace it themselves.

also this has been mentioned numerous times and the conclusion always stays as is--192kbps max. do we really need to talk about this again?
Topic Starter
Chanci
I don't mean to be blunt but Ephemeral doesn't know what he's talking about in this case. And besides, as this is the community ranking criteria discussion I believe this should be sorted out between mappers and modders who actually know what they're doing. Personally the difference between 192kbs and 320kbs to me is night and day. When listening to music on my own I almost always listen to 320kbs mp3s or if available, flac files. The only reason I would listen to lower quality music is if I'm browsing on youtube to find new artists. I don't agree with 320kbs being out of the nature of osu, because osu is a rhythm game entirely based around the music. The music should be high quality, and while 192kbs is ok, there's no reason to cap the playing experience at "ok". If we cap the playing experience at "ok", let's remove a ton of other rules and guidelines that are good, but aren't 100% necessary.

320kbs is not the almighty god of audio that it's thought to be, it's just pretty good. I would be fine with 192kbs if this wasn't a rhythm game and instead it was an fps or something where the music doesn't matter too much, but this does happen to be a rhythm game.

Once again, a 320kbs maximum would not mean that people must use 320kbs. 192kbs would still be acceptable in ranking just like 1920x1080 (and even 1280x720) is acceptable for background sizes.
TheKingHenry
not that I know the arguments regarding the size or anything really, but I found your point a bit amusing either way, like

Chanci wrote:

Bigger files and bigger downloads will exist regardless on osu, and I don't think the line needs to be drawn at quality when it doesn't even make that huge of a difference in file size in the first place
it's not like this is wrong, but considering this has been discussed with these topics in the past, I'm under the impression there are concerns regarding arbitrary filesize caps with this. And for those arbitrary caps, let me use an allegory: let's think that cap is your house. Mp3 is the furniture. Average TV Size stuff might not be more than a light chair, but epics like TSTMTS would be more like massive shelves. Now, you decide to increase the size of all the furniture because the chairs will be comfier. Seems like it works just fine with the chairs, but suddenly the massive shelf doesn't fit in the house anymore. Whoops.

Well, basically, presuming the existence of arbitrary caps here, saying "bigger downloads exist already" sounds like an argument against your point, not for your point

just what popped to my mind regarding the general idea presented, but like said, I don't exactly know anything about it :')

inb4 just use lower quality on longer songs
now that's just plain discrimination *cries*
tenachiasaca
Why are people even worried about file size. Personally I am running osu and I have close to 67K beatmaps on my computer. The main problem osu has with filesize is that most people still have it in their /appdata/ folder. The main problem there is that the folder isn't indexed which really slows down windows looking at files in it.

TheKingHenry in your statement you reference filesize to furniture and I like that. But, you are forgetting that its getting cheaper to increase the size and speed of your RV. RV being your hard drive. Low end 4TB drives are sitting around 80$ right now.
TheKingHenry
I'm not "forgetting" anything, of course most people are not low on storage these days, and I'm not either, the point is about the pre-set existing arbitrary limit for size that we are supposedly working under in osu! at the moment :thinking:

like, whether or not that kind of limit should be just yeeted to oblivion is another discussion altogether, but I'm just here commenting that as long as we do have that stuff, that argument presented by OP does not make too much sense ¯\_(ツ)_/¯
Topic Starter
Chanci
My point wasn't necessarily that since file sizes are already big, it wouldn't matter if they get bigger. My point is that the current pseudo-cap on file sizes is arbitrary and shouldn't be enforced to the degree that it is.

Now if we were to enforce a reasonable file size cap, I believe a system where you would able to use a 320kbs mp3 up until a certain file size (let's say 30mb), but then after that line you'd have to use a 192kbs file in order to not bloat the download, could work. However I'm not really a fan of this approach and would rather not cap file sizes in this regard, but it's something to think about.
Endaris
Higher quality backgrounds becoming acceptable is an immediate result of common monitor resolutions rising over the years. Upscaling a formerly 800x600 background to 2400x1440 or even 1920x1080 has visible artifacts.
High quality audio devices that can make the difference between 192kbps and 320kbps clearly audible are just as common as 10 years ago - not common at all and especially so on desktop PCs.
That means while a lot of people can profit from higher quality backgrounds, very few can profit from higher quality mp3s. It's about finding a compromise of finding a good value for the majority of users at the lowest cost (filesize).

osu! is ultimately about playing a rhythm game, not listening to music. 192kbps is completely sufficient for that purpose. While a copyright policy exists I think it is unnecessary to provoke people with bad intentions to use osu! exclusively for the purpose of pirating audio. When 192kbps is enough for Youtube music videos, why isn't it enough for osu!?
You should really elaborate on why "192 isn't enough to game to" when you say that Ephemeral doesn't know what he's talking about. You simply made a claim without backing it up.

Overall I see very little value in this, even without considering the piracy topic.
Topic Starter
Chanci
What is your basis that high quality audio devices that can reasonable differentiate from 192 and 320 are "not common at all and especially so on desktop PCs."? Not only does most if not every osu player I know have some sort of epic gaming headset to go with their multicolor gaming keyboard with cherrymxbrownfastsilverquick switches, but the default earbuds that came FREE with my phone are enough to hear the difference. Even with speakers the quality very well may be noticeable. Unless you went to Best Buy and bought a pair of ultra cheap entirely plastic earbuds for $1.99, the different is noticeable.

I don't know how many times I have to explain why higher audio quality is better for a rhythm game. If the MAIN PART of the game is the audio, and the audio is average, why not use better audio? The reason that "192kbps is enough for Youtube music videos" (it's actually 128kbs) is because YouTube is a massive video sharing platform that has 30,000 hours of content uploaded each hour. Using 320kbs for YouTube would be a storage nightmare. This isn't YouTube, this is osu.
Zelzatter Zero

Chanci wrote:

If the maximum was 320kbs, nothing would be stopping people from using the good old 192kbs. 192kbs would be considered average, and average is perfectly acceptable.
Saying that when you proposed to increase the average limitation to 320kbps seems too confusing tho. Because what's the point of actually using 320 besides of being cool when 192, as you mentioned, is perfectly acceptable?

Saying this is just like trying to force a 720p (yes, just 720p) video into the map. Filesize is increasing and people has more storage than ever, but it still has limitation. One of the reason the background resolution increased is because you can find high-quality .jpg files with reasonable filesize within high resolution. .mp3 files, however, don't act the same way.

I think "maximum limitation" will be more fitting here in this case, but whatever.
Topic Starter
Chanci
By average limitation I was referring to the current rule, "A beatmapset's audio file must use the .mp3 file format and have an average bit rate no greater than 192kbps."

The point of using 320 over 192 is that 320 is better and provides for a richer playing experience, but there are songs out there that aren't obtainable in 320 just because they simply weren't. 192 works, yes, but it can be better. 320 isn't flac where it's the audiophile experience or anything, it's just better than 192 and I don't see a reason to force mappers to downgrade the song that the map is mapped upon.
Nao Tomori
The reason is that peppy does not want the game site to be a proxy for HQ audio downloads. FLAC, lossless, is obviously the highest quality but 320 kbps is very close to that and purposely having degraded audio means that people will not be downloading maps for the sound file but rather for the map itself. Contrary to what you are saying, the average player definitely cannot tell the difference between 320 and 192 for 99% of songs unless the 192 audio is really scuffed or upscaled from a lower bitrate or something. And frankly the prevalence of 128-upscaled-to-192 mp3s and straight YT rips getting NOMINATED (not even uploaded by randoms) shows that most mappers don't really care about having the best quality mp3 in the first place.
Topic Starter
Chanci
Even if a lot of mappers wouldn't care, that doesn't mean that the ranking criteria should restrict those who do. The average player also won't be able to tell the difference between higher res backgrounds (1080 vs 1440 etc) even if they have the monitor for it. The same goes for all the rules we have about skinning. 99% of mappers aren't going to skin their maps, so should we just not address it? Of course not, because the ranking criteria has to apply to more than the majority.
If a mapper thinks that a 320kbs file would benefit their map, there's no harm in using one.

I also disagree that players wouldn't be able to tell the difference. I think the reasoning for this perception is instead that maps are pretty much never 320kbs. Players don't expect an mp3 to be 320kbs, so they don't notice it because it happens so rarely. With something more common, like the difference between 192 and 128, people notice it. There's a lot of older maps that use lower quality audio, and it's very noticeable. This is the same.
Nao Tomori
You did not address the main point which is the real reason - the point of this game is not to be a high quality mp3 sharing site. That isn't going to randomly change one day and until then I doubt peppy will allow 320 kbps to be the default for "official" (ranked) content.

In fact, mappers can indeed upload 320 kbps mp3 if they want to (just can't rank). They can also replace the mp3 ex post facto if they want to both rank the map and offer a 320 kbps download in the description.

I think you overestimate how many people can tell the difference consistently between 320 and 192, especially on generic anime songs which tend to be extremely over mastered and loud in the first place. And as I pointed out before, there are lots and lots of maps ranked with 128 upscaled to 192, or 128 yt rips, which people do not notice, complain about, or otherwise mention without looking in spektro and Audacity. Those that are very noticeable are quickly modded.
Topic Starter
Chanci
Yeah I totally forgot to address that point. My stance is this:

I just simply don't see osu becoming an mp3 sharing site as a possibility. If it would happen as of the result of this, it definitely would have happened long ago. It would be an enormous hassle to try to run a piracy ring around uploading 1 song at a time, and it'd be quite obvious if someone were to upload an entire album in a single upload. No one is going to put in the time and effort to upload raw music here when they could easily do it on any other site, y'know, like ones made for that sort of thing. This isn't an issue with other rhythm games that have custom maps (be it community ran or not). Why would it happen on osu?

Another way that I know this won't happen is that you can upload 320kbs mp3s already. It's not rankable, but if you're using osu to pirate music I don't think you care about ranking your uploads of pure music and likely no map.

Just for the hypothetical, let's say people DO start to use osu as a service to upload 320kbs mp3s to. There's good moderation here. Maps are removed all the time for violating the song content rules. Remember that time monstrata uploaded an Attack On Titan episode in full and it got removed within a couple hours? The staff and volunteers wouldn't allow such a scenario to ever happen.

Edit: Something else I may add, if an artist wishes not to have their song uploaded, they can file a DMCA. It's always worked before. I don't think artists are seeing their song on osu, but are FIRST downloading the map and checking the audio.mp3 file and running it through spek to see if it's 192kbs or 320kbs. osu has systems in place for copyright and they will continue to work regardless if it's 320 or not.
abraker
Chanci, do me a favor and post your results in this thread: community/forums/topics/1074758. Yea I know it's not 192 vs 320, but I can't find a test for that. If there is one, I'll update, for now let's see if people can tell this much apart.
Zelzatter Zero
Jut gonna leave this here because saying that everybody would hear the difference even between 128 and 320 is just plain ignorant.

And if you think 320 is "good" for osu!, then tell every other rhythm game devs that way, especially some with properly licensed music, or even commissioned ones. They mainly care about filesize, not quality.
Nao Tomori
Artists will not DMCA based on 192 vs 320. Artists will DMCA if they hear about the site and do not want their songs uploaded on it for free. (Skrillex, Zekk, whichever company took down Despacito, etc...)

If the main reason to visit the site at any point becomes downloading 320 kbps album rips, it will cause massive massive issues for the game by drawing attention to it (since the game breaks all sorts of DMCA good faith assumptions as it currently exists, regardless of whatever staff says, none of it would really hold up in court). Preempting that possibility is a main point of using degraded audio quality. It doesn't matter right now since the practice is not common, but if it becomes known that this site hosts a lot of 320 kbps songs, and a bunch of big name labels throw out some DMCA notices on all of their IP, the damage will be irreparable.
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