Product Review: RealProducer 10 Competes On Features, Codecs
RealNetworks has released a "preview" of its latest encoding tool, RealProducer Plus 10. The RP10 application is available for Windows and Linux systems. Available for those platforms plus Mac OSX is the Helix Producer 10 SDK, the open-source toolkit for building and customizing your own encoding programs. RP10's new features come in three main areas: new and better codecs, enhanced encoding performance, and more options for encoding from live and on-demand sources.
New Audio and Video Codecs:
According to RealNetworks, the new video codec is about 30% more efficient at squeezing video down to size – measured by the decrease in bitrate needed to achieve the same quality. The quality you used to see in a 1Mbps video can be achieved with Real10 in about 700kbps. It's completely backward compatible with RealPlayers since RealPlayer8, with no player update required to play the content.
On the audio side, there are a few significant changes.
AAC: The new Real10 Audio codecs are now based on AAC. This replaces the older ATRAC3 codec used in earlier versions. Using one of the AAC codecs, which range from 64kpbs to 320kbps, will require the user's RealONE or RealPlayer 10 player to auto-update with a new plugin. Of course, if you choose to, you can still create older RealAudio versions with RealProducer 10.
Multichannel audio: True multichannel audio is now available in RealAudio. In previous versions, Real supported a "matrixed" surround sound scheme. Now, full 5.1 surround audio, from 96-268kbps, can be created from multichannel sources in Quicktime, AC3, AVI, or WAV format.
Lossless audio codec: The new lossless audio codec will compress audio down to about 700kbps – about half the size of uncompressed CD-Audio. While the Real 10 audio codecs will fool most ears at lower bandwidths (96-164kbps), the lossless codec gives perfectly accurate reproduction while saving both transfer time and storage space. This feature is only available using RealProducer Plus 10's scriptable command-line interface.