La 0.4b review

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La is a Lossless Audio compression program

License: GPL (GNU General Public License)
File size: 1188K
Developer: Michael Bevin
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La is a Lossless Audio compression program. That is, in contrast to formats such as mp3, La program reduces the size of music without affecting the quality, as the uncompressed signal is exactly identical to the original.

However, the compression ratio is thus far lower than that for .mp3 files - you can expect around 50%, worse for heavier music and better for classical etc.

Here are some key features of "La":
Windows frontend (which also supports many other codecs).
Best compression currently available (see comparison).
Versions for both Windows and Linux OSes.
Winamp, foobar2000 and Xmms plugins for playback.

How well does it work?

The compression ratios of La depend on the type of music file being compressed, but the compression size will generally range between 40% - 70% of the original.

This ratio is of course modest in comparison with lossy formats such as .mp3, however La does (at time of writing) compress around 1.5% better on average than any other lossless compression programs.

Speedwise, La runs around 1.5x real time on my Pentium III-1000. This is quite slow relative to comparable compressors, however corresondingly the compression rate is slightly higher than the others. Note that this version contains no 'fast' mode or such like - this, along with many other features, will have to wait till future releases.


Unpack the archive (tar -xjf la04.tar.bz2) into an appropriate place.

La should run fine straight away (note, I have to type ./la on my system because la appears to be an already existing command).

To install the xmms plugin, simply copy to the xmms input plugin directory (type xmms-config --input-plugin-dir to find out where this is).

The xmms plugin should basically work, and seeking should be possible. The visualisation should also work. However, it still tends to crash when you give it corrupt files (rather than nicely skipping over them as it should do).

The version of xmms I use is 1.2.6. Please let me know if the plugin works or doesn't work for you with other versions.

Usage Instructions

la [flags] input-filename [output-filename]


-high - high compression mode - slower, but better compression
-overwrite - automatically overwrite existing files
-cin - when decoding/encoding, use console input
-cout - when decoding, use console output
-cinout - when decoding, use console input+output
-noseek - disable seeking (improves compression slightly)
-nohead - when decoding, disables outputting of .wav headers

Example usage:

la foo.wav - compress foo.wav to
la - decompress to foo.wav
la -overwrite *.wav - compress all .wavs in directory, replacing
any existing .la files.
cat | la -cinout > foo.wav - decompress to foo.wav

When using wildcards, only the input name can be specified. The output names will be automatically determined as the original name with the new extension.

What's New in This Release:
Aside from some very small bug fixes, the main point of this release is that the core codec is now contained in a .dll, which can be used using the included API. The source code to the plugins and command-line program is also included to serve as examples for using the codec, and also in the hope that some help can be obtained in maintaining the plugins and in creating new ones.

Note that as the .dll is something Windows-specific this is just a Windows update. As with all minor version changes, this version is forwards and backwards compatible with all 0.4x versions.

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