Rockbox Technical Forums

Rockbox General => Rockbox General Discussion => Topic started by: rjdg14 on April 22, 2021, 02:32:39 PM

Title: Why does Rockbox have more features than most proprietary firmware?
Post by: rjdg14 on April 22, 2021, 02:32:39 PM
Rockbox seems to take pretty much any device it runs on, in my experience, to a whole new level and despite the software being almost 20 years old (from its initial release), it still outperforms nearly every other piece of firmware or OS I've tried in terms of sound quality. It's possible that part of the reason is because I live in Europe (and until Brexit happened, the EU), where most built in firmware includes volume limitors to comply with an unenforcable EU directive, which Rockbox overrides. Beyond volume, Rockbox allows you to alter spacial settings, the oversampling rate, the bass/treble intensity, the track speed and more, and it even has a karaoke mode which strips out centre panned audio on stereo tracks. Very few device manufacturers include these options in their stock firmware.

I guess that proprietary manufacturers are more concerned about having to abide by things such as the EU's headphone volume directive and various DRM restrictions, which Rockbox doesn't need to worry about as it's developed on a non-commercial basis.
Title: Re: Why does Rockbox have more features than most proprietary firmware?
Post by: braewoods on April 23, 2021, 09:09:26 AM
Probably because Rockbox is essentially non-profit so we have different objectives. Plus Rockbox builds on itself so features accumulate over time whereas proprietary firmware is usually a fresh creation or rebranded software from another vendor.

The vendors of proprietary firmware aren't generally going to add stuff for which there is an insignificant market for since they're all about profits and it costs money to add new features. Rockbox on the other hand is developed by people that don't care about the money angle so potentially anything could end up being implemented. But this can be a double-edged sword as contributors tend to focus on what they personally want to use or see.

This cost and profit motivation is also why proprietary firmware ceases to see updates at some point but why our supported targets continue to see them even today. Even so we don't support stuff forever as if they are holding us back in some way the target will likely be dropped, like when we dropped ArchOS support.
Title: Re: Why does Rockbox have more features than most proprietary firmware?
Post by: rjdg14 on April 23, 2021, 10:10:35 AM
Probably because Rockbox is essentially non-profit so we have different objectives. Plus Rockbox builds on itself so features accumulate over time whereas proprietary firmware is usually a fresh creation or rebranded software from another vendor.

The vendors of proprietary firmware aren't generally going to add stuff for which there is an insignificant market for since they're all about profits and it costs money to add new features. Rockbox on the other hand is developed by people that don't care about the money angle so potentially anything could end up being implemented. But this can be a double-edged sword as contributors tend to focus on what they personally want to use or see.

This cost and profit motivation is also why proprietary firmware ceases to see updates at some point but why our supported targets continue to see them even today. Even so we don't support stuff forever as if they are holding us back in some way the target will likely be dropped, like when we dropped ArchOS support.

I just tested a segment of a track from a 1989 CD in Rockbox with its bass and treble settings adjusted to 24db each and compared it with the original file on my PC. The Rockbox rip had a dynamic range score of 14, whereas the original segment had a range score of 11. For a newer CD which is a victim of the Loudness War, the original segment I tested had a DR score of 6, while the Rockbox rip of the same segment had a score of 9. At the default bass/treble balance of 0, the Rockbox rips I tested sounded practically identical to the original file on my PC.

Are there any settings that can also improve the audio quality in Rockbox in addition to the bass and treble settings? My old Sansa Clip+ seemed to also respond well to me adjusting the stereo width but changing its value on my Xduoo X3 does practically nothing.
Title: Re: Why does Rockbox have more features than most proprietary firmware?
Post by: saratoga on April 23, 2021, 01:01:15 PM
There are a lot of features because hundreds of people have worked on it for 20 years, so lots of work has been done.

Those dynamic range measurements don't mean anything if you turn on EQ.
Title: Re: Why does Rockbox have more features than most proprietary firmware?
Post by: rjdg14 on April 24, 2021, 07:56:00 AM
There are a lot of features because hundreds of people have worked on it for 20 years, so lots of work has been done.

Those dynamic range measurements don't mean anything if you turn on EQ.

Are there any estimates as to how many thousand or million people have downloaded and used it since it was first released about 20 years ago?
Title: Re: Why does Rockbox have more features than most proprietary firmware?
Post by: bluebrother on April 24, 2021, 01:28:44 PM
Are there any settings that can also improve the audio quality in Rockbox [...]

Please don't hijack threads, even if you started them. Keep the discussion in a thread to its topic. If you have a different question simply start a new thread. Thanks.

As for the original question: as braewoods said: people work on the stuff they are interested in, development is (usually) done by technical people, and those people are interested in all kind of technical stuff (f.e. replaygain support) the majority of consumers out there don't care about. For commercial development, every feature has to have a business case. If there is no business case the feature (or even product) is dropped.
Title: Re: Why does Rockbox have more features than most proprietary firmware?
Post by: saratoga on April 24, 2021, 02:52:04 PM
I will quickly  comment  that we have had download  stats posted in irc, so you could  check the logs for some older releases.
Title: Re: Why does Rockbox have more features than most proprietary firmware?
Post by: rjdg14 on April 25, 2021, 09:22:47 PM
Please don't hijack threads, even if you started them. Keep the discussion in a thread to its topic. If you have a different question simply start a new thread. Thanks.

Sorry about that, I'm a new user and the rules do vary slightly between different forums. I'll make sure I create a new thread if I feel the need to go off-topic in future.