Sustainability of Digital Formats: Planning for Library of Congress Collections

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Shorten Lossless Audio Compression Format (SHN), Version 3.5.1

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Format Description Properties Explanation of format description terms

Identification and description Explanation of format description terms

Full name Shorten Lossless Audio Compression Format, Version 3.5.1
Description Format used to losslessly compress LPCM audio files. According to the Wikipedia article on Shorten (consulted February 25, 2011), this capability is limited to CD-quality (44.1 kHz 16-bit stereo) source material. The article also reports that since few players or media writers decompress Shorten files, a standalone decompression program is usually required to transcode Shorten data for playback; see Notes below.
Relationship to other formats
    Has later version Shorten version 3.6.1, not described at this Web site.
    Other LPCM, Linear Pulse Code Modulated Audio. LPCM is compressed to create SHN_3_5_1

Local use Explanation of format description terms

LC experience or existing holdings None.
LC preference None. For preservation reformatting, the Library prefers Broadcast WAVE (WAVE_BWF_1 and WAVE_BWF_2).

Sustainability factors Explanation of format description terms

Disclosure Developed by SoftSound, Ltd., with extensions from
    Documentation Some documentation and downloadable executables from
Adoption In August 2006, the Wikipedia Shorten article reported that Shorten was a popular format due to the large number of legally tradable concert recordings in circulation that are encoded as Shorten files. In February 2011, the same article reported instead that "Shorten is no longer developed and more recent lossless audio codecs such as FLAC, Monkey's Audio (APE), TTA, and WavPack (WV) have become more popular. However, Shorten is still in use by some people because there are legally-traded concert recordings in circulation that are encoded as Shorten files."
    Licensing and patents Generally described as available to the public for non-commercial use.
Transparency Not investigated.
Self-documentation Not investigated.
External dependencies None.
Technical protection considerations None identified.

Quality and functionality factors Explanation of format description terms

Normal rendering Supported; in 2006, software applications like Winamp and XMMS were reported as able to decode and play Shorten files on the fly. See also Notes below.
Fidelity (high audio resolution) Lossless compression of LPCM at CD quality levels.
Support for user-defined sounds, samples, and patches Not applicable
Functionality beyond normal rendering Can include seek tables that can be used skip to portions of a selection in compliant players.

File type signifiers and format identifiers Explanation of format description terms

Tag Value Note
Filename extension shn
Internet Media Type Not found.  Comments welcome.   
Magic numbers Hex: 61 6A 6B 67 02 FB
ASCII: ajkg
From File Extension Source.

Notes Explanation of format description terms

General Regarding decompression tools, the Wikipedia Shorten article (consulted on February 25, 2011) reports, "Some Rockbox applications can play Shorten files without decompression, and a third-party Shorten plug-in exists for Nero Burning ROM, but these are the only known players to be able to do so. All libavcodec based players and converters support the Shorten codec."
History According to the Wikipedia Shorten article (consulted August 25, 2006; details deleted prior to February 25, 2011), "the Shorten algorithm and the reference code that implement it were developed by Tony Robinson of Cambridge University in 1992/1993 and later assigned to SoftSound, Ltd. The code was made available under a generous non-commercial license and has since been extended by Wayne Stielau to include seek tables so that one may seek within individual tracks when playing the files on one's computer."

Format specifications Explanation of format description terms

Useful references


Last Updated: Tuesday, 21-Feb-2017 14:25:50 EST