The SHN filetype, also known as Shorten, represents an audio compression format that was widely used for lossless data compression of digital audio files. It emerged in the early days of internet music sharing due to its ability to significantly reduce file size without compromising audio quality. Developed by Tony Robinson in the mid-1990s, SHN quickly gained popularity among audiophiles and music traders who valued the preservation of original sound, particularly within the live music trading community.
How SHN Works
The Shorten algorithm operates on the principle of transform coding, utilizing the Fast Fourier Transform to analyze the audio waveform. After identifying redundant data within the spectrum, it compresses the audio by removing statistically negligible information, thus preserving the audio integrity. This approach enables enthusiasts to archive and share high-quality recordings using minimal storage space.
Various software programs were able to handle SHN files, with some dedicated exclusively to the SHN format. These included the Shorten command-line tool provided by the developer and several others that incorporated SHN decoding capabilities, such as Traders' Little Helper and mkwACT. The format's specificity made it less ubiquitous, necessitating the need for specialized software to encode or decode SHN files.
Alternatives to SHN
Despite its initial favorability, the SHN format was eventually overshadowed by more advanced and versatile formats like FLAC (Free Lossless Audio Codec) and Apple Lossless (ALAC). These newer codecs offered similar or better compression rates, wider compatibility with playback devices, and additional features such as error checking and tagging capabilities for better file organization. Consequently, the use of SHN has declined as the majority of the lossless audio community transitioned to these alternatives, which continue to be preferred for their ongoing development support and widespread use.