this is open lossless codecs, developed under the Ogg project. Lately it’s become quite popular: many users wishing to store audio with original quality choose FLAC. This is partly in connection with the fact that codecs uses IDv1 and IDv3 tags - this allows a user to sort an audio collection according to one’s particular tastes, changing the original metadata of the tracks.
SPHERE (SPeech HEader Resources) is a file format defined by NIST (National Institute of Standards and Technology) and is used with speech audio. SoX can read these files when they contain μ-law and PCM data. It will ignore any header information that says the data is compressed using shorten compression and will treat the data as either μ-law or PCM. This will allow SoX and the command line shorten program to be run together using pipes to encompasses the data and then pass the result to SoX for processing.