Opus is a lossy audio coding format developed by the Xiph.Org Foundation and standardized by the Internet Engineering Task Force, designed to efficiently code speech and general audio in a single format, while remaining low-latency enough for real-time interactive communication and low-complexity enough for low-end ARM3 processors. Opus replaces both Vorbis and Speex for new applications, and several blind listening tests have ranked it higher-quality than any other standard audio format at any given bitrate until transparency is reached, including MP3, AAC, and HE-AAC.
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.