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What is Mp3?

Short version
MP3 is basically a compressed music file. You will need a player to listen to mp3s. It takes about 10 times less space than a regular CD track, making it great to use on the Internet.

Basic Info
MP3, also known as Motion Picture Experts Group Audio Layer 3 (MPEG Audio Layer 3), is an audio compression codec for use with home computers and consumer electronics. MP3 was standardized by the Moving Picture Experts Group (MPEG) to be used as a high performance compression scheme that uses encoding techniques that can achieve a up to a 12:1 compression ratio, compared to CD Audio. The relatively small size of MP3 files allows for efficient storage on computer hard disks, and has become the standard for music distribution over the web.

Technical Info
The MPEG 1 Layer 3 algorithm is based on a very complicated psycho-acoustic model. This model is based on the capability of eliminating those frequencies which the human ear is unable to hear. This compression algorithm can't be compared to ZIP because it destructs some audio parts which will never be reconstructed, that's why MP3 can't reach exact CD quality.

In fact, according to Fraunhofer institute, "In all international listening tests, MPEG Layer-3 impressively proved its superior performance, maintaining the original sound quality at a data reduction of 1:12 (around 64 kbit/s per audio channel)." This same institute has devised MP3 algorythm that was previously standardized by ISO (ISO 11172-3 and 13818-3) and developed a non-ISO extension "MPEG 2.5". 1:12 means that you can get a file around 12 times smaller than uncompressed CD quality without major noticeable difference for your ears.

MP3 are divided into two bitrate categories: constant and variable (aka VBR; variable bitrate). Using constant bitrate, it's easy to predict the final file length. For example, a 60 minutes encoded at 128kbps would take about 57mb. Xing introduced variable bitrate a while ago which is a part of the ISO standard, but wasn't used by any other encoder. The only way to know how much space your file will take with VBR is to encode it and wait for the final result.


other mp3 help topics:

glossary - what is mp3 - legal mp3 download - streaming radio - audio formats - listen to mp3s - connect computer to stereo - cd to mp3 makers - mp3 bitrate - cda to mp3 - wav to mp3 - mp3 to wav - mp3 to cd - id3 tag - normalize mp3 - problems

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