Two years ago, MP3 was just another audio compression format. Today, it's a Net phenomenon that's at the center of an enormous controversy. That's because MP3 makes it possible for people with an Internet connection to bypass record stores (and cashiers) and download CD-quality music by their favorite artists--for free. MP3 is great for
music lovers and cheapskates, who can download funky tunes to their hearts' content without spending a dime; however, it's a nightmare for musicians and record companies, who can only watch helplessly as their profits drop into a digital black hole.
MP3 is short for MPEG-1 Layer 3 (Moving Pictures Expert Group), a format for storing digital audio. It uses an advanced type of audio compression which reduces the filesize with little reduction in quality. MP3 is used particularly for music distribution over the Internet, but is also use for other purposes such as real-time digital audio transmissions over ISDN (used by reporters). MPEG-1 has been around since 1992, but during he last few years (1998/99) it has started to get widespread attention from regular media and ordinary users.
An MP3 file (or simply "an MP3") is a file that contains MP3-compressed sound data. It is played using an MP3 player. You can recognize MP3 files by their file-extension (the end of the filename), which is ".mp3".
MP3 was invented by Fraunhofer IIS leading organization of applied research in Germany In a joint cooperation with the University of Erlangen (Prof. Dieter Seitzer) under the sponsorship of the Motion Picture Experts Group (MPEG) and formalized by the International Organization for Standardization (ISO).
The original 50 MB wave file (about 5 minutes of CD quality audio)
MP3-compressed will end up as an MP3 file using only about 5 megabytes of space with little or no audible loss in quality. The size depends on the length of the song and the bitrate (quality). The data is automatically decompressed while the MP3 is being played.
How is it possible to do this you ask? Well, I won't get into the technical details, but basically the MP3 encoder removes the parts of the sound not audible to the human ear. This means that MP3 is a 'lossy' type of compression (comparable to JPEG in the
graphics area). This means that what comes out from your CD or Wave file is NOT the same thing that comes out of the MP3 that has been created from the CD/Wav. The sound data that has been lost will not be returned if the MP3 is decoded back to WAV. REQUIREMENTS
You will first of all need a MP3 player, players are available for all computer platforms. If you are using Windows 95/98/NT we can warmly recommend Winamp, the most common MP3 player. It also supports a lot of other audio formats,like WAV, MID, MOD and CD audio. Another well-known player is Sonique. Winamp has a very simple interface that can be used by anybody who has operated a CD player. To load an MP3 in Winamp, use the button (in Winamp) that looks like it would open a CD tray, or just double-click the MP3 file you want to play. The reason why it has been so successful is undoubtedly due to its simple, attractive look, its numerous options and the fact that it is a shareware program with no limits on the number of functions
To play the MP3s will need a soundcard (preferably16-bit), speakers or headphones (preferably good ones) and at least a 486 processor.
MP3 ON THE WEB
Three major MP3 sites are Lycos MP3 Search Engine, MP3.com, and RioPort.com.
Realizing the success of MP3, thanks to the rapid growth of the Internet and the increasing numbers of users interested in this digital-audio format, a number of manufacturers have recently started marketing portable players (similar to the Walkman): they generally have a memory of between 40 and 80 MB where you can store your...