MPEG Layer 3 (also known as MPEG3 or MP3), (MPEG is short for “Moving Picture Experts Group”) is a compression technique for audio recording. The compression ratio usually is 12:1 and there is only very little loss of quality. With MP3 compression it’s easier to create high quality, but small size sound files. Currently a lot of MP3 music files are downloadable from many sites on the Internet. Some of these music files are, for example, grabbed from CD’s and are violating copyrights. Be aware of that. This means MP3 doesn’t only have it’s advantages, but also has a large disadvantage, being an easy way to illegally “copy” music. MP3 is a great solution for bands/artists who want to promote their music, for example if they do not have their own CD’s. By creating MP3 files from their music, they can easily distribute them around the world just by putting them on the Internet.
What you need to play .MP3′s
To play MP3′s you’ll need an MP3 player. Microsoft’s Media Player can play MP3 files, but there are many more MP3 players like Apollo, Yamp and K-Jöfol. While MP3′s have become a very popular item on the Internet, some hardware companies have started developing portable MP3 players. An example of a portable MP3 player is the Rio pmp300 developed by Diamond Multimedia. On this portable player you can store up to 60 minutes of digital-quality sound. It’s smaller than an audio cassette and is powered by only one AA battery. It has 32 Mb built-in flash memory and is expandable with removable flash cards. Diamond Multimedia is not the only company who develops MP3 players. The first company who developed a portable MP3 player is Saehan Information Systems. Meanwhile more and more companies apparently see a market in MP3 players… Samsung says it has developed the world’s smallest MP3 audio player which can also play WAV files.
Make ‘em yourself
Besides playing and downloading MP3′s you can also create them yourself. If, for example, you want to create an MP3 file of a (audio) CD track, you will need a CD ripper and a MP3 encoder. A program which is capable of doing both is, for example, AudioCatalyst created by Xing technology. Usually MP3′s are created (encoded) from .WAV files.
Last but not least…
Remember that copyrighted music may not be copied. (it’s illegal to copy copyrighted material).
(Article written by Marcel P. Smits in 1999)