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Home | Technical | Hardware | MP3 Players

MP3 Players

Portable:

Portable MP3 players are rapidly growing in popularity, flexibility and sophistication. Some have built in memory while others use disks or card memory. You can download your favourite MP3's from your PC and take them wherever you go.

While MP3 quality is adequate for most people, it does not compare to original recordings played on conventional systems. Something is inevitably lost in the compression process and the convenience of portable MP3 players is probably their biggest selling point.

The MP3 Format

MPEG-1 Audio Layer 3, more commonly referred to as MP3, is a digital audio encoding format using a form of lossy data compression. The audio specific format was developed by teams of engineers at Fraunhofer IIS in Erlangen, Germany, AT&T-Bell Labs in Murray Hill, NJ, USA, Thomson-Brandt, and CCETT and was approved as an ISO/IEC standard in 1991.

An MP3 file that is created using a mid-range bitrate setting of 128 kbit/s will result in a file that is typically about 1/10th the size of the CD file created from the original audio source. Higher or lower bitrates can also be used to produce lower or higher quality files.

The compression process involves reducing the accuracy of certain parts of the sound that are deemed beyond the auditory resolution ability of most people. It is commonly referred to as Perceptual Coding.

The format has been the subject of many copyright and patent disputes, leading some companies to move away from it in favour of their own compressed formats (such as Microsoft's Windows Media). Despite such issues the MP3 format has persisted and is probably the most popular method of encoding music digitally.


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