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How to use MP3
by by Ross MacIver
MP3 is the most popular compression format for audio files.
In this article, we will take a look at how MP3 works
and how you can make your own MP3 files.
Uncompressed audio files are very large. A 1-minute CD
quality stereo song requires approximately 10 MB of hard
disk space. Without compression to reduce this size, relatively
few songs would be able to be stored on a computer hard
drive, and compact devices like portable MP3 players would
not exist, or would cost thousands of dollars.
The same one-minute audio file can be encoded in MP3 format
and only require about 1 MB of disk space. This amazing
reduction in file size is accomplished by discarding some
of the audio data that is outside the hearing range of
the typical listener. An MP3 file will sound almost as
good as the original CD but the file size will be about
There is a balance between how much audio data can be
removed and the quality of the sound. The most common
MP3 compression uses 128 kilobits per second (kbps), but
many people claim there is a noticeable amount of distortion
at this setting. For people with critical listening requirements,
160 kbps is the minimum setting it produces files
which are slightly larger than 128 kbps but the sound
is closer to CD quality. Lower settings such as 96 kbps
or 64 kbps introduce noticeable noise into the audio.
They are suitable for spoken voice recordings but not
You can encode your own MP3 files using any of the hundreds
of software packages on the market today. Many of them
are free, and you can use them to rip music from CDs and
encode them to MP3 in one step. To decide which settings
to use, start by encoding a piece of music you are familiar
with. Save three files - 128 kbps, 160 kbps and 192 kbps,
and then compare the original CD to these three files.
This simple test will help you choose which setting is
suitable for your own listening requirements.
About the Author
Ross is an enthusiast audio professional take advantage
of his knowledge about MP3, AAC,OGG, FLAC SHN and other