According to Abbreviationfinder.org, the acronym MP3 (MP EG Audio Layer- 3) is one of the most searched subjects in these services, second only to “sex”. All this, thanks to the revolution that MP3 caused in the entertainment world, mainly after its great fame on the internet. Such a revolution simply caused the record industry to be completely shaken and put up a tough resistance against the format. This article will show you a little bit about the history of MP3, as well as how it works, as well as program tips for you to enjoy MP3, if you don’t already.
What is MP3?
MP3 is an electronic format that allows you to listen to music on computers, with great quality. Like LP, K7 and CD, MP3 has been strengthening as a popular means of distributing songs. But why? The key question to understand all the success of MP3 is based on the fact that, before it was developed, a song on the computer was stored in WAV format, which is the standard format for sound files on PCs, even occupying tens of megabytes on disk. On average, one minute of music corresponds to 10 MB for a 16.1-bit stereo recording with 44.1 KHz, which results in a major complication in the distribution of music by computers, mainly over the internet. With the emergence of MP3 this story changed, as the format allows you to store music on your computer without taking up much space and without taking away the sound quality of the songs. Generally, 1 minute of music corresponds to about 1 MB in MP3.
Therefore, it didn’t take long for the format to become popular and, consequently, to leave record companies worried about their profits. MP3 was so successful that when the record companies realized, the format was already present in millions of computers worldwide.
How it came about and how MP3 works
In 1987, IIS (I nstitut I ntegrierte S chaltungen), in Germany, together with the University of Erlangen, started working on perceptual audio coding for Digital Audio Broadcasting. All the work resulted in an audio compression algorithm called MPEG Audio Layer-3, which was later known as MP3.
One of the goals of creating this format was to be able to reproduce CD quality sound with a reasonable compression rate. To burn a CD, the recording rate (bit rate) is about 1.4 Megabit per second. In MPEG Audio Layer 1 and 2 (MP1 and MP2), the rates are 348 KB / s and 256-192 KB / s respectively. MP3 managed to lower that rate to 128 and 112 KB / s. And even with this lower rate, the sound quality was maintained almost entirely. This was possible thanks to the techniques of perceptual coding, which is not a simple data compression, but a method that consists of only using the sound frequencies that are captured by the human ear. Once a frequency pattern has been defined for human hearing,
At this point, you may have noticed that the original songs (both on CD and on record labels) are different from songs converted to MP3 format, since they bring “excess information”. Generally speaking, what MP3 does is simply “trim” the songs, leaving only what is useful.
MP3 × Record labels
With all this sophistication and with all the accessibility provided by the internet, there is nothing more natural than MP3 to be a great success, especially after the launch of software that works as MP3 “players”, such as the pioneer Winamp. But, until then, nothing had been done by the record companies, until the company Diamond Multimidia launched a device (MP3Player) that allowed the user to listen to their MP3s wherever they wanted, as in a walkman: it was Rio. The device sparked furies from record companies that soon filed lawsuits against the company, on the grounds of piracy. But after many appeals (and a sum of money), the Justice determined that Rio was not a digital audio recording device, but only a means of playing MP3. After that, the market saw (and sees) the launch of several devices compatible with this technology.
The Napster Era
The American Shawn Fanning, developed a software that allowed Internet users to share MP3 over the internet: Napster. The program made the task of finding and downloading MP3s over the network very easy, as it enabled the formation of an enormous digital music collection. That’s because Napster used a totally different method. It did not store anything on its servers, just an index, which was necessary for searching for songs. Once someone found the desired song, the download started to be made from the computers of users of the service that have the music stored on their PC. That is, each computer registered in the service was both a client and a server.
Since Napster provided an enormous facility for finding MP3, the service soon became a real “fever”. The Phonographic Industry then began a series of legal disputes against Napster. Even the band Metallica, with actions led by the group’s drummer, Lars Ulrich, filed lawsuits against the service, as well as rap singer Dr. Dre. After many battles, the record companies ended up beating Napster, which had to remove from its index all songs protected by copyright (that is, almost all songs), which practically took the service out of operation.
Even with Napster out of play, other successors appeared and allowed the exchange of music between Internet users to continue.
There are several good programs for playing MP3, either for recording, listening, or making your album on the computer. One of the most used is Winamp, which has free versions and can be downloaded at www.winamp.com. The program is compatible with several formats and has several features. One of them is the possibility to put skins or skins (visual effects in the program), which can be downloaded from several sites. The program is light and very intuitive. It has a very practical MP3 list manager that facilitates the organization and execution of tracks.
For users of the Linux operating system, there is a program very similar to Winamp (including the resources) that comes with several distributions: this is XMMS, whose website is www.xmms.org.
Other programs such as Windows Media Player video players (in current versions), Real Player and Quick Time, also play MP3.
The most used MP3 recording method is to place a music CD on the computer and, using a ripper program , such as FreeRIP (which can be downloaded at www.mgshareware.com), convert the tracks on the CD to MP3 files. This is usually done as follows: the program passes the digital data of the song in CD-DA format (the CD format) and stores it in a temporary directory. These data are then converted to WAV format and then compressed into MP3.
The resulting sound quality depends on the software used, the machine’s hardware and the chosen configuration. At the standard MP3 recording rate (128 Kbits per second), each minute of music corresponds to about 1 MB on disk. But this rate can be changed, depending on the availability of resources of the recording software (ripper). For example, you can increase this rate to 192 Kbits per second, which increases the sound quality, but consequently, takes up more space.