A standard for storing and transmitting music in digital format across the Net. MP3 was developed in January 1988 by Leonardo Chiariglione and others at the University of Erlangen, in Germany. It is considered an amazing new standard for digital audio compression because it can compress file sizes at a ratio of 12:1 while still preserving sound quality.
For example, with a standard Wave Audio file, an audio sample at CD Quality (44KHz, 16-bit, stereo) takes up 172 bytes for every second. With MP3 compression at the standard bit-rate of 128 Kbps, each second takes only 16 bytes. By compressing at lower bit-rates, MP3's can take just 12 bytes per second, with slight quality loss.
The only disadvantage to this format is that MP3's need to be decoded during playback. This is done with a player, such as WinAmp or Winplay3. To play MP3's, you'll need a fairly decent computer (such as a Pentium 100 processor with 16 megabytes of RAM, minimum). If you have a slower machine, MP3s can still be played, but at reduced quality. You'll need an MP3 Player to hear the music while you're away from your computer.
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