|Funny name for a great invention|
by Jack Karlis
MP3 stands for MPEG-1 Layer 3 compression format, a uniform sound file format that strips repeated material in a file, thereby creating a smaller size file which translates into a quicker download time as well. The consensus opinion is that the sound quality is almost perfect but sometimes has a certain amount of “hollowness” compared to a regular compact disc. More importantly, however, it offers a lower compression rate due to the exclusion of repeated material.
MP3s can reach compression rates of a 12-to-1 ratio. If you wanted to download a standard sound file that weighed in at 60 Mb and store it, an MP3 in turn would take only 5Mb of space and include a far quicker download time. The files can be played on your own computer, a CD/MP3 combo player and even a portable Walkman. There are even whispers of a MP3 car stereo. MP3s can be “burned” onto a compact disc or stored on a memory card, roughly the size of a pack of matches, making portability and space concerns a thing of the past.
MP3s can be downloaded onto your hard drive or streamed almost simultaneously through Macromedia’s Shockwave and RealAudio. However, streaming can be interrupted due to congestion on the Internet. MP3s even have created a subculture called Napster, a search engine that looks specifically for MP3 users to trade and download with. So this sounds like the future has arrived, right?