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mp3, also known as the more technical term MPEG 1 Audio Layer 3, is a type of
digital audio compression file that has become astronomically popular within
the last few years. A common mp3 file is encoded at a bit rate of 128 kilobits
per second and takes up the same amount of storage space as 1/11 of a CD
track. However, as always, mp3s are subject to the trade off between sound
quality and size; an mp3 file encoded at a higher bit rate will sound better
but take up more space than one created at a lower bit rate. Mp3s are often
compared to JPEGs, a type of image compression file that is also popular. Mp3s
and JPEGs work in a similar fashion to reduce the size of their files.
Even with the quality/size trade-off, mp3s are still much smaller than CD
tracks or audio tapes. They have almost taken over the music industry
completely, especially with help from the iPod, iTunes, and various other mp3
players and stores. Consumers can now easily carry around thousands of songs
in one small device, something positively unheard of before the mp3 file was
invented. Music listeners were limited to the use of CDs, with the average CD
capacity being around twenty songs.
However, the widespread
popularity of mp3s also heralded in a new era of music piracy. It became
easier to share music files online, especially as more and more peer-to-peer
or torrent companies took root. Recently, recording companies have taken
extreme steps in prosecuting individuals found guilty of copyright
infringement; however, thousands and thousands of individuals participate in
file sharing and only a handful are caught and punished.
the other hand, the development of the mp3 file has also helped music record
sales; it is much easier for customers to buy songs online from credible
retailers. Nowadays a consumer can go online, buy, and download just about any
song they want in a matter of minutes. There is also the option of only buying
songs that appeal to the individual customer; there is no need to purchase an
entire album just for one song. Recording companies must walk the narrow line
between selling music online and restricting illegal music file sharing,
something they have yet to accomplish successfully.
| MP3 - probably the largest choice of MP3 in the UK!|