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1.1. MP3 Basics

If you're new to the MP3 game, you'll want to know exactly what MP3 files are, where to get them, how they work, and how to make the most of a growing MP3 collection. As you read through this brief overview, keep in mind that these topics are covered in much greater detail elsewhere in this book.

1.1.1. What Is MP3?

Simply put, MP3 is an audio compression technique. Raw audio files—such as those extracted from an audio CD—are very large, consuming around 10 MB of storage space per minute. But MP3 files representing the same audio material may consume only 1 MB of space per minute while still retaining an acceptable level of quality. By drastically reducing the size of digital audio files, it has become feasible for music lovers to transfer songs over the Internet, for users to build enormous digital music collections on their hard drives, to play them back in any order at any time, and to move them around between different types of playback hardware. These possibilities have far-reaching ramifications not just for music lovers, but for artists and the recording industry as well. We'll explore the politics and philosophical issues raised by MP3 in the second part of this chapter.


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