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How It Works

MP3 files are based on the MPEG (Motion Picture Experts Group) format. MPEG is the working group in charge of the development of standards for digital audio and video. MP3 files are highly compact compared to other audio formats. In terms of sound quality, the main factors are the quality of the original source file, the bitrate of the recording, and the quality of the output sound card and speakers. The bitrate determines the number of bits of information transferred per second. Bitrates can vary from 8 kbps to 320 kbps or so. Typical CD quality bitrates are 128 kbps. Below this bitrate, the sound quality can become degraded.

The jukebox programs, such as the MusicMatch Jukebox, provide an easy way to play, rip, and burn MP3s and CDs, and to transfer the files to portable MP3 players. “Ripping” is the term used to describe the process where a song is copied from a commercial CD in your CD-ROM drive and converted to an MP3 file on your hard disk. The whole process can take just a few minutes per song and is accomplished via an easy-to-use graphical user interface much like a traditional jukebox. Figure 25-1 shows a screen capture of the MusicMatch Jukebox in action.


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