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What are .mp3s?

Tuesday, September 20th, 2005 by | Filed Under: File & Disk Management, Multimedia
 
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Q:
What are mp3s? I keep hearing about them.

A:
Audio files can be saved in different formats that have different file extensions, just like picture files (.jpg, .gif.). Loosely speaking, you can think of .mp3 as the .jpg of audio. It’s a format for saving sound files.

The .mp3 file extension stands for MPEG-1 Audio Layer-3. MPEG, in turn, stands for Motion Picture Experts Group, which is a format of video clip that uses .mp3 format to store its sound. Because .mp3s can compress the sound data into a small file, it’s convenient to send sound files this way. When the file is reopened, the sound quality is preserved better than by many other audio file formats. Like .jpgs, .mp3s can be compressed to a larger or smaller file size, depending on how important file size is compared to end quality.

You’re hearing more about .mp3 files lately because they’ve become a standard format for music files, audio books, and internet radio shows (sometimes called podcasts).

~ Chris

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