What Is an MP3?


Quick Answer

MP3 is a digital file format used to create and store high-quality audio files. With MP3, audio files can be compressed, making it a convenient and versatile way to store and listen to music.

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Full Answer

What makes MP3 so appealing is its ability to greatly compress audio files. To do this, it strips away the majority of the sounds that cannot be heard by the ear and then uses complex algorithms to shrink the size of the file further. As a result, MP3 files are approximately 11 times smaller than uncompressed audio files.

Due to the powerful compression capability of an MP3, a typical audio file of 50 megabytes can be reduced to approximately 4 megabytes, and this has a critical effect on the storage of audio files. For instance, a typical audio CD can store about 400 megabytes of audio files, which breaks down to 16 files.

There are many other benefits that the MP3 format brings. It enables easy transfer of audio files from one device to another or from the Internet to a computer by downloading the files. This seemingly simple convenience has transformed the way people buy and listen to music. On the downside, MP3 makes it easy to misuse or abuse copyrighted material through illegal downloading of music files.

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