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MP3 Player

Mp3 players are a revolutionary tool of this generation. Everywhere you go, you can almost always spot an mp3 player. The mp3 player is like a cd player, except instead of holding one single cd, it can hold your entire cd collection. You can see why the mp3 player has become such a staple of the music lover. If it's a choice sport ween hauling around dozens of cds, or simply changing cds by the press of a button, it's not going to be a hard decision. Of course not all mp3 players hold the same amount of music on them, there are many different sizes, shapes, and styles.

The most popular mp3 player at the moment would have to be Apples infamous IPod. These mp3 players have the capability of holding from 4 gigabytes, to 80 gigabytes of music. Making it possible for the smallest music fan, and the largest music fans to choose how much they would like to hold. After all there's no sense in paying too much for space you won't use. Of course Apple's IPod is not the only mp3 player available on the market, but it is a very popular option currently.

So whether you're a musical freak, or just enjoy the odd song, there's an mp3 player available for everyone. And since mp3 players are totally portable, you can take it anywhere with you. The size of most mp3 players are so accommodating you can just slip it into your pocket and enjoy the music, as it should be.

MP3 Players: MP3 File Format

The MP3 file format reformed music disposition in the late 1990s, when file-swapping services and the first portable MP3 players made their appearance. MP3, or MPEG Audio Layer III, is one process for compressing audio files. MPEG is the abbreviation for Moving Picture Experts Group, a group that has cultivated compression systems for video data, including that for DVD movies, HDTV broadcasts and digital satellite systems.
The usage of the MP3 compression system undermines by a long shot the number of bytes in a song, while maintaining a good sound quality which is equivalent to CD-quality. Anytime you compress a song, it is certain that you will lose some of its quality, which is the trade-off for the ability to carry more music files in a smaller storage system. A smaller file size also allows the song to be downloaded from the Internet faster.
Consider that an average song is about four minutes long. On a CD, that song uses about 40 megabytes (MB), but uses only 4 MB if compressed through the MP3 format. On average, 64 MB of storage space equals an hour of music. A music listener who has an MP3 player with 1 GB (approximately 1,000 MB) of storage space can carry about 240 songs or the equivalent of about 20 CDs. Songs stored on traditional CDs are already decompressed, so it takes more CDs to store the same amount of songs. (Some CDs support MP3 files.)

Although MP3 is perhaps the most well-known file format, there are other file formats that can be played on MP3 players. While most MP3 players can support multiple formats, not all players support the same formats. Here are a few of the file formats that can be played on different players:

WMA - Windows Media Audio
WAV - Waveform Audio
MIDI - Music Instrument Digital Interface.
AAC - Advanced Audio Coding
Ogg Vorbis - A free, open and un-patented music format
ADPCM - Adaptive Differential Pulse Code Modulation
ASF - Advanced Streaming Format
VQF - Vector Quantization Format
ATRAC - Sony's Adaptive Transform Acoustic Coding 3

How MP3 Players Work

How does an MP3 player work?

If MP3s are computer files, it follows that MP3 players must be computers. It's absolutely true! The iPod in your pocket is a far more powerful computer than the ones people had on their desks 20 years ago.

Before we learn how Mp3 Players work, we should know that all computers process information (data) and have a four basic elements.
-An input device (for getting the data in),
-A memory (for storing data), a processor (for working on the data)
-An output device (for getting the data back out again). Think of an MP3 player and you'll see that it has all these things.
An Mp3 Player has an input (and a usb cable which connects to the computer)
An Mp3 Player has memory (either a small hard drive or a flash memory that can store MP3 files)
An Mp3 Player has a processor (something that can read the MP3 files and turn them back into music)
An Mp3 Player has an output (a socket used to plug in your headphones). Some MP3 players have also another output, an LCD Display which tell you which song is currently playing.

After this you will realize that if you switch on your iPod to play your favorite track it works just like a computer. The processor chip loads an MP3 file, reads the ID3 index cards, and displays the artist and track name on the display. Next, it works its way through the MP3 file reading each frame in turn. It reads the header, followed by the data, and turns the digital information (the binary ones and zeros) back into sound waves and frequencies that your ears and your brain comprehend as music. That's pretty much all there is to it. Know this: the catch of a MP3 music player is not the plastic device in your hand but the MP3 file types technology behind it.

How is music stored inside an MP3 file?

Typical sound files (like .wav files) saved on a computer take up vast amounts of hard drive space. Consider: you can fit the Encyclopedia Britannica onto a couple of CDs, but one CD will normally hold only about an hour's worth (maybe a dozen or so tracks) of music. That means each track on a normal CD must be taking up a huge amount of spaceŚcomparable to one or two volumes of an encyclopedia! MP3 is a technological advancement for taking the same musical information and compressing it into about one twelfth as much space. the more you compress mp3 files the worse their sound quality will be. Just like images (JPGs), MP3 is a also lossy compression file type.

Now, getting Inside an MP3 file, you will find that music is stored as long strings of binary numbers (zeros and ones) in a series of blocks called frames. Each frame starts with a short header (a kind of table of contents), followed by the music data itself. At the start of an MP3 file there is a kind of "index card" that stores details of the track name, artist, genre, and so on. This information is called metadata and each part of it (artist, track, and so on) is stored in what's called an ID3 tag. Many MP3 applications have an option that lets you "edit the ID3 tags."It sounds technical and complex, but it's simply a way to change the "index card" at the front of the MP3 file.
The great aspect of the MP3 filetype is that it takes up very little space in the disk. A conventional music track takes up only about five megabytes or so when you turn it into MP3 file type, compared to the 60 megabytes or so (.wav file) it would take up on a CD. That means you can send an MP3 file over the Internet about twelve times quicker and cheaper than the same information stored in CD format. You can also store a lot more MP3 files on your music player. The somewhat small size of MP3 files and the speed with which they can be downloaded has reformed the music business since the mid-1990s.

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Article by Svetlana Lozovenko
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