A device known to compress sound called MPEG Audio Layer-3, or as we like to call is MP3. This little device is special because its format designs a compression algorithm that is similar to the human ear. The algorithm is important because there are certain sounds the human ear cannot hear and other sounds that we hear better. A research program for encoding music was started by German company in 1987. Fraunhofer Institute was led by a man named Karlheinz Brandenburg, who had earned the name “Father of mp3”. They focused their research on high quality and low bit-rate sampling. Harlheinz Bradenburg. Although the MP3 player was a disaster, MP3 compression had entered the world. When decreasing the size of a file, audio information will be lost.
This is why MP3 files do not sound like the original recording. This is known as lossy format. During encoding and compression, information is chosen if it will be retained or lost. The bit rate is the number of bits per second in coded in the MP3 file, this is why it is possible to have two different files with different sound qualities and different file sizes from the same data. In order to adjust the file, the bit rate must be lowered or increased. If the rate is lowered than the encoder will discard more information when compressing file.
If the rate is increased than less information will be discarded. Compression of MP3 has made it cheaper and easier for everyone to distribute music; it has made it easier to find access to music. MP3 has become a huge movement in the music industry. Compression algorithms are used to save the quality of a song while shrinking the file size. If sound algorithms are not used then the quality of the song can be damaged during compression. A technique called perceptual noise shaping is used when making sound algorithms. This algorithm works in a method which pairs with the human ear and how it hears sound. When two different sounds are playing the human hearing focuses on the louder sound. Using these algorithms segments of songs can be lost without affecting the quality of the song. Although when converted from a CD the song is no longer the same, the human ear does not notice the insignificant changes.
Using the algorithms, segments of songs can be completely cut out without affecting the quality of sound in the actual song. Portion of the song that is lost during the conversion into mp3 can be adjusted during the compression and encoding process. Human hearing range is between 20 to 20000 Hertz, change in frequency however can be identified in increments of 2 hurts. The process in which humans perceive sound is called psychoacoustics, mp3 replies on different types of psychoacoustic effects. Auditory masking is the perceptual limitations of human hearing. In addition to the sounds that we can hear, the brain filters and analyzes audio signals sent by the auditory nerve.
Absence of audio frequencies when compressing reduces the quality of the song by a small amount, only an expert audio file with proper equipment could hear a loss in the sound quality. MP3 compression is easy to transfer digitally between computers using the internet because of the minimal file size. MP3 opened doors to converting songs from compact discs to MP3 files for free. The music industry took a huge hit because of the loss in revenue on CD sales. The easy to use file attracted piracy and the unauthorized distribution of music. Programs were created by small groups of researchers that provided a platform for peers to share and download songs. The songs were created by artists that were converted from a compact disc to an MP3 file for free. The fast paced evolution of the MP3 file and digital music has created a huge market for audio on demand making the compact disc obsolete.
The consumers’ demand for music eventually lead to the invention of the mp3 player. The MP3 player is a portable device created to store MP3 files and is sold as a consumer electronic device. The MP3 files are loaded onto the mp3 players hard drive allowing the consumer to listen to their digital music collection on the go. Consumer electronics soon became available to the public enabling the converting of a compact disc into an MP3 file that would then be store and/or shared. The popularity of the mp3 player has decreased as smart phones capable of playing and streaming mp3 files have become the new industry standard. Streaming music through applications available on multiple devices has grown greatly throughout the past 5 years.
Streaming music allowed for an even smaller solution to listening to music through a portable device. Streaming allowed the listener to listen to music without having to actually store any data onto their device. Consumers now have the ability to stream almost anywhere on multiple devices. The music industry and artists are in a constant feud with streaming services such as Spotify. The internet is now flooded with an archive of saved MP3 audio files. And although streaming has become more popular than downloading there are still many illegally downloaded, stored and shared files online. MP3 files do not only contain music by artists but any saved audio such as talk radio, news reports, sound clips and many more.
Companies such as Insurance claims adjusters use MP3 files to save recorded statements from drivers or witnesses involved in an accident. This file could then be easily stored and shared with another insurance company’s claims adjuster. In conclusion, mp3 compression has changed the music industry. It has made audio files easy to use, significantly smaller in size and more convenient for on the go listening. Even though the mp3 does eliminate parts of the original song, the human hearing cannot pick up on the minor changes. The world of audio has been greatly affected and improved because of this small but significant technique
- “The Audiofile: Understanding MP3 Compression” arstechnica, N.p., 03 October. 2007. web. 01 Noveber. 2018
- Verm. Saidha “Invention Story of MP3 Player” engineersgarage, N.p web. 28 October. 2018
- “How Does MP3 Compression Work?” ledgernote, 22 June, 2016, web. 7 November. 2018
- Brian. Marshall, “How MP3 Files Wrok” howstuffworks, n.p., 02 November. 2018