MP3 Shook Up the Industry By the end of the 1990s, music fans discovered that a CD song title converted to MP3 would still sound pretty good even though it was only 1/10th the size of the original CD track. Smaller files meant faster downloading. At an average of 4MB, it took less than 15 minutes to download a file over an analog dial-up modem. With a broadband connection on a college campus, it took seconds. MP3 created a worldwide auditioning system for new musicians who could freely distribute their music to gain an audience. It also let people swap copyrighted titles with impunity. File sharing services such as the original Napster and Kazaa made it a global phenomenon, and the record industry went into a frenzy over violations of its copyrights (see Napster). Today, copyrighted MP3 files are still shared over the Internet; however, online music stores, including the resurrected Napster, sell songs legally and successfully. See peer-to-peer network and DRM. Developed in Germany MP3 was developed in the late 1980s by the Fraunhofer Institute in Germany. It uses perceptual audio coding to compress the data by eliminating frequencies that would not normally be heard because they overlap and cancel each other. See ID3 tag, audioblog, podcast, iPod, AAC, codec examples, perceptual audio coding and cuckoo egg.
Proof of the Pudding
These Mac examples show the file sizes of the original CD (top), which was ripped in iTunes to MP3 (bottom) at a recording rate of 160 Kbps. The album was reduced from 344MB to 39MB. When a music CD is inserted into a Mac, the CD's files appear in Apple's AIFF format, which is the same uncompressed, 16-bit PCM format as the CD (see AIFF, CD-DA and PCM).
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