What is MP3?

MP3 is the file extension for MPEG Audio Layer III compressed files. MP3 files are compressed about 12:1 for CD-quality sound. Tighter compression can be achieved, but it will effect in degraded sound results. If you record raw CD audio, it takes up a lot of space: about 60MB for a normal length song. But with MP3 compression, you can turn it into a single 5MB file! There are several utilities on the Net for creating MP3 files and for playing them back. MP3 audio works by using psycho-acoustic compression, which removes information from the signal that your ears can't pick up, like the sound of a cat walking during a thunderstorm.

The advantage of MP3 is that it can be broken up into pieces, and each piece is still playable. The feature that makes this possible (headerless file format) also means that MP3 files can be made to stream across the Net in real-time depending on a variety of variables.

The disadvantage of MP3 compression is that lots of processor power is required to encode and play files. At least a 16-bit sound-card is also required. Whilst software players, encoders and decoders are widespread and popular around the Net, hardware versions are still in development and have very expensive price tag.

WAV => MP3

This procedure is performed using one of the many specialized programs that are called MP3 Encoders. The encoding has two major parameters. Speed and Quality. The speed and the quality of all the encoders varies so you can try some them to find which is more close to your needs. XingMP3 encoder (used in AudioCatalyst and MusicMatch also) is superfast keeping good quality.

A freeware MP3 encoder you can try is BladeEnc. The most important point to consider when encoding MP3's is the bitrate that you choose. The majority of the MP3 available on the Internet are encoded at 128kbps which results in a very good quality/size ratio MP3. If you encode at 192kbps you will have a superquality result with a little larger file so I think this is the best option for keeping digital MP3 copies of your CDs.

MP3 => CD

There are a lot of programs which are capable of converting MP3 tracks and burning them to CD as standard CDDA, but it is a common question that pops up in the newsgroups. The easiest, and probably most well known, method is to use WinAmp. Also, Nero and WinOnCD 3.7 PE can make audio CD's from MP3 files.
Below are details using WinAmp 2.50E

Simply complete the following steps:

(1) Press Ctrl+P when WinAmp is 'on top' , and click on the 'Audio I/O' tab.

(2) Click on the downwards arrow under 'Output Plugins' and select 'Nullsoft WaveOut Plugin v*.** [OUT_DISK.DLL] ' .

(3) Click on the 'Configure' button underneath and browse to the directory where you want the .WAVs to be stored.

(4) Click on OK.

(5) When you next play an MP3 it will be streamed to disk rather than played through your soundcard. Don't forget to repeat the procedure when you've finished converting files, only choosing the '[OUT_WAVE.DLL]' option to restore your listening pleasure.

There you have it. 101 things to do with MP3 tracks!



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