.mp3 - Computer Definition
The file extension for audio data encoded in the Moving Picture Experts Group (MPEG) Audio Layer 3 format. See also MPEG-3.
(MPEG-1 Audio Layer III) The audio compression technology that revolutionized digital music (see "MP3 Shook Up the Industry" below). Derived from the audio sections of the MPEG-1 and MPEG-2 video specifications, MP3 compresses CD-quality sound by a factor of roughly 10, while retaining most of the original fidelity. For example, a 40MB CD track is turned into approximately a 4MB MP3 file. See CD-DA. MP3 files are played on the computer via media player software, such as Apple's iTunes and Microsoft's Windows Media Player, as well as in countless iPods and other handheld players (see digital music player). MP3 sound quality cannot fully match the original CD, and true audiophiles complain bitterly, but millions of people consider it "good enough" because they can pack thousands of songs into a tiny pocket-sized player. Ripping/Importing Converting a digital audio track from a music CD to the MP3 format (or other audio format) is called "ripping" or "importing," and this conversion function is built into iTunes, Windows Media Player and other jukebox software. Stand-alone rippers are also available. Bit Rates Are Important While 128 Kbps (kilobits per second) is considered the norm for MP3 files, MP3s can be ripped to bit rates from 8Kbps to 320 Kbps. The higher the bit rate, the better the sound and the larger the file. Many audiophiles rip CDs at a much higher rate for improved audio quality. In the following dialog box from Windows Media Player 10, the "Audio quality" slider is used to select four bit rates for MP3 encoding: 128, 192, 256 and 320 Kbps. There are additional variations of MP3 as well as other widely used audio formats (see MP3 VBR, mp3PRO and codec examples).