MP3 is a shortened term for MPEG-1 Audio level 3 and MPEG is the team of engineers who contribute to the Moving Pictures Experts Group. The basis of the work is credited to a German company, Fraunhofer-Gesellshaft, who took out the patent in 1989. The MPEG-1 standard does not specify a precise specification for an MP3 encoder so implementers of the standard are allowed to devise their own algorithms suitable for removing parts of the information from the input audio. As a result there many different MP3 encoders available, each producing files of various quality. However, decoders are made to a well defined standard which means that any player will reproduce a given file within a specified tolerance.
The Idea behind MP3 is that a lossy compression encoding algorithm is used to greatly reduce the amount of data in the file but still produce something that sounds like the original uncompressed file to most listeners. An MP3 file that is encoded using the setting of 192 kbit/s will give a file that is about 1/7 the size of the original uncompressed audio. An MP3 can also be encoded at higher or lower bit rates giving a corresponding higher or lower quality.
The compression works by reducing accuracy of certain parts of the sound that are deemed beyond the auditory perception of most people. The audio is actually removed permanently so converting back to the original format will not restore the data.
Although we see the MP3 format as a degradation of the original sound source we are aware of its popularity as a delivery medium for today's music. As a result of people having listened to the slightly distorted sound for so long it has now become widely accepted as normal. We have experimented with various encoders and bit rates and offer the LAME encoder at 320 kbit/s as giving the best trade off between quality and file size. The staff at The Digital Audio Co have many years experience in professional mastering, and so can master specifically for the MP3 format using a range of classic and state of the art processing, which can bring out the maximum potential in your material. Click the link for more details of our mastering services.
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