Mp3 : A New Technology Essay, Research Paper
As most of us know, downloading mp3’s has seemed to be a big computer demand over these past couple of years. Typical college students around the United States would spend hours downloading files to their computer that would just contain their favorite songs they listen to daily. But why are these students wasting their time and their Internet use downloading simple songs they could find on CD’s? Well the main idea here is that most of the mp3’s that people download off the Internet are free. You do not have a fee to pay when you download this music. Also, here is the first chance ever where people are able to download their favorite music without taking up that much space on their computer.
Background of an MP3
But what exactly is an mp3. Well an mp3 is a compression form (like .zip). The name mp3 stands for Mpeg 1 Audio Layer 3 and its compression algorithm is based on a very complicated model (“MP3 Info”). This model was developed based on the fact that the human ear cannot hear all audio frequencies. Every hearing range for humans is between 20 Hz to 20Khz, and the human ear is most sensitive between 2 to 4 kHz. So, what this mp3 model tried to do was eliminate the frequencies, which the human ear is unable to hear, keeping all the hearing frequencies so everyone will get the hearing experience intact.
This great frequency experience will come from the great mp3 compression. Because of mp3 compression, the form is considered destructive (“MP3 Info”). Destructive means that the compression algorithm causes the file to lose some of its information so that it cannot be restored to its original content. With compressing the audio file, you would use the mp3 algorithm so you could set the encoding level, which would allow any compression level you desire.
Why would you compress audio? Well there is a simple reason to compress digital audio. High quality uncompressed digital audio takes a lot of space (“MP3 Info”). One minute of CD quality uncompressed audio takes around 10 MB of space and would need about 50 minutes to be transferred over a 28.8 modem. So now digital audio tries to compress digital audio so it would take up less space on a person’s computer and have better quality. The larger the compressed file the better the audio quality of the result (“MP3 Info”).
Bitrate Quality Kbyte/sec Size
1411 CD 10584 Kbyte/min 41,3 MB
192 Perfect CD quality MP3 1440 Kbyte/min 5,6 MB
160 Perfect CD quality MP3 1200 Kbyte/min 4,7 MB
128 Excellent CD quality MP3 960 Kbyte/min 3,8 MB
112 Near CD quality MP3 840 Kbyte/min 3,3 MB
96 Near CD quality MP3 720 Kbyte/min 2,8 MB
64 FM quality MP3 480 Kbyte/min 1,9 MB
32 AM quality MP3 240 Kbyte/min 0,9 MB
16 Short-wave quality MP3 120 Kbyte/min 0,5 MB
“This large compressing can lead to an mp3 encoded in 128 kbits stereo 44 kHz, also known as a bitrate, which results to a high quality file that is 12 times smaller than the original. A bitrate is a term widely used in audio compression” (“MP3 Info”). It is the average number of bits that one second of audio data will consume. The unit they use is kbps (1000 bits/s). In the following chart, you will be able to see the bitrates of different audio signals. There are two parts of audio compression so that you can get this great stereo sound. The first part is the encoding which transforms the digital audio data into a large compressed file that is coded audio data. Part two is the decoding from the code audio data and it reconstructs the digital audio. This second part is necessary if a person wanted to play this file on their soundcard.
Advantages of MP3’s
With such a great compression into a small file, the mp3 has created some advantages for a person that would like to listen to great digital music on their own personal computer. For example, a person can create a CD’s that have over 160 songs, which can play over 14 hours of music on a computer. A second example is that a person can efficiently store songs on their hard drive and play the songs directly from the hard disk. Finally, a third example is that the best of all, people can now easily transmit a song over the Internet. A compressed four-minute song is smaller 4Mb, while an uncompressed song would be over 40Mb. That is why mp3 has become the hottest thing to download on the Internet the last few months (“The MP3 Timeline”).
How to Play an MP3 File
Now after learning about the background of an mp3, how do you play these files on a computer? The first thing you will need is to check what hardware you will need for playing these files. The minimum requirement for acceptable digital quality is a Pentium 75Mhz processor. If you computer has that hardware requirement, then you will need an mp3 player. You can find many mp3 players on the Internet and computer stores. The most common players that people use on their PC’s are Winamp (located at winamp.com) and Sonique (located at sonique.com). These two players are shown below with the winamp player on the left and the sonique player on the right.
If you have a fast processor and an mp3 player, then you are on your way to enjoy this new age digital music.
Portable Hardware Devices
A portable hardware device has been recently created and made popular about six months ago, which can play mp3 files portable away from your PC. This portable mp3 player is smaller in size than a Walkman that is capable of storing music in mp3 format in special memory cards, with playback that is achieved without any moving parts (“MP3 Info”). There are many mp3 players on the market so there is a possibility that each one of these have the same popularity. Common player are the Rio500, I-Jam, Rave, Nomad 1 and 2, and many others. A different company with varying prices and specifications makes each player unique in its own way and affordable for certain people. Here are few examples on the next page of what a portable mp3 player would look like.
Converting MP3’s On and Off the Computer
Some people want the opportunity to make mp3’s on their own without downloading the songs all the time and wasting countless hours on the internet, tying up their phone line. Well software developers have found a way to do so. They have developed software called a CD Ripper that is used to grab audio tracks from a CD and convert them into a wav file format (“MP3 Info”). After the conversion into wav format, the next step is to compress the file into mp3 format, and making the file smaller. This conversion is done with an Encoder. An Encoder is a program that is used to transform wav files into mp3 file, which is done by using a compression algorithm. The good part about this process is that software developers have created software that contains both the CD Ripper and Encoder. Another program that could come with this software converts mp3 files into wav files, and then will burn the songs to a CD that could be played in any CD player. Here is the opportunity for people to take songs off their computer and copy them to CD so they can enjoy the digital audio experience in their own personal CD player in their own home or automobile.
The Legalities of MP3’s
Now that anyone can download mp3 files off the Internet free and then transfer them to CD without paying for anything, it starts to make analysts wonder if this is legal. Well in fact, mp3’s are legal. Mp3 is an audio compression algorithm so there is no point to discuss its legality of an algorithm (“MP3 Info”). It is perfectly legal to create your own mp3’s and keep those files to yourself legally. On the other hand, there are illegal uses of mp3’s. It is illegal to trade mp3 songs that are copyrighted with other people unless you have the permission of the copyright holder of the song(s); but there are thousands, even millions of legal songs on the Internet that are available freely to everyone that has permission from the copyrighted holders.
Controversy over MP3’s
“College campuses have always been hotbeds for creating and trading music, but the advent of the Internet and mp3 files has taken that to a new level” (Jones). These days, when a new student at a University signs on with a new computer Internet account, that person will have access to thousands, even millions of mp3 songs on the dorm servers and the Internet itself. With most of the people not aware, many of the mp3’s on the Internet are illegal copies.
As a result of all this illegal downloading, the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) has been trying to investigate all the distribution of all copyrighted music by servers on college campuses (Jones). Their main purpose in doing so is to warn these colleges to shut them down. Now the RIAA is now trying to crack down a programming genius freshman at Northeastern University. This 19-year-old student has developed software called Napster, just over a year ago, that is called “Music Share” that lets users find and copy Mp3 music files from other people over the internet (Doan). This process of downloading is simple, quick and free.
The bad thing about this creative software is that it can crowd networks at Universities, slowing down other traffic around the school. “More seriously, Napster has been accused of trafficking in pirated material, since the music files its users share so generously are often unauthorized by artists. In others words, the singers have not paid for them” (Doan). When the singers have found out about Napster, the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) have been putting a watch on Napster on what it plans to do with these illegal actions. Now bands are beginning to sue Napster themselves because they do not feel that their music should be distributed freely without purchase. Heavy metal band Metallica and the RIAA have file lawsuits against Fanning’s Napster, saying they violated copyright law by allowing illegal swapping of its music (Bowman). And rapper Dr. Dre has given the company Napster until April 21 to remove his songs from the Napster directory, threatening legal action in a previous letter sent to the chief executive. With all these legal actions against the new growing company, it responds by saying that Napster is just a way to locate each other and trade their libraries of Mp3’s – the company does not actually store the files (Doan).
All in all, it seems that new world of digital technology has the country interested to the extreme. This new wave of technology of digital music has people in college on the Internet more than they ever have before. People are now listening to music they have always wanted but will not cost them a penny. Will this free technology last? Since they already have prevented colleges from entering the most popular mp3 download site, Napster, it may just be a matter time where listening to mp3’s will have to cost the American people money. Plus with all the lawsuits this has caused an mp3 software corporation like Napster, soon they will be shut down and now for us students, finding mp3’s will be harder than ever to download. We will be forced to pay for copyrighted music just like we should have all along.
Bowman, Lisa (2000). Metallica’s Napster Hit: “Enter Lawman”. Retrieved April
22, 2000 from the World Wide Web: http://www.zdnet.com/zdnn/stories/news/0,4586,2543398,00.html
Doan, Amy (2000). Napster Embroiled in Music Industry Furor, Faces Lawsuits.
Retrieved April 22, 2000 from the World Wide Web:
Jones, Christopher (1999). Battling the Free Music Movement. Retrieved April 22, 2000
From the World Wide Web:
MP3 Info. Retrieved April 22, 2000 from the World
Nomad World digital audio resources: A Brief History of MP3 – The MP3 Timeline.
Retrieved April 22, 2000 from the World Wide Web: http://www.nomadworld.com/digital-audio-resources/history/