MP3 is one of the most popular coding and file formats for compressing digital audio. It was initially defined as the third audio format of the MPEG-1 standard, but further extensions made it the third format of the MPEG-2 standard. Nonetheless, its popularity during the mid to late 1990s and the early 2000s also corresponded to the wide adoption of digital music, online music purchases and file sharing, and portable media players.
The Pros: Advantages and Applications of MP3
One of the most notable advantages of MP3 is reduced file size. The size is often smaller by a factor of 12 when compared to the standard CD Digital Audio or CDDA file stored in a compact disc. Noe that the audio quality is relatively comparable to CDDA.
The small file size means that an internal or removable media can store hundreds to thousands of songs. Take note that a typical compact disc with the size of 700MB store 175 MP3 songs as compared to the typical 12 to 15 songs under the CDDA format.
Furthermore, because of the aforementioned advantage, the format promoted the online purchases and digital downloads of songs and other digital audio files, and encouraged the commercial availability of portable media players.
It is also possible to choose the level of audio quality and the corresponding file size. The format supports bit rates or the number of bits per second, ranging from 32 kbps to 320 kbps. Higher bit rates result in bigger file size.
The Cons: Disadvantages and Limitations of MP3
Remember that the audio quality of an MP3 file is relatively comparable to a CDDA. However, this format uses lossy data compression. It specifically disregards specific data to include frequencies inaudible to humans, as well as louder and softer background frequencies
Hence, a key disadvantage of MP3 is that it is actually not comparable to CDDA in terms of audio quality. In addition, the quality is dependent on the software and hardware used to compress raw digital audio.
Converting a digital audio to numerous compressed formats would result in further quality degradation. Take note that this phenomenon is similar to the lossy compression in digital image based on the JPEG standard.
There are also other limitations. For instance, compressing some audio files often result in compression artifacts or noises not present in the original recording. Examples of these files include audio containing applause or other random sounds, as well as high-pitched sounds.
More coding and file formats have also emerged since. The M4A format is an example. The Advanced Audio Coding or AAC format is the immediate successor to the MP3. It achieves better sound quality at the same bit rate, thus making it the default format used in numerous branded devices.
Summary of the Advantages and Disadvantages
The following are the advantages and applications of MP3:
• Reduced file size that is often smaller by a factor of 12 when compared to CD Digital Audio or CDDA. The audio quality is relatively comparable to the quality of uncompressed audio stored in compact discs.
• Its smaller file size also means that a media or storage can house hundreds to thousands of songs compared to uncompressed audio file formats.
• The format has ushered in the era of online purchases and digital downloads of songs and other digital audio files, while also encouraging the commercial availability of portable media players.
• It is also possible to choose the level of audio quality and corresponding file size during compression by choosing the preferred bit rate.
Below are the disadvantages and limitations of MP3:
• The format is a lossy compression. This means it is actually not comparable to CDDA or other uncompressed formats in terms of audio quality.
• Converting a digital audio to numerous compressed formats would result in further quality degradation.
• Furthermore, compressing some audio files often result in compression artifacts or noises not present in the original recording.
• The Advanced Audio Coding or AAC format is the immediate successor to the MP3. It achieves better sound quality at the same bit rate.