What is the MP3 format?
MP3 is a format that reduces the size of music files to about 1 tenth of a normal CD file; it does this primarily by cutting off frequencies that the human ear cannot hear. Sound quality suffers when such file size compression is performed, but many listeners think it is a worthwhile cost to pay for having greater accessibility to their music collection. The MP3 format became popular on the Internet because the small size of its files made it easier to download songs.
The first MP3 player, the MPMan F10, was created by the South Korean company SaeHan Information Systems in 1997 and could hold 32MB (about ¾ of a CD). This has improved considerably over the years as the popularity of MP3 has increased. MP3 players are now firmly in the mainstream with flagship products such as the iPod, and MP3 players on the market today are capable of holding 160 gigabytes, containing literally hundreds of albums and videos.
With so much music on your MP3 player, finding a song can be problematic, so programs and techniques have emerged to help you listen to the music you love. Many people use iTunes or a media library tool such as mediamonkey to organize their tracks into playlists. You can also “tag” your music, so if you are looking for certain genres, such as rock, jazz, or classical, you can quickly and easily browse the appropriate tracks. Tags are only limited by your imagination; some people label their music with concepts such as emotion, color or location.
A problem with so many MP3s can be that they play at varying volumes due to coming from many different sources, forcing you to change the volume continuously while listening to your songs; for this, online tools such as MP3Gain.net will help you normalize (make the same volume) your music collection.
Put MP3s on your player
If you are looking for new MP3s, there are many sites that will help you find your next favorite track; the classic MP3.com has reviews and options to buy; the new Seeqpod.com site is a great tool for searching, downloading and listening to MP3s on the web. Last.fm is also a great place to search for new music you love by grabbing your favorite artists and browsing through tracks they think are similar.
You can also convert your old discs and CDs to MP3 so you can listen to them on the go, there are various tools available for this, including the fully online resource at Media-Convert.
Accessories for MP3 players
It’s worth upgrading your headphones when you buy an MP3 player; the ones that come with most players are of poor quality. It is also worth buying or considering batteries when selecting your MP3 player; some manage a pitiful 8 hours but with a large capacity, while others could last more than 20 hours; perfect for travelers.
Companies have started to think about ideas for using MP3 players other than a traditional player; MP3 players are now popping up in washing machines and guitar-shaped toys to help shape your air guitar fantasies, as well as better integration with mobile phones and personal organizers such as the iPhone hot tip.
Have mp3s changed the way we listen to music?
As a music consumer, we now have more access to different music than ever before; almost anyone can make music and download it for the whole world to listen to. As such, we are exposed to a lot more new music these days, if you like; before the Internet and MP3s, the only way to do it would have been radio. Listening habits have changed; fewer people now listen to albums in sequence; There are “random” playlists that run through the entire music library, and “tags” exist for your songs that help play all the tracks in your collection that are in a particular style.
As such, the sale of tracks has focused more on buying individual tracks than buying albums. Even the process of buying albums has changed; CD stores across the country are closing as more people buy their music online. iTunes passed its 3 billionth download in the summer of 2007 and the download rate is increasing.
Nowadays, more people listen to lower quality music; the music industry culminated with the advent of CDs reaching the limit of human perception; CDs essentially cannot be upgraded. Paradoxically, the area of growth for music formats are now those that are actually inferior to the formats of the past; although only Hi-Fi junkies with expensive hardware are the only ones who can tell the difference between a high-speed MP3 and a CD track.
For now, mp3 players are switching to flash drives rather than hard drives to store their information, which promises smaller, faster, and quieter operation for future MP3 players. In the longer term, MP3 players could eventually merge and integrate more with all media, so that one device will play your music, video, become a digital camera, and surf the Internet on the go. The quality of the music should increase until it approaches that of CDs. The speech recognition software should make it easier to interface with your music, along with Bluetooth functionality, which means you’ll be able to interface quickly with your PC and other users; we are talking about a peer-to-peer network appearing using only the players themselves connected wirelessly. Batteries can become a thing of the past as power consumption goes down and solar power is all you need to keep you going with music all the time.