There are several advantages to the MP3 format as compared to the MP4, WAV and WMA audio file formats. You can determine what type of format your songs are in by looking in the folder on your computer where you keep your music. The last three or four letters of the file, which come after the “dot” indicate the format.
The MP3 has distinct advantages as a digital audio file format. Therre are actually several audio files formats, but the MP3 is one of the most common. For example, if you are ripping (copying) music from a CD, it is usually converted into either an MP3 or an MP4 (for Apple users). When you download music from any of the available online media sites, the songs will automatically download as an MP3 or MP4.
One particular advantage of MP3 is that it is arguably the most useful format for digital music. MP3 files will play on almost any new portable player, such as the immensely popular Apple iPod, or the Zune, which is Microsoft’s portable player. MP3’s will play on most new home and car stereos, and are also compatible with most computer software.
Another important aspect of the MP3 format is that they will usually even play on many of the older devices. However, you may need to determine whether an MP3 is encoded with as a constant bit rate (cbr) or variable bit rate (vbr) file. If you have older equipment, you may want to avoid vbr MP3 files.
New equipment can play both cbr and vbr MP3 files. In the long run, if you want your music to play any time, any where, on any equipment, then you should rip or download your music in the MP3 format.
An additional advantage to using MP3 files is that they are small in size. MP3s are known as a “lossy” format. All of the various audio file formats can be divided into two groups, lossy and lossless. Other lossy file formats are MP4, WMA, and OGG. The term “lossy” is a reference to the encoding method. When the encoder program makes a file, it chooses to compress and leave out some of the audio information in order to create a small file. Much of the information that is “lost” during this process is unnoticeable to most listeners.
Audio files exist in many different formats, and it’s important to choose a format which works with your hardware and software. The MP3 has numerous advantages that the digital music collector would do well to know.