MP3, short for "MPEG-1 Audio Layer 3", is a digital data format using a form of lossy audio data compression.
Players suitable for the playback of MP3 files are integrated in, or available for all operating systems. MP3 was developed by the Fraunhofer Society in cooperation with AT&T Bell Laboratories and Thomson Consumer Electronics. The format has an extremely high compressing advantage, so that a music file can be compressed down to 1/12 of its original file size, while the losses in quality are hardly noticeable to the human ear. MP3 files enabled the transfer of digitalized music on the Internet as they are a lot smaller than usual (uncompressed) audio files. MP3 quickly became a mass product, not least because file sharing programs such as Kazaa or Napster became extremely popular and caused the problem that MP3 music was copied illegally from one PC to another. The record industry suffered an enormous drop which led to various legal proceedings brought by the big record companies against file sharing providers. Napster was closed down and purchased by the German company Bertelsmann AG.
MP3 takes advantage of the fact that human acoustic perception is limited. Frequencies not audible by the human ear are therefore left out when compressing an MP3. The standard of these frequencies is measured by the average adult's audio frequency range of 20 Hz to 16 kHz. All frequencies beyond or under this range are only audible to a very small percentage of people and are therefore cut out. It remains in the eye of the beholder whether an MP3 is of high audio quality or not.
The next step is auditory masking which involves filtering out the tones overlaid by others. For example, if in a music track a loud e-guitar drowns out a quieter piano, the MP3 file only saves the data information of the e-guitar. The data of the piano will be erased as it is not audible anyway.
MP3 offers a wide range of encoding methods and is constantly developed further. There are already MP3 surround encoders that allow the convenient choice of high or low MP3 quality when encoding. If the chosen compression is too high, audible frequencies and tones are also filtered out and can then be heard as compression artifacts.
Gemafreie Welten offers the templates for Royalty-free music track on this website in MP3 format and delivers them in high MP3 quality (320 Kbit/s). This guarantees the best possible sound quality for your music download.