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MPEG (Motion Picture Engineering Group) Layer 3 compression format, an audio compression format capable of dramatically reducing the size of audio files with minimal loss in sound quality. It works using lossy compression which means it throws away redundant information to reduce the file size of the final audio files.

MP3 is a very popular for exchanging music on the Net both legally by artists seeking quick and easy exposure and illegally by fans swapping music.

If you haven't heard of it yet, it kicks arse. Really handy way of getting lots of good music.

To find mp3s you can go to the public, legal sites or find them using Napster or Gnutella which are distributed file sharing systems. A more community based system, much like bulletin boards, for getting them is Hotline.

A new format without the patent issues of mp3 is Ogg Vorbis which is free software in both senses and is marginally better in its quality/size ratio.

How To Make Archive Quality MP3's.

It's easy to make archive quality mp3's. Simply use the r3mix option - a specific high quality setting for the mp3 encoder Lame.

The setting takes it's name from the website r3mix.net which uses a small (but respectable) amount of scientific evaluation and audiophile listening test analysis to recommend the best MP3 encoder, and what settings to use.

Best in this context means transparent CD quality with smallest file size and fastest encoding time, (bitrate is not limited). The need for these settings arises because the near CD quality (normally 128kbps) offered by most encoders, whilst sufficient for everyday listening, is not good enough for archives of important recordings.

The space requirements for r3mix quality mp3's are approximately 1.4Mb per minute (the average bitrate is about 180kbps). In other words, you can fit roughly 10 albums on a CD-R, or well over 400 albums on a 30Gb hard disk - standard with today's new PCs.

The current encoder of choice at r3mix.net is the Lame encoder (and hence the programmers of Lame have paid tribute to the website by using its name as shorthand for their preferred settings). To make the best mp3s you can use the following command:

lame --r3mix infile.wav outfile.mp3

"--r3mix" is a synonym for

  • "-V1 -mj -h --athtype 3 --lowpass 19.5 -b112" in Lame 3.88 beta, and
  • "--nspsytune --vbr-mtrh -V1 -mj -h -b96 --lowpass 19.5 --athtype 3 --ns-sfb21 2 -Z --scale 0.98" in version 3.90.

Some versions of all-in-one ripping software like the latest CDex and Audiograbber now include an r3mix setting in their options, but the site recommends using ExactAudioCopy and Win32Lame for best results.

The History of MP3

The Early Years

The development of the now-ubiquitous MP3 audio compression scheme can be traced back to 1987, at the Fraunhofer Institut Intergriete Shaltungen in Erlangen, Germany. A project was started to develop a high-quality, high-compression audio codec; this was dubbed EUREKA project EU147, Digital Audio Broadcasting. The end result of this product eventually became known as ISO-MPEG Audio Layer 3, A.K.A. MP3.

In January of 1988, the Motion Picture Experts Group (MPEG) was created as a committee within the International Standards Organization (ISO). In 1989, Fraunhofer got a patent for their compression scheme, which was submitted to the ISO in 1992 and included in the MPEG-1 specification, published in 1993. In 1990, Fraunhofer developed the first MP3 player, but by all accounts it was a fairly underwhelming bit of work. The first song compressed into MP3 format was "Tom's Diner" by Suzanne Vega, because of its dynamic range. On the 26th of January, 1995, Fraunhofer applied for a US patent on MP3, which it received on 26 November, 1996. All was quiet on the MP3 front until...

"And then there's running, and screaming..."

In 1997, Tomislav Uzelac, working at Advanced Multimedia Productions, wrote the AMP MP3 playback engine, the first 'real' MP3 player to be publicly available. Then a couple of students, Justin Frankel and Dmitry Boldyrev, put a pretty face on it, made it run in windows, and called it--yep, that's right--WinAMP. Basically, this little piece of free software, released in 1998, nine years after MP3 was originally patented, sparked the "MP3 Revolution." A proliferation of players, rippers, hardware devices, and search tools soon followed.

In 1999, a record label called Sub Pop began to distribute some of their tracks in MP3 format, apparently the first record label to do so. One other major development occurred in 1999--Napster, written by a 19 year old student named Shawn Fanning. Let it never be said that a teenage geek can't change the world overnight. WinAMP had already made MP3s easy to use; now Napster made them virtually effortless to find. The RIAA and the US legal system have since put a stop to Napster. However, it is still certainly possible to find MP3s, and they're not going anywhere soon.

Adam Walker (the Tom's Diner tidbit)
Behind the Files: History of MP3, by Gabriel Nijmeh, http://www.compunotes.com/ArticleSection/behindthefilesmp3.htm
MP3 Overview, on hotwired.lycos.com
The History of MP3 and how did it all begin, http://www.mp3-mac.com/Pages/History_of_MP3.html

"MP3" is the third album from the alternative rock trio Marcy Playground (thus the title). Released March 23rd, 2004. Was their first album since the commercial and critical flop "Shapeshifter" was released in November 1999. That album was released on the heels of their 1997 self-titled debut that went platinum on the Top 40 success of the one song that everyone and their grandmother knows them for, "Sex & Candy." This album comes in with even less hype and considering even my local knowledgeable record store clerk didn't know they were still around, won't exactly shoot them back into the mainstream.

Yet, the album's first (and probably only) single, "Deadly Handsome Man" is having modest success on modern rock radio right now. Plus, even after all the one-hit drama and all the hoopla over their 2nd album falling to the "sophomore curse": Marcy Playground still shows they know how to craft a great rock song unlike few still can.

Track List:

1. Spoonfed - 4:08

2. Blood in Alphabet Soup - 2:19

3. No One's Boy - 2:51

4. Hotter Than the Sun - 4:19

5. Rock and Roll Heroes - 2:55

6. Jesse Went to War - 3:37

7. Flag and Finger - 3:26

8. Deadly Handsome Man - 3:31

9. Punk Rock Superstar - 2:54

10. Paper Dolls - 2:35

11. Death of a Cheerleader - 4:45

12. Brand New Day - 3:36

13. Sleepy Eyes - 3:52

14. Barfly - 5:17

Notables (IMO) include: "Paper Dolls", "Blood in Alphabet Soup", “Brand New Day”, "Flag and Finger" and "Sleepy Eyes."

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