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Developed by the Fraunhofer Society, MP3 (officially known as MPEG-1 Audio Layer III or MPEG-2 Audio Layer III) is a coding format for audio released in 1993. It is the third format of the MPEG-1 standard, and it was further extended as the third audio format of the next multimedia standard, MPEG-2. Besides audio, it can contain metadata. MP3 is famous for its compression capabilities. Through lossy data compression, MP3 achieves a considerable reduction in the size of the original audio without affecting quality that much. This feature made it the preferred format for digital music distribution and streaming, making it the universal audio format it is today. Its filename extension is .mp3.


Advantages and disadvantages of the MP3 format

MP3 is a standard in the world of audio distribution, even beyond music. That is because the format has several advantages that make it very useful even by today's means, 29 years after the format release.


Advantages

  • File size. MP3 format counts with a compression technology that reduces the file size by 12 compared to uncompressed files. Such reduced size allows you to store hundreds of songs where only ten uncompressed audio files would fit.
  • Practicality. The small sizes of MP3 files greatly facilitate their distribution over the Internet.
  • Quality. MP3 can reach up to 320 Kbps bitrate, which is a good quality for casual consumption. So, although MP3 uses lossy compression, it regardless maintains good audio quality.
  • Free. MP3 became a free format. That means you don't have to pay licenses, patents, or anything to use it. You can use it for free.
  • Universal standard. MP3 is a standard for digital audio. That means that any digital playback device or media player is capable of playing MP3 files without problems. Therefore, it is a format accessible to all. And those are the reasons why the MP3 format revolutionized the distribution of music and audio content in general, from podcasts to audiobooks. However, despite its wonders, the MP3 format has its disadvantages:

Disadvantages

  • Quality. Although the MP3 format has an acceptable quality, its lossy compression affects the audio fidelity anyway. Since lossless formats sound around ten times better than MP3 files, MP3 is not the best choice if you're looking for the highest quality possible.
  • Old. MP3 does not feature the most advanced compression technology for today's standards. Other newer lossy compression formats (like Ogg or AAC) sound better than MP3 at the same bitrate as a result.

Frequently Answered Questions

How to play MP3 files?

Opening MP3 files from any device should never be a problem. Android, Windows, iOS, Linux, macOS, and Kindle OS feature native media players that support the MP3 format. So your device should automatically open the file without problems when you click on it.

If you are having trouble opening an MP3 file, the file is most likely corrupt. Just download the file one more time to fix it


Is MP3 a good format?

The MP3 format is good or not, depending on how you will use the audio files. MP3 has acceptable quality and small file sizes, perfect for online music streaming and distribution. For the listeners, it's also good if you don't have a high interest in things like hi-fi and high-resolution.

MP3 is not suitable for audio editing. Every time you save an MP3 file, it's compressed again, which affects the audio quality each time. So the MP3 format is not intended for professional audio recordings, only content distribution.


How Does MP3 work?

MP3 is a format that allows you to compress the original data to reduce its size. Such a process works as follows.

The MP3 compression reduces the accuracy of certain parts of sound considered imperceptible to the human ear. Such components are discarded from the original file, and the rest is recorded efficiently to save space. And this reduces en to fourteen times the size of the data.

Since some parts of the data are lost, this type of compression is known as lossy compression.


How can you convert files to MP3?

Given its compression technology and its universal character, the MP3 format is best for reducing the size of large audio files. And it is straightforward to convert other file formats to MP3 files.

There is software that you can install on your device to convert specific formats into MP3. But you can do that right here at Convertr using our tool, the best way to convert formats to others.

All you have to do is upload the file you want to convert, choose MP3 as the output format, click Download and download the file already converted to MP3.

As easy as that!


Is MP3 better than AAC?

The Advanced Audio c Codec (AAC) format is an audio coding standard for lossy

compression, like MP3.

As for which format is better, AAC is better than MP3.

Although they both use the same type of compression, the AAC has more modern compression technology. That means that the AAC format reaches a higher quality than MP3 at the same bitrate but smaller file size. MP3 only beats AAC in terms of compatibility. As a universal audio format, all devices can play MP3 files, but not all play AAC.