History Of MP3 Technology: The Age Of The Free Legal Music Download?

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Author Resource: Florence Federini. To listen to legal free music downloads and to learn more about mp3 technology please explore the provided links. Article provided by - Published-Articles.com

Have we now entered the age of the free and legal music download? Fifteen years ago asking such a question would have elicited a puzzled response. However, today with the proliferation of iPods and taking into consideration that many independent artists now offer free samples of their music to build a following and to drive concert ticket sales, you could answer that question with a firm yes.

MP3 is a digital audio encoding format. It stands for MPEG Audio Layer III. MPEG stands for Motion Pictures Expert Group. It is a standard for digital audio compression and playback. MP3 uses lossy compression to decrease the size of a music file with small or no loss in quality. This compression works by perceptual coding, which reduces or discards components that are not as audible to human hearing. MP3 is a common format for audio storage and is widely used for sharing music.

MP3 technology traces its development back to the early 1980's. Doctoral student Karlheinz Brandenburg started working on digital music compression at Germany's University of Erlangen-Nuremberg. After he finished his doctoral work, Brandenburg joined James D. Johnston at AT&T-Bell Labs to work on music compression.

In 1987, the Fraunhofer Institute began doing research on high-quality audio coding. The project was code-named EU147, the EU stood for EUREKA. The EU147 was financed by the European Community from 1987 to 1994. Brandenburg joined the staff of Erlangen-Nuremberg as an assistant professor in 1990. He continued his work on music compression with members of the Fraunhofer Society, a group of prestigious scientists, and later became a member of the Fraunhofer Institute staff.

The institute received assistance with coding from professor Dieter Seitzer of the University of Erlangen, and the Fraunhofer research team was led by Karlheinz Brandenburg. Together they continued working on the challenge of creating superior, low bit rate coding. The groundwork had been laid with OCF and PXFM coding. Now it had to be evolved.

To test and develop MP3 technology, Brandenburg chose the song "Tom's Diner" by Suzanne Vega. The simple tune was extremely difficult to reproduce without a great deal of background noise, and compressing it caused severe compromises in audio quality. He listened to the song repeatedly, each time making refinements to the technology. Finally the developers had a breakthrough and the encoded song sounded true to the original.

In 1991, the algorithms for MPEG-1, Audio Layers I, II and III were approved by the ISO. They were finalized in 1993 and the MPEG-1 standard was published. MPEG-1 does not adhere to an exact specification for an MP3 encoder. Because of this, a number of different MP3 encoders exist and each creates a different quality of file. MPEG-2 was published just a year later. Also in 1994, the first MP3 encoder, called l3enc, was released by the Fraunhofer Society. The Fraunhofer team chose the filename extension .mp3 in 1995. This year also saw the release of Winplay, the first real-time MP3 player, compatible with both Windows 95 and Windows 3.1.

Fraunhofer received a U.S. patent for MP3 in 1996. Around this time, music lovers and internet users began sharing MP3 files online. This was assisted in part by the increasing use of Winamp. Winamp is an MP3 player created for Nullsoft, a company founded by Justin Frankel, who created Winamp with Dmitry Boldyrev. Peer-to-peer file sharing quickly became widespread, and soon became a source of massive copyright infringements. Major record labels began filing charges against individual users and filesharing networks. However, this has not stopped peer-to-peer file sharing. To help combat this "music piracy" without alienating consumers, companies such as iTunes, Rhapsody and Amazon.com allow users to purchase music in the MP3 format.

In 2007 Radiohead sent shock waves through the corridors of the music industry when they informed fans that they could pay as much or as little as they desired for their album "In Rainbows." Today artists such as British singer/songwriter Tom Fox, offer legal free music downloads of songs, which is testimony to the fact that a growing number of today's musicians are embracing the age of the free music download.

1 comment:

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