Heyday of the MP3 – A History

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Did you know there are over 1.2 trillion mp3 files on earth? That’s more than 171 times the number of people on the planet! It took nearly 200,000 years to grow the human population to 7.2 billion but only 20 years to produce the number of mp3s that exist in the world today. How come there are so many? What has made the mp3 so popular?

In this article we’ll take a look at the history of the mp3 and see how it gained its foothold in the audio world. We’ll also investigate some of the newer codecs that are being used alternatively to the mp3.

In 1989, the Moving Picture Expert Group (MPEG), an international standardization organization, wanted to introduce an audio standard. They received 14 audio coding proposals from participants who were then encouraged to combine their contributions. This resulted in the creation of ASPEC (adaptive spectral perceptual entropy coding), the precursor to the mp3 (MPEG layer 3). The technology was later incorporated into ISO MPEG standardization, which ultimately led to the success of its creators, the Fraunhofer Institute for Integrated Circuits (FIIC).

Unfortunately, marketing the mp3 was a bit of a disaster. In 1996, consumers were able to purchase the first mp3 encoder via the internet, which quickly led to mass distribution of the mp3. Regrettably, the software was bought by an Australian student using a stolen credit card and was made publicly available. Fraunhofer’s software business may have been laid to rest, but the result was the mp3 spreading like wildfire across the internet.

What’s more, music that was encoded in mp3, often in breach of copyright, was being distributed via file sharing and torrent sites such as Soulseek, Napster and Grooveshark. At the time, an average 128 kbps mp3 took up around 3.5 megabytes of space, a size that could easily be transferred over the internet when higher connection speeds ranged only from 56k to 1.54 mbps.

Finally, the advent of the mp3 player would solidify the mp3’s existence for years to come.

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The last two decades have shown that mp3s were favored over formats such as AAC because they were compatible with more listening devices at higher bit-depths. They also required less storage space than large, uncompressed file types such as AIFF or WAV. This is still true today and streaming and download services such as Amazon, iTunes, Google Play and Murfie continue to support mp3s, but they also support alternative formats as well.

There’s debate about which file formats are best for consuming music, but what consumers should be primarily aware of is the difference between lossy and lossless compression and how it affects their listening experience.

Lossy file types such as mp3 and AAC are compressed audio formats that use inexact approximations and discard data to represent the content for the purposes of storing, handling and transmitting. In other words, what you’re hearing is not the audio in its entirety. It’s similar to printing a draft on your printer as opposed to a full quality print. Less ink is used and the print is often lighter, but what remains is enough information to tell you what you’re looking at. Depending on the bit-depth of these file types the listener may experience reduced audio quality. Some would argue, however, that at higher bit-rates degradation in audio quality is hardly noticeable when compared to lossless formats.

Lossless file types like WAV and AIFF, FLAC and ALAC are containers that are able to store all of the data of an audio signal. Bit-for-bit, these file formats are more accurate representations of a signal because they don’t eliminate any data while encoding. FLAC and ALAC are newer codecs, which are compressed to some degree, but claim to deliver the same quality as uncompressed formats.  Although these containers are often massive in size, they are great for storing audio files in their original condition (true CD quality). And with the advent of hi-res streaming packages like Murfie Hi-Fi, you’re able to stream your music in FLAC on your lossless-ready devices for only $10 a month!    

When you send your collection to Murfie, we’ll rip and store the data as uncompressed audio (WAV) and make it available for streaming in 320 kbps mp3 (1411 kbps FLAC if you choose the Murfie Hi-Fi plan) or download in AAC, mp3, FLAC and ALAC.  

If you’re looking to transfer your CDs, vinyl or cassettes to digital and stream them from your preferred devices, send your collection to Murfie. To get a free quote click here. To learn more about our services, contact us or check our FAQ for answers to frequently asked questions.

June albums: 20th anniversary

It’s hard to believe it’s 2015 and the majority of us have been buying CDs for over 20 years. This month marks the 20th anniversary of a few famous albums that were released in 1995. Remember these?

Take That Nobody ElseTake That
Nobody Else
June 8th, 1995

The third album by British boy band Take That, this was the last recording before original band members like Robbie Williams disbanded. It contains their most successful song “Back For Good”.

 

Bjork PostBjörk
Post

June 13th, 1995

This is the third album by Icelandic singer- songwriter Björk, in which she brought an electronic-pop sound with teasers of trip-hop and other styles. The album was met with critical success and was certified platinum in the US, UK, Canada, Europe and Australia.

 

Alanis Morissette Jagged Little PillAlanis Morissette
Jagged Little Pill
June 13th, 1995

One of the most memorable albums of the 90s, Jagged Little Pill put Alanis on the map as an alternative rock goddess. The album was written after a breakup, with singles like “Ironic” and “You Oughta Know”.

 

Selena Dreaming of YouSelena
Dreaming of You
June 18th, 1995

This album made Selena the first Hispanic singer to have an album debut at No.1 on the US Billboard charts. The release was a historic event in terms of album sales from a female singer as well.

 

Michael Jackson HIStoryMichael Jackson
HIStory: Past, Present and Future
June 20th, 1995

This was the first album released on Michael Jackson’s own label, MJJ Productions. Disc 1 is a compilation of greatest hits, and Disc 2 was completely new material at the time.

This Week in Music History (May 15th-21st)

What’s music history got for us this week? Learn up and boogie down!

137377-large5/15- The 5th annual Grammy Awards happened on this day in 1963, celebrating the work of the musicians from 1962. The award for record of the year went to Tony BennettI Left My Heart in San Francisco6498-large

5/16- On this day in 1966, The Beach Boys released their influential album, Pet Sounds. The album has been ranked #2 on Rolling Stone‘s 500 Greatest Albums of All Time list.

27599-large5/17- This day in 1967 marked the beginning of the three-day long Monterey Pop Festival. Some notable appearances were Jimi Hendrix, The Who, and Ravi Shankar.

2670-large5/18- The Backstreet Boys released their hit album Millennium on this day in 1999. America was arguably more in love with Nick, Brian, AJ, Howie, and Kevin than ever before.50990-large

5/19- Chaka Khan received her star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame on this day in 2011. A nice honor for the one they call the “Queen of Funk-Soul”.

41998-large-15/20- On this day in 1946, a star was born: Cherilyn Sarkisian. (We know her as Cher.)

MI00000161185/21- Marvin Gaye‘s album, Dream of a Lifetime, was released posthumously on this day in 1895. The album contained the hit song “Sanctified Lady”.

Oh, you wanna own any of these albums, or hear ‘em in lossless format? Well we just so happen to have them for sale. Right now these titles start at just $1!

This Week in Music History (April 24th-30th)

What’s music history got for us this week? Learn up and boogie down!

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4/24- After hearing Ray Charles perform the classic tune “Georgia on My Mind”, the Georgia State Senate and House of Representatives decided to make it their official State Song  on this date in 1979. Ray Charles was born in Georgia, of course.

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4/25- Lisa “Left Eye” Lopes of the hit band TLC was tragically killed from injuries that resulted from a car accident in Honduras on this day in 2002. Several albums featuring Lopes would be released posthumously, including Eye Legacy.

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4/26- On this day in 1964, The Beatles headlined at The New Musical Express Annual Poll Winner’s Concert. They performed many hits, including “She Loves You” and “Twist and Shout”. Groovy!

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4/27- The Eagles began playing shows for their Hell Freezes Over tour on this day in 1994. Recordings from this series of shows would later be used to create their second live album, Hell Freezes Over, which stayed at #1 on the Billboard album charts for two weeks.

138-large4/28- Tom Petty & the Heartbreakers received their star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame on this day in 1999. Talk about runnin’ down a dream!124469-large

4/29- Duke Ellington was born on this day in 1899. Duke majorly contributed to the big band music scene for over 50 years, and continues to be a key influence in jazz to this day.

205-large4/30- On this day in 2005, The Dave Matthews Band agreed to pay $200,000 in a lawsuit settlement. The band & their bus driver were being charged for dumping human waste from their tour bus onto a boatload of tourists while the bus was crossing a bridge over the Chicago River. Splash!!!

Oh, you wanna own any of these albums, or hear ‘em in lossless format? Well whaddya know…we just so happen to have them for sale! Right now these titles start at just $1!