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.

5 disc-ripping fails: What you risk by digitizing your CD collection yourself

So, you’re thinking about digitizing that CD collection of yours. Before you rip away, there are a few things to consider before ripping your CDs at home, since the pitfalls are ones that could ruin your original goal of flawless work that is worthwhile.

There are many reasons why Murfie’s trusted service is ideal for music collectors who want perfect rips of their CDs, which they can download and stream. Murfie prevents the common drawbacks that arise when trying to rip at home.

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5. Wrong file format

It’s safe to say that many folks rip their CDs in mp3 format. While this format is the default on most drives, many people don’t realize that it compresses the music in a way that loses tiny details in the sound. Hence, it’s known as a “lossy” format.

The reason why some people compress music into to mp3 and other lossy formats is to save space. Discarding tiny bits of data is how this is achieved. This makes for a sound that is close to, yet not exactly identical, to the original recording.

Selecting the wrong format may also mean that your music won’t play on all of your devices. At Murfie, we rip and store the music from your CDs in lossless FLAC format, providing the flexibility to transcode to virtually any bit rate at any point in the future. Downloads in mp3, aac, and lossless formats FLAC and ALAC are included with all the CDs you send in. This means your music can bounce around all your devices, easily and without any manual conversion on your end.

4. Wrong bit rate

Even if you select the right file format, you’re still not out of the woods. Selecting the right bit rate (unit = bps) is important because it affects the amount of information processed per unit of time. More bits per second allows more details to be processed, making for higher quality sound.

Bit rate only applies to lossy formats (mp3 and aac) since lossless formats (FLAC and ALAC) make an exact replica of the original recording. Large music retailers like Amazon and iTunes provide digital music downloads in lossy 256 kbps mp3 and 256 kbps aac formats, respectively.

We’re fans of a higher default bit rate at Murfie, making for better quality sound. We use at least 320 kbps for mp3 downloads, and 320kbps for our standard free streaming. That’s a higher default rate than Amazon, iTunes and Spotify. 320 kbps streaming is available on Spotify, but with a premium paid membership. And as for Murfie’s paid premium streaming membership—well, that’s in lossless FLAC format, of course.

3. Errors/Incorrect Metadata

How do you know your rips are error free? Going back to listen to everything once you’ve ripped it and cross-checking track titles and album metadata against other sources will more than double the amount of time you’re spending on digitization. Every disc that’s ripped at Murfie is checked twice against our database to ensure all metadata like album title, artist name, and track names are correct. If Murfie does your ripping, you won’t have to worry about the unpleasant experience of putting your disc in a drive to find there is no metadata at all.

Metadata aside, Murfie uses AccurateRip to ensure the files themselves are seamless. We actually clean CDs that need to be cleaned, and polish CDs that have scratches. All this is to ensure error-free downloads and flawless streaming.

2. Data loss

Long-term, secure storage of your data is essential if you want your work to be worthwhile. Computer crashes, hard drive issues, theft, and other factors can be a nightmare for music collectors.

When your discs are ripped at Murfie, the original FLAC files are stored on our server, always available for you to request another download if your original is lost. Your discs can be stored in our secure facility in Madison, WI, alongside ~500K others that our members have already entrusted to us. With your original disc and FLAC files made available to you 24/7 for streaming and downloads, we’ve got the security of your discs covered in a way that goes above and beyond your average backup.

1. Your time

Time is money. Based on our calculations, a person can rip 10-20 discs per hour if they have one CD drive on their computer. That’s not counting any manual metadata entry and error checking.

Say you have 200 CDs in your collection. It would easily take you 10-20 hours to digitize everything. Is there something you’d rather be doing during the time it took to rip those discs? If your answer is no, check out these handy guides for ripping discs on Windows and Mac computers.

What’s your time worth? If you’re ripping at home, you can expect to process a maximum of 20 discs per hour. Again, time is money—and for 79¢/disc, Murfie can process your CDs for flawless streaming and downloads, shipping included. Let us do what we do best.

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Murfie is working to bring you uncompromised anywhere/anytime digital access to your music collection, in the highest quality possible. We’ll make your perfect ripped files available via downloads to your computer or hard drive, and via streaming to your iPhone, iPad, Android phone and tablet, web browser, and Sonos and other devices.

Do you have vinyl records that you want ripped too? Email info@murfie.com to learn more! Are you an all-round audiophile? Check out our lossless FLAC streaming available with Murfie HiFi.

Murfie is music collecting perfected. Request a shipping kit and begin your uncompromised collecting and listening experience!

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How to Convert Your CDs to iTunes

Digital music is a convenient way to listen to tunes virtually anywhere. Music downloads and streams are becoming more and more popular, as many people aim for convenient, instantaneous methods of consuming music, without dealing with the cluttering effects of CDs and vinyl.

So now a question comes to mind: What about all those CDs you bought? Do you keep them just to keep them? Sounds kinda inconvenient. Do you ditch them and replace them with digital files? Sounds kinda expensive. And inconvenient.

But, aha! What if you can get the best of both worlds? What if you could convert your CD collection to digital files, like iTunes music, instead of replace it—and keep the discs as a backup, but somewhere remote, not on your own shelves?

Bam. That’s where we come in. These simple steps are the most convenient way to convert your CD collection to digital iTunes music, without having to sit there forever and rip all your music yourself.

Step 1. Send your CD collection to Murfie.

Our expert-CD-rippers will rip your CDs in high quality FLAC format, and then add your albums to your online collection for you to view, play, and manage.

Step 2. Download your CD collection.

Choose your fave format: mp3, aac, or lossless formats FLAC and ALAC. Heads up: iTunes works with mp3, aac and ALAC. You can save the downloaded zip files to your desktop so they’re easy to find.

Step 3. Move the files to your iTunes

First, double-click the zip files to open the album folders. Then drag the folders from your desktop to your iTunes media player, and voila—like magic, they’ll get added to your library, listed alongside your other digital music.

Your CDs will remain safely stored at Murfie, allowing you to request more downloads in other formats. Since you really own the physical disc, you can convert it to whatever format you please, and download and stream it on a variety of devices. You can stream your music on the go with our Murfie mobile app for iOS and Android, at home with Sonos and VOCO devices, and via our website. And one of the coolest parts of all these cool parts is—your CDs will always remain yours. (And ya know, if you really want ’em back one day, we’ll send them to you.)

This Week in Music History (December 4th-10th)

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

12/4- On this day in 1964, The Beatles released their fourth studio album, Beatles for Sale. The album, which featured tracks like “Eight Days a Week” and “Everybody’s Trying to Be My Baby”, spent 11 weeks at the top of the UK charts.

12/5- On this day in 1968, the Rolling Stones hosted a party in London to celebrate the release of their new album Beggar’s Banquet. Although Keith Richards was sick and unable to attend, the rest of the band and their guests participated in a custard pie food fight that became the highlight of the event.

12/6- On this day in 1969, Led Zeppelin made their debut on the US singles chart. The single, “Whole Lotta Love”, went on to become the first of six Top 40 singles for the band in the United States.

12/7- On this day in 1967, Otis Redding went in to the studio to record “(Sittin’ On) the Dock of the Bay”. The track went on to be his all-time biggest hit. Redding, however, would never see the single’s success; he died in a plane crash just days later on December 10, 1967.

12/8- On this day in 1961, The Beach Boys’ first single, “Surfin’”, was released on Candix Records, a small record label based in Los Angeles. The song became extremely popular in Southern California, and the band was soon signed to Capitol Records.

12/9-  On this day in 1967, The Doors played at the New Haven Arena in New Haven, Connecticut. Before the show began, police caught frontman Jim Morrison kissing a girl in a backstage shower. Morrison mocked the incident onstage, and was dragged off and arrested by police.

12/10- On this day in 1983, Paul McCartney and Michael Jackson began a six-week run at No. 1 on the US singles chart with “Say Say Say”. The song was Jackson’s 10th No. 1 hit and McCartney’s 29th.

Check out our marketplace, where you can buy albums that made music history! Unlimited downloads (mp3, aac, FLAC, Apple Lossless) and streaming included with every purchase.

This Week in Music History (November 20th-26th)

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

11/20- On this day in 1976, Paul Simon hosted NBC’s Saturday Night Live. Simon appeared live with George Harrison, performing tracks including “Here Comes the Sun” and “Homeward Bound”.

11/21- On this day in 1970, Jimi Hendrix shot to No.1 on the UK singles chart with “Voodoo Child”, the closing track on Electric Ladyland. The track was Hendrix’s only No.1 UK single, and his guitar solo was named the 11th greatest solo of all time in Guitar World’s 100 Greatest Guitar Solos.

11/22- On this day in 1965, Bob Dylan married Sara Lowndes in a secret ceremony in Mineola, Long Island. The couple had a son, singer Jakob Dylan, but Lowndes filed for divorce in 1977.

11/23- On this day in 1899, the world’s first jukebox was installed in San Francisco at the Palais Royal Hotel. The term “jukebox”, however, only became popular in the 1940s.

11/24- On this day in 1966, The Beatles returned to the studio for the first time after their US summer tour. They spent the day recording “Strawberry Fields Forever”, a track that would go on to become their next single and one of their most famous of all time.

11/25- On this day in 1984, some of the biggest names in British music gathered at S.A.R.M. Studios in London to record the hit single “Do They Know It’s Christmas?”. The single, which featured artists like Bono, Boy George, Sting, George Michael and Paul Young, sold over three million copies in the UK.

11/26- On this day in 1958, Johnny Cash made his debut on the US top country chart with “Cry, Cry, Cry”. The song hit number 14 on the chart, but his next seven singles would all reach the country top ten.

So you wanna own any of these gems, or hear them in lossless formats? Well, we just so happen to have them for sale! Find these albums and more pieces of music history in our marketplace!

This Week in Music History (November 13th-19th)

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

11/13- On this day in 1964, The Rolling Stones’ single “Little Red Rooster” was released by Decca Records. The single, which had previously been recorded by Sam Cooke, was a No.1 hit in the UK—the only time a blues song has ever topped the UK pop chart.

11/14- On this day in 1960, Ray Charles shot to No.1 on the United States singles chart with his track “Georgia on My Mind”. The song became the first of three No.1 hits for Charles.

11/15- On this day in 1966, The Doors signed with Elektra Records in a deal to produce seven albums. The band agreed to release “Break on Through” as its first single, but was forced to edit the lyrics to secure radio play.

11/16- On this day in 1968, The Jimi Hendrix Experience went No.1 on the US album chart with Electric Ladyland. The album included popular tracks like “Crosstown Traffic” and “All Along the Watchtower”.

11/17- On this day in 1973, The Who’s famous double album Quadrophenia peaked at No.2 on the UK album charts. Along with 1969’s Tommy, Quadrophenia was one of two full-scale rock operas released by the band.

11/18- On this day in 1978, Billy Joel rose to No.1 on the US album chart with 52nd Street, his sixth studio album. It was Joel’s first album to top the Billboard charts and would go on to earn him two Grammys. On October 1, 1982, the album became the first to be commercially released on compact disc by Sony Music Entertainment.

11/19- On this day in 1955, Carl Perkins recorded “Blue Suede Shoes” at Sun Studios in Memphis, Tennessee. The classic track became a No.2 hit on the US charts for Perkins in 1956, and went on to be covered by artists like Elvis Presley.

Oh, so you wanna own any of these gems, or download in lossless formats? Check out these albums and more pieces of music history in our marketplace!

This Week in Music History (October 23rd-29th)

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

10/23- On this day in 1963, Bob Dylan recorded his hit album The Times They Are A-Changin’ at Columbia Recording Studios in New York City. The album, Dylan’s third, was his first to feature only original compositions.

10/24- On this day in 1962, soul legend James Brown recorded his world-famous Live at the Apollo album. In 2003, the album was ranked No. 24 on Rolling Stone’s list of the 500 greatest albums of all time.

10/25- On this day in 1968, Led Zeppelin played their first show after changing their name from The New Yardbirds. The show took place at Surrey University in England, and a poster for the gig later sold at auction for £2400!

10/26- On this day in 1970, a wake was held in San Anselmo, California to celebrate the life of late singer Janis Joplin. Joplin, who passed away after an accidental drug overdose, had left money in her will specifically for throwing a party in the event of her death.

10/27- On this day in 1975, after releasing the incredibly popular and successful album/single combination Born to Run, Bruce Springsteen was featured simultaneously on the covers of Time and Newsweek magazines. Born to Run was a huge commercial and critical success, selling six million copies by 2000!

10/28- On this day in 1978, Queen played the first night on their 79-date tour for their album Jazz. The first show took place at the Dallas Convention Center in Dallas, Texas. The tour became famous for the spectacle and showmanship Queen displayed at the shows.

10/29- On this day in 1965—speaking of tours—The Rolling Stones kicked off their fourth North American tour. The 37-date tour began at The Forum in Montreal, Quebec, Canada.

Are you looking to own a piece of music history, or download it in lossless format? Check these albums out on our marketplace!