The first time I heard about MP3s was on “Beyond 2000” in the Late 80’s (Australian version).
They were first used to store samples for sampling synthesizers, but then moved on to be a way to store a song digitally.
There was a shop in Japan which sold MP3s as singles, on an early kind of memory card, inside a small box which looked something like a small CD package.
Then, They began to appear freely on various websites, and these MP3s were tiny and sounded pretty bad, because back then we mostly used dialup internet, and so the smaller an mp3 was, the quicker it could be downloaded… it seemed that to many people, sound quality didn’t matter all that much.
I have a friend who works in a recording studio, she feels frustrated because at one time, music was mixed in a way that would sound beautiful when played back on good equipment, and she found herself mixing audio for MP3 use, which is something akin to using artificial chocolate in place of the real thing, it’s nowhere as good.
So the whole idea of MP3 was to transfer files quicker or to take up the least amount of space on our devices.
But things have changed, as things do… and people forget why we did things, and still do, this is where habits or needs become traditions, and everyone just goes with the flow without asking why.
Our devices have loads of space, and our internet is faster than before, so why do we persist with a format which is known for poor audio?
Yes, you can still have five thousand songs on the one device, but might it be better to have half of that for audio which sounds a lot more like my sound engineer friend would approve of?
Part of the reason MP3s sound better or worse is because of something called “bitrate”, and about the best MP3s come in at 320k, you can check the bitrate of your MP3s by right-clicking the file and selecting properties, have a look around in the box which appears and it should tell you.
What people don’t realise is that MP3s sold at a popular online store are lower than 320k
(Please don’t be confused, 320k is not the file size)
There are different files called FLACs which are considered lossless, meaning that they sound as good as a CD, I personally don’t think that’s quite true, but a really good FLAC beats a really good MP3.
At this point in time, online stores should offer a better option for those who want it, and MP3s should probably be at the point of being phased out completely.
– Wolfie Rankin.