Reference: Audio Compression

Where’s the Other Half of Your Music File?

Apart from bitrate, the sound quality of digital music is also affected by its format, which is determined by the software used to compress it, known as a codec. MP3 is one of the older techniques for compressing audio and is not widely used by online stores. Apple has chosen a newer format called Advanced Audio Coding (AAC), which plays on iPods and some other devices. Most other online stores use the similarly modern Windows Media Audio, or WMA, which does not play on iPods.

All three of these formats are “lossy,” meaning the encoding software surgically trims out audio information that is not easy to hear, because it is covered up by other sound or is situated at the highest and lowest ranges of human hearing. The Norah Jones track “Come Away With Me” is 33.4 megabytes when stored in an uncompressed format; the lossy compression methods bring that down to 6.1 megabytes at 256 kbps, or 3.1 megabytes at 128 kbps, regardless of the codec used. (When turning your CDs into song files on your PC, you can choose the bitrate you want in the settings of iTunes or Windows Media Player.)

What kills me in this article:

Last fall, Dr. Naresh Patel, a physician in Fort Wayne, Ind., moved into a home he designed with his wife, Valerie. It has a home theater, complete with projector, surround-sound speakers and a high-end amplification system. The sonic centerpiece is two Bowers & Wilkins loudspeakers that cost Dr. Patel $12,000 “with a discount.”

Emphasis added by me.

So, I guess I’m missing out on something using my jWin MP3 player and $3 earbuds? (Dr. Patel runs from his PC screaming in horror!)

Previously in this blog:
How To Buy An MP3 Player

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