The acronym MP3 is derived from the group that discovered it. The Moving Picture Experts Group was based in the Fraunhofer Institute for Integrated Circuits in Germany and its purpose, which started in 1987, was to create a high quality, low memory music file . They knew that the human ear cannot hear all the frequencies that a WAV file has, so they decided to eliminate all those sound frequencies that a human ear fails to pick up, thus reducing file size. A WAV can be compressed to 1/22nd the size of the original by using MP3; as a consequence it can be transferable and easier to store.
A MP3 file is a satisfactory reproduction of a WAV file as long as it is not reduced to its minimum of 1/22nd its original size. In this case it loses a noticeable amount of sound quality. By reducing the file only to one-tenth of its original size, the resultant sound quality appears to be unaffected. Consequently, an MP3 file is what researchers were looking for, since it requires less storage and memory, is an easy transferable file and has the sound quality of a full WAV file.
The MP3 format is one of the most popular formats for storing music on portable devices. It uses a comparatively small file size for each song because it reduces the amount of detail, and thus data, for the parts of music which are less audible to the human ear. While this means MP3 players are useful for holding large amounts of music on a small physical device, the audio quality may not be satisfactory for some users. It is also possible that the data about artists and song titles can become mixed up or inconsistent.
Devices that use MP3 format can store far more music in the same amount of disk space than they could using an uncompressed format. For example, the raw audio files of a compact disk take up 650 megabytes of storage for 74 minutes of music. The same 74 minutes of music on an MP3 player using the common bitrate of 128 kilobits per second would take up just 71 megabytes. Put another way, the same 650 megabytes could hold over 11 hours of music.
The popularity of the MP3 format means that you will find it easy to get hold of music that you can listen to on an MP3 player. You can choose from many applications, both free and paid, for "ripping" music from CDs in MP3 format. (Local laws vary, but often such ripping is considered legal for personal use only and as long as you still own the CD.) You can also buy music in MP3 format from a wide variety of online retailers. Some CDs come either with MP3 files to copy to your player, or with a code for downloading MP3 files from a website.
Disadvantage: Sound Quality
Although MP3 is designed to reduce file size without reducing audio quality, not everyone agrees it does so successfully. For example, musician Neil Young says that formats such as MP3 are "degrading our music." Part of the reason for such dispute is that the combination of the quality of components in an MP3 player and the headphones that people use (particularly ones that ship with a free player) may mean that people are less likely to distinguish any difference when listening to an MP3 player, but might do so with good quality headphones or through computer speakers. One way to reduce this effect is to use MP3 clips encoded at a higher bitrate such as 320 kilobits per second, though not everyone can tell the difference. Before making a purchase, it's a good idea to listen to an MP3 player playing songs at various bitrates.
MP3 files contain metadata – information about the file which includes numerous categories such as song title, artist, album, year, genre, composer and so on. This information may be displayed on your MP3 player's screen during playback and makes it easier to organize and locate particular songs. If you get music from a wide variety of sources, you may find some of the metadata on your files is incomplete, inaccurate or inconsistent. This can be frustrating and require you to use additional software to identify and fix the missing or wrong data.