MP3 File Format

MP3 (Mpeg layer 3) is a digital audio file format used for audio files. it has become one of the most popular music file formats in the world. Almost all devices from computers to car players to phones recognize and playback the MP3 file format. This is due to the file size reduction possible over its uncompressed wav file counterpart. At 128kbit, which is considered minimal bitrate for acceptibiity, an MP3 file can be about 10% the size of the original file.

The MP3 format was invented by Fraunhofer-Gesellshaft, and is actually a patented, licenced technology. It was created in the late 80's. In 1992, MPEG1 incorporated the encoding technology into its mpeg spec. In  1994, MPEG2 incorporated the technology. In 1996, Fraunhofer was issued a US Patent for the encoding technology and started enforcing their patent in 1998. All MP3 encoders and players are suppose to pay licensing fees to Fraunhofer for the technology. The patent since expired in 2017 making the technology free for all to use.

he MP3 compression algorithms employ a "lossy" compression methodology. The idea here is that certain data in an audio file is either inaudible or can be removed and rebuilt at playback time. By removing this data, the file can then be compressed much further. 

For a comparison between MP3 compression and uncompressed WAV try our MP3 comparison page.