MPEG-1 Audio Layer 3

What Does MPEG-1 Audio Layer 3 Mean?

MPEG-1 Audio Layer 3 (MP3) is a digital audio format and technology that is used for compressing a sound sequence to a smaller file, but still preserving the original audio quality. It is considered a lossy format for audio. It is one of the most popular formats for digital audio and favored for storing music files in electronic devices owing to its good fidelity and smaller size.


Techopedia Explains MPEG-1 Audio Layer 3

MPEG-1 Audio Layer 3 is considered the de facto standard for audio files. Compared with MPEG-1 Audio Layer 1 (MP1) or Layer 2 (MP2), it provides excellent compression of music signals. It can be used for dual channels, single channel, stereo, multichannel signals and joint stereo. This format is based on perceptual coding, and the compression algorithm brings in a compression factor of about 12. The optimization of compression is also done according to the range of audio that people hear, and thus it makes sure to preserve audio quality. MP3 files can be downloaded and played with most audio players.

Files using MPEG-1 Audio Layer 3 are mostly download-and-play files, but they can also be streamed. This format has been credited for creating a new class of consumer electronic devices, namely, MP3 players. MPEG-1 Audio Layer 3 is also used in cellular phones and satellite digital audio broadcast.


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Margaret is an award-winning technical writer and teacher known for her ability to explain complex technical subjects to a non-technical business audience. Over the past twenty years, her IT definitions have been published by Que in an encyclopedia of technology terms and cited in articles by the New York Times, Time Magazine, USA Today, ZDNet, PC Magazine, and Discovery Magazine. She joined Techopedia in 2011. Margaret's idea of a fun day is helping IT and business professionals learn to speak each other’s highly specialized languages.