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1. What is MP3 and what does it stand for?

2. Are MP3's legal?

3. What do "ripping" and "encoding" mean?

4. What do I need to enable me to play MP3's?

5. How much space will they take up on my hard drive?

6. What is a "cooked" file?

7. How Do I? - Make My Own MP3 Files

8. I want to put my mp3's on a CD to play in my stereo/car.
How can I do this?

9. I've downloaded a song as a "zip" file - how do I get to play it?

10. How do I download MP3s?

11. What are Skins?

12. What is the difference between an MP3 file and a conventional WAV file?

13. Where can I download MP3's?

14. What is FTP?

What is MP3 and what does it stand for?

MP3 stands for MPEG-1 Audio Layer 3. The MPEG process compresses a sound sequence into a very small file, while retaining its original quality. It eliminates certain sound frequencies that can't be heard by the human ear. The format compresses the file to approximately 1/12th the size of the original file.

Are MP3's legal?
It is legal to own an MP3 file, ONLY if you have the CD, or the author’s permission.

What do "ripping" and "encoding" mean?
Ripping -
refers to the process of extracting audio data from an audio CD (generally via Digital Audio Extraction, (DAE) rather than via an analogue recording link) and storing it as digital audio data of some form on your hard drive.

Encoding - refers to the process of taking uncompressed digital audio data (e.g. WAV files on a PC, AIFF files on a Mac) and compressing them according to a particular compression scheme, such as MP3.

What do I need to enable me to play MP3's?
Just about any computer can play MP3s.You will need a sound card and speakers, and of course an "MP3 player" software program in order to play them. You can use windows media player as a default option, alternatively some of the following players can be downloaded from the internet:


Also check out the following sites for downloading MP3 players.


Audioactive Player is gimmick-free. It's a thin-client player with studio-reference playback provided by the latest Fraunhofer MPEG decoding algorithms. And the essential tools you can't do without, like M3U playlist support with integrated editing and ID3 tag editor.

Completely re-written from scratch and now comes with a play list editor.
MusicMatch Jukebox Plus
Play, Rip, Burn MP3s and CDs ,Transfer to portables, Drag, Drop and Burn on CDs/DVDs, Burn up to 40x real time, Enjoy higher quality with mp3PRO, Multi-session CD Burning, Super Tag downloaded tracks, Record from vinyl and tapes, Create CD Labels with borders, Print 150 song titles on CDs, Volume maximization and leveling, Add sound enhancements to MP3s, Create radio stations from Playlist, Automatically load new downloads, Free 30-days Trial of Radio MX, Free online tech support.
UltraPlayer handles the playing chores for MP3, WMA, RealAudio, WAV, MIDI, CD Audio, Internet radio, AND video files (Windows Media, AVI, MPEG, Real). It looks and sounds great, it's lightweight and powerful
Listen to MP3's, Create Greetings, Mix & Edit clips, Build Screen Savers, Wallpaper and enjoy online games!
Do it all with VAMP Media Center.

How much space will they take up on my hard drive?
The average three and a half to four minute song will usually run about 3.5 to 5 MB in size in .mp3 format. As a .wav file they will use up quite a bit more.

What is a "cooked" file?
Cooked files are generally the result of retrieving files from an improperly set server. It happens when the server you are downloading from has not been properly configured and doesn't realize that a certain binary file format is undoubtedly binary. The effect being, that the file is downloaded as text and includes line breaks that can impede .mp3 audio quality.

How Do I? - Make My Own MP3 Files
If you want to make mp3's from your CD the easiest way is to get the right program that 'grabs' CD tracks and converts them to mp3's for you. Once the program is installed you are able to put one of your regular audio CDs in the drive and use it to 'grab' the files that are on your CD. The program will convert CD audio tracks to the wave files and then encode it to smaller Mp3's, which you can then play on your computer (Some programs will convert straight to mp3 and skip out the wav file creation, making them very quick to rip a cd).There are various settings in these programs, which can determine the quality of the Mp3 you are creating. If you create an Mp3 at a higher quality it will reflect itself in the increased size of the file.

There are so many programs that allow you to rip your cd's for example:

*Audio Catalyst* - Shareware. AudioCatalyst can do "on the fly" MP3 encoding, which skips the WAV file creation step (Excellent Program) The Best I have found yet.
Audiograbber -
Shareware. Also lets you rip directly to an MP3 file without first creating a WAV file.
CDcopy -
CDex - Freeware

Most mp3 players will let you convert to wav.

There are many programs that allow you to convert wav to mp3 for example:

Audioactive Mp3 Production Studio - Shareware
Mpeg Suite - Freeware
MpegDJ Encoder - Shareware

These are just a few examples to speak of. Below are details of other MP3 Utilities that you may find useful.

ExactAudioCopy - rippers & wav file editor - freeware
Arca MP3 Action 2000 - is a manager for your MP3 song collection. A Windows Explorer like interface lets you browse your MP3's and generate custom playlists like a professional DJ...
MP3 to WMA - designed for batch-converting MP3 files to the new Windows Media Audio 8 format. Benefits: file size can be cut by half or more, sound quality is preserved, allowing you to store twice as much music on the same disk. Example: I converted 250 mp3 files: original (mp3) total size=1070 Mb, new (wma) size=540 Mb.

These WMA clips can be read by Windows Media Player (version 6.4 or better) and other major players, like RealOne or Winamp, for which WMA plugins are available.

Rosoft CD Extractor - is a CD ripper program you use when you want to extract audio tracks from audio CD's. The program uses the Compact Disc Digital Audio (CDDA) format to extract the audio tracks. Use this program if you want to:
  • Convert your audio CD's into mp3 tracks on a CDR.
  • Copy your audio CD's into wave files.
  • Put your CD collection as mp3 files on your PC at work.
  • Get information about an Audio CD or a CDR copy of an original Audio CD.
  • Play audio CDs at half speed without changing pitch.
Real Jukebox - rips CD's to MP3 or RA, also plays many different formats.

I want to put my mp3's on a CD to play in my stereo/car. How can I do this?
To play songs on an audio/stereo player you will have to burn them to CDR disks using burner software that supports the creation of audio CDs (most do). For example:

Adaptec Easy CD Creator
will let you create music cd's, and as the cd is written it converts them back to .cda format enabling you to play them on your stereo. Its a much more efficient way of doing it, as it does it all in one go instead of converting them back to wav..first etc. Also this way lets you create your own mix/compilations of music.
Nero -
Is a much better program and it does exactly the same thing.

I've downloaded a song as a "zip" file - how do I get to play it?
When you download a song and it has a zip extension, it could be one of two things:

1) An MP3 file, that has just been renamed to change the extension to "zip"

2) An actual zip file, i.e. one that has been produced by using a zip compression utility (although since MP3 is already a highly compressed format, putting an MP3 file through zip compression rarely makes much difference to the file size...)

Web site owners who post songs as "zip" files use both of these strategies randomly, so unless there's a note on the web page, you just don't know. The simple answer is just try to "unzip" the file with Winzip or Winace (or some other zip utility - downloadable from ZDNet or any popular shareware source), and if the zip utility tells you that the file is not a valid zip file, then just rename it, changing the extension from "zip" to "mp3" and try and play it...

How do I download MP3s?
The easiest way to download an MP3 is to right-click on the link that points to the file and select "Save Target As..." or "Save File As..." (depending on what browser you use). The best way, however, is to download a program called GetRight or Download Accelerator It can pause, resume and schedule downloads to take place while you're sleeping, and they will automatically restart interrupted downloads, resuming where they left off (if the host site is resume supported, as most sites now are.

What are Skins?
Skins are files that you can download and install to change the appearance of your MP3 player.

A great site with a large selection of Skins. Windows Skins, MP3 Player Skins, Plugins, Themes etc...
MusicMatch, Winamp, UltraPlayer Skins and Themes.
Lots of downloadable skins. Windows Skins, Winamp, Desktop Themes etc...
Skins, Utilities, Desktop, Media, Skins for different types of applications.
Lots of downloads, Window Blinds, Media, Desktop Themes, XP, Win Styles, Litestep.

What is the difference between an MP3 file and a conventional WAV file?

Conventional WAV files are not compressed. For sound or music of any significant duration, WAV files are huge.

The size of a normal good quality WAV file is very roughly 10MB per minute of sound or music, whereas that of the equivalent MP3 file is very roughly 1MB per minute. In other words, the MP3 file is roughly one tenth of the size of the equivalent WAV file, with no discernible difference in quality. However, the compression ratio does depend on the nature of the sound or music recorded in the file and therefore can differ.

The much smaller size of MP3 files makes it feasible to store them on the sizes of hard disks commonly found on modern PC's and to download them via the Internet within a reasonable time, even with a modem connection.

Where can I download MP3's?
The most reliable MP3 on the web is stuff like www.mp3.com which is all straight-up fully legal MP3 authorised by the content providers. There's lots of good music there, but it takes time to find stuff you like, since you'll never have heard of most of the artists. You can use regular search engines such as Altavista, Google, Hotbot etc to help you find stuff but many people tend to use file sharing programs (peer to peer) like Kazaa.com or Morpheus

Kazaa and Morpheus may include Spyware/Scumware/Malware in their programs so you may not want to install it.

What is FTP?
FTP - File Transfer Protocol. It's just another way of transfering files over the net. If files on an FTP site are freely downloadable without restrictions, you should be able to download them through you browser. But most FTP sites are "ratio" sites, meaning they won't let you download unless you first upload something. The "ratio" part refers to the ratio between how much you upload and how much you download - a 1:5 site ratio means you must upload 1 Mb for every 5 Mb you want to download. To use a ratio site you will have to work with an FTP client, i.e. a program specifically designed for doing FTP, such as Cute FTP / WS FTP. There programs allow you to define FTP sites in a directory, along with the logins and passwords for them. Many FTP sites are only up at certain hours of the day. When the sites *are* up, you often can't get in because they're too busy - most of these sites are just on desktop PCs, and to function they need to restrict the number of simultaneous logins to something like 3 or 4. If you get a "can't connect to site message" try another time. If you get a "too many logins" message, just keep trying (it's kind of like a phone busy signal). Even once you get in, satisfying site owners' ratio requirements can be tricky - they may only want certain types of file, that you don't have.


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