MP3s, officially termed MPEG-1 Audio Layer 3, are the most versatile type of audio files. IPods enable us to listen to hundreds – sometimes thousands – of songs in a device that’s a fraction of the size of the portable cassette and CD players of the past. Cassettes and CDs limit users to a small number of songs, most often by the same artist. Making a mix tape took time and effort, and the resulting quality was never that great.
Benefits of MP3 Audio Files
Enter MP3s: The miniscule, digital format of audio files offering the ability to store exponentially more data in a single device. MP3s are adaptable and perform flawlessly on practically any music-playing device, whether a PC, laptop, tablet PC or an iPod or similar MP3 player.
MP3s are also easily portable. No longer are the clunky cassettes and delicate CDs that you couldn’t scratch or damage in any way or risk losing its capabilities. No longer are you limited by the storage space on a single CD or cassette, or by the number of available slots in your car’s CD case.
No more driving with one hand on the wheel while you frantically search for your packed-to-the-hilt CD case. And no more CD avalanches falling on your lap after pulling down your window visor to expose the numerous disks you so helpfully stored within easy reach.
The world of MP3s is so much different. The compatibility with multiple devices, easy transport and small file size of MP3s makes them a far more practical solution. Nearly every audio and recording application is also compatible with MP3 files. Other file types, such as are generally designed to be used with specific applications – therefore, the user must convert file types for functionality.
Other audio file types
Windows Media Audio files are another common type of audio file, with the extension .wma. These files are designed to be compatible with Windows Media Player – and they won’t play on a device which does not have the application installed.
Ogg Vobis files are compressed files based on open source code. The main difference between .ogg files and .wma files is that .ogg files utilize a variable compression rate, slowing down the rate during periods of silence, for instance. Windows Media Audio files use a constant compression rate regardless of the complexity of the audio.
Apple users may be familiar with the .aif, .aifc or .aiff files, otherwise known as Audio Interchange Format. And if you’ve ever sent or received a musical greeting card online, you’ve experienced the .ea format. The .ea file is similar in terms of compression to the .mp3, although it’s designed to be used specifically with the JAVA applet. These are just a few of the many audio file extensions you may have encountered.
Converting to MP3 files
Despite the limitations of other audio file types, it’s possible to convert most of them to an MP3. There are a number of file converters available freely online.
A simple Google search for “free audio file converter mp3” will bring up dozens of options as well as reviews and recommendations on which tools are best. If you’ve received an audio file in another format and you’d like to be able to play it on your mp3 player, converting the files is the only way to do so. Fortunately, the process is typically as simple as uploading the original file, converting it and then transferring the data to your preferred device.
Flynn Star is a video and music blogger who use the free video converter when creating videos and sharing them online. You can convert to mp3 using KoyoteSoft too!