MP3 is a digital audio format developed by Fraunhofer Institute and first released in 1993. It refers to the layer III audio compression of MPEG-1 and MPEG-2 audio files. This file format started to be popular in the 1990’s, especially after the audio player Winamp was introduced in 1997. Today, it remains to be one of the most popular and widely used audio formats because of its small size and compatibility with many media players and devices.
Filename Extension: MP3
Category: Audio File
Popularity: Popular among music fans
Developer: Moving Picture Experts Group (MPEG)
Facts about MP3
- MP3 files are smaller in size because the sound that is beyond human auditory is removed in the compression.
- A CD Ripper can be used to extract WAV files from a CD and save them into MP3 files.
- While MP3 music is usually downloaded and played on a media player, streaming of these files is also done.
- An MP3 file encoded at 128kbit/s is only about 1/11 the size of the original CD file.
Pros: MP3 format adopts lossy compression technology to reduce the size. Therefore, it takes up little space on computers or devices. Due to its small size, it can easily be shared on the Internet. In addition, MP3 is a standard audio format which is friendly with all media players and devices.
Cons: MP3 format is designed to reduce the file size while faithfully reproduce the original uncompressed audio but there are still differences from the original file where it was converted from. Most MP3 songs on the web are copyrighted. Sharing it on the web may cause Copyright issues in some instances.
Websites Available for MP3 Download
This site is pretty straightforward to use. Go to and type in the name of the song or artist that you like on the search field. The search result will show you where to play the music prior to downloading it. Click the “download” button next to the file and the file will start to download. You can also copy and paste the URL of the YouTube video and download it in MP3 file format. The time for download depends on your Internet speed.
MP3Skull has a basic user interface. You can also type in the title of the song or the artist on the search field. There is a play option next to the search results but it doesn’t really work. Streaming music online is unreachable on this website. Press “download” and you will be redirected to a site to download the actual files. Remember that not all sites are available; you need to try other options from the results. This site features recommendations of top downloaded songs which can be helpful for you to follow present popular stuffs. The drawback is that pop-ups appear or another site would show up when clicking on the page which is really a frustrating experience.
MP3PM is the best of the three sites for MP3 download. Both options for streaming music online and downloading music for free are workable on this site. Search the artist or title of the song and click the download icon next to the file you wish to save. It also gives you a list of popular songs and various song categories. The only problem is that it also opened unwanted pages on people’s first try of download so you have to try it again before it goes through.
Programs That Can Play MP3 Files
Apple iTunes – Developed by Apple, iTunes can play and even convert MP3, AAC, MPEG-4 and WAV files. There is also iTunes for Windows for users who are running Windows computers.
QuickTime Player – QuickTime player supports various formats of video, audio and pictures. There are classic version for available for windows XP and newer and recent version available for Mac OS X Snow Leopard and later.
Windows Media Player – Windows Media Player is a multimedia utility for playing videos and audios as well as viewing images on PC. It can also rip music from CD and burn songs.
VLC Media Player – It’s one of the most convenient programs to use for broadcasting media files because it supports a long list of media formats like MP3. It’s also portable and lightweight.
RealPlayer – This cross-platform media player can play MP3 and several other formats including Windows Media and QuickTime format. Available platforms for running RealPlayer include Windows, Mac, Linux and Unix, etc.
All-in-One Solutions for MP3 Format
Convert M4A to MP3 – M4A is commonly known as an Apple audio format used in its iTunes and iPod for songs. This file format is not that popular as MP3 though it is developed for replacing MP3 format. The devices and players that are able to play M4A files are also few. In order to enjoy songs in M4A format without limits, it is suggested to convert M4A files to MP3.
Convert FLAC to MP3 – FLAC, full name Free Lossless Audio Codec, is an audio format for lossless compression of audio. Audio compressed in this file format can preserve the sound quality to its original audio file but the file size would be large. And FLAC playback support in portable audio players and devices is very limited compared to MP3 format. Out of the consideration for size and compatibility, it is better to convert FLAC to MP3.
Convert APE to MP3 – APE is also called “Monkey’s audio” which is a file format of lossless compression. It does not discard audio data during the encoding process so the file would be large and the quality would be preserved. APE is also lack of support on many media players and portable gadgets. Converting APE files to MP3 would be a great solution.
Convert WMV to MP3 – WMV is a file format for videos. If you want to just enjoy the audio in the WMV movie, you can refer to this guide to extract the embedded audio from the video.