Getting the real thing

Something which has been bothering me for a while involves the sale of music over the Web.  When you buy a song, it is downloaded to you in the form of an MP3 file.  MP3 is a way of compressing an audio file so that it doesn’t take up as much room or bandwidth.  This was very important back around 2000, when bandwidth was at a premium, and storage was still trying to reach gigabyte quantities.

Nowadays, we have lots of bandwidth, and storage sizes of a terabyte are common, so there is no reason to continue using a lossy compression algorithm for transferring music.  Several  lossless formats are in wide use, such as WAV, APE, and FLAC.  These formats provide CD quality storage and transfer of audio.

An MP3 file is not the actual music, but a representation of the music, so if you download a piece of music in MP3 format, you are not getting the real music.  Most people cannot tell the difference, especially on poor quality audio equipment, but there is still a difference.


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