In addition to MP3, you are likely to encounter three dominant systems when working with streaming digital audio content:
RealMedia (.rm) - Developed by RealNetworks is a popular and widely used format.
Audio encoded with this compression can be played back with the Real Player application.
Windows Media Audio (.WMA) - Microsoft’s Windows Media series.
Apple’s Quicktime (.mov)
Each system has a player that works on both Macintosh and PC computers.
Each system offers encoding options and server software.
As a consumer, you need to be prepared for each of these systems by installing the free player application as part of the Internet software setup.
How MP3 Players Work
MP3 files revolutionized music distribution in the 1990s.
MP3 compression system reduces the number of bytes in a song while retaining sound that is near CD-quality.
Anytime you compress a song, you will lose some of its quality. Trade off for carrying music files in a smaller storage system. (iPod)
The MP3 player is the convergence of many technologies. In order for the MP3 player to allow the user to hear the songs played, the player must do the following (see fig1):
1. Pulls the song from its memory
2. Decompresses the MP3 encoding
3. Runs the decompressed bytes through a digital-to-analog converter
4. Amplifies the analog signal allowing the song to be heard.