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What is MP3?
MP3 is just a method of compressing files. Its name is an abbreviation for the much more unwieldy MPEG (Moving Picture Experts Group) 1 Layer 3. If you just love long, technical explanations, visit the MPEG Home Page. All you really need to know, though, is that MP3 files are about one-tenth the size of uncompressed audio files. On a CD, each minute of music takes up about 10 megabytes of space. Very few people would want to download a 40-megabyte file just to hear four minutes of music. With MP3 compression, the same four-minute song would take up about four megabytes, and would sound almost as good as the original, 40-meg file. Four megabytes is still significant, but is a practical size for sending over the Net, especially for those with fast connections.

How Can I Play MP3's?
Even if you have never installed a special player, you can probably play MP3 files on your computer right now. The Media Player that comes with newer versions of Windows, or QuickTime 4 for Macintosh, work just fine. However, Windows users may wish to download the industry-standard Winamp. This product used to be shareware, but is now completely free, and its added features make it worthwhile. There are many other products listed in MP3 Players and Recorders.


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