The ubiquitous digital audio file format is officially dead, says its creators

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Whether or not you know what they stood for, anyone who listened to music at the turn of the 21st century knows the characters “MP3″. MP3 files were the new standard that started to make your CD collection obsolete. With the rise of iTunes (and illegal file sharing platforms like Napster and LimeWire), MP3 and digital rights management have become hot topics in the media, as the music market has grown from ” physical ”to“ digital ”.

While MP3 remained the number one format (at least in terms of prevalence) for many years, as the music industry moved away from downloads and streaming, the ubiquitous file format has grown increasingly. more obsolete. This is in addition to the rise of high-fi streaming services like Tidal, which are aimed at listeners who want the best possible sound quality (the MP3 encoding format is known to degrade the audio quality of music files).

Last week, the “death” of MP3 was made official by The Fraunhofer Institute for Integrated Circuits, a division of the state-funded German research institute that funded the development of MP3 in the late 1980s. The company recently announcement that its “license program for certain patents and software related to MP3 from Technicolor and Fraunhofer IIS has been terminated”.

Bernhard Grill, director of that Fraunhofer division and one of the main people responsible for the development of MP3, told NPR by email that another audio format, AAC – or “Advanced Audio Coding”, which his organization also helped create – is now the “de facto standard”. to download music and videos to mobile phones. He said AAC is “more efficient than MP3 and offers a lot more functionality.”

Of course, to refer to Mp3 as “dead” is somewhat improper. Just like when the CD was declared “dead” at the height of MP3 and digital audio downloads, virtually everyone still has a bunch of MP3s on their computer that they listen to, and will continue to do so for some time. But with those peddling the audio format shutting down the pipeline, it is the start of the “phasing out” of this era in music consumption.

MP3 may be “dead”, but its effect on the digital landscape is profound. It made it easier to download audio files in the high speed internet age and pushed the tech newcomers to the cyber age. MP3 players exploded in popularity and led to the iPod and iTunes, which in turn fueled the mobile technology driven world we live in today.

[h/t – NPR]


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