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Quiet Earth

CD and MP3 - The Difference

What is the Difference Between a CD and an MP3?

In the olden days, when there were CD stores and you bought a music CD, it contained tracks that were in a certain format - the music on the CD would be WAV files or AIFF files. These files are industry standard for CDs and are quite large in size

When Al Gore invented the internet, a need was created for smaller files so music could be more easily downloaded - the file format MP3 was born. These are compressed files - they are clever little things in that one takes the original WAV or AIFF file and compresses it to make a smaller MP3. Depending on how much compression you use, MP3s come in different sizes - you may have seen numbers like 128k, 192k, 256k or 320k.

Highly compressed 128k MP3 is fine for talking voice tracks (like many of the titles on this website). Invariably one cannot hear the difference between this size MP3 and the original on a CD.

For music: 256k or 320k MP3s are preferable as these sizes better match the original on a CD. It mostly depends on the sound system you use to play the files. If you are playing the MP3s on a standard computer setup or basic lounge room stereo then it is quite hard to notice any difference between a 128k MP3 and the original CD.

But if you had a inspirational moment and toddled out and bought the latest high end Morantz amplifier and speakers, then you may be able to notice the difference if you listen closely.

Can I put/burn my MP3s on a blank CD and then play them?

Yes you can. Most of the newer CD and DVD players will play CDs containing MP3s. However many of the older ones won't so you would need to check it out first.