Why MP3 Audio Files on a Disc Are Not the Same as an Audio Disc


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Audio files come in a variety of types and sizes. Depending on your needs, one may serve you better than the other. If you’ve ever wondered why you can’t play MP3 audio files on a disc in your car’s CD player, this article is for you.

The Basic Audio Compact Disc

Also known as a music CD, audio compact discs are specially formatted with tracks for listening to music, lectures, book readings, etc. Because the data involved in recording sound is complex, it takes up a lot of storage space. The files on an audio CD are uncompressed. That means that quality of the data is not lost during the compressing process. It also means that the files take up a lot more storage space. Normally, a music CD has a maximum playing time of about 80 minutes. This usually translates to roughly 12 to 18 songs (think of your favorite rock album). An MP3 CD, consisting of MP3 files, sometimes holds approximately ten times that amount.

MP3 Audio Files

An MP3 audio file (short for MPEG-1 Audio Layer 3) is a standard digital format that compresses the audio data into a smaller size, while maintaining as much quality as possible. The MP3 takes the complex nature of audio data and compresses it to a smaller file size. However, some of the sound quality is sacrificed in the process. The good news is that it’s often not very noticeable, especially if you are listening to music for pleasure. For recording live music live or music that you’ll want to edit, uncompressed file formats are best. They provide the highest quality material to work with.

The MP3 audio file is a popular format for music due to its versatility. From laptops and PCs to smart phones and smart TVs, most current digital devices are capable of reading and playing MP3 files. Ordinarily, however, MP3 audio files are not compatible with regular CD players.

The Differences

The biggest difference between MP3 audio files on a compact disc and regular audio compact discs boils down to quantity versus quality. Standard audio CDs store less data, but at a higher quality. MP3s hold a greater amount, but sometimes quality is inferior. Even though MP3 audio files are one of the most common music files used today, many devices only support audio CDs. Some of the newer models, however, have advanced technology that allows the player to read CDs with MP3s.

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Call Disc Hounds at 610-696-8668 with any questions about audio file formats, digital storage, or duplicating. For almost 20 years, we’ve been successfully duplicating content on CDs, DVDs, and USB flash drives with quick turnaround times, high-quality results, and excellent service.