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MP3 is the very popular format for the encoding and compression of audio files, one that's contributed heavily to a rapid increase in availability and brought huge changes in the way we consume music and other digital audio files like our BrainSpeak programs.

You may have guessed that, as a producer of personal development audio programs, we have a love-hate relationship with the MP3 format. Why? Because MP3, while producing a smaller file for our customers, really does a crap job of reproducing something we like to refer to as "sound."

The writing on the wall...

For years we resisted moving our programs from CDs to MP3 files because of the vast quality differences in the sound but finally succumbed when Sony announced that they would no longer produce stand-alone CD players.

Like it or not, the music industry landscape was shifting rapidly and irrevocably toward easy-access, smaller files that wouldn't clobber the limited space on one's MP3 player. Our loyal customers (you) wanted the instant access to their programs after purchase and the ability to play them on the newest personal audio devices called, er... "phones" without having to "rip" the files from a CD (75% of our customer support tickets were about how to do that).

So, to help us assuage the guilt of stooping to producing MP3s, we decided to also produce our programs in a high-definition, CD-quality format called "FLAC." FLAC is a larger file but because of the accelerating advances in smartphone technology and storage capacity, size is much less an issue today.

We recommend that our customers use the FLAC version whenever possible although you may need to install a readily-available app on some phones and computers to play the files.

The difference in sound quality will astound you!

OK, here's the bad news...

The Death of MP3

A recent NPR article declared that the MP3 format is dead, according to the people who invented it (http://www.npr.org/sections/therecord/2017/05/11/527829909/the-mp3-is-officially-dead-according-to-its-creators).

The Fraunhofer Institute for Integrated Circuits, a division of the state-funded German research institution that bankrolled the MP3's development in the late '80s, recently announced that its licensing program for certain MP3 related patents and software of Technicolor and Fraunhofer IIS has been terminated.  

Before you freak out, here's the good news.

According to tech blogger Marco Arment (https://marco.org/2017/05/15/mp3-isnt-dead)

MP3 is no less alive now than it was last month or will be next year — the last known MP3 patents have simply expired. So while there’s a debate to be had about whether MP3 should still be used today, Fraunhofer’s announcement has nothing to do with that, and is simply the ending of its patent-licensing program (because the patents have all expired) and a suggestion that we move to a newer, still-patented format.  

Enter AAC...

Even though MP3 will not be disappearing from the scene anytime soon, the replacement standard for compressed files is a format called "AAC" (Advanced Audio Codec). The file size is comparable to MP3 with slightly better sound quality and is compatible with almost all devices. NOTE: We still highly recommend the FLAC format when possible.

So, here's what we're doing...

Beginning in Late June 2017 we will start converting all our downloadable programs to an AAC format. MP3 and FLAC will still be available.

There is nothing that you have to do. Your MP3 files will still play but we will soon begin to phase out the old MP3 format in favor of the AAC versions of our programs.

The king is dead, long live the king...

YOUR TAKEAWAY

So, MP3 is on its way out...

  • MP3 files will still play for the foreseeable future.
  • Download any NEW BrainSpeak Programs in the AAC format when available
  • Download programs in the high-fidelity FLAC format (It's REALLY cool!)
  • Relax, we've got you covered!

About the Author Peter Julian

Peter Julian is the Publisher at BrainSpeak.com

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