Digital Audio Formats
 
The most used digital audio formats by digital audio players are the MP3, AAC and WMA. In reality these formats are digital audio compression techniques that reduce the size of audio files.

MP3: It is abbreviation for MPEG Audio Layer 3. MP3 was the first generation digital audio compression format that was developed by the MPEG association. The MP3 format’s regular encoding bit rate is 128 Kbps.

AAC: Abbreviation for Advanced Audio Codec. AAC is the second generation audio compression format developed by the MPEG association. The AAC format is a further development, and the expected successor, of the aging MP3 format. AAC delivers the same audio quality as the MP3 format but at the bit rate of 96 Kbps meaning it requires 25 % less storage capacity.

WMA: Abbreviation for Windows Media Audio, Microsoft’s audio compression format. WMA delivers the same audio quality as MP3 and AAC but requires 50 % and 33 %, respectively, less storage capacity. The WMA’s regular encoding bit rate is 64 Kbps. The WMA format can also be found supporting digital rights management, DRM, a copyright protection technology that protects digital media from being illegally distributed.

MP3 is today the “De Facto” audio format in the audio compression industry and is the most common audio format to be found in digital audio players. The AAC and WMA are not that widely used yet but since they can deliver equal audio quality at much smaller file sizes they are expected to take over the MP3’s leading role in the near future.

A table over the number of songs, music minutes and the number of CDs that each memory card capacity can hold, for each of the above audio formats, can be found at digital audio storage capacity.

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