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MP3 vs. AAC: What’s The Difference?

In the age of digital music, everyone feels like MP3 is everywhere which is why it is no surprise that some people would associate music to MP3 itself. However, this is far beyond accurate. MP3 refers to a particular type of audio file. When you download music, there is a high chance it is in the MP3 format; however, this isn’t the only format available today.

Understanding the MP3 Format

MP3 is short for MPEG-2 Audio Layer III. It is a digital media standard designed by MPEG or the Moving Picture Experts Group.

A lot of people tend to use MP3s for digital music because the songs in this particular format take up less space as compared to the songs with CD-quality audio. As a result, people tend to gravitate towards MP3 rather than CD-quality files. Though you can change these in the settings, generally speaking, MP3 files take about 1/10 of the space of a CD-quality audio file.

How Do MP3s Work

When we talk about the storage space of an MP3, we talk about its ability to compress the data that makes up the file. It removes some of the audio from the original which results in the loss of certain data during the conversion.

This is also the reason why MP3 is called a “lossy” compression format. The act of compressing the MP3s would always involve removing parts of the file which won’t necessarily impact the overall listening experience of the user.

Since some data is removed, the MP3 version of a song will not sound like its CD-quality version. While its ability to minimize the data space of a song is good, others have criticized its act of compressing and removing certain data that generally damages the listening experience.

Understanding the AAC Format

AAC, or the Advanced Audio Coding, is a type of digital audio file that has been promoted as a successor of the late MP3 format. The AAC offers a much higher quality listening experience than that of what an MP3 format can provide – all the while, having the same amount of disk space, or less!

Most audiophiles would comment how the AAC is the perfect format for Apple users – it’s not. It was developed by a group of companies including Nokia, Sony, Dolby, and AT&T Bell Labs.

If you’re not an Apple user, don’t worry. The AAC can also be played on devices that aren’t necessarily Apply devices, including smartphones running Google’s Android OS, Nintendo Wii, PSP and Sony PlayStation 3, Microsoft Zune, among others.

How Do AAC Works

Like MP3, the AAC is a lossy format. In order to compress and convert CD-quality audio into a smaller file, data that doesn’t necessarily impact the overall listening experience of the user is removed. As a result of the compression and conversion, the AAC files do not sound identical to CD-quality files, like that of an MP3 file.

MP3s and AACs are measured based on its bit rate. The common AAC bitrates would typically include 128 kbps, 192 kbps, and 256 kbps.

One of the main reasons why AAC produces a better listening experience than an MP3 is because MP3s are complex.


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Is MP3 Format Really Dead?

Anyone who grew up in the 1990s or even in the early 2000s would most likely remember downloading an MP3 file and building up their music collection. You would most likely burn up to almost ten times of these unto audio discs than you would with traditional CD tracks.

Well, as sad as this may be, the Fraunhofer Institute for Integrated Circuits, a German agency that invented the audio format we all came to love, as well as having licensed some patents for it, has officially declared that MP3 is dead. They have terminated its licensing program for good.

In their statement, they talked about the development of the MP3 in the 1980s at Fraunhofer IIS, and its success in the 1990s up until the early 2000s. Even though there are advanced codecs that are available today, they confirmed that some consumers would still prefer MP3 over AAC.

Below statement is part of what the Fraunhofer Institute for Integrated Circuits said in regards to MP3 formats.

“However, most state-of-the-art media services such as streaming or TV and radio broadcasting use modern ISO-MPEG codecs such as the AAC family or in the future MPEG-H. Those technologies that have been developed with major contributions from Fraunhofer IIS can deliver more features and a higher audio quality at much lower bitrates compared to mp3.”

However, this does not necessarily mean that the MP3 stored in your audio device will no longer be working. Just don’t expect to see any devices which will support the MP3 format from here on out.

For audiophiles, MP3 holds a deeper meaning than simply an audio format. Growing up in the 1990s, music wasn’t as accessible as you think it was. For a kid, MP3 audio formats were what he searched for on the internet whenever there are new rock releases or genre-defining metal albums.

With the internet, we were all able to explore a sea of music from every corner of the planet. We get to discover different artists never before heard on the radio or TV, and develop an ear for high-quality songs.

Each person managed to build his own music collection through the act of downloading MP3 audio files; they get to share the same preference with like-minded people and bond over the shared love for specific musical artists.

In a statement made by the German institute, they noted that while the MP3 format is still considered as relevant for some consumers, it is without a doubt that newer formats such as the AAC can deliver more features all the while ensuring a higher quality at much lower bitrates.

If we’re going to face the facts, AAC is indeed better, especially when you’re streaming and carrying more data than MP3s ever could; however, one may say that people can get emotionally attached to a particular audio file. Maybe it’s the memory they associate with MP3s, or maybe they don’t want to waste their MP3 music collection they have put up in the 1990s – whatever the reason may be, MP3 audio formats will eventually collapse.


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What’s A Possible MP3 Successor?

To address the elephant in the room, AAC is a potential successor to MP3, an audio file that was created by a German company, Fraunhofer.

But then again, Band camp’s view is also a notable contender; they default it to variable bit rate MP3 for downloads. The truth is, there are a lot of potential MP3 successors, and even though AAC comes close, there are other factors that you may want to look up before settling on an audio file format.

Here are some of the characteristics you should be


More Efficient Format

AAC is more efficient regarding lower bit rates as compared to MP3. However, there are other audio file formats that are more efficient by 10 to 100 times. The ability to give the listener high-quality audio experience can eventually provoke them to make the switch.

Opus can perform even better than AAC when it comes to low bit rates, but AAC is freely licensed; however, neither of them has its development shifted away from MP3.

Bandwidth Contention

Another hindrance one may think of when it comes to switching from MP3 is the bandwidth contention. Since the 1990s, storage capacities, as well as bandwidths, have shown an increase in today’s audio market. Being able to distribute 240 bit lossless FLAC or WAV is not the standard in most digital music stores. MP3’s issue of being small enough is not important unless the user has a relatively poor internet connection.

This supports the idea that a revolution in compression technology is required to convince the users to switch to something new, something better.

As observed by developer and blogger Marco Arment, JPEG has been surpassed; yet, it’s not quite “dead.” The truth is that most of the images you still see today online are still in JPEG format.

Fast Encoding and Decoding

Here’s another potential barrier: any new format would immediately require enough fast encoders and decoders for it to be available. However, only the most dedicated are going to spend their precious time encoding an audio file, when they can do the same in just a few seconds now.

The decoding feature is possibly even more vital. Much listening is done on cellular phones and devices with still comparatively poor battery life, which means charging your phone daily isn’t out of the question for most devices with a substantial amount of use.

Playable Everywhere

Such a format needs to receive support so that the creators would know that their content is playable everywhere. Computers, as well as mobile phones, are extendable through new apps, but there’s so many legacy hardware that doesn’t necessarily receive upgrades to play this new imaginary MP3 format. Remember, if that particular hardware can play MP3 audio files now, it will continue to do so quite happily.

Feature Enhancements

The act of adding features that can offer more options for the listener might help a new format dethrone the previous reign of MP3. If there is one thing that comes to mind, it is functionality.

Still, it’s not entirely impossible that someone comes up with a clever concept that would disrupt how we think about listening to songs. There could be an improvement analogous to how FaceApp has changed how its users would think about having to interact with images of other people.


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Why do I LOVE live music?

Music is such a beautiful thing, but take it a step further and listen to some high quality life music, and you will find out quickly there is no comparison. The rhythm and vibe connects the crowd in a way that can not be done while just listening to a CD or downloaded version while you are in the car.


The Live Music Feel

The feeling of the live music at a concert venue, large or small, takes over. You can feel in tune with the people actually playing the music. When ever I am looking for live  music to go see, I look for what venues they are being held. If the venue is too large, sometimes the music can be distorted or not sound nearly as good. My favorite venue type is a small venue, where the acoustics are set according. My wife and I love even travelling to go see shows at smaller venues than large ones because the environment is intimate and makes for a much better experience.

I think my all time favorite type of music to listen to in a live setting but a small venue, has got to be blues music. The music just captures my soul and takes me to places where I feel alive and well. The guitar strung with sliding play style is so unique I just love it. I could listen for hours on end and not stop. The rhythm of the bass also is something I really like where they have to be right on time to make the entire blue bands sound good together.

The only downside to smaller events is sometimes they are not as well organized as larger events. Larger venues often have a much higher budget to work with and can afford to put out the money for the things needed like fencing, gates, bigger stages and crowd control.

BUT, do not let that deter you from venturing to smaller venues to see awesome shows and enjoy the smaller venues, because some of the best music I have ever heard has been from smaller venues.

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Who’s Up Next?

Who’s the front runner in the 2017 XXL Freshman Class? If you’ve had the opportunity to watch XXL’s cipher, you would agree with us that SuperDuper Kyle has come out ahead. With his clear and understandable lyrics, compared to his mumble rap counterparts.  Although Kyle’s speech impediment may have held him back during his rise to fame, it has certainly provided a brand and level of independence for his musical ability.

The cover of XXL Freshman Class of 2017 includes the likings of Bay Area’s Kamaiyah, The Bronx’s A Boogie Wit Da Hoodie, Philadelphia’s PnB Rock, Tokyo representer Madeintyo, Atlanta’s Playboi Carti, Portland’s Aminé, Atlanta’s Kap G, Ventura, Calif.’s Kyle; Houston’s Ugly God and 10th Spot winner XXXTentacion. Although most of them are well-known in their hometowns, these are fresh faces for the rap/trap scene known as today’s popular culture. Amine has proven his noteworthy skills in various music videos and songs – leading the class into the new year.

Who do you think should have been on this year’s cover? Anyone from your city that represents and modifies today’s culture? Leave your suggestions in our comment section and we will do an article about each artist. Thanks for reading!

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Pandora Streaming

Pandora has become a wonderful option for streaming music to your phone or computer and is an exceptional option to using MP3 files. The only major downside I can really see is that if you stream too much and go over your data on your cell phone plan. Or if you are looking for a direct song that you want to listen to right away, then Pandora would not be your option. Our music enthusiast, Michael says one of the other major pluses for Pandora is that all the music streamed is in high-quality HD. Sometimes when you download an MP3 file to listen to a specific song, you do not get such a high-quality file. The music can sound weird and distorted as compared to what you hear on the radio. That is what is awesome about Pandora. You can be assured knowing that you are getting the best quality sounds there is to possibly get (your speakers permitting). Click here for more of Michael’s ideas.

Another great option for streaming music is to use something like Spotify. Spotify allows you to directly stream any song you want at any time. Every now and then there are crappy versions that you must sift through to find a good one, but overall Spotify is an amazing music streaming platform that allows you to listen to nearly any song you can imagine at any time you want to. You can even make an account on Spotify. Once you make an account, you can now add songs to playlists and save your favorites.

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New Music 2017 p.iii

Russ – There’s Really A Wolf

‘What They Want’ by Russ is a smash hit. This isn’t an opinion, it’s fact (check the ratings). Russ originally started off as a SoundCloud producer and rapper from Georgia. From there, he scaled his skills and success. His latest album, ‘There’s Really A Wolf’ hit iTunes earlier this year. He created a major fan base from online promotion and marketing, contributing more than $2 million in his first year on a label. Although he proclaims to be a ‘partner’ on his label, he denies that he had any connections coming into the music industry. Regardless, his music continues to skyrocket and reach new audiences. Take a listen.


DJ Khaled – Grateful

There are some major hits on DJ Khaled’s new record, Grateful. There are also some major flops. Combining features from Jay-Z, Beyonce, Justin Bieber, Rihanna, Chance the Rapper, Drake and Nas, there’s some competition. ‘I’m The One’ already hit top 10 the first week the single dropped, but the procession of the songs from the album don’t stand out from one another. There are some bangers, like ‘On Everything’ and ‘Down For Life’, but they lack content. Although it is an ambitious record, we expected more.


DubXX – Smoking in Public

After being featured on Machine Gun Kelly’s song, ‘Moonwalkers’, it’s only right Dub came out with some new material. After listening to the EP a few times, some of the songs stuck out. ‘Come Down’ is a standout record, blasting the likes of his predecessors. ‘No Safety’ also had some valuable lyrics within the rhyme scheme. It’s definitely a record to listen to and we’re anxious to hear what’s next.

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New Music of 2017 p.ii

  • The Human Condition – Jon Bellion

Jon Bellion has been on the music scene for longer than you were born. His first album release, The Human Condition, came onto the scene hot! Always remaining true to his roots, the opening track professes that ‘He Is the Same’. No matter how successful his album is or how famous he gets, Bellion reassures his fans that he will always be the same kid from the high school, with a jump shot that is still flame. The single, All Time Low, flew on the charts in 2016 and now 2017. With a beat pad and melodic lyrics, this track stands out as a producer who should not be challenged. With a mix of hip hop and Paul Simon, Bellion proves his prowess.


  • Digital Druglord – Blackbear

Blackbear continues to surprise his fans (and the music industry) with reflective lyrics and unmatched music production. ‘moodz’ featuring 24hrs stands out among the rest. Blackbear has been featured on various projects throughout the years, such as Justin Bieber’s ‘Boyfriend’ and Mod Sun’s ‘You Are’. His vocal style and original melodies put him on top of the artists that aren’t signed to a record label but still continue to produce art. Check out his earlier album, ‘Cashmere’ which is one of our favorites of 2016.


  • Rowlan

Still unsigned but still hustling, the east coast rapper Rowlan is taking over the spotlight. One of our favorite tracks on his unreleased music is ‘Best I Can’, featuring a melodic chorus and transformative lyrics throughout. Recently featured on Gary Vaynerchuk’s highly successful Youtube vlogs, Rowlan’s music took over a montage of the videos. If you are in need of new music with a flare, Rowlan’s discography will provide great insight into the rapper’s life.

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MP3 vs Streaming

The data of streaming music through popular online streaming services has been greatly reduced. By using maximizing technologies, the data needed to stream a song has been cut down by nearly 80 percent.

MP3 files are typically audio files that are first downloaded onto a person’s computer. These audio files are collected into folders called playlists. One of the most popular places people would store their MP3 files was on iTunes. iTunes is a music listening and MP3 storage program created by Apple, for all to use for free. From here, your MP3 player device could be connected to the computer and your music could then be put on your MP3 player. Now, you would be able to take the music with you on the go! Listen at the gym by putting in ear buds or plug into the car and jam out on the stereo. MP3 players were an amazing thing of their time, but they have definitely been trumped by online music streaming services.

Popular online music streaming services

Pandora has become an online leader of music streaming. They offer users a way to stream music for free! The catch? They play adds in between every few songs. So for free music listening to your trade off is having to listen to an ad. Not bad right? Essentially the advertiser is now paying for you to be able to listen to music. There is also an option that you can pay a small monthly subscription fee so that you do not have to hear any ads at all. One downfall with Pandora is that you can not directly listen to the song that you want to right at that time. The way Pandora works is they you create a “station”. The way you create a station is you either choose a specific song you like or an artist that you like. Now Pandora uses it’s smart technology to pick other songs and artists that are similar to what you have originally picked to create your station and play it for you. It is a great way to get a wide variety of music. It is also an awesome way to find new music that is similar to what you like.

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MP3 music files dead?

Now with streaming music service becoming ever more popular, it seems as if the MP3 music file has been dying. For years MP3s were the way to go to put music on your mobile listening device, better known as an MP3 player. One of the most well known of the time is the iPod. Many people owned original iPods and would download music to their computer to then be transferred onto their iPad or another MP3 player.

It seems as if streaming has taken over as the go-to way of listening to music. Gone are the days or having to wait to go home to download that hot new song you heard on the radio. Now, simply turn on your streaming player and boom, it is ready to go!

One downfall I have seen that has come along with the major increase of music streaming is that now we are using our cellular data to be able to listen to the music. While this may seem like no probleM at all, have you ever seen the cellphone company penalty charges for going over on your monthly data quota? They are simply outrageous! People that do not have unlimited data can risk the possibility of streaming too much data through their phone and going over the maximum data. Many cell phone companies have implemented unlimited plans to combat this problem as nearly all people are streaming music.

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