MP3 – revolutionizing music
Fotograf büyültme (© picture-alliance/ dpa) Our ability to listen to music for hours on end, any time and anywhere, is thanks above all to German researchers. It started as research into transmitting audio signals by telephone wire and became a worldwide success: what began at the University of Erlangen-Nürnberg in the late 1970s, and was developed in collaboration with the Fraunhofer-Gesellschaft from the mid-1990s, came to fruition in the form of the MP3. Suddenly, long, complex pieces of music could be stored in tiny files.
The success of the research team around Prof. Karlheinz Brandenburg is founded principally on an innovative new way of thinking about sound reproduction. Instead of trying to develop a more concise code language for audio files, the team turned its attention to the contents of those files. Very quiet sounds played alongside very loud ones, like small differences in pitch between one sound and the next, are not perceived by the human ear. In the MP3 format, all these expendable sounds are cut out. This enables the music file to be shrunk down to just a tenth of the size of earlier formats.
Nowadays, MP3 is the standard format around the world. It even overcomes the problem of slow internet connections, and MP3 files can be stored on mobile devices with very limited storage space. Thanks to this recent invention, music is more independent than ever of the constraints of time and place.