Multimedia is the term used to refer to a combination of text, graphics, animation, sound and video.
MP3 (MPEG Audio Layer 3) is a standard way of storing compressed, digital audio files (usually music). The name MP3 comes from MPEG (pronounced EM-peg), which stands for the Motion Picture Experts Group. MPEG develops standards for audio and video compression. MP3 is actually MPEG Audio Layer 3.
MP3 competes with another audio file format called WAV. The key difference is that MP3 files are much smaller than WAV files. An MP3 file can store a minute of sound per megabyte, while a WAV file needs 11 or 12 megabytes to hold the same amount. How does MP3 achieve this compression? CDs and audio files don't reproduce every sound of a performance. Instead, they sample the performance and store a discrete code for each sampled note. A CD or WAV file may sample a song 44,000 times a second, creating a huge mass of information.
By stripping out sounds most people can't hear, MP3 significantly reduces the information stored. For instance, most people can't hear notes above a frequency of 16kHz, so it eliminates them from the mix. Similarly, it eliminates quiet sounds masked by noise at the same frequency. The result is a file that sounds very similar to a CD, but which is much smaller. An MP3 file can contain spoken word performances, such as radio shows or audio books, as well as music. It can provide information about itself in a coded block called a tag. The tag may include the performer's name, a graphic such as an album cover, the song's lyrics, the musical genre, and a URL for more details.
Digital audio is created by sampling sound 44,000 times a second and storing a code number to represent each sound sample. The files are compressed by removing any sounds that are inaudible to the human ear, making them much smaller than files created using other digital audio storage standards, such as WAV. The size of an audio file is commonly measured in megabytes (MB) (millions of bytes). The frequency of a sound is measured in kilohertz (kHz) (thousands of cycles per second). MP3 files have extra code added, called tags, that give the user information about the file e.g. the performer's name, a URL (uniform resource locator i.e. a web address) or a graphic such as an album cover.
Because of their small size, MP3 files are more suitable for transferring across the Internet (the connection of computer networks across the world). Some Internet websites (sets of related pages stored on a Web server on the World Wide Web) are devoted to providing MP3 files for downloading (copying from a server computer to a client computer). The user can create their own music compilations (combinations of files) by listening to each file using a computer program, such as Windows Media Player, and choosing what files to download, They can then use a computer program called an MP3 player to listen to the files and control the sound. MP3 players let the user group songs into play lists and randomize the selections. They also have sound control features such as spectrum analyzers, graphic equalizers, and frequency displays. A track info button allows the user to see the information stored in the MP3 file tag. Other buttons may take you to a music library where you can organize your MP3 files by performer or genre. The appearance of MP3 players can be changed using programs called skins (or themes). These programs are designed to change the appearance of the most popular players. MP3 players often include a program, called a ripper, that lets the user rip (extract) a song from a CD (compact disk) and convert it to a standard WAV file. Another program called an encoder is used to convert WAV files into MP3 files or vice versa. Recorder programs are also available that enable the user to create audio CDs using a writable CD-ROM drive. Special MP3 player devices are also available that enable the user to listen to MP3 files without a computer.
MIDI (Musical Instrument Digital Interface) is a standard way of connecting musical instruments, music synthesizers, and computers. A piece of electronics called a MIDI interface board is installed on each device to enable the device to communicate using MIDI standards. As music is being played, it can be displayed on a monitor screen as a musical score, then edited using a computer program that uses all the features of a mixing desk (an electronic device for mixing sounds together), stored and printed. MIDI systems do not store the actual sound. Instead the sound is encoded (stored as MIDI messages) in the form of 8-bit bytes (units of capacity equal to eight binary digits i.e. 1s and Os) of digital information. A bit is a binary digit i.e. a 1 or a 0, and a byte is a group of 8 bits. The MIDI messages commonly consist of instructions that tell the receiving instrument what note to play, how long and how loud it should be played, including a number that indicates which instrument to play. Each instrument is represented by a different number e.g. 67 is a saxophone.
A DVD-ROM, commonly referred to as a DVD (digital versatile disk - previously known as digital video disk), is a development of CD-ROM (compact disk read only memory). It is an optical storage media (a storage media that uses laser light to store data) that provides large amounts of storage space for multimedia files. A DVD-ROM drive (a storage device for reading DVD disks) uses blue laser light (rather than the red laser light used by CD-ROM drives) to read information from the disk. Both sides of the disk can be used for storing files and each side can have two separate storage layers. The data transfer rate of a DVD (the speed that data can be read from a DVD) is also faster than that of a CD-ROM. The capacity of a DVD is commonly measured in gigabytes (GB) (thousands of millions of bytes).
MPEG is a method of compressing and decompressing video signals. MPEG stands for Motion Picture Experts Group, an organisation that develops standards for audio and video compression.