MPEG-1 Audio Layer 3, more commonly referred to as MP3, is a patented digital audio encoding format using a form of lossy data compression. It is a common audio format for consumer audio storage, as well as a de facto standard of digital audio compression for the transfer and playback of music on digital audio players.
MP3 is an audio-specific format that was designed by the Moving Picture Experts Group as part of its MPEG-1 standard. The group was formed by several teams of engineers at Fraunhofer IIS, AT&T-Bell Labs, Thomson-Brandt, CCETT, and others. It was approved as an ISO/IEC standard in 1991.
MP3 file provides near-CD quality sound (stereo, 16-bit) in a file roughly 1/10 the size of a .WAV or .AIF file. The quality of an MP3 file depends largely on the bit rate used for compression. Common bit rates are 128, 160, 192, and 256 kbps; higher bit rates result in higher quality files that also require more disk space.