A thousand songs in your pocket

Before we all had computers, music came on big circular records made of black vinyl. So how can we now fit thousands of songs into a phone that fits in your pocket?

A song is stored as a file in your phone or music player. If the file contained all the information that’s on a record, it would be huge and there wouldn’t be space for many songs!

The good news is that we can cheat using a technology called MP3 compression. Scientists have found in experiments that there are lots of subtle sounds in music that humans don’t usually notice: they might be drowned out by other, louder sounds, or similar sounds.

MP3 files cut these sounds out, making the files smaller, so there’s space for more songs on your phone—and they still sound great, because you don’t notice the missing bits have gone!

Could it be magic… or sleight of sound?

Computer Magician: iStock_000000428956Large
More magic of computing

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