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MP3: The Definitive Guide [Paperback]

Scot Hacker
5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)

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Book Description

11 Mar 2000

MP3, standing for MPEG-1, Layer 3, is a codec for compressing the size of audio files for digital distribution. Much more than a definition, MP3 is nothing less than a cultural and economic revolution on the Internet. Every day, hundreds of thousands of MP3 music files are searched for, shared, recorded and listened to by computer and Internet users of all kinds. Either alone or collected into massive download sites, the MP3 revolution is seriously threatening the traditional ways people find, listen to and create music. MP3 players and encoders are available for all major computer platforms, including Windows, Macintosh, Linux and BeOS. MP3 hardware players include portable players you can take with you jogging or exercising from manufactures like Sony, Diamond and Philips to home stereo and car stereo players.

MP3: The Definitive Guide introduces the power-user to just about all aspects of MP3 technology. It delves into detail on obtaining, recording, and optimizing MP3 files using both commercial, and Open Source methods. Coverage is complete for four platforms: Windows, Macintosh, Linux and BeOS. In depth chapters describe all aspects of the MP3 experience from distributing, streaming, broadcasting, converting and playing to archiving your collection. Readers will learn how to test their equipment, optimize their encoding times, evaluate their playback options, control and organize a collection, even burn their own CD's or distribute their own music to a massive worldwide audience over the Internet. In addition, the author fills readers in on the complex legal issues surrounding MP3 files. Everything you need to know to enjoy MP3 today and tomorrow is contained in this single volume.

MP3 is here to stay, and the applications for this versatile compression format are expanding exponentially along with its user base. MP3: The Definitive Guide should appeal to a broad audience of users, from the those just getting into this exciting new technology, to those who want to fully immerse themselves in the complexities and possibilities that MP3 presents.

Product details

  • Paperback: 400 pages
  • Publisher: O'Reilly Media; 1 edition (11 Mar 2000)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1565926617
  • ISBN-13: 978-1565926615
  • Product Dimensions: 23.3 x 17.9 x 2.4 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 1,805,329 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
  • See Complete Table of Contents

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Product Description

Amazon Review

O'Reilly gets to grips with the technology that's revolutionising the way we think about and use music with MP3: The Definitive Guide. The book includes some excellent advice on choosing and using MP3 software. The leading titles are discussed and compared so you can pick software with the features you want. Skins and plug-ins also get plenty of space, and the whole concept of organising and storing MP3 files is well-covered.

Ripping and encoding gets a chapter to itself, and this is rounded off with a section on creating your own CDs. Other chapters cover Internet downloading and dedicated MP3 hardware--portable players, handheld computers, car players and home stereo systems. New players are coming onto the market with stunning rapidity, making some of this material here less than state of the art; still, it does provide a good overview of what's available.

For those looking for more technical information, a chapter at the end of the book explains MP3 and other audio file formats--but this won't hinder those who don't want to delve too deep from getting the most out of this book. Hacker's text is very accessible indeed, and at no point will novices feel overwhelmed by technology. The author is also careful to make sure that this book applies to whatever your operating system, be it Windows, Macintosh, Linux or BeOS. --Sandra Vogel

About the Author

After earning a B.A. in Philosophy at UC Santa Cruz, Scot Hacker began writing reviews of jazz and improvised music for The Utne Reader and The Cadence Journal of Jazz and Blues before becoming a content manager and production editor at ZDNet. Hacker's interest in digital audio and fine computer systems evolved into a series of regular articles for PC Magazine, Byte.com, Windows Sources, ZDNet, Japan's ASCII magazine, and the CompuServe network, as well as television appearances and trade show gigs. Hacker is the author of O'Reilly's MP3: The Definitive Guide, Peachpit's "The BeOS Bible," and countless articles for print- and web-based technology publications. He is currently employed as Webmaster of the UC Berkeley Graduate School of Journalism. Contact Scot Hacker

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Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
3 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars All round guide .......for all levels 14 Nov 2000
This book is invaluable..whether you are a newbie to the world of Mp3 or advanced and looking for in depth information. It covers all platforms and all issues from programming to legal aspects. It includes useful hints and web addresses to further your research. Well reccomended
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Amazon.com: 4.3 out of 5 stars  9 reviews
46 of 46 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars One of the 2 best books on MP3 28 Mar 2000
By RedOrDed - Published on Amazon.com
O'Reilly's habit of using the word "definitive" in their titles is very irritating - this book is excellent, but it isn't totally definitive. There are chapters on how MP3 works, how to get and play MP3 files and creating your own MP3s (including dealing with playlists and tags), various kinds of software and hardware players, webcasting and servers, and legal stuff. I will focus here on what I see as omissions, but there is much that is good about this book.
The part of this book that is bettered elsewhere is the legal stuff - the approach of Bruce Fries in "The MP3 and Internet Audio Handbook" (using case studies) is a more practical approach to what you may and may not do. However, the explanation of SDMI beginning on p.278 is lucid, and well worth a read by the denizens of the mp3.com board, where there is a debate currently raging about exactly how SDMI works.
The book is cross-platform, so the author treats Win95/98/NT (but not 2K), Linux, and the Mac and BeOS's in all chapters. In the players chapter you get pictures and descriptions of the most popular models (Sonique has an "incredibly trippy" UI) and a following chapter deals with more advanced topics like equalization, digital conversion, ID3 tags and playlists with descriptions of editors, playing MP3 streams, and skins and plug-ins.
Chapter 5 begins with encoding issues including sample rates. Once again Fries' "The MP3 and Internet Audio Handbook" does it better, with a table instead of a verbose explanation. Bit-rates are handled in several places in this book, and only mentioned in passing in this chapter, where the explanation really belongs. Fries' book has several tables on bit-rate, sound quality, and file size. The (very) brief discussion on recording streaming audio doesn't mention either TotalRecorder or Voquette - however, there is an excellent discussion of encoders in this chapter.
Chapter 6 has a cursory description of four portable players: the Rio, Nomad, Lyra and I-Jam, but a decent discussion of the different technologies used in these players. Home and car stereo players are also described, and once again the coverage is patchy - coverage of AudioRequest and the Lyndstrom Songbank, but where's the Lansonic? And where is the Raite - arguably the most talked about home player on the internet? Not a mention.
Chapter 8, on webcasting and servers, is outstanding. The author treats both the commercial sites and DIY, with the emphasis on DIY. A great resource for anyone thinking of running their own ftp, web server, or internet "radio", and working with SHOUTcast or icecast. Awesome!
So to repeat - an excellent but not definitive book - it has its faults but on the whole is a very worthwhile purchase. If you read this and then get the very latest from a message board at a site like mp3.com, you won't go far wrong.
26 of 28 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Not for programmers 23 Aug 2000
By "taskmaster" - Published on Amazon.com
This book will not teach you how to write applications to create mp3 files. If you want to write an encoder or decoder you should get the specification from the ISO standards site.
It does give information on how to use other peoples software and it also gives you information about the law. If you want to start sharing mp3 files or broadcast music using third party software then this book is not too bad.
16 of 17 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The author is informed, and writes clearly. 27 Mar 2000
By John McCabe - Published on Amazon.com
This is the only mp3 book I've read. The reason I decided to buy it was that it was from O'Reilly & I've read Scot Hacker's other book (The Be Bible) and he describes subjects clearly.
The book covers Windows, Linux and Be (I run all three). It even has MacOS mp3 coverage.
The topic of legal issues surrounding mp3 is also brought up. Hacker was very smart to put this in because everyone, who uses mp3's, should know about what's going on with our law system.
This book is worth your time reading, not just for how to play mp3's on your OS of choice but also to be informed about a serious legal question.
14 of 15 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Not Definitive, barely even edited. 4 Oct 2001
By A. Scudiero - Published on Amazon.com
I bought this book with the hopes that it would give me some detailed insight into how mp3 works, instead it spends most of its pages talking about the differences between encoders and how to use them, as well as a detailed description of how to click on the play button in winamp.
The chapter on the insides of mp3 was what I was really looking for, and this book is, as other reviwers have noted, not really for programmers. Most of the "Mp3" books out there are for "How to go get music off the internet and play it", and I was really hoping that this one would be different. Nope, it wasn't. It did offer a bit of insight (which was available from many other sources) into the workings, but not much.
The language in this book is pretty bad, it feels like they rushed this to market - some of the sentences feature misconjugated verbs, and improper uses of the past perfect tense. While this is only moderately annoying, it really detracts from the usability of the book.
Overall, I'd say that my hopes have been shattered, and what has been generated here is just another book on how to use mp3, not anything different, other than the Oriley name.
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Highly recommended, definitive, "user friendly" guide. 4 Aug 2000
By Midwest Book Review - Published on Amazon.com
This definitive guide goes into much more technical computer detail than more casual coverages for lay readers, introducing users to all aspects of the technology and covering the basics of how to use, optimize and maintain MP3 files using both commercial and Open Source methods for four basic operating system platforms. A highly recommended pick for musicians and computer users alike, this tells how to get the most out of equipment and MP3 music formats. Highly recommended.
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