[digital noises]











Dedicated to answering the eternal question - "Say what?"

What is MP3?

MP3 is short for MPEG-1 or MPEG-2 audio, layer 3. MP3 is a format that allows you to compress and store music files on your computer. An MP3 encoder (like the XingMP3 Encoder) takes un-compressed audio files (which are huge) and squashes them down into smaller, easier to manage files that maintain quality of the original sound files.

What's so special about MP3 files?

What makes MP3 files so powerful is their ability to maintain high audio quality in a small file size. The difference between what you hear when you play an MP3 file and what you hear when you play a CD is hardly noticeable - in fact, most people can't tell the difference.

What's VBR?

VBR stands for "Variable Bit Rate" encoding, a method of allocating bits in an MP3 file which can increase sound quality and reduce file size. For more information on VBR, see our VBR FAQ.

So I got these small files, now what?

Having audio files in a manageable size means you can use your PC to store your entire music collection. You can organize your music, turning your PC into a jukebox. (To see an MP3 jukebox, powered by the XingMP3 Encoder, visit www.musicmatch.com). Smaller file size also makes it feasible to download audio files; an MP3 file takes only a fraction of the time needed to download traditional audio. And with the MP3 format, you aren't limited to the hour allotted on a traditional CD. You can save 10 times as many MP3 files on a writeable CD-Rom. That's 200 songs, or 10 whole audio CDs, on one CD-Rom.

But, I have a really nice stereo. Why would I use my PC?

Hook up your stereo to your PC's soundcard, or buy something a little better than those tinny hand-me-downs from your old roommate. The point is, stop banishing your PC to your bedroom. It's time for your PC to come out and play in the living room with the big toys. Think of it as the perfect complement, the brain behind your home electronics: Every piece of music in your collection at your fingertips, organized by your taste, for your moods, for your needs.

How can I get music off my CD's to make MP3's?

You may have copied audio from a CD before and think you already have digital music on your system. Unless you extract the music from the original source using a ripper, you could get poor quality. Ripping, or extracting, your digital audio files also make the process of copying audio to your hard drive easy and fast (seconds instead of minutes).

Xing's AudioCatalyst™ software makes creating MP3s extremely easy. All you need to do is install one program and MP3 creation is a click away.

What about playback?

There are lots of MP3 players out there and new ones emerge every day. However, Winamp is so configurable and feature-rich (not to mention it supports our VBR) that it really out-shines the competition. Go pick it up.

How can I stream MP3 audio on a network?

With our (free) StreamWorks MP3 Server you can stream on-demand MP3 audio to up to 50 people. That's all your friends, and even some of their friends, too. With Xing's StreamWorks MP3 Server you can make your MP3 music or any MP3 audio file accessible to the world in the same way as a web page. (Use our XingMP3 Encoder to create those MP3 files.) And did we mention it's free? Your listeners will need the StreamWorks Player. Hey, It's a free download, too. Did we mention it's free?

How can I stream analog audio sources?

You can use the Xing MP3Live! Encoder to turn analog audio (your voice in a microphone, for example) into MP3 streams for broadcast. That means if you want to broadcast a jam session from your garage, you would take the MP3Live! Encoder, install it on your computer (with an Internet connection and a StreamWorks MP3 Server) and plug your audio source into the input jack on your sound card. Then you can broadcast anything from your tuba recital to your nephew's graduation speech.

Are MP3s legal?

MP3 as a file format is legal. Sometimes MP3 files are pirated, meaning people copy or trade copyrighted music without paying for it. MP3 files created for your personal use from your CDs are legal. It's your music.

I keep hearing about MP3 and sounds above 16khz. What's the story?

Our first MPEG Layer 3 encoding engine had limited ability to encode sounds with frequencies above 16khz. You can read more about this issue in our Notes on MP3 Audio Frequency and Analysis.

So, what's the story with the NEW encoder engine and 16khz?

The newest versions of AudioCatalyst™ (v 1.5 and up) and XingMP3 Encoder (with the release of 2.0) have incorporated encoding to include sounds above 16khz. In fact, we can encode up to 22khz without any loss of speed or quality!

MP3 sounds ideal. Why haven't I heard more about it?

MP3 began as a relatively underground movement. Its growth, however, has been steady. With the popularity of Diamond Rio, a portable, pager-sized, MP3 playback device that holds about an hour of MP3 music, consumers all over the world are getting a taste of what the MP3 format can do for their music. Another example of the growth of the MP3 format can be seen at MP3.com. This site is arguably one of the most established of the MP3 sites. In just one year from it's launch, it has become the second most visited music web site on the Internet, right behind MTV Online (according to www.web21.com).

Arrgh! I can't get your stuff to work!

Sit down, have an iced tea, breathe deeply, and then head on over to our support section, where you'll find answers to common issues, additional information, and, if all else fails, a place to submit a problem report. Xing cannot offer phone support for our free products, but we'll be glad to help you through your problem via e-mail.

Copyright 1999, Xing Technology Corporation. All rights reserved.