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Now way back, I think in, it was in chapter one, I introduced you to some of the popular uncompressed and compressed formats. So let's again take a look at some of the popular compressed formats. We have MP3, AAC, and the Windows Media Audio format. Now these three formats are what's referred to as lossy compression, which means that they actually discard data from the sound files in order to make it smaller. So when they are going through that compression stage, they are looking at things that they think maybe are unimportant, pulling them out, and then compressing.
So they are discarding that data. But when these files are decompressed, or played back, they make very educated guesses about what data was discarded. I know it seems kind of hard to believe, but it's true that it works pretty well. I mean think about all the MP3s we have out there. Obviously, if they didn't sound good enough, if these guesses during decompression and playback weren't good enough, we wouldn't be listening to them. It's kind of a simplified explanation of what happens, but we don't need to go into all the math and science behind the algorithms and what they are doing to find that stuff.
The point is they are dropping data when they are compressed and then when they are played back, they are making some assumptions about what was probably there, based on the other information around it in the sound file. Now I won't tell you which format to use, but I will talk a little bit about each of the different formats and maybe some of the pros and cons. I will say that MP3s are probably the most popular and common format. You will come across them quite a bit. The quality of Apple's AAC format is also very high-quality. It's not quite as popular as MP3, but it's gaining, and it's being used in different applications.
As I mentioned, when you buy things from the iTunes Stores, they come in that. It's also being used in some different applications, like commercial DVDs, because it does do a really good job with compression. Windows Media Audio, I think through some of the initial versions when it was introduced, it wasn't all that great, but some of the newer versions coming out and some of the things they are working on are pretty exciting, and I would say if you are interested in surround sound at all in compression formats, you might want to look more into what Windows is working on. In the next movie, we will take a look at few of the different settings and options you have when you are getting ready to compress your files.
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