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Welcome to JpopMusic.com's AudioTech Center. Here, we keep you up to date on the best, free MP3 players and MP3 encoders available. You will be able to encode the highest quality MP3s, and enjoy them through players that offer the highest quality sound reproduction.


***AOL backtracks on Winamp media player*** June 2003
Looks like AOL (parent company of Nullsoft) is planning to ditch WinAMP 3 and go back to WinAMP 2.x (also referred to as WinAMP Classic). Not surprisingly, version 3 didn't take off with many of WinAMP's core followers. News article here.

***New Version of MusicMatch MP3 Encoder*** May 2003
Version 8 of MusicMatch MP3 Encoder has been released!

***UPDATES*** April 2003
The MP3 Players page has been updated with reviews of the latest software versions.

***UPDATES*** November 2002
The MP3 Players and MP3 Encoders pages have been updated with the latest MP3 software available, such as WinAMP 3, MusicMatch 7.5, and the EasyLAME MP3 Encoder.

***MusicMatch Jukebox Version 7 released!*** November 2001
The latest version of MusicMatch Jukebox has arrived. The "basic" version is, once again, free to download and use, and features a sleek, new interface along with Pentium 4 optimizations and a streams manager. Go to our MP3 Encoders page for more information.

***WinAMP Version 3 BETA released!*** October 2001
After over a year in development, WinAMP 3 has finally reached the BETA stage in development. Code-named "wasabi," this version's main benefit over the excellent version 2 series is its extensive customization capabilities. Now WinAMP skins can take any form and shape they desire, no longer being confined by the limitations of the standard WinAMP interface. One can say WinAMP has finally caught up to another popular media player, Sonique, in this regard. Other notable, new features include support for multiple playlists, amedia library for managing music, and integrated Gracenote (CDDB) technology. Look for the final version to be released next year. In the meantime, you're likely to see many beta updates.

***Making your own ultra-high quality MP3s***
With 2 freely available programs downloadable off the Internet, now anyone can make the highest quality MP3s possible from his/her collection of MP3s! Interested in making your own MP3s? Go to the MP3 Encoders section to find out how.

***MP3 rival Ogg Vorbis releases full version***
Just a few days after the world got its first look at the updated MP3 music format (MP3Pro), rival open-source format Ogg Vorbis is ready to reveal a major facelift. Ogg Vorbis, created by a team of independent developers, has been floating around the Web for about a year. Like MP3, the specialized computer program compresses standard audio tracks into smaller sizes without significantly compromising sound quality.

But Ogg Vorbis is actually designed to result in better audio quality than MP3 without any of the associated patent royalties for software developers or music distributors. And as an added plus, popular MP3 player program WinAMP already supports playback of Ogg Vorbis encoded files.

To follow Ogg Vorbis' latest happenings, check out their web site.

***MP3Pro is here!***
Thomson Multimedia and the Fraunhofer Institute, the companies behind the MP3 digital music format, are releasing an upgraded version of their music format Thursday called MP3Pro. MP3Pro is an improved version of the popular mp3 coding-decoding (codec) format that has changed the world of music online. Utilizing advanced psychoacoustic techniques and music structure analysis, mp3PRO creates files that are twice (or more) as compact as original mp3 files, with equal or better sound quality, along with backwards and forwards compatibility.

In addition to its combination of more compact mp3 files and superior audio quality, mp3PRO offers backwards and forwards compatibility enabling original mp3 files to play normally on the new mp3PRO player and mp3PRO files to play on original mp3 systems. The best audio performance is achieved when consumers both encode and decode music files in mp3PRO

When making an mp3Pro file, the new mp3PRO encoder splits audio recordings in two. One part of the new files contains all the information found in ordinary mp3 recordings to maintain complete compatibility with original version players. At the same time, new or upgraded players supporting mp3PRO will tap into another stream that holds high audio frequencies, putting them together to make a higher-quality sound.

The encoder and decoder, along with a WinAMP plug-in, are available for download at Thomson Multimedia and RCA.

***Microsoft releases Windows Media Audio 8 beta***
Microsoft has once again come out with a new version of their Windows Media Technologies suite for encoding audio and video. Windows Media Audio 7 was far from impressive, so naturally, one would expect version 8 to be much improved. Microsoft claims Windows Media 8 can achieve near-CD quality sound at only 48kbits, and CD quality sound at 64kbits - impressive numbers for sure. I took their slogan "Hearing is believing" to heart and ran my own tests pitting this new WMA8 format to MP3. Getting the necessary audio codec to support playback of this new format was quite easy, as Windows Media Player 6.4 automatically downloaded it for me once I played my first WMA8-encoded song. My conclusions were that a 64kbit WMA8 file was still significantly inferior in quality to a 128kbit MP3 file. Sure, the WMA8 file is half the size as the MP3 file, but Microsoft did claim WMA8 could achieve near-CD quality sound at 48kbits, which should mean it should at least rival 128kbit MP3s.

Now onto the more interesting Windows Media Video 8 format. Based off of MPEG-4 video encoding technology, Microsoft claims WMV8 to be able to provide near-VHS Quality at 250kbps and near-DVD Quality at 500kbps. If this turns out to be true, WMV8 is going to be one impressive and popular format.

To give this new format a try for yourself, visit Microsoft's Windows Media Technologies 8 page for more information and the encoding programs.