Audio CDs are stored in the media in its original uncompressed form at a bit rate of 1411bits/sec. MP3 CDs are stored compressed at bit varying bit rates of around 64 to 256 bits per second. The primary advantage of MP3 CDs is the big difference in the number of files stored in a single disc. This can range in the hundreds compared to the 15 to 20 songs that can be stored into an audio CD.
Audio CDs have been the standard in portable music formats for a very long time. It was the first format that music has been encoded in, and as such all of the music players that accept CDs can play this very basic format. One advantage that audio CDs have over MP3 CDs is the high quality sound that audio CDs can deliver. The uncompressed format means that none of the data is lost due to compression. The hardware needed to play Audio CDs is simpler compared to MP3 players.
MP3 CDs burst into the scene a short while after the format was introduced. MP3 is a lossy method of compressing audio files. This means that some data needs to be discarded in order to reduce the file size substantially. The only good aspect of MP3s is the fact that it can be a tenth of the size of the same file in Audio CD format. The loss in sound information means that MP3s are noticeably inferior to Audio CDs when played back in high end sound equipment; though the development of better codecs have gradually reduced the gap between the two.
The big difference between Audio CDs and MP3 CDs can come from the hardware for both formats. As stated above, all players are able to play Audio CDs but this might not exactly be the case with MP3 CDs. Although the number of devices that are able to play MP3 CDs have been growing in the past few years, it is still nowhere near as established as the Audio CD format. And the current trend to MP3 players that act as storage media themselves have further dampened the support for portable CD players that support the MP3 format.
Currently, MP3s are the most prevalent format when it comes to portable players despite the sudden plunge of MP3 CDs. The Audio CD format still holds a large market presence since it is still the preferred medium in the sales of music albums.
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