Music can be stored in a number of different formats. Most likely, you will purchase music from a CD. In that case you don’t need to do anything else unless you plan on streaming your audio. The CDs actually quite good format because it doesn’t use any audio compression which is used in other formats which could degrade the sound quality. However, it’s dynamic range is limited to about 96 dB theoretical. That is because a CD uses a 16-bit conversion. In practice, however, the dynamic range is closer to 90 dB. This takes into account noise and degradation which is caused by converter circuits.

The super-audio CD, on the other hand, uses 24-bit conversion and can in theory achieve a 140 dB dynamic range. However, in practice converters don’t usually exceed 120 dB dynamic range. That means that some portion of the samples will actually go to waste. Also, modern CDs use a higher sampling rate than the 44.1 kHz which is used by classic audio CDs. That means that they can store higher frequency components. However, these components are beyond what human can hear.

On the other hand, many people decide to take music onto a cell phone and employ audio compression. Audio compression is also readily used for streaming radio stations. If you enjoy satellite radio then keep in mind that the audio which you hear is highly compressed and contains a lot of distortion. However, compression is used to reduce the data rate for storing music on mobile devices such as cell phones. Also, streaming radio stations usually don’t have a very high bit rate and thus have to resort to audio compression.

In addition, Bluetooth speakers also use audio compression because Bluetooth by its very definition is not support streaming of uncompressed audio. When using audio compression, I usually recommend using a modern format such as AAC which can maintain higher audio quality at the same sampling rates as MP3 for example. However, is format is not supported by some devices.

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