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Stands for "MPEG-1 Audio Layer-3." It is the most popular compressed audio file format. An MP3 file is about one tenth the size of the original audio file, but the sound is nearly CD-quality. Because of their small size and good fidelity, MP3 files have become a popular way to store music files on both computers and portable devices. There are also many Web sites, like MP3.com and RioPort.com, that maintain huge archives of audio files in MP3 format.

To listen to MP3s on your computer, you'll need an MP3 player like Musicmatch (for Windows) or iTunes (for the Mac). To create an MP3 file from a CD audio track, you'll need an encoder program to convert the audio track to an MP3 file. Once you have converted your favorite songs to MP3 files, you can listen to them on a portable MP3 player, like the Apple iPod or the SonicBlue Rio. MPEG Layer III, digital audio compression format achieving smaller file sizes by eliminating sounds the human ear can't hear or doesn't easily pick up.

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