128k, 192k, 256k – what?

Hey, there!

Digital audio files are described, as most things digital, with a lot of numbers.

And the numbers you see in the description of an MP3 file can be confusing.

So what does 128k (or 128 kBPS) actually mean?

In digital multimedia, MP3 files included, the bitrate represents the amount of information, or data, that is stored per second/minute/whatever of a recording.

That final “s” in kbps stands for “seconds” – so there are 128,000 bits of data in every second of a 128 kbps MP3 file.

And like a lot of math, more is better. 128 is better than 96, 96 is better than 64.

Better sounding that is, because more data per second means better definition of the sound, but with every higher number, the size of the file increases greatly.

Napster ruined a whole generation’s idea of what good sound is by defaulting to 128 kbps sound files. And stereo ones, no less, so it’s really 64 kbps per channel.

One more reason to go back and look at Napster with disgust.

But – setting your MP3 encoder at 128 for your auditions is just fine. They’re mono.

Hope this helps.


5 Responses to 128k, 192k, 256k – what?

  1. joleene April 6, 2013 at 9:54 am #

    Was that you last night in the TV show, Touch? Lookin’ good in those baby blue scrubs!
    Smiles, ~j

  2. Tim Keenan April 8, 2013 at 9:40 am #

    Hey David: Just a reminder that all MP3s (na mater the bit rate) can also be STEREO file which DOUBLES the size of the file so when one makes a VO MP3 file at 128k they will need to select that it be MONO to help keep the overall file size down. It is not automatic nor always the case that a 128k file is mono. No sense wasting that data on a mono source.

    But a VO demo file can be 128k STEREO if it has music & full production so you might as well take advantage of that stereo mix and make it a 128k Stereo file.

    Great post, tho clears up some of that confusion. Thanks.

    Tim Keenan, Creative Media Recording

  3. Al Kessel June 17, 2014 at 10:37 am #

    Awesome primer David! Thanks so much for sharing…you rock!

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