MP3 for Dummies

Like most of the entries in this series, MP3 for Dummies is clearly aimed at the beginner. In order to benefit from this book, however, you should be an MP3 beginner with a reasonable understanding of computers and the Internet.

It covers most aspects of MP3s from creating your own, burning MP3s and audio CDs and loading music onto Web sites, plus a somewhat clumsy handling of US legal issues from the lobby group RIAA (Recording Industry Association of America). If you are a budding musician, the book gives some useful tips for distributing your music both on the Internet and CD. The section on creating your own MP3s is very helpful and easy to follow, but most of the information could be obtained from the Help Files of leading MP3 encoders and players (such as MusicMatch).

There are many disappointing aspects of this book. The CD is woeful: it contains just four MP3 tools and a small collection of MP3 files from obscure artists. With so much software on the market - and mentioned in the book - this could have been beefed up to cover a wider range of tools. While aimed at the beginner's side of MP3s, the book does not adequately explain how MP3s end up being one-tenth the size of the original WAV file - or the compromises that need to be understood. The version PC World received was US-centric with prices in $US (although it is not stated); there was no mention of local distributors or Web sites. And finally, some of the information is already somewhat dated.

MP3 for Dummies seems to have missed the mark. For a topic that was spawned by the Internet and is rapidly changing, the book does little more than cover information that is easily found on most established MP3 sites and software Help files. Save your money and spend it on a good MP3 program.

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