To the left is a flow diagram of a generic mp3 coder.
However, the mp3 specification does not require any coder to follow a
particular methodology, it only specifies that the resulting mp3 compressed
file adhere to a certain format. Yet, methods of coding mp3 are well
explored and most will have these elements.
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The process begins with an input sound. The MP3 encoder requires some
acceptable digital sound file (usually an AIFF file or a track off your
CD). Sophisticated MP3 encoders may be able to control your computer
hardware, telling it to extract a track from a CD; otherwise, you will
have to do this on your own.