Come To The Table

The Teaching Ministry of Pastor Mark Kirk

ON THE AIR today when Come To The Table!

Mark Kirk is the senior pastor of Calvary Knoxville.  

To learn more about Calvary Knoxville, click here!

To MP3 or not to MP3, that is the question!

Please read if you know nothing about MP3s…

For years the Compact Disc (or more commonly referred to as "CD") has served as the primary means of portability for all sorts of audio content, in home stereos, automobiles and a variety of portable devices.

However the CD is just another step in the technical advances of what is called "media." "Media" means nothing more than what the content resides on. You might even consider it the transportation device for the audio. From records, to 8 track tape, to cassette, to CD; how we've listened to music over the years has required movement. The record spins, the tapes and cassettes went forward and backward, and the CD spins at a whopping 460 rotations per minute!

However with the advances in computer technology we've figured out a way to get our precious audio content off a physical media format and into our computers. For years there have been different types of what we'll call "audio files." These files all carry different file name extensions, like; .wav, .aiff, .mpeg, .wma just to name a few.

And if you're familiar with computers, there are 2 things we're always looking at when it comes to "files," and that's their format and size. The format has to do with compatibility to a program they'll be used on and size has to do with how much space they take to store. Simple enough, right?

So now let's go back for a moment to our Compact Disc. When music or any audio content is "burned" to a CD, it's done so in a format that's compatible with CD audio players, like the one in your car.

The clarity and richness in CD audio is pretty good, but it comes at the price of valuable "real estate" or space on the CD. Most CDs can only hold 74 minutes of audio in the CD-A format. That would allow us to record just one of Pastor Mark's teachings to an individual CD.

Now let's take the recent release of Pastor Mark's teachings on the book of Revelation. There are 60 individual teachings in this series, which means 1 CD for every teaching! It would be extremely time consuming to produce a 60 CD teaching package and extremely expensive for anyone to buy. The bottom line is it's just not practical or feasible.

Now let's "fast forward" (that's a term for cassette and VHS users if you're old enough!) to audio files. When it comes to that valuable storage space, computerized audio files are the most economical solution. Without going into all the technical details it all boils down to "compressing" the audio files. This means we can pack them tight into a small amount of storage space on a computer disc or even a compact disc. With different compression settings come different levels of audio file quality. Since Pastor Mark's teachings fall into the "spoken word" category, we compress them smaller (or pack them tighter) than we would for a music file since his book studies have so many teachings! Out of all the file types available, we've chosen the MP3 file type (part of the MPEG family) because it is the most compatible file type across the widest range of devices that will play audio files.

So now we've got all these teachings in an MP3 format and we have to get them to you! So the media (or transportation device) we use is a Compact Disc. If that’s not big enough to hold all his teachings, we move up to the next biggest media type and that's the DVD! That's right! The DVD (Digital Video Disc) is just like a CD in that it is storage media, but its main use is to hold movies. But it can also store files and lots of them!

Most computers today can take a CD or DVD and recognize you have files on the media. From there those files can be "ripped" into your favorite MP3 software and your portable MP3 device. Unfortunately there are too many different computers, MP3 software packages and MP3 players for us to explain how each one works. But if you have them they'll come with their own instructions.

The biggest question we get regarding MP3s is "can I play this in my car stereo?" The answer is only if your car specifically tells you in the manual that the CD player will read and play back MP3s. That feature has only been offered in the newer model cars. Sometimes they will even put "MP3" on the dash next to the CD insert slot. Additionally your new car may also offer an auxiliary or an MP3 input jack to use with your portable MP3 device.

Every study set we offer for sale comes marked with the "MP3" format designation and if the files are stored on "CD" or "DVD." So to MP3 or not to MP3? Now you've got the answer!