A bunch of smart people at the University of Rochester, New York claim they have come up with a new way of encoding audio which promises file sizes 1,000 smaller than the MP3 format.
However, the technology doesn't involve audio recording. They used a 20-second clarinet solo for the experiment and managed to squeeze it into less than a kilobyte. Such a small file size was achieved by recreating real-world physics of a clarinet and the physics of a clarinet player on the computer.
"This is essentially a human-scale system of reproducing music," said Mark Bocko, Professor of Electrical and Computer Engineering and co-creator of the technology. "Humans can manipulate their tongue, breath, and fingers only so fast, so in theory we shouldn't really have to measure the music many thousands of times a second like we do on a CD. As a result, I think we may have found the absolute least amount of data needed to reproduce a piece of music."
Sounds exciting, but we wouldn't hold our collective breaths. Don't expect to encode your (legally) downloaded music into the new format any time soon.