How To Use an Encoder

What first comes to your mind when you hear the word encoder? If you have any notion, you will most likely think of a software program or a person who inputs data into a database. But what exactly is an encoder and what does it do?

An encoder is a device, channel, software program or a person that transforms data from one format to another. In digital technology it is generally used for conversion or compression of audio and video files. In reverse, there is also a decoder, which transforms the converted file back to its original format. To better understand what an encoder is, it is important to distinguish file formats or types of files.

There are numerous types of audio and video files. Popular formats for audio are MPEG layer-3, which is commonly known as MP3 and Wave files, which are known as WAV. For video files, well known are Moving Pictures Expert Group (MPEG), MPEG4, and Audio Video Interleave (AVI). The type of file is easily distinguished by the extension name that comes after the file name. For instance, "file name.mp3", "file name.avi".

The function of an encoder is to transform these audio or video files from their existing format to another in order to make them compatible with a specific player. If you purchased a CD from a music store containing CD Audio Track files or CDAs, and you wish to transfer the songs from the CD to your computer's hard drive, you will need to use an encoder to make it possible. CDAs are only playable with a CD-ROM, and your computer cannot save CDA formats. To transfer them to your hard drive, an encoder transforms the files from CDA to another file type, whether MP3, WMA, Mp4 or any other format that is compatible with your computer. The encoder reduces the size of the files through the process of compression, therefore saving space on your hard drive while maintaining the quality of the files. 

Likewise, if you wish to transfer a movie file from a DVD format, which is a Video Object File or VOB to your computer, an encoder can transform it into several file types depending on your choice of format or where you want it to play. A large VOB file can be converted to a Third Generation Partnership Project, which is more commonly known as 3GP and can be played on mobile phones that are 3G or 4G compatible. Since it is designed for cellular phones, the quality of your video file changes in 3GP, as it is relatively small. If you prefer a small sized video file that retains the quality of the original data, a new format called DivX can achieve your desired result. The name DivX is derived from its developer DivX, Inc. A decoder can then revert your DivX file to 3GP should you choose the former output.

Another program that is correlated with encoders is codec - from the words compression and decompression. This is very useful for transferring data across the Internet. A codec is basically used for media streaming applications or live streaming and videoconferencing. It is capable of encoding and decoding files to make them compatible with your player, and it enhances speed of downloads.

The Internet provides a wide variety of encoders to choose from. They can be purchased or downloaded for free to partner with us in our digital experience.


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