Everything Vintage Tech

#tbt Tom’s Diner and MP3s

Here is a little known fact that I find interesting. The MP3 Audio format was finalized in 1992. While it was being developed, Karlheinz Brandenburg used Suzanne Vega’s song Tom’s Diner as his reference sample. The song was chosen because it sounds flat, has a wide range of frequencies and a large variation in volume. Additionally, the almost-mono nature of the song allowed them to test for unwanted artifacts in their work. In other words, it is a reasonable test sample to study the effect of changes in the algorithm on. Tom’s Diner is generally recognized as the song that the MP3 algorithm was honed on. It’s hard to understate just how large of an impact this song had on the music industry.

That brings me to connection number two. The song is about a real diner – it’s called Tom’s Restaurant and it is located in New York at the corner of Broadway and 112th street. Of course, this restaurant might look familiar for another reason. It was the fictional Monk’s Cafe in Seinfeld.