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I recommend 7z for the best compression ratio. bzip2 and gzip have the advantage that they are installed by default on most distros. Gzip has an advantage, it's very soft in cpu usage terms. You can as well use zip in linux, but since there are much better options I don't recommend it. However, as said, if the media has already been compressed using a lousy format like mpg in any of its forms, then you are going to gain very little in compressing it again. But it will help if you are using plain wav files or (to a lesser degree) non-lousy codecs like flac.
Distribution: Ubuntu 11.4,DD-WRT micro plus ssh,lfs-6.6,Fedora 15,Fedora 16
as mentioned it depends on the audio file
mp3 flac, mpeg, avi etc.. ARE compressed so to try zip it would be like trying to zip a zip file, you arent gonna get much more compression
wav on the other hand isnt compressed so converting it to mp3 or aac IS compressing it
the only ziping or tarballing mp3s is for archival purpose of storing an entire library of audio files as one easier to locate file (such as a backup) and process but it's not gonna shrink the file size much
Audio and video as said above do NOT compress almost at all with regular file compression techniques. Instead you have to transcode them to a different format. For example from wav to mp3 for a huge difference in size, or to flac to keep things lossless. Most of the compression methods available for audio and video are lossy, and they have to be, because if they weren't the amount of space saved would be minimal.
Regular files like text and binary programs will compress well with regular file compression techniques, if you want fast compression/decompression use gzip, if you want maximum compression use 7zip with lzma.
Audio and video as said above do NOT compress almost at all with regular file compression techniques.
It would be more correct to say that re-compressing them -again- with a regular compression algorithm is pointless once the file is already compressed with a codec that already offers compression. Uncompressed formats will benefit from compression just as well as any other file, no less.