When audio players (like VLC, for example) play compressed audio files (like mp3, for instance), do they first convert them to pcm data (like in wav files) and then play it? It seems very logical to me - first to decompress a mp3 file to an uncompressed wav file and then to play it. But I failed to find any confirmation to the idea on the Internet. And besides, I'm not sure that it's true because if we have many mp3 files to be played they will take much RAM when all decompressed.
But if players do not decompress mp3-files to wav-files, it means that they do NOT use an mp3 decoder at all. It sounds strange. So how do they play compressed audio? Could you, please, help me to figure all this out? Really hope for your help.