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Chapter 5. Enhancing Pages with Graphics... > Understanding Streaming Audio - Pg. 122

Enhancing Pages with Graphics and Multimedia 122 Understanding Streaming Audio Streaming audio is a technology used to reduce the problem of long download times for audio files (streaming video uses the same techniques, so what is said here applies to it as well). The basic principle is simple. In nonstreamed audio and video, the original file must be entirely downloaded to a temporary file on the user's machine. Only when the download is complete can he start the appropriate player and see or hear the file. In streamed media, the media player (which can be a browser plug-in or a standalone program) takes the data stream as it reaches the user's machine and starts playing the file before the complete file is delivered. If the user's connection to his ISP is reasonably fast, he might notice no interruptions at all in the playback, although a slow connection will cause the playback to proceed in bursts. The most widely used streaming audio/video software is available from RealAudio (at http:// The company provides inexpensive conversion software for changing standard video or audio files to streaming format. Once converted, the files can be placed on your Web site and can be heard or viewed by any user whose machine has a compatible player installed. Real- Audio makes a free, downloadable version of its streaming player (RealPlayer) available on its site. The Microsoft Windows Media Player, available from Microsoft's free download site, will also play back most streaming media formats. Note If you include streaming audio on your site, you should add links that will let people download the appropriate player software, if they don't already have it. Adding Background Audio