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Chapter 11. preparing images & multimedi... > choosing a format for online audio

choosing a format for online audio

 Streaming audioNon-streaming audio
File formats
  • RealMedia

  • WindowsMedia

  • Streaming QuickTime

  • Streaming MP3

  • MP3

  • MID

  • .aiff

  • .au

  • .wav

How it worksAudio is “streamed” over the Internet and played in “real time” on the user’s computer. Playback begins shortly after streaming starts. No files are downloaded or stored on user’s hard drive.The audio file is either played within the browser window (.aiff, .au, .wav) or downloaded in its entirety to the user’s computer, where it can be played on the desktop, burned to a CD, or downloaded on to an MP3 player (MP3).
What it’s good for
  • Live webcasts of concerts or news events.

  • Extended programs of pre-mixed music or interviews.

  • Distributing individual songs.

  • Integrating sound clips as on a language instruction site.

Download timeSeems to load quickly, because playback begins almost immediately.Varies with file size, but file must download in its entirety before it can be played.
Playback quality
  • Playback quality varies, depending on connection speed, available bandwidth, and other factors.

  • Sound quality unpredictable.

  • Playback quality consistent and smooth, though download size restrictions may necessitate lower quality recording.

Equipment requiredRequires special streaming servers (most of which are rather expensive, though some—like IceCast—are available free).No special server required.
  • Listener gets instant gratification.

  • Allows for longer programs.

  • Doesn’t save to user’s hard drive (good for saving memory and preventing intellectual theft).

  • Industry standard for independent musicians.

  • MP3 players are ubiquitous and free.

  • Control over sound quality.

  • No special server required.

  • Can be saved to hard drive.

  • Can be emailed or transferred on disk.

  • Cost and maintenance of streaming servers.

  • Unpredictable playback quality.

  • Not everyone has streaming audio players installed.

  • File size somewhat limited.

  • Download time can be prohibitively long.



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