Music And The Internet
Digital Audio Workshop
Dino Covelli provided invaluable assistance in writing this section Audio is certainly one of the most important sections of content that can live on your site. It can also be one of the most difficult and perplexing sections to develop. What types of audio files should you use? Should you offer downloads, and if so, should they be secured or unsecured? And how does one actually go about gettin' all that music into the computer?
THE HISTORY OF DIGITAL AUDIO
First let me say that when talking about music and the web, tons of technical jargon comes into play and can easily become distracting. Remember to use Webopedia to define terms you don't readily understand. Still, I'm going to try to sum up a majority of the different files and formats by using only one "technical" term. Since a majority of Internet users are using modem connections, their bandwidth gets filled very quickly when downloading large files. This leads to the need for file compression. Files can be compressed at the sending side, and then decompressed at the receiving side utilizing a codec. Codec stands for compressor/decompressor, or alternately coder/decoder. When it comes to digital audio, there are many, many choices for file types and codecs. The different operating systems prefer their own file types. Windows uses WAV files, which are uncompressed and very large. Most Macs use similar formats known as AIFF files. These are the types of files typically used for writing to CDs. Before a decent compression device was introduced, people generally let their audio files take a massive cut in sound quality in order to get the files from the server to the user. CD-quality audio was reduced to telephone quality in order to be reduced enough for a reasonable download. Then Sun Microsystems introduced the AU format, which applied slight compression with less noticeable sound quality loss. In general, downloadable music still sounded awful, but AU marked the beginning of the high-end codec. It wasn't until high-end codecs were developed that digital music actually became something people were interested in listening to.