Placing Your Song On The Web (part 1)|
[ No. 3 - Jan 1997 ]
Things That Are New
LiquidAudio is here (albeit in rather beta form--be warned) and is
Windows only at this time. For you Windows users, test drive it at
their site. URL: . Give them feedback.
We'll get more in depth later.
Also: RealAudio 3.0 is now in beta for supporting encoding on
Macintosh and UNIX platorms. For those of you who have been waiting
because you don't use Windows, salvation is at hand!
Hello again and thanks to all of you who contacted us and made it to
the secret site and the secret message! Sorry, but budget constraints
dictate that the secret decoder rings we had earmarked for you all be
sent, instead, to Time Magazine for their in depth qualitative
analysis of RealAudio files. In an article (12/2/96) on web audio they
described these selfsame files as: "tinny." That's better than
"tiny." Us FezGuys immediately considered throwing in the towel in
recognition of the cogent and superior nature of their research. Then
we changed our minds.
If you didn't see last month's column; get Netscape, get RealAudio, go
to <http://www.mermen.com/>, click on the fez and follow instructions.
NOTE: This has been superceded by the
existence of www.fezguys.com
Let's begin. We're going to walk through the process of putting your
music on the web, split over two columns. Will your file be on-demand
or stream-enabled? On-demand means the user will download your file
and then play it. Stream-enabled means that they will click on your
file and it will play in real time, while they are online.
As there are multiple formats that one can record in (ADAT, 4-track
cassette, DAT, minidisc, hard disk, etc...) there are even more methods
of creating and encoding audio files for use in the ether of the
Internet. Be patient. The learning curve is, at first, slow. However,
once you familiarize yourself with a particular format you will
discover that all formats follow similar principles, and it is the
finer points of hardware, software and bandwidth limitations that will
determine, for you, the most appropriate application (app) for your
Take a piece of music. We suggest starting with a small piece, say,
ten seconds worth. This way formatting and experimenting will take
less time. Any audio source format will do, but choose music that is as
clean as possible. Recommended audio source formats are those from the
digital domain (DAT, CD, etc...).
Your hardware requirements are: an audio input, a soundcard of some
kind (recent Macs have this built-in, PC users please check that
your machine is holding one) and some speakers or headphones for playback.
A note here: older computers may not have an audio input. That means
your computer will not work for our purposes. If you are unsure as to
your computers' guts, ask your salesperson or your geek friend
(everybody has one these days). For the purposes of this column we're
going to assume that UNIX users do not need these guidelines.
Plug your audio source into your computer. Familiarize yourself with
your computer's audio inputs. It is probably either an 1/8 inch stereo
minijack or two RCA jacks. Run the appropriate cables from your audio
source into your computer.
Now, on to the software requirements. This is where it gets
interesting. You are required to have an app to convert your music
into digital form on your hard drive. For the sake of simplicity we
can suggest the following:
For Macs, (to purchase) SoundEdit 16 (URL:
or (as shareware) SoundHack
For Windows, (to purchase) Sound Forge (URL:
(as shareware) Cool Edit (URL:
Start your app. Set the levels from your audio source within the app.
To do this you will need to make some choices about what kind of audio
file you want to create. Audio editing apps give you options. You
will choose the sample rate, bit rate and mono/stereo format.
Discussions of the exact definitions of sample and bit rate are readily
available, but can be verbose so we will not go into full detail here.
For our purposes it's useful to think of these figures as a trade-off
between file size (read: manageability) and audio quality. The higher
the figure (44.1kHz as opposed to 22kHz, and 16 as opposed to 8 bit)
the better the sound but the larger the file. From the dialog box in
your app; set sample rates, bit rates and stereo or mono. Since you
are working with a ten-second clip, experiment and check the files'
size (and sound quality) after recording. You won't go wrong with a
44.1kHz, 16 bit stereo file but it will take 10 MB of diskspace per
minute of audio. Check your available disk space!
Tweaking the EQ and varying certain settings at the audio source stage
can increase the fidelity of your end product (a topic for another
column). For now set the record level as high as possible without
peaking and use your app's "normalize" filter, if it has one.
Press play. Record. Press stop. Save.
Make sure to choose the correct file format to "save as" for your
platform. Macs will record to AIF. Windows will record to WAV. These
designations will show up as three letter suffixes on the files'
default name. They can be converted back and forth but, for now, leave
them as they are in preparation to encode them for placement on the
If we've done our job correctly and you have paid attention you now
have an audio file in your hard drive. Play it back and listen closely
to it. Headphones are useful here. Experimentation will yield
practical information you can put to use in the next column, where we
will compress and place the file, discuss different apps that do this and
differentiate between creating a file that is on-demand or
stream-enabled. For now, we're going to continue to use RealAudio as
our example case to do this. Their encoder does both across standard
platforms, and it's free.
So, to wrap up, we're going to take that audio file in your computer,
encode it and place it on the Web. Somewhere. Do you have a place to
put it? Talk to your Internet Service Provider (ISP) about their
capability to provide space and support for these common technologies.
Most ISP's include a small amount of space (usually 2MB) on their
webserver as part of your account. Thus you will have a location on
the Web to place your file in and a web address (URL) so that you (and
others) can access it.
We'll close, for now, with an email
Thanks for your column. Any demystification of the
Internet is a good thing. I have one question: is anyone making money
by doing this? Keep up the good work.
We were hoping you had an answer to that!
See you next month!
May the Fez be with you.
We welcome your comments.