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Preface

The new millennium heralds an exciting era for music and sound on the Internet. Greater bandwidth, improved browser compatibility, and simplified content creation tools are fostering a new global communications revolution. For individuals and businesses alike, web-based media distribution and broadcasting are quickly becoming the most democratic and powerful communication media in history. Web audio gives new power to the individual artist, publisher, or e-commerce entrepreneur to effectively communicate with sound and music to a worldwide audience.

Web broadcasting is relatively inexpensive and simple to implement. Compared to licensing and funding a private radio or TV station, the Web opens doors to millions of new listeners for a fraction of the cost. It is no surprise then that web audio has become a huge hit. Music is a form of universal expression that binds all cultures and people together. Sound and music entertain, inform, and inspire billions of people across the globe. As Internet technology improves and high-bandwidth connections become ubiquitous, we'll see more and more audio across the Web.

As web developers discover that sound provides a more compelling user experience, audio is finding its way on to more and more popular sites. The extensive use of sound on popular sites such as CNN, Broadcast.com, and MP3.com, and entertainment powerhouses such as Disney and Sony is a testament to the growing popularity of web audio and an indication of what is on the horizon.

The Internet is coming to life with sound. In a few short years, the majority of web sites will feature audio. Some of these sites will treat audio as a vital part of their content and brand message and will use sound effectively to enhance the visitor experience. Others will include poor-quality web audio and sound design that detracts from the visitor experience and turns visitors away. Designing Web Audio will show you how to capture high-quality audio and use sound intelligently to enhance your web site to and keep visitors coming back.

0.1. Audience

Designing Web Audio is an audio resource guide for Internet professionals, designers, and developers, as well as for educators, musicians, producers, and audio enthusiasts.

Individuals who want to enhance their web sites with streaming multimedia and sound will also find this book a helpful guide. The book not only shows you how to add sound files to your web site but also how to effectively produce, record, and integrate multiple audio components into an engaging web soundtrack.

We assume readers of this book have a working knowledge of HTML or have purchased a good basic HTML book. Audio professionals who know the basics of recording and editing may want to skip ahead to the specific chapters that cover their particular areas of interest.

After reading this book, you will have a thorough understanding of how digital audio is encoded from microphone to hard disk and how it is optimized for the Web using advanced compression and EQ techniques. You will also learn which format is the most appropriate for your particular project and how each format is being used in real-world professional media projects.

Chapter 1, "The Art of Sound Design" through Chapter 5, "Introduction to Streaming Media" cover the basics of professional audio production, sound design, and streaming audio. Chapter 6, "Encoding, Serving, and Streaming Sound with RealAudio" through Chapter 11, "Designing Audio Web Sites with Beatnik" take an in-depth look at the most common Internet streaming media formats: RealMedia, RealSystem G2 and SMIL, MP3, Flash and Shockwave, MIDI, and Beatnik. Two appendixes offer a buyer's guide to audio hardware and a comparison of web audio formats. A glossary defines technical terms.



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