MP3 & Real Audio How-To

What you need, how it all works

By Salon Audio

Published October 3, 2000 12:06AM (EDT)

What Do I Need to Play These Sound Files? Salon Audio features both MP3 and RealAudio sound files. A RealAudio file is a sound file which is "streamed" to your computer, allowing you to listen to the file as it is being downloaded. The sound quality is not as good as an MP3 file, but there is no wait. So if you want quality go with the MP3, and if you want speed go with the RealAudio version. In order to listen to MP3 and RealAudio files, you need to have the appropriate player software installed on your computer. Here's where you can find free player software:

Windows MP3 & RealAudio
Rio Audio Manager plays and organizes MP3 files.
Sonique plays and organizes MP3 files.
Real Player 8 plays both RealAudio and MP3 files.
Windows Media Player plays MP3 files.
Nullsoft Winamp plays MP3s.

Macintosh MP3 & RealAudio
Quicktime plays MP3 files and is available free from Apple.
MacAMP MP3 player
SoundJam MP MP3 player
Real Player 8 plays RealAudio files.

What is MP3? MP3 (MPEG-1 Audio Layer-3) is an open standard for compressing audio files. MP3 files offer near-CD quality sound, while filling about one twelfth the disk space of their original counterparts. Smaller files mean less bandwith requirements, which provides for faster downloading of high quality audio. MP3 has become the standard compression scheme for music on the Web. Small file sizes and the abundance of free MP3 player software allow for easy distribution of music and other audio recordings online.

What are the advantages of MP3? Compression of sound files into the MP3 format reduces file size by a factor of twelve, with little or no loss of sound quality. MP3 is already supported by highly-distributed software packages such as Windows 98, Macromedia Shockwave, and RealPlayer, and has become the standard for internet-based music. MP3 is supported worldwide by more listeners, devices, and software than any other CD-quality sound format. Are These "Legal" MP3's? Yes. The sound files on Salon Audio are authorized by the publishers and/or writers involved, and you are free to download as many as you like for your personal use. Reproduction or distribution of these files is strictly prohibited. Websites that distribute unauthorized MP3 versions of copywritten recordings are breaking the law by giving away "illegal" MP3's.

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