The Basics

To hear sound on the world wide web you need several things:


Your computer must have a soundcard (and/or working sound driver.) If you do not have a soundcard, a good 16 bit one can be had for about 50 bucks, however; you should also have at least 8 Megs of RAM and a 14,400 internet connection. Sound files often hold 1-2M and can take 2-30 minutes to download with your viewer ... ouch!

Sound Software

If you buy a soundcard, it should come with software that makes it work. If your computer came pre-installed with a soundcard, it may or may not have a reasonable software package. Good shareware packages, such as Gold Wave, are available at most ftp sites.

The software package you use should allow you to do what you want with sound... like play it back in stereo (.16M)... or play it backwards... other effects... or let you record your own sounds.

The main problem with sound on the internet is the size of the files. The little stereo clip labeled .16 Megs may take you several minutes to download if you are running on a slow connection. Most browsers allow you to see what kind of file you will be "clicking on" (and the size of the file.) It may be prudent to look before you leap. At this web site, we convert most sounds to mono to keep the size down. Sound clips over .1M (100,000 bytes) are labeled.

Types Of Sound

The software package you use will determine your ability to hear different types of files. Some examples of file types include:

.ra (Real Audio)

You can click here to further test your systems ability to hear.

A wav file can sound better than an au file. A wav file also sounds better than "RealAudio". A 16bit wav file will sound better than an 8bit wav file. There are several other factors that determine the quaility of the sound. You will need to experiment to see what works with your system and software.

MP3 .wav files offer the best quality sound with the fastest download time. Click here for more information on MPEG files.

To hear Real Audio you need to verify whether your browser has the proper "Plug-In". If you don't have Real Audio on your computer, you can click here to download it.

Multi-media players usually work with several different types of files, such as .avi and .wav. You can configure most browsers (viewers) to play all types of files.

A Configured Viewer

The part most people have trouble with is getting their viewer to get the software to talk to the soundcard. Almost all viewers available today have the ability to activate your sound software, but you must tell the viewer where to find it. If your viewer has an "options" or "preferences" choice, click on it. There should be a choice like "helper applications", click on it. (In Netscape, you will get a box that has a drop-arrow. After you click on the arrow, the last choice is helper applications.) The box that appears will say something like "mime type", "action" and "extension". There should be at least one line that talks about .wav files. Highlight that line by clicking on it once. If the action space has ???? in it, your browser doesn't know where to find your sound. The "browse" button will help you find the executable (.exe) file that will activate your sound driver. Should you be running windows, chances are the basic sound recorder is located at c:\windows\soundrecorder.exe. Make sure to click OK. If you have upgraded software, you need to find out which .exe will start your sound software. You can try looking in the manual.

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