- Use 8 bit files:
If you don't need perfect reproduction,
EX: you are sounding a "wrong
buzzer" as opposed to identifying the bird call of the "Woodland
Hanger Legged Dropshot" then by all means use an 8 bit sound.
This is an 8
bit sound and this is the same recording in 16
bit format but
they sound pretty much the same right? The 16 bit sound is 104K bigger
than the 8 bit sound and this is only a four second sound file.
Big deal if you are on a T1, DSL or cable but really a big deal if
like most of us, on a 56K dial up or slower. I'm not saying to sacrifice
quality, just don't over do it when it is not necessary.
Aside from using 8 bit sounds, you can also reduce the size of the
sound file by using a smaller sampling rate. CD quality is 44.1
khz, 16 bit stereo. Do you need that? 22 khz 8 bit mono will get
lot of places and sound very reasonable in doing so. All my examples
here have been 22 khz, about as low as I would want to go for this
particular presentation. You will find uses for it I am sure, the
smaller the sampling rate the smaller the sound file. If you do
not want to compromise quality yet need a smaller sound file you
should consider compression.
Compression typically eliminates redundant
data and then removes less important data
to shrink the file
even further. Ever hear of "codecs"? You have now, codec
is short for "compressor/decompressor" and is basically
an algorithm for compressing media by examining consecutive frames
storing the difference (temporal compression) or by generalizing
an image and removing redundant data (spatial compression). If your
editing program will let you compress files then you may want to
consider this option on large files. Keep in mind that you will lose
I started using a compression trick recently that works great and
the loss of sound quality is almost undetectable to me. First I create
a sound, then I convert it to MP3 format, then convert it again to
a web ready format such as AU (See Sound Formats below). MP3 compression
throws away a lot of "unheard" sound data that basically
is unused by the human ear. This results in a tremendous reduction
in file size. For example I was able to convert a 180K sound file
into a stunning 16K sound file with very little degradation in the
To convert to the MP3 format I used the program "AudioCatalyst
2.0" found at xingtech.com.
It is now version 2.1 and only for the PC but it was available
as freeware for the Mac and as shareware for the PC. PC users can
now download a free trial version and Mac users can use the free
program iTunes program that ships with Macs. My... the world changes
in a year! There are other MP3 encoders out there on the web, shop
around and find
should try this trick, I was so impressed with it that the first
thing I did was to come here and tell you guys about it.
Audio files sometimes loose their amplitude and clarity when they
are digitized. If this is the case then you should normalize your
There are a number of sound ware packages that will normalize
sounds for you such as SoundEdit. Normalizing finds the highest
your sound then amplifies the rest of the file to make that peak's
volume 100% of the possible amplitude. This way you will have
the loudest possible signal to work with. Here is an example of
sound and the exact same sound after it has been normalized.
Play each one several times in a row then play the other. Quite
eh? The two sound files are exactly the same size but the normalized
file is much better sounding. The unnormalized files sounds distant
- Enhance the midrange:
If your recording software has an equalizer then by all means give
the midrange a boost. Here is an example of an unboosted
midrange file and a boosted
midrange file. I notice more of an improvement
boosting the midrange on this file then I did normalizing the
other file. In each case the sound file is exactly the same size,
clearer. If you do no other enhancements to your sound files,
at least boost the midrange.
- QuickTime notes:
OK so far I have been using AU files. This will get you the default
browser handlers. AU is the most commonly used format for cross-platform
applications. However if you convert your sound file to a QuickTime
file you will have some distinct advantages. QuickTime is truly
cross-platform, the QuickTime plug-in is part of most browser software.
web surfer of even the most modest experience is familiar with
QuickTime controls. QuickTime is also a progressive download player,
means that it will allow users to play anything that has been
downloaded so far. This is pretty handy if the file is large and
the user wants
to see if this file is useful or not to him without waiting for
the entire download.
Here, try out a QuickTime file of a cut from
Spade movie starring Humphrey Bogart and Peter Lorre. Outhouse
accidents like this were common in the 1940's. If you are on a
this is not a good test for you. I hate you anyway so don't go
telling me that it loaded before you could click the start button!
I used QuickTime Pro to export the sound as a 20 kbps streaming
music file then linked it just as I have the previous sound files.
a lot of clarity, here is how Mr.
Spades Outhouse sounded before
it was converted, of course it sounds better, it is 7 times larger
than the streaming file but you can weigh the advantages over
the disadvantages yourself in each instance.
- Sound formats:
So anyway, as I was saying before you got me all red-faced, white-knuckled
and brown-trowsered was that browsers can recognize many formats
for sound clips.
AU (.au) from Sun is the most commonly used format for cross-platform
Audio Interchange File Format (.aiff, .aif) is
widely used on Macintosh and Silicon Graphics computers, it requires
that the correct browser
plug-in be installed. Very large files.
MIDI (.mid, .rmi) is a common format for synthesized music. Again,
the proper damn browser plug-in is needed.
Real Audio (.ra) is a streaming audio format from Real Networks
and it needs a fricka fracken fudge mudgelin plug-in too.
Windows sound (.wav) widely used in Windows applications. It again
requires a *@#$%^&! plug-in.
It looks like we are stuck with AU files if you want to be truely
cross platform with no plug-ins that need to be down loaded. If
you do have
to go with a plugin, hey, go with QuickTime, they ship with the
browsers and nothing needs to be hunted down and downloaded by
the user (a major
pain in the padinkis for some users)
- Nuts and bolts:
Enough of the asthetics and onto the nuts and bolts of including sounds.
The HTML to link to a sound like every other link you have created:
A normal visible link that when clicked will download a sound and
can embed (loads when page loads) QuickTime sounds in your page for
cool effects. The HTML to play a sound or music in the background is:
Visible embeded QuickTime controls that will play a sound:
EMBED SRC="../path/sound.mov" CONTROLS="console" WIDTH="137" HEIGHT="17" ALIGN="BOTTOM" autoplay="false" loop="false"></embed>
An invisible embeded link that will automatically play a looping
sound as the page opens:
EMBED SRC="../path/sound.mov" WIDTH="137" HEIGHT="17" ALIGN="BOTTOM" autoplay="true" loop="true" hidden="true"></EMBED>
Hey you idiots, use this last one carefully, you can really irritate
someone who can't turn your stupid music off. No matter how cool
you think your tunes or sound file is, it is going to sound really
to someone. Remember, these are the people you are trying to invite
back to your page. If you give them something like this
they cannot turn off then the chances are that if it chaps their
hide, they will not come back for more of your abuse.
what happened to me one morning. I was dreaming that I could not
turn off a radio that was blaring a really bad song. I turned the
off but it still was playing loudly. I pulled the plug out of the
wall but it still screeched on. I started smashing it with a chair
it to tiny bits but each bit STILL blasted the tinny scratchy stupid
song. Well I woke up and I was really POed, it was my clock radio
trying to wake me up and the @#$%^&!! thing was STILL blasting
that horrible tune at me with its blown out speaker and jacked up
sound. I ripped
the sucker out of the wall and stood out on my front porch stark
naked twirling that awful clock radio around by the cord and released
to let it fly 50 feet away out into some pine trees. True story.
Um... hey did I just share too much? Well sorry, but you get the
Give your visitor some control or warn him or make sure your particular
audience is going to enjoy your offering.