Audio on The Internet

File Compression

Audio files will rival video files and databases as the largest tenant on an Internet server storage device. We've seen above how file size grows proportional to the quality of the sample, and how reasonably high-quality samples can be quite large. For this reason, file compression is often used to reduce the size of computer files. File compression should not be confused with audio compression. File compression deals with any sort of computer file format, be it audio, text, graphics, or what have you.

Why use file compression instead of an audio compression scheme such as MPEG or ADPCM? File compression is a widely used solution when the quality of a file cannot be compromised by lossy compression, but the file size is too large for acceptable transfer or storage specifications. Common compression schemes found on the Internet are StuffIt (.sit), Unix or TAR compression (.z), and ZIP (.zip). StuffIt, along with Compact Pro, are the reigning compression methods found on the Macintosh, Unix compression originates on Unix platforms, and ZIP is most common on IBM-PC compatible computers. There are several utility programs available on the Internet that can compress and decompress these files and others.

Additionally, files are usually BinHex'ed or UUencoded after being compressed. BinHexed files (file suffix of .hqx) and UUencoded files (file suffix of .uu), join together binary data and resource forks into one file suitable for transferring over an Internet Protocol connection. Linefeeds are usually included within the file to increase compatibility with Unix systems.

The one disadvantage to file compression is the extra work and time involved. Each compression and decompression is an extra step, and each step is a non real-time process, adding minutes to the preparation time of each file.

Next Section:
Future audio and Internet developments: Spatialized Audio

Audio on The Internet