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What's the best approach for uploading music files? Do you have any recommendations or tips?


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Created 2007-10-05
Modified 2007-11-29
Views 6316

You upload music files using the same approach as for photos, documents or other files. In our opinion, the best format to use for music files on your web site is MP3. MP3 offers a variety of compression settings, and these settings allow one to choose an appropriate file size and sound quality. The most common compression setting for MP3 is 128kbps/stereo, but that takes up about 1MB per minute, which would be too large for use on your web site, and would take a while for students with a modem connection to download. A MP3 compression setting that allows acceptable sound quality and a small file size would be 64kbps/mono MP3, which takes up around 400KB per minute. Most programs that create MP3 files allow you to choose the compression setting - sometimes under the "Advanced" option.

The most common way to convert music to an MP3 would be to have a CD of the music, insert the CD into the computer, and then have the MP3 program convert the music from the CD to a MP3 file. Make sure that you use the MP3 format instead of the WMA format. If you are using Windows, some programs are set by default to create files in the WMA (Windows Media) format. The WMA format is much less compatible with different types of computers, and is also less commonly used than MP3 - for a Mac, WMA requires the Mac Windows Media Player, which doesn't come with Macs and is not used by many.

If you experience difficulty converting music to an MP3 file, we can provide you with a bit more assistance, but please include the name and version number of your Operating System and MP3 Program.

There are other options such as RealAudio. Although RealAudio files are compact, it may not be right for your web because it requires the RealPlayer to play, which not everyone has, and because one would need to buy the version of their software that allows creating files.

In contrast, MP3 can easily be played on just about any computer, and is completely cross-platform, with no need to download any extra software. Most computers should be able to create MP3 files without any extra software and there are other free options for creating MP3's if they are needed. They should all have adjustable settings for bit rate.

A MP3 that is encoded at 32kbps/mono doesn't have great sound quality, but it is listenable, and has a size of about 200KB per minute (versus a stereo .wav from a CD, which is about 1,000KB per minute).  Common MP3 players/encoders are MusicMatch Jukebox and Windows Media Player on PC, and all Macs come with iTunes.

Another option would be for you to use MIDI files to make music available on your site. MIDI files are similar in concept to a piece of sheet music, in that they contain the music notes for the computer to play, not the actual music. Because of this, nearly every MIDI file is very small, under 100KB in file size. There are 1000's of free MIDI files available online - to find some, just try a search for "free MIDI files" on your favorite search engine. MIDI files are easily played on just about any computer. Please note that MIDI files do not contain actual music, so you cannot convert a prerecorded song on a CD to a MIDI file.




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