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Web Design in a Nutshell, 2nd Edition by Jennifer Niederst Robbins

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Web Audio Formats

At last, we get to the heart of web audio—the various file formats. This section provides an introduction to some of the most common formats for web audio.

WAV/AIFF (.wav, .aif, .aiff)

The WAV and AIFF audio formats are very similar in peformance. The Waveform Audio File Format (.wav) was originally developed as the standard audio format for the Microsoft Windows operating system, but it is now supported on the Macintosh as well. WAV files can support arbitrary sampling rates and bit depths, although 8 KHz and 11.025 KHz at 8- or 16-bit are most common for Web use.

The Audio Interchange File Format (.aif or .aiff) was developed as the standard audio format for the Macintosh platform, but it is now supported by Windows and other platforms. It can support up to six channels and arbitrary sampling rates and bit depths, with 8 KHz and 11.127 KHz at 8- and 16-bits being the most common online.

WAV and AIFF files are less commonly used on the Web than they once were, now that we have audio formats that are better suited for web delivery (MP3) or designed specifically for the Web (streaming formats). WAV and AIFF files are typically used as the source format for audio that then gets compressed into more web-friendly formats, like RealAudio. They sound good when uncompressed, but they suffer drastic loss of quality when compressed to small file sizes. For this reason they are useful for very short, downloadable audio clips, such as short greetings. They are usually added ...

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