If you’re a technical communication professional specializing in MP3 players and writing about digital audio technology you need to familiarize yourself with the following industry terms and concepts:
Stands for Advanced Audio Coding. It’s the MP3-alternative digital audio standard used by Apple (in iPhone, iPod, iTunes, etc.) and Sony PlayStation 3. AAC supports up to 48 channels, compared to a maximum of 5.1 channels for MP3 (in MPEG-2 mode).
Stands for Digital Rights Management. It stands for all rules and regulations aimed at limiting the use of digital products and impose licensing conditions. It is opposed by digital advocacy groups like Free Software Foundation. DRM is pushed energetically by the entertainment and music industry, supported by companies like Apple.
A very popular “lossy data compression” technology used to compress music into small enough audio files that can be transferred or downloaded easily over the Internet. An MP3 file created with 128 kilobits per second setting will create a file 1/11th its original size. The small size of MP3 files and the ease with which they can be sent over the Internet led to such peer-to-peer sharing networks like Napster which was sued by the entertainment industry for violating their digital rights (See DRM).
A popular method of delivering digital audio and video files in episodes, downloadable through RSS (Really Simple Syndication) feeds. You can “subscribe” to such an RSS feeds and have podcast “broadcast” delivered automatically to your mailbox or machine, as they become available. The advantage of a podcast is that the receiver does not need to listen or watch the broadcast in real time. The consumers can save podcasts on their machines and watch them whenever they feel like it, as many times as they like. MP3 and Ogg Vorbis are two of the more popular podcast file formats.
A proprietary audio compression technology owned by RealNetworks corporation. It’s a popular format for streaming music and audio files over the Internet, used especially by Internet radio broadcasts, including BBC (British Broadcasting Corporation). It requires downloading of RealPlayer client application.
A popular method of delivering audio and video files over the Internet. There are many music streaming services like Grooveshark that stream music for real-time listening without however transferring the ownership of the music files themselves. Streaming became more popular when broadband Internet service became available at a lower cost across the world. The cost and speed of streaming depends on he size of the source file and the bandwidth of the connection between the server and the client machines or devices.
Stands for Windows Media Audio, a proprietary audio compression and presentation technology owned by Microsoft corporation and used in digital audio players like Zune. It’s the competitor of MP3 and RealAudio formats. WMA has several varieties. WMA-Pro supports up to 8 channels of audio. WMA-Lossless is a (as its name suggests) lossless audio compression technology mostly used for archival purposes.