Streaming audio is such an easy way to add interest to your web site, and so many aren’t using it yet. Another way to add streaming audio interest to your site through sound – even if it doesn’t necessarily need a vocal element – is through background music. A major concern with many site creators is that, with background music, the pages on the site will load slowly, causing visitors to lose confidence and quickly move on. There are options out there for people with these concerns.
One option for adding sound is through a MIDI file. These files are very small because they utilize your computer’s sound card (and its built-in “instruments”) to create the songs. The downside of using a MIDI file is that the sound is very one-dimensional (Think of a 80s video game’s graphics compared to today’s PS2 and you’ll get the idea). Using a MIDI file will run the risk of making your site seem amateurish. In addition, each sound card is unique; therefore, what you hear when you play back your MIDI file isn’t necessarily what your visitors will hear. That’s a risky move to make.
WAV files are the next option for adding sound to your site. With these, you will encounter the opposite problem than with MIDI files. They quality is good, but the files can be very large, even when recorded with mediocre sound quality. That can result in slowly loading pages. Also, WAV files do not loop. That is, each file will only play once, whereas a MIDI file can be programmed to repeat as long as the page is open.
A third option is the use of MP3 files. These files are compressed and don’t take a long time to load, but they do have a downside. To listen to MP3s, visitors to your site will need to have the proper external player program. These player programs will often take your visitors away from your site altogether, to a site on which the customer can download the player and then play the file. Not only is this a hassle, but the file is no longer background music to your content, thus defeating the purpose for which you set.
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