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The Low Down on MP3 Downloads

The lowdown on MP3 Downloads and Podcasting

Both these words are in common use now but it is not easy to understand their meaning and use.
MPEG was set up by the Moving Picture Experts Group to draw up audio and video coding standards and MPEG-3 was designed to handle High Definition TV signals.
Podcasting is an amalgam word of Ipod and Broadcasting.

MPEG is a compressed sound file format, compressed so that it can be moved around more easily as sound takes up a lot of space. An MPEG file can be uploaded to a server on the internet and then downloaded by the end-user on to a suitable machine. We put these up on our radio station, www.dogrosesound.org as MP3 files and they can be downloaded as required by the user or listened to on the computer. They can also be produced as a CD, but can only be played on a CD player that has an MP3 facility.

Downloading is taking material off the internet server to your own computer. Uploading is the reverse of this.

Broadband is a communications channel with a bandwidth broader than a voice-grade channel, which is what dial-up is.

The MP-3 form of audio is:
Comparatively cheap and easy to produce. We record to a high quality in WAV - Waveform audio format - so that if it is produced as a regular CD the quality is good enough for that. Once a file is compressed it cannot be undone.

Useful for sites that have no electrical power or place to hand out audio equipment. It also means that the end-user will use their own equipment.

The tracks must be kept short to make it easier to upload and download.

Podcasting is a more complex, commercial and expensive system of information as it has extra information, including pictures, built into it.

If you want to download a Podcast you need to sign up for a programme such as ITunes or Juice that will let you do this and also subscribes you to on-going extra information in both sound and vision about the venue or organisation. They take your file and with their secret magic systems transform it into files that can be transported at normal internet speeds or more adequately on broadband.

This comes via RSS (Rich Site Summary or Really Simple Syndication), which is hard to define but has been described as
a web publishing format that’s transforming information delivery for both publishers and users.

The BBC have a service that can be subscribed to. The money bit is that it is more expensive to set up and the selling is that you hope that more people will visit your site if they are told about it in this way.

MP3 downloads and Podcasts are being used by a number of museums and galleries. They are also walks around cities including London, Cambridge and New York.
A few examples:
For straightforward MP3 downloads: http://www.angleseyabbey.org/house/audio.html and
For an MP3 Download that you pay for: http://www.footnotesaudiowalks.co.uk/about.htm
For a Podcast from the V&A site: http://www.vam.ac.uk/vastatic/microsites/podcasts/
For a site with both MP3 and Podcasts where you can get pictures to go with the walks: http://www.stridedesign.net/shapewalks/home.aspx

The Dog Rose Trust - 15 January 2007

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