Sound File Formats
Windows Sound Recorder
Ideas and Applications
Microphones and Mixers
Elsewhere on this site:
||Sound and Music:
The following is by no means an exhaustive
list of sound software - it's just the short list of packages I've used and
know, and all are freely available for download - for evaluation as shareware, or, in many
cases, free use. They are all Windows applications, as our district has precious
few Macintoshes. I am aware that the list of effective and useful sound
applications for Macs is extensive, and that the Mac platform is pretty much a standard
for music professionals - I just don't own one, nor does my clientele.
Windows Media Player (http://www.microsoft.com, go
to the "Downloads" section):
| This Windows-resident player plays MIDI, wav,
Windows Media (WMA), and MP3 sound and music
files, as well as
several formats of video. Since you probably already have it, the only reason I
list it here is to make sure you keep it updated to the latest version, as Windows incorporates new
formats and compression algorithms into it as they become popular.
QuickTime competes with Real as a sound and video web-delivery
format, and is rquired for QuickTime format media (.qt and .mov). Like Real, the QuickTime player just plays, but the upgrade to QuickTime
Pro costs less than $30.00 and does a lot of editing tasks. Be careful with the install - see Shareware
and Freeware - Warnings for things to avoid.
is required for the playing of all Real Audio (.ra) or Real Media video files (.rm). Like
QuickTime or Media Player, it can't be used for anything else but playing
files, but this format is popular enough on the Internet to make it necessary. Be careful with the install - see Shareware
and Freeware - Warnings for things to avoid. If you want to edit Real files,
you'll need Producer, which is also free from Real.
This free-for-download program is a popular player. However, it's use as a good general sound conversion
utility program separates it from the others in that category. It converts
to a variety of compression settings and file formats. However, like Real Player
above, you should examine Shareware
and Freeware - Warnings.
commercial product with a free-for-download version. Good general file
format conversions, and simple sound editing.
Total Recorder (also available from http://shareware.cnet.com/
- search for it by name):
This application has the
distinction of being able to record absolutely everything that passes
through your sound card ( including Real Audio, even Internet
"phone" conversations) without external patching. This is shareware - only 40 seconds of recording is allowed in the
free version. The full version, as of the fall of 2004, costs $11.95.
This shareware program does enough that it's
worth downloading and trying. It's a sample-and-loop environment - the sort of sound production
that has found a permanent home in hip-hop, rap, and techno/dance music, though
the style can be found in almost any popular music style. Of
course, such environments don't actually encourage one to make sounds of one's
own (you can, you just don't have to),
so there are complaints about lack of originality, or risks of copyright
violation. However, as a musical genre, it is no longer possible to ignore it,
and its immediacy makes it a natural for kids. Sony's website has
enough samples to whet the appetite of anyone, but the shareware limit of 8 samples in a
song becomes constraining pretty fast. Also, only one sound format is available for
your finished product, which means that Sony's shareware
intent works well, and you'll soon be shellin' out the sheckles for more.
|Adobe purchased CoolEdit
in 2003, one of the most popular downloadable full-featured sound editing
packages. It's a high-quality pure music editing environment - you
can record, modify, enhance, excerpt, and save to a variety of formats.
The software times out after 30 days, but for those days it is virtually
fully-functional. It even includes support for loops and samples, in a
very Acid-like interface.
Music Setups for a few additional titles)
(See my web page on Noteworthy Composer.)
|I have been using Noteworthy Composer for
over five years, and have yet to find its equal in its price range. It is
really a music manuscripting program that got popular enough to goad the
designers into fattening up the MIDI tools, hence it can be used to drive
synths and samplers with ease. You must be prepared to put notes on a page
- no samples and loops here!
|Cakewalk has been an industry standard for a
half-dozen years or so - a lifetime in computer applications. It is a
multi-format music environment, which means that MIDI and real sound can
live together - recorded and played back in a single environment. It
is not for
the faint of heart - you have to know what you're doing! Available as
fully-functioning shareware that times out in 30 days.
|If you use and like Cakewalk, Steinberg's
Cubase (as of 2003, owned by Pinnacle) is the next step up the ladder, giving true professional
results with the right hardware. Cubase is a Mac program that only
recently was released to the "dark side" - Windows and PCs. It
is only available for download as a demo - fully-functional, but no saving is possible.
I list it here because of its power.
|This application is actually a
useful MIDI tool, though in its free-for-download shareware
can't export files, which makes it just a toy. It's a rhythm-construction
environment, intended for looping. As a first exposure to MIDI composition
environments, it's really quite useful, and a lot of fun.