Tag: audio

Streaming Music is free ‘n legal

I have begun listening to streaming music almost 24×7. My primary reason to go online (at home) is not to download stuff to test. Or learn what’s happening on the World Wide Web. My family thinks I have gone absolutely N-U-T-S. And I suspect my employees think so too as I listen to my genres all day long. But unlike the former are too polite (or career-minded) to tell the boss he’s crazy.

I know I’m getting late onto bandwagons. I don’t have an active Facebook account. Nor do I Tweet which may be a good thing because if people who eat meat are considered carnivores, and those who don’t are vegetables. Does that make Tweeter really Twits?

But having hopped on to the streaming radio (Shoutcast) band wagon, I see so many advantages over downloading MP3s. To begin with you don’t need to setup play lists personally. That’s handled by the station. Of course compared to CD audio and MP3, the 24-96 kbps stream quality isn’t that hot; especially when listening on headphones. The 128 kbps and higher streams sound better but most stations only offer these to paid subscribers.

What I do find annoying is the sample rate is rarely published. So you can have a 128-256 kbps stream using 24kHz sampling. And 24-96 kbps streams using 44kHz. Human hearing is supposedly 20 Hz up to 20 kHz but your ability to process sound within this range depends on the audio emitter’s quality. And of course the quality of your hearing. If for example you like in-ear headphones and listen to music really loud you are slowly but surely wrecking your hearing.

On players my all-time favorite remains XMPlay because of its tiny memory footprint (especially when compared to Winamp). Full screen (actually a tiny window compared to other apps it consumes about 6 MB. In toolbar mode this drops to 5 MB. And minimizing to tray drops resource use to 2 MB. On my Windows 7 RC version I have enabled XMPlay virtualization so that it runs within its own application sandbox.

Virtualization is an interesting concept introduced by Vista SP1 (I think). Enabled apps run from within a sandbox so they don’t stabilize Microsoft software. What I find interesting is all my virtualized applications are open-source or free 3rd-party ones. Without a single Microsoft one on the list. Here’s a link to a more detailed explanation of the Windows Task Manager Virtualization options.

Whew! I’m relieved (as am I sure are some of you) to finally add a new post.