File Formats for Music

Have you ever wondered about the different file formats for music? Here’s a short primer.

AIFF files are encoded at 1411 Kbps. It is uncompressed but unlike WAV, it supports album artwork and more tags. With artwork and tags, AIFF can require more storage than WAV. A 3:30 minute recording without artwork is 36.9MB.

WAV files are lossless, no compression, and therefore have very high storage requirements. The recording is encoded at 44,100 Hz, and the sample size can be either 16-bits (standard for CDs), 24-bits, or 32-bits, the latter being twice as large at the standard. A 3:30 minute recording at 16-bits is 36.9MB. The same recording at 32-bits is 73.8MB.

MP3 files are encoded at 320 Kbps. It is compressed with decent quality. MP3 is the most popular format. A 3:30 minute recording at standard compression (170-210kbps) is 3.4MB. A 3:30 minute recording at low compression (320kbps) is 8.4MB.

AAC (aka M4A) is similar to MP3 but is a bit more efficient (files are slightly smaller than the lowest compression MP3). Apple iTunes has made this a popular format. A 3:30 minute recording is 7.2MB.

To complicate things, WAV files can be compressed with the MP3 format.

Other file formats are OGG (Vorbis), FLAC, WMA, WMA Lossless, and Opus. The FLAC format can compress from 50% to 70% and quickly decompress back to the original. It is becoming a popular option as it is considered to be a lossless format with high compression.

All file sizes above were derived by using Audacity to export from an AIFF file to the other formats. The AIFF file was copied directly from a CD.

Regardless of the file format, when a file is included in iTunes, iTunes can add artwork and more tags to the file.

John R Carter, Sr.

Gigabyte Data Usage

       "If you purchase a data plan from a carrier with, say, a 2-Gigabyte data plan, how much can you use your smart phone or tablet before consuming all your data?" asks Jim Hamm.  He goes on with some useful info.  " This link gives some estimates, which you may find helpful.
        "If you like to listen to music while you're checking the internet (while using your cellular plan), this article gives you a good idea of how much data streaming music consumes."
        Keep reading; Jim sends us that good word FREE.  "If I'm using a cellular connection I usually don't listen to streaming music so I don't consume all my data. But if I did, I'd listen to Pandora (which I do when I'm connected to wifi) and I find it uses a maximum of 64kbps, which is fairly low quality, but adequate (at least for my ears). Of course, Pandora provides a free service, so I'm not complaining."   

Miracles of Music, Via iPods

        Apple Hot News today links to a documentary about Alzheimer’s patients who have been revitalized through music.  Social worker, Dan Cohen brings iPods loaded with personalized playlists to elderly Alzheimer’s and dementia patients across the U.S.  The movie “Alive Inside” -- which opens this weekend in New York --  documents a 94 year-old patient’s amazing response. See the 2 minute trailer. 

Learn About iPhone and Its Apps

        On August 2 in the Prescott Library Founders Suite starting at 1 PM, John Carter will be talking about the iPhone and the millions of apps that are available. Okay, 1.2 million as of June, 2014. Most of them are probably copycats or lame gadgets, so that pares it down to probably less than a few thousand useful apps. 
        John will focus on the 24 standard apps and some others that he has found useful with categories in Astronomy, Business, Communication, Education, Entertainment, Finance, Internet, Lifestyle, Music, Navigation, Photography, Productivity, Reading, Social, and Utilities, probably none of which are in the top 100 apps for the iPhone for 2014 (but he will show you the list of 100.) Games will not be talked about, unless you like Sudoku. 
        He will also cover the upcoming iOS 8 and what features you won’t be able to use if you don’t have a Mac. This special talk is sponsored by the Prescott Computer Society (
        This talk follows John's monthly Digital Mac SIG which is in the same room, starting at 10 AM.  Please attend and harass John just enough to keep him awake.  (Who said that!) 

Let There Be Music

         "If you like to listen to internet radio while on your computer, here's another way to locate and play a radio station in iTunes," begins Jim Hamm.  

        He goes on to be specific:  "First, open this URL, enter a ZIP code, or radio station call letters, or type of music. Do a search. Pick a station. For example, I entered our ZIP code in Scottsdale and picked an AM station in Phoenix, AZ that plays 'oldies', clicked the small lightning icon in front of the station. It automatically downloaded the URL stream in the downloads folder to the right of the Address Bar in Safari. I clicked this download and it opened iTunes and added the radio station to 'internet songs' in iTunes. Now when I want to listen to this station on my computer I just open iTunes, click this station and listen away."
       Does it always work this way?  Jim answers, "I've found, however, that not all radio stations are broadcasting in a format that is, I assume, compatible with iTunes since they won't load. I'm going to experiment  more to see if I can find what causes this anomaly.
        "Another alternative, and perhaps simpler, in your iTunes Library select Music, then Radio, and pick a radio station from the list. I'm listening now, for example, to a station in Boston broadcasting Celtic music."
        He closes with,  "iTunes is available for Windows as well as OS X. Here's more info on this."

Who Inherits Your eBooks?

        Here is an interesting article discussing who owns your ebooks and digital music when you pass on. Jim Hamm writes, "I hadn't even thought of this till I read this article. As the article points out, both Apple and Amazon, for example, only grant you 'nontransferable' rights to use digital data — all that music and ebooks you bought, you don't own. If this is of concern to you, one way around this restriction would be to purchase CDs for music and printed books.
        "If you choose to continue the digital life (as many of us will — it's so easy and convenient), leave the passwords for your computers and tablets and Kindles where your heirs can find them. Perhaps in your cookie jar — kids know to look there first."  And here Jim leaves us with ideas to ponder — and his grin! 

History at a Glance

         Maybe History was not your favorite subject in school?  Maybe you're too busy to poke into it now?  Never mind!  Help is here!  
        Jim Hamm forwards this site. "At first glance it may seem a bit confusing," Jim comments.
        Look at it, anyway!   "After you click on one of the buttons on the left, then look on the right side for more options. An interesting and colorful way to present history," Jim says.  You'll want to pass along this info to your kids, grandkids, and friends who like to keep on learning! 
       Note the fascinating background of the Swiss author, Andreas Nothiger.  He writes that he originally designed the graphs representing world history on a Macintosh computer.  
       And before you leave take a look at the "ultimate classical music destination." 

Music You May Remember

On a cheerier note, Jim Hamm writes, "If you enjoy listening to Peter, Paul and Mary, here is a link to where you can listen to their last album, completely free, 64 minutes of their recording with the Prague Symphony Orchestra, released after Mary's death. I'm listening to it as I type this, and does it bring back memories of listening to them years ago."

Don't Be Without Music

Our musical prez, Jim Hamm wants you to know about a radio website you can listen to while you're on your computer.  He tells us, "It's like having interactive satellite radio on your computer.  The list of channels is even like an XM or Sirius listing.  You can select a channel, type in a song or name of performer.  Go to . Very nice, particularly since I enjoy music."

How would we ever guess he likes music?

More Music

In case you missed seeing and hearing this musical group, De Prez Jim Hamm sends us this:
"Here's a picture of most of the Monday Night Bluegrass Band playing at the Acker Musical Showcase this past Friday, December 12, in downtown Prescott. From the left: Charlie, Jim, Bill, David, Elaine. Missing is our fiddle player, Carl. Bill's wife took the picture to send to their children and apparently Carl was too far to the right to be included, or maybe he had just stepped away. We had a good time pickin' and had a nice crowd that evening."

By Any Name They Make Good Music

Now, about music: here's the latest from De Prez Jim Hamm:

"Just for kicks, our Monday Night Bluegrass Band entered the Old Time Country Band contest at the Wickenburg Bluegrass festival this past weekend. We renamed our group the Prairie Rose String Band for this performance. Can't believe we came in second place, which paid $200! Wow! We'll eat good this week...(grin)...

The guy in the middle with the black hat, Bill Breen, was the Master of Ceremonies and not part of our band. Thanks to Bill Williamson, our consummate banjo player, who put this collage of pictures together.

"I just returned home today, Monday, from a month-long sojourn in our motorhome. I attended a variety of bluegrass festivals and music campouts, and had a nice time, but it's good to be home again. Zee joined me a couple of times, either to be sure I was eating okay, or to check up on me—and I'm not sure which it was...(grin)... I'll now put the motorhome in storage till January when Zee and I head out again for more adventures." Jim Hamm