Real Audio is an audio format. It was first introduced by RealNetworks in 1995, the current version being Real Audio 10. Files of this format usually have the extensions of RA, RAX, RM or RAM. Real Audio is often used as a streaming audio format (can be played at the same time as it's downloaded) due to its ability to conform to low bandwidths. This makes Real Audio a common format for many internet radio stations.
RealAudio was developed as a streaming media format, meaning that it can be played while it is downloaded. It is possible to stream RealAudio using HTTP. In this case, the RealAudio file is retrieved similarly to a normal web page, but playback begins as soon as the first part is received and continues while the rest of the file is downloaded. Using http streaming works best with pre-recorded files. Some alternative protocols have been developed which work better for live broadcasts. In many cases, web pages do not link directly to a RealAudio file. Instead, they link to a .ram (Real Audio Metadata) or SMIL file. This is a small text file containing a link to the audio stream. When a user clicks on such a link, the user's web browser downloads the .ram or .smil file and launches the user's media player. The media player reads the pnm or rtsp URL from the file and then plays the stream.
AAC is similar to MP3. It essentially cuts out, or compresses, information that the human ear cannot pick up thereby making digital files smaller and more easily managed and therefore quicker to download. AAC is about half the size of MP3 but with better quality. It is at least one tenth the size of CD digital data. Apple are the biggest users of this format and if you have an iPod or iPhone then you will have come across this format as it is iTunes default audio format.
AAC is similar in concept to MP3 but goes further. It too compresses digital audio files but to a bigger degree. It is also part of the MPEG-4 standard, it is most widely used to create small digital audio files. The current variant is specified in ISO/IEC standard 14496-3. Like MP3, AAC is a lossy algorithm. The human hearing system cannot hear quiet sounds in the presence of loud sounds of a similar frequency; for example, a voice conversation cannot be heard while an aeroplane flies low overhead. This is known as auditory masking, this allows the discarding of data with minimal loss of quality.
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A combination of Fraunhofer IIS, AT&T Bell Laboratories, Dolby and Sony Corporation