Files with the .ram file extension are used by RealPlayer to play offline or online audio files on your computer. RAM files contain URLs to other RealMedia files, such as .rm files in which the actual audio or video content is stored.
The first version of RealAudio used a proprietary protocol called PNA or PNM to send streaming audio data. RealNetworks later switched to the IETF standardized Real Time Streaming Protocol (RTSP) but they use RTSP only to manage the connection. The actual audio data is sent with their own proprietary RDT protocol, which they initially kept secret. Recently, some specifications for the RDT protocol have been made public through the Helix Community project. The open-source MPlayer project eventually developed a means of playing the RDT streams.
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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