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Making Sound : Page 2

In this section we describe the nuts and bolts of working with audio, including the equipment you'll need, where to get your sounds and how to put your sound on the computer.


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How to Find Sound
Whether you make sound yourself, hire someone to create your sound for you, purchase a sound CD or download sounds from a Web site; finding that perfect sound source is one of the most important steps in the process of adding audio to your site.

Creating Sound Yourself
If you opt to create your own sound, you'll have complete control over what type of sound is used, and how it'll sound. You can make your sounds as simple or as complex as you'd like. You can simply record your dog barking into the microphone attached to your computer, or tape-record your baby laughing. Creating sound-effects is as simple as recording the crashing of pans or the squeal of your teenager's car coming up the drive.



While creating your own sound can save you time, you may sacrifice quality in the process. More than likely, your audio equipment isn't the top of the line. Using basic equipment can mean more static or distortion in your sound.

Unless you're a musician, you may not naturally "hear" which sounds work best with others. Consider the type of Web site you're creating before creating your own sound, and be sure that the sound helps convey the message you're trying to get across in your Web site.

Before you create sound yourself, ask yourself the following questions:

  • Is it a simple sound?
  • Do you want to learn how to make sound and have complete control over the process?
  • Can you use lower-quality sound for your Web site?
  • Are you already a sound professional?

If you answered yes to any of these questions, creating sound yourself may the way to go.

Hire Someone
Hiring a professional musician, sound master or voice-over actor may be the best option for obtaining professional-sounding sound. Sound experts know which sounds work best for what context, and they're trained in the art of creating "clean" sound. When a sound master records sound or music, he or she knows how to avoid distortion and background noises. As an added plus, when you hire someone, you virtually guarantee that you're getting original sounds.

Another benefit to hiring a professional is that he or she may compress and edit their own sound files--which means all you need to do is insert those files into your site.

But hiring a professional can get expensive and can be a time-consuming process. It's a matter of what your looking for with the sound on your site.

Purchasing Sound Files
Audio CDs are a rich source for sounds and music, but you need to be careful about copyright issues. If you'd like to use one of your own CDs, you need to have permission from the composer to use his or her music. Technically the performers all have to get a share too. Agencies like ASCAP and BMI act as watchdogs for musicians and artists. Although it's unlikely you'll get sued by one of those organizations, you shouldn't take the risk.

Several companies create license-free CDs with prerecorded music or sound effects. You can get them in various formats and often in a choice of sample rates and resolutions.

Similar to purchasing graphical art CDs, when you purchase digital audio CDs from a CD manufacturer, you obtain the clips royalty-free. Although this eliminates the possibly you'll be sued for using those sounds, if the disk is popular, the sounds on your site may be on many other sites as well.

Downloading Sounds
There are many sites where you can download or buy MIDI or Audio files on the Web. Many of these sites offer illegal sound clips. Finding sound clips on the Web is very easy--simply do a search for sound clips, and you'll be directed to many different Web pages. Just be sure that you can legally use these sound clips before putting them on your site.

The Classical Midi Archives is a good site for obtaining MIDI files. Classical music isn't always copyright-free. Even though music over 80 years old is considered public domain, many modern performers of classical music own the copyright to their creations.





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