This class is for high school students at Winnebago Lutheran Academy who want to learn how to make music on computers. We use Audacity and Garageband as our main tools, and we have fun almost every single day figuring out how to make music using audio and MIDI, but we also learn how to record vocals and instruments and even play guitar and drums if we need to.
We keep personal blogs (look on the right column of this page and click on our names) to help us remember what we've been working on, keep track of the all the decisions that we've made on our projects, and to share with our family and friends the music that we've created.
What's the big dif? An explanation of common audio file formatsWav, mp3, aif, aac, mp4... What are they? What's the difference between them?
Most people don't have to think about this topic, let alone these questions, but electronic musicians have to think about audio file formats every time they rip a CD to their hard drive, sync their iPod, or play streaming audio over the internet. I'll explain each one of these file formats separately under three categories: "Uncompressed", "Lossless" and "Lossy".
These two audio formats are what you would use if you want to preserve the highest quality of a digital recording. Neither one of these two formats compresses the audio in any way, but the tradeoff is a big file size: 9-10x bigger than and mp3 file size of the same song!
AIFF – short for Audio Interchange File Format (.aif), developed by Apple in 1988
WAV – short for Waveform Audio (.wav), developed by Microsoft in 1992.
Lossless data compression is a class of data compression algorithms that allows the exact original data to be reconstructed from the compressed data. The term lossless is in contrast to lossy data compression, which only allows an approximation of the original data to be reconstructed, in exchange for better compression rates.
Lossy compression is a data compression method which yields small file sizes, but from which the original data can never be totally reconstructed. Lossy compression will always results in generation loss: repeatedly compressing and decompressing a file will cause it to progressively lose quality.
AAC - stands for Advanced Audio Coding Pros: Designed to fix "serious performance flaws" in the MP3 format Cons: some would view it as a proprietary format, only useable on iPods, iPhones, and other Apple Computer software, such as iTunes, but AAC files are compatible with Creative Zen Portable, Microsoft Zune, Sony PlayStation Portable (PSP), other portable media players, and mobile phones
WMA - stands for Windows Media Audio, developed by Microsoft in 1999
Dale Witte is the choir director and music technology teacher at Winnebago Lutheran Academy, Fond du Lac, WI. He has been teaching since January 1990 and really enjoys teaching students how God's gift of music works. Dale is also a church organist, piano player, violinist, and church music composer.